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Had a breakthrough playtest yesterday. Over the past weeks I’ve been concerned about the combat rules being too static and clunky, so today my playtester and I brainstormed some much simpler, more effective rules that don’t require tracking anything on a platoon roster. So your head stays ‘in the game’ the whole time, rather than having to jump to a piece of cardboard and track some ammo or casualties.
We quickly scribbled some ideas on a piece of paper: There would be 1 damage table, that would include results like “casualties”, “suppressed + casualties” and “retreat! + casualties”, and each small arms weapon would roll on it when attacking. Large caliber and HE weapons would roll more dice.
When a platoon took casualties, it would roll a check based on its quality. A failure would result in losing a unit from the platoon. Multiple casualties at the same time would increase the difficulty of the check.
We threw some miniatures on the table and tried it out, not worrying about points values or the hidden movement / deployment systems (as the hidden deployment and movement system works great – its just combat we needed to revive).
US hueys and 2 platoons search the area, knowing that 2 NLF platoons are nearby
A firefight erupts as NLF detect and attack US 1st platoon, pinning the HQ and inflicting several casualties. Overhead the hueys detect the green tracers and NLF in the treelines, and attempt to call in air support, but to no avail! Next turn their request is finally answered and fast movers are on inbound with napalm…
NLF emerge from the treeline, 2 platoons attempting to overrun US 1st platoon. They fire on the move, inflicting some casualties.
US 1st platoon HQ then tries to reposition itself, and provokes opportunity fire from the entire (heavily armed) NLF platoon – RPGs and LMG fire tears into the HQ and they are completely cut down – the rest of the platoon is either dead or fleeing, causing disorder in the mortar squad to the rear as they run through. US 1nd platoon is still too far away to intervene, but air strikes are imminent…
FWoooooom! 2 canisters of napalm engulf the entire area, a direct hit on the 2 NLF platoons, and just missing a squad from US 2nd platoon. Both NLF platoons are decimated, with the scattered survivors running for the woods to the south…
Lancer-2 we have scattered VC heading in your direction, get ready to mop up down there
The test was a huge success, the new rules make the game much more fun to play, and they will be simpler to learn (the complexity of the old rules likely part of the reason I’ve never heard back from any of the overseas playtesters).
We also had some ideas about giving the NLF some ‘equally devastating’ ambushes to compare to the US air strikes, and we figured with the new faster and easier rules we could play much larger battles – which would mean air strikes and suchlike aren’t the end of the game, just one small section of a battle. Digging in and Bunkers as well would provide protection from air strikes to some extent – the main issue here was the NLF were caught in the open.
Here’s the original scribble of rules before the game. We added a “heavy ordnance” column too when we needed the air strike
Did the VC cease to exist as a fighting force after the Tet offensive? would love to know people’s thoughts on this, as my sources vary. Some say the VC ceased to exist, some mention them fighting alongside the NVA even after the US left the war…
Actually got quite a lot done over the past 2 weeks: I’ve typed up the ARVN lists, and added ANZACs, after some reading on the subject.
Very interesting to see how differently they operate to the US (being a New Zealander myself) and their stealth and hunting methods: learn the VC routes, then ambush them for maximum effect. I wrote their army list and assets to reflect this:
I believe having all ANZAC units as elite (around the quality of a US Recon or LRRP squad) makes sense, as their field-craft and discipline was pretty superb from what I’ve read (even a US recon soldier said he learned a lot from them, even just on a 10 day patrol).
I’ve also split all the army lists up into periods and factions, to more accurately match each period, so in the early years, there are only VC, while later they get more NVA support, and finally after Tet there are only NVA remaining (although as I mentioned above, I’m not 100% sure about that).
Along with the new lists and splits, come the more varied weapons:
I also added an “AT” column to more easily show a weapon’s AT capabilities.
Planned over the next few weeks is to test out some alterations to Infantry attacks, such as causing a target unit to retreat away from the attacker, as well as some bonuses for flanking attacks. Both of these will hopefully give players incentive to move and outflank more, as gameplay tends to be quite static once battle is joined and all the units have deployed (although the terrain point system allows units to outflank nicely). Causing a target squad to retreat could also make for some interesting situations where you flush a unit into a waiting ambush – a tactic I know was used when possible.
Still reading Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN, and learning a lot about the ARVN. Just finished reading about Operation Lam Son 719, which was fought primarily by the ARVN, and had one of the largest airmobile lifts of the entire war (210 helicopters If I recall correctly). It was a bit of a disaster due to the NVA knowing well in advance what was happening, and various ARVN generals losing initiative. Interesting to see the extent of the operations the ARVN conducted though. Their efforts on Hamburger hill also surprised me (ARVN 2/3 were first to the top!).
Glad you’re enjoying gamegonegod!
Making some steady progress over the past week, have typed up the ARVN army list for 1960 – 1968:
As well as typing up the terrain rules in more detail.
