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Vietnam 1965-1975» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Second Clash - The End rss

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Curt Chambers

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This is the last installment of the AAR “Second Clash”. It covers the end of the war and the post game analysis.

Year start vital stats:

U.S. Morale - 389
Commitment - 347
SVN Morale - 94
SVN Draft level - 266
Controlled Population - 265
NVA Morale - 1074
Commitment - ?
VC Draft Level - ?
Controlled Population - 95

SPRING

I decided to play relatively conservative for the last season. If I tried to get bold I knew what would happen. And since defeat is certain no matter what I do I’d rather finish the game with an intact army still on board. That’s what Giap would have done.

The first game turn consisted of a couple very costly frontal attacks and lots of bombardment. I declined to occupy the hexes I attacked since it would put me in range of even more artillery, and I barely had enough replacements as it was to finish the campaign. By the end of the first turn the Allies had amassed a staggering force in I Corps.



This force included several hundred artillery points in addition to his hundred air points. Against most players I would just dig in and try to protect my gains. But not against Erik. Even on the last turn, with the game long since won, he would be on the attack. I have only 114 replacements left for the 2nd turn. If I stay put he can bombard 70 of those away. That leaves only 44 replacments for operations, both offensive and defensive. It simply wasn’t enough. So I made the hard decision to abandon Hue and pull back to better defensive positions on the Thua Thien - Laos border. My army would live to fight another day.

With the NVA back in good defensive terrain and out of artillery bombardment range the Allies finally decided to leave well enough alone and declined without taking an operation. I followed suit and the game was over.

Seasonal casualty report:
U.S. - no units, 1 repl, 4 air, 1 airmobile
ARVN - 10 btn, 8 repl
NVA - no units, 108 repl
VC - 3 btns, -1 repl

Game End Stats:

U.S. Morale - 399
Commitment - 399
SVN Morale - 91
SVN Draft level - 267
Controlled Population - 267
NVA Morale - 1269
Commitment - 1269
VC Draft Level - 901
Controlled Population - 93


Post Game Analysis

This was the most lopsided Allied win I have ever seen in this game. The U.S. finished the game with a +50 morale surplus (they used it during the last interphase but that don’t count). Not a single shell ever fell on Saigon. The NVA northern army never even made it to Da Nang. How did such a blowout happen? It was a perfect storm of three significant events: 1) Erik played very well 2) I played not so well 3) many key random events went in the Allies’ favor.

Erik combined a solid strategy with superb tactics. He used units in ways I never would have thought of. His management of resources was perfect. There is no such thing as a “quiet sector” in Erik’s army. Nearly every unit moved, every turn, to achieve some objective. I would often poke fun at him for strat moving 10 units from a quiet sector to surround a single VC battalion. He fully exploited the rules on dedicated artillery. It never would have occurred to me to activate a unit on the other side of the counry just to gain benefit from its HQ. But all the little details like that add up over the course of the game. The results speak for themselves.

For my part, I think at least my overall strategy was solid. If the Allies are trying to keep U.S. comittment low then the proper response is to press hard with the VC, which I did perhaps a bit too long. My handling of the NVA was probably the worst part of my play. I tried operating with them singly, in small clusters, and in multi-division armies. I tried invading at every possible location. Nothing worked. There has to be a better way to handle the NVA but it eluded me. I could have run more Offensives but that would not have helped either. It’s exactly what Erik was expecting. Every capital was covered by 14+ artillery points. I might have eeked out 90 attacks per Offensive. The U.S. would not have had to withdraw until late 1974. And then I would have been too weak to mount a serious campaign in such a short time.

