04/01/2021 at 04:36 #149025
Yet another long-haul campaign, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but hadn’t made time for. This time following two buddies from boots arriving in Vietnam in October 1965, through multiple tours as line grunts, into Force Recon, finishing as advisors to the South Vietnamese Marine Corps in 1972.
The idea of ‘Two Brothers’ is that Nikki Jacobs, a big, 19-year old, corn-fed boy from Middle O’Nowhere, Texas, and Danny Thomas, a tall, lanky, 18-year old high school football star from Big City, Texas, both were yearning for action and adventure so they signed up for the only war they had. They actually met at MEPS in Dallas, TX, when they swore their oaths of enlistment and shipped out to Boot Camp at the Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA. There they were assigned to the same platoon (1089, A Company, 1st Battalion). They became fast friends and were delighted to find out at graduation that they were both to become infantrymen. Following two weeks’ ‘Boot Leave,’ they were back together at Camp Pendleton, CA, for two weeks of Guard Duty (52 Area) before heading off the the School of Infantry (SOI), where both were assigned to become riflemen (0311s) in 3rd Platoon, Hotel Company. Being a bigger Marine, Nikki was originally assigned to become a machine gunner, an 0331, but finagled his way into the 0311 line in order to stay with Danny.
Upon completion of SOI they were given another two weeks’ leave prior to deployment, after which they met back up at Camp Pendleton for shipment to the Republic of Vietnam, arriving 5 October 1965. Once there they again managed to stick together, ending up in the same squad. They were now members of 9th Marines (I hate getting tied to actual historical units, because I want to do what I want to do, not be tied to the historical record and, even more importantly, I wouldn’t want to dishonor the memory of troops that actually fought and died there, so I’m just going to leave it at that). They are now two FNGs (ahem, ‘rookies’) in an understrength squad of veterans that came ashore in March 1965, two replacements doing their best to fit in and not get killed.
They settled into Da Nang and began patrolling around the base’s perimeter, learning their craft, learning how to survive. Two weeks went by with no contact, with the boys beginning to fret they’d never ‘see the elephant,’ until the Platoon Sergeant walked in, rounded up the Marines, and provided a Warning Order: stand by for action, tomorrow we kick off Operation ‘Red Snapper,’ which would see the boys finally get their cherries busted.
So we shall follow the exploits of young Nikki and Danny, seeing how they react to their first experiences under fire and mature as combat Marines. They cannot die, and probably cannot even be seriously wounded, as I want to keep their stories going, but they’ll be punished for mistakes (not sure how, but I’ll figure out something) and lauded for their heroism and leadership, through medals and promotions.
The Table of Organization and Equipment for a US Marine rifle squad was 1 Sergeant, 3 Corporals, 3 Lance Corporals, 4 PFCs, and 3 Privates with 13 M-14 service rifles, 1 M-79 grenade launcher, and one M1911 service pistol (carried by the grenadier). But the boys are joining a squad that’s been in action since March of 1965, so it’s understrength, having only the Squad Leader, Grenadier, and two fireteams.
So, that’s the concept, now for the first fight.
1130 Local Time
22 October 1965
Phu Gia Peninsula, RVN
Operation Red Snapper
Having patrolled for two weeks in the Da Nang area without finding even a hint of the enemy, the boys are excited out of their minds, taking part in their first combat operation. It seems the Viet Cong (VC) have been making trouble up on the Phu Gia Peninsula, about 36 klicks north of Da Nang, hitting Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and Regional Force/Popular Force (RFPF, a type of South Vietnamese militia, commonly referred to as “Ruff-Puffs”) base camps and threatening to cut Route 1 between Da Nang and Phu Bai. So III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) HQ decided to do something about it: in conjunction with four ARVN-RF/PF battalions, two companies from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3) and one company from 3rd Bn, 4th Marines (3/4) launched Operation Red Snapper. The ARVN forces set up the anvil west of Route 1 while Fox Company, 2/3 (F/2/3) trucked up from Da Nang and G/2/3 came ashore from landing craft on Orange Beach, forming the hammer and pushing west to east, with a rifle company from 3/4 scheduled to helo down on G/2/3’s right (northern) flank the following day.
The boys’ platoon ended up being attached to G/2/3, getting quite seasick in the flat-bottomed landing craft before finally putting ashore about 0600 local time. Excitement was high, very adventurous times for the two young Marines, with grunts running to and fro, landing craft and Amtracs zipping up to/along the beach, trucks and tanks coming up the road, helicopters thwacking and fast movers zooming past overhead. Everything was there… except the enemy. The Marines formed up and began pushing east, careful to mind their phase and control lines so as to avoid any friendly fire incidents, which is always a risk when units are maneuvering about without having been afforded the opportunity for reconnaissance (which couldn’t be done, for fear of tipping the operation to the enemy).
