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Vietnam 1965-1975» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Doves in Charge - 1968 rss

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Curt Chambers

Arizona
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This is the next in series of the Doves in Charge AAR. It covers 1968 in the match between Pat Mullen (NLF) and myself.

Year start vital stats:

U.S. Morale - 500
Commitment - 228
SVN Morale - 95
SVN Draft level - 108
Controlled Population - 261
NVA Morale - 230
Commitment - ?
VC Draft Level - ?

SPRING

Interphase

The population rose by just 1 point this season. The SVN government continued to be stable. However, the loyalty of some of my 2-star leaders started to tick downward, so we can expect some personnel changes in the near future.

With the replacement pools stocked and no major threats to deal with, we trickled in just 4 CPs this season. We are finally starting to build our air power into something more than a token force.

The NLF recruited 5 NVA divisions to add to the 8 artillery already on board. Instead of setting up in the DMZ however, they spread themselves out in boxes 9,10, and 13 of the HCM Trail. I thought the VC was recruiting light this season (only 15 new units). But during the ops phase later on it was discovered that this group included several VC regiments. All in all, I calculated a 74 CP expediture for the NLF.

I wasn’t sure what the NLF was planning with these latest builds. It seemed too early for a multi-point invasion of South Vietnam. Perhaps they just wanted to tie up Allied forces. I won’t know until next season.

Operations

Wth no NVA to worry about I found operations to be easier this season. In Phuoc Long, there were 3 VC units (later identified as regiments) that were recruited on the border. I assumed these were a screening force for the NVA that would be coming off the Trail next season. But they surprised me by moving into Binh Duong. I had plenty of assets in the area. What started out as a small op against a single target snowballed into a series of multi-division battles. In the end, all 3 VC regiments were eliminated. III Corps has always been an ARVN weak link (B-2 leader) so no ARVN forces were involved. Nevertheless, U.S. casualties were on the light side in this battle.



A similar situation developed in Kontum. Large numbers of VC had started to gather and a multi-divisional NVA force was lurking on the Trail. I had started to pick away at the edges when I ran into a VC regiment, who retreated into other regiments. This time we were dealing with an entire VC division (the unsinkable 9th). The terrain was better for the defenders, and I was a bit slow in bringing up reinforcements (and they had to come from further away). We won the battle but losses were definitely higher on this one. Fortunately, II Corps ARVN was effective this season and took the brunt of the casualties.



During the 2nd game turn I had planned on going after the group of VC in the mountains of western Kontum. I suspected another VC division due to its deployment (tight cluster with a double-stacker). But most of the group bugged out. The only thing left behind was a political and a conduit, furthering my conviction that it was indeed another VC division.

Later in the turn I ran into a couple more independent VC regiments in southern II Corps. These guys were recruited on the border west of Ban Me Thout. They invaded Phu Bon but then had second thoughts when we started to bring some force to bear. They doubled back to the southwest but were caught by elements of the 101st as they were about to cross into Phuoc Long. With the help of a mixed ARVN force, two regiments were destroyed. The third unit (presumably another independent regiment) made it across the border into Cambodia.



I wasn’t expecting large battles this season but we wound up destroying 8 VC regiments, 1 HQ, and handful of battalions. Friendly losses were relatvely mild and the country was cleared of the enemy.

SUMMER

Interphase

Population rose to 272. I thought I had seen the last of large population gains and was happy to be wrong in this case. The population level, combined with a +3 bonus for KIAs, led to a U.S. morale bump of +3. They were now at 503.

Repeating a familiar pattern, the good pacfication phase was followed by a not-so-good politics phase. Failed replacement rolls for III Corps and the CoS sent their loyalty tumbling to the bottom of the scale. The coup roll was just 1 shy of causing instability. Whew! And a poor loyalty adjustment roll dropped the loyalty of my Faction A leaders. Things are going so well on the battlefied. But the ARVN leadership just can’t seem to break out of its mediocre status.

