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Subject: Can someone please explain Aid, Patronage, and above all Econ to me? rss

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Pastor Hank
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Ok, so I am new to the COIN series, but I am determined to learn how to play Fire in the Lake. I am reading through the rules, and I just can't seem to get my head around what Aid and patronage are, and how they impact ARVN's resources (do they simply add to the total resources of ARVN?)

What really confuses me is Econ--I simply don't understand what it is/does.

Can someone please help me out? I'm hoping to teach a game next week with my family over Thanksgiving, but such a task would be impossible if I can't figure out these basic game rules=)

Thanks.
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Dan Carey
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I'll take a try at explaining it:

Aid= money from the US to run the war. During the coup round, aid is added to the ARVN resources. The more aid, the more resources the ARVN and US have to prosecute the war.

Econ= a way to prevent the US from spending all of the ARVN's resources. It is a yard stick of sorts, and when ARVN resources go below it, only they can spend the resources. The US cannot. Above that line, both sides can spend ARVN resources.

Patronage= another word for graft, for the benefit of the ARVN leadership (probably in a Swiss bank account). Patronage plus control is what wins the game for the ARVN. Patronage does not add to ARVN resources or do anything, it just counts for an ARVN victory.

I hope that is clear and helps.

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Rex Stites
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To add a bit on to the previous post. The ARVN gets resources each coup round from two different sources. 1 is aid (which represents resources contributed by the US government) and the other is based on the economic value of lines of communication that were not sabotaged (essentially the amount of money generated by the ARVN from the population of South Vietnam).

When the US needs resources for something (typically when adding ARVN assets to their own operations) it pays for them out of the ARVN's resources. The rationale is that rather than giving the money to the ARVN to use how it wants, the US is dictating how those resources are utilitized. But the US should only have access to the resources it actually provided. Or more accurately, the US doesn't have access to the resources gained directly from South Vietnam from its economic output. The game basically assumes that the ARVN will spend all of the US's resources first rather than their own. So the econ marker represents the level that when the ARVN's resources drop below, the only resources that are left are those that came from South Vietnam.

Patronage is a mechanic whereby the ARVN are basically siphoning off the resources being brought in from the aid provided by the US and diverting it to pay off local leaders because that's what the ARVN leaders have to do to stay in power.
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Claudio Hornblower
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Pastorhank wrote:
Ok, so I am new to the COIN series, but I am determined to learn how to play Fire in the Lake.

Welcome!

Pastorhank wrote:
I am reading through the rules, and I just can't seem to get my head around what Aid and patronage are, and how they impact ARVN's resources (do they simply add to the total resources of ARVN?)

Check pg.21-2:
Aid - Foreign assistance that adds to ARVN Resources during Coup Rounds. (Rules to check -> 1.8, 3.2.4, 4.2.1, 4.3.1, 6.2.3, 6.2.5)

Patronage — A measure of the Saigon regime’s success in diverting wealth to its friends to solidify its rule. (1.8, 1.9, 3.2.1, 4.3.1-.3, 4.4.2, 4.5.2-.3, 6.2, 7.2-.3

Pastorhank wrote:
What really confuses me is Econ--I simply don't understand what it is/does.

Economic Value (Econ) — Resources that an unSabotaged LoC will provide via VC Tax and to ARVN in the Resources Phase. (1.3.4, 1.8.1, 4.5.1, 6.2.1)

---

In short, Aid is marked with the "tank" chit. It increases the ARVN resources during the next Coup round: this is done with special abilities:
(a) by the US via Advise (the total amount changes if you execute an ARVN assault and remove a base), or
(b) by ARVN via Govern (you can both increase Aid, or convert Aid to Patronage).
Aid is critical for the ARVN faction. During the Resources Phase of Coup, you add Aid to ARVN Resources (the wooden cylinder).
(c) Aid is reduced by casualties (-3 per piece)! So watch out for Ambushes made by the insurgents.

