Heroes of the Gap scenario: Sucking in the ’70s

I originally submitted this for publication in Line of Fire 16 but stuff kind of happened and here we are.  I tried to make a scenario where the Soviets invade West Germany after the end of the Vietnam War, well before the US starts making those wonderful and deadly M-1 tanks.  I’ve also tried to think of how chemical weapons would work in the game.  I’m not totally sure it works but I tried my best on it.  I also tried to take into consideration the ability of the M-60 Patton to be used for indirect fire.  Lots of little experiments in this scenario.
“Sucking in the 70s” 
Background:  June 12, 1975 – After the end of the Vietnam War, the USSR takes the opportunity to invade West Germany as it faces down a demoralized and broken US Army.  On the third day of the war, the Soviets attempt to enter the town of Richthausen in an attempt to either pass through to the west or seize a vital local intersection.   With only a handful of men, the Americans waited for the Soviets to arrive.  Soon the sound of tanks in the distance signaled that the wait was over.
This scenario uses maps from Mark H. Walker’s Band of Heroes, while the American units are from Forgotten Heroes, and the Soviet units are from Heroes of the Gap.
Turns:  7 turns.  The Soviets have initiative on Turn 1.
Map: (north is top of map)
Setup and Force Composition:

Soviets: 

D Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Guard Motorized Rifle Brigade Soviet 2nd Guards Tank Army
Enter on west side of board, map 13 on turn 1
6 x 2-3-4 5/5                 2 x RPK                 2 x BMP-1
Capt. Sarukin               1 x RPG-7             1 x offboard chemical weapon strike
Maj Petrov                   1 x PKM                1 x T-62
Americans:
1st Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd US Infantry Division,
Set up first anywhere on Board 13 before turn 1
3 x 2-6-4                         1 x M-60               Lt. Anders
Elements 3rd Tank Platoon, 5thCompany, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Armored Division
Set up first on Board 15 before turn 1
1 x M60A1 Patton
2nd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd US Infantry Division,
Arrive on turn 1, entering anywhere on the east side of Board 15
Lt. Walker                     1 x L.A.W             1 x M-60                                3 x 2-6-4               1 x M-113
Victory Conditions:  The Soviets must exit  5 or more units (MMCs, SMCs, and/or vehicles) off the east side of board 15 by the end of turn 7 OR no American units within 3 hexes of hex J4 by the end of the scenario.
Special Scenario Rules:
1. In addition to direct fire, the M-60 tank can provide indirect fire support for American troops.  In the rally phase, the US player chooses whether the M-60 will be in “direct fire” or “indirect fire” mode.  Once this is decided it cannot change for the duration of the turn until the next rally phase.  In indirect fire mode, the tank acts like a 5FP offboard artillery strike that can be called in once per turn by a US leader.
2.  The Soviets have one chemical artillery strike available to them.  This is called in the same as a normal offboard artillery strike.  It hits the impact hex and all surrounding hexes.  Infantry (and only infantry – vehicles in the impact and surrounding hexes are unaffected but they MUST button if in the affected hexes or moving through or into them) in the impact and surrounding hexes make a morale check but defensive terrain modifiers do not apply.  Infantry units that fail the morale roll are instantly shaken.  For LOS purposes, treat the affected hexes as per smoke rules.
3.  The chemical strike stays on the board for a total of three turns.  At the start of the operations phase of each subsequent turn after the chemical strike is initially called, roll for chemical drift and implement its effects on infantry and vehicles in the new impact hexes . The chemical artillery strike drifts 1d6/2 number of hexes per turn.  Roll for direction (1 = north, 2 north east, etc.).  The chemical strike dissipates completely during the rally phase of the 4th turn after it is called.

4. Use Heroes of the Gap for Hero skill cards if a hero is created.

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!

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.

Forgotten Heroes: Ambush!

Line of Fire magazine issue 12 has several excellent scenarios that expand on Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s Forgotten Heroes II, its game of modern squad tactics set in the Vietnam War.  One of the first scenarios in the magazine is called “Ambush!  Relief Attempt During Operation Attleboro”, which was created by Peter Bogdasarian, who designed such games as Tank on Tank and the Corps Command series (which includes “Dawn’s Early Light” and “Totensonntag”) among others.

Before we get into the AAR, I’ll talk a little about the scenario’s historical background.  During Operation Attleboro in October and November of 1966, the Americans conducted Search and Destroy airmobile missions against the Viet Cong near Tay Ninh, located just south of the Cambodian border in War Zone “C”.  Conducted in two phases, Phase I went relatively well for the Americans from the start of September but in early November, four US Army battalions became part of an ill-fated plan intended to capture a concealed enemy depot.

The US battalions advanced towards a nearby river where the depot was thought to be located.  However, they soon found along the way that the thick vegetation in the area quickly led to a loss of unit cohesion.  One of the attacking companies from the 27th Infantry Regiment ran into a heavily fortified VC reconnaissance camp from the 9th VC Division.  Confusion reigned among the Americans in the heavy jungles along the Suoi Ba Hoa River as command and control quickly broke down and no one seemed to really know where the other attacking American units were quite located.  Sensing the problems that the Americans were having, the 9th VC Division commander, Col. Hoang Cam, funneled his men (and those of the 101st NVA Regiment) into the area.  Over the course of several days, the battle grew ever more larger and the fighting became desperate as each side committed more and more troops.

One of the reinforcements companies that was landed in the area to the north of the area ran into an ambush on its way to helping out the 1st battalion, taking sniper fire from the trees and machine-gun fire through fire tunnels cut through the tall grass that concealed the gunner’s positions.  The company needed to be rescued by two American companies the next day and was found badly mauled with six dead and 19 wounded.  There’s an excellent article here with more details about the operation. This particular scenario focuses on the plight of the American reinforcement company sent in to help out 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment on November 4th, 1966.

