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    NKL Aerotom

    Finished the book “Bury Him” (which didn’t really contain much in the way of combat), and started a new one “Marines in Hue City”, which has some very good blow-by-blow accounts of the city fighting in Hue. City fighting has been one of the aspects I’ve been meaning to try out, to see if the rules can handle it without any extra rules.

    I will type up an “Allied City Fight List”, which will contain US Marines, ARVN, and some of the vehicles used by marines in Hue, such as the M50 Ontos, M42 Dusters, and suchlike.

    I did a small scale playtest of a city fight tonight, just to see how it would go. Just using the small table in my room, and using yellow paper squares as buildings:

    Start of the test – NVA holed up in buildings as Marines attempt to advance. an NVA heavy machine gun is well placed to cover the road, and RPGs await any tanks that get too close…

    The US get the initiative, but the infantry aren’t able to detect any enemy forces. Neither is the M48 tank, but that’s expected – detection for tanks is harder, so they need to rely on infantry to be their eyes.
    The NVA HMG opens up on the squad taking cover behind the M48 tank, suppressing them.

    The US aren’t able to work out where the fire is coming from, and attempt to bring infantry out into the street to pinpoint where the fire is coming from, now that the only squad with a sight to the street are suppressed, making it even more difficult to detect anything. The NVA HMG quickly sees the US forces crossing the open ground, and is able to suppress almost the whole company, as well as inflicting some casualties on the squad behind the tank, and the squad to the left. The left hand US squad becomes combat-ineffective due to casualties, but during the fray the US M60 106mm recoilless rifle has been able to set up in the street, even if they get suppressed doing so…

    Now that the HMG has been firing for a few turns, the 106mm recoilless rifle crew are finally able to detect it, and they quickly relay the information to the tank crew. The recoilless rifle crew are still suppressed, but the tank isn’t, and fires the 90mm cannon into the building, suppressing the HMG for a turn.

    It looks like the tables are turning, as the M48 tank is now able to continue pouring fire into the building with the NVA HMG, and is able to suppress it and cause some casualties. The M60 recoilless rifle crew get back up, and are able to get a round off at the HMG as well, which does enough casualties to destroy / incapacitate the HMG.

    So all in all not a bad playtest, it seems detection is really hard in the city, but once you know where the enemy is you can eventually take them down. It also looks like infantry play a vital role in directing fire from support like tanks, which is in line with what I’ve been reading so far.

    NKL Aerotom

    Now that we’ve passed the busy holiday period, I have a lot more time on my hands to work on this game!
    I’ve been doing some small-scale testing of the Helicopter rules – making sure detection and attacking from and against helicopters is working well.

    I put my nice game mat on the small table in my room, so while it may be my own personal hell of small-scale playtesting, it can at least look nice(er) in photos.

    There were some clarifications needed – some old rules that didn’t fit with the new cover / damage system, and so I’m straightening those out.

    I also typed up the “Troop Quality” section of the rules defining what the qualities mean, what real-world troops they describe, and the in-game effect of each of the 4 qualities.

    I finished reading “Marines in Hue City: A Portrait of Urban Combat Tet 1968”, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and would recommend to anyone interested in the subject – quite a good overview of the city fighting from both the US marine and some of the ARVN side too. Lots of photos too, which help to back up the text.

    Next up I’m reading “The Gunpowder Prince: How Marine Corps Captain Mirza Munir Baig Saved Khe Sanh”, which is an almost complete change of pace from any of the Vietnam books I’ve read. So far the Cambridge-educated Pakistani immigrant with a British accent, known as “Harry” seems completely out of place in Khe Sahn among the US Marines, and yet, with his knowledge of French he is able to read the same books that NVA General Giáp was able to, and use an experimental electronic intelligence network and his extensive knowledge of NVA operating procedures to interdict NVA forces and staging areas with artillery. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out, although I’m not sure how useful it will be to the game.