Now we get to the issue of randomness. I always say that the die rolls even out in the end. Statistically that is true but it doesn't always happen at the right time. Sometimes a 6 is good, and sometimes it is bad. When it came to the ARVN it was Murphy’s Law in reverse for the Allies. In the beginning of the game the coup rolls were low, when there was a real chance of a coup. Later on the rolls were higher but by then it was too late. Effectiveness rolls were average but that didn’t matter either. Given the specific combination of 1-star and 2-star leaders, even an effectiveness roll of 6 resulted in half of the ARVN still being effective. Even the Loyalty Adjustment rolls, which were below average most of the game, didn’t help. That is because once the leader’s loyalty went low enough Erik simply replaced him with a better leader at a higher morale. On the battlefield Lady Luck was more impartial, thankfully, but I did notice a disturbing tendency of Erik being able to roll his way out of tight jams. Of course, luck can only influence the outcome, not decide it.

In our first game (see AAR “First Clash”), I can point to specific things that if I had done differently would likely have resulted in victory. For example, if I had rotated my troops better I could have extended U.S. involvement by 3-4 seasons; if I had traded ground units for artillery I could have blunted the Offensives; if…if…etc. Not so in this game. Better tactics on my part certainly would have made it closer. But in my opinion, no NLF strategy would have been sucessful in this particular match. It would have taken many other factors going a different way. And if they had, then my original strategy might have ended up working. But that’s what makes this game such a great one. Unlike chess (or even other wargames) you can play two games exactly the same way and come up with completely different results.

Along those lines, there were specific gaming dynamics at work which also contributed to the outcome. Erik and I have different styles as I have alluded to on occasion. Erik approaches this game as a math problem to be solved (and solve it he does!). Gamey moves do not bother him since it’s all about the numbers. Conversely, I look at the game as an interactive history book. I’m interested in the history, and the game is simply another way to experience it. Those differing philosophies are reflected in our play. Erik’s way is certainly more conducive to winning. My way is more fun.

And yes I did have fun. I would have preferred a quicker pace, however. I figure the game is long enough as it is - no point in dragging it out even further by agonizing over mundane details. But that’s OK, it was still enjoyable and I’m a better player as a result. I learned a lot from watching Erik play. To paraphrase Patton, I pity the poor NLF player who has to go up against me next!
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Mark Evans
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It sounds like Erik and Randy Knight have a lot in common.
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Bob A

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I'm not sure how I'm going to use NVN effectively either. I'll probably read Petri's solo AAR again to see how he used them, since he goes into so much detail.

After going back and reading a couple of your earlier posts on Second Clash, I saw you were taking the no-offensive strategy, and

Raindem wrote:
Erik did not even break the 150 mark until Winter 1967. U.S. morale was still 300+ points greater than comittment.

this was quite an impressive feat by Erik.

If you aren't even allowed to launch an offensive until '68, things get tough. I guess the only thing to do is to see what could have been done differently in those first 2 1/2 years to force him over 150. (But don't ask me!)

Very nice recap of everything. Thanks!
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Petri P
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Quote:
" I tried operating with them singly, in small clusters, and in multi-division armies. I tried invading at every possible location. Nothing worked. There has to be a better way to handle the NVA but it eluded me."

I never saw a single NVA mechanized regiment in the screenshots, before this last turn? Maybe there was one somewhere. But I saw lots and lots of infantry regiments.

NVA infantry regiments are pure trash. Not worth it. Even with artillery and HQ support. They just don't work. They can't alert away (like VC regiments can), they are slow, they can't sustain an attack. They are casualty punchbags, which will just hurt themselves if they try to attack. They can't even bombard alone.

And the mechanized regiments are uselessly weak without their HQs and at least some independent artillery. (No point to ever build an independent mechanized regiment, there are more in divisions than can ever be built).

However, even the mechanized regiments won't survive entry if there is US ground presence. The brigade deployment, with its +4 or +5 (!) pursuit and air support, would chew up even a stacked NVA division. And as we know, NVA can't stack, because of replacements lost to air attacks.

