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Subject: The First Minnesota Sticks A Big Toe Into Fire In The Lake rss

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Gordon J
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Some of us at The First Minnesota gathered at the Source Comics & Games and played some Fire In The Lake. We played the short scenario.



Wendell (light blue shirt) took the VietCong, Gordy the U.S., Brian as the ARVN, and Patrick (dark blue shirt) took the NVA. For Patrick it was his first ever COIN game and he got the NVA, one of the hardest factions to play in FitL I think. Brian in the black shirt, has played Cuba Libre three times, but this was his first big boy COIN game. Wendell and I were the scrappy veterans, but this was my first time playing the U.S. because in my play tests I had only played ARVN before.



It took Patrick a little bit to figure things out, and the fact the U.S. pounded him early by invading Laos and knocking out NVA bases there and spreading Irregular forces up and down the Trail. Plus the ARVN went toe to toe with the NVA in the north. That was enough to knock the NVA down for a good while.

The ARVN and U.S. had it pretty good for a long time as we kept up the heat on both the VietCong and NVA, but despite that failed to knock down VC opposition so in terms of victory conditions they were right there.

As we crept closer to the final Coup Card, the U.S. made the decision to pull much of its troops out early:



But that was not the end of the story, because the NVA got a great event, don't remember the name, but it allowed them to place a bunch of free troops down the Trail, and they made a furious comeback, massing their strength quickly and invading South Vietnam. The picture below was the remaining U.S. troops huddled up in Saigon, hoping for the Final Coup Card to arrive soon.



Things were quickly going south, The U.S. had to Air Lift north as the ARVN couldn't handle the crisis, and the U.S. made a last strike against the NVA as the final Coup Card appeared.

In the end the VC and the Americans both met their victory conditions, but the U.S. had a slightly larger margin than the VC and won. Three more cards and it probably would have been a NVA victory, but the early departure of U.S. forces prevailed. Game as it was in the end:



Hats off to Patrick for his first ever COIN game and for playing what I believe may be the toughest faction to play in FitL. Patrick is smart so he picked it up pretty quickly. More FitL is planned for next week. Hopefully at least two games will played at once.

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Don Smith
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Nice report!

How long did the game (short scenario) take to set up and play?
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Don Smith wrote:
Nice report!

How long did the game (short scenario) take to set up and play?


Seconded. I want to try this with a game group and want an idea of how long the short plays.
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Wendell
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Don Smith wrote:
Nice report!

How long did the game (short scenario) take to set up and play?


Around 3 hours 15 minutes. That included a little bit of explanation, and counter-punching. We were playing much quicker at the end of the game than the beginning. I think four experienced players would play this well under 3 hours.
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Gordon J
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Scottgun wrote:
Don Smith wrote:
Nice report!

How long did the game (short scenario) take to set up and play?


Seconded. I want to try this with a game group and want an idea of how long the short plays.


3 hours if you have any newbies playing. 2 hours if the 4 of you know what you are doing.
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Wendell
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The awesome NVA/VC Event was Vo Nguyen Giap.

To clarify - the US is limited to withdrawing or sending in more troops during the Commitment phase of a Coup. But some time after the 2nd coup card (there are three in the short game), Gordie used an event (forget its name) that allowed a commitment phase - and he pulled out about half the US troops. That was the margin of victory for him, but as he noted, a few more card plays would have been trouble for him. The final coup card came out third out of the final nine cards, so it could have happened.
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Mark Herman
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wifwendell wrote:
The awesome NVA/VC Event was Vo Nguyen Giap.

To clarify - the US is limited to withdrawing or sending in more troops during the Commitment phase of a Coup. But some time after the 2nd coup card (there are three in the short game), Gordie used an event (forget its name) that allowed a commitment phase - and he pulled out about half the US troops. That was the margin of victory for him, but as he noted, a few more card plays would have been trouble for him. The final coup card came out third out of the final nine cards, so it could have happened.


I am guessing Great Society if I understand the narrative. I take it that the NVA were ineligible at that time.

Mark
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Wendell
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MarkHerman wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
The awesome NVA/VC Event was Vo Nguyen Giap.

To clarify - the US is limited to withdrawing or sending in more troops during the Commitment phase of a Coup. But some time after the 2nd coup card (there are three in the short game), Gordie used an event (forget its name) that allowed a commitment phase - and he pulled out about half the US troops. That was the margin of victory for him, but as he noted, a few more card plays would have been trouble for him. The final coup card came out third out of the final nine cards, so it could have happened.


