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Preview of Lock 'N Load Tactical Digital by Lock 'N Load Publishing  Here we are very lucky to h...

Preview of Lock 'N Load Tactical Digital by Lock 'N Load Publishing Preview of Lock 'N Load Tactical Digital by Lock 'N Load Publishing

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Vietnam




Preview of

Lock 'N Load Tactical Digital

by

Lock 'N Load Publishing







 Here we are very lucky to have the best of both worlds, the digital and boardgame, and able to choose which we would rather play at the moment. There is a time for boardgames, even solo, and a time for the computer to lend a helping hand. I have reviewed and liked the tactical series from L'NL and was a little wary of how the digital version would turn out. I have also reviewed some of their 'Nations at War' series of boardgames and really liked them. So I was very pleased to find out that the digital version of them was excellent. I was wary about the Tactical series in digital, because lightning very rarely strikes twice. So, was L'NL able to put it in a bottle and use it for this game series also? The answer is an unequivocal YES! The game plays pretty much exactly as the boardgames do. The AI is also as good as the one in Nations at War Digital. The game will becoming out on Steam very soon. The L'NL Tactical base game comes with four scenarios from their Heroes of Normandy game and two from their Heroes of the Nam game. They are releasing two scenario packs of the aforementioned games with twelve scenarios each when the game launches. The scenario packs will be add-ons that you will have to purchase separately. They are also working on adding the rest of the Tactical series games as other add-ons to the base game. The tentative release date is 4/2, so keep your fingers crossed.

This is the link to L'NL Tactical on their site:

65 by  Flying Pig Games   Strangely, I approach the unboxing of the game with some trepidation. I had heard about...

65 by Flying Pig Games 65 by Flying Pig Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Vietnam

65


by 


Flying Pig Games





  Strangely, I approach the unboxing of the game with some trepidation. I had heard about WWI and WWII from my father and grandfather, but it was more like a history lesson in class. With the Vietnam War this was actually history I lived, I guess vicariously, through the TV. Growing up in the 1960s, the war was always there. My friends and I rarely, if ever, talked about it, yet its presence was still felt. Some of my earliest memories are of watching the news, and listening to the casualties of the day. Sorry to get so somber. The game and year just brought back memories; back to the game.



Training Aid


 I had reviewed Flying Pig Games Old School Tactical Volume I, and I was very impressed with all of the physical components. In '65, you will be pleased to find out that there is that same attention to detail and high standard of craftsmanship, with one big difference. The counters are extra large at 1" X 1.375", and so are the hexes on the mapboards. I cannot thank Flying Pig Games enough for this thoughtfulness. It is almost like they included a fold up walker in the box for us old grogs.





 The scale of the game is: squads or gun teams, individual tanks, and snipers. You also get hero or officer counters with bonus abilities. You receive three mounted maps at 11" X 17" to display the flora, etc. of Vietnam. Because of the increased hex size they show less of a battlefield than other games. However, it works just fine for the scale.



Action Counters etc.


 The 'training aid'/rule book is also top notch. Its size is also in a large enough font for even my wife to read (she edits for me, so rest assured I have been properly chastised). Being a card driven game, it is good to see that they are up to the other components' standards. The game is not only card driven it is all about the cards. There are no dice whatsoever needed for playing. So no plastic was harmed in the games creation.



Vehicles


 Sequence of play:

Deal cards: From the shuffled deck each player gets four action cards.

Determine initiative: Both players pick one card and compare the 'targeting number' in the lower left block. The player with the higher number wins the initiative, and discards his card. The loser gets to keep his card.

Impulse actions: You fill your hands back to four cards. If either player pulls an  'end turn' card, you lay it down (more on this later).

Play: Play cards and activate your units and all other actions.

Discard: The players may discard up to two cards. 

Do nothing and pass: When the scenario's prescribed number of 'end turn cards' have been laid out or both players pass. You then move to the 'reserve phase'.

Reserve phase: The player who won the initiative goes first. No cards can be played in this phase. The player who has initiative moves all his eligible units, and then the second players moves his. 

Clean up phase: Fired, moved, and ops complete markers are removed. All 'smoke 2' counters are degraded to 'smoke 1', and 'smoke 1' counters are removed. The shaken markers remain.

Stacking: No more than three units may stack in a hex. One hero, one vehicle, and two leg units only per hex.

 The previous was just a synopsis. 



