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Fire in the Lake» Forums » Variants

Subject: A few thoughts about Mark and Volko's variant... rss

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Fred Jordan
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I had the pleasure to discover Fire in the Lake earlier on this year and was immediately seduced by the elegance of the game design and how it had managed to capture the essence of what I read about the Vietnam War (and I have read quite a lot on this topic).

I also had the chance to play this game with many gaming groups and have enjoyed playing all sides in all scenarios. However, I have to say that the full campaign really clearly has my preference.

A few weeks ago, I decided to test the variants published on the Inside GMT web site.

The vast majority of these variants makes complete sense and corrects some annoying balance issues (i.e. LRRP or USS New Jersey).

However, I still do not know what to think about the 'sortie limit' variant (on die roll of enemy pieces removed) published on the inside GMT web page. The current rule allowing the US to strike 6 pieces and hurt the trail as the same time is definitely tough on the VC and NVA but in the three campaigns I have played with this variant, the US never managed to effectively use its (now limited) airpower against the trail. The end result was a much stronger NVA in a position to lauch the Easter Offensive at least one campaign earlier than is usually the case in the full game.

Speaking of the Easter Offensive, the airstrike rule does not make any difference between guerrilla units (when revealed) and regular units. When using the 'sortie limit' variant, it becomes impossible to replicate (in game terms) the decisive contributions of the US airpower to the ARVN defence during the offensive.

Bottom line: the current airstrike rule may be (very) tough but I'm not sure the suggested 'sortie limit' variant is the answer. Actually, I'm wondering if using the current rule with a maximum of 3 pieces removed per space could work. This would probably limit the excessive effectiveness of the sweep-airstrike combo on major enemy concentrations while still capturing the massive impact of US airpower during operations and on the trail.

Anyway, just a few thoughts (for what they are worth)

EDIT: I just noticed Mark and Volko's variant thread on BGG which suggests a different variant for 'sortie limit'. I am surprised that the suggested rule is different than the one published on Inside GMT but since it is absolutely in line with my thoughts above, I am not going to complain



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Jason Sherlock
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I had suggested a similar idea, remove 6 and no effect on trail or remove 3 and adjust trail by one. For monsoon either remove three or adjust trail
It seems like a more balanced compromise, but it does make the rules less elegant.
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Fred Jordan
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Has anybody ever tried the “Withdrawal” variant in which the VC may shift 1 Population by 1 level toward Opposition for every 2 US pieces (rounded down) relocated from map to Available?

On paper it looks pretty tough but it might force the US to use a more graduated approach to his force withdrawal after Vietnamization is played.
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