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NKL Aerotom

Had a somewhat disheartening playtest this week, although this is sometimes the case with new rules – can’t expect games to run perfectly straight away! Pitting a US platoon against 3 VC platoons, with the US objective to search a town. Not using any fog of war rules, just infantry on the table from the start:

I immediately encountered the problem that having individual weapon teams created a lot of clutter, and this will need to be streamlined or fixed in some way. I ended up removing the heavy weapon teams before the game even started… The whole organization of how heavy weapon teams relate to the squad might be best handled with heavy weapons always being organic within the squad, but able to be exported as individual teams when desired – how to track this without paperwork will be an interesting design challenge though. The playtest didn’t progress beyond 7 or so turns and there was no real result.
Its definitely worth spending time on these basic mechanics to get them right before adding in the more “Vietnam” aspects such as helicopters and civilians.

On the plus side, the spotting, activation, suppression and casualty rules are working very nicely, tracking KIA and wounded feels good and gives the game some emotional punch, instead of just placing a “heavy casualties” marker and calling it a day.
Suppression in particular feels very good, and after reading This interesting article on infantry combat, I feel like I’m representing the “everyone is suppressed all the time” fairly well – those who fight off being suppressed become vital maneuver elements to cause the suppression to swing the other way.

So not everything is bad, and I certainly have my work cut out for me, but I think its worth spending this extra time and thought to make the basic infantry mechanics feel excellent and engaging before adding in any fog of war, vehicles, etc. If the platoon to platoon combat on its own feels great, then everything else will take the game from “great” to “excellent”.