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Subject: Guerrilla war rss

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Dommy_Hui Dommy_Hui
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Is there any wargame on this kind of warfare, especially on the tactical level? Thanks in advance!
 
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Mark Mahaffey
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Not exactly a detailed tactical simulation, but Guerilla remains one of my all-time favorite games, and handles this sort of warfare very well. It also is the rare game that actually works best with 3 or 5 players...

EDIT: And note there was a 1-2 player variant published here: The GENERAL Vol.29,No.6
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Rex Stites
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Not tactical, but the GMT COIN Series covers Insurgency/Counterinsurgency/Guerrilla warfare at the strategic level.
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Marcus
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Some of the scenarios in Firepower are set in Vietnam, Africa and South America during the 1960s to the 1980s.

Also, the Lock`N Load games Lock 'n Load: Forgotten Heroes – Vietnam and Lock 'n Load Tactical: Day of Heroes, which covers a pretty asymmetrical tactical engagement in Somalia 1993. The new LNL module The Bear and the Jackal in LOF magazine, draws upon battles from the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s.

The LNL series games are worth playing imo and not many tactical level board wargames cover modern day insurgencies.

MM
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Tony Doran
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The very old SPI game "Grunt"was tactical in Vietnam. Hard to find now.
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Brian Train
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The systems found in most modern tactical games that concentrate on infantry actions can be easily modified to cover guerrilla combat situations.

Just observe the following conventions:
- one side is less well armed than the other,
- one side is less mobile,
- one side has brittle or low morale,
- one side has dirtier or no uniforms
- some kind of concealment/ ambush/ surprise mechanic

And you will be most of the way there, although in an unoriginal way.
Note also that the same side doesn't have to have all of these disadvantages.

The central problem of guerrilla wars/ insurgencies is that they are strategic conflicts fought at the tactical level.
You will learn little or nothing about what's special about these kinds of wars by fighting disconnected little scraps of actions - ambushing a convoy, taking a bridge, etc.
You have to have something that connects up the little fights and gives them a reason to be fought, a context which is inevitably more political and social, and less military.
This is why IMO tactical games are not useful in this regard; they present only the immediate military problem and no context.

Two ways to resolve this are:

1. Spend a lot of time and effort fighting out many small battles in a "campaign", to give the individual battles some meaning (Marcus mentioned Firepower, you can find rules and frameworks for a campaign in the Avalon Hill magazine The General, using this game - volume 21 #6, volume 26 #5)

or

2. Play an operational or strategic scale on an insurgency (operational ones are rare, strategic ones are more common - the GMT COIN series has been mentioned, and I have designed a few games on these topics). Accept the level of abstraction that's going on in the game, where each strategic level move or action incorporates dozens or hundreds of tiny little ambushes, raids, demonstrations, extortions, and so forth. But you will get the bigger picture.

Brian Train
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Marty M
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If it's the tactical level you're looking for, Combat Commander: Europe has a resistance expansion which has scenarios & special rules for various partisan skirmishes throughout the east & west front.

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Jason Cawley
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Partisan scenarios in Squad Leader.

The old SPI game "Raid", covering commando operations at the single man and fire team level, had some decent rules for them, including sensible hidden placement rules, traps and similar.

There are lots of current games directed at the strategic level. A few cover the operational level as well e.g. Victory Game's "Vietnam", though the combat results in that one can leave a bit to be desired. (Basically they just cause attrition losses to a replacement pool, unless the side chooses to eliminate the unit present instead).

Personally I think it is the operational level that is relatively neglected in wargames, and that has the highest real interest. Mao described the issue as "our strategy is 1 against 10; our tactics are 10 against 1. Therefore we must fight 100 battles - it will be a long war." Area control to gain resources and recruitment are key to getting guerrilla war, too, even in an operational simulation.
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Brian Train
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Exactly Jason, and that operational level is the design problem I've been struggling with for the last couple of years, if not longer.

I am groping towards some kind of solution with my games Green Beret and Kandahar, also EOKA on the Cyprus 1955-59 emergency which preceded Kandahar but I haven't published yet.
I also contributed to BCT Command: Kandahar's design and, for another conventional vs. irregular hypothetical campaign, The Next War in Lebanon (but get my original version of the game, not the one as published by Decision Games).
I have designed a basic system of operational COIN that features diceless combat and some interesting options, with variations for Testbed (generic Red vs. Blue), Algeria 1959, Afghanistan 2009, and Viet Nam 1969.
I haven't published any of these yet because of time constraints against finishing them off (working on other projects for things that will be published by other companies); I'll end up self-publishing them in DTP format eventually.