Troop counters


 This being the first war where they were used extensively, the U.S. player has helicopter units. They have some unique properties in the game. They are hard targets when they are on the ground or hovering, and they are soft targets when moving. The game also comes with fortifications such as foxholes and bunkers. There are also units that can use satchel charges.



Action cards


 The game is completely card driven. Your unit's movement, etc. are all allowed by the cards you have and choose to play. The cards also give you the chance for off-board artillery strikes. Armor and armored personnel carriers are also in the counter mix for both sides.

 Some of the card actions are: 

Blood lust: You can rally or reconstitute one eligible unit. 

Fast move: The unit can get one extra movement factor.

Aimed shot: Add two to a unit's targeting on a hard target.

 Some scenarios come with the ability for each side to draw a 'bonus victory condition card'. If you draw a card with a condition that cannot be fulfilled (the other side has no hero, etc), then you draw another card.


Bonus Victory Cards


 The game play is tense and nerve wracking in a good sort of way. With the smaller scale, and also the small number of units, lady luck can destroy an excellent game plan in a second. 


 The movement, line of sight, and combat mechanics all feel correct for this time of conflict. 

 The rule book is only nineteen pages long, with another eight pages of scenarios (each scenario is one page). 

 The game also has these expansions that can be bought for it:

Hue city map
Alone in the jungle solo
USMC/ANZAC
Action cards



First Scenario Opponent Cards


 As far as the card pulling goes there are times that you will have to pass. Some of the cards are 'vehicle only cards' so if you get one or two in a hand, and you are only playing with leg units, that is a fourth to a half of your hand that turn. As a house rule, some have suggested removing the 'vehicle only cards' from the mix if you are playing with only leg units. This might have been a deliberate decision by the developers, so use at your own risk.



First scenario My Cards

 In this play example I have used my card for its 'Move' value, and moved my U.S. rifle squad three road hexes closer to the enemy.  





 My opponent then uses one of his card's 'Fire' value to engage my rifle squad with his sapper unit. When counting the range you include the firing units hex, but not the target hex.





 So this gives us a range of two. Then you calculate the firing unit's HEF (High Explosive Factor). This is a two for the sapper unit. Next, we calculate the range modifiers which total up to a '+1'.





 So we now draw three cards (2 +1) from the deck, and consult the 'HE" result in the lower right hand quarter of the cards.





  The first card gives us a 'Hit' on the U.S. rifle squad. When a unit receives a 'Hit' for the first time, a 'Shaken' counter is placed on it. The next card is also a 'Hit', so the counter is flipped to its reduced side. 





 The third card had no 'Hit' value for its action. This is lucky for me because a third hit would have eliminated my unit.


  The game plays well in solo mode also. The small footprint and amount of counters in scenarios means that you will not have to take up much space for playing. The game's average time for the scenarios is one to three hours. So you won't have to set it up and worry about small children or animals getting at it while you are at work. With the relatively small amount of rules and all of the player's aids (and ability to read them), makes the game a quick run through after the first few games. The developers were looking to make a fun quick game on Vietnam warfare, and they have succeeded admirably. 

 Congratulations on another great game, Flying Pigs.

 As Katherine Hepburn said in 'The Lion in Winter' "there will be pork in the trees come morning". I have always wanted to use that line.

Robert

Fields of Fire , designed by Ben Hull and published by GMT games is the best solitaire wargame and I think it could challenge any non-sol...

Fields of Fire 2nd Edition Fields of Fire 2nd Edition

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Vietnam

Fields of Fire, designed by Ben Hull and published by GMT games is the best solitaire wargame and I think it could challenge any non-solitaire wargame for quality, immersion, fun, and challenge. 

There, I said it. I know that's only my opinion but in this case, I am pretty sure I'm correct. If you're still here and haven't rushed out to order it already then maybe you want to know why I claim such an accolade; read on ... (prepare yourself for a completely biased view of this great game)


I first discovered this game in the long dark days between the first edition and the newly printed second edition. There aren't many in my regular game group who entertain my wargame habit. In researching my drug of choice, I quickly discovered Ambush as a solo wargame. I promptly paid a benevolent stranger on eBay a princely sum and on completing the first scenario I was hooked. I went on to play the game out and wanting more. I had never played a game that told such a great story and in which you were so emotionally invested in the characters. However in Ambush, each mission is exactly the same, obviously, the outcome will be different, but all the events are preprogrammed to happen again. Ambush has little replayability value but it's a blast the first time around.