But the mechanized divisions/regiments could help in the offensives. Once there is 14 artillery points everywhere, a VC battalion will just suicide against its target - giving the attack, so it must be done - but a number of NVA mechanized corps entering the fray at the same time should disrupt the planned defenses enough? Even just bombarding would up the attack count. A mechanized corps - say, 3 HQ, 6 regiments, 2 artillery could bombard 11 times a turn.
 
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Petri P
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Another thing about NVA (and the whole combat system).

Pursuit bonuses and artillery are the force multipliers in combat. The main purpose of ground strength is to allow the up to 3x artillery points to count for odds, giving a better initial result set, for the expected better pursuit bonus.

Artillery is the factor which mostly determines enemy casualties.

A +1 pursuit bonus btw is too little to actually affect anything in a significant way. A +2 very nicely overcomes most terrain modifiers, and basically gives a two odds level shift once it is in effect, if you want to think it at that way instead.

But the most important thing is that it raises your expected pursuit bonus for the next round.

The combat is continued in rounds until the attacker either has a so high pursuit bonus that the defender has to give up, or a so negative pursuit bonus that the attacker has to give up. The +2 pursuit bonus is a significant help in this. And the best NVA can get. From the mechanized regiments.

Thus, another suggested NVA mechanized corps: 2 HQ, 4 regiments, 2 artillery:
More artillery than combat strength. Capability to attack twice (canceling the first attack to get rid of the first air point commitment), for 16 ground + 26 artillery. Or 4 separate attacks, 8+9, 8+9, 8+13, 8+13. Defensive artillery support of 17 to an unstacked regiment.

Oh, and ground combat is a last resort. Bombardment is superior. The total strength is not important, but the number of 4+ point attacks is.

That proposed mechanized corps costs less than three full infantry divisions without independent artillery. But it has slightly more artillery and +2 advantage in pursuit combat, making it a much better attacker. And almost twice as strong and a much nastier defender, for an attacked regiment. And it can bombard 8 times, vs the three infantry divisions bombarding 6 times.

Edits: fixes to logic.
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Curt Chambers

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Good point Petri.

I did field more mechanized units than it appears, but not as many as I would have liked. As you know, every time I moved a sizable NVA force to a trail box Erik would simply move in and block the exit. He especially liked to do that with trail boxes that had roads leading from them. For a while the only NVA I managed to get onto the map were off in the mountains with no roads nearby.

So I kept those units as infantry and moved them across the central highlands towards the coast. The plan was to augment them once they hit the coastal road. But of course Erik swept in and KIA'd everything just as they were about to roll onto the coastal plain.

My decision to move those divisions cross-country was a waste of resources as it turned out. But at the time it seemed the only option open to me. The NVA was bottled up everywhere else.
 
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Petri P
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Yes, exactly. You have multiple corps in trail, in multiple boxes, and in NVN. And you are ready to launch a full battalion countermix offensive.

Can the opponent block them, and still garrison everything against the offensive?

 
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Curt Chambers

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It's a good idea but I think yes, he could have blocked the trail and defended against an Offensive. The blocking units don't have to stay there the whole season. Just the interphase. Once the turn starts they can be strat moved into the country to take part in whatever is going on. Before the end of the 2nd turn they can then be strat moved back into blocking positions.
 
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Petri P
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Hmm. Difficult.

However, you could build the political sections - actually also battalions(!) - there when you set up for the offensive. (I believe VC units must always be directly built to target areas for a season - no fancy moving abroad, infiltrating back).

So, you will build a ton of battalions between the blocking forces and the internal parts of SVN. To block strategic movement. And, when the offensive starts, those battalions will suicide against the blocking units. arrrh

Assuming you get +attacks by attacking the enemy abroad. If not, then you would need to build the battalions along the roads leading abroad, hopefully near enough something to attack inside SVN too.

 
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Curt Chambers

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Ah, now that is clever! A suicide offensive against the blocking force. Except it wouldn't be suicide because the targets are small units with no arty support. That would have been 20-30 easy attacks right there and all the VC would have survived. If nothing else it would have given pause for thought on the wisdom of trail blocking.

