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  • #124488
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Greetings all, I’ve been working on writing a company scale Vietnam game, aimed at 6mm scale. Some people have asked about my process when writing a game, so I thought I’d post as I go, from research to playtesting to the finished game.

    It was initially posted on our Ostfront forum, but I’ll duplicate it here.

    Fire up music of the period, and get settled in:

    Every game starts with research, since I had already seen most of the Vietnam films around (although I need to go back and re-watch Hamburger Hill…), I started with reading first hand accounts of the war.
    Read: Platoon Leader, Lasting Visions, Saddle Up, Inside the VC and NVA, Vietnam: The Good times, The Bad Times, as well as listening to the audiobook “To the Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam”.

    While reading these materials, I would take notes when I learned something interesting about the conflict or the forces or tactics involved. Making lists of the weapons involved and their effective ranges, the things that might happen during a patrol, and the important aspects of each mission of each side. I also read through the wikipedia entries on the major battles and operations of the war.

    I also thought intensely about what scale the game should be at. I had always wanted to do 6mm scale, as I really like it for modern conflicts. So with that miniature scale in mind, I figured company scale, with platoons of around 20 men being the smallest unit you could deploy (although they could be broken into smaller squads of 5 – 10 men after deployment), would be a good scale for the combat.

    My list of notes after a few months looked like this. I also added some units and guessed some points values:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/8ya6nxnru0m4zs1/Vietam_Forces_2.pdf?dl=0

    I also fooled around with mocking up a cover, after thinking about names and discarding a few (like “Unfortunate Sons”, “Incoming”, “It Aint Me”, and a few others):

    I also put together a page background image, and added some titles and chose some fonts. I tend to organize my documents like this to start with, using section titles to see if the document will flow nicely, with each concept drawing on previous concepts, in a euclidean way:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0cvhjna5jxiaa31/Boocoo%20Fire%20Mission_2.pdf?dl=0

    After getting these materials in action and feeling happy with the art direction and my research, I began typing up a playtest document – just the bare essentials in order to get a playtest going – focusing on the Infantry platoon and how it moves, and fights. My first playtest would be 1 platoon vs 1 platoon, with no heavy weapons, both sides equal, to just get a feel for how things work, before adding any asymmetry to the mix.
    This was my playtest document initially:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/4ch18ue4nusq65w/Playtest_2.pdf?dl=0

    I then came up with some more solid ideas about how combat should work, still trying to focus on just infantry vs infantry, hoping to get enough detail to do a playtest:

    Trying to ignore fog of war for the moment, just get the infantry mechanics feeling right, as they are essentially the core of the game

    Also mocking up platoon rosters, to see how damage and casualties will be tracked for a platoon. In my previous games I often relied on markers to show a unit’s condition, but this time I wanted to track most of the conditions on a unit roster, while keeping markers on table to something generic like “unit has taken casualties” or suchlike. 1 colored marker or 2 markers max, like our Ostfront game, but tied to the roster sheet – so you still get a visible indication that the unit isn’t 100%, then you can see exactly what it up when you look at the roster sheet.

    I started by sketching out the elements I thought I needed, on paper, trying to fit everything in nicely. Went through a few iterations…

    Then put the latest iteration into paint.net, using a grid as reference:

    Then removed the grid and copied it:

    More polished version:

    I kept refining the playtest document over a few more days, at this stage pretty much ready to try it out. I omitted any hidden movement, but did try it with friction implemented
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/pby599q3adt6knp/Playtest_4.pdf?dl=0

    New unit roster mocked up (this time in Open Office as a table – quicker to do), based on the needs of the playtest document. The “Stance” section will have a paper clip on it which can be moved to indicate the current stance. Comms and Aware will have a binary “on or off” condition, shown by having a marker in the space next to them, or not having a marker. KIA will be a tally by pencil, while Casualties will have a dice next to them, as these can do up and down as medevacs happen, or seriously wounded soldiers die:

    And finally: The first playtest in action! – 1 small platoon vs another small platoon, using random shit as terrain. Already taken a bunch of notes and got some ideas. If you can’t do something you feel like you should be able to do ( like one unit firing while the others spread out), just add a rule for it!

    #124490
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    That was very interesting Tom, looking forward to seeing these develop.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #124491
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Cheers Whirlwind, glad you enjoyed.