For recruitment, all I did was purchase 28 supplies and brought in 4 medium ARVN artillery. It was probably not the smartest way to spend 4 CPs since the CoS was already ineffective due to the failed replacement attempt. But I had some plans coming up to reorganize my forces and it required that all of the ARVN artillery be on board, effective or not. Besides, last season was very light for casualties. So, for a change I didn’t need to re-stock support or replacement points.

The NLF recruited 3 new NVA divisions and 25 new VC units. The divisions were sent down the Trail. The NVA units already on the Trail continued south. All of the VC were recruited along the border. The war is certainly starting to take on a different complexion.

Operations

I decided to try something different this turn. There were 6 VC units in Cambodia deployed on roads and within reach of the 5th Mechanized. It also appeared, based on overall VC deployment, that I could probably go without using the U.S. in S&D operations this season. So the decision was made to send the 5th mech into Cambodia on a security op. With my morale still > 500 the penalty for invasion was not something that would be a criitcal factor. We free fired Phuoc Long and assigned 45 air points to the operation (which was most of my air force). I anticipated that at least 1 heavy unit would be encountered on this op. I was not to be dissapointed.



The first unit encountered was a regiment. I had a 4/6 chance of a KIA but I rolled poorly and it got away with 6 casualties. Continuing along the highway on the Cambodian side of the border, the next 2 targets were battalions and were eliminated. The fourth unit was an HQ and was KIA’d. I then had to cross back into Phuoc Long to swing around and get the last two units. They were both regiments and I had a 5/6 chance of a KIA on both. But I rolled poorly again on one of them and it got away. Total for the operation was 1 HQ, 1 regiment, 2 battalions, and 12 repl for a cost of 2 U.S. repl and an air point. I’ll take that considering that’s all the action that the U.S. will probably see this season.

The operation also had a side effect. With Cambodian sovereignty violated most of the VC along the border retreated to the Trail. I was able to pick off a few stragglers, mostly politicals. The rest of the season was spent preparing for the NVA invasion which appeared imminent. Their force was divided into three groups. The northern army was aimed at Kontum.



The central army was deployed near the Iron Triangle.



The southern, and most powerful, army was threatening western IV Corps.



I also left a large force in northern I Corps (ROK Capital, 82nd Abn, 3rd Marines) because there is a VC division operating on the Thua Thien - Laotian border. Strangely, this division did not join the parade of NVA units streaming down the Trail. It has instead launched a couple attacks against my border outposts. The conclusion I drew from this intel is that he’s going to send a couple NVA divisions across the DMZ when he invades. That’s what I would do. Hit the country at multiple points. But I would focus in III Corps, not IV, where the ARVN is weaker.

FALL

Interphase

Despite the Cambodian invaion penalty U.S. morale went up again, to 504. Population rose to 276 and we started receiving the +2 U.S. morale bonus. NLF controlled population dropped to 84. By my estimate that should have sent his VC draft ratio > 4:1. At the rate the NLF is recruiting VC divisions the next cost plateau will come soon enough. Maybe that’s why the early invasion with the NVA?

We were finally able to replace the lousy B-2 III Corps leader that I’ve been stuck with from the start of the game. The new one is not great (B+1) but I have decent divisional leaders so we can work with this guy. The most prominent weak link in the ARVN leadership now is the CoS. There’s nothing I can do about him exept keep rolling the dice. The rest is up to fate.

I trickled in another 4 CPs and built some more ARVN artillery (even though the failed replacement roll made the CoS ineffective again). I could have afforded to recruit more but I didn’t see the need. I felt we were adequately prepared for the pending storm.

It was a light recruitment phase for the NLF. We identified 1 new NVA division and about 14 VC units. They did purchase a lot of replacements however. Both the NVA and VC have over 100 in the pool. Lots of movement on the Trail during the infiltration phase. It now appears that the southern NVA invasion was a bluff. He left 3 divisions on the Trail near the Parrot’s Beak. The rest of the southern NVA, 6 full divisions and 8 artillery, moved back to box 1 in North Vietnam.

