Petri P
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The NVN government of "A New Campaign has begun"
Mark Evans
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has allowed research access to the NVN war diaries. These are in the form of a huge tome of hand written notes.

I have now digitized the NVN morale/commitment/population/draft part of those. The numerical values are available in:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnU0UuXvuZzmdF9...

(The graphs do not seem to work with anonymous access for some reason when using the above link?)

The graphs showing these are here:





Unfortunately, the NVN notes do not contain SVN morale, SVN draft, US morale and US commitment, which would be very useful for anyone wishing to research this conflict in the future.

I wonder if the US/ARVN government of that conflict
Randy Knight
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would agree to fill the missing information there?

[Randy, if you agree, send me a geekmail, and I'll send you a link to an editable version of the spreadsheet, and then I'll post the updated version in this thread.]

In addition to these, the NVN archives appear to contain the population control records season by season for each province, and all combat action from this conflict.

I am not going to digitize all of these - but I could provide average statistics or answers to specific questions from these, if there is interest. If so, what should I focus on?

If one cross references the above graphs to the session reports posted by Randy, there is possibly already something interesting to be seen. It could be much more clear if the missing information was there too.

Any comments?
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steve Shilcock
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Hi there,

Long time lurker who has greatly enjoyed reading some of the recent campaigns, especially Mark and Randys.

I have to say that the VC draft levels seem much lower than i would have expected.

The way i see it, the VC only have 2 roles:- contesting pacification and denting US morale. The last is done by suicide offensives and general attrition of commitment, but the former requires "boots on the ground" to give negatives in key provinces.

I would have expected that with the initial supply pool and recruitment phase, the VC would have 70 bns, maybe a regimet or 2, and small repl pool - putting their Summer draft at alot closer to 100 than shown here.

From there it would raise approx 30 each month, keeping pace with casualties to maintain the full 70 bns in play.

My impression is Mark didn't do this, and may help explain Randys consistent and uninterrupted increase in SVN pop from the beginning.

Steve
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Mark Evans
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Well Steve. I love games and I love women. But I suck at both.

That said, I don't know what I bought. Petri has all my purchase records.

As far as the US side of the action. Most of Randy's information is in the session reports. I am sure he will give you his stuff, but while you wait you can comb through the session reports.
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Petri P
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Steve110 wrote:


From there it would raise approx 30 each month, keeping pace with casualties to maintain the full 70 bns in play.

My impression is Mark didn't do this, and may help explain Randys consistent and uninterrupted increase in SVN pop from the beginning.

Steve


I don't think that VC can gain population once US commitment is past a certain level. It is possible to destroy more than 30 battalions a season, and destroying that many will give US bonus morale.

Here we actually have, at least I believe so, a game where VC attempted to go for population gains in the long term, but it did not work out. A valuable experiment for that strategy, even if the strategy was not succesfull. (What if it had been!)

Note how the VC draft level rises sharply from winter 67 to Summer 68. This is the surge of relatively cheap VC personnel (vs NVN available commitment) which I believe is meant to be sacrificed in offensives, at least if the game follows the script. But in this game they must have been used for pacification, as the first offensive came in 69.

Also, note that steady VC purchases continue even in the late game. There might be a very good reason for that - the US air could have been too strong for NVA to have any hope.
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I am not sure if I can decipher the year 1965 purchases. The record sheet for that is a non-standard one, and looks really confusing to me. I don't even trust it follows the rules - it must be a "player aid" downloaded from somewhere..

The pre game purchases appear to be 20 battalions and 45 replacements, for 85 supply. Summer is 10 more battalions, Fall is 20 more, and there is nothing for winter. There is some little NVA purchasing in Fall, but from what I can gather, [Edit: Just a harmless bookkeeping error, see below for the next reply. No need for concern. Incorrect speculation in this reply]:

NVN is missing some of the initial morale and supplies it was entitled to. "Initial NVN morale" is the same two seasons in a row..?

I have a vague recollection that there was some confusion years ago in consim-l about the start of the campaign - if this record sheet was originally made by one of the confused, Mark could have started the game with a handicap worth of a season. That is missing supplies for 32 of the missing battalions! The rest of the years have a standard record sheet.