    I realized I uploaded the wrong PDF of the document mock-up, with the wrong title font – should look like this 😉

    http://www.dropbox.com/s/0cvhjna5jxiaa31/Boocoo%20Fire%20Mission_2.pdf?dl=0

    Just about to bust out another playtest, this time with artillery on the US side, and adding disorder and suppression into the mix.

    Disorder and Suppression rules – super simple

    Artillery Rules taking shape – not shown: Smoke, Marking Round (for lost units), Time Over Target, Defensive Target Zeroing, or Delta Tango (defensive Target)

    #124492
    ian pillay
    ian pillay
    Participant

    Tom

    thank you for sharing your thoughts and rules development process. I will be taking heed of your advice as I am currently trying to write a set of rules for dark age Viking raids.

    best of luck with the rest of the development of these rules. I look forward to seeing the finished book.

    Cheers

    Ian

    Tally-Ho!

    #124495
    Mike
    Mike
    Keymaster

    That is a very extensive and detailed post. Thanks dude.

    #124538
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Glad you guys are enjoying 🙂

    Did a playtest last night, using 1 US platoon with arty support vs 2 VC platoons, with the VC flanking. The US detected the VC first, advancing slightly into cover and going prone, but the VC saw them too at around the same time, and began firing at long range, suppressing the 2 US squads, but not causing any disorder (the US already being aware, and the VC being within their line of sight).
    Meanwhile VC flanked the US from around some scrub, advancing very close and opening fire, wounding one US soldier although not seriously.
    The US called in artillery support, requesting a registration round on the flanking VC platoon. Once this was confirmed, they called in FFE (For For Effect, where all 6 guns in a battery continuously fire as fast as possible at one area, until ordered to stop), instantly wiping out a base of VC (initially inflicting a total of 5 casualties – 1 KIA and 4 wounded) and causing the rest of the platoon to flee or be pinned and later wiped out. The VC were unable to retrieve their casualties.

    While only 2nd playtest, it already feels like Vietnam, with the US relying entirely on artillery to prevent being overrun.

    An image of the battle:

    #124857
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    US Infantry Coming along – some VC are in the works too…

    Current US Forces:

    Up next – more playtesting and looking at adding in LMGs / RPGs, and perhaps more friction with artillery support (seems a bit easy for US to call in and destroy enemy units – although that is fairly accurate for most engagements…)

    #125025
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Some of the first VC infantry rolling off the production line, broke out my nice gaming mat from DEEP CUT STUDIO too, which I plan on using for these games:

     

    Typing up some rules over the past few days – Added rules for Civilians, requesting Medevac Helicopters, and some of the Hidden Movement / Hidden Deployment rules using Terrain Points. Also clarified how the Time of Day relates to the Turns and Activation order – deciding on a dividing the day into 6 “Times of Day”, each divided into 4 Turns, each representing about an hour of real life combat. This might change depending on playtests.
    Also some tweaking of the rules around how units are removed from the game – making them harder to be removed depending on the troop quality – hardier units will be able to fight longer, as wounded soldiers carry on fighting…

    This is what the playtest document looks like now:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8vpiawchz1wxsd/Playtest_7.pdf?dl=0

    To do: Rules for how helicopters work, and Weapon Teams, as those will be the next few things I test out. Gearing up for a full scale playtest using hidden deployment, hopefully in a few weeks once I’ve done a few more small scale solo playtests and got all the rules I need typed up.

    #125116
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Some VC civilians finished:

    AH-1s done, and Huey painted up as Medevac:

    US Forces so far:

    Had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday as well with regards to Fog of War (thanks to my gf for the idea…) – the idea of Terrain Points being boxes or upturned cups/lids on the table, that unit blinds can move between without being seen. One player would turn away while the other player moves or deploys units. It would allow for hidden movement without needing to track positions on a piece of paper.

    #125166
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Looking good!  I need to give your doc a read through.  I had started reworking my 3mm version of FNG just before you started posting this, and it’s always good to have fresh ideas bantered about.  Never too many VN games IMHO! 

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #125180

    Thomaston
    Participant

    <p style=”font-size: 16px !important; line-height: 20px !important;”>the idea of Terrain Points being boxes or upturned cups/lids on the table, that unit blinds can move between without being seen. One player would turn away while the other player moves or deploys units. It would allow for hidden movement without needing to track positions on a piece of paper.