Patronage is marked with the yellow "Patron" chit. It's a measure of, say, "Saigon corruption" and one of the winning parameters for the ARVN (COIN + Patronage). As said above, ARVN can convert Aid to Patronage.
There are many paths that the others may take to reduce Patronage:
- US may Train (Op) in Saigon, lowering up to 3 Patronage (and adding that amount to ARVN Resources)
- VietCong can Subvert (special ability)

Econ is simply the number in the Lines of Communication (LoC) you see on the map: Route 21, Route 11, Mekong River... you see, the number in the circle: 0, 1, 2. As said in the rules, remember that LoC are spaces!
Total Econ level is tracked with the beige "Econ" chit and it's used to track how much resources the US can use: that is, US may only spend those ARVN Resources (US has not Resources per se) that exceed the marked Total Econ level.
Other uses for Econ:
- VietCong may use a Tax Op and increse their Resources based on the Econ value of the LoC
- if a LoC is Sabotaged by Insurgent, the Total Econ level (that is, the "Econ" chit) drops from the base level of 15 by that amount: for example if a LoC with an Econ value of 2 is sabotaged, the Total Econ level drops from 15 to (15 - 2) 13.

Hope that helps! Enjoy

EDIT: sorry, ninja'd while typing.
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Pastor Hank
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This is all very helpful, thank you, and thank you for the quick replies.

I guess since I'm still working through the rules I missed the AID marker on the gameboard. So when the rules for set up for the full campaign say, "Aid:15" I add that to the ARVN resource count, yea? Patronage plus Aid = ARVN resources?

Can someone give an example please of how the Econ limits come into play? Although you have all explained it really well, I'm feeling kinda dumb tonight and while I understand the concept behind why it exists, having not seen an example in play yet I am not sure how exactly it functions in play.

Thank you.
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Eddy del Rio
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Pastorhank wrote:
This is all very helpful, thank you, and thank you for the quick replies.

I guess since I'm still working through the rules I missed the AID marker on the gameboard. So when the rules for set up for the full campaign say, "Aid:15" I add that to the ARVN resource count, yea? Patronage plus Aid = ARVN resources?

Can someone give an example please of how the Econ limits come into play? Although you have all explained it really well, I'm feeling kinda dumb tonight and while I understand the concept behind why it exists, having not seen an example in play yet I am not sure how exactly it functions in play.

Thank you.

No. Aid marker ("chit") would go on the "15" count space, as is indicated. The ARVN Resources Token (Yellow cylinder) goes where it is assigned (I don't remember off hand). Go back and see at what level the NVA, VC and ARVN are to set their Resources cylinder token at. The number track is used to keep track of several values simultaneously.
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Rex Stites
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Pastorhank wrote:
This is all very helpful, thank you, and thank you for the quick replies.

I guess since I'm still working through the rules I missed the AID marker on the gameboard. So when the rules for set up for the full campaign say, "Aid:15" I add that to the ARVN resource count, yea? Patronage plus Aid = ARVN resources?

Can someone give an example please of how the Econ limits come into play? Although you have all explained it really well, I'm feeling kinda dumb tonight and while I understand the concept behind why it exists, having not seen an example in play yet I am not sure how exactly it functions in play.

Thank you.


The "Aid" marker tracks the amount of Aid the ARVN is set to receive the next turn. So when it is given in the setup, that's just the starting place for the marker. Resources are separate and tracked by one of the big wooden cylinders. There will also be a starting value for that for the scenario.

During play various actions and events will alter the position of the Aid marker. When a Coup card comes up and played, that starts a series of bookkeeping events. One of those is figuring out how many resources each faction gets. For the ARVN, I believe (just from the top of my head) they'll get resources equal to the current value of the aid maker plus the total economic value of unsabotaged lines of communications.

At the same time the econ marker will be set to the same value as the economic value of the unsabotaged LoCs. During the next period, the US will not be able to spend resources once the resource marker drops below the econ value. For example, at the conclusion of the Coup card, there may be 50 ARVN resources and the Econ might be set at 10. Both the ARVN and the US will be able spend resources from this pool to pay for operations. But once resources drop below the econ value (or probably once the two are equal, I don't remember the precise rule) then only the ARVN can spend the resources. So the US could spend from the first 40 resources, but once ARVN resources are down to 10 (the econ value from my example) only the ARVN can use the resources to pay for Ops.

