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Subject: What does a win actually mean? rss

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Dan B
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I love the COIN series but one of my biggest gripes with some of them is the victory conditions, obtaining victory in the game, and the implications of the victory for the faction in terms of the scenario. Fire in the Lake covers a favourite period of mine in war gaming, one that, in my opinion at least, is a little under-gamed. Now, I realise that the game doesn't simulate the entirety of the war, I think the deck goes up to what? 68? 69, maybe? The final moments of the war aren't there, at least they don't feel like they are.

But my last game got me thinking; what are the implications of each factions victory? For example, If ARVN wins but the NVA are literally on the doorstep and the US has mainly withdrawn, does that mean that 'yeah, NVA will probably consolidate the south but at least we lined our pockets'? I can sort of envision what a US win might look like, given the 'hearts and minds' nature of its victory conditions, but a Vietcong win seems as equally ambiguous as ARVN. I guess this is probably why I tend to play this one with the combined victory conditions (an option I am thankful to have).

Anyone else get the same feeling with this one, or any other of the series?
 
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Christian van Someren
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Check out the small blurb at the end of the non-player rules section:

Quote:
If VC—Maoist Revolution! The countryside has surrounded the
cities, which one by one begin to fly the NLF’s red-blue-gold
as all hold by the foreigners and their puppets on public order
crumbles.
If NVA—Mechanized Reunification! North Vietnamese military
momentum and logistical wherewithal in the South portend the
arrival of armored NVA columns in soon-to-be Ho Chi Minh City.
If ARVN—Mandarin Redux! Propped by foreign aid and
firepower, the Saigon clique cements its hold on the land and
people of South Vietnam, prying away the last toeholds of the
unification movement.
If US—McNamara Redemption! US and allied forces depart in
good order as the Southern populace turns its back on the NLF
and hands Saigon the legitimacy to resist the North for years to
come.
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Oerjan Ariander
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rochesta wrote:
I love the COIN series but one of my biggest gripes with some of them is the victory conditions, obtaining victory in the game, and the implications of the victory for the faction in terms of the scenario. Fire in the Lake covers a favourite period of mine in war gaming, one that, in my opinion at least, is a little under-gamed. Now, I realise that the game doesn't simulate the entirety of the war, I think the deck goes up to what? 68? 69, maybe?

Straight from the rulebook:
Fire in the Lake rulebook, page 2 wrote:
1.0 INTRODUCTION
Fire in the Lake is a 1- to 4-player board game depicting insurgent
and counterinsurgent (COIN) conflict during the main US period
in Vietnam, 1964-1972, up to the “Paris Peace”.


Back to the OP:
rochesta wrote:
The final moments of the war aren't there, at least they don't feel like they are.

If by "the final moments of the war" you mean the years 1973-1975, after the US had first withdrawn their combat units and then cut the promised supply and air support to the RVN, then you are right: that part of the war is not covered by the game.

Quote:
But my last game got me thinking; what are the implications of each factions victory?

The descriptions in section 8.9 of the Non-player rules give some indications. Of course, the "years to come" mentioned in those texts might not be very many - in the real history only 2

Regards,
Oerjan
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Dan B
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Thanks Oerjan, I didn't think to find some indication of victory implications in the non-player rules section! Though small, it at least clears up some ambiguity I felt the game had. I'd imagine its the same for the other COIN games?
 
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Oerjan Ariander
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Yes. TBH this victory discussion section should probably be in 7.x or the Playbook instead; but Volko put it in 8.9 in Andean Abyss, and all the other COIN games have followed suit...

Regards,
Oerjan
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Rex Stites
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rochesta wrote:
I love the COIN series but one of my biggest gripes with some of them is the victory conditions, obtaining victory in the game, and the implications of the victory for the faction in terms of the scenario. Fire in the Lake covers a favourite period of mine in war gaming, one that, in my opinion at least, is a little under-gamed. Now, I realise that the game doesn't simulate the entirety of the war, I think the deck goes up to what? 68? 69, maybe? The final moments of the war aren't there, at least they don't feel like they are.

But my last game got me thinking; what are the implications of each factions victory? For example, If ARVN wins but the NVA are literally on the doorstep and the US has mainly withdrawn, does that mean that 'yeah, NVA will probably consolidate the south but at least we lined our pockets'? I can sort of envision what a US win might look like, given the 'hearts and minds' nature of its victory conditions, but a Vietcong win seems as equally ambiguous as ARVN. I guess this is probably why I tend to play this one with the combined victory conditions (an option I am thankful to have).

Anyone else get the same feeling with this one, or any other of the series?


What does "victory" mean in any wargame? This is not a problem unique to the COIN series. All games must end, so it becomes an open question of what would happen beyond what the players actually game.
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Brian Train
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rstites25 wrote:

What does "victory" mean in any wargame? This is not a problem unique to the COIN series. All games must end, so it becomes an open question of what would happen beyond what the players actually game.


Exactly! and that's the major break between real life, and games about real life.
The post-mortem discussion about who won, and why, and how that would carry on in the real world is potentially as interesting as the play of the game itself, if you played it with people inclined to have it.

Brian
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Jason Sherlock
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Victory is difficult to define, especially when other events further down the line could redefine the situation.

One way of looking at things, the US "won" in 1972 by forcing North Vietnam to accept the Paris accords. The US got "Peace with Honor" and an official cessation to hostilities.

Of course this was not sustainable peace due to lack of further US funding (which was promised to Thieu) to keep the RVN economy and military afloat, and the agreement to allow PAVN troops to remain in the South. Also, the impeachment of Nixon, nullified his agreement to Thieu for further US military intervention if the North resumed hostilities (as in 1975). If the US had honored its agreements, that US victory may have been a lasting one.

I would venture to say, in game terms, the US won (RVN and VC were the big losers), in the long term, the NVA won.
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Dan B
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rstites25 wrote:

What does "victory" mean in any wargame? This is not a problem unique to the COIN series. All games must end, so it becomes an open question of what would happen beyond what the players actually game.


True, not unique to the COIN series at all, but it is a particular series where I personally have trouble envisioning what might be the ramifications of a particular 'win'. I can see the narrative play out in the Karp game, its a little harder here.

ltmurnau wrote:

Exactly! and that's the major break between real life, and games about real life.
The post-mortem discussion about who won, and why, and how that would carry on in the real world is potentially as interesting as the play of the game itself, if you played it with people inclined to have it.

Brian


Definitely in agreement with you here. I do however enjoy it when a game provides a basis for such a discussion with an afterword or blurb on what it may mean, even if it is ill-defined or open to interpretation, it still provides some context to what an ahistorical result might have meant.
 
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Rex Stites
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rochesta wrote:
rstites25 wrote:

What does "victory" mean in any wargame? This is not a problem unique to the COIN series. All games must end, so it becomes an open question of what would happen beyond what the players actually game.


True, not unique to the COIN series at all, but it is a particular series where I personally have trouble envisioning what might be the ramifications of a particular 'win'. I can see the narrative play out in the Karp game, its a little harder here.



The point is, there's no set answer to the question. Victory for the ARVN in two different sessions may mean two completely different things, depending on how things have played out. Even in a two faction (as opposed to four faction) game, what a victory will mean depends completely on the final board-state and what has happened during the game, which will be different in each game played. You might be able to come up with some general statement about what it probably means, but it would still be subject to the way any particular game actually played out. In a four-faction game, it becomes much harder to even come up with a general statement about what a victory means for a particular faction. In a game like FitL where each faction has a general ally, it adds another layer of uncertainty. An ARVN win where the US comes in second is going to mean something quite different than a game where the ARVN wins and the US comes in last.
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