    </p>
     

    That’s a nice idea.

    Tired is enough.

    #125203
    JozisTinMan
    JozisTinMan
    Participant

    I will be following this with interest, I like your mechanics.

     

    http://jozistinman.blogspot.com/

    #125796
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Glad you guys are enjoying 🙂

    I’m still reading through “Vietnam: The Good Times, The Bad Times” and its one of the more exciting, interesting, and sometimes hilarious first hand accounts I’ve read so far. I finished listening to the Air Cav Huey pilot audiobook while painting, and began listening to “Nam-Sense: Surviving Vietnam with the 101st Airborne” which is an interesting account of a “Shake n Bake” NCO – also very illuminating and often hilarious.

    More miniatures completed over the past week – US Heavy Weapons and armor:

    VC Heavy Weapons:

    Rules-wise I’ve typed up the rules for Terrain Points, expanding on the idea of using upturned cups / boxes on the table, which will allow hidden deployment and movement.
    The Terrain Points function in 2 layers – Undetected units which aren’t actively hiding or waiting in ambush, and units actually waiting in ambush. This allows for units to hide and observe enemy movement. All platoons and small units like recon teams have a “Unit Blind” counter which contains their name on one side, and a “?” on the other. Every Terrain Point has a dummy Unit Blind with the “?” side facing up at the start of the game, after which this dummy blind can be replaced with a hidden Unit Blind, still with the “?” side facing up (so you won’t know if a unit is hiding at a Terrain Point or not). Hidden units will remain hidden until a player initiates an ambush, or attempts to move between Terrain Points, which could lead to detection depending on the moving unit’s skill.
    I made some Terrain Points by cutting the bottom inch off of heavy paper cups, and painting them a soil color. On top of these a Terrain Point marker with a name on it can be placed, allowing some modularity.

    I typed out how Platoon cohesion will work, rules for Heavy Weapon Teams (can function as separate bases, or organic heavy weapons inside each squad), and what happens when a unit is separated from its Platoon.
    Helicopter rules also drafted up, as well as some of the Helicopter weapon systems statted out.

    My playtest document currently looks like this:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/etbzzlipy8pv2h5/Playtest_9.pdf?dl=0

    Next plan is to do some small play-tests with heavy weapons, to see how they function with the platoon. I have some more VC platoons and heavy weapons to paint, and some Unit Blinds to make (although these are mostly done).
    I need to think a bit more about the Terrain Point system, and what happens when a unit tries to hide at a Terrain Point where there is already a hidden unit…

    In the long term I’m gearing up for a large scale playtest, with all the units and rules available, and the Terrain Point deployment and hidden movement. This will be after a few more small scale play-tests, to try the various units and mechanics.

    #126280
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Last few weeks have seen more miniatures completed – a bunch of VC squads, as well as some US and VC heavy weapons in the works.

    Rules-wise I have typed up the Air Support rules, and expanded on the Helicopter rules a little as well – both are pretty much ready for playtesting.

    I also migrated the content of the playtest document into the aesthetic test / layout document, altering the headings and fonts to fit the aesthetic. This will help me plan the document better as I go, and things like making new tables can be done so that I don’t get any surprises if I was to leave this migration to the last minute. I deleted most of the content in the aesthetic / layout document, although I left the introduction, and incorporated some of the text from the Platoon organization section.

    This is what it looks like so far:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/7ubw9o50xwi7ktm/Boocoo%20Fire%20Mission_3.pdf?dl=0

    From this point on I will be working in this document, although I won’t worry about final layouts until the rules are completely typed up and well playtested. I will add photos as the very last thing, as a way to take up empty space once the document is completed.

    My next step is to do some playtesting – I’ve written enough rules that I have a lot of playtesting ahead to see if these rules work, how balanced they are, what still needs to be clarified, and so on. My first focus will be to playtest just platoons and heavy weapons, with the US having their usual support (Artillery, Medecavs, Air Support). I’ll be looking carefully at how heavy weapons function in tandem with the squads of the platoon, and how powerful US support is. I will also start playtesting on my proper gaming mat, which has a lot of jungle sections, so terrain and line of sight will be a big part of the testing.