At about 1045 the platoon was called to a halt. Sweaty and breathing hard from the exertion of humping through the broken terrain with all their gear, they took a knee and rested. And with that they could just hear it; the distant ‘pop-pop-pop’ of gunfire. The boys inched closer to PFC Griffin, the squad’s Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), who whispered updates to them: “Golf Company’s 2nd Platoon is taking fire, about a klick up ahead… Golf’s CO is trying get a SITREP out of them, but the Lootenat pretty much told him to piss off, he’s busy… The CO is trying to get 3rd Platoon over to them… The Lootenat says he’s got four men down, needs MEDEVAC… The CO says the LT’s gotta get them outta the kill zone… The Lootenat says he can’t, they’re pinned down… Uh-oh!”
Nikki asked, “what’s uh-oh?” Griffin responded: “uh-oh is, they wanna call in arty on the VC, and Lootenat Ward (the boys’ platoon commander) wants us to escort the FO (Forward Observer) team up there!”
And here came the Platoon Sergeant, Staff Sergeant Dunn, to confirm that. He grabbed Corporal Little, the Squad Leader, and the two Fireteam Leaders, and briefed them up. “As soon as the FO gets up here, you boys head out.” “Aye-aye, Staff Sergeant.” A few minutes later the FO, 1st Lieutenant Dyson and his two RTOs showed up. “I hear you fellas are my escort?” “Yes, Sir,” replied Cpl Little. “3rd Squad, saddle up!”
Overview, north is up. The US starting point is in the southwest (bottom left), and the objective area is the old, bombed out French colonial building in the northeast (top right). There’s a dirt/gravel road that runs north-south, with a spur splitting off to run east-west just south of Hill 65, which the French building sits atop. There is a medium-sized village in the northwest (top left) and a small village in the southeast (bottom right), with neither village showing any signs of life at the moment. There are numerous treelines and bamboo thickets dotting the landscape, with a cluster of rice paddies dominating the center of the battle area. I apologize, I don’t have any real rice paddies, so I’m having to use cultivated fields to show them, with hedges denoting the dykes. So please understand that the ‘dykes’ are not blocking line of sight or providing any sort of cover/concealment for troops that are moving/standing up.
A couple admin notes: I’m playing this game using a modified version of Ivan Sorensen’s “Five Men at Kursk,” but I’ve also modified Joe Legan’s “Platoon Forward” to a card version to figure out the US mission, assets available, enemy location, strength, activity, etc… I’m also playing as the umpire, controlling the VC force, with my two boys controlling the US Marines.
I’m playing in lovely 15mm with individually-based troops.
The Marines are from Jimmi’s Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong are from Martin’s Peter Pig.
The mat is from The Wargaming Company.
The roads are from Fat Frank.
The fields are from Hotz Mats.
The villages are from Flashpoint Minis, as are the bamboo thickets and most of the trees. The rest of the trees were bought off some cake decorating shop on Ebay.
The “French Colonial Building” is from JR Miniatures.
At top, Corporal Little, the Squad leader, is at right, while PFC Nelson, the M-79 Grenadier, is at left.
1st Fireteam is at center, 2nd Fireteam is at bottom. From top right: LCpl Devers, the fireteam leader, PFC Griffin, who carries the squad’s PRC-25 radio, then two riflemen, Pvt Masterson and Pvt Jacobs, AKA Nikki.
From bottom right: PFC Ed Marks, the fireteam leader, then riflemen Privates Hendricks, Ryder, and Thomas, AKA Danny.
So the squad’s got nine M-14s, an M-79, an M-1911 (carried by the grenadier), and each Marine is carrying a couple frags.
The squad sets off up the road, looking to get the FO up on top of the hill (top right), but as they enter the village (top left)…
A Viet Cong bunker (top right) opens fire on the Marines (far left and bottom left)!
Masterson is hit and goes down!
Nikki (far let) lays down fire as Devers throws Masterson over his shoulder and lurches for cover…
But the bunker (bottom right) spots Marines (top left) moving to flank it and opens fire on them…
Dropping Hendricks and pinning Marks!
Nelson pops up and fires a 40mm HE round at the bunker from his M-79!
As VC mortar rounds begin slamming into the Marine positions!
To see how the fight turns out, please check the blog at:
So that was fight number one. I’ve actually played out the boys’ entire first tour, a total of 24 tabletop fights. I’m still working on the batreps, of course, but my plan is to post one each Monday. Let me know what you think.
Jack04/01/2021 at 05:14 #149026
Thank you, Jack, I need the distraction reading your AAR will give me.04/01/2021 at 06:46 #149028
Great stuff Jack, really like the look of that set up. And a great concept for a campaign. And 24 fights done already!!! I have been meaning to bite the bullet and swallow those shipping costs to get some US with M14s for ages…
Thought the battle went really well, excellent write-up. The only thing that I noted of interest, not that it really would have changed things much was the VC abandoning the bunker, I might have expected perhaps that VC getting retreat results inside bunkers would be more likely to hunker down than run out.04/01/2021 at 14:06 #149038Nathaniel WeberParticipant
I might have expected perhaps that VC getting retreat results inside bunkers would be more likely to hunker down than run out.