I have also done a mock up cover for a potential new title – I’m interested in which people prefer – “Boocoo Fire Mission” or “Khang Chien” (which means “resistance” in Vietnamese):
The book I’m reading Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN is finally getting to some combat descriptions, centering around the 1968 Tet fighting in Hue. This is good inspiration for some potential army lists for city fighting, allowing people to game Hue and other city fights. My plan is to have 2 extra lists available for this purpose:
- ARVN army list with Hac Bao on foot, with 105mm recoilless rifle support (albeit quite expensive as they were rare in the ARVN) as well as more stable air and artillery support.
- US Marine list with M50 Ontos, Tanks and 105 recoilless rifles, some mounted on jeeps. (Usual US list does not have tanks or M50 Ontos unless as called in, randomized reinforcements).
I also plan on finally splitting up the VC and NVA lists – with VC focusing more on hit-and-run and booby traps, and without fortifications such as bunkers and the more heavy support like anti-air platoons. The NVA by comparison would have no booby traps, more heavy support such as AA platoons (with units like radar-guided 31mm AA cannons and 23mm AA cannons), and fortifications such as bunkers. This would also be the time in the rules where I finally give the VC their SKS rifles rather than AK-47s and give NVA their AK-47s.
The other potential army list might be an ANZAC mechanized company, mounted in M113s in order to distinguish them from the regular US.
Would love to know people’s thoughts on potential new names for the game, and if my plans for the army lists sound good.
Its been a good couple of weeks for these rules, typing up and editing, getting things straightened out and making sure things like capitalization are consistent.
I made some example firefight images, showing how things work, which is always a good idea:
I’ve started reading “Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN”, which is giving me some insights into the ARVN and their operations – lots of interesting information, although not too much on the actual battles, mostly on organization and the challenges involved with things like the “Struggle Movement”. Interesting to note that the ARVN had a dedicated airmobile “Hac Bao” Company, which were elite and used US helicopters to get into battle, and that they could fit up to 12 solders into a Huey, rather than the US 6 or 7.
We also had our first real-life playtest since the lockdown, so it was good to get the miniatures out!
The game involved the “Cat & Mouse” mission, where 2 forces are stalking each other and on a direct collision course. The battle started at night, with both sides unsure where the enemy was. An NLF/VC light machinegun detachment stumbled into a US platoon in the dark, and was able to set up on their flanks, then open fire- causing chaos with the US platoon.
A 2nd NLF platoon then deployed nearby, but was having trouble working out where the US were due to night time and the terrrain.
The US platoon was able to work out where the fire was coming from, and starting directing mortar and small arms fire into the LMG teams on their flank, but snipers in the trees caused the entire platoon to be suppressed for a short time…
At dawn the US had a surprise of their own, with a heavily armed platoon outflanking the NLF platoon, getting close enough to throw grenades and causing a lot of casualties.
A 2nd NLF platoon then assaulted the rear of the US 1st platoon, running across open ground and taking some opportunity fire from the US in their forest night position. The US redeployed some squads to meet this new threat, while others were still trying to overcome the disorder of the initial attack.
US 1st platoon commander attempted to call in gunship support, but couldn’t get through on the radio…
The game was very fun and interesting, both playesters enjoyed and it flowed nicely. Still some kinks to work out, and the terrain rules could use some clarifications, but I feel like we’re getting closer to release. The game definitely needs a quick reference sheet, and now that the mechanics are pretty solid, I will look at doing that.
I will write up another mission (a rescue mission) and perhaps a Firebase assault mission, and the game should be pretty much good to go.
So far 5 people have contacted me about playtesting, I sent them the rules, but haven’t had any replies about their thoughts (yet). This could be a good or a bad thing!
I will need to focus on my studies for the next few months, but I should still find time to type a few things up, and do playtesting every 2 weeks or so.
Had a great playtest last Saturday, which was very illuminating and helped me simplify a lot of the mechanics down, and clarify a bunch of things. As this game is Company scale – some things just aren’t so much in the scope of your control, and I’ve had to choose the things that matter, and remove and clutter.
The playtest in action – the US this time holding out much better, using Artillery preparation combined with an airmobile landing, then calling in cobra support to keep the heads of the NLF down.
I’ve spent the past week going through my notes from the playtest, doing some small scale tests and working out some of the new mechanics. Today I put all the markers and unit rosters into the ruleset, as well as adding a table of contents, and I’m at the point where I can offer the rules for playtesting for anyone who is interested.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PLAYTESTING
Give me an email at:
and I’ll send you a copy of the rules.
Since university is back for the semester, I’ll need to focus on my studies for the rest of the year, but since most of the heavy lifting for this ruleset is done (I’m at a point where I could almost release – just need to type a few description texts), It will be easy enough to make the (hopefully) small changes based on playtesting feedback. I also have another playtest planned this weekend, so if that goes well I might start to think about releasing.
I’ve had to kill a few darlings in order to get the game in shape – Civilians are gone, fatigue is gone, and the suppression and attack system has been significantly simplified (although still feeling realistic). I spent today making sure my lexicon for the rules is correct – that words are capitalized consistently and that redundant terms and and rules from older versions are removed. There is likely still some proof-reading to do, but I think I’m most of the way there.
Over the past week I’ve been porting Boocoo Fire Mission into Tabletop Simulator, which allows me to playtest with people on the other side of the world. It took some setting up, but with some help from a guy in our Game Design discord server, I was able to get it done within a day or so.