From what I recall, typically the US doesn't have to spend any resources if it wants to sweep/assault (or basically do anything) with its own units. But if the US wants to include ARVN units in in an operation then it has to pay for the operation from the pool of ARVN resources.

Hope that helps.
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Claudio Hornblower
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Pastorhank wrote:
This is all very helpful, thank you, and thank you for the quick replies.

I guess since I'm still working through the rules I missed the AID marker on the gameboard. So when the rules for set up for the full campaign say, "Aid:15" I add that to the ARVN resource count, yea? Patronage plus Aid = ARVN resources?

Can someone give an example please of how the Econ limits come into play? Although you have all explained it really well, I'm feeling kinda dumb tonight and while I understand the concept behind why it exists, having not seen an example in play yet I am not sure how exactly it functions in play.

Thank you.

Let's go basic. Open the board on the table, open Playbook pg.2 and look at the back of the Rules of Play manual (Full setup, 1964-72). So that we're looking at the same thing.

First, place the Aid marker (the tank one) on the "15" on the map track. Why 15 and not 14 or 16, well, this is a designer's decision for balancing purposes I guess. So that's it.

Second, place Total Econ marker (beige, "Econ") on the "15" again. Why 15, well this time it makes sense: if you look at the LoC on the map and their Econ values, you'll see that the sum is exactly 15. Remember, they are the numbers in circles inside roads and rivers. Since no road is sabotaged, all of them contribute to the Total Econ.

Skip Patronage and go to the next setup line, that's Resources. All the Resources are tracked using a wooden cylinder of the appropriate color, so blue for VC, red for NVA and yellow for ARVN. US does not track Resources (they use ARVN's ones).

See that ARVN is 30 (place the yellow cylinder on "30"): this means that, since Total Econ is 15, at the beginning the US player may use up to 14 15 Resources (from 30 to 16 15), while ARVN may us up to 30 Resources (from 30 to 0).
In other words, US cannot use Resources at or below Total Econ value (as per rule 1.8.1 on pg.4), they can only use the delta between Total Econ and Resources.

Now pretend to fast forward to a Coup. The board is exactly the same.
ARVN Resources will increase from 30 to 15 (Aid) + 15 (Total Econ) = 60. That is you move the yellow wooden cylinder to "60".

Now reset, and imagine that instead things have changed: there is one casualty in the box so Aid is -3 (from 15 to 12, this happened at the end of the Resources Phase in a previous Coup), and all the Mekong lines are Sabotaged (1+2+1 = 4, that drops Total Econ from 15 to 11).
Again, skip to a new Coup with that setting. ARVN Resources will increase from 30 to 12 (Aid) + 11 (Total Econ) = 53, and you move the yellow cylinder to "53".

Remember, ARVN earnings are ruled in the 6.2 "Resources Phase" (pg.11) and the formula is: ARVN Resources = Aid + Total Econ
where
Aid: is raised by US Advise or ARVN Govern, and lowered by US casualties
and
Total Econ: is the sum of the non-sabotaged Econ values (numbers in circles on the LoC on the map)

Of course Events may change the values as well.

---

Now what I suggest you is to clear the board again, and follow the Playbook step by step from the beginning. Go back to the rules to understand why things are placed like that, expecially the victory markers. You'll see that actually moving the pieces will make it way much clearer.


EDIT: math corrections
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Oerjan Ariander
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Minor correction:
Mythologem wrote:
...since Total Econ is 15, at the beginning the US player may use up to 14 Resources (from 30 to 16)

US may spend 15 Resources (from 30 to 15). In other words, with the Econ marker in the "15" box on the track, US may spend the Resource represented by the "16" box since it is above Econ, but not the Resources represented by the "15" or lower boxes since they are "at or below" Econ.