    Before I can do this, I need to write up the Forces Lists that each player will build their Company from – choosing the wording of how players will purchase platoons, additional heavy weapons (either separate or organic within each squad), and things like booby traps or helicopter air lifts. You can see my very quick start of this at the end of the document above – it will likely evolve as I go, and probably end up in a table a la Hind & Seek.
    As I was writing up the US Forces, I realized that heavy weapons at this stage are just as strong as a Squad, while potentially having better firepower, so I will need to rectify this by making a weapon team functioning separately much weaker than an average squad. How I will do this I’m not sure, but its something I will think about over the next week or so, looking for a simple and effective solution.

    Another part of gearing up for playtests is going the Game Markers, which I did the sheet for today:

    #126306
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Sounds like good progress!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #126378
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Thinking about the issues with Weapon Teams over the last few days has yielded results, I noted down my ideas in a text file (“Unit” being a single base of infantry or Weapon Team):

    This will allow Weapon Teams to be more fragile than squads when isolated, and also allow players to target Weapon Teams specifically if they want to take them out before Squads.

    Also added in the ideas above is an idea that will restrict detection – if a unit fails to detect another, that unit is considered to be “Undetected” until it moves or attacks. This prevents multiple attempts to detect a unit, although playtesting will decide if this is a good idea or not, and there will likely be some exceptions or caveats to this rule, such as being able to roll again for detection if you come within 6″ of the Undetected unit.

    I also need to get my Lexicon straight, as I’m not using “Undetected” to mean a unit that is exempt from detection rolls, as well as the word being used for units that are under the Terrain Point Covers (upturned boxes / cups on the table used for hidden movement). I will need to rename the latter, finding a word that represents a unit that is not actively hiding, but is considered to be hidden from the enemy via fog of war.

    The Force Lists are taking shape, with limits being imposed based on how many platoons a player has taken:

    I’ve also made a decision to only reflect the VC aspect of the North Vietnamese, rather than letting players choose between NVA and VC. VC will allow the player to use Booby Traps, and will prevent vehicles like the PT-76 being taken, making the game feel much more like the Vietnam War most of us are used to in the media. Allowing the game to focus on US patrols and company operations against VC with booby traps and ambushes will be the experience I think most players will be looking for – allowing for lots of friction and fog of war in an asymmetrical setting, rather than full-out conventional war of the NVA with tanks and good artillery support.
    Granted that NVA did take place in many asymmetrical actions, I believe it to be simpler to just focus on the VC – also allow me to provide printed unit nametags for players, and only build one type of army (talking about miniatures here), rather than building an entire NVA army with correct unit nametags.

    Also typed up some of the Helicopter damage rules today, as well as cleaning up a few other aspects of the rules, getting ready for playtests. Added some Heavy Casualties and “Undetected” markers, and printed out and cut out the game markers for play.

    #126619
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    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”.

    #126787
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    A few more US units completed last week, which I haven’t posted yet. These are the US forces so far:


    Rules-wise I have done a lot of thinking about this over the past few days, and it seems the cleanest option for going forward with regards to heavy weapons teams is to have them organic within each squad. Heavy Weapons Team miniatures will be used in support of each squad (adding firepower), but will have no physical existence on the table with regards to line of sight – the miniatures can simply show that the squad is supported by the said heavy weapons. They can still be chosen as casualties by enemy fire, giving the option of neutralizing heavy weapons inside a squad.
    Individual heavy weapon teams will of course still exist, especially on the VC side as they require LMG and HMG teams to be able to stay behind on ambush and suchlike.
    I may introduce the ability to separate weapon teams later on for the US as well, although from what I’ve read they didn’t really operate on their own.

    I will need to test the specifics of how this will work – when does a heavy weapon team count as supporting a squad (within 1″, or within base contact?),and what happens if multiple heavy weapon teams are nearby multiple squads? can they choose to support one or the other (likely yes) and how will I show that they have already supported a squad (by using “Tracer” markers).
    The idea of using “Tracer” markers I think will be useful for showing who has fired, as well as adding a nice effect on the tabletop. It will also be vital for night, as tracers and muzzle flashes will give away your position – meaning no one wants to fire first…

    Another think I’ve been thinking about is just having all the troops at “average” skill, with only recon units treated as elite – this sill simplify things and is somewhat realistic especially on the US side, as you always had green guys mixed in with salts. In line with this I thought about having some task difficulties representing a more granular detection system, as follows:

    I have also started building some Vietnamese village huts, just using cardboard. The thatched roofs will be made from polystyrene, carved into shape, rather than using cardboard which would be a bit fiddly to make all the angled sections (and the roofs tended to be pretty messy).