I got the rules typed up, all my re-writes and suchlike, ready for a playtest, and yesterday we actually got a playtest done, using Tabletop Simulator (TTS).
Setting up TTS:
Its hard to find the exact 3D moodels for Vietnam, but Black hawks and Apaches will do fine for Hueys and Cobras respectively.
Nearly complete set up, miniatures and markers imported, just needed to do the Terrain Points
And so with all my rules printed out and TTS set up, I was able to do a test with guy from the US (I’m in NZ) rather than my usual ‘real life’ playtesting:
The game panned out as follows
US airmobile landed to check a nearby village, and was immediately ambushed and thrown into chaos – most of the squads were pinned down by a combination of mortar and small arms fire (the NLF/VC initially suppressing their own men as well with area mortar fire), and while 1 US squad was able to outflank and hit the NLF pretty hard, the NLF wore down the US platoon, who were unable to call in support (especially after a sniper hit their radio man). The NLF used their opportunity to sprint out of the forest and overwhelm the US HQ, capturing them – A solid win for the NLF!
Some shots of the game:
US units are on the left, while VC/NLF units are on the right, in the treeline. At this point the US were starting to turn things around, suppressing some NLF squads, and outflanking (near the pile of suppression markers).
End of the game, the NLF squads rush the US HQ, capturing it.
As with any early playtest, I took a lot of notes and we made a bunch of changes on the fly. Mortars were toned down, being a bit too powerful, and helicopters were found to be far too unwieldy, so today I re-wrote their movement rules to be much more free form when they’re not landing. The core mechanics worked pretty well – the fog of war and detection rules were fine, although some clarifications are needed, and the main attack / suppression rules worked fine.
Main concerns from the playtest is that the game is a bit bogged down with placing and removing multiple Suppression markers – I need to simplify this and get things flowing faster, but without losing the dynamics of how suppression works in real life. “Suppression” and “Disorder” both need to be examined and potentially collapsed into a single marker / condition.
The Asset system also needs tweaked to make assets easier to access, as in our game during 6 turns no one could use any support. It should also be simplified, as its overly complex.
Over the past week I’ve still been reading through Sons of Kolchak, and getting lots of good ideas about how a Company Commander thinks and acts – what kind of things they expect their platoons to do, and how they work to “unpin” platoons that are tied down. I also discovered I should probably distinguish between aimed fire (generally semi-auto) and area suppression (generally full automatic) – one will inflict more casualties, while the other will not, but will keep heads down more effectively.
Another thing I’ve had brought to my attention (by the same guy who helped me set up TTS) is that the “VC” label is actually derogatory, and that “NLF” – ‘National Liberation Front’ would be more suitable. I changed all the instances of VC in the ruleset to NLF, and you’ll notice I’ve been trying to use NLF in these reports as well.
The same person also made a good case for including ARVN forces, perhaps as a 1960 – 1968 period force. While I initially wanted to keep things simple with the factions until the game was running smoothly, there’s no harm in doing some research – as adding in ARVN and perhaps the various other US allies (As well as NVA) are good additions to the game, once its running well.
And so I skimmed through the Osprey ARVN book, took some notes on weaponry and vehicles used, and also ordered “Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN”, which I will read after I finish Sons of Kolchak. It will hopefully give me a good insight into ARVN operations, as its an aspect of the war that is often ignored in the west and a very important aspect of the war. As games are a good way to teach people, it is my duty as a game designer to get the names of factions correct (usually using their point of view, rather than the opponents), as well as representing important factions and giving players the ability to game important battles. The ARVN forces have enough difference to be distinguished from the US, as they generally used M-2 Carbines and WW2 era scout cars and half tracks until around 1968 when things started getting phased out in favor of M113s, Chaffees, and M-16s. They also had very limited Artillery and helicopter support at times.
And I almost forgot, I designed a Time of Day Roundel – for keeping track of the time:
I still need to fix the arrows and borders of the inner areas a bit, but it should be mostly done.
Making good progress over the past week, have pretty much sorted out the new casualty tracking rules, to fit the smaller new Platoon rosters, and did some very small scale play-testing to see how they worked:
Not even worth setting up a table, just needed to know how 2 platoons going head to head would ‘feel’ with the new casualty tracking.
I had to really force myself to get to a decision on how these rules would work – the main issue being how KIA and wounded results would work when both are trying to be tracked on the same “Casualty Track” (a track of 10 boxes). Its still not 100%, but I only have a few small decisions to make on it. I also made Suppression a bit more intense – preventing a unit from being able to fire back at all, rather than just making attacks more difficult to ‘hit’. This is in line with the ethos on bob’s wargame website (which has some superb articles on firepower and infantry combat – well researched from military reports)
Bob’s Wargame website (the Essay section):
And the specific article I’m referring to:
His definition of Suppression is “not being able to fire”, and while that’s not always the case – it will be my definition for this game as well, for simplicity and because it feels right in-game – when a unit can still fire while “suppressed” it feels like suppression isn’t doing very much.