Scenario Rules:

We’re using map 4 from Forgotten Heroes here but hex columns I to the right side of the board are out of play.  The US also can’t use low crawl or spotting until the fighting starts to simulate the fact that the Americans are walking into an ambush.  The VC have cut fire tunnels into the kunai grass near the bunker to the southwest so the kunai doesn’t actually block any fire coming from the bunker (though it does degrade it).

Playing area:  US comes in from north after VC sets up in south.

The US gets two leaders and one hero along with nine 2-6-4 squads.  The VC have six squads, a 12.7mm machinegun team and only one leader, “Lt. Diem”, who gets an “Eagle Eye” skill card.

There are also a few events here but I have marked them with spoiler code and avoided mentioning them explicitly anywhere so it’s safe to read if you haven’t played it yet!

Victory is measured by how many units each side can eliminate or reduce.  Basically, the VC side gets 2 points for eliminating a US squad and the US only gets 1 point for taking out a VC squad.  The side that holds the B7 and H7 hexes at the end of the scenario also gets additional victory points.

This is a quick scenario – only four turns, so everyone needs to move fast and hit hard!

Setup:

The VC break their ambushing forces into two.  In the southwest, they place three 1-4-4 squads along with the leader and plunk the 12.7mm WT into the bunker in the kunai grass.

The VC player places three 1-4-4 squads in the southeast corner, one of which gets an RPD and is placed in the other bunker.

VC setup south side of board 4.  Diem is stacked with one 1-4-3 w/ RPD.  MG team in left bunker.  1-4-3 w/ RPD in right bunker.

Turn 1:

The Americans have initiative and start hustling through the jungle with both of their leaders with three squads each double-timing to the edge of the treeline.

US forces after entering from the north.  Note squad in C2 should be in C1.  Corrected next turn without affecting play.

The other three squads are trailing along, looking at the pretty flowers and admiring the scenery.  The US has a hero (with a “Thumper” card) who goes it alone along the right side and arrives at the edge of the bush.  An event occurs

Event Spoiler:
and a US medic shows up

The VC open up from their concealed positions.  Walker and his squads get hit very hard, with all but one 2-6-4 unit shaken in the first volley of fire.  Another VC squad on the right shoot at them again and reduce two of his squads to casualties while wounding Lt. Walker.  The blood starts to flow and the Americans realize they are in big trouble. The only consolation is that the US player gets a hero (“Loner”) in Walker’s hex in F3.

Lt. Jenson and his platoon suffer a shaken squad from being hit by 12.7mm machinegun fire on the left.  The US player has certainly taken his lumps this turn.  A VC 1-4-3 squad is sent up towards D6, hoping to get into a lucky melee situation next turn if the Americans fail their rally rolls.

End of turn 1

Turn 2:

Walker manages to rally a couple of reduced squads back to life while Jenson calms down his shaken squad and gets everyone in his hex back into fighting shape.

Thumper goes to work, firing at one of the VC bunkers but it doesn’t do anything.  “Loner” runs out and acts as a bullet magnet.  He makes it out of the treeline before being eliminated by heavy VC fire.  Walker and one of his squads fire back but nothing happens.  With the VC on the right flank occupied, one US squad runs out towards the VC ambush position.  An event is triggered and:

Event Spolier:
a VC squad with an RPD shows up behind the American lines, which moves in and eliminates Walker and his squads in melee!

US 2-6-4 squad rushes towards the VC positions in front of him. 

Jenson shakes up a VC squad in D6, inviting return fire from Lt. Diem and the 12.7 mm machinegun team in the lower left of the board.  One VC squad is sent up into the jungle hexes near enough to melee the Americans (at their special triple melee strength if coming from a hex out of American LOS) if they fail to protect their flank.

So far, things are going poorly for the US.  They have lost a significant portion of their attacking force and failed to eliminate a single one of the ambush positions held by the VC.  I’m getting a bad feeling about the possibility of a close outcome for this scenario but I continue anyways because you just never know with this game system.

Turn 3:

The US player decides that it’s time to get out of the jungle and on towards the VC.  Sitting here is just not working at all.  It’s impractical to try and take out both ambush positions with such few men, so they focus on taking out the VC on the lower right of the board.

“Thumper”, the US hero, is sent down towards the VC position in H6 and gets hit.  With more guts than brains, the 2-6-4 squad in G4 decides to go for it and gets next to the VC 1-4-3 squad in G6 and makes it through the opportunity fire without a scratch.  The Americans jump into the VC foxholes and eliminate the enemy in melee fighting.

US 2-6-4 wins melee in G6 while Thumper closes in on VC positions in H6

Jenson sends a nearby squad to melee the VC in the nearby jungle hex before it tries to sneak up on the Americans. Another short melee ends in a US victory.  The Americans seem to be finally pulling together here.  They push their luck a bit by sending another squad south to take out the shaken VC squad in D6.  Lt. Diem and his squad fire at the advancing squad but miss horribly.

US 2-6-4 in D5 low crawls into D5, hoping to eliminate shaken VC in D6 next turn.

The turn ends with Jenson moving down towards the lower right of the board with his remaining squad.  As they advance to the southeast, however, they are shaken by 12.7mm machinegun fire coming from all the way over in the B7 hex bunker.

End of Turn 3

Turn 4:

Final turn and the US gets initiative here.  Lt. Jenson fails to rally so the US is going to need to work hard.