Or exited via a tunnel to a better escape route a few meters further into cover, unless the NLF lacked good preparations in the area?
Great report Jack! I really like those hedges, where are they from?
Sounds like your characters have 24 more weeks a wake up left.04/01/2021 at 15:21 #149041
Glad to see you back in action Jack!
So who has the SAW? (Ok, not that an M14a1 is that much of a SAW, but still, full auto vs. semi…) Always always always appeal to the weapons platoon for am m-60! 🙂
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."04/01/2021 at 18:35 #149050
First, thanks everyone, I’m glad you liked it and I appreciate the kind words.
Whirlwind John – Regarding the VC choosing to stand and fight vs fall back, everything is down to the dice and cards: when/where the contact occurs, the type of contact, the size of the enemy force, and how they go about accounting themselves on the battlefield. When Danny reached the bunker there was a 10% chance the VC would stand and fight, a 10% chance the VC would surrender, a 10% chance VC reinforcements would arrive, and a 70% chance the VC would fall back, disappearing without a trace. They chose to stand and fight; you’ll see more of that, particularly when the NVA arrive in Operation Utah), but a lot more of the ‘ghosting.’
Regard the VC that fell back out of the bunker, again, it’s all down to the dice. Despite the Marines taking some casualties, the VC were suffering some pretty horrendous shooting rolls, and this allowed the Marines to maneuver and bring a tremendous amount of firepower to bear on the bunker at pretty much point-blank range. The three VC in the bunker couldn’t be hit, but the suppression’s just stacked and stacked until one of the three enemy soldiers fell back. From my standpoint I would think he was trying to escape but then found himself in even more dire straits out in the open, preventing him fleeing in his panicked state and causing him simply to seek the next best thing, which was hitting the dirt on the opposite side of the bunker, where incoming fire kept him pinned but couldn’t actually hit him.
By that point in the fight it didn’t seem particularly odd to me that a small team would want to abandon the bunker, which was under increasingly heavy fire and being flanked. From my standpoint, there were certainly times the Vietnamese stood and fought, but far more frequently they took their shots and left to fight another day.
Nate – The hedges are from Crescent Root, though they have unfortunately stopped selling them. And 24 weeks? It’s just the end of the boy’s first month in country, they still have about 44 weeks left!
Darby – Now that M-14 question is very interesting. I’ve never heard of an M-14 that wasn’t fully automatic. I did some reading and was surprised to learn there were some sort of locks that armorers could install which prevented the rifles from being put on full auto. All the Marines I know told me the weapons were all the same, but that one Marine per fire team was designated the “automatic rifleman” and that he was supposed to be the only one firing on full auto. I’ve also been told the “automatic rifleman” designation typically went out the window as squad strength in the field dwindled to 7 or 8 guys instead of the T/O&E 14, and ‘normal’ riflemen tended to ignore the prohibition on using full auto once the shooting started, particularly in a ‘near ambush’ situation.
I am also familiar with the M-14A1, which had a pistol grip, bipod, and heavy barrel to try and make it a true SAW, and I know Marines used the bipod, but I don’t know if Marines actually used the M-14A1 (the internet is saying it was a US Army modification, but who knows). Besides, I haven’t seen one in 15mm 😉
Regarding a machine gun team, “assets,” such as MG, mortar, AT (3.5” super bazooka), recoiless rifle, tank, track, having a Corpsman, Platoon Commander, Platoon Sergeant, etc…, are all driven by the cards. In this case I drew an “escort” mission and then the FO as the element needing escorting, with no further help.
I can tell you I meant to play more fights with more ‘assets’ involved, but it just didn’t happen, so most of the fights are just the squad by itself. Having said that, I was a machine gunner, so if you think M-60s won’t play a role in this tour you must be outta your mind 😉 Just wait for the next fight!
Jack04/01/2021 at 19:40 #149062
Love it dude! I’m with ya on the M-14, I only know of one unit that had the buffer locks as mandatory as usually the first thing the battalion armorer did was yank them as soon as a new rifle arrived as they could cause jams on semi-fire. The prohibition was mostly an ammo saving thing from what i understand.
Glad the youngsters have made it through their first VC ambush! Can’t wait for them to get some “pigs” firing down range!
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."06/01/2021 at 14:59 #149143
See, if this was the Army thre might have been a Pvt Gump to haul those casualties to safety.
Nice skirmish, a 1:1 trade, so now they’re down to 8 guys? Or will you be focusing on other squads if casualties gets too high?
I didn’t see any helos despite this being prime for having a helo every fight.