After fixing up these rules, I found myself jumping around the rules (its about 50 pages long) and typing random sections – which is not good. So today I decided I needed milestones in order to get these rules ready for a potential playtest this sunday. I scrawled the following milestones:
And today, I’ve stuck pretty much exclusively to this list – working primarily on the how the new Support Asset system (drawing cards the correspond to a certain type of support) works with the old “You can request anything” system. I made Medevacs and Requests for Extraction “Always available” as a request, not relying on having the right Asset cards in your hand, while everything else like air strikes, artillery, supply drops etc, would be dependent on which cards you had. Artillery for the US is weighted slightly higher than normal, so it would be more common to draw, as it really was the backbone of most infantry operations.
I tested drawing 4 cards for each faction, and it felt right – so that’s a good start.
Made some good progress over the past few days – the turn structure is sorted, and the detection, attack and casualty rules are nearing completion. I’ve managed to distill my ideas down to their simplest form (hopefully), and thanks to Stephen’s suggestions above, I’ve made good progress on the stance rules.
Stephen’s suggestions were along the lines of limiting how far a unit could move without provoking attacks, and I did something along the same lines in Cornered Wolf, where my MO was not to use any markers or tokens at all for the entire game. I had to get creative with the suppression rules for that game, and representing stance without markers also calls for simple creative solutions.
And so my solution was to have “Opportunity” attacks and detection if a unit moves while within line of sight of an enemy. Depending on how far they move, they could provoke opportunity detection attempts, or opportunity fire, or both. This is also tied into the Awareness of units – unit that aren’t aware won’t have the same options for opportunity fire.
The essence of my plan is broken down as follows:
The real core of this game is the detection, attack and casualty rules, with the movement rules tied into these, so now that I’ve made some good progress on this core, the rest of the rules I’ve already written will fall into place. I’m not planning to re-write the entire ruleset – just this core in order to simplify and clarify the core rules.
The main thing remaining of this ‘core’ is how casualties are tracked and when units will start to roll to “Scatter” (which essentially removes them from the game). I’m hoping to make these decisions tomorrow and maybe do some small scale playtests to see if they feel right.
After finishing this ‘core’, the next step will be to slightly re-word the Support section (Where you used to be able to call in air strikes, request artillery, reinforcements, extraction, etc.) in order to line up with the way Assets are used. I still want players to be adjusting artillery and calling in support, but it will be based on what is available via the Asset cards, rather than choosing any support and rolling each turn to see if it is available.
Good progress today, re-arranged the turn order so that there is an Asset phase at the end of the turn rather than rolling to determine what kind of turn takes place – this will keep the flow going and mean players can better manage their assets.
I also implemented a way to favor the assets you want to use, as well as a friction element, having to roll each turn for the asset you want to use until you succeed.
The Asset rules are shaping up as follows:
This way players can focus their attention on getting one asset off, discarding assets they don’t want / need. They will still be limited by the available options though.
I have quite a bit of work to do before I can get this to playtesting now, but I think it will be worth it – taking it from a quite static game into something much more fluid and with lots of give and take.
My MO for these next few weeks is to write a small core of simple-as-possible rules in order to playtest these basic mechanics. All the more advanced rules I’ve already written will be kept aside until the core is running nicely. Things like the weapons tables will stay the same, and its likely things like helicopters and vehicles won’t change. I’ll mostly be focusing on getting the platoons and infantry working right – which is the core of the game anyhow.
Plenty of work ahead, but well worth it to shape this game into something quicker and more fun – as fun should be at the forefront. If something aint fun, keep changing it until it is.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Stephen – lots of great ideas as always. You’re dead right that I need to choose the details I want to represent, and I shouldn’t try to represent everything…
Lots of good ideas on stance and activation there too.
I seem to be in the middle of a quite substantial re-write, simplifying a bunch of things and attempting to shape the game into something much faster and more fluid. Will post updates once I have things sorted out
Did some more “gutting” today – stripping out the old casualty rules so they will line up with the new platoon roster, and simplify things down so you don’t need to track different kinds of casualties on dice. Casualties will now be tracked using a pencil, with a / mark indicating a light wound, and a X mark indicating a severe wound / KIA. These marks will be made on the platoon roster, which will be small enough to sit next to the miniatures.
Speaking of which, here is my mock up for the platoon roster – this time using Gravit Designer (which is much better for this kind of mock up than paint.net).
The “aware” box will start off unchecked, then become checked once the unit detects enemy or gets fired upon.
Ammo will function as it did, but casualties will now show that the unit is in “Heavy Casualties” without needing a separate marker.
I also did quick tables for what the operational assets might be for the US and VC:
The effect of each card at this stage is just an idea, these things will be solidified during the next week and next playtests.
There’s a feeling of fresh air coming over the ruleset, as I discard some of the stuffy mechanics from earlier this year. I won’t throw out everything, as many mechanics are working well, but I’m hoping to make the rules faster, and more action-packed, with a bit more randomness in regards to what support you can call on. This will add an element of resource management to the command decisions.