For my next fix, I found Fields of Fire; it came with a recommendation, 'if you like Ambush, you'll like this', and a warning 'you could go insane trying to understand the rules'. Unfortunately for me, the game was out of print and out of stock everywhere I looked. So I fired up Vassal and printed off the rules and got ready for an education.

As soon as I started scratching at the system I realised that there was something special here, and the myriad of player aids and unofficial rules available at the game page on board game geek made me think that I wasn't the only one who saw something great. I learnt the game over a week or so using some terrific examples of play and introductions that others had written, which for me, were invaluable for learning the game.


Fields of Fire puts you in the shoes of a 2nd Lieutenant in command of a rifle company of the US Armies 9th Infantry Regiment. This regiment, the 'Manchus' are one of the oldest and most decorated infantry regiments in the US Army. The game portrays their experience through WWII, Korea and Vietnam. There are not many war games that provide 3 different conflicts as part of the base game.

Instead of the traditional wargame hex map, you get a deck of terrain cards which are constructed, per the scenario setup, in front of you in order for you to analyse the terrain before you plan your strategy. There are different terrain decks for each theatre: WWII, Korea and Vietnam and each terrain area has specific attributes, like cover, combat modifier, trafficability, and burst effect. You need to plan to use the strengths and weaknesses of each card as your troops move up the 'map' to take their objectives.

The Normandy Terrain Deck, example cards

There are two distinct parts to this game, the planning phase and the mission itself. During planning you decide which of your 3 platoons will receive your allocated weapons and assets. 'Assets' are crucial for your success in this game and include signal flares, radios, runners etc, i.e. everything you may need to stay in command and communications with your subordinates. The quote below from Prussian General summarises my experiences with Fields of Fire quite succinctly:
"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy" - Field Marshall Graf von Moltke
After you've decided on your plan of attack you then form up your troops in the staging area just off-map and start worrying about what's out there on the map and whether you're going to survive. The way in which each scenario plays out is largely driven by an Action Deck of cards, which contain a plethora of numbers which determine the results of your orders, your attacks, your skirmish results indeed any type of randomisation in the game is resolved by drawing an Action Card. I read one online commenter who claimed their Action Deck cheats. I empathise with them.


The action deck. Showing resolutions for events, orders, initiative, combat success and combat effects and random numbers(12)
The entropy caused by the Action Deck and the Terrain Deck changes the scenario so much that in playing through the same scenario twice, it feels completely different. But in none of them will it be easy, in fact in my experience it is often a brutal and savage experience in which you find yourself clinging onto your last vestiges of command whilst you vainly try to establish contact with your subordinate HQs. What this does is give this game, with 29 included scenarios, almost infinite re-playability.

There are some gamers that decry any randomisation and abhor dice, not something the typical wargamer shuns. However, there are no dice here. You do have the equivalent of a d12 on each Action card. With nearly every order, you're drawing another Action card. This means you're going to reshuffle that Action Deck a lot. They're typical inflexible GMT card stock, i.e. they don't lend themselves to easy shuffling but I've sleeved mine and it is a breeze to shuffle. I am not a 'sleever' per se; my Terrain Decks will not be protected, but the Action Deck will receive such heavy use I would recommend sleeving for protection and to aid shuffling.

Normandy Mission #1 set-up. Note the hills/stacked cards these will prove very useful in maintaining LOS and therefore comms with your subordinates.
One requirement of playing solo is integrity, it's easy to cheat when playing alone. But in this game, there are so many edge cases that crop up sometimes a referral to the rulebook in every single instance costs too much time. Given enough experience, (probably 3+ games) you know 90% of the game with just the Sequence of Play to jog your memory. I would recommend in those edge cases to just play through what you think is sensible and find the rule after the game, if still necessary.

In order for your units to make an action, they need to be given orders from a higher HQ, as determined by the Action Deck which is then modified by game conditions. Your CO HQ can then 'spend' them on any subordinate unit. This command hierarchy exists above and below your CO HQ and is a crucial part of this game e.g. your 1st Plt HQ cannot order a 2nd Plt unit, similarly, your 1st Plt HQ cannot order CO Staff. Where you attach machine guns, mortars and vehicle assets and how they may be commanded and from which terrain, should all be considered in the planning phase to increase your chance of success.



On some turns, you may find your CO HQ with very few commands and they are unable to order any of their subordinates because they are out of communication i.e. the subordinate cannot see or hear their commander giving them an order. If not in visual/verbal communication then they are left to their own initiative. However, if they see an enemy your units will never have to be ordered to open fire, that is automatic. Strangely for a tactical war game, you'll find yourself ordering 'ceasefire' more often than not in an effort to conserve ammunition.