I am guessing Great Society if I understand the narrative. I take it that the NVA were ineligible at that time.

Mark


Yep, that's the card - and yep, NVA were ineligible.
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wifwendell wrote:
MarkHerman wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
The awesome NVA/VC Event was Vo Nguyen Giap.

To clarify - the US is limited to withdrawing or sending in more troops during the Commitment phase of a Coup. But some time after the 2nd coup card (there are three in the short game), Gordie used an event (forget its name) that allowed a commitment phase - and he pulled out about half the US troops. That was the margin of victory for him, but as he noted, a few more card plays would have been trouble for him. The final coup card came out third out of the final nine cards, so it could have happened.


I am guessing Great Society if I understand the narrative. I take it that the NVA were ineligible at that time.

Mark


Yep, that's the card - and yep, NVA were ineligible.


One of my favorite events as it can be a real game changer as it was in this situation. The ARVN and NVA should really think hard about letting this one get into the hands of the US.
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Gordon J
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I started to understand half way through the game of how cool the irregular forces are, tossing them out onto the Trail forces the NVA to have to deal with them, especially if any of their bases are only lighted defended.

Also to note, we played with the historical year cards for this one.
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patton55 wrote:
I started to understand half way through the game of how cool the irregular forces are, tossing them out onto the Trail forces the NVA to have to deal with them, especially if any of their bases are only lighted defended.



Exactly. Irregulars don't seem like much until you realize the thunder they can call down.

I'm hooked on Period for the full game. Indifferent for the short and medium.
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Volko Ruhnke
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Great story Gordon!!

... And I agree with you about the challenge of playing the NVA (my favorite) -- recovery from a US pounding without failing the player morale check, and then the timing of invasion is so delicate.

Volko
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Gordon J
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Volko wrote:
Great story Gordon!!

... And I agree with you about the challenge of playing the NVA (my favorite) -- recovery from a US pounding without failing the player morale check, and then the timing of invasion is so delicate.

Volko


The newbie NVA player learned the hard lesson of the delicate line one has to walk in knowing when to take an event vs taking the full op + special.
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Eric Guttag
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Gordon,

In my opinion, the NVA is definitely the toughest Faction to play, especially in the Short scenario. The NVA need time to do several Rally OPs/Infiltrate SAs combos to ramp up the number of NVA Troops. If the 3rd (Final) Coup Card comes early, the NVA likely won't have a chance to win.

For newbie players, I would have them be the VC, followed by the US. The OPs/SAs for VC are fairly straightforward to understand and the VC start each scenario with a significant presence. The US is more complicated to play, but the Air Strike SA gives them more capability to beat down, plus the US can usually do some decent OP without having to worry about having Resources like the other 3 Factions.
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Jason Albert
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Great report, Gordo.

And if this pic wasn’t staged, it’s awesome happenstance. Though I’d submit that the Coke bottle is missing a question mark.

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Gordon J
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AlbertaClipper wrote:
Great report, Gordo.

And if this pic wasn’t staged, it’s awesome happenstance. Though I’d submit that the Coke bottle is missing a question mark.



It was staged, but it took me half way through the game to realize I had the word Friends on the side of my Coke bottle and that I was playing a COIN game. How appropriate!
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Eric G wrote:
Gordon,

In my opinion, the NVA is definitely the toughest Faction to play, especially in the Short scenario. The NVA need time to do several Rally OPs/Infiltrate SAs combos to ramp up the number of NVA Troops. If the 3rd (Final) Coup Card comes early, the NVA likely won't have a chance to win.

Then again, occasionally you get results like the 2-player session I had yesterday: 1965 scenario, player NVA (me) and VC (Patrik) vs the COIN bots. The first Campaign began with the McNamara Line (no NVA Infiltrate or Trail improvement allowed), the second with unshaded ADSID (-6 NVA Resources every time the Trail value changes for any reason, so what Infiltration I did was pretty anemic since I couldn't afford to build the Trail up). Then the third Campaign was all of 2 Events long - the 3rd Coup was card 17, the earliest possible - so although I had finally managed to scrape up enough Troops for an invasion of the Delta I never got a chance to execute it...