I feel like there should be Pvt Hackman, Ermy, Keitel, Lynch and others making occasional appearances.06/01/2021 at 16:26 #149149
Darby – Yes, my understanding was that the whole idea revolved around Marines ‘wasting’ ammo. I’m not sure exactly how anyone can delineate exactly which ammo was wasted and which ammo wasn’t when your squad has taken casualties and is pinned down in a ‘near ambush’ situation, only a couple Marines actually returning fire, albeit at the cyclic rate, rather than carefully aimed shots; such thoughts are the realm of the benighted officer class and, alas, I was simply enlisted swine 😉
Thomaston – Hey buddy, hope all is well. Sorry, no Gump, and helos won’t play a huge role in my squad-level scenarios. Even when they’re there they’re pretty much just window dressing, not performing too much of a ‘real’ on-table function. I.e., you’re either running from the helo, running to the helo, or the helo has been shot down and you’re going to rescue survivors. So there are no helos present in the first tour, though I have purchases an H-34 (haven’t received it yet) for use later, probably in the boys’ third tour when they go to 3rd Recon Battalion.
I’m sticking with this one squad for the entire concept, specifically the two knuckleheads. For this tour they are part of a rifle squad and we’re following the squad; the squad will receive replacements on a frequent basis as casualties are suffered. In later tours we will be following the boys with a different squad, then a reconnaissance team, then probably a full rifle platoon.
And don’t forget Lee Marvin, one of my favorites!
Jack11/01/2021 at 04:22 #149286
0130 Local Time
23 October 1965
Phu Gia Peninsula, RVN
Operation Red Snapper
Yesterday the boys kicked off Operation Red Snapper, attached to Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines (G/2/3). They came ashore via landing craft as the Marine driving enemy forces into the ARVN anvil. There were only ashore a few hours before they participated in their first firefight of the war, with each of them performing admirably. They had completed their missions of escorting a Forward Observer (FO) into an old French Colonial building atop Hill 65. They were relieved a few hours later and returned to their platoon, where they grabbed some chow and dug-in for the night. But it wasn’t long before their squad leader, Corporal Rob Little, came running up, talking about a SNAFU…
Cpl Little briefed the squad: another screw up! As it began getting dark, the FO and Marines from G/2/3 fell back off of Hill 65 for the night, but now HQ has realized there is a gap in the US perimeter. The Platoon Commander, Lt Ward, has ordered Cpl Little to take 3rd Squad back up Hill 65 and to occupy the old French colonial building. “This is not good, Marines. We’ve got to hustle over there, and we won’t get there until after dark, so we won’t be able to dig in, string wire, throw out Claymores, nothing. Hell, let’s hope Charlie ain’t already occupying the damn place! The only good news is that they’re sending a machine gun team with us.”
The Marines quickly collected their gear and re-packed their packs, filled in their holes, then reported in to the Command Post (CP), where they met up with the attached MG team and set off for Hill 65 in the failing light.
Overview, north is up. The French colonial building atop Hill 65 is at center, with the bunker the squad knocked out in the previous fight at left bottom. At top right is a village, at far left is a rice paddy, and there is a trail running out of the northwest (top left) down to the French colonial building. Other than that, nothing but a lot of grass, some hedges, bamboo thickets, and a whole lotta jungle.
The table, with everyone in their starting positions. The main Marine defensive position is, of course, the French colonial building. The Marines have flankers out to each side (in thicket at far left and right), and a small reserve in the rear (bottom center, on the road). The Viet Cong have a base of fire element in the rear (LMG at top left and RPG at top right), while their assault element is crossing the rice paddy at far left).
Yeah, not their greatest plan to try and cross the rice paddy, but that’s how the dice shook out, so we’ll see how it goes.
The Marines in the colonial building (top center) can feel eyes on them. Eyes with ill intent…
It’s 0130 in the morning and the Marines, though uneasy, have settled into their positions for the night, with the boys struggling to keep their exhausted bodies awake, to the point Nikki (in grove at top center left) thinks he’s beginning to hallucinate. He’d swear there were men moving in the rice paddy in front of him (top center), but can’t be. Nobody would be dumb enough to advance on the hill (far left) from the left, through the open rice paddies! He’d even screwed with Danny (off camera to left bottom) about drawing the short straw by being sent out on the right, near the village, which the enemy was certain to use as their avenue of approach.
But all thoughts of sleep and hallucinations and whatever else were quickly wiped from the young Marine’s mind when the still air of the night was suddenly shattered by the loud ‘pop’ and hiss of a rocket being fired!
Nikki (bottom right, with the colonial building off camera to top center right) finds himself all alone out on the left flank, facing off against five Viet Cong (left). Nik opens fire with his M-14, dropping one of the enemy soldiers…
But the VC advance (on other side of the trees at far left), forcing Nik to fall back (bottom center right, from bottom left) on the colonial building.