It should be noted that I tried similar tactics in my game with Erik as the NLF (2nd Clash AAR). I recruited large groups of NVA and sent them scurrying up and down the trail trying to draw off Allied units. It didn’t work then and it’s not working now. The Allies generally have enough units to keep an eye on Trail-bound NVA while at the same time conducting counter-guerilla ops in the interior. Had I not had the benefit of prior experience I might have indeed overreacted to NVA troop movements. But as it turned out all it accomplished was to force Pat to sit through a bunch of U.S. strat moves at the end of every turn (and I know what that feels like too!).

Operations

With only a handful of VC in the country (but many more on the border in I Corps) I decided to let the U.S. sit out this season. The ARVN tried to clear out the few VC in Quang Ngai. The VC kept snowballing their retreat until there were 5 of them stacked up. Normally, this kind of manuevre does not end well for the VC. But this time it worked. On their own the ARVN just could not generate enough pursuit to break it open. The CoS was ineffective so my only support was the squadron of aircraft I assigned at the beginning of the operation. We took several ARVN repl losses, an air point, and an airmobile point before I decided to call it quits.

U.S. units strat moved into blocking positions and we were able to surround and clear out the VC during the 2nd turn. With all our attention focused in Quang Ngai, the VC moved a large force (16 units including one confirmed VC division) into northern I Corps. The only thing I had in the area that was operational was the ROK Capital division. I could have activated 82nd, but without adequate artillery support it would have just turned into a bloody mess. So we let them be and resolved to fight them another day.

WINTER

Interphase

Population reached 285, meaning SVN morale would rise by +5 per season now (actually, a net +4 when you factor in the other variables). This positive development triggered a slight change in our tactics. First, the threshold for Free Fire was lowered. From now on there would be scant concern for the effect on the population. Secondly, it was decided that the NVA, when they invaded, could be fought at the border. We should have plenty of replacements to last until the end of the war, eliminating the need to give up large swaths of territory in order to conserve resources. Indeed, the limiting factor for ARVN replacements would be U.S. comittment, not available population. Those damn doves!

Operations

No operations this season. I again postponed dealing with the large group of VC in I Corps. Quang Tri population is bottomed out (0-) and Thua Thien is max’d out (15+) so there is little incentive to get tangled up with VC regiments dug into the mountains. If the VC had moved into Quang Nam or coastal Thua Thien I would have acted. But as it turned out they were content holding their positions.



Year End Stats:

U.S. Morale - 506
Commitment - 244
SVN Morale - 107
SVN Draft level - 110
Controlled Population - 285
NVA Morale - 361
Commitment - ?
VC Draft Level - ?
Controlled Population - 75

Summary for 1968

We finished out 1968 in a strong position. U.S. morale remained > 500 and comittment < 250. Though not particularly effective, the ARVN is reasonably loyal and we haven’t had a coup in 2 years.

On the other hand, the enemy demonstrated their recuperative ability by building 12 NVA divisions from scratch after losing practically their entire force the previous year. They also resurrected their artillery corps and all 3 VC divisions. All told, the NLF spent 211 CPs during 1968 while the U.S. spent a paltry 16. But the population rose over 20 points. Those values, and the horde of NVA massed in the north, suggest the enemy is abandoning the guerilla strategy in favor of something more traditional and blunt. Wartime economics aside, 1969 will be an interesting year.

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Mark Evans
United States
Berlin
New Hampshire
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I'd like to see a picture of the leader display.
 
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Curt Chambers

Arizona
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This is the leadership at the end of the Spring 1969 Interphase. I removed Ineffective counters for clarity (rolled another "5").



Prior to the replacement of the III Corps leader in Fall I felt I had a below average ARVN leadership. Now I consider them average. If I can get rid of the CoS for someone better I'll have a decent lineup for the end-game.
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Mark Evans
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Berlin
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It should be a hard road for the NLF in this game. With US Morale so high near the middle of the game.
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Patrick Mullen
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Arizona
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drmark64 wrote:
It should be a hard road for the NLF in this game. With US Morale so high near the middle of the game.


