I got together recently with my friend John, whom I have known for years but somehow only just now managed to play a game with. John graciously agreed to host, and I was very happy to play on his excellent gaming table and check out his great collection of models. Our choice of conflict was Vietnam, and we chose the most basic scenario from the Tour of Duty book: Stand-Up Fight. This scenario requires a player to seize an objective in enemy territory, and uses the Vietnam victory points table, which is quite different from standard Flames of War scoring. It also uses the Meeting Engagement, Fire Support Base, and Guerilla reserves special rules. We played the game using 1500 point armies.
I took a PAVN Infantry Battalion with 2 Companies of Infantry with two platoons each. In addition, I took 2 Recoiless rifle platoons (85mm w/3 tubes, 75mm w/6), a 3-gun 12.7mm AA platoon, and for grins my freshly painted PT-76 platoon. Also I took two minefields and two HMG nests which could be placed in ambush.
John's list was the Blackhorse Cavalry, and as best I recall consisted of two cavalry troops with 4 ACAVs and 3 Sheridans apiece, alone with a platoon of 2 Patton tanks, and a squadron of 2 Loach helicopters. He also had his CO and XO in tracks. That was a lot of armor but at least I wouldn't have to deal with the un-killable US infantry.
John set up his armor as seen below: Cav troops on the left and center, Pattons on the right, choppers in the rear. I set up a PAVN battalion on my left objective, and the PT-76s in a wood on my far left. I kept everything else off the table in Guerilla Reserve.
See those well-camouflaged PT-76 tanks? I chose that area to deploy them as it seemed "fluffy" to put amphibious, wide-tracked tanks in the woods near a river.
Winning the roll for the first turn, I also made a roll for a Guerilla Reserve unit. I chose the 85mm Recoilless unit and I rolled a 5, allowing me to choose a table quarter in which I had placed an objective. Estimating that this was my one chance to deal with the Pattons, I placed the guns within 16" of the Patton platoon and blazed away! I managed to roll 3 hits. The guns are AT 13 and the side armor of a Patton is 8, so odds were I was going to do some damage!
Oh look, 3 sixes! John bounced all 3 of the side armor shots on his Pattons. Oh boy. I was, shall we say, slightly disappointed.
I also deployed my two HMG bunkers and my two minefields in the most inconvenient manner I could imagine. The mines lay under the nice neat rows of John's armor. We placed them adjacent below for convenience, but they are under the armor for game purposes. My bunkers opened up on the two Loaches and despite getting 4 hits failed to make any firepower rolls.
My rather foolishly deployed PT-76s advance to the river edge, one of them getting bogged down by the woods despite its wide tracks.
John's armor advances, with a single track getting bailed out by a mine blast.
John's armor on his left is stuck in the NVA mines.
Both Pattons and Loaches deploy to punish the impudent and impotent AT guns...
...and wipe them out posthaste. John also whacked one of my HMG nests with his Sheridans.
On Turn 2 I had no reinforcements arrive, so my infantry attempted to dig in on the objective to weather the coming storm. They failed.
On Turn 2 John advanced again with his central armor platoon, but his other armor stayed stuck on the mines. That was nice but I was in no position to take advantage.
John's Loaches shoot up my company, inflicting several losses and pinning them.
On turn 3, I tried to bring in my AAA to answer the choppers, but I rolled a 5 again, and they had to deploy in a quarter where I placed an objective. The ability of the ACAvs and the Loaches to prevent me from placing Guerilla units within 16" started to be a real problem for me here. I had to place the AA in a useless position on my left, nowhere near the choppers. I brought the PT-76 platoon over to the edge of the hedges to support my infantry against a possible armor assault. One remained stuck in the woods.
With the choppers hovering menacingly nearby, my infantry failed to dig in once again.
On John's turn 3, he destroyed the exposed AA guns and managed to bail out a PT-76, as well as continue to punish my infantry who seemed unable to dig holes in the ground. He advanced his central armor platoon forward to threaten my infantry and finally got his other platoon out of the mines.
On my turn 4 I got reinforcements in the form of another company of infantry. I was only able to deploy them on my left and tried to position them to make a run at my other objective which John's previously stuck armor platoon had a clear path to.
In the center, my PT-76 tanks and infantry RPGs manage to finally bloody the Americans, claiming two ACAVs with their fire.
Undaunted, John advanced on turn 4 toward my open right flank with his undamaged platoon.
In the center, the Sheridans and Pattons destroy two PT tanks, including the platoon leader, and a few more infantry teams with heavy fire. Off camera the Loaches pepper my reinforcing company with minigun and door-gun fire, pinning them and destroying a number of teams.
On turn 5, I got my last Guerilla Reserve unit, the 75mm Recoilless guns. I actually rolled a 4 to place them on John's unguarded objective quarter, but in fact his ACAVs created an almost-perfect no-go zone, so I relocated them to the woodline on my far left to engage the damaged ACAV platoon at range. They were incapable of damaging the closer Pattons. I also appointed a new command team for the PT-76s using my Battalion Commander.
The Recoilless guns rolled a total of 6 hits, and destroyed 3 Sheridans, leaving only 2 ACAVs functional in the platoon. The armor platoon passed their morale check and fought on. Off camera I advanced my reinforcing infantry company toward my right objective.
On his turn 5 John did the smart thing and advanced to claim the objective on my right flank with his un-engaged armor. He also destroyed 3 recoilless guns and bailed out a PT tank.
The Loaches also continued to punish the reinforcing company, leaving them under half strength, pinned, and far from the objective.
On my last turn (as I could not contest the objective John now held) I went for a few more VPs to make it look close. My PT lead tank lined up a shot through the hedge and destroyed a Sheridan coming down the road.
My remaining recoilless guns then shifted left and destroyed John's XO ACAV. The soccer game in the background failed to spoil their aim.
At the start of John's turn 6, he won the game by holding the objective on my right flank!
So, John had won the game and all that was left was to determine the margin of victory. Using the Vietnam victory points table, John scored 2 Battle Points for destroying my 85mm recoiless platoon and AA platoon. He also scored 1 Battle Point for destroying 3 PT tanks. This gave John a total of 3 Battle Points.
For my part, I had scored 2 Battle Points for destroying 6 tank teams. I also scored a last Battle Point for killing the XO's track as a warrior team. That gave me 3 Battle points overall, as well. Looking at the Vietnam VP table, a Battle Point margin of 0 gave us a result of 4-3, or a "Propaganda Victory" in Vietnam terms.
In retrospect I should have kept another platoon on the table at the beginning of the game to cover John's objective on my right. I was thinking of maximizing my flexibility, however, and did not count on the massive amount of table space that an army full of ACAVs and Loaches could deny to me. As a result of this error and John's good positioning of his models I simply could not get to the objective in time to prevent a loss.
I really enjoyed the game and I think John did as well. I think the final picture speaks volumes as to the hard fighting we had in the middle which was really exciting. It was also really fun to field some PAVN armor after all my infantry-only outings with them. Thanks again to John for hosting, and I look forward to more Vietnam FOW games to come.