The game system also allows for pyrotechnics to be used to signal your on-map units. Upon seeing a flare they will attempt to carry out the action that was assigned to that flare during the planning phase. Although a new player may be overwhelmed by the multitude of different options, I found my gameplay took an exponential leap forward when I learnt to use pyros proficiently.

When talking about a tactical squad level infantry combat game, I can't think of anything that is missing from this game. You have forward observers that can call in fire support, jeeps, tanks, helicopters, communications, ammo depletion. If I had to criticise the game, and I really don't want to, then maybe the vehicle segments are a little abstracted. However, that is probably a design choice because this isn't Panzer Leader or Check Your 6! whose focus is on armour and airborne battles respectively. This game's focus is firmly on the infantry battle, deep down at the tactical and company level and in that it excels.

The 'Manchus' in Vietnam
This tactical realism comes with a price. You have to manage the Volume of Fire and Primary Direction of Fire counters and all the other ancillary chits which are placed and removed each turn. There is a fair bit of counter management and sometimes, 3 hours into a tough scenario you cannot see the chits from the cards, figuratively speaking. I have found myself just staring at the map, and I'd like to say I was deciding what to do next to save my sorry situation, but the reality was I was just drained, not thinking, just staring. You could say this game had caused some cardboard-induced PTSD and I was diagnosed with the burden of command.

I find this game contains the most realistic version of the known unknowns and inherent fallibility of an infantry-man in hostile territory than any other game I know. Whilst playing this game I am nervous and yet hopeful. I have never commanded an infantry company and I hope my next comment does nothing to diminish the sacrifice or demean the jobs of those that have served in such positions, but this game is the closest a wargamer could get to the reality of 20th-century combat, albeit with the obvious exclusion of physical harm.



This game really does feel like a fight; against the enemy, of survival and against the system which is doing its utmost to win. The second edition has got some excellent player aids. For some strange reason, whether through design or just the rose-tinted glasses through which I view this game, I always seemed to pick up the right chart.

There is also another game in the works using the same system. Fields of Fire Vol 2. With the Old Breed which introduces the 5th Marines in WWII via Peleliu, Korea and Vietnam. It's currently on GMT's P500, which will be the cheapest price you could ever buy it for. 'Vol 2', As I understand it, is a complete game in its own right and you do not need to own Vol 1.

5th Marines moving inland on Peleliu

I didn't ever suffer use the first edition of the rules, so can't attest to their readability or clarity, which are notorious in bgg forums. I started with the unofficial rulebooks the gaming community had collaboratively put together which I thought were good to learn from and to refer to. The second edition's rules borrow a lot from those efforts and what we now have is an excellent rule book, although the game itself is quite complex I can't criticise the new rulebook. It has clarified several aspects which I found very useful.

Overall, the second edition is a glorious production with top quality components and worth every bit of its $75 price tag. Every wargamer who is inclined to play solo, either occasionally or predominantly and who can invest a bit of time would do well to pick this up. If you're willing to put a little bit of effort in, you won't be disappointed. The stories that are created on your table-top are more visceral and as close to what I imagine real infantry combat to be like than any other game I know.

If I had to choose one game to play for the rest of my life i.e. my 'desert-island game', it would be this one. I've been playing it for approximately 3 years and I still find it fresh and challenging and even now, I am looking forward to my next patrol.

Today I have a special treat, an interview with Johan Nagel, founder of Every Single Soldier, a studio which has brought us several ...

Interview with Johan Nagel from Every Single Soldier Interview with Johan Nagel from Every Single Soldier

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Vietnam





Today I have a special treat, an interview with Johan Nagel, founder of Every Single Soldier, a studio which has brought us several high quality games in the last few years. Vietnam '65, Afghanistan '11, and Carrier Deck. He discussed with me the past, present, and future of his company. Enjoy!


AWNT: Tell us a bit about yourself, what was the path that led you into playing wargames and eventually into producing your own games?


I come from a military family, my father was a submariner, my brother an officer in the Army Special Forces and I was a Lieutenant in the South African Marines. I have been playing wargames and generally all sorts of board games since my early teens. I started with Squad Leader and progressed from there. I decided to leave the military as we were always going to win the battle war but lose the political war.

I am a lawyer by degree and went into banking, all the while keeping my interest in military history and especially strategy. Vietnam '65 was actually designed and played on a Commodore 64 (GWBasic) and then later on PC (using the Operation Flashpoint editor) as finding an opponent was always a challenge, especially with such a small community in South Africa.