The Viet Cong (bottom left, right, and far right) keep up the pressure on the Marines holding the colonial building.
To see how the fight turned out, please check the blog at:
Next batrep posting soon.
Jack11/01/2021 at 06:13 #149287
Thank the boys and thank you.11/01/2021 at 18:59 #149337
Man! I was hoping that RPG gunner survives, he was a good shot.11/01/2021 at 23:13 #149340
Kyote – No problem man.
Thomaston – Always on the wrong side…
Jack18/01/2021 at 04:41 #149668
1330 Local Time
4 November 1965
Tra Bong River, 10 miles south of Chu Lai, RVN
Operation Black Ferret
Yesterday the boys were trucked down Route 1 and dropped about ten miles south of Chu Lai Airbase, near the Song Tra Bong (Tra Bong River). There they were attached to 1st Bn, 7th Marines (1/7), for the duration of the operation, pushing southwest along the river with 3/7 on their right and the ARVN 4th Infantry Regiment on their left, across the river. Intel had said a Viet Cong battalion-sized base camp was located in the area, but the boys had walked all day long and hadn’t seen anything. As usual, about an hour before sunset the sweep halted and the Marines dug in to their night defensive positions and ate their evening chow. The boys spent a long, uneventful night, including being out together for a couple hours on OP/LP. The next morning the Marines got up, pissed and brushed their teeth, ate morning chow, stomped in their holes, and set off in search of the Viet Cong again.
They’ve been walking all day so far, lots of stopping to search for VC/munitions, but so far nothing and no contact. They’ve crossed numerous tributaries of the Tra Bong River, and now they find themselves coming to another, with a village nestled against. Lt Ward called a halt and for his squad leaders. He explained that 1st Squad was going to circle around to the south of the village to isolate it, 2nd Squad was going to head straight in to search it, and 3rd Squad was going to cut north to search some sampans beached nearby, make sure they’re not hiding any enemy soldiers or contraband.
North is up, the US entry is in the southwest (bottom left). The fishing village is located in the southeast (bottom right; that’s just the northern tip, it is much larger to the south/southeast, off map, and that is what 2nd Squad is going into and 1st Squad is going south of). In the northeast (top right) is a tributary of the Tra Bong River, where the three sampans to be searched are located. In the northwest (top left) is a slight rise/ridgeline, and their is a hardball road running east into the village and north to the next village. The center is dominated by rice paddies offering very little cover, and the landscape is dotted by a few patches of dense jungle.
The Marines fan out into skirmish line and begin crossing the rice paddies to search the sampans.
When a Viet Cong sniper (bottom left) opens fire on them!
Devers grabs Griffin and gets on the radio: “we’re pinned down by two snipers, Echo Four Lima is down, we need air or arty, pronto!” The Platoon Commander says he’s working on it, but probably going to be awhile as they’re in contact, too.
The Marines pinned in the rice paddies raise up and return fire on the VC on the north side of the river.
As Nik gets the M-60 going (bottom right), engaging the sniper in the northwest (top left).
To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
Next up, the squad is kicking off Operation Blue Marlin, coming soon.
Jack18/01/2021 at 17:50 #149700
So you mentioned the two main characters wouldn’t die or seriously injured. How will you be handling if they did?
I this this fight was pure capitolist propaganda. Shooting a guy in a bush, at the edge of a smoke screen and able to confirm the kill?
The imagery of a screen of smoke along a river bank was good though, very Apocalypse Now.19/01/2021 at 02:26 #149718
Thomaston – The boys can (and will) get hit, but it can’t be too bad or it will screw up my whole concept, but everyone else is fair game. So, when I make the roll to see how bad they got hit (it goes knocked out-scar-light wound-medium wound-serious wound-permanent injury-dead), if it’s ‘serious wound’ or higher, I just trade the result out with a Marine that got hit but rolled better.
No propaganda, and no miracle shot (or observation), either. The Viet Cong moved out from behind the smoke, and took several more shots at the Marines, and Ryder was only about 20 yards away, so he reasonably could have seen his rounds strike the VC. The only complaint I shall countenance is that the VC should have just left town after the Marines smoked him, but the card draw said he stays to shoot it out (unlike his partner in the northwest).
🎶This is the end… the end my friend, the end…🎶
Jack19/01/2021 at 08:28 #149723
Nice report, many thanks. As chance would have it, I was just reading some other rules which were talking about the very real dangers of accidentally making yourself visible coming out of a smokescreen…19/01/2021 at 15:12 #149747
Thanks, John, glad you liked it. And yeah, I’d say a smokescreen fired by a battery of 155s is going to be a bit different than one fired by one dude with an M-79, and regardless, if you step out from behind it (as the sniper did), it doesn’t really matter 😉 But going around a smokescreen is preferable to pushing straight through one, which ‘skylines’ you quite nicely.