This would explain pacification did not work for VC even at the start. A good catch.
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Petri P
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Happily, the NVN morale in year 1966 looks like it has progressed correctly from the start of the game (approximate, assuming typical US commitment increases) - there is no more a trace of the "missing season".

(This can also be seen in the chart above - that NVN morale is the morale at the end of the season value, found on a separate row - even if the "initial morale" is incorrect in the original sheet, the end morale is correct.)

So, the 1965 record sheet just appears to have a bookkeeping error.

Spring 1966 also shows that before it 78 draft worth of units and replacements have been bought. If 15 of those were for replacements, like 1965 indicates, that would be 63 battalions, meaning 13 battalions were purchased in Winter 1965 "off the record".

All is in order again - no commitment appears to have been lost, some missing battalions have been found. The use of resources for NVA in 1965 explains some of the missing draft, the use of supplies for 45 replacements in 1965 explains some of the rest of the pacification problems.


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Mark Evans
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Huh... How about that. I really doubt I shorted myself. I remember using some sheets I downloaded and then tossing them in favor of the standard sheet. I could have made a mistake though.
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steve Shilcock
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@Mark,

I should clarify that my comments were based on my own opinions regarding how the VC should play, and I can’t guarantee I would have done any better than you long term.

The main point as always is did you enjoy yourself? (a sentiment that, I guess could also apply to both gaming and women!!)

@Petri
I agree that the VC, even fully deployed, will struggle to gain population in the face of a determined US presence (although the odd season where the pacification rolls combine with VC modifiers is always possible).

However I believe a strong VC effort can put a brake on US pop gain. A slower shift in SVN controlled pop theoretically feeds into a lower ARVN Repl pool in the end game, which can be the decisive factor.

The casualty numbers I proposed were based on some assumptions of my own regarding US force level and effectiveness, however I have seen other people have similar conclusions so I don’t think they are totally inaccurate. The assumptions were:

5-6 US divisions deployed (seems to be the general size of US force most people aim for)
2 VC Bn equivs lost per season, per US Regiment/Brigade

This gives a rough value of 30-36 VC Bn equiv as a casualty rate, some of which will be Po Secs.

Undoubtably the US could kill more, but logically, wouldn’t that require a higher force level? Which requires higher commitment from the US – closing the gap between commitment and morale faster, which is what the NLF player wants.

Also, those additional morale for 30+ bns killed aren’t “free”, they have to be earned though a higher tempo of operations each season, all of which risk further Repl, Airmobile and Air losses that need making good with further commitment.

If on the other hand US gets an good pacification drive, both US and SVN will get free morale bonus's for level of pop control.

As I say, my opinion, but hopefully you see my logic (quite possibly flawed).
Steve
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Mark Evans
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OH, yeah, I always enjoy myself. In both arenas. I just want to clarify that my approach to this game was probably the wrong one and you can follow through to see how the slow VC buildup approach works.
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Chuck Tewksbury
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I've never played this game, but have read through the rules a couple times and very much enjoyed the AARs you guys have posted.

My question is this, does this game become simply math and stats? ergo it becomes a historical study?

curious
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Randy Knight
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Chuck

Not even close!

Mark and I found that almost every year brought different challenges and tactical changes in our thinking.

I was completely pleased that each year seemed fresh and new. Like a campaign linking 40 different scenarios.

We need to play this together after we finish Red Barricades and A Bridge Too Far!

The highly detailed statistical analysis is coming from our friend Petri, who has a strong penchant for solo play and is a wonderful statistician.

This does not reflect the play of the game, which is HIGHLY interactive, reactive, and tense.

Two players really punch and counterpunch in Vietnam, and there is lots and lots of opportunity for deceiving and surprising your opponent.

You would like it. LOL

Randy
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Bill Lawson
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Like Randy said, playing the game is a blast. Its just most of the threads about it here are on strategy and end up being a lot of numbers. Playing it and analyzing it are two different things. You should play it!
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Petri P
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Steve110 wrote:

@Petri

However I believe a strong VC effort can put a brake on US pop gain. A slower shift in SVN controlled pop theoretically feeds into a lower ARVN Repl pool in the end game, which can be the decisive factor.

Likely true, but..