A few years ago I decided to actually publish V65 and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process from design to actual development and decided to make banking part time and making military games full time.


AWNT: Could you tell us about the founding of Every Single Soldier? Did you and your team have a clear vision of what kind of games you wanted to make from Day 1?


ESS is actually just myself, I design, finance and produce the titles, all outsourced to studios both locally and internationally. ESS was actually created in the early 90's and was another military hobby of mine, casting and painting military chess sets and Anglo-Boer war artillery sets. Literally, every single soldier was handcrafted and painted by me, hence Every Single Soldier. I just kept the brand.

I always wanted to make games post WW2, I have played every battle in WW2 so many times I gravitated to modern conflicts , especially counter insurgency wars, having served in the SADF in the Angola border wars in the mid 80's. I was always very interested in the Vietnam war, partly because of the counter insurgency nature and the fascination with the development of airmobile warfare.




AWNT: Is there a dream game you would like to make one day, that you simply don’t have the resources for right now?

Fortunately after a successful 20 year career in banking, I have the resources to make the games I really want to without the fear of not being able to pay the bills :) I have so many games I would like to make, it's a matter of priority and finding the resources to make them that's the challenge.

Making games about the South African conflicts both in the 19th and 20th century doesn't make immediate economic sense but are what I really want to create, but [I] will save them for later, leaving the best for last, as I learn the trade of making and publishing games.


AWNT: What was the inspiration for Vietnam ‘65, specifically in terms of making a game that wasn’t just about combat, but required the player to focus on the Hearts and Minds aspect of the conflict?

The traditional, conventional wargame methodology of building up your army, crossing a border and then destroying your opponent was becoming a bit stale for me as well as being a model that could never realistically model modern conflicts. Not only did I experience counter insurgency war first hand, but have studied it, and the hearts and minds of the local population had to be a factor in the new model. Also a war without borders, Intel taking center stage and political objectives needed a new model. V65 was really a baby step in this direction, A11 expanded on it adding many new levels of complexity, it [is] still a part of the journey, there is a lot that can be added to the future.




AWNT: After developing Vietnam ‘65, how close was the original design to the final result?

Pretty close, but the original V65 (1990) had a lot more elements and was also played on a strategic map but then the player could assume the actual FPS character of any action at any time, thanks to the great Operation Flashpoint Editor, I still view this as the best version of the game :) The hard part was deciding what to leave out and how to keep as much simplicity in the model whilst capturing the essence of the conflict.


AWNT: After Vietnam ‘65, what led you to choose Afghanistan as the next conflict to explore with this system?

Afghanistan was a natural choice following Vietnam, the parallels are very apparent, albeit the terrain very different. This also gave me the opportunity to include elements left out of V65, for example the whole nation building (Vietnamization policy), political variables (elections and global events) etc.



AWNT: Was there any feedback that Afghanistan was too recent of a conflict to turn into a game?

Surprisingly no negative feedback on any scale was received, we had no more than a few posts in a few threads , so was very happy about that. I took great care to ensure the credibility and authenticity of the conflict was properly represented, being ex military myself I understand this, and had constant input from a number of serving US Army officers and NCO's throughout the process. The feedback for vets and serving has been overwhelmingly positive and this has really been the most gratifying part of the whole process.


AWNT: Afghanistan ‘11 expanded upon most of the mechanics in Vietnam ‘65. Were there any features or mechanics that you wanted to add but didn’t make the cut for whatever reason?

So A11 was an opportunity to evolve the model but certain elements were left out, mostly to keep the evolution of the model at a steady pace, as the model has a relatively steep learning curve and we need to keep this in mind when trying to get a larger audience. The civilian population and the subsequent interactions with them needs expanding, Intel needs to become more 'nuanced', unit experience needs to play a larger role.  The tactical part of the game, etc.



AWNT: Are you familiar with the COIN series of board games from GMT Games? The games Fire in the Lake and A Distant Plain are similar in some respects to Vietnam ‘65 and Afghanistan ‘11, respectively.

Very familiar with the series, in fact, I contacted them a while back offering to take the series to the computer realm, time will tell. Enjoy the series as it too is abstracted, just like my games are.


AWNT: After visiting Afghanistan and Vietnam, what is the next stop in this series?