Jack21/01/2021 at 04:33 #149809
1130 Local Time
11 November 1965
Near Tam Ky, 15 miles north of Chu Lai, RVN
Operation Blue Marlin I
Two days ago the boys boarded landing craft, which deposited them at ‘Green Beach’ about 15 miles north of Chu Lai Airbase yesterday (don’t worry, the Corps brought out enough with the nightly resupply helos for everyone to get a couple bites of cake and a warm beer). The squad was now attached to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, which was working in conjunction with the Vietnamese 2nd Marine Battalion. Once ashore the US Marines peeled left and began pushing southeast between the Song Tam Ky and Song Truong Giang (Song = River), parallel to Route 1, while the Vietnamese Marines were lifted by US Marine helos (yeah, that caused the US grunts a little heartache) west of Route 1, where they begin their sweep to the southeast. The boys walked all day, passing numerous villages and locals, but not seeing a single Viet Cong or hearing a single shot fired. They stopped multiple times to search for weapons caches, boobytraps, even villages that seemed to have ‘too much’ rice, but nothing of interest was found. As usual, about an hour before sunset the sweep halted and the Marines dug in to their night defensive positions and ate their evening chow. The boys spent a long, uneventful night, including being out together for a couple hours on OP/LP. The next morning the Marines got up, pissed and brushed their teeth, ate morning chow, stomped in their holes, and set off in search of the Viet Cong again.
This morning the squad is walking point, escorting a team of Combat Engineers that are sweeping the road for mines ahead of the tanks and tracks. They’ve been on the road for five hours already, having started at 0630, but are behind schedule as the Engineers have had to stop and remove several mines already.
North is DOWN, the convoy is moving on the road from northeast (bottom left) to southwest (top right). At bottom right is a tributary of the Truong Giang River, while at top right is a small village, and at top left is a small rise/ridgeline. A couple small rice paddies dot the landscape, as well as patches of thick jungle.
Cpl Little motioned the Combat Engineers to start sweeping again and off they went.
But there it is, contact! From the north side of the river, a rocket pops and comes hissing in!
As an understrength VC squad in the south (bottom left) opens fire on the boys’ squad (top center to top right).
Caught on the road, the Marines are having a rough go of it.
Nik (bottom right) gets the Pig thumping away at the VC (top left).
Cpl Little looks as Doc treats the wounded and Griffin gets on the radio to call for MEDEVAC.
To see the whole fight, please check the blog at:
Next fight coming soon.
Jack21/01/2021 at 07:49 #149810
Great report, many thanks Jack.
What happens mechanically to make the VC disappear? Or is it GM fiat?21/01/2021 at 14:46 #149837
Ahhhh yes, the frustration of the enemy melting away and not being able to know if you returned the favor for them doing you dirty. Bummer on that tank getting KO’d with 1 shot, it could have been quite useful.
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."21/01/2021 at 14:51 #149838
Hello John, you’re welcome! And thanks backatcha for taking the time to read and comment.
In terms of the structure of the game, it’s all card driven, and here’s how it works:
-the Marines always have whomever is left in their squad.
-I have a deck of cards (about 12) with different missions (attack, defend, escort, patrol, etc…) and I pull one.
-I have a deck of “assets” and draw one. This is how the squad can get an attached MG team, FO, Corpsman, etc…
-For patrol-type games, the Marines essentially start in the bottom left corner and have to exit off the top right corner. It takes about 12 moves for that to happen, so I have a “Contact” deck consisting of 11 “Nothing” and one “Contact!” Each time the Marines move I draw a card.
-Once contact occurs, I have decks for enemy disposition (stuff like ambush, hast defense, fortified defense, scouts, sniper, patrol, etc…, and then for size (from a single sniper all the way up to a full platoon, with attachments). I draw from both, dice for location of enemy troops, and place them.
-the game plays as ‘normal,’ except each turn I pull a card from what I call the “Enemy Activity” deck. These can direct the enemy to do something, like withdraw, or close with the the Marines, the enemy can receive reinforcements, or a random event, such as an enemy mortar barrage, a booby trap, a Marine suffers a non-battle injury, etc…
-the last piece is a deck for actions on the objective, what I actually call the “climax” deck. Once (if) the Marines manage to fix the enemy and close with them, I draw a card. There’s a 10% chance the enemy stands and fights to the death, a 10% chance the enemy surrenders, a 30% chance the enemy withdraws (which means there is a chance the Marines can see them and engage, but not guaranteed), and a 50% the enemy simply vanishes without a trace (I literally wrote “Ghost” on those cards).
Not every game follows that exactly, depending on the scenario, but it’s a framework that fits what I want to do and I think it worked very well for the boys’ 1st tour. I’ve played all 24 fights of the 1st tour and nearly have all of them written up.
Jack21/01/2021 at 14:55 #149839
There ya are, you bastid! I’ve been wondering when you were going to come back, figured this campaign would be right up your alley.
