Anzac Attack: Amgrunts – The Scenario AAR – Part 2

This is part 2 of the ‘Amgrunts’ scenario from Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s Anzac Attack, the expansion for Forgotten Heroes II.  Part 1 is posted here.

Last we left off, the Marines were in considerable trouble, with the NVA managing to surround their right flank and threaten to overrun it.  On the left flank, the Marines and the ARVN were having better luck against the NVA, managing to make some small gains.  
Turns 5 & 6:
The fifth turn starts with the Marines fending off the NVA squad and shaking up another one nearby with .30 cal fire from an Amtrac.  The NVA pull their half-squad back and manage to shake up an amphibious vehicle with mortar and machinegun fire.  Overall, the pressure starts easing up on the Americans on the right flank and the tables slowly turn in their favor.  The Americans push one squad and a half squad up the center of the board.
American right flank has pushed back the NVA by the end of turn 5.
On the left flank, the ARVN are performing well despite constant pressure from the NVA.  Nu Dat keeps pushing squad after squad at a single 2-4-4 ARVN squad but the combination of defensive fire from both the Marines and Lt. Ho’s squads helps to keep the NVA bottled up in the heavy jungle.  The 106mm howitzer mounted on the Amtrac directly to the south also limits the NVA’s options for maneuver.  
The following turn, the Americans make some major gains as they push through with attacks everywhere.  Two of the shaken Amtracs from the previous turn manage to rally and Capt. Peters and his men are also back in action.  This frees up the Marines’ right flank and they are completely let loose at the slowly dwindling number of NVA around them.  One Amtrac shakes up Lt. Thien and his men and Reagin follows up by eliminating them in melee.  Two Marine squads in the center advance close up to the nearby NVA positions on board 1.  One squad takes some hits from NVA fire but a hero (Lucky Man) emerges from the cauldron of combat.
Over on the left flank, the NVA leader and his squads suffer several shaken results but a hero with a “Rage” card prevents a melee elimination.  Lt. Ho holds off on the melee and orders his squads to fire again on Nu Dat.  The hero is wounded and two squads are reduced to half-squads.  Overall, a painful but not yet fatal experience for the NVA on the left flank.  An ARVN squad gets a hero after coming under fire from an adjacent 2-4-4 NVA.
American and ARVN left flank:  The ARVN and one Marine squad face a giant pile of shaken NVA.
Well, after a harrowing first four turns of the game, the tide seems to have slowly turned in the US favor by turn 6.  Still too early to tell who’s going to win this one.  The piles of eliminated squad counters for both sides looks pretty even.
End of turn 6:  Reagin and his men are off to the southeast and not shown here.
Turns 7 and 8:

The NVA starts to overreach here a bit at the start of the turn.  Lt. Van Du fires at and melees a nearby USMC half squad.  With the Americans able to rally almost all of their Amtracs, they open fire at Van Du and an American Marine hero closes in and melees the shaken NVA.  The right flank is almost totally clear now for the Marines!

US hero about to enter melee with Lt. Van Du and clear up the right flank.

On the left flank up on board 9, Lt. Ho and an ARVN hero fire on a big stack of NVA squads under Nu Dat, shaking most of them.  An NVA hero and a half-squad with an RPD are protecting the stack, however, so the nearby US Marines opt to pull back slightly rather than charge into a risky situation.  Captain Peters follows up from the right to help out and the Amtracs begin to surround and isolate the remaining NVA stack.  Things suddenly look very grim for the North Vietnamese.

Remaining NVA on left flank fend off nearby ARVN hero.

Turns 9 and 10:

“From hell’s heart, I stab at thee.”  The few remaining NVA manage to eliminate Lt. Ho and his squads with
the help of some firepower and some nice rallying.  Two NVA half squads get reconstituted at the start of the turn into a single powerful 2-4-4 with an RPD and this proves extremely deadly.  By the time the dust clears at the start of turn 9, the ARVN have only a single hero still on the board.  Not a single ARVN squad has survived the scenario.

The remaining NVA in their final moments: beleagured and surrounded by vehicles and Marines.