The US squad in G6 hops on top of the bunker in H7 and then goes inside, winning a melee and capturing the hex.  The VC in H6 fires at the US hero in H5 and eliminates him.  Over on the left side of the board, two US squads make a play for the VC leader and squad in C6 but are shaken up on the approach by the B7 bunker’s weapons team and Diem’s RPD squad.

2-6-4 squad advances into bunker melee in H7.

Conclusion:

This was a really interesting scenario!  The events were really surprising and definitely changed the outcome of the battle.  By the end of turn 2, the Americans had taken so many losses that they were forced to choose between one of two objectives.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to make up for all the American casualties that the VC were able to inflict early on in the game.  The VC won this scenario coming out at around 10 to 7, a slim margin of victory.  If I had to play it again, I would shove at least one of the American platoons out of the jungle at the top of the board and get them heading towards the VC ambush positions on turn 2.  Hanging around at the top of the board for too long proved almost fatal for the US squads.

Lock ‘n Load: Forgotten Heroes – River of Perfume

River of Perfume is a small 7-turn scenario that takes place during the battle for Hue in 1968 just after the Tet Offensive.  It pits the United States Marine Corps versus the Viet Cong in a pitched battle.  This differs significantly from the usual hit and run scenarios that feature the VC.  Instead, we get a stand-up fight over the control of a handful of buildings.  The Marines’ task is not easy – they need to have control of 5 buildings on the map by scenario’s end.  Any other result is a VC win.

The VC set up first.  They have two leaders, Arnat and Dobie-san, as well as a hero with a Rage card.  They basically start with three buildings – one in the center of the map board and two others to the south.

The large stone building just south of the Marines’ starting position is probably key to the fight.  It is large and offers excellent defensive protection.  If the Marines want it, they will have to come in and melee the VC, a dangerous proposition in such a cramped map.

The VC hero and 3 VC squads set up in this citadel and wait.

During the American setup phase a bit later, I set up Sgt. Ash in a small building just to the north with 2 Marine squads in his hex and 2 others in the hex beside him.

VC Hero and 1-4-3 in upper level with 2 x 1-4-3 squads adjacent in G3.

Just to the southeast of this large stone fortification is yet another stone building.  I put Dobie-san in hex G5, hoping that he can rally any shaken VCs that withdraw towards G4 (his “Charismatic” ability allows him to rallying friendly units in adjacent hexes).  Three other squads are set up in the same building, set up to hit at any Marines that attempt to reinforce the large fortification.  They also have control of a building with a swimming pool in G5 so they can go off for a dip should things get too crazy.

Lt. Reagin is in the building just to the north (I2 and J2).  He has a Marine squad with an M-60 and also benefits from the “Lucky Man” bonus, which allows him a one-time opportunity to add or subtract 3 from a die roll.

Dobie-san and friends set up in the G5 building while Reagin is in the building to the north.

Arnat and 3 VC squads set up far to the southwest in a large triangular building that offers some avenue of fire at the American chaplain, who is stacked with two Marine squads directly to the north.

Arnat and 3 x 1-4-3 squad set up with field of fire directly to the north.


The Marine chaplain and his two 2-6-4 squads (with LAW rocket) set up in the building directly to the north of Arnat and only a mere two hexes away from the large stone fortification where the VC hero and his comrades sit.

Close up of northern part of board with Marines set up around the large stone fortification.



The Plan:

The VC plan is basically to run and gun from the large fortification (F3/G2), taking out as many Marine squads as possible before retreating south.  After that, they will try to find opportunities to whittle away at lone American units.  Arnat will try to make it hard for the Americans on the left flank to advance while Dobie-san’s two squads will try to keep Lt. Reagin from moving into the large fortifications.  Hopefully this will encourage the Americans to send in forces piecemeal, where they can be dealt with in small groups.

The Marines are basically going to kick down the doors and go in guns blazing.  This means committing maximum force towards their objectives.  There will be no half measures.  Every man will either be firing or moving – or both (thanks to having assault move capability) on every turn.  The high morale of the Marines should keep them going through the tough times ahead.  They will take the large stone fortification directly to the south at all costs and then advance into the building held by Dobie-san and his men.

Turn 1:

The Americans are granted automatic initiative on turn 1 and the advance begins.

The VC hold their fire and let the Americans move in.  The Marines barge into the large stone building at G2, adjacent to the two 1-4-3 VC squads. Lt. Reagin and his men open fire on the hapless VC in G3 from across the road.  One VC squad takes casualties while the other is shaken.  They crawl away from the building towards Dobie-san, hoping to be rallied next turn.

Since the VC are holding fire for now, the Marines take the opportunity to crash the west side of the fort with another 3-6-4 squad in hex F3.  The Marines move in and get ready for a fight.  Another 2-6-4 squad arrives in G3 and now the Americans are quickly gaining control of the large fortification.

The VC, however, will not give up so easily.  Dobie-san directs the squad in his hex (G5) to open fire on the 2-6-4 Marine squad, achieving a shaken result.  The VC hero in F4 moves from the upper floor to the adjacent hex and eliminates the Marine squad in melee.  The Americans have suffered their first loss in the game.

To help reinforce the 3-6-4 squad in F3, the Chaplain and his Marines move from their starting building towards the stone fortification but a VC sniper pops up and starts hitting them in the open.  Arnat joins in and her RPD squad shakes up the Chaplain and all of his squads very badly.  She sends her two VC squads up north in hopes that the Americans will fail to rally and they will become easy targets for melee in the coming turn.

Turn 1 has ended with mixed results.  The Marines seem to be taking over the large building very quickly but they are encountering some stiff resistance.  Moving the Chaplain and his two squads towards the fort may not have been the smartest move.  Now the American player is going to need to commit time and impulses towards preserving and rallying these men.

The Chaplain and 2 squads are shaken in D3 while other Marines start to control the stone building.

