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Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975» Forums » General

Subject: Hearts and Minds: first impressions rss

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Dan Raspler
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Hearts and Minds (new from Worthington Games) might just be the holy grail strategic Viet Nam game I've always wanted. Because it's card-based, there's loads of chrome and history throughout... but because it's done on such a large scale, the entirety of the conflict can be played out in one (long) session.

It handles the two levels of the war very well, with the Viet Cong and political control war being waged side by side with the pure military operations. Victory is generally determined through the accumulation of American Hawk or Dove points, which slide a strategic will marker up and down a track (the US/Allied player wants to keep things Hawkish, and the Communists want the Yanks overwhelmed with Doves). US military losses increase Dove points, for example, while ARVN losses do not.

With the exception of a few asset units like armor and artillery, all the military pieces are generic infantry, and all have the same combat value of 1 (or 2 if it's a veteran unit)... so if you're looking for specific named formations you'll be disappointed.

A couple interesting twists on standard CDG mechanics:

1) there are three decks of cards, one for the US, one for the reds, and one generic deck of neutral events. At the start of play, the generic deck is split and shuffled into the other two. This is a nice mix of the WtP/FtP/HRvC style and the PoG/SoR style, and will provide a lot of replayability

2) Players can stockpile Ops points for future use (called SRPs, or Stockpiled Resource Points). Sometimes losses in combat can be averted by burning a SRP, sometimes a player might need one more action than he can afford, and sometimes certain big events (like the Tet Offensive) require the expenditure of several SRPs.

3) Played cards provide Ops as normal, but also list a cost to activate an event. For example, a 4-Ops card might allow a special event for a cost of 2 of its Ops. So unlike a lot of its brethren, H&M lets you have your cake and eat it, too.

4) Both sides have access to a few Campaign Cards, one of which may be selected at the start of the turn in lieu of another card (similar to Guns of August in PoG). These campaigns provide special advantages that must be used in a specific sector of the map, and reward the player with political advantages if the campaign succeeds.

Of course, there are B-52 bombing missions, chopper assets, a little PBR for Operation Sealords, and loads of rich military jargon and cultural references on the cards. H&M also features the war expanding into neighboring Laos and Cambodia, which impressed me, given the small size of the game.

Another great feature is that the game includes scenario set-ups and victory conditions for every year of the war... so you can just play Tet, for example, or play the last few years of "Vietnamization".

Last night we started in '65 and saw the Reds just steamroll their way to a political victory. So we re-started the game with the '66 set-up, and played through to the end of '67. In '66, the Reds heavily infiltrated the Mekong Delta, and scored four sweet Dove points for extensive political control. The following year, US/ARVN forces initiated Operation SEALORDS, and successfully managed to first dig out the local irregulars and then pummel the counter-attacking NVA divisions, and they earned four Hawk points in return. We had to call it, but it was clearly anyone's game at that point.

Needless to say, H&M is my new "gaming obsession du jour", and I can't wait to get that thunder rolling again.
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Steve Herron
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It sounds like a nice game. My copy was returned because of a messed up zipcode but Grant was very quick to see it shipped to me again. I am really looking foward to getting it now!
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Marco Herreras
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Thanks for a new insight of the game. I have been watching its news for nearly 3? years now, and really awaiting it to go retail in Europe.

I think a "sort of Twilight Struggle based upon Vietnam War" was nearly indispensable...
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Dan Raspler
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Ciniconoclasta wrote:
I think a "sort of Twilight Struggle based upon Vietnam War" was nearly indispensable...


I guess the comparisons are inevitalbe. They cover some of the same period of history, and area control is important in H&M, but it's much more of a wargame than TS. It's about moving units on a map, holding territory to disrupt enemy operations, and using the best combination of forces to inflict the greatest casualties. Ghastly, but "body count" is the name of the game.
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Железный комиссар
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Dan R. wrote:
Ciniconoclasta wrote:
I think a "sort of Twilight Struggle based upon Vietnam War" was nearly indispensable...


I guess the comparisons are inevitalbe. They cover some of the same period of history, and area control is important in H&M, but it's much more of a wargame than TS. It's about moving units on a map, holding territory to disrupt enemy operations, and using the best combination of forces to inflict the greatest casualties. Ghastly, but "body count" is the name of the game.


Hearts and Minds looks like a solid armies-based wargame. It is nothing like Twilight Struggle.
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Morgan Dontanville
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I checked this out last night. Looks great.

I don't see the TS connection though, this is a Card Driven Wargame.
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Tim Korchnoi
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I'm going to learn this today (since we have school off due to snow ) and I'm really looking forward to it. I just finished my first play of Ici, C'est la France! The Algerian War of Independence 1954-62 and was impressed how the political/military aspects were modeled so it is good to hear that H&M is promising along those lines as well.
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Dan Raspler
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Played from '65 again, and some bad luck for the US made a tricky situation hopeless by the end of '66.

The South collapsed twice in two turns... once from a response card, and once from a broke US blowing two 1-5 rolls to pacify a province. Each time the South collapses, you add three Doves... and suffering that penalty twice turned it into a Red auto-win.

Very cool, and not unrealistic based on our casualties. There's definitely a lesson to be learned about how to keep the RVN stable... I hope to learn it soon!