Yeah, the VC melting away was a feature of life, right? See above, where I explained the card-driven mechanics for how I’m doing things.
Honestly, the tank was just window dressing, just there to get blown up, the focus for all these fights is purely the squad.
Jack21/01/2021 at 15:12 #149840
I’ve been following along bud, intently! I love how it’s going, and that patrol mechanic keeps the tension up, especially if the boys don’t know there’s only 1 contact card!
Makes me want to buckle down and gets a bunch of stuff wrapped up so I can get back to The Nam. (have to admit, the cats are a issue now, as they can’t leave anything alone….)
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."21/01/2021 at 18:27 #149846
Cool man, and I definitely know how you feel having too many projects going on that you want to finish off in order to… start another project.
Along those lines, my boys were screwing around on YouTube the other day and came across the old WWII movie “Gung Ho!” We all sat and watched it and now I’m dying to get back to my Marines in the South Pacific…
And you’ve seen my room, with its door. No cat problems 😉
Jack21/01/2021 at 18:36 #149847
Marines in the South Pacific !!!! Yes, please !!!!21/01/2021 at 18:37 #149848
Will do, Kyote, but go and read about Marines in Nam, first! 😉
Jack21/01/2021 at 21:42 #149849
Check your e-mail, Jack.23/01/2021 at 22:53 #149938vtsaogamesParticipant
Dang, just discovered this Jack. It should keep me occupied for a while! Thanks for the reports.
It's never too late to have a happy childhood23/01/2021 at 23:14 #149940
When I saw that tank come in, I thought “I bet that thing dies”.
Tanks really don’t do well in your games.24/01/2021 at 00:41 #149942Shaun TraversParticipant
@Thomaston. LOL. I thought exactly the same thing 🙂
-shaun24/01/2021 at 22:42 #149988
Vtsao – Good to see you man, hope you enjoy them.
Thomaston and Shaun – I think that’s a fair statement. I’m sure a former tanker would disagree, but from my perspective they’re just giant bullet magnets 😉
Jack25/01/2021 at 04:47 #149994
0130 Local Time
18 November 1965
Near Hoi An, RVN
Operation Blue Marlin II
Following the end of Operation Blue Marlin I, the boys re-boarded the amphibious shipping and sailed to Chu Lai, where 3/7 was offloaded. They went ashore and to a couple days of rest, before it was time to re-board the ships for Operation Blue Marlin II, this time with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. They sailed south and landed 22 miles south of Da Nang on 16 November 1965, where they wheeled right and pushed north towards the confluence of the Song Truong Giang and Song Cua Dai (Song = River). The Marines have spent two days humping the bush east of the Song Truong Giang without contact, while two battalions of ARVN Rangers have done the same west of the river.
The boys got a new squad leader, Sergeant Garcia, and the Platoon Sergeant, SSgt Dunn, briefed him on his squad’s mission to babysit a bridge tonight. “The bridge was previously guarded by an ARVN detachment, the squad wouldn’t be receiving any attachments, arty would be on call, though no one is expecting any trouble tonight. The Company Gunny was out there right now with a squad from 2nd Platoon. You now stand detached; go forth and do good things! And good luck, Sgt Garcia.”
Overview, north is up. A tributary of the Truong Giang River runs north and south, with a few sampans moored at the northern end. There are hamlets present in the northeast (top right) and southwest (bottom left), a finger of Hill 275 protrudes south in the northwest (top left), there’s a rice paddy in the southeast, and thick patches of jungle dot the landscape. The bridge is not fortified, but there are sandbagged emplacements surrounding it.
The Marines moved into the defensive positions; Sgt Garcia and Nelson took the small bunker at left, while 1st Fireteam went into the SE bunker (bottom right), 2nd Fireteam went into the West bunker (far left), and 3rd Fireteam went into the NE bunker (top right). The Marines settled in for the night, with each bunker going to 33% and the command bunker going to 50% (only two of them in the bunker).
At exactly 0130 the cough of distant mortar tubes could be heard to the northeast, and approximately thirty seconds later five 82mm HE rounds rained down around the bridge’s defensive positions.
Immediately following the mortar impacts, the VC 1st (off camera to left) and 3rd Squads (top right) launched rockets at the Marine defenders…
On the east side of the bridge, a rocket slammed into the SW Bunker, suppressing Cpl Little and Nikki.
And the Viet Cong come streaming out of the jungle to overwhelm the Marines defending the bridge!
To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
Next fight coming soon.
Jack25/01/2021 at 17:33 #150047
Oh man, the luck of the duds…
(On a related note, my dad told me about an incident during Blackjack 33 where 2 dud grenades landed amongst some of the Mobile Guerrilla Force strikers, and they tagged the VC that threw them. When searched they found that he had 2 more stick grenades, these of German WW2 manufacture. They were more than happy that the VC had decided to use the Chinese ones first!)