Post Turn 1 Comments:  It was just dumb to have my Chaplain and the two Marine squads charge towards E3.  They were easily shaken up and now very vulnerable to the approaching VC squad to the south.  The US player is going to have to get them moving away from the enemy early in the next turn, which will take away precious time I have to shake up the VC in F4 and G3.

On the VC side, it may have been a mistake not to use up opportunity fire on US troops as they approached the large stone building.  Now the Americans are in the building for good.  The Chaplain and two Marine squads are a tempting target.  Eliminating them in the coming turn should considerably sap the energy of the American assault.


Turn 2

The VC get the initiative this turn, much to the Americans’ chagrin.

Rally:  The VC adjacent to Dobie-san fail to rally but, on the other hand, the US Chaplain fails to rally the two squads with him.  That’s great news for the VC!

Operations:  The only thing that might prevent the VC from getting to the Chaplain and his squad would be taking opp fire from the 3-6-4 Marines in E3.  So the VC 1-4-3 squad in F4 makes a sacrifice move and jumps into melee with the adjacent unit at 3:1 odds.  Incredibly, the VC player rolls an 11 and they eliminate the Marines.

1-4-3 in F4 jumps into melee with adjacent 3-6-4 and they are both eliminated.  

The US player tries to minimize further losses by pulling the Chaplain and his squads back to the far north of the map.

The VC player, riding a wave of luck, decides to throw his hero (with the Rage card, which offers +1 firepower) into melee with the adjacent 3-6-4 Marines (who have an M-60 machinegun) in hex G2.  Normally, this would be a 5-1 melee attack but with the Rage card, this comes to a 5-2 attack (for a ratio of 1-2), which is further shifted right to a 1-1 attack for the VC hero.  The hero’s dice come up 9, which eliminates the US Marines.  The Americans are really suffering.

Overall, it has been an amazing round for the Viet Cong, who have eliminated 8 firepower from the Americans at a loss of only a 1 FP squad and a hero.

The building after the VC-US melee.  No one is left standing.

Lt. Reagin is determined to get revenge and fires at the two shaken VC squads in G4, eliminating both of them.  Dobie-san orders his RPD to shoot at Reagin in the building to the north to no effect.  The VC start to slowly re-occupy the stone building, sending in lone squads here and there.

Lt. Reagin (Lucky Man in I2) and his men eliminated the shaken VC squads in G4.

The VC player decides to push one of his squads straight towards the shaken US Chaplain and his men, getting adjacent to them and ready to melee them in the next turn.  Sgt. Ash sees the nearby threat and starts moving towards the VC squad.  A sniper fires at Ash and his men and a US hero is created (The Gunner).

The Americans continue moving and enter melee with the VCs who are adjacent to the shaken US chaplain.  The US wins handily but they will soon be sitting in the open.  Arnat moves her squad towards both Ash and the Chaplain and take up positions in the building hex adjacent to them.

Arnat sits adjacent to Ash and the hero, ready to deal some damage next turn.

Things look great for the VC at the end of turn 2.  The US player has control of only two buildings and has lost many of his own men from devastating melee this turn.  Arnat is sitting right beside the two major US groups and is ready to do some serious damage in the coming turn.

On the other hand, the US has managed to inflict some damage on the VC, who have lost 5 squads of their own this turn.

Turn 3

Initiative switches to the Americans this turn and their luck starts to turn around.

Rally:  The Chaplain in D1 rallies himself (like a rock star with a roll of “2”) and a half squad of Marines.

Operations: Sgt. Ash and his stack of Marines in D2 open up on Arnat and her squad in the adjacent C2 building hex and shake everyone up.  The American hero with “The Gunner” skill card immediately moves in and eliminates all of the VC and Arnat in the ensuing melee.  This is a stunning setback for the VC.  Sending Arnat up so close to the Marines at the end of last turn was apparently a huge mistake.

The VC are shaken by Sgt. Ash and his Marines (under the hero in D2) before “The Gunner” moves in and kills everyone.

The Chaplain and his shaken men move into B1, which offers some defensive terrain.  This gives the shaken units a better chance to rally next turn.

The action moved to the east after this happened but there were no fewer surprises in store.

A group of VC get close to Lt. Reagin and his men over on the other side of the map.  The Americans refuse to take the bait and Dobie-san and his RPD squad open fire on Reagin’s men.  Dobie-san rolls well on the attack, prompting Reagin to spend his “Lucky Man” card. This reduces the damage roll to a mere “1”.  Reagin and his squad are both fine but wait, what’s this? Another American hero is created (“Stealthy”) and stacked with Reagin.

Dobie-san (“Charismatic”) fires on Lt. Reagin in I2 and ends up creating a US hero.

Reagin sends off the hero to get into the stone fortification to the west.  The VC shoot at him with opportunity fire as he approaches hex G2 but to no avail.  The hero slips into G2 and is in excellent defensive terrain.  With only a 2-1 attack advantage in melee over the adjacent VC in G3, I decided to play it safe and stop the hero there.  Reagin opens up on the VC squad in the building hex and shakes it.

US hero in G2 adjacent to shaken VC squad.  

The turn starts to come to a close.  Out of spite, the VC sniper takes a shot at Sgt. Ash and shakes him up.

VC sniper shakes up Sgt. Ash in D2.

It’s been an amazing turn.  The Americans have come back full force after some serious setbacks in turn 2!  The game is far from over at this point, however, since there are still 3 turns left and the US must capture 2 more VC-held buildings.

Here’s how the board looked at the end of turn 3:

End of T3

Wow, it really looks like sending Arnat up north to chase after the shaken Marines was a huge mistake.  Had the VC won initiative on the turn, they probably could have fired at the adjacent Sgt. Ash and his Marines, which would have really hurt the American player.  As it turned out, however, the gamble was not worth it and now the VC are down to only one leader (Dobie-san).

