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Subject: Stumble in the Jungle: Solitaire Play of the Vietnam Scenario rss

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Cormac O'Connor
United Kingdom
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This is the third test for a solitaire tool I developed in 2017 called Plan of Battle. This is an Excel based tool that holds a repository of plans for both sides and which can secretly select plans for the non-human player, giving a hopefully reasonable solitaire experience. The relevant Excel file and accompanying PowerPoint base instructions have been added to the Combat Veteran files page. I was very keen to apply this to MW: Combat Veteran having been impressed by its lean innovative rules and very attractive artwork.

I selected the US side in the 1967 Vietnam scenario. Within Plan of Battle (which I will call POB2 as it is the second version) I organised the US and NVA sides into 3- and 4-man fire teams apart from leaving the medics on their own so they could move freely to treat wounded. The NVA were accordingly organised into 15 groups capable of activation. POB2 allows for adding other decoy units and I added 20. POB2 assigned real NVA units and decoy unit concealment markers and then secretly selected the plans for the NVA with their defined start points. You can see this in the map below. The challenge for me then was to frame a plan based on the need to search these locations. This is not quite the same as the limited intelligence experience that you would get with a human NVA player, but it does go part of the way. Note the red dot is the location of an NVA unit I omitted to place a concealment counter for.



I imagined myself as the commander of the US force, having received some intelligence from helicopter overflights pointing to the most likely locations of NVA bunkers, but this is general rather than specific knowledge. I felt I could not advance on the NVA in a broad line because I would struggle to bring concentration against such widely dispersed NVA positions. My plan was to divide my force into 3, with a left and right advance with a central reserve that would follow behind these. The phasing of advance was as follows. It looked simple, but I had overlooked key details in other aspects of planning which would emerge later.



Within POB2 I had already loaded a series of plans for the NVA. Rather than advances, the NVA plan options were more around engaging at 1 or 3 or more hexes, or whether to fight to the death in a position or fight for a while and fall back to another position.

Turn 1

Having made my deployment I noted that I had missed NVA concealment marker ??51 in the centre and had to place it. I imagined this as being the spotting of an NVA position when the left and right flanks moved off, but the US Reserve was reluctant to engage in case it comprised the US Left and Right. The US Left and Right approached the nearest NVA positions. Some were unmasked as decoy or empty positions. Prospective NVA positions stayed silent.

Turn 2

With US forces on the Right held up by an NVA MG position, Peterson and his team flank it and wound the occupants of an NVA position behind it with a well-deployed LAW. On the US Left its teams moved adjacent to potential NVA positions and then came under heavy fire with some of its most senior leaders wounded. There was an immediate need to move US wounded back from the NVA positions so as to be able to call in Support. Now my biggest planning error emerges when I realised I had not put a leader on the right wing who was senior enough to call in heavy support. The Right wing would have to battle with its own weapons.



Turn 3

The US take further wounded as they straighten out their lines on the Left wing. The US Right wing apart from Peterson is stalled.

Turn 4

The US Left wing is able to call in airstrikes on the nearest 2 NVA positions. One is on target and one misses. The medic arrives amongst US forces on the Left Wing.

Turn 5

On the US Right Peterson’s team pours fire into the NVA positions on the treeline but lacks sufficient heavy firepower to reduce them. The US advance is running out of momentum.


End



I decided to end the game after 5 turns with US WIA 8 / NVA KIA 4 and NVA WIA 7. The likelihood was that the US would have probably inflicted another 7 casualties on the NVA in the 2 positions they had unmasked. However, US WIA were approaching 20% of their force and they had not yet entered the main NVA forest positions. It would be Turn 6/7 before the 2 wounded senior US leaders on the left flank could be returned to combat (and moreover be able to call down support fire). It would been obvious to my CO that my plan was falling apart. Owing to my poor organisation of forces, the right flank was left without a leader able to call in support fire which meant it would struggle to clear its assigned sectors. Finally, the phasing of the plan, under which the US Reserve in the centre would advance only when the left and right flanks below the river / objective end-zone were secure, was flawed and meant the Reserve played no part in the action. Why did I not just move the US Reserve? Because it was not in the plan, and my plan did not contain a contingency under which the US Reserve could be activated as an emergency reinforcement.

Reflecting on it further, I made other errors. I should have been much more careful in approaching the concealment markers on either flank. On the left I had my senior leaders bunched up and they became casualties quickly. It would have been more sensible to approach suspected NVA positions in a wedge formation which would have kept more of my advancing line out of NVA range. On the right my error was to neglect to have close supporting units too far from the advance point and not with enough space or safe ground to deploy. I would also look again at my fire-team organisation especially the allocation of machine-guns. Another point this game brought home to me was the need for careful approach of suspected NVA positions to isolate individual sites and avoid being caught in crossfire from several positions.

This should have been a simple action. I had the advantage of numbers, all forces on-map from the start, ample support and good leadership and yet I ended up with the likelihood of wrecking my command and in all probability needing reinforcements to get the job done.

A sobering but educational experience for this armchair general.

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suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
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Great report! Moved this up on my playlist!

Were the rules clear and complete?
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Cormac O'Connor
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I found the rules well drafted but I still drafted a checklist to help me which is on this BGG page. Apologies but I am in the process of uploading AAR pictures. I would certainly like to see additional instalments of the series.
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