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."25/01/2021 at 22:58 #150057
Thanks for checking in Darby, and that’s pretty cool about Blackjack 33. I’ve got some stories of my own about Chinese grenades. And dud mortar rounds. And RPGs 😉
Regarding Mike Force, as far as I know Marines weren’t involved in anything along those lines, but I love the concept and honestly that’s kinda what’s driving me towards the boys spending part of their second tour with CAP. I’m thinking they start at a sleepy at a sleepy village, arouse the ire of the local VC, fight it out, come out victorious, which paves the way for offensive operations in an expanded AO, maybe even become sort of a Regional QRF.
Definitely way on the Mike Striker/SOG Hatchet side of things, but I’m here to have fun 😉 Whaddaya think?
Jack26/01/2021 at 10:14 #150072
Dear Gods, a dud!!! You had me thinking the boys were dead !!! Great AAR, Jack.26/01/2021 at 14:51 #150082
CAP/CAC was such an interesting program! (side note: I am writing supplements for both SEALs and CAPs for FNG that are also double-games like OPs was) There is a lot of roleplay you can do with it, as well as being able to play out the differences between static and mobile CAPs (Like, maybe midway through the campaign the base gets hit hard so they decide to go mobile). You could totally make a sector based map of the village complex with all of the hamlets, river crossings, markets, road choke points, etc and have the boys make week-to-week decisions as to where to concentrate their efforts (both physically with ambushes and patrols as well as civically with MEPCAPs, school building, etc) which would get them more deeply involved.
…and of course the culmination would be being able to strike and smash a VC base area!
Ok, as you can see, I have a lot of thoughts on this, way more than I can write down here. There is also a middling-to-good fiction book series called “The Night Fighters” by David Sherman about a CAP. (dude was a Marine, and also wrote the Starfist sci-fi series) Hard to find, but some excellent scenario ideas in it. And of course, if you haven’t read The Village by F.J. West Jr. it’s a must read.
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."26/01/2021 at 23:10 #150106
What’s with Cpl Little? were the rolls always that bad with him?27/01/2021 at 02:44 #150108
Kyote – Negative Old Man, they’re kinda essential to the story! 😉
Thomaston – Yeah, I just couldn’t seem to get him into the fights, and the little bit I did, he suffered horrible rolls that saw him… not doing very much. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll say this: don’t worry, Corporal Little will be back in a big way.
Darby – At some point I’d love to discuss FNG Reloaded and UCW with you; I have both, but it just feels like Nuts!/FNG has lost something with the attempt to get bigger and faster. It’s become too abstract for me, or maybe I’m just misunderstanding. In any case, yes, CAP was a cool concept, and the Corps did some cool things with it. As a young man I had a friend who spent time on CAP in 1968-69 and was awarded a Silver Star, which he didn’t receive until 1989! And Bing West’s ‘The Village’ was required reading when I was in the Corps, though I’m not familiar with David Sherman/’The Night Fighters.’
Your concept is absolutely cool, but I don’t want to go too far down the role-playing/story-boarding path, I just want a backdrop to play some interesting fights against, with a different set of dynamics (different ruleset based on the concept of a bunch of irregulars being led by a few Marines against a bunch more irregulars). Your concept of a campaign with map sectors/movement/activity is super cool, I just don’t have the time, too many other projects, and the need to keep this moving as I’ve now settled on a plan to do five total tours in Vietnam: 1) FNGs with a line unit, 2) CAP, 3) Recon, 4) back to a line unit, but bigger as the boys are more senior (maybe they’re both squad leaders in a platoon-sized game, or maybe one of them gets a battlefield commission and is the Platoon Commander and the other is the Platoon Sergeant), and finally, 5) advisors to a South Vietnamese Marine battalion.
And the CAP will definitely be going offensive 😉 I’m thinking the the boys arrive at their CAP to find the previous Marine cadre wasn’t really pushing the locals to do anything (what do I call the locals? Ruff-Puffs, CIDG, something else?), but the boys immediately institute an aggressive training regimen and begin aggressive patrolling and ambushing, you know, kickin’ the hornets’ nest, sort of force the locals to stand up and defend themselves. There will be failures, I’m sure, but overall it goes well and the locals improve their skills and become experienced, are able to push their zone of control outward. I’m really not in it just to sit back and guard the ramparts.
Thanks everyone, I hope you’re enjoying the fights.
Jack27/01/2021 at 15:55 #150155
No need to worry about offending me in any way, we each have our own madness…er, methodology to our games and campaigns. I agree with you on things getting too fast and IMO losing character.
Man, 5 tours, wow! That’s a heck of a plan, and lots of opportunity for all sorts of fun and despair. Just the CAP portion and dealing with the Ruffpuffs will be a real hoot. And then throwing them to the ARVNs… that’s a wild ride you have planned!
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.