It is. Spoiler: the conventional strategy Curt alluded to above as a possibility in 1969 may dividends...
 
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Bob A

North Carolina
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FYI - for maximum effectiveness, you should really alter which ARVN divisions are in which Corps. You are wasting the 9th (a little) and 22nd (a lot) with a <7 and <9 effectiveness roll, and the 3rd should be in IV so its effective 2/3 of the time instead of never, as an example.

I know its all nice to have them in order, but you are hurting your capabilities, especially in I.

What I might do:
I Corps +0: 4,5,5 leaders
II +2: 3,3,3
III +1: 4,4
IV +4: 0,2,2

That way, 1-4 gets 100% effective, 5 gets 9 of 11 and 6 still gets 2.
I might otherwise switch some 4s to II to have more with a roll of 6.

But that's just me
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Patrick Mullen
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mrboba1 wrote:
FYI - for maximum effectiveness, you should really alter which ARVN divisions are in which Corps. You are wasting the 9th (a little) and 22nd (a lot) with a <7 and <9 effectiveness roll, and the 3rd should be in IV so its effective 2/3 of the time instead of never, as an example.

I know its all nice to have them in order, but you are hurting your capabilities, especially in I.

What I might do:
I Corps +0: 4,5,5 leaders
II +2: 3,3,3
III +1: 4,4
IV +4: 0,2,2

That way, 1-4 gets 100% effective, 5 gets 9 of 11 and 6 still gets 2.
I might also switch some 4s to II to have more with a roll of 6.

But that's just me


Yeah, I've started to think that way as the US. 16.6666666666% increments.
 
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Curt Chambers

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That's good advice Bob. It is something I will do at some point. Just waiting for the leadership situation to settle. Also waiting for enough comittment to put their HQs on the map and bring in the rest of the regiments. Once the HQs are on board it becomes more difficult to change things around if one of the Corps leaders goes south.
 
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Patrick Mullen
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Raindem wrote:
That's good advice Bob. It is something I will do at some point. Just waiting for the leadership situation to settle. Also waiting for enough comittment to put their HQs on the map and bring in the rest of the regiments. Once the HQs are on board it becomes more difficult to change things around if one of the Corps leaders goes south.


Its also just tough to move consistently ineffective units. You may want to change their Corps, but can't.
 
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Mark Evans
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So why are you guys on VASSAL? I thought you were neighbors.
 
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Patrick Mullen
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drmark64 wrote:
So why are you guys on VASSAL? I thought you were neighbors.


If by neighbors you mean 2 hours away, you are correct. See the first entry of this AAR. Personally, I have no particular cardboard-centric fetish with my wargaming. . Frankly, Vassal is easier.
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Mark Evans
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Missed that. I prefer the smell of cardboard I suppose.
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craig grinnell
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drmark64 wrote:
Missed that. I prefer the smell of cardboard I suppose.


ah, as do I... but with four kids, there's no room to leave anything set up.shake
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Stuart Tonge
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Rotherham
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How long is it taking to play?

I have it on my shelf as I couldn't let it go after playing it for months at a time.. It was a massive game though.
 
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Curt Chambers

Arizona
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My first 2 games on Vassal took about a year each, playing 4-6 hours per week on a regular basis.

Face-to-face goes much slower since you have more mundane bookeeping tasks to deal with. Not to mention the time constraints of getting together, driving time, etc.
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Patrick Mullen
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stuuk wrote:
How long is it taking to play?

I have it on my shelf as I couldn't let it go after playing it for months at a time.. It was a massive game though.


Agree with Curt above. He and I did 1965 (I think) face to face and then switched to Vassal. We started in July. We are now in Spring 1969 so a really good pace. At this rate we should be done by April latest. So 9 months for this one.
 
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