Brian
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Michael Sommers
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narodynot wrote:
The very old SPI game "Grunt"was tactical in Vietnam. Hard to find now.
Grunt was succeeded by Search & Destroy. I suppose that Raid! might be adapted for guerrilla war.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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narodynot wrote:
The very old SPI game "Grunt"was tactical in Vietnam. Hard to find now.

It was re-released by SPI as Search & Destroy. Still quite old, but well worth seeking out.

[edit] Ambushed by Michael's partisans.


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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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ltmurnau wrote:
The central problem of guerrilla wars/ insurgencies is that they are strategic conflicts fought at the tactical level.
You will learn little or nothing about what's special about these kinds of wars by fighting disconnected little scraps of actions - ambushing a convoy, taking a bridge, etc.
You have to have something that connects up the little fights and gives them a reason to be fought, a context which is inevitably more political and social, and less military.
This is why IMO tactical games are not useful in this regard; they present only the immediate military problem and no context.

This is why I appreciate Search & Destroy, which I feel does a remarkable job of presenting the tactical game within the larger context of the VietNam war. Four different combatants are represented, U.S., ARVN, NVA Regulars and Viet Cong, and each has its own nuances which emerge naturally in the course of the scenarios.
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Mark Mahaffey
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We're also finishing up John Prados' Set Europe Ablaze: The Resistance War 1939-1945, which is admittedly more a strategic overview, but at least topical...

EDIT: WIP of the map here: https://www.facebook.com/108244220241/photos/a.1015309069360...
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Brian Train
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Sphere,

I agree that Search & Destroy is one of the better tactical games, heck it's probably my choice for Best Stab, but while it focuses on the problems of an infantry company commander, it doesn't give a full and proper context for the Vietnam War.
The nuances you speak of are related to limited intelligence - approaching a treeline or village full of inverted counters, finding people to talk to, talking to them (and hoping they don't die during the "conversation" you're having) and moving on until you get shot at from another treeline - at which point the game becomes another tactical game (although, because this is a 1975 game, without the command and control and morale aspects that are now a feature of tactical games).
I'll say again, the game is good and fun and it goes as far as a tactical game can in presenting the atmosphere of the day of battle, but it doesn't tie it together - I think operational and strategic games can do that; perhaps a tactical game shouldn't be asked to (and people shouldn't try to derive strategic understanding of a conflict from playing tactical games).

Mark,

Looking forward to the new Prados game very much, I saw his prototype of it at a conference a few years ago.

Brian
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Colin Raitt
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Vietnam 1965-1975

Spend a decade clearing the same terrain time after time whilst Charlie's support forever grows and US opinion sinks apace.

Units are mostly battalions with many regiments and brigades. It has a tactical feel as artillery ranges out 2 or 3 hexes and pursuits wind there way through several hexes flaring into battle periodically. You get a truer feel for guerrilla war with this. Tactical games show what happens when you meet the enemy, strategic games show where the enemy comes from as well.

The game is like an epidemic of catch 22s.

Q Where will the VC appear?
A Anywhere they like.

Q Where are the strong VC units?
A You don't know till its too late.

Q What happens if you eliminate a VC battalion?
A Another forms next turn and your losses bring you closer to defeat.

Q What happens if you don't clear a province?
A The VC get a foothold in the area that will eventually increase there numbers.

Q What happens if you surround a VC battalion?
A The VC dissolve with minimal losses but you've concentrated so many units to do it that he flourishes elsewhere.

Q What happens if you don't surround a battalion?
A He slips away from battle and still gets a foothold in the province.

Q What happens if you leave a town empty?
A The VC pop up.

Q What happens if you spread out and garrison all the towns?
A The VC attack the weak points, they don't take them yet inflict losses you can't keep on replacing. Then the NVA invade from the North.

Q What happens if you bomb the North?
A His reinforcements slow temporarily but US opinion falls permanently.

Q What happens if you give free rein to your artillery?
A VC support grows because of collateral damage.

Q What happens if you keep a tight rein on the artillery?
A Your infantry losses rise and his drop.