Results:
NVA: 14 pts (-4)
ARVNbot: 45 pts (-5)
USbot: 42 pts (-8)
VC: 23 pts (-12)

With players instead of bots for the COIN factions, the US and VC would probably both have done better in this game - US by withdrawing more pieces (it stuck to the LBJ policy all game due to high Policy rolls), VC because player US can't do country-wide Sweep+Air Strike combinations as USbot can and because the huge number of US Troops on the map at the end of the game made it almost impossible to break COIN Control so VC could Agitate. ARVN OTOH would most likely have done a bit worse as a player faction, losing a number of opportunities for Governing. The early game end probably saved my bacon - it both prevented the ARVN from Governing more (it was poised to do in both Hue and Quang Tin) and kept the US from counter-attacking in Quang Tri, Binh Dinh and An Loc...

All in all a fun session, even if it ended very abruptly!

/Oerjan


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Kevin Walsh
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What did you do? Just Rally bases in Laos/Cambodia and March Guerillas into places that had Opposition for easy Control?
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Volko Ruhnke
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Quote:
NVA: 14 pts (-4)
ARVNbot: 45 pts (-5)
USbot: 42 pts (-8)
VC: 23 pts (-12)

This points out the consideration that it is not necessary to exceed your threshold to win. As the NVA's margins are smaller, that can work out to its advantage.

Not bad performance by those bots there, Papa!
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Oerjan Ariander
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Amaranth wrote:
What did you do? Just Rally bases in Laos/Cambodia and March Guerillas into places that had Opposition for easy Control?

Quite the opposite, in fact. IIRC my Ops were, in order:

1 Attack+Bombard (clearing out the COIN forces from Quang Tri)
1 Rally+Bombard (IIRC to remove a couple of US Troops that would otherwise have been able to kill 4 VC next card)
1 March+Infiltrate (12 Troops into Binh Dinh to capture the VC Base there - it was still intact because I had played Cu Chi on it some cards earlier - plus 5 Guerrillas into An Loc)
2 more Attack+Bombard (to destroy the COIN forces in An Loc and Binh Dinh before the bots could unclog the LoCs after the latest VC March+Tax).
1 Terror LimOp (removing the limited Support from An Loc in the final monsoon)

My other three activation opportunities were spent on two Events (Cu Chi and... can't remember the other one) and one Pass.

Volko - yes, they made me proud

/Oerjan
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Oerjan Ariander
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Typo in my above post: the final Coup was of course card 19, not card 17. Sorry 'bout that...

/Oerjan
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Four of us First Minnesotans got in some Labor Day FitL this afternoon at Chez Sawatdee. First time COIN game for Dockter (VC) and Bob the host (US). Wendell (NVA) and I (ARVN) have played a bunch of COIN, though very little FitL. Stuck with the short scenario for teaching purposes.

VC won handily on a late wave of terror. ARVN was second, this after deciding before the game ever started to take a wholly individualistic approach. This mindset was not in any way selfish, but rather to firsthand inform the new US/COIN player that your allies aren’t always your friends. (Seems pretty magnanimous to me.)

Great time; future plans hatched for a campaign keeping the same sides.

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AlbertaClipper wrote:


VC won handily on a late wave of terror. ARVN was second,


Ahem. NVA was second - I had 18 VP, which is enough to win. But the VC won because he was +4 or something. I would've won if Bob hadn't bombed the living shit out of the NVA troops in Saigon after I entered the city. Seriously, you can bomb SAIGON?
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AlbertaClipper wrote:
Four of us First Minnesotans got in some Labor Day FitL this afternoon at Chez Sawatdee. First time COIN game for Dockter (VC) and Bob the host (US). Wendell (NVA) and I (ARVN) have played a bunch of COIN, though very little FitL. Stuck with the short scenario for teaching purposes.

VC won handily on a late wave of terror. ARVN was second, this after deciding before the game ever started to take a wholly individualistic approach. This mindset was not in any way selfish, but rather to firsthand inform the new US/COIN player that your allies aren’t always your friends. (Seems pretty magnanimous to me.)

Great time; future plans hatched for a campaign keeping the same sides.



Cool. It's about time Dr got in a COIN game.
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Gordon J
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wifwendell wrote:
AlbertaClipper wrote:


VC won handily on a late wave of terror. ARVN was second,


Ahem. NVA was second - I had 18 VP, which is enough to win. But the VC won because he was +4 or something. I would've won if Bob hadn't bombed the living shit out of the NVA troops in Saigon after I entered the city. Seriously, you can bomb SAIGON?


That's twice in a row you came in sloppy second.
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