I do need to be careful with the whole “Draw cards to do stuff” idea, as things like Air Strikes and Artillery played a huge part in the US tactical operations, especially if a unit was in contact. I will need to give the US ways to get the cards/assets they need, although perhaps sometimes having to wait a turn or two. Likewise for the VC – I don’t want to have it solely random as to what operational assets can be used, t here needs to be some kind of mitigating element to the randomness, whether this comes from being able to draw more cards, or look through the deck, or have some cards as multi-use, or combining together to create different effects (like a 5 and a 7 being able to combine to get an air strike).
Cheers Darkest Star, I’ll check that forum out and probably post my rules once they’re ready for wider playtesting (I’ll post them here too…)
Finally been able to do some typing on this project, and crystallize my thoughts on this project over the last few months. It’s always scary when you don’t write something for many months (will I actually finish this game? am I needlessly re-thinking the mechanics, over and over in a never-ending loop?) but once you’re back into it, that fear goes away.
The main thing I wanted to change was the flow of the turns – players needed more control over being able to move troops longer distances and organize air support / tunnel movements, etc. without having to place markers and wait a number of turns. Reading “Sons of Kolchak” helped to give inspiration on how a Company Commander thinks and what he’s able to do. Its not so much about the “day in the life” of an infantryman (which was the way I had been writing the game), but its more a selection of engagements, movements and reactions.
So over the past 2 days I’ve been typing up how the turns should work: I knew I wanted 2 distinct phases – a tactical phase (with troop movements on the ground) and an operational phase (with air support called in, more ‘strategic’ long distance troop movements, and so forth). These 2 phases could be interchanged at a cost to the commander (so they could use an operational asset during a tactical phase, but it would cost them perhaps an extra operational asset discarded).
I thought how to determine what kind of phase would take place – a simple D6 based system, or using playing cards drawn from a deck to determine turn order and which player could activate (like our Cornered Wolf game), but eventually settled on a simple D6 system at the start of each turn: – 1-4 the turn would be Tactical, 5-6 the turn would be Operational.
I also needed a way to change the time of day without doing it completely randomly – I though about different types of randomness and decided I needed a track on which a marker would advance randomly, it would spend a at least a few turns in daytime, then at least a few turns in night time. The changes can be seen below:
The Idea of Operational Assets came to me today – instead of players purchasing tunnels or waiting for their troops to call in air strikes, why not have a deck of cards, from which they can choose which asset to use in-game. This would play right into the hand of the Friction that I desire in the game play – you might really need an air strike, but all you have is mechanized infantry reinforcements, which will take time to get across the table. Or you might really need a tunnel system to get out, but its not there…
I’m also looking at making the Platoon / Unit Roster much smaller and more compact (only showing the ammunition and casualties of a unit) so it can be placed next to the unit instead of being a large thing which tracks a bunch of stuff off the side of the table. This will help keep players immersed and show directly the condition of a platoon.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get rid of a lot of the game markers – for example instead of using markers to show prone / running / etc. , using a reaction fire system, where depending on how far you move, the enemies fire has a different effect. For example if you crawl 2″, the enemy will not be able to inflict casualties, but if you move at a full run, the enemy can inflict casualties, disorder, and suppression.
I don’t know if the reaction fire system will work, as its quite alien to the current system, but I will attempt to get rid of unnecessary markers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I thought about having markers showing stance, so that individual squads could have their own stance rather than tracking it on the platoon roster. There would only need to be 3 states – prone, cautious-upright, and oblivious / running. This could be represented with a triangular piece of cardboard (like an A-frame house – although this would become a mess in larger games) or by only representing 2 of the 3 states with markers, so that the most common state would require no marker. I will need to think about this further…
To do in the future: I need to design the Time Marker track, a circular track with 4 spaces, and I also need to design the new, more compact, Unit Roster.
Our wargames club reopens this sunday, so I might be able to get a playtest in, but 2 of my playtesters can’t make it, so I’ll have to check with another.
While I Haven’t actually typed anything to do with this game for a while, I have been thinking a lot about it – primarily about what my game does vs. what I want my game to do. It does represent a ‘realistic / slice of life’ simulation at the moment, but I personally wanted something more chaotic and abstracted – and faster playing, with less note-keeping and more maneuver and tactical decisions.
In light of that, I’ve been thinking about simplifying the platoon roster, to cover just casualties and ammo, and to come up with a better stance / awareness system that could be represented with markers, and allow more flexibility to squads, rather than having to set your stance as an entire platoon, which is unrealistic has already been earmarked for altering.
Our country is coming out of COVID-19 lockdown, so should be able to get our wargame club going again in a few weeks, which means playtesting can continue, and that will give some impetus for getting the next draft of rules ready, and whipping up some simplified platoon rosters.
I’ve also began reading “Sons of Kolchak”, which is a company commander’s view of the war, and providing some good inspiration for the kind of maneuver warfare and chaos (as well as small details) I’d like to see on the tabletop.
I’ve also been thinking about variable platoon leader quality, so you could have a green platoon leader who gets lost and accidentally shoots friendlies, while a veteran leader would be much more effective.