The American player pushes the rest of his Marines into position to take out the NVA with a single powerful push in turn 10.  Captain Peters gets a 3-6-4 squad with an M-60 to move in after a nearby US hero draws the fire of Nu Dat.  At 1-1 odds, the NVA have a decent chance but they roll a 2 while the American player gets an 11.  Things end badly for the NVA and the three remaining turns in the game consist of isolated mopping up of shaken units and a 60mm mortar team.  I wish I could say this was tense right through to the end of turn 13 but this particular game just fell into the American player’s lap with the loss of Lt. Van Du and the NVA never had a chance to recover.

End Game

With no NVA units on the board, we take stock of our casualties and see what the battle has wrought for both sides.  The NVA get a total of 31 points for eliminating several US Marine squads and basically wiping out the ARVN.  However, with the NVA suffering a complete collapse in turns 9 and 10, they have lost an entire battalion, which gives the US player 45 points.  It’s by no means a complete blow out but the Americans have won a significant victory.

The eliminated NVA points counted up at the end of the scenario.

Conclusion

Those Amtracs really are deadly!  The NVA put a lot of pressure on the Americans in the early and mid-game but they kept getting hurt by the armored amphibious vehicles roaming around the board and firing at the enemy from adjacent hexes.  It’s clear that NVA firepower should have been better used in the early game to knock out the Amtracs permanently rather than merely shake them (the Amtracs were repeatedly shaken up throughout the game but they almost always rallied in the next turn).  Although I realized this by mid-game, I had all of my RPG-carrying units sitting in buildings and since ordnance cannot be fired from a building, they were unable to strike effectively at nearby enemy vehicles.

It would have been interesting if the NVA had been a little more aggressive up on board 9 from earlier on in the game.  They should have chosen to melee the ARVN units instead of assault moving and firing on them from adjacent hexes.  By trying to preserve too much of their force through careful movement and fire, they ended up inadvertantly buying time for the Marines on the right flank.  Also coordinating the two NVA forces (board 1 and board 9) would have certainly worked in their favor if they had been able to manage it.  I really feel that the NVA should have had this one but they let too many opportunities slip through their fingers.

This was a particularly interesting scenario!  The pressure is really on for both sides and the extremely high number of casualties reflects how deadly these forces can be when they run into each other in pitched battle.  My first playthrough of this scenario ended with the NVA ruling the board by turn 7 so with this result, I believe it is nicely balanced.

Anzac Attack: Amgrunts – The Scenario AAR – Part 1

Well, you’ve read the history, now it’s time for the report!

This is a 13-turn affair that involves three forces; the US Marines and the Republic of South Vietnam are up against the K-500 Battalion of North Vietnamese Army regulars.  Four maps are involved with a nice variety of terrain.  In the northwest, we have some very heavy jungle and east of that, we have lighter jungle with a small village.  The scenario doesn’t say which side sets up first (oops!) but I’m just guessing based on my own LnL experience that it’s the NVA.

NVA force 1 consists of 8 squads with a 60mm mortar team set up on map board 1 to the northeast.  Two units with RPGs are set up in the kunai grass to the south of the village in an attempt to keep the American Amtracs at bay should they attempt a head-on attack from the south.

NVA force 2 also has 8 squads and they are set up in the jungles on board 9.  A recoilless rifle and a platoon of men are set up along the road to ambush the American Amtracs should they try to come up the road.  Another platoon is set up slightly to the west and it will be used to attack the nearby South Vietnamese troops.

The South Vietnamese (ARVN) forces set up on board 9 quite near the NVA.  They get 6 squads and some light weapons.  Without assault move capability, they are outgunned as well as outnumbered by their North Vietnamese enemies.  Clearly, they will not last long against a sustained NVA assault.

Cue the US Marine Corps, which will be sending elements of the 1st Amtrac Battalion up from the south side of the board on turn 1.  They get a few Amtracs with .30 cal machineguns and one Amtrac with a 106mm howitzer.  The Marines also have a decent amount of hard-chargin’ 2-6-4 and 3-6-4 squads to take on the North Vietnamese.

A view from afar:  The board all set up and ready to go before turn 1.