Q What happens if you draw in lots of artillery?
A The VC retreat out of range in the first round.

Q What happens if you draft lots of air power?
A Air losses rise.

Q What happens if you pursue on foot?
A The VC slip away thanks to local knowledge.

Q What happens if you pursue in choppers?
A You lose lots of helicopters.

Q What happens if you build up the ARVN?
A Political infighting neutralises them.

Q What happens if you rely on the US army.
A Troops and replacements are too expensive.

Heads you lose, tails he wins.

I did win once as the US but I don't know how.

War and Peace

War & Peace has a similar situation in Spain from whence the term originated. Partisans can pop up anywhere and they are ten a penny. The French need to occupy every city to win. If they do spread out Wellington's army or a lucky partisan are bound to retake a city.

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Volko Ruhnke
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Quote:
The game is like an epidemic of catch 22s.

Nicely put!
 
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Mike Hoyt

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The Force on Force series does a nice job of modeling asymmetric fights at the tactical level.

Operationally/Strategically, you might like
Ici, c'est la France! The Algerian War of Independence 1954 - 1962
 
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Jason Cawley
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Colin - good summary of the stronger points of Vietnam. The main problem with the game is its whacky "pursuit" system, which lets the better US units attack more and more strongly, again and again, if the enemy doesn't manage to break contact at the first insertion. As a result, the VC / NVA player typically dissolves anything the US actually catches, just to avoid a bunch of cascading +3 pursuit modifiers. Meanwhile, an effectively infinite number of "replacement points" can be funneled through even a handful of maneuver units in a very short space of time.

What the system needs to patch those issues is a limit on replacements taken by a single unit to something like half its combat strength, fractions round up, in a full turn, not one combat. And then the "pursuit" system needs to be limited to a single round after the first one, or something similar. So that it (1) becomes possible for units to be destroyed because they take losses they cannot replace that rapidly and (2) it becomes possible for VC / NVA units to remain on the map next to a US infantry battalion.

But hey, other than that it is a solid operational treatment. A bit slow playing and a bit like having a root canal, and takes longer to play than the war did to fight - but accurate enough, but for those combat system quirks. The downside is also that the outcome feels scripted. You manipulate all these different systems, but they don't really matter very much. The clock passes and US resolve sinks; if the ARVN stand up and don't get tied into political knots, they hit their replacement point limits instead.
 
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Jeb
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blockhead wrote:
The Force on Force series does a nice job of modeling asymmetric fights at the tactical level.

Operationally/Strategically, you might like
Ici, c'est la France! The Algerian War of Independence 1954 - 1962


My favorite guerrilla wargames are:
Tonkin: The Indochina war 1950-54 (second edition) ... an OCS like experience Guerrilla war in Vietnam between the french and Ho Chi Min

Vietnam 1965-1975 Fantastic strategic Vietnam wargame between US and Ho Chi Min

For more tactical there is always Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble which is more like a siege than classic small unit guerrilla warfare.

GMT is also planning to put out Silver Bayonet: The First Team in Vietnam, 1965 which illustrates the air cav battle seen in the movie 'We where solders once and young'

 
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Barry Kendall
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"National Liberation Front" by Harris Game Designs is likely hard to find, but is a unique treatment of guerrilla-vs-government conflict in a fictitious developing nation.

The game has a simple, ingenious method for plotting guerrilla movement to permit simultaneous operations of guerrilla companies and various government force types including Infantry, Armor, Airmobile, rotary and fixed-wing assets in a campaign for control of population centers.

I own many of the games previously mentioned and consider "NLF" to be one of the best at representing pacification/insurgency conflict at the province/small nation campaign scale.
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Brian Train
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Agree, NLF is a very good bit of design.
Lawrence Harris had some great ideas.

Brian
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ltmurnau wrote:
I agree that Search & Destroy is one of the better tactical games, heck it's probably my choice for Best Stab, but while it focuses on the problems of an infantry company commander, it doesn't give a full and proper context for the Vietnam War...

I hear you, Brian, but my comments were in response to the O.P.'s question where he indicated he was looking for a tactical game:

Dommy_Hui wrote:
Is there any wargame on this kind of warfare, especially on the tactical level?

Your explanation of why he might want a higher level game might make him re-think what he's looking for, but if he truly wants a tactical game S&D would be a great choice.

 
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Dommy_Hui Dommy_Hui
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Thank you so much everyone!
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