Re awareness: the state of each unit – oblivious, aware, or some kind of heightened awareness such as when on ambush. Each would have a different effect on detection and friendly fire too – jumpy units on ambush in the middle of the night are likely to open fire on anything that wanders into their line of sight…
As for the concerto, the first movement is finished, you can listen to it here:
Been a while since I’ve had a chance to do much work on this, what with university and the current virus lockdown. Without playtesting to motivate me to get a new version of the rules ready every 2 weeks, I’ve been working on other projects instead (namely a piano concerto and some uni assignments).
Over the last week I’ve been thinking about ways to potentially streamline the detection and spotting system, perhaps having 3 levels of “Situational Awareness” that will determine what can be detected and attacked. Now that the rules are functioning and we’ve done some tests, I think the detection and some of the tracking systems such as the detailed casualties tracking are a bit much, so I’ll look at scaling them back – perhaps down to a simple tally sheet for casualties.
Having some distance from the rule set allows me to think about my original intentions with the game, and if the current rules are serving that vision. I imagined a clear, clean game with plenty of friction, with the players attempting to struggle control back from chaos (coming from the rules themselves, and the opponent). I definitely think I have a way to go to achieve this goal, although many of the systems are working very nicely so far.
Hope everyone reading stays safe in this time and is able to get some painting done, or even some solo gaming or getting some roll20 / VASSAL / tabletop simulator games in.
Hi whirlwind, the mat is from Deep Cut Studio, it’s a 6′ x 4′, pvc with a custom image I asked for – “european fields with no water, suitable for ww1 or WW2 air combat”. It works great for Vietnam too, thankfully. I would order the neoprene version if I bought it again, as they sit perfectly flat
Made some good progress on the rules, have typed up all the edits from last playtest, and hope to get in another playtest this sunday.
Also added some rules for deployment in smaller games (using half the table), and in larger games (allow the US to enter from multiple table edges and split their forces) at the request of my playtester, so we’ll see how those work next time.
These rules are almost at the point where I can invite people to playtest them – usually I would make a post on The Wargames Website or certain facebook groups and get people to email me if they are interested in getting a copy of the rules and trying them out.
Another good playtest on sunday – I played the VC and my opponent took a US patrol on foot to check some villages. I placed a LMG ambush team near the village, and the ambush gameplay – suppressing and disordering the US platoon initially, but then recovering, working out where the fire was coming from, then calling in accurate mortar fire on the LMGs – worked perfectly.
There are still some teething issues with when VC units can activate – I played them as if they needed some kind of message to activate, which would have relied on civilian lookouts, or orders from Company HQ. This resulted in most of the VC forces waiting around for the game, while the US conducted searches of a village, medevaced their wounded and generally had the run of the place.
We decided the VC should be able to activate whenever they liked, whether this would just happen automatically (as we played last game), or if we should get civilians in there, it makes for a much more interesting game – as the VC can re-position and set up new ambushes, which puts time pressure and stress on the US player. While the game we played felt like an accurate “day in the life” of US forces, it didn’t make for really engaging, exciting gameplay – and since this is a game, gameplay is the most important!
The playtester really enjoyed the more narrative elements of the game, especially the reasons why US units didn’t activate – such as being too lazy, expending ammo, or having accidental casualties. It caused us to come up with interesting stories, like the US platoon searching a village and shooting a bunch of dogs, or just wasting ammo while doing so. Or after a very small engagement (with the LMG ambush), one of the US soldiers shot himself in the foot to try to get out of duty.
We also had a US Recon squad for the first time, which caused us to work out some rules for Recon units moving around and what happens if they come across enemy forces while moving.
So this is the main thing I will be looking at over the next few weeks – how to integrate civilians with the Terrain Points without giving away the position of VC forces, and how to treat VC hidden movement – they should be able to move about, but it should take time to set up new ambushes.
Making good progress on typing up all the edits – everything is pretty much done! We’ll be looking at another playtest this Sunday.
Made quite a few substantial edits to how things work, completely removing the Hidden Movement phase, and instead incorporating it into regular Activation. We found the VC had too much freedom to move around when they had an entire phase to move everything, and so instead we will force them to choose only a few units to activate and move.
Posting some of the Line of Sight images I did recently too, just so this post has some image content!
Just took photos of my miniatures, then added annotations with paint.net.
I’m almost at the point where I would make some posts on various forums asking people if they would like to playtest these rules – I’m essentially almost at a “complete first draft” stage.
Now that the game is running well after having a lot of things stripped out (such as civilians, booby traps, and the US hidden movement / deployment / recon squads) I can begin to slowly add them back into the game one by one. This staggered approach allows us to work through the basics of the rules – seeing what needs to be altered in order to function correctly, and then add in the more advanced rules, testing and modifying them as we go.
If I started the game with Everything already in place, it would be much harder to learn and to work out what is causing the problems.
Next up I need to type up the booby trap rules, and provide some image examples of how platoon firefights function. I also need to look at the civilian rules, and how they interact with hidden units at Terrain Points, without giving away the position of those units.
Ok so now we’ve had 2 large-scale playtests, I have a lot of notes to go through and edits/clarifications to make. This is my actual notes sheet from the last game (there was this sheet + another half page in total) I just make a note every time something doesn’t make sense, or a rule is missing, or needs to be changed, or clarified:
Generally you take a lot of notes in the early playtests, then as the testing goes on, you take less and less notes, until eventually you’re playing games without make any changes to the rules (by that point you know the game’s pretty much done).