    #126906
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    The carved Polystyrene village roofs:

    The finished village and all the VC I’ve done so far – should be pretty much everything I need. Also the Civilians are present

    Rules-wise its time to do some serious playtesting, examining the way platoons work. I have also had an idea about a sliding task system, where all tasks start at “Average” difficulty, then modifiers based alter the difficulty based on what’s happening. This would allow a variety of tasks to be done by a variety of different skill levels (or under a variety of different conditions such as suppression) and keep things managable:

    #126950
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    One thing I would suggest: stick to one/consolidate modifier methodology.  Above there you show recon having a +2 to boobytrap detection die roll but towards the bottom they are shown having a -1 on the target number for task resolution.  On the one you’re adding to the die roll and on the other you’re lowering the target number which could cause confusion with the payer.  Perhaps stick with adding the modifiers to the die roll rather than moving the target numbers?  (this allows to come up with an overall +/-, like for a Recon unit that is +1 at task resolution but also in cover, suppressed and unaware….)

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #127001
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Good spotting Darkest Star, I definitely intend to only use one system, probably the bottom system with the difficulty being altered, rather than adding any dice modifiers 🙂

    I’ll see how it goes in playtesting, the latter system was feeling very good yesterday when I was doing a test

    #127074
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Had an excellent playtest the other day, I seem to have solved the heavy weapons issue – the solution was to always have heavy weapons supporting a squad – so their firepower is added in after the squad succeeds an attack roll, rather than treating them as separate units. The actual bases of heavy weapons just show that the squad is supported by those weapons, and don’t actually count for line of sight or movement.
    Of course some heavy weapons will be able to be deployed separately – VC MG nests for example, and I will probably introduce rules for “splitting off” weapons teams to function on their own later, but for now this allows me to move forwards with the rest of the ruleset.
    Part of the playtest in action – a US platoon searching a village comes under a heavy crossfire from 2 VC platoons in the treelines.

    I used the Task Difficulty system from the post above, which seemed to work nicely, especially for detection. The detection rules in particular are shaping up nicely – when a detection roll is failed, a marker is placed on that unit and they remain undetected until they move or shoot – allows for ambushes to be as effective as they were in real life, and means if you’re moving about in the open, the enemy has more chances to detect you.

    The suppression and disorder systems are working well, but the casualty system required some tweaking – the platoon was lasting too long without any bases being removed. The US platoon in the playtest took 25 casualties (8 or so KIA, a bunch of lightly wounded and 2 serious, one of which later died) and only removed a single M60 base. My solution was to make the “Scatter Test” (when a base is actually removed after taking casualties) ((I’m still trying to find a better name for this test)) scale in difficulty depending on how many casualties have been taken.
    So a unit with few casualties will be able to function normally, but the effectiveness will be cut back as it takes more and more casualties.
    This number will depend if the unit taking the test is a platoon or an isolated squad / team.
    The Task Difficulty page now looks like this:

    I also did a re-shuffle of the rule book, putting all the Terrain Point rules at the end, as I’m not using them in these early stages. This made things much more manageable, and I didn’t have to scroll past a bunch of rules I’m not using to read or work on what I need. Ergonomics is important in these early stages, to get a good grips on what rules you’re actually working with and how well they are working.

    Another issue I tweaked was the damage table – HE did far too much damage, with 1 RPG killing multiple people and wounding others. I scaled it back based on the accounts I’ve read – from what I remember it was mostly 1 person killed max from an RPG, with a few lightly or seriously wounded in the worst case. Units would usually be spread out enough that a single RPG explosion wasn’t going to cause multiple fatalities as well as multiple others wounded. I tweaked the Heavy Ordnance table too in this manner.

    #127099
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    rather than treating them as separate units

    This can be tricky as NVA doctrine and practice was to focus as much as possible on knocking out FWF MGs as well as RTOs, as most often it was the these 2 doing the real damage and suppression.

    when a detection roll is failed, a marker is placed on that unit and they remain undetected until they move or shoot – allows for ambushes to be as effective as they were in real life, and means if you’re moving about in the open, the enemy has more chances to detect you.