    Hope you all had a good festive season, I’m looking forward to some larger scale playtests once the helicopter rules are running nicely.

    NKL Aerotom

    On holiday at the moment, so not able to do any playtesting, but I am able to get some good reading in. Low Level Hell is giving me some good insights into scout helicopter tactics and ability, while Jungle Dragoon (memoir of an armored cavalry platoon leader) is showing me the mechanized / cavalry side in more depth. These are both newish areas for me to delve into more deeply, and I’m taking notes as I go.

    Am interesting mention of RPGs going right through M113s from the Jungle Dragoon book:


    Looking forward to getting back into playtests when I return!

    Darkest Star Games

    Ooooo, haven’t read Jungle Dargoon, will have to find that!  Ya, M113s had a lot of space in them for rounds to just pass through, and the armor was so thin that it wasn’t unusual for the molten jet from an RPG-7 to burn through both sides.  RPG-2 (B-40) are different story though as they had a much more fragmentary effect and much less effect on armor.  Vs. boats though, the B-40 could put a good hole in an ATC, though PBRs could take a lot of hits before sinking due to the compartmentalized foam.

    During 2 tours in VN with USMC tanks, my uncle on lost 1 crewman to an RPG hit to his M-48s turret.  He lost another to a mortar attack while laagered and his TC (when he was the gunner, before he was a TC) to direct fire when he couldn’t depress the .50 in the cupula turret mount enough to engage close VC (which is why they went to sky-mounts after that).  Of course, USMC tanks were used differently from Army tanks, as they were “penny packetted” out in 1s, 2 and 3s rather than used in full platoons and Companies (unlike Cavalry troops and squadrons).

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

    NKL Aerotom

    Ooooo, haven’t read Jungle Dargoon, will have to find that!

    Definitely recommend so far – lots of action, vehicles blown up left and right, lots of interesting tactics and the leader himself is pretty hardcore – wounded multiple times, personally saving soldiers while under fire…


    Interesting point about the Army vs. Marine Tank fitouts – I’ll have to look into that – any chance you can give me the quick and dirty on the weapons on each?

    Iirc I have the M48 armed with the 90mm, a .50cal, and a .30 cal

    NKL Aerotom

    Well I’m back from our 3 week holiday, and managed to finish reading Jungle Dragoon while I was away:

    I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes first-hand accounts of Vietnam, its straight-to-the-point, and full of tactics and action.

    A few things were eye-opening to me about Armored Cavalry units:

    • Crews can and did dismount to conduct patrols, ambushes and even attacks on foot. Often a single crew member was left behind to man the .50 cal.
    • The M113 Tracks were fairly maneuverable and light, while the M48s were heavy and hard to maneuver (I kinda already knew this, but I think I will implement Tracks having fewer limitations on movement, while tanks retain a more “Clunky” movement system.)
    • Tracks could be set up around a disabled tank, and then the crew dismounted (except the .50 cal gunner) in order to create a larger defensive position – tank in the middle, then track around it, then the crew / infantry squads on the outside.
    • Tracks and Tanks regularly fired everything they had while moving, if in a dire situation and needed to try to break out – this will be implemented, allowing vehicles to suppress targets while on the move.
    • Armored Cavalry would often plan bait attacks where a single platoon (perhaps 3 or 4 tracks and a tank) was sent out, after much noisy helicopter “recon” of an area (alerting the NVA/VC of an upcoming attack). The single platoon would be the bait, while heliborne troops and the rest of the unit were waiting nearby. As soon as the small unit started taking fire, the rest of the company would be mobilized to attack. The small unit would take high casualties, but usually the much larger NVA/VC force would take even more casualties once the rest of the company and the heliborne troops arrived. This would be implemented by allowing Cavalry to have heliborne troops in reserve that could be called up at any time, without any friction, as every would be waiting for that radio call of contact, and then quickly scramble to the rescue.
    • M42 Dusters and Flame tracks occasionally taken
    • Tracks were used to “clear” areas around Night Defensive Positions – running down the surrounding bush (when possible) to give better fields of fire if attacked.