Definitely something I'll keep in mind for a future game.
 
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Petri P
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Thanks!

Of course, in an offensive, VC is not going to "survive" if there are targets left - if attacking the small, unsupported, blocking force units was the easiest thing, then VC would continue attacking those, paying replacements until all available had been paid, and then attacked until all attackers had been lost.

Unless - and now that I think about it, yes - you meant the blocking forces would have had to sacrifice 20-30 units, to stop the pain from the VC.

That is also a high price to pay.devil
 
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Patrick
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Congratulation for ended the campaign.
Was very interresting.
Your friend did well , using as well the Fwa's capacity.
Arty, air support and the quickness.
Just a point , it s will be nice to know the Us force on the field.
He should have play very well , the economic part of the game.
I got another question , how much morale point did the us player earn from NLF lost ?


Thank's for this Nice AAR

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Curt Chambers

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An ifern wrote:
I got another question , how much morale point did the us player earn from NLF lost ?

1965 - 4
1966 - 3
1967 - 4
1968 - 5
1969 - 2
1970 - 17
1971 - 2
1972 - 1
1973 - 4
1974 - 20
1975 - 0

The big years, 1970 & 1974,are when Erik was eliminating large numbers of NVA. As I learned so painfully, an NVA infantry regiment is a surprisingly vulnerable target.

Another lesson I took away from this is the value of declaring an Offensive when you're operating with large numbers of NVA. Even if you don't have any VC to attack with, avoiding the U.S. morale bonus is probably worth the cost.
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Patrick
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Thank's for the lost account

but very surprised about the result , it's not to much.

for all the year 1966 , just 15 bat(or equivalent) destroyed/dispersed.

if compare with the bonus moral/lost

1965 50 + 20
1966 15
1967 20
1968 25
1969 10
1970 85
1971 10
1972 5
1973 20
1974 100
1975 0

Y have guess that was more than that.
Did you launch offensive often ?
I have to read back the year start vitals for check that .
 
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Curt Chambers

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That is amazing. There must have been some wild battles in your game.

I ran only 2 offensives in our game. A traditional VC offensive in 1969 and one in 1973 at the start of the NVA final campaign.
 
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Patrick
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I m just surprise about thw few lost in 1966 to 68

It seems it wasn't Vc on the field or Us don't launch S/d.
Or did you have great alert roll whistle

15 Vc bat in a year , It s should be the lost for a season, often a turn.
 
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Bob A

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This whole blocking the trail thing has me thinking that this is too much of an exploit. The game treats it as one big tunnel, that you have to be able to walk out of cleanly in order to get "onto the map."

But in reality, that is not what the trail is at all. In a variant from a magazine (posted here in the files, I think) it is really just more map (with better roads/trails/paths/whatever being built) to bring down supplies and troops. The NLF player should be able to fight its way "off the trail" since the trail in the game is just an oversimplification of off map movement, each box representing a certain number of hexes that just don't happen to exist in the game.

They are able to fight on the actual trail and move through enemy units (at higher MP cost), but they are not allowed to do the same to get off it?

That just doesn't make sense.
I think I would want to make a rule against that in future games.
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Randy Knight
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Patrick, the numbers of VC lost each year were probably about normal. I think the numbers listed per year are the actual Morale bonus granted to the U.S., which indicates that every season on average more than 30 VC battalions were destroyed.

So for the year 1966, there were at least 140 VC battalions destroyed, the "4" is the cumulative US morale gained for the VC battalions over 30 per season that were destroyed/ dispersed.

Randy
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Randy Knight
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mrboba1 wrote:
This whole blocking the trail thing has me thinking that this is too much of an exploit. The game treats it as one big tunnel, that you have to be able to walk out of cleanly in order to get "onto the map."