    I like this alot!  The hard part is keeping the players honest and from metagaming.

    Another issue I tweaked was the damage table – HE did far too much damage, with 1 RPG killing multiple people and wounding others. I scaled it back based on the accounts I’ve read – from what I remember it was mostly 1 person killed max from an RPG, with a few lightly or seriously wounded in the worst case. Units would usually be spread out enough that a single RPG explosion wasn’t going to cause multiple fatalities as well as multiple others wounded. I tweaked the Heavy Ordnance table too in this manner.

      This is also tricky… there is no doubt that the RPG-7  was much more effective than the RPG-2 (B-40 rocket) even though the B-40 was more of a frag type round, but it also depended upon terrain.  RPG-7s were murder in rocky or forested areas, but less so in the open.  Not sure how you can equate for that.

     

    Something else I think you might want to look at: how casualties are processed.  In most games when a unit takes casualties the stand is just removed and it is assumed that the wounded were taken to friendly lines.  But in VN you couldn’t just wander back to your line, as there was none.  As casualties were usually collected at a specific point for evac, sometimes the CP, perhaps there should be markers that get moved and have to be defended, etc.  The NVA were notorious for sending flankers out to probe for the CP and these areas so they could not only get at the wounded but to shoot down the Dustoffs.  A heck of a lot of battles shifted focus from attack to casevac after initial contact, and that is often not reflected in most VN-centric rule systems.  Politics played as much a part in combat as in policy.  Battles were won on the field but lost in public opinion, just look at Tet!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #127123
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Thanks for your ideas and feedback Darkest Star – definitely agree with you on all these points 🙂

    This can be tricky as NVA doctrine and practice was to focus as much as possible on knocking out FWF MGs as well as RTOs, as most often it was the these 2 doing the real damage and suppression.

    The players will still have the option to knock out MGs and other heavy weapons first, and I will likely have rules for separate heavy weapon teams eventually as well. As for targeting RTOs – could be an interesting idea, and I definitely read about this happening quite often (I recall a place called “Antenna Valley” where RTOs would always be sniped…)

    Something else I think you might want to look at: how casualties are processed.

    This was one of the core concepts I wanted to emulate in the game – Casualty recovery and its importance. Casualties are tracked as 3 types – KIA, Severely Wounded (bad enough that they can’t walk and could become KIA at the end of any turn), and Lightly Wounded (Walking Wounded)

    Victory points will be largely based on unrecovered casualties – anyone left behind would give major victory points to the enemy. So the VC will always attempt to drag away their casualties, while the US must medevac them. Having Severe Casualties potentially degrading into KIA will put some time pressure on this too

    This is the current casualty evacuation rules:

    My plan is that the US will not gain victory points for VC KIA that are recovered by the VC (damn, I know we killed a few of them, but all we see is blood trails out there…) – needing actual bodies for the body count. While the VC will still get victory points for US KIA, even if they are recovered. This shows how many casualties the VC/NVA are able to sustain without losing morale about the war as a whole, while each US KIA degrades the support for the war at home.

    #127283
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Got a few things done over the past few days – I have some ideas about when mishaps should happen to units (When they roll double 1s to activate) as well as ideas on when to use smoke for air strikes / medevacs, and to have some more randomness in when danger close air strikes will be allowed, and when they would be denied.
    Finished off some Vietnamese huts and lean-tos:

    Now that I’m pretty happy with the infantry rules (although they will continue to be refined during playtesting), I can start working on the helicopter and vehicle rules in earnest. Did some example images of helicopter lines of sight for weapons today:

    UH-1 Huey:

    Huey Gunship:

    AH-1 Cobra:

    OH-6 Cayuse / Loach:

    CH-46 (would also double for Chinook):

    Potentially still the Kiowa to do, not 100% sure if I will include it in the game.
    I’ve had to make calls on the armament and loadout of helicopters, as shown in the images above. I won’t let players loadout their helicopters, preferring to keep them generic (and they will be somewhat randomized in game when calling in support). Having the Huey gunship and the AH-1 with the same armament suits nicely, as having only certain miniatures available won’t limit the kind of gunships a player can deploy. The idea is to allow players flexibility with the miniatures they have.

