Monday, 10 April 2017

DMZ Vietnam # 3 - Winning Hearts and Souls (or at least trying)

Third game of CoC DMZ, the Vietnam supplement for Chain of Command. After two games, we are now more confident on controlling the new mechanics and decided to add some complexity, introducing a political dimension to the game loosely based on Charlie Don't Surf, the Platoon-sized rules written by TooFatLardies (full details at the end of the post).

Using this time one of the scenarios included a Surf's Up, the US player was briefed about its mission: he must take control of remote village of uncertain name suspected to be the depot area of NVA units infesting the region. In Chain of Command terms, this is a "Scenario 6 Attack on an Objective" of the main rulebook, in principle winning the US if capturing the jumpoff point located in the center of the village.

But it wasn't to be so easy. As the NVA had important food and weapons supplies hidden in the village, those should be discovered and destroyed. If the enemy could exit its tactical edge with the supplies, the NVA player was victorious even if the US take control of the village. The village was inhabited and any civilian potentially a casualty in a fire exchange would count againts the US (or the NVA!) "Political Score".

Peaceful local peasents (or not?) on their way to tendering the fields
Setting the scene let's see how the table looked opposed the US entry side.

The terrain around the road from the far table edge to the village out skirts was "jungle type 2"v(very dense). Good to conceal the US movements but also seriously limiting its LOS.

The US infantry was supported by an ACAV vehicle. Following the patrol pahse, the US jump off points were placed at short distance of each other (... hard lesson learnt in previous games...) close to the jungle limit, while most of the NVA were distributed within the village perimeter. Remember the NVA has the advantage of the "local knowledge" feature, allowing to deploy units up to 12" from the jump off (vs the 6" distance of the regular troops).

Orange, yellow and blue smoke
In the first activation the US deployed a section covering the left flank (the orange smoke above) and the ACAV entered the road through the table edge. The NVA deployed its first section aiming to fire on the US infantry but failed the LOS roll. Both units remained stationary for most of the  game, neither daring to get closer to the other and exchanging some shots when LOS allowed.

In the following activation of the NVA player a second section was deployed, this time along the bank of the rice paddies bordering the viallge, in overwatch covering the road coming out of the jungle terrain. The US deployed a second section on the right flank, at the edge of the jungle and fired over the NVA while the ACAV made a quick dash along the road and the central position of the US line, aligned with the two infantry sections.

The following activations saw the US gaining the upper hand in various fire exchanges with the NVA located at the rice paddy; the US infantry section got a a nice close support on the ACAV's 0.5 HMG . As a result the NVA leader was killed, and the section accumulated shocks+casualties enough to get pinned first and then to break, fleeing away.

The NVA spent two CoC dice in ambush attempts, first with a RPG team firing the ACAV (just stunning the driver for 1 activation phase but being killed in exchange); and later with their last infantry section in the reserve, firing to the flank of the US infantry opposing the rice paddy, achieving very light casualties (jungle offer hard cover to the defender).

At this stage the NVA forces were badly mauled and the player decided to save as many of its supplies as possible from falling in US hands. The last reserves were therefore committed to carry the caches out of the table. The US now could enter the village unopposed.

 While the first US section deployed in the game continue covering the flank and anchoring the only NVA unit in good order, the remaining troops started searching for caches. Several dummy sites were discovered but not a trace of the supplies. This pose a problem ot the US player:  on military terms the superiority was clear,  but victory was still hanging on fragile balance as he wasn't able to find the enemy's supplies.

Finally the US player realized that he had an alternative way to win the game, which was to capture the objective NVA jump off point. A US infantry team was sent running with the ACAV as escort, reaching the junpoff and then using the Chain of Command dice to end the turn and shout victory!.

Just in time, as the NVA player was by then very close to exiting the table with the supplies.

This game demostrated that communist forces are a major disadvantage in a fire exchange with the US. Even using M 14s, the firepower of the US infantry section (specially if an M60 team is attached) is overwhelming. NVA must use the historical "hit and run tactics", taking advantage of the local knowledge rule (that allows a far forward deployment) and  when possible double activations to fire at least twice sequentially before the US can react.

Political aspects in the game
We are now in the process of adding a political dimension to the game, an aspect we much liked and enjoyed when playing Charlie Don't Surf. Our first approach in this game was to allocate 5 Political Victory points to each side at the start of the game.

The NVA gains points by extracting the supplies from the table and looses points if civilians casualties are taken in fire exchanges. The US player gains points capturing supply caches and confirming NVA casualties. US looses points if causing civilian casualties in fire exchanges. 

Civilians can be casualties if a firing LOS passes through them and/or are located at 4" or less of a target unit in a firing exchange. Treat casualties as firing on a leader: roll a die and if the number is equal or lower than the number of KIA, a civilian is a casualty.

How are civilians moved? Before an activation phase is finished, the active players rolls 3 dice and moves back the (remaining) civilians entangled in a fire exchange in straight line from the firing unit. We are also considering if allowing players to use 1 CoC dice PIP to move any group of civilians at any time during its own phase.

NVA units can take their casualties with them if retiring in good order, but bodies are left on the ground if break and flee.

We also rolled for the US unit to have a media team embedded. The loss of the media team will reduce the US PV score by 2; also, any civilian killed observed by a media team will  score -2 in the US PV total.
 These ideas are still work in progress so any comments, critics or additions will be highly wlecome and appreciated.


  1. A great AAR and a fine looking table. I like your ideas on the political rules, but do both players lose points for civilian casalities?

    1. Well yes, if the NVA shots and kills someone, the neighbours won't be happy at all

  2. Nice game Benito. Had a chance to introduce an old friend to CDS a while ago. Dick E. was with armor. I did some combined arms training with Dick before we both went to Nam. A couple of points:

    AFV's - worked together in 2's or 3's, sometimes more. They covered each other and the infantry.

    Civilians - A PAVN controlled hamlet would be pro-communist, "unreliables" would have been eliminated. Young people "inducted" into PAVN forces present or sent elsewhere.

    PAVN would know when free world AFV's were around so:
    Unarmed civilians would have been used to remove supplies or have left the hamlet as the attackers approached. Armed civilians would have joined the fight.

    I'm going to write up a CDS game played with Dick & others for a submission to the specials. It uses a rather large PAVN force vs US infantry-armor-LRRP. It's based on an actual event that occurred just after Tet.

    We played it several times. Vis Lardica AAR's have one brief mention of a poorly handled PAVN force in one of our games.


    1. Charles
      Thanks for stepping in and share your experience with us. Taking note of all the points mentioned

  3. Replies
    1. Many thanks, a joint effort of my gaming group pals

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  5. Hi Benito. I have starting going through some stuff regarding political victories etc and also looking in particular at how the Charlie Dont Surf scenarios can convert over to CoC. I have some ideas that I'll forward through once I work them out better. The original NAM supplement was focused on the firefight aspect. I had envisaged most of the political style victory stuff being incorporated into a campaign element. One thing I am always mindful of is that tye Vietnam War featured a great deal of conventional firefights and wasnt just about finding rice caches. I am mindful however that a lot of players do enjoy the multiple victory paths that can be produced for games in this period. I'll let you know what I come up with regarding converting the Surfs Up scenarios to CoC and would be interested in any further thoughts you have also. My initial thinking is that alot can be done by making NVA/VC JOPs the different rice caches etc and incorporating a rule where the NVA/VC can reduce FWF moral to 3 then peel away and achieve a minor victory etc. Any rules I try to come up with are guided by making them as close as possible to existing CoC rules and as simple as possible.

    1. Thanks for the comment, we'll be happy to receive any new inputs on this