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Vietnam 1965-1975» Forums » Strategy

Subject: New Campaign: Thoughts about Fumbling Along #2 rss

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Randy Knight
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Mark and I are between sessions of our Vietnam Campaign. We pick up again this weekend with the Summer Interphase and Season of 1966.

I've been reading an overview of the Vietnam war in my daily readings, which has kept me thinking through what I should be doing. So here are some thoughts from the US perspective.

1.) "More Flags" policy.
This was simply President Johnson's desire to have a multinational force involved in opposing Communism in Vietnam. I currently have the Australians, the New Zealanders, and the Philippine forces on the ground with the Americans and South Vietnamese. (This occurred because my US Commitment Level topped 160 in the Spring of 1966, and these allies joined the effort.)

ANZAC troops:


So this season I think it is most definitely time for the Koreans to add their flag and forces to the struggle. The Capitol Division is available, as is the 2nd Korean Marine Regiment. The Korean 9th Division is not yet available (need to roll a 1 on a d6 for it to become available). Hopefully it will become available soon.
The Korean Units are as good as an "upgraded" ARVN division, but they are always effective! So I'm going to bring them into the conflict.

Korean Troops:


2.) ARVN Military Supplies.
I have been slowly (a small commitment each season) building up the ARVN Army. I have three complete "upgraded" ARVN Divisions active in SVN at this point. (The ARVN Paratroopers, the ARVN 25th Division, and the ARVN 23rd Division are all upgraded.)
I need to build the ARVN Marine units again, under new leadership. The Marine Division was decommissioned (withdrawn) in a prior season to eliminate the abysmal one-star leader that was ruining the Marines effectiveness. So we will put them into the SVN training program again and see if they get more effective leadership (let's hope so).
Need to build some ARVN artillery also as soon as possible.

3.) 82nd Airborne.
This division arrived in the Spring, and was one of the elements having a Texas stand-off with the NVA across the Border in Laos. This season I think it would be wise to put them to better use, so I will likely scatter them across one of the Corps to chase down VC who are built in SVN or who venture out of their sanctuaries in Laos and Cambodia. If the VC do not come out to play, then perhaps elements of this Division will be withdrawn at some point to keep US commitment levels down, as it wasn't really needed last season (of course hindsight is 20-20). But at least having introduced the 82nd Airborne caused the international community to make the ANZACS available to fight alongside us!

The 82nd Airborne is in SVN:


Looking forward to sharing another Session Report after we play more this weekend!
Randy Knight

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Mark Evans
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NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT REPLY

Of course we get to purchase and place after he lays out his set up. Mums the word over here on our potential reply, but, I don't know how long we can let him have a free pass on the hearts and minds without participating. I have been hesitant to take losses needlessly. Still not sure how to counter his strategy. Maybe we will just wait until the US leaves and then pound ARVN all the way to Saigon.
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Martí Cabré

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drmark64 wrote:
NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT REPLY

Of course we get to purchase and place after he lays out his set up. Mums the word over here on our potential reply, but, I don't know how long we can let him have a free pass on the hearts and minds without participating. I have been hesitant to take losses needlessly. Still not sure how to counter his strategy. Maybe we will just wait until the US leaves and then pound ARVN all the way to Saigon.


Just wait outside the border and let them fumble all the pacification die rolls.
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Mark Evans
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That worked well this season.
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Brian Linvill
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aslredbarricades wrote:

I need to build the ARVN Marine units again, under new leadership. The Marine Division was decommissioned (withdrawn) in a prior season to eliminate the abysmal one-star leader that was ruining the Marines effectiveness. So we will put them into the SVN training program again and see if they get more effective leadership (let's hope so).


Doesn't Rule 17.7, subparagraph, Restrictions on Withdrawal, prevent the return of the Marine Division HQ? "Once an HQ has been withdrawn, it may never be reintroduced." Or had you not deployed the HQ yet?
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Randy Knight
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The Marine Division HQ has never seen production. Nor will it be produced until I am satisfied with the Marine Training Division leadership

Part of the US Advisor Planning was to create a SVN Divisional training program: to not produce the division HQ unless it has a one star leader rating of at least "+2" leadership rating value.

I will attach an article I began before we played the Campaign Game. It is only a rough draft, but will give you an idea of my thoughts on ARVN Strategy. It will be in the Strategy Section. I'll have to edit and hone it upon completion of the Campaign game, with the benefit of hindsight...

Randy

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Brian Linvill
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aslredbarricades wrote:
The Marine Division HQ has never seen production. Nor will it be produced until I am satisfied with the Marine Training Division leadership

Part of the US Advisor Planning was to create a SVN Divisional training program: to not produce the division HQ unless it has a one star leader rating of at least "+2" leadership rating value.