Turns 1 & 2:

The USMC comes on to the board first, entering with all squads mounted on the three .30 cal Amtracs.  The Americans approach on a broad front on both board 5 and board 2, spread out from east to west.  Lt. Reagin and his two squads dismount in the light jungle just south of NVA force 2 and they get hammered by a double whammy of accurate RPD machine gun fire and 130mm artillery.  While the Marines lose a half squad and suffer a wounded leader and a shaken full squad, they do manage to get a hero with the “Multifaceted” hero trait.  He pulls two cards and gets “Loner” and “Veteran” – a deadly combination that may prove instrumental in the hard fight ahead.

Lt. Reagin and his squads on board 1 in trouble.

Meanwhile, far to the left, the NVA trade a squad to get a better position on the South Vietnamese on board 9.  Advancing through the heavy jungle using assault movement, they get close enough to make Sgt.Dunk nervous and he pulls a squad back with him towards board 5, hoping to coordinate movement and fire with the Marines to the south.  A nearby 75mm recoilless rifle spoils these plans, however, as it fires at the moving squad in the nearby trees.  A “2” is rolled to hit and the damage rolls shake both Dunk and his squad.  The NVA follow this up with a devastating melee from an NVA leader and two squads who eliminate the South Vietnamese leader and his men.

Lt. Khai eliminates Sgt. Dunk on board 9.

Much of the second turn is spent with the NVA slowly moving forces south to hit at Lt. Ho and his men but the NVA lose another squad to a South Vietnamese assault.

Beginning of turn 2

The Marines offer some assistance against NVA force 2 by driving up an Amtrac adjacent to an NVA leader and squad.  The .30 cal machinegun fire shakes the NVA leader and his men.  Things seem to be going reasonably well on the American/South Vietnamese left flank.

Marines on the left flank start moving up to help out the South Vietnamese vs. the NVA

Having said that, however, the right Marine flank is in jeopardy.  Peters sends a Marine hero off to melee an adjacent NVA squad after shaking it up but the NVA take this opportunity to advance a platoon of men straight towards the Marine flank, seriously jeopardizing the Americans on board 2.  Now they are practically surrounded!  To add insult to injury, the NVA manage to shake up an Amtrac providing cover for the Marines.  Things look very shaky right now for the USMC right flank.

Marines in serious trouble as NVA force 2 maneuvers around their right flank.

Turns 3 & 4:

The Americans need to work hard to save their flank here but that will mean easing the pressure from other areas of the board first.  The South Vietnamese on board 9 begin turn 3 by eliminating the NVA’s 75mm recoilless rifle in melee.  The NVA respond by pushing their squads at the fragile American right flank.  A 2-5-4 NVA squad with an RPD easily eliminates the hero adjacent to Lt. Reagin’s position.

The Americans try to preserve their infantry by sending the Amtracs around to sow chaos.  One of them cuts over to the right and hits at Lt. Thien and his squads poised behind the Marine flank.  The NVA start sending more men down south from board 1 to board 2 and their grip is tightening around Reagin’s precarious position.  The US responds by sending over another Amtrac from the left flank to prevent further envelopment.  However, the NVA simply take this opportunity to fire at and shake yet another Amtrac (now there are two shaken Amtracs on the board).  This isn’t turning out well at all.

NVA close in on the American right flank.  The US tries to hold on by using Amtracs but they get shaken.

Things do turn around a bit as the Americans score some minor success in the center of the board.  Capt. Peters and his men manage to advance into the jungle and eliminate an NVA squad.  Now they hold a spearhead position with a small force that can be used to threaten the NVA on either board 1 or 2.

Capt. Peters and his men advance on the left flank against the NVA on board 9.

It’s pure chaos as the Marines advance on the left and just barely hold on to the right.  If Reagin and his squads go down, the left flank will be surrounded and collapse with it.

By turn 4, things start to slowly come back the Americans’ way.  They manage to make their rally rolls (except for one of the Amtracs) and Reagin directs his squads to shake and then melee an adjacent NVA squad.  Lt. Ho makes his rally roll and heads back north into the fight on board 9 and a single 2-4-4 ARVN squad fends off an entire platoon of NVA moving up adjacent and assault moving on them.  The ARVN defense is helped out by accurate fire from the 106mm howitzer mounted on one of the Amtracs.

Lt. Ho’s ARVN forces and the US Marines keep up the fire on the left flank.