But in reality, that is not what the trail is at all. In a variant from a magazine (posted here in the files, I think) it is really just more map (with better roads/trails/paths/whatever being built) to bring down supplies and troops. The NLF player should be able to fight its way "off the trail" since the trail in the game is just an oversimplification of off map movement, each box representing a certain number of hexes that just don't happen to exist in the game.

They are able to fight on the actual trail and move through enemy units (at higher MP cost), but they are not allowed to do the same to get off it?

That just doesn't make sense.
I think I would want to make a rule against that in future games.

I very much agree that the full fledged invasion of Cambodia to block every trail box is rather, ( never thought I'd here myself sat it ), "gamey".

It does seem odd. But kudos to Erik for exploiting the rules with devious intent.

But the again, why not? The fact that the units cannot have a chance to fight off the trail is wrong though.

It's a magic force field kind of rule, which is certainly weird.

So as the NVA player, one might consider the alternative ways to beat such a strategy of blocking the trail.

The logical thing to do is to work your way down the coast from North Vietnam ( which cannot be blocked by a magic force field, but can be blocked by flesh and blood). This NVA march down from NVN would have to start a few years early in the war, maybe 1972 or 1973 and could include a simple presence in Laos and Cambodia. The U.S. Cannot afford to block the trail exit the entire game.

Being aware of the trail block gambit may be enough to defeat it in another campaign.

Randy
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Randy Knight
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In the two campaign games that Mark and I have completed, I do not remember a non-offensive season in which more than 5 U.S. Morale was gained. And that was unusual, because usually as the VC approached 25-30 dead VC equivalents, the remaining units would flee to the protection of Loas and Cambodia, or even the trail if there was a threat of a U.S. Invasion of these nations.

Randy
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Curt Chambers

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aslredbarricades wrote:
Patrick, the numbers of VC lost each year were probably about normal. I think the numbers listed per year are the actual Morale bonus granted to the U.S., which indicates that every season on average more than 30 VC battalions were destroyed.

So for the year 1966, there were at least 140 VC battalions destroyed, the "4" is the cumulative US morale gained for the VC battalions over 30 per season that were destroyed/ dispersed.

Randy

That is correct. I listed the morale bonus for each year, not the actual body count.
 
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Curt Chambers

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The trail blocking issue is an important subject. I'm going to go ahead and make a separate thread so everyone's input doesn't get lost.
 
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Patrick
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aslredbarricades wrote:
Patrick, the numbers of VC lost each year were probably about normal. I think the numbers listed per year are the actual Morale bonus granted to the U.S., which indicates that every season on average more than 30 VC battalions were destroyed.

So for the year 1966, there were at least 140 VC battalions destroyed, the "4" is the cumulative US morale gained for the VC battalions over 30 per season that were destroyed/ dispersed.

Randy

My bad. I never have think need 30 kill per season.
I think the body count works after the first 30 kill in the game.
I just read back the rule.surprise
Now i know why the bonus was low laugh
Thank's.
That's a good news for the NLF.cool
 
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Randy Knight
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An ifern wrote:
aslredbarricades wrote:
Patrick, the numbers of VC lost each year were probably about normal. I think the numbers listed per year are the actual Morale bonus granted to the U.S., which indicates that every season on average more than 30 VC battalions were destroyed.

So for the year 1966, there were at least 140 VC battalions destroyed, the "4" is the cumulative US morale gained for the VC battalions over 30 per season that were destroyed/ dispersed.

Randy

My bad. I never have think need 30 kill per season.
I think the body count works after the first 30 kill in the game.
I just read back the rule.surprise
Now i know why the bonus was low laugh
Thank's.
That's a good news for the NLF.cool

Yes real good news indeed !!!
 
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Randy Knight
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Curt & Erik,

Did the U.S. Player ever use second deployment in your games?

How about third deployment?

Did either of the alternate deployments see use? And if so, to what effect would you say?

Randy
 
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