So I will be working through this list one by one, fleshing out or adding rules to accommodate or mitigate issues or situations we encountered. I also want to re-type or at least rearrange the infantry section so it flows better and gives the player more detail on exactly how combat functions. Because this is the heart of the game, it’s well worth spending a lot of time on that section; making sure it reads well and creates a clear understanding of how the game flows. I will likely take some example photos too for Line of Sight examples and suchlike.
Another thing I need to do is whip up some quick reference sheets – it feels like the kind of game where we’re have an infantry quick reference page, and a helicopters quick reference page, and then a section for making requests (like artillery, medevac, air support, etc.).
The basics of the game are working, but they still have some wrangling to keep them in line with the gameplay and fun I want out of the game, so still plenty of work ahead. We will have another playtest in just under 2 weeks, so everything should be clarified / filled out by then, and I’ll be expecting to play a much more coherent and balanced game.
Ok both playtests are done – the first was a bit rocky, being the very first full scale playtest with hidden movement, but we managed to have an interesting engagement. The second playtest was very successful, with a lot of crazy shit going down, and lots of fun (and friction!). Both games I took over a page of notes, and was able to type up the changes from playtest 1 before moving on to the next one (them having a day between them). I’m feeling pretty confident with the rules now – that they will be fun and engaging, and everything else is just playtesting, polishing, testing balance, and clarifying rules. It will still be a long process ahead, but at least the initial large scale playtest period has been successful – the proof of concept that its a fun game.
A few photos from the playtests:
1st playtest: 3 US platoons sweep through rural Vietnam, about to search 2 villages for stashes or VC activity
a Heavily armed VC platoon emerges in the treeline…
Springing a massive ambush, which initially did lots of casualties, but the US were able to immediately get accurate mortar fire onto the VC platoon, pinning it down while the other platoons nearby came up to assist.
An airmobile US platoon en route to an LZ near a village to be searched, the hueys hover in to insert…
…and the lead Huey is hit by an RPG from a nearby section of jungle! the US player (me) had their platoon HQ in there! that’s not good. The huey loses control and crashes nearby, although the pilots try their best to control the landing, there are no survivors… Lesson learned: don’t put the HQ in the lead helicopter! now the Platoon won’t be able to call in support…
The remaining 3 Hueys insert their squads, although the 2nd huey lands over a piece of jungle, and the aircraft catches a stray tree branch, sending it hurtling forward – it collides with the front huey and both go down in fiery balls! thats 3 / 4 helis down! Another lesson learned – always insert into open areas! – don’t try to land near jungle!
The cut off US platoon is strongly equipped with M60s and M79s, so can hold its own, they’re taking fire from a nearby the Sniper Valley Terrain Point… and they attempt to pin it down with help from the remaining huey:
A medium-sized VC platoon reveals from Sniper Valley, and a massive firefight ensues… 3rd US squad crawls frantically around the left side in order to flank the VC position….
The US, while taking a bunch of casualties on the way in, start to turn the tide on the VC platoon, even without any artillery or air support, although another VC platoon is in the nearby village, and starting closing in…
A Radar-guided 37mm opens fire on the remaining Huey, luckily only hitting the fuel tank and forcing the Huey to RTB…
The US platoon charge at the VC, running forwards with M16s blazing, and throwing grenades – causing massive casualties on the wavering VC platoon – who is attempting to break contact and retreat back to the village – although they also want to withdraw with their casualties, giving the US no body count, so the withdrawal is slow and fierce!
Gearing up for a full scale playtest today, and another on sunday, so have been frantically typing up missing rules and making markers.
One of the hardest thing about games that feature a lot of hidden movement is that you can’t really playtest them on your own, so almost every aspect of the game needs to be ready and (hopefully) functional by the time the first playtests roll around. I found the same thing in Hind & Seek, where I essentially had to write the whole ruleset and then start playtesting, as opposed to most of the other games I design where I can solo test each new concept as it comes around, tweaking balance and rules clarity as I go.
I plan to do a US search and destroy of 2 Villages, allowing the VC to deploy hidden, but not being sure where the US will come from. This will make for some interesting cat and mouse, as the VC won’t know which village the US will go for first, and the US won’t know where the VC will be waiting. Civilians and booby traps will probably be implemented, as they both make things interesting and add to the “Vietnam” atmosphere.
So we’ll see how it goes today, I’m sure I will learn a lot and have a lot of edits and things to clarity!
Here’s the latest marker sheet:
Rules typed up in the last week or so:
Vehicles, Terrain Points re-typed and Cleaned up (hidden movement and detection rules), Army lists cleaned up and filled out, Trench and Bunker rules written, Night Fighting rules written, typed up the Reinforcements, Extraction and Supply drop requests for the US, as well as a lot of cleaning up and refining of all the other rules here and there. It has been crunch time for these rules!
Back from holiday, so can now get back to work on this. Aiming for a full playtest sunday after next (our next Wargame Club day), so will need to have the rules cleaned up and functional by then.