Also, keeping the Red veterans on the downward side of the attrition curve is important. In '65, the Allies are somewhat thin on the ground, but they do have a few vets. In '66, however, the ratio of US:ARVN changes, and it was hard not to take a couple of US casualties when the experienced NVA came calling. Not losing that small handful of ARVN vets during that first collapse might be the key.
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Steve Herron
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I got my copy today, very nice.
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John Poniske
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I agree with you Jack. We're truly honored by the comparison, as Twilight Struggle is a wonderful game but the political aspect in HAM does not approach the clever application of politics in TS. Which is not to say HAM is not intriguing in its own right. I'm so happy to hear so much enthusiasm for the title. Since my copies have yet to arrive, I I'll have to console myself with rewatching "Platoon" and "Apocolypse Now."
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Morgan Dontanville
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John Poniske wrote:
I agree with you Jack. We're truly honored by the comparison, as Twilight Struggle is a wonderful game but the political aspect in HAM does not approach the clever application of politics in TS. Which is not to say HAM is not intriguing in its own right. I'm so happy to hear so much enthusiasm for the title. Since my copies have yet to arrive, I I'll have to console myself with rewatching "Platoon" and "Apocolypse Now."


I like the new card draw system, where each faction has their own deck and both draw from the neutral deck. Drawing from the same deck always bugs me in these games (We the People is the worst offender).
 
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Marco Herreras
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Wow... I didn't expect so many comments on what after all was only an out loud reflexion -albeit I guess a wrong one.

I didn't want to imply there had to be a connection between H&M and TS, merely suggesting there might be a light resemblance for regular eurogamers.

See, I like military history, but no one else does in my gaming group of friends+wife; I really look forward to playing H&M, but it's not easy to bring them along into playing wargames.

For now, TS has been an early success (I know it is not a wargame but it looks like one to eurogamers), and, waiting for H&M in retail stores here, i intend to introduce them deeper into wargames through A House Divided.

Anyway, your comments on the differences between H&M and TS are welcome and add up to my interest in the game!
 
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Seems great game.

Quote:
It's pretty exciting to me to actually be there as another is emerging.

In my game, Maj 1926, which will be published next year, I used very simillar mechanic. Neutral cards deck, cards with OPS and events, etc.

I just think those are obvious next steps in progress of CDGs.


Lack of neutral cards' deck was always so annoying, as well as no-event-if-played-by-OPS.



I just wonder why designer of HAM didn't left neutral cards deck separate.

I have left neutral card deck separate."Separateness" of neutral cards deck make:

a) shorter setup time;

b) allows for uneven cards probablity (blue/red deck could be drawn in 80% during typical game, while neutral in only 20% allowing for higher replayability);

c) allows for uneven cards drawing (f.ex. one neutral cards for controlling border with Laos, one neutral cards for advantage on political Hawk/Dove track, one blue card for each port, one red card for each undermined provinces zone).

b) allows for uneven cards value (neutral cards could be with statistically higher OPS).

I am really curious, why designer have chosen to mix red/blue decks with neutral decks.
 
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Michael
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I may be misunderstand what you wrote, but it sounds like you think that there are two decks. One deck with the blue and red cards mixed and then a neutral deck. This isn't the case. Instead the neutral deck is split in half and then each player mixes those neutral cards with their own personal deck. (I took me about 30 seconds to do this during set-up.) That allows for a ton of variety as you never know who got certain neutral event cards. With drawing at most five cards per turn, I don't even think it is possible to play through one's entire deck. So in any given game you aren't even guaranteed access to all of your own (red/blue0 event cards.

Keep in mind that the neutral cards are still event cards. Some event cards allow both players access to that particular event. On others the card has one set of events for each player.
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I am not saying that Your design is poor, in contrary I very admire Your design.



I have understood that at the start of the game there are three separate decks: blue for Allies, red for Vietnam, and neutral (in your game black, in my game green, doesn't matter).

I am just curious why You have decided to mix half of neutral deck into blue one, and half of neutral deck into red one. So from three decks there are two decks. Why?

Mixing takes half minute, yes but still it is a bit time of setup.

Unmixed third deck allows for some interesting effects, f.ex. in my game each turn red player may draw 6 red card (because he succesfully expanded his military base, takeover railway and communication station,etc) and 0 neutral card (because he made it with aggressive stance and civil loses), while blue player may draw only 2 blue card (due to loss of blue' natural military base) but 3 neutral card due to support of public opinion. And neutral cards are a bit better then casual blue/red cards.

As a fellow designer, I am just really curious of Your thoughts, as it goes differently than mine.

IMVHO it is much more fun to leave neutral deck as a separate deck, and allow both players to draw from it according to set rules.
 
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Michael
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Umpapa wrote:
I am not saying that Your design is poor, in contrary I very admire Your design.



FYI - I'm not the designer, but perhaps John will answer your question as to his thought pattern.
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Dan Raspler
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Dividing the third black/generic deck into two decks and shuffling it into the red and blue decks makes the game very replayable. There are no rules associated with gaining or denying access to the decks.

It sounds like an interesting design idea for the game you are describing, but in H&M each player gets their own preepared deck and that's the only one they draw from.
 
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