The VC are going to have work really hard to turn the tide against the Americans.  It may not be too late to squeak a victory out of this one if they can keep their eye on holding buildings rather than chasing down shaken enemies.


Turn 4

US wins initiative this turn.

Rally:  The US Chaplain way over in the northwest corner of the board manages to rally the 2-6-4 squad.  Sgt. Ash makes a recovery too.  So far, so good for the US.

Operations:  The US player sends his hero (“The Gunner”) from C2 down to C4, which is just adjacent to the VC sniper.  The sniper fires at the lone Marine, rolling a 10 on 2d6.  2 FP is added due to the target being adjacent and another FP is tacked on for a moving target.  Luckily, the Marine rolls a “6” for the defensive die and then a “1” for damage, escaping unharmed from the sniper fire!  The hero jumps into the hex with the sniper and eliminates him in melee.

US hero about to melee Viet Cong sniper.

Sgt. Ash takes this opportunity to try yet again to take the large stone fortification nearby and enters building hex E3 with his squads, coming under heavy fire from the adjacent VC.  Luckily for Ash, the fire is totally ineffective.

Sgt. Ash and two squads of Marines enter the stone fortification and avoid enemy fire.

Ash and his men decide to keep moving. They push into hex F4 and get into a melee with the VC 1-4-3 squad.  They eliminate it but also lose a half-squad of Marines in the process.

Dobie-san in G5 decides to try for some revenge against the Americans.  He fires on Lt. Reagin in the I2 building hex and manages to shake up Reagin and his 3-6-4 squad.  Reagin and his men withdraw from the building to G1.  A VC squad is in range of moving into melee with the shaken Americans but the VC player has learned his lesson.  Instead of chasing down shaken enemies, the squad is moved into the building that Reagin has just vacated.

Lt. Reagin and his men retreat from I2.  Next, the VC in I3 move into the building.

The US hero in G2 (“Stealthy”) creeps into hex H2 and fires on the adjacent VC in I2 but to no avail.  Our US Chaplain moves to B3 with a squad and they prepare to get back in the fight.

Well, this has been quite a turn!  The US player has worked hard towards fulfilling the victory conditions but the unexpected retreat of Reagin from I2 and the subsequent loss of the building really hurt.  The American player has managed to kill lots of Viet Cong but the VC player has smartened up a bit and is more focused on frustrating American attempts at winning scenario objectives.

An overall look at the board at the end of Turn 4:

End of Turn 4

The VC player is hoping to rally the 1-4-3 adjacent to Dobie-san next turn and shake up and then melee Ash and his men.  If Lt. Reagin fails to rally, that will help to delay the Americans in their attack.

Turn 5:

The US has initiative this turn again.

Rally:  Lt. Reagin fails to rally and the shaken VC squad to the north of Dobie-san also fails its morale check.

Operations: The turn begins with both sides trying to retain the meager forces they now possess.  Reagin pulls back to the building hex in F1 while the shaken 1-4-3 VC squad retreats back to Dobie-san’s hex.

Ash and his men fire at Dobie-san with no effect but the Americans make gains elsewhere. The US hero (“The Gunner”) heads down south to capture the triangular building at C6, claiming two of three of its hexes.

“The Gunner” captures a building.  Only two more buildings are needed for a win.

The VC squad in the upper floor of I5 descends to the first floor and moves north towards the I2/J2 building to help reinforce the single squad there.  If the VC can just hold out in both buildings for two more turns, they can prevent the US from winning.

VC in hex I4 as they move towards the north to reinforce the 1-4-3 squad in I2.

I started to get a bad feeling about the Americans’ chances of winning this one.  It’s proving hard to get shaken US forces rallied and there’s not enough firepower to go for a direct melee assault on Dobie-san.  With the VC moving another squad towards the I2/J2 building, it seems they will be able to hold off any assaults from my meager forces in the next two turns.

Turn 6:

The VC player wins initiative.

Rally:  Reagin and his men rally while the shaken 1-4-3 squad in Dobie-san’s hex fail the check again.

Operations: This VC player moves the squad in I4 to J3.  If it can get into the building next turn, it will be really difficult for the US to take it.

The US Chaplain and the Marines stacked with him move to G2 to help with the coming assault.

Reagin and his men move towards the J2/I2 building, hoping to add their considerable firepower to a last-turn push against the VC.  Unfortunately, Dobie-san tells his men to fire at Reagin and it manages to shake the Americans yet again.

Reagin and his men are shaken up while approaching a nearby VC-held building.

The US hero “The Gunner” moves adjacent to Dobie-san.  The plan is to have the hero jump into melee with Dobie-san’s squads, which will prevent the VC in G5 from firing on the main US assault versus the J2/I2 building.

End of turn 6

Things are looking grim for the US.  They have a bunch of shaken guys and a couple of leaders with only a squad each.  The VC, on the other hand, are sitting pretty right now with two buildings firmly held.  All they need to do is sit tight and let the US approach…and then just open fire.  One building needed for the US to win.

Turn 7

The VC player wins initiative.

Rally:  Reagin and his men fail to rally.  Dobie-san rallies a shaken 1-4-3 squad in his hex.

Operations:  The VC squad in J3 low crawls into the J2 building hex.

The US player goes for broke.  The US hero in F6 runs into Dobie-san’s hex and enters melee.  Dobie-san has two 1-4-3s and an RPD in his hex, which gives him a firepower of 4 versus The Gunner’s firepower of 2.  The US player rolls an 11, taking out all of the VC in the hex.  Surprisingly, the VC player rolls a 3, which is not enough to kill the US hero.  Well, this certainly changes things.  All American efforts are now suddenly switched from capturing J2/I2 to getting hold of the G5 stone building.