Steve110 wrote:


The casualty numbers I proposed were based on some assumptions of my own regarding US force level and effectiveness

5-6 US divisions deployed (seems to be the general size of US force most people aim for)
2 VC Bn equivs lost per season, per US Regiment/Brigade

This gives a rough value of 30-36 VC Bn equiv as a casualty rate

I agree with that estimate for six divisions.

Steve110 wrote:

Also, those additional morale for 30+ bns killed aren’t “free”, they have to be earned though a higher tempo of operations each season, all of which risk further Repl, Airmobile and Air losses that need making good with further commitment.


The first 29 battalions are the most expensive to destroy. (Killing them does not give back any morale), 30th gives back 1 morale, and then each five gives one more. The morale received for each of the five beyond the 30th is much more than it costs to replace the losses caused by those five battalions. The more US can kill, the larger portion of the received morale will be "free".

Steve110 wrote:

If on the other hand US gets an good pacification drive, both US and SVN will get free morale bonus's for level of pop control.

As I say, my opinion, but hopefully you see my logic (quite possibly flawed).
Steve


That is also true, and I don't think your logic is flawed. But there is also the issue of the VC draft level, and the need to conserve that for offensives, to consider.

The morale bonus for US also starts only after US has already paid lost assets for 29 VC battalions, and the bonus is considerable after that. High entry cost to reach the bonus, but cheap and easy morale after that.

If we assume US makes a profit of about 2 points (this could be just killing exactly 35 battalions instead of exactly 29 per season) for, say, 10 seasons. That would be 60 extra battalions destroyed, losing maybe about 5 air points and 3 helicopters for those.. also some replacements (ARVN takes most replacement hits with rangers).

Of the 20 morale gained, there is a profit of at least 15 morale, while increasing commitment for losses just by 5. The 5 is unlikely to move US to a higher commitment column for politics phase morale adjustments.

This 15 morale is almost half of what a VC Offensive can destroy - there is now a need for an extra "half of an offensive", but 60 less reasonably priced vc personnel to use in offensives.

If US gained +4 per season for 10 seasons, we would be talking about lost VC personnel worth that required by a full VC suicide offensive, and about the need to cause an extra Offensive worth of morale losses.

Would this, the loss of personnel and the need to destroy extra US morale, be fairly priced for the slowing of the pacification with some level of losses - 30 battalions a season for just +1 (?) Or 35 for just +2 (?) Something else?

I don't know. But there is, of course, a level of VC losses / US extra morale gained which is too high for VC to win the game with those losses.

My intuition (very possibly flawed) is that even +1 per season extra morale for US is too much. I could be wrong and +1 (or some other value) might be acceptable, if it allowed enough slowing of the pacification.

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billyboy wrote:
Like Randy said, playing the game is a blast. Its just most of the threads about it here are on strategy and end up being a lot of numbers. Playing it and analyzing it are two different things. You should play it!


A unique combination of a complex, highly interactive tactical war game and a curiously difficult to analyze abstract strategy game about the effective use of conversion formulas between a handful of tracked variables.

The real game is all about interaction, and the success in the real game gives a small but very meaningful bias for the working of the long term strategies.

The long term strategy is extremely slow to take effect or show results, and cannot be effectively changed once it is developing, but it ultimately determines the winner.

The number-filled strategy posts are about attempts to understand what makes this game tick. Totally unrelated to to the actual face to face game experience - the strategy part is a very small portion of the game time. Setting the strategies and making the decisions takes a few minutes - playing the real game takes the hundreds of hours.

But the strategy decisions are the part which gives the overall tone and progress for the season by season game. The system works beautifully both in "US battalions hunt VC in the jungles" and "Doomed ARVN stoically defends against unstoppable NVA divisions" scenarios. What kind of scenarios you get depends on the strategical decisions of the conversion formulas between variables.

Like, currently in this thread - what is the acceptable to NLF extra morale gain for US based on NLF casualties? If you decide "none" as NLF at the start, and follow through that, you'll get a game where usual early to mid game seasons see a light VC presence, easy to mop up, but you might get more effective offensives. Depending on if that was a good or a bad decision, you will see a weaker or stronger ARVN opposing NVA for a different number of seasonal scenarios - and you might see or not see VC helping NVA.


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