    Books-wise I finished “Vietnam: The Good Times, The Bad Times” (highly recommend) and the audiobook “Nam-Sense: Surviving Vietnam with the 101st Airborne” (very amusing and interesting – 10/10 narrator), and started the Audiobook “Silent Heroes: A Recon Marine’s Vietnam War Experience”, looking at a recon squad. Learning a lot about how recon operate and their capabilities with regards to calling in Aerial Observers to check suspicious activity.
    Watched some interviews with Loach pilots too, which is where I got the idea for the right-mounted M60 (the crew chief hanging out the right side on a sling). Loaches will be able to fly low and slow, detecting enemies easier, and able to mark targets for gunships.

    #127285

    Thomaston
    Participant

    I like the huts you made, very nice.
    I like the helicopter fire arcs but why are the rocket arc for AH-1 and OH-6 different? Is it jsut for simplicity?

    Tired is enough.

    #127306
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    why are the rocket arc for AH-1 and OH-6 different? Is it jsut for simplicity?

    Good spotting, ideally they should be the same, it would mean overlapping lines of sight with the Loach’s side M60 though – might be better for simplicity to keep it as is. I was kind of thinking of the loach having to be super accurate with the marker smoke, while the gunships can lay down area fire and still have good effect

    #127311
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    This was one of the core concepts I wanted to emulate in the game – Casualty recovery and its importance. Casualties are tracked as 3 types – KIA, Severely Wounded (bad enough that they can’t walk and could become KIA at the end of any turn), and Lightly Wounded (Walking Wounded) Victory points will be largely based on unrecovered casualties – anyone left behind would give major victory points to the enemy. So the VC will always attempt to drag away their casualties, while the US must medevac them. Having Severe Casualties potentially degrading into KIA will put some time pressure on this too

    I like this a lot!  There will need to be better definition as to where the NVA/VC need to drag their buddies to, a stop point for them, otherwise it could be assumed table edge which could be a heck of a long way in 6mm.

     

    I’ve had to make calls on the armament and loadout of helicopters, as shown in the images above. I won’t let players loadout their helicopters, preferring to keep them generic (and they will be somewhat randomized in game when calling in support).

      I’ve got to fight you on this!  One of the joys of using helicopters at this scale is the shear variety of loadouts.  Each loadout also had it’s own uses.  Many moons ago I wrote a 3mm/6mm Nam game that hasn’t yet seen the light of day (doesn’t fit in with the other FNG stuff I wrote for THW) and discovered that the loadout, especially if it is random, can change up a game drastically.  One example:  I had called in some TacAir, hoping to get some F-100s with 750lb bombs to knock out some bunkers that had driven my troops back, so I backed off 2 platoons to get out of the danger zone.  The NVA knew what was about to happen and pushed forwards.  I ended up getting a pair of F-4s with half loads of napalm.  Laid one plane across my front (frying those suckers!) and another along my left flank, but it hit behind a flanking squad which I was able to push into the flames and wipe out.  Had the Huns come in with the 750s, things would have been a lot different, probably with some nasty point blank work.

    So, you’d have to use different tactics for a Huey Frog (rockets and guns) differently from a Hog (ARA version with the big rocket pods, or the HEavy Hog with additional 40mm GL on the front), which can self protect with doorguns, while a Cobra would attack from the dive and want to bug out ASAP without the cover ofa follow-on ship.  And then there’s the “smoke ship”….

    Also, other helos to not forget: the H-34, CH-46, and OH-13 (used a lot more than the OH-6, and for longer, it too had an m-60 on the right).  There was also the OH-6 with rockets and mini gun, or standard with an m-60 to one side and an observer on the left with an M-16 and smoke grenades (no rockets, so would have to fly over the enemy to mark them, most often used with Cobras as Pink Teams)

    I have quite an extensive Nam library, if you can pass me a topic I can make some good reading recommendations if you like.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #127362
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    There will need to be better definition as to where the NVA/VC need to drag their buddies to, a stop point for them, otherwise it could be assumed table edge which could be a heck of a long way in 6mm.

    My plan is to only give the US a body count if VC casualties are left behind, otherwise its assumed they get them out safely and melt back into the terrain when the game ends.

    I’ve got to fight you on this! One of the joys of using helicopters at this scale is the shear variety of loadouts.