Clever. I had not considered creating and withdrawing elements of a SVN division for the sole purpose of drawing, or as you say "training," a competent commander. But taken to the extreme, a US player could just create and withdraw division recon battalions until satisfied with the command structure - a very inexpensive technique at 1 supply point each. This option strikes me as very gamey. Do you have, or suggest, a house rule to prevent such? For instance, the US player could be required form at least one regiment from a division before forming the corresponding division recon unit.
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Mark Evans
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NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT RESPONSE

It doesn't feel gamey to me. Many a public servant have lost their jobs by appropriation rather than by termination.
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Martí Cabré

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Yep, I don't think it's gamey. I think it's a clever approach to the rules.
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Randy Knight
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The SVN leadership really makes me laugh!

Even with my training program, you have no control over the morale of the new initial or new leadership! So, for instance, I finally drew a "+7" value one star division leader. Yup. Two seasons later he's "back in the box" due to forced successful replacement. And you bet, the replacement guy is like a "0" or "1" and ends up with morale "13" - so he's there for the long haul unless you take advantage of the rules that state:

There is NO LIMIT to the number of times a unit can be withdrawn and introduced again. (exception HQ)

I think the designers built this clever little rule into the game to allow some hope of removing the worst division leaders having the highest morale positions. I cannot think of any other reason anyone would withdraw and rebuild a unit an "unlimited number of times".

Another quandary for the SVN player is that there are more divisions than there are "good" leaders. So any way you work it, there are going to be ineffective ***garrison only*** types of ARVN divisions.

And remember that you still must deal with the HOPELESS two-star Corps Leaders, over whom you have almost no control.

Even having great division leaders (as I'm starting to see in my game) for some divisions, even those Divisions are likely to be effective in only one, or perhaps two, Corps.

In our game, II Corps has the only **Positive** value two-star leader, so that's basically the only region that sees ARVN divisions trying to work effectively.

What an awesome game, with so many options and frustrations to effective play.
Randy
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Randy Knight
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Another obstacle I ran into in my training program was that the rules prevent the same unit from being withdrawn and rebuilt in the same recruitment phase.

So I find myself building a division recon unit, then withdrawing it the next season. But I have to wait another season to rebuild it, or else build a regiment.

So the process isnt as quick as it may appear. And there is no guarantee whatsoever that the next leader is any better than the last. The more "good leaders" are drawn early in the game for ARVN divisions, the longer it takes to cull out the other bad ones with good ones because the draw pool is absolutely horrendous, being filled to the brim with incompetence.

Give it a run through sometime, and you will still be frustrated... and it seems to take forever. And its not as cheap as one might think.

I imagine I've spent at least the equivalent of 3 US commitment on SVN Military Supplies to build and rebuild units with hapless commanders.

But at least the method feels like your US Advisors (who have been in SVN for what? 10 years now?) are getting some payback for all their years of efforts. Even the marginal results through marginal control makes me feel like I'm doing a good job managing the ARVN War

Randy
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Brian Linvill
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Perhaps we have different definitions of "gamey." I define it as "used to gain game advantage, allowed by the rules, but contrary to historical/realistic simulation."

Forming a recon battalion within three months, just to see if the commander can cut the mustard leading a division, and disbanding the entire unit if he can not, clearly never happened historically, nor is it a realistic means of developing infantry commanders.

The Vietnam campaign game was only playtested a few times to completion, and I have not seen this technique discussed elsewhere. I doubt that the designers ever stumbled upon this feature, so Randy probably deserves full credit for creating the "Doctor Dolpher Divison Command Academy of SVN." Kudos! I will certainly try to use it in some form in my future games.

Still, in one of Tony Curtis's Victory Insider articles, he recommended a house rule to prevent the unrealistic US tactic of bringing in a single US battalion in order to bring in the corresponding Brigade HQ and its artillery. In the same vein, it would seem more realistic to at least require the US player to bring in at least one SVN infantry regiment if trying to test infantry division leadership.
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Randy Knight
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Just think of it in terms of the SVN quagmire; as political "knocking-off" or "untoward removal" or "mysterious deletion" of the unfavored leader cadre. The removed guys are probably serving in some backwoods regional force militia units in Phuoc Long or somewhere. That makes it more historically realistic for the times.

Just kidding, of course - but I like the credit due me for my clever gamey ideas! Thanks

I really wish I could do what some of the SVN Leaders *actually* historically did, and just dump three of my four Corps Commanders in one fell swoop. That would be sweet. I recently read of one paranoid SVN General doing that very thing.
The guy woke up , had a bay day, and whomp! 75% of his Corps Commanders got the axe and were replaced. What a fascinating and impossible place this Vietnam into which we got involved!

I really am enjoying reading about Vietnam while playing this game.

Randy
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Bill Lawson
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I've been following all of Mark and your posts. I played the Campaign twice back in the early 90's. I'm really wanting to get back into this!
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Mark Evans
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Well Bill. Quit being so antisocial and we could get some games in.

Just kidding my dance card is full now. You missed your chance. kiss

P.S. Bill live about 3.5 hours away from me, but we have played only one face to face game.
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Randy Knight
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What game was that , Mark, if i may ask?