The NVA also get their licks in.  Lt. Thien fires on and shakes up an adjacent Amtrac while one NVA squad goes for broke and attempts to melee Reagin’s hex, which only has a single half-squad and an M-60 in it.  The melee is undecided as both sides miss their elimination rolls.  Captain Peters, seeing that the situation on the left flank seems to be under control for now, rushes towards the right flank to help bolster the Marines’ numbers.

Right flank:  The NVA shake up an Amtrac and send in a 2-5-4 squad to melee Lt. Reagin and his men in hex N5.

The game still has 9 more turns left in it so things are far from decided at this point.  I’ll hopefully be posting part 2 in the next few days so tune in!

Update:  Part 2 is here!

Anzac Attack: Amgrunts Background

Last week, I received my copy of Anzac Attack, the expansion for Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s Forgotten Heroes II.   Since then, I’ve been immersing myself on a daily basis in the game, trying out various scenarios here and there.  The first scenario, Amgrunts, provides the player with a large-scale battle with a really interesting historical background.

Background

Amgrunts pits the US Marines of the 1st Amtrac Battalion versus the NVA in an area of South Vietnam called Cua Viet, located just north of Hue City.  The Cua Viet waterway was an important supply channel that could be used to ferry equipment and men deep into Vietnam to vital strongpoints such as Dong Ha.  For this reason, maintaining control over the mouth of the waterway in and near Cua Viet was essential for the Marines.

In 1967, the 1st Amtrac Battalion, was tasked with building defenses and constructing operating bases in the area in and around Cua Viet,   As things started to heat up, however, elements of the battalion were removed from these duties and assigned a dedicated infantry role to help defend the area from NVA incursions.  Despite this unexpected shift in roles, the ‘Amgrunts’ fought with distinction in Vietnam  and won four commendations by the end of the war.  40 years later, the term “Amgrunts” would be revived when 1st Marine Division’s 3rd Assault Amphibious Battalion began operating as infantry around AO Bagdadhi in Iraq.

106mm weapon LVTP5 Amtrac

The Amtracs

One thing I should note about this scenario is that 3 “normal” Amtracs are used while the fourth Amtrac has a 106mm weapon mounted on it.  This threw me for a loop as I kept looking for the LVTP5 counter with the HE values when actually, you’re just supposed to plop the 106mm counter on top of one of your LVTP5 counters and there you go!  From what I’ve been able to glean online, the 106mm weapon has an HE value of 5.  To Hit numbers are on the back of the counter.

The LVTP5 Amtracs were used by the Marines for troop transport (with Marines riding on top) and fire support (with the 106mm cannon sandbagged and chained to the vehicle).  Apparently, they were favored over the Ontos, which were considered vulnerable to mines (and thus mostly assigned to secure static positions).  Being used extensively for such dangerous missions had a price, however, and by the end of the Vietnam conflict, around 300 LVTP-5s were destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

Scenario History

This particular scenario takes place on January 20, 1968, which marks the point around which the NVA became more active in the Quang Tri area.  If the NVA could contest the area and cut off or reduce the flow of supplies along the Cua Viet Waterway to Dong Ha, this would jeopardize the resupply of several Marine bases (Cam Lo, Camp Carroll, the Rockpile, and Ca Lu) inland that were isolated in the jungle and operating far from other friendly units.

Quang Tri area with Cua Viet east of Dong Ha.  Several isolated US Marine bases in the Quang Tri area are shown.

On January 19th, Marines from C Company, 3rd Battalion, ran into NVA positions, leading to a major engagement that lasted almost the entire day. The scenario recounts events of the next day.  On the morning of the 20th, the NVA were desperate to pick another fight.  They fired on several patrol and naval craft along the waterway.   Elements of the 2nd ARVN Regiment and 1st Amtrac Battalion went on patrol and ran into an entire NVA battalion.  The NVA came to the fight prepared and called about 50 rounds of 130mm artillery fire on the ARVN and Marines.  The Amtracs suffered damage during the battle, with one of them getting hit 3 times by RPGs.  By the time the NVA had withdrawn from the fight, the Marines had suffered 13 KIA and 48 WIA.