    I don’t know how true these are of Mechanized units as well, but I’ll definitely implement quite a few of these ideas, while still trying to keep things as simple as possible. The idea that Armored Cavalry were a lot more flexible than just “some tracks and tanks”, especially the fact that they dismounted their crews, I think will add a lot more depth to how they are played on the tabletop.

    Today I continued my work on the helicopter damage tables, and I will conduct some small scale tests on helicopter damage, as well as start looking at how Vehicles function in the game over the coming weeks.

    NKL Aerotom

    Working away on helicopters and how line of sight works to and from them. I’ve been struggling a bit with this over the past few days, so today just put together a quick image to try to organize my thoughts – once again, its never as complicated as I thought it was:

    • Helicopters that are high and fast (called “At high speed”), have line of sight to any units in a forest, although detection is more difficult due to the cover.
    • Hovering helicopters have line of sight blocked by 1″ or more of forest, just like infantry, unless they are within 3″ of a target, in which case they have clear line of sight (no cover from the trees) Infantry on the ground also have clear line of sight to Hovering helicopters within 3″.

    I’ve set up the testing table, and am working away on testing helicopters vs. infantry to make sure the systems of detection, attack and damage are feeling right.

    NKL Aerotom

    Had a real life playtest today, first in a few months. Went very well:

    Game start – 2 US platoons enter the area, with a Cobra overhead for cover

    A heavily armed NVA platoon ambushes both platoons, attacking the squads out of cover

    Both US squads take casualties and are suppressed, as RPGs and LMG fire tears out of the treeline. The Cobra overhead needs someone to pop smoke to work out where the enemy are – its too close and too many friendlies nearby!

    Green Smoke! The US call in reinforcements, and 3 M113s arrive to help out
    Unengaged US squads flank the NVA through the jungle, catching them unaware and suppressing the right-flank unit. Meanwhile the US units in the forest open up on the NVA, suppressing the other squad. A second NVA ambush is sprung from the top-left of this image, although only armed with AKs…

    The US fan out, bringing a mortar squad up and zeroing in on the NVA position – combined mortar and small arms fire causes the NVA to retreat. Meanwhile the US on the top left move to engage the 2nd ambush position.

    The NVA Platoon HQ melts into the forest, dragging the casualties with them… (an “Asset” used by the NVA commander)
    A third NVA ambush position opens up on the right flank US platoon, with snipers taking out that units RTO. the radio is soon back in operation, however.
    The M113s move to flank the top-left NVA ambush site, causing massive casualties with their .50 cals and wiping out an NVA squad

    The cobra makes rocket and minigun runs on the 3rd NVA ambush position, forcing a squad to retreat among heavy casualties.
    The top-left NVA unit is crushed, and the HQ retreats, attempting to drag the casualties with them…

    In the confusion of tracking down the fleeing NVA, the cobra mistakenly fires on a friendly HQ unit, badly damaging them (essentially wiping them out) – call them off! call them off!
    On the top left the NVA HQ is captured, as they attempt to flee from the M113 .50 cals, right into the US infantry behind them. A heavily armed NVA squad is able to get back into the fight, having retreated earlier, but its too late – the US have secured a minor victory, the Capture of the NVA HQ and the various casualties not recovered by the enemy putting them ahead of the NVA, who gained points for US casualties and the wiped out HQ unit.

    Overall a good game, things were working fairly well. we decided it needs to be easier to destroy units, especially at very close ranges, and I took an entire A4 page of notes for things that need to be clarified and/or fixed.

    So good progress, will have another playtest in a few weeks – which is also good incentive to keep working on the rules and trying to wrestle this game into something fun on the table.

Viewing 8 posts - 81 through 88 (of 88 total)
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