The US hero “The Gunner” enters into melee versus Dobie-san, two 1-4-3 squads and an RPD

The VC player passes and the Chaplain sends his 2-6-4 squad towards I2.  The 1-4-3 VC squad opens up and shakes the US Marines.

The Chaplain’s 2-6-4 squad moves towards I2 and is fired at by the VC squad.

After that, the American player sends Sgt. Ash into H6 capturing part of a building needed for the US win.  The other US hero (“Stealthy”) moves into the remaining hex.

The other US hero makes it down to I5 hex.
Sgt. Ash and his squad rush into the remaining unoccupied building hex.

The result is 5 US-controlled buildings, just in time for the game to end.  The Americans win.

A final look at the board:

A look at the end of the final turn.

Conclusion:  What a game!  The early game see-sawed back and forth between the VC and the American hero.  Late in the game, it seemed that the VC were going to hold on to the last two buildings on the board.  The very lucky melee roll that allowed “The Gunner” to take out Dobie-san and two squads and still survive the melee was basically the key to allowing the US to grab the win in the last turn.  I felt the US player basically capitalized on the early mistakes made by the Viet Cong and then had some incredible fortune in the rolling on the last turn.

Props go out to “The Gunner” who single-handedly took out a VC sniper, captured two buildings, and eliminated a VC leader, two squads, and a support weapon in the course of a single game.

Forgotten Heroes – Assault on Ben Suc

So I got down to playing LnLP’s Forgotten Heroes during the past week and out came the great scenario, “Assault at Ben Suc”.  The background here is the US Army and South Vietnamese troops were conducting search and destroy missions in the Iron Triangle as part of Operation Cedar Falls in January of 1967.

This was a huge ground operation that used up a huge number of resources in an attempt to trap and hopefully eliminate Viet Cong resistance in the south in one fell swoop.  A key part of this plan was to conduct an air assault into the village of Ben Suc, which was thought to be an important VC base of operations.  As it turned out, the Viet Cong were largely able to evade the US and South Vietnamese forces, who found a tunnel network and a large number of supplies in the village but no enemy.  The American commanders at the time ordered Ben Suc destroyed and the subsequent relocation of the villagers became yet another controversial event in a very controversial conflict.  

The Forgotten Heroes scenario, “The Assault at Ben Suc” offers an alternate take on the events of January 8th, 1967.  It imagines that the Americans face off against the Viet Cong in the village after being dropped off by Hueys.

The scenario starts with the VC setting up in and around the village.  The VC player is unaware of where the Americans will drop off their two platoons.  Playing this game solo, there was a bit of a challenge to this kind of setup, but I determined the LZs by rolling for them after the VC setup (rolling a 1d6:  1-3 = both platoons stick together and land on one side of the village, 4-6= the platoons split up, 1 of them is landed to the east of Ben Suc while the other goes to the west).  If you look at boards 1 and 5, the best landing zones are pretty self-evident.  I decided to be predictable in my landings.  The Americans get a couple of Huey gunships to help out along with reinforcements in the form of another platoon available on Turn 4.

The inital landings went well for the Americans.  The VC held their fire and waited for the US forces to land.  The VC held back one platoon to the southeast of the village with a 12.7mm MG team sitting in a bunker to the northeast.  On the west side of the village, mines were planted to slow down the Americans from advancing too quickly.  Two foxholes were set up in the light jungle to the north and south of the main road going into the village.  Although the platoon was not full strength, I felt the addition of mines and foxholes in this area more than made up for the lack of manpower.

As Lt. Walker and his platoon made their way into the heavy jungle to the southeast of the village, they came under fire from one squad of VC, followed by a massive melee assault by two squads and a VC leader.  With the VC’s huge advantage in ambush tactics in heavy terrain, the results were devastating for the Americans.  In the space of two turns, Lt. Walker and his platoon were completely wiped out (Sorry Mark!) and the Americans were left with only one platoon making its way slowly and carefully towards the village from the west.  To say the least, things did not look good for the Americans at this point.  The VC had yet to lose a single man.

By Turn 4, I almost packed up the game and I had put my camera away after deleting all my photos of the early game.  What a mistake.  Carefully, I eyed the board and looked for the ideal spot to plunk down the American reinforcements.  Desperation led to inspiration and I set the new guys’ LZ right behind the VC bunker.  It was foolish and reckless but with the bulk of the VC forces concentrated on the west side of the village, it seemed like the best way to try and turn this thing around.

The 12.7mm fired on the American Hueys as they entered the board and, rolling poorly, the Americans managed to shake off the fire and get their guys on the ground.  I even managed to get one of the squads right off the helicopter and on top of the adjacent bunker.

American reinforcements land to the northeast of the village while the US platoon to the west moves in.

Lt. Anders and his group could possibly save the day.  All I needed to do was to squeeze the vice until something popped.

Another shot of Lt. Anders and his men, possibly coming to the rescue.

This was all helped along immensely when the US forces to the west came under fire from an adjacent VC squad.  A US hero emerged from the firefight and made its way into the village to take out the VC 60mm mortars.  The next turn, the VC was forced to use its assault team to eliminate the hero, which freed up American options for advances into the village.

At the same time, one of the US Huey gunships was on fire (not literally) as I continued to roll “3” for its “to hit” roll after suffering from frustrating misses all game.  Around turn 6, it manages to take out a VC squad and wound Dobie-san, a VC leader.

Lt. Jenson and his squad start to move up north towards the village while Arnat (under “Stealthy”) waits for her chance.