Randy
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Bill Lawson
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We played A Victory Denied at Carnage Con. We have also played Empire of the Sun on vassal.
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Mark Evans
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Both a great time. I like playing Bill.
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Mark McG
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aslredbarricades wrote:
Another obstacle I ran into in my training program was that the rules prevent the same unit from being withdrawn and rebuilt in the same recruitment phase.

So I find myself building a division recon unit, then withdrawing it the next season. But I have to wait another season to rebuild it, or else build a regiment.

So the process isnt as quick as it may appear. And there is no guarantee whatsoever that the next leader is any better than the last.
Randy


I reckon you are wasting your time. Ineffective ARVN Divisions garrison the population centres, leaving the effective ARVNs to go mount operations. Doesn't really matter as long as they are distributed pretty evenly. Aside from being Ranger breeding points, they aren't that effective chasing VC anyway.

The real leadership hassle in my view is the ** and *** leaders, though you have Big Minh or some wonder. One thing this game taught me is that loyalty, even of utter incompetents, is more important than scheming, coup causing, dubiously loyal but competent ** generals. Nothing stuffs SVN faster than Coup every season.
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Randy Knight
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I reckon you are wasting your time.

Maybe so... But it's so much fun to feel like you're making a difference, however marginal.

Ineffective ARVN Divisions garrison the population centres, leaving the effective ARVNs to go mount operations. Doesn't really matter as long as they are distributed pretty evenly. Aside from being Ranger breeding points, they aren't that effective chasing VC anyway.

Mark has steadily been building up the NVA each season - thus far. The currently effective ARVN divisions (upgraded) are positioned in Quang Tri and in Chau Doc, facing off against these NVA divisions. It is very nice to know I have effective ARVN for that purpose alone, to help absorb some casualties were those NVA to get belligerent.

The real leadership hassle in my view is the ** and *** leaders, though you have Big Minh or some wonder. One thing this game taught me is that loyalty, even of utter incompetents, is more important than scheming, coup causing, dubiously loyal but competent ** generals. Nothing stuffs SVN faster than Coup every season.

By the way, my *** star leader is "Papa Khanh" Please get that right and show him some respect next time. He's awesome

Seriously, though, I could not agree with you more. It is these ** star leaders that plague all my efforts to form a good ARVN Army. We have not had any coups yet (we are in the Spring of 1966). I think it would require a roll of "10" (2d6) to cause a Coup at this time. A "9" (2d6) may cause instability.

Coups and schemes and other political disasters are fun to read about after the fact, but I'm obviously hoping we dont experience them anytime soon.

It is unfortunately true that EVERY roll so far on the SVN Leader Loyalty Table has caused my leadership and factional leadership to be dragged down, down, inevitably down. That gives me something else to hope for - maybe this Summer Interphase we can buoy some faction or another's morale and drive it up with our Leader Loyalty Roll. That would be a boon for SVN.

For the reason of stability, I have not tried to replace my ** start SVN leaders who have loyalties of 7 or 8, since they still have value to me in keeping SVN stable, assuming average coup rolls.

I'm still working to replace the I Corps Leader (who is a zero or negative guy with dreadful Morale of only 5). Every Season so far he has failed to replace and become both ineffective and Pro-Coup. Hate that guy. Perhaps this season he will finally be successfully replaced.

So much to look forward to!!!

We play again starting Friday night this weekend. I'll be sure to post a Summer 1966 session report.

Thanks very much for your input and thoughts! I'm enjoying all the Vietnam conversation happening on BGG. This site is a super resource and great place to enjoy wargaming together.

Randy Knight
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Mark McG
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aslredbarricades wrote:
I reckon you are wasting your time.
Maybe so... But it's so much fun to feel like you're making a difference, however marginal.
Randy Knight


I guess my point was that by ARVN * General weeding, you aren't bringing on all the ARVN units, which means that somebody else has to garrison these places.

I'd consider the weeding ploy for the ARVN 1 Div commander, but the rest, shake , quantity IS a quality (Stalin?). The most useless ARVN unit sitting in a population centre still rallies the RF, and lets somebody more useful do something else.
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Martin Isaksson
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Our house rule is that you have to build the ARVN divs "one by one" so you can´t fix bad 1* leaders. (You have to build the whole div, including HQ, before you can build a unit from the next div.)

And we also use the house rule mentioned before about not just building 1 brigade and HQ from US divs.


Feels better historicly for sure.
 
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Mark Evans
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Martin. You should post your house rule(s) in the variant section as well. At some point I am going to catalog these into the Q&A I am compiling.
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Jim Dietz
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I didn't think that a division's leader is drawn until the headquarters is brought into play.

Until the HQ is in play, aren't divisional elements under the control of the Corps Commander alone? (covering the issue of pimping the system)
 
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Mark Evans
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I am sorry Jim, that is incorrect. Take a look at 15.1, if you still disagree, I would encourage you to start a rules thread on the topic.
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