This is a large 4 map scenario that runs for twelve turns.  There are no events or special scenario rules.  It is a straight-up knock-down fight between two large forces.  The NVA start off on map 9 and 1 while the ARVN forces start up on map 9 and the Marines enter from the south of the board.  Right away, the Marines have a decision to make.  Do they let the ARVN fend for themselves while taking on the large force on map 1 or do they rush over to map 9 and end up fighting in the very heavy jungles (where the Amtrac fire support is of limited help).  I tried the former option on my first play and ended up with the ARVN getting wiped out fairly quickly.  With no one left on map 9 to fight, the NVA turned the rest of its entire force on my Marines and hurt them very badly by the scenario’s end.


Sources:
Esthes, Kenneth (2000).  Marines Under Armor, Annapolis: US Naval Institute Press.
Nusbaumer, Stewart (2008).  ‘The Amgrunts’, Leatherneck Magazine, March, vol 91, no. 3.
Shulimson et al (1997). US Marines in Vietnam – The Defining Year 1968, History and Museums Division Headquarters, USMC.
Thompson, P.L. (1968). ‘Amgrunts’, Leatherneck Magazine, June, vol 51, no. 6.

Forgotten Heroes: Anzac Attack – Unboxing and Components

Well, it seems that the post office is considerably faster than I expected and some superhero managed to send through my copy of Anzac Attack in record time. I pre-ordered this one a while back and I’ve been looking forward to playing it for a long time.  Let’s take a look at what we’ve got in the box:

Lock ‘n Load’s Forgotten Heroes Anzac Attack Expansion:  I wouldn’t want to mess with the dude on the cover.

The cover art looks great and I knew the photo was the right choice because my wife immediately said it was scary.  We’ve got the standard Lock ‘n Load cover art here with the photograph up top and the counters at the bottom.  The box is pretty sturdy and it’s just the right size to fit all the components inside.  Well done.

Two new maps included with Anzac Attack

The two maps included in the box look nice.  They are a bit less reflective than the Forgotten Heroes II maps, which I personally like because that means less lens flare when I take photos of my games.

Closer look at map 8

Map 8 has tons of heavy jungle on it along with a hill beside a road.  Looks like a beautiful map for a deadly ambush scenario.

Map 9 lookin’ spiffy.

Map 9 offers some nice terrain in it.  Note the slight change in kunai grass from the original FHII.  It still looks good though.

Anzac Attack Scenario Book

Next is the scenario book, which looks beautiful.  It’s all in full color and the photos used for each scenario are relevant to theme and interesting to look at.  There are 13 scenarios here of varying size and scope, from one-map slugfests to four-map all-out battles.  Australians are featured in the bulk of the scenarios but there are several other forces here too – fear not, the beloved USMC makes another appearance in two scenarios!  Peter Bogdasarian, James Luck, and Mark H. Walker designed the scenarios and they look pretty good.  I’ve enjoyed Peter Bogdasarian’s work in the past with the Corps Command series and I really liked his Ambush (Relief Attempt during Operation Attleboro) scenario so I’m looking forward to trying all these.  It’s a bit sad to see that they got rid of the designer’s notes for the scenarios but their absence doesn’t take much away from the game.

The double-sided player aid card looks great here and it’s in full color.  It’s especially nice to see that a turn track was provided since these are not printed with each scenario in the book (nor should they be).  It’s kind of amazing to compare this with the player aid card provided with earlier LnLP products like “Day of Heroes”.  Look at how far we’ve come!

Finally, we’ve got a single sheet of counters (170 of them to be exact). The gang’s all here with VC, NVA, US, New Zealand, and Australians represented.  David Julien, Nicolas Eskubi and Pete Abrams were involved with various aspects of the artwork and it all looks terrific* (a huge sorry to any misunderstandings caused before the edit and sorry if I missed any other artists who worked on the game).

I was really happy to see aircraft counters in this expansion.  I really liked how airstrikes were incorporated into Heroes of the Gap and it’s nice to see them back again here.  I can’t wait to get this bad boy on the table.  Acquisition markers are also provided – something that was missing from the reprint of FHII.  Thank you for putting them in the expansion!

There are also several new vehicles in the expansion.  The T-55 kicks up the NVA arsenal a notch and gives the enemy forces something to think about.  There are also Mk V tanks and much more. One notable change to the counters includes the presence of women on VC counters.  We had Arnat in FHII, which was a nice change of pace and a nod to the reality of female combatants in Vietnam.  It’s nice to see a woman represented on a hero counter and on a squad counter.