Regards,
Oerjan
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Claudio Hornblower
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Oerjan wrote:
Minor correction:
Mythologem wrote:
...since Total Econ is 15, at the beginning the US player may use up to 14 Resources (from 30 to 16)

US may spend 15 Resources (from 30 to 15). In other words, with the Econ marker in the "15" box on the track, US may spend the Resource represented by the "16" box since it is above Econ, but not the Resources represented by the "15" or lower boxes since they are "at or below" Econ.

Regards,
Oerjan

Good catch, thanks for the correction.
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Pastor Hank
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Very helpful, thank you. If I understand you correctly, the US can't use ARVN resources (ie, do joint ops) if Arvn's resources drop below the Econ number?


Mythologem wrote:
Pastorhank wrote:
This is all very helpful, thank you, and thank you for the quick replies.

I guess since I'm still working through the rules I missed the AID marker on the gameboard. So when the rules for set up for the full campaign say, "Aid:15" I add that to the ARVN resource count, yea? Patronage plus Aid = ARVN resources?

Can someone give an example please of how the Econ limits come into play? Although you have all explained it really well, I'm feeling kinda dumb tonight and while I understand the concept behind why it exists, having not seen an example in play yet I am not sure how exactly it functions in play.

Thank you.

Let's go basic. Open the board on the table, open Playbook pg.2 and look at the back of the Rules of Play manual (Full setup, 1964-72). So that we're looking at the same thing.

First, place the Aid marker (the tank one) on the "15" on the map track. Why 15 and not 14 or 16, well, this is a designer's decision for balancing purposes I guess. So that's it.

Second, place Total Econ marker (beige, "Econ") on the "15" again. Why 15, well this time it makes sense: if you look at the LoC on the map and their Econ values, you'll see that the sum is exactly 15. Remember, they are the numbers in circles inside roads and rivers. Since no road is sabotaged, all of them contribute to the Total Econ.

Skip Patronage and go to the next setup line, that's Resources. All the Resources are tracked using a wooden cylinder of the appropriate color, so blue for VC, red for NVA and yellow for ARVN. US does not track Resources (they use ARVN's ones).

See that ARVN is 30 (place the yellow cylinder on "30"): this means that, since Total Econ is 15, at the beginning the US player may use up to 14 15 Resources (from 30 to 16 15), while ARVN may us up to 30 Resources (from 30 to 0).
In other words, US cannot use Resources at or below Total Econ value (as per rule 1.8.1 on pg.4), they can only use the delta between Total Econ and Resources.

Now pretend to fast forward to a Coup. The board is exactly the same.
ARVN Resources will increase from 30 to 15 (Aid) + 15 (Total Econ) = 60. That is you move the yellow wooden cylinder to "60".

Now reset, and imagine that instead things have changed: there is one casualty in the box so Aid is -3 (from 15 to 12, this happened at the end of the Resources Phase in a previous Coup), and all the Mekong lines are Sabotaged (1+2+1 = 4, that drops Total Econ from 15 to 11).
Again, skip to a new Coup with that setting. ARVN Resources will increase from 30 to 12 (Aid) + 11 (Total Econ) = 53, and you move the yellow cylinder to "53".

Remember, ARVN earnings are ruled in the 6.2 "Resources Phase" (pg.11) and the formula is: ARVN Resources = Aid + Total Econ
where
Aid: is raised by US Advise or ARVN Govern, and lowered by US casualties
and
Total Econ: is the sum of the non-sabotaged Econ values (numbers in circles on the LoC on the map)

Of course Events may change the values as well.

---

Now what I suggest you is to clear the board again, and follow the Playbook step by step from the beginning. Go back to the rules to understand why things are placed like that, expecially the victory markers. You'll see that actually moving the pieces will make it way much clearer.


EDIT: math corrections
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Claudio Hornblower
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Pastorhank wrote:
If I understand you correctly, the US can't use ARVN resources (ie, do joint ops) if Arvn's resources drop below the Econ number?

That's the gist of it. Oerjan put it best:

Oerjan wrote:
In other words, with the Econ marker in the "15" box on the track, US may spend the Resource represented by the "16" box since it is above Econ, but not the Resources represented by the "15" or lower boxes since they are "at or below" Econ.
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