The VC were slowly starting to get things under control in some small ways at this point.  They still had Arnat, who was simply deadly with her “Stealthy” ability.  The threat of a sudden VC ambush kept both American squads at bay until finally, Lt. Jenson and two squads raced up and jumped into melee with Arnat and her squad with an RPD.  They eliminated each other in brutal fashion, but this allowed Lt. Anders and his platoon to make their way into the village virtually unopposed.

Lt. Jenson and Arnat are both eliminated in a melee.  A VC hero is created when another squad tries to retreat.

One of the VC squads pulls back and is fired on by US forces, which results in a VC hero.  At the same time, the Americans encounter other problems due to an event in the village.  It seems Anders isn’t going to just waltz into the village after all.  To top it all off, the VC player places a sniper just outside the village.  He manages to shake up the US squads as they attempt to close in on the remaining VC.  Turn 8 is quickly approaching at this point.

Huey Gunships approach the village and work to eliminate remaining VC.

At this point, Lt. Anders’ platoon had been shaken up pretty badly so Huey Gunships were called in close to the village and fire at the remaining VC leader and his squads, hitting them with rockets and machinegun fire.  In one impulse, they are completely eliminated.  The VC sniper is still active, however, and shaked one American squad.  Lt. Anders rallies his squad on the last turn and they move in to take the village.

End Game.

By the end of the game, the US occupies all of the bamboo huts in the village, fulfilling the scenario’s victory conditions.  This was quite a surprising ending, especially since the Americans had such a poor start to things.  I think this shows how the back and forth ebb and flow of each scenario in LnL can provide some interesting narratives.  This scenario shows how difficult it is for the VC to assume a task that they are not accustomed to, which is standing and defending.  I think the key for the VC player is to suck the US in near the village and outmaneuver the US forces, setting up ambushes at every opportunity.  The US player needs to find ways to be unpredictable with its choice of LZs and keep the VC player guessing.

LnL: Forgotten Heroes – Tread Heads: Post-Ambush Aftermath

For the past week, I’ve been reporting on a playthrough of “Tread Heads”, a scenario from Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s Forgotten Heroes: Vietnam. This scenario features an NVA ambush of a US armored column. In my last write-up, I detailed the many and myriad ways that the NVA thoroughly ruined the American’s day in turn 5 after springing an ambush that destroyed an M-48 tank and caused the Americans to abandon an M-113.

So the U.S. has taken some heavy casualties in the initial ambush.  Here’s what happened next.

At the start of the next turn, Anders and Jensen dismount from their respective vehicles and head for the cover of the jungle to the east.

However, as the US officers and their squads start pulling back, the NVA fire on the next M-113 in the column, causing it too to become abandoned.  Half of the American vehicles are now disabled, destroyed or abandoned.

In the southwest of the village, the lead M-113 and the M-48 tank previously being used as a recon vehicle turn around, and start firing at the NVA from the south.  The remaining US forces are split up as the middle of the column is disabled.   The American officers (Jenson and Anders) are way up near the tail end of the column in the northwest.

My tactical error in assigning men to the convoy units is revealed.  The leaders were all riding in the back so now there’s a lone US squad down in the southwest fighting for dear life.

With few options left, the lone US squad advances north on the nearest group of NVA soldiers and enters melee with an NVA unit shaken up by M-48 tank fire.  The squad is now adjacent to a lone NVA sniper who has been causing havoc on the battlefield.

On the next turn, the NVA sniper fires away at the adjacent Americans, causing casualties and shaking the unit.  
On the next turn, Lt. Khai moves south with his squad and they eliminate the American squad.Lt. Khai’s other squad moves towards the abandoned M113 and melee’s the crew, eliminating it as well.  The US is taking heavy casualties.

By turn 8, things start looking up a bit for the US. Lt. Jenson makes a crazy charge at Lt. Thien and his squad, who miss the Americans as they advance towards them.  Instead of charging into melee, Jenson gets close enough to direct M-48 tank fire on Lt. Thien.  An NVA squad near Thien fires an RPG-2 at the US tank but the shot goes wide.  The M-48 fires on Thien and shakes up the NVA officer and his men.  The next turn, the NVA are unable to rally so Jenson and his squad eliminate them in melee.  This is a good example of really nice coordination of movement and fire between the tank and the American squad.

In the turns following the ambush, Anders has carefully approached Lt. Khai’s initial position from the jungle cover to the east.  The NVA, however, have largely moved out of the northern village area so Anders decides to mop up any remaining NVA units and flush out the sniper.  As Anders and his men try to get closer to the sniper’s position, the American officer is shot and wounded.

The US decides that it has had enough.  Jenson mounts the M-113 and after eliminating Lt. Thien earlier.  They head for the exit point off the map.

Well, maybe “hop inside” would be more accurate.

At the end of turn 10, an M-48 and a loaded M-113 leave the board, scoring multiple VPs for the Americans.

Lt. Anders remains behind with an M-48 down south.  Anders is wounded but determined to mop up the remaining NVA forces.  Turn 10 ends and the scenario is over.

The final tally is 23 for the NVA (3 vehicles abandoned plus six American squads eliminated while the US gets 20 VPs (2 vehicles exit the board [8]  plus Jenson and his squad [4] and 8 points worth of NVA squads/leaders eliminated).

The Americans sprang back pretty quickly despite the ferocity of the NVA ambush but the column placement really hamstrung them because the leaders were at the tail end and a couple of surviving squads were in the lead vehicles.  It was hard to mount an effective offense from south of the village with no leaders but the lone American squad down south did an admirable job of eliminating a pesky NVA unit that was wreaking havoc on American troops and vehicles alike.  The NVA did a nice job of covering each other with interlocking fields of fire and this really prevented the Americans from escaping the trap.  I don’t know if the US could have avoided losing half the convoy vehicles.