The Helicopter damage section is complete, as you can see below I tried to have minimal tracking, but a helicopter roster sheet will probably still be used, or some markers. I will also give helicopters the ability to call in and adjust artillery, as they did in real life.
Today I typed up the FOG & IFR section, which will make it harder to call in helicopters unless its an emergency (such as Recon needing extraction or Priority Medevacs in a regular platoon), and there is a chance that any helicopters flying (such as airborne insertions) could run into trouble and get lost or even crash.
Over the next week I will need to do a few things to make sure the rule set it ready for playtesting:
- Choose which elements of the game will be running for the playtest – will civilians be included, hidden movement?
- Tidy up and proof-read the sections that will be running
- Get Helicopter roster sheets and any extra markers needed, such as the Mortar Zeroed in Markers
Choosing what to include in the first large scale playtest is going to be the hardest part – the hidden movement really needs to be included, so I’ll need to carefully look at that section and probably re-type a lot of it scratch to get more clarity and ease of play.
Things like Civilians and hidden movement will both add a lot to the feel of the game, so if I’m feeling confident that they won’t overwhelm the VC player (who tends to wait in ambush for the first few turns of the game), then I will have them running in this playtest.
All the support options will certainly be available to the US player, so I will need to finish off the artillery section (rules for smoke and Time Over Target strikes).
I also have some VC AA guns to paint, which I should easily be able to get done by next sunday
Army lists will also need to be finished off, with any elements not being tested removed. I will also need to print the whole ruleset (in B&W, although with a color cover to show off).
So definitely a lot to do!
Finished of the Chinooks and Loaches, ready for the table:
Over the next few days I’ll be testing out AA fire and helicopters dealing with AA and ground threats – so detection and engaging, and see what the balance is like.
I’ll be trying out small arms, RPGs, larger caliber and Radar-Guided AA fire, and working out how I’m going to handle the 12.7mm / .50 cal, 23mm and 37mm AA weaponry of the VC / NVA
Some photos from today’s playtest – did a single US platoon dropping into an LZ, with the VC at the treeline. Fleshed out a lot of rules, things like disembarking / embarking, touch-and-go landings, detection, etc. Its always surprising just how many things you discover and alter during the first few playtests of rules.
Slicks inbound to the LZ, haven’t yet detected the VC in the treeline, while the VC certainly know they’re coming – they’re just waiting for the right time to strike
The Slicks touch and go, detecting VC in the treeline and opening fire with the left-hand M60s, suppressing the VC. The US troops dismount, considered to be disordered while first dismounting
The VC open fire on the disordered US troops, as they hit the ground. The slicks lift off, heading out. (These tracer markers are subject to change…)
The US open fire on the VC while the VC decide to aim at the slicks, attempting to get some lucky damage with their small arms fire, which forces a slick to RTB (“Its Too Hot!”), and kills the Door gunner in another, also causing that slick to RTB.
That’s about as far as I took the playtest, as it was mostly a proof of concept on the helicopter rules and how insertions worked. Typed up a lot of things and clarified a few others, so the Helicopter section is looking a lot more healthy now. I decided I will have a helicopter roster sheet where damage can be tracked (and troops aboard placed), to prevent too many markers on the table.
Finished listening to “Silent Heroes: A Recon Marine’s Vietnam War Experience” (would recommend, although the narrator isn’t quite as good as some of the other audiobooks), and downloaded “Taking Fire: The True Story of a Decorated Chopper Pilot” for listening to while I paint & build miniatures. Started painting the CH-47s and Loaches today.
Rules-wise over the past few days I’ve been looking at the helicopter rules, typing up a few things like damage tables, and today I’m hoping to attempt an air insertion of troops into a hot LZ to see how the heli rules hold up. Should be interesting…
The Helicopter rules currently look this this, although I’m still filling a few things in, and they’re likely far from finished:
Latest progress – I’ve been typing up the vehicle rules, and getting ideas for mishaps for helicopters (as I read through “Undaunted Valor: An Assault Helicopter Unit in Vietnam”). Built 2 Loach helicopters today, and will paint them up over the next few days.
Finished off 10 or so more bases of US infantry, including some recon teams.
To do miniatures-wise: Build 2 Chinooks, and base/paint some VC heavy AA guns (~23mm)
I’m now officially on holiday until late January (last 2 weeks have been busy, as I’m sure everyone is), so will have lots of time to type up rules and start doing some more serious playtesting over the next month.
Big and Small: Finished Loaches and CH-47 Chinooks, as well as the 2 finished Recon teams
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…).
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!
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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).
Hi Stephen, figures are based singularly, but generally operate in squads unless they’re heavy weapon teams or a lone sniper. Attacks are made from squad to squad, by rolling individually for each figure.
The numbers in the game depend on what kind of miniatures you have available – the forces are randomly generated, but if you don’t have the required miniature you just skip the result and draw again until you get a result that you have a miniature for. Our games had about 20 – 30 infantry on each side, and 5 or so vehicles on the Russian side.
Reinforcements are pretty uncommon – probably only ever 1 in a game, and not all that likely, but could number from 1 to 10 men or 1 to 3 vehicles.
Hope that helps!