    Because the focus of this game is the infantry platoon, I don’t plan on letting players choose any specific support helicopters as part of their army list – they can choose heliborne infantry which may have accompanying gunships, but beyond that helicopters will have to be called in on the fly – at which time they will be randomized in a way where players will have a few options depending on their available miniatures (which is why I have cobras and Huey gunships armed the same). That’s my plan at the moment, will see how it goes in playtesting.

    Also, other helos to not forget: the H-34, CH-46, and OH-13 (used a lot more than the OH-6, and for longer, it too had an m-60 on the right).

    Cheers, the H-34, and other larger transport helis will be lumped together into the “heavy transport” helicopters, the same as the CH-46 shown above – allows players to use a few different miniatures to represent the same kind of thing. I’d prefer to have just a few different types of generic helicopters represented in this game, keeping player reference overhead down. Allows the focus to remain on infantry with helicopters purely acting in support.

    I have quite an extensive Nam library, if you can pass me a topic I can make some good reading recommendations if you like.

    Thanks for the offer!

    #127394

    Stephen Madjanovich
    Participant

    I’ve got to fight you on this! One of the joys of using helicopters at this scale is the shear variety of loadouts.

    Because the focus of this game is the infantry platoon, I don’t plan on letting players choose any specific support helicopters as part of their army list – they can choose heliborne infantry which may have accompanying gunships, but beyond that helicopters will have to be called in on the fly – at which time they will be randomized in a way where players will have a few options depending on their available miniatures (which is why I have cobras and Huey gunships armed the same). That’s my plan at the moment, will see how it goes in playtesting.

    Also, other helos to not forget: the H-34, CH-46, and OH-13 (used a lot more than the OH-6, and for longer, it too had an m-60 on the right).

    Cheers, the H-34, and other larger transport helis will be lumped together into the “heavy transport” helicopters, the same as the CH-46 shown above – allows players to use a few different miniatures to represent the same kind of thing. I’d prefer to have just a few different types of generic helicopters represented in this game, keeping player reference overhead down. Allows the focus to remain on infantry with helicopters purely acting in support.

    I agree with Tom that what you get wrt heli loadouts is what you get. Since the point of view is an infantry commander you would have zero input on what was circulating in your area. However, if you were a commander of heli borne troops then I could see you being able to pick and choose. For a campaign game I might suggest the player (heli borne commander) be given a few different potential fights and be allowed to create a couple different loadouts they would be comfortable with. Then what they actually get is randomly picked from those.

    At this scale every player I know has at least one of everything from the period and theatre of operations. I doubt many interested would be upset having to acquire more minis!

    #127494
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Because the focus of this game is the infantry platoon

      I dig.  I had thought the focus was a Company+, where the various support methods would be more prevalent and the commander would have more dictation over what was brought in.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #127522
    NKL Aerotom
    NKL Aerotom
    Participant

    Whipped up a .gif showing how the hidden movement system will work:

    The plan is to have upturned boxes all over the table (we use the bottom inch of a paper cup, turned over and painted a soil color) – these “Terrain Points” can have hidden units move between them, and reveal themselves up to a certain distance from the terrain point they’re currently at.
    They would also have the opportunity of detecting and attacking enemy units while hidden (like Hind & Seek’s firing from hidden positions)
    Units on the table could then go from being revealed back to the terrain point, melting back into the jungle.

    When a unit moves from Point to Point, they will need to make a skill check, and if this is failed, an “Enemy Movement” marker is placed at the point they just left.

    That’s the first layer of the hidden movement mechanic – should allow for true hidden movement without umpire or off-table tracking. The terrain points will be rather small, only larger enough to accommodate a few bases of infantry – which would only be the HQ unit of a platoon, with the rest of the platoon being deployed once the unit is revealed. Its likely the VC will mostly make use of these Terrain Points, but some missions will have both players deploying hidden like this and attempting to stalk each other.

    The second layer of the hidden movement is that under each Terrain Point is a piece of cardboard with “?” on it. The underside of each ? sign is blank, but the US has the opportunity to deploy recon teams (which would have blinds with the same “?” on the back), so they could keep an eye on what’s passing through the terrain point they’re watching, and even move between terrain points (although if they botch their movement, they too will leave an “enemy movement” marker, and the VC might start searching nearby, rolling to be able to flip the “?” blinds over…).

    #127550
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    That’s the first layer of the hidden movement mechanic – should allow for true hidden movement without umpire or off-table tracking

    This sounds incredibly cool!!!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

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