Another way you could play this scenario as the NVA is to have both platoons set up two separate ambushes on the US.  One of the platoons could hit the Americans as they enter the village and the other could set up further down the trail and hit them as they try to leave the map.  Alternately, the NVA could pull back after the initial hit on the convoy and strike them again after the Americans reorganize with the remaining vehicles, turning the scenario into a pursuit.

I believe that the placement of vehicles within the convoy was actually pretty decent and helped significantly in at least minimizing US troop losses.  The lead vehicles managed to get off some shots that shook up the NVA on their flanks while the rear vehicles used their fire to support Jenson in his successful attempt to eliminate Lt. Thien and his platoon.  The key to good convoy placement is to provide enough strength at the front and back and to separate those vehicles a bit from the main elements.  This allows them to move in and serve as a reaction force to disrupt the ambushers.

LnL: Forgotten Heroes – Tread Heads – The Ambush

In LnL’s Forgotten Heroes:  Vietnam scenario “Tread Heads”, the NVA spring an ambush on an approaching American armored column.  The past couple of posts have featured a breakdown of how each side prepared for the fight.  Now it’s time to sit back and watch how it all panned out.  In this post, I’ll focus on the lead-up to the ambush as well as the ambush itself.

One of the things you quickly learn in LnL games is that one placement or setup decision that is a bit off can determine the whole course of the scenario.  That proved to be the case here as well, but I’ll get into that a bit later.  For now, we’ll talk about Turns 1 through 4 in this 10 turn scenario.

On Turn 1, the convoy enters with the lead tank 5 hexes in front of the main body of the column.

A couple of turns later, the NVA lets the lead US tank go by without firing a shot.  The main prize approaches.

The main body approaches with an M-113 in front, an M-48 behind it, followed by two M-113s packed with troops inside.  An M-48 (not shown) hangs back in the rear, waiting for trouble to start.

On Turn 4, the main body of the convoy enters the village and the NVA opens up.  Lt. Thien gives the order to a squad with an RPG-2 and it opens fire, missing the nearby M-113.  Luckily for the NVA, however, small arms fire shakes up the M-113.

Lt. Khai’s RPG-2 squad up north, however, has even more luck.  It fires at the rear of the M-48 from the main convoy, destroying it and eliminating the squad riding atop.  
Oops!  Helicopter wreck counter should be tank wreck counter.

Khai orders another squad with an RPD to fire at the shaken M-113.  They roll another shaken result, which causes the APC crew to abandon the vehicle.  The US squad riding inside the APC also decides to get out while the gettin’ out is good and they remain shaken in the same hex as the crew.

Another squad fires at the passengers riding atop the lead recon vehicle on the road outside the village and shakes up the US squad, which dismounts in a panic.  As the end of Turn 4 approaches, Lt. Thien delivers the NVA coup de grace, sending out one last squad to melee the shaken US Army squad, eliminating it and the M113 crew.

And so the trap was sprung and the initial count at the end of Turn 4 is:  2 eliminated American vehicles, 2 eliminated US Army squads and an M-113 crew.  That’s a total of 14 victory points so far. It’s not a bad result for the NVA since 1/3 of the US column is now eliminated and the Vietnamese have suffered no losses. However, there are still six turns left for the US to recover and get out of the trap.

I’ll be posting the results of Turns 5 through 10 in the coming days.

LnL Forgotten Heroes: Vietnam – Tread Heads – The Convoy

Yesterday, I talked about setup for the NVA ambush in the scenario “Tread Heads” from Forgotten Heroes:  Vietnam.  Basically, the US player rolls through three map boards with six vehicles (three M-113s and three M-48s) mounted with infantry.  The Americans cannot spot the NVA ambush unless they move adjacent to the NVA or are fired upon (or, of course from movement).

Taking this into account, the NVA set up slightly away from the road, sacrificing accuracy for surprise.

Attempting to set up an effective convoy that you know is going to get ambushed is no small proposition.  I tried to follow some of the basic principles from this website on convoy vulnerability.

First off, heavy armor should always serve as an advance guard in the convoy to detect ambushes.  Since we only have three tanks to play with here, that means that one of the M-48s will be going ahead of the convoy.

Secondly, the rear guard of the convoy should also be heavy armor.  Right, another M48 goes in the back.

Every third or fourth vehicle in the convoy should be heavy armor.  Okay, our last M48 goes right in the middle of the main body of the convoy.

So that’s:

Lead vehicle (recon):  M48  *5 hexes ahead of main body* (2-6-4 riding on top)

Main body:
M113 (2-6-4 squad inside)
M48  (2-6-4 on top)
M113 (Medic and 2-6-4 w/ LAW anti-tank inside)
M113 (Lt. Anders, 2-6-4 w/ M-60 LMG inside)

Rear guard:  M48  *4 hexes behind main body* (Lt. Jenson, 2-6-4 w/ M-60 riding on top)

M-48 lead vehicle (left) w/ 2-6-4 passengers.  M-48 main body vehicle (right) w/2-6-4 passengers.

Rear guard armor M-48 tank w/ Jenson and squads (left) and main body lead M-113 w/ 2-6-4 squad inside.

A medic and a 2-6-4 squad will ride inside the M-113 (third vehicle in main body of the convoy) while Lt. Anders and squad will ride inside the last vehicle in the main body.

Having the vehicles spread out slightly with a rear and advance guard should give the US player enough time to respond to any ambush after the initial damage is done. However, there is a tactical mistake being made here in our convoy plans, which will play out later in the coming turns.  Can you spot the error?

I’ll be posting the results in a couple of days.