Right now we are porting A11 to the iPad, then we will be publishing the British Army DLC for A11, new vehicles, campaign, uniform etc. Thereafter we are planning a USMC DLC and finally an ISAF DLC which would include a few vehicles from most of the top contributors to the conflict.

The potential for future stops could include an ISIS adaption and our very own Angola Bush war :)


AWNT: What was the spark that led to Carrier Deck? While still war-themed, it is a very different sort of game from your other titles.

As mentioned earlier, my interest in game development is not linear to counter insurgency wars, I have a number of game designs that have been 'percolating' in my head for many years, I was always interested in the battle of Midway and especially the finding and destroying opposing carriers. This coupled with my preferred style of making abstracted games as opposed to purely historically accurate games and that I prefer developing systems rather that recreating events in my game designs, CD was born. It's perfect for a game, it is process driven, involves awesome tech and is relevant.



AWNT: Do you have plans for more light, fast paced games in the vein of Carrier Deck?

Indeed I do, currently in development is His Majesty's Ship (HMS), completely different to all my previous games. Being raised as a Navy child, Captaining a ship was always going to be a boyhood dream. Once again, looking for a game that catch the's essence of commanding a vessel has proved hard to find, most 18th century games currently focus on 'sailing around your opponent trying to discharge cannons', similar to the traditional WW2 games where you stack your infantry ( Stregth 5 ) + armor (strength 8) and attack the enemy infantry (strength 4) apply modifiers etc, this is so not my type of game! I have played them to death and rather prefer to try capture the essence of the theater, including logistics, morale, etc. in an abstracted form. I create systems as opposed to outcomes, and when I get that unintended/unexpected result, I still smile (sometimes not) when I unexpectedly experience a crossover of a few of the systems in A11 and the result is both credible, plausible and entertaining.

As development of HMS has already commenced, I am currently working on a new fast paced game abstracting the present/future conflict for the dominance of the Arctic Circle. The game is currently in prototype and coming along nicely.

I have not totally forsaken the TBS genre and have completed a design doc on a game that captures the essence (abstracted of course :) of the period of 1860-1900 in South Africa (Anglo-Zulu + Anglo-Boer) and hope to get this into production before the end of this year.


I am really enjoying my new 'career' in game development and am aiming to publish around 3 titles a year, after so many long years in Financial Services, I have ton of games stored since my youth and now have the time and resources to actually realize them.


AWNT: Well, you sound like a very busy man, so I'll let you go. Thank you for your time!



ESS Official Website: http://www.everysinglesoldier.com/

All of the games discussed can be found on Steam, the Apple App Store, and on http://www.matrixgames.com/


- Joe Beard


Phantom leader for the PC by  Dan Verssen Games  This is a PC port of a boardgame from the same developer. In it you ...

Phantom leader for the PC by Dan Verssen Games Phantom leader for the PC by Dan Verssen Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Vietnam



by 





 This is a PC port of a boardgame from the same developer. In it you get the chance to play the United States Navy or Air Force in three different campaigns. They are:

1965 - This campaign takes place mostly in South Vietnam, and the gist of the campaign is to choke off munitions etc. coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

1967 - This campaign takes place in North Vietnam. As the U.S. player, you are allowed to attack only some targets. This was because of a strategy called 'gradualism'. In a nutshell, you are allowed to attack some targets while others are 'held hostage'. This was an attempt to bring the North Vietnamese to a peace conference.

1972 - This is Operation Linebacker. It also takes place in North Vietnam. In this scenario, you as the U.S. player can go for broke. You are attempting to punish North Vietnam so severely that they have no other recourse than to discuss a peaceful settlement to the Vietnam war.




 The game looks pretty simple for a PC game, and as usual looks can be deceiving. The graphics and play are not going to task anyone's computer. As mentioned it is a boardgame port, and unlike most of them is very true to the original boardgame.




 First you choose what campaign you will play, and then you pick which U.S. service you will command. The length of your game can be short, medium, or long. the shortest scenario is only two days, and the longest one is twelve days. The campaigns are listed on the left of the above pic. You can see that you will be evaluated during the scenario on a points system. The grades are as follows: Great, Good, Adequate, Poor, and Dismal.





  You are given a wide array of planes to use during your missions. They are:

Phantom II
F-105 Thunderchief
F-100 Super Sabre
F-104 Starfighter
A-4 Skyhawk
F-8 Crusader
A-6 Intruder
EB-66 Destroyer
A-7 Corsair II 

 You have only a certain amount of pilots of each rating that you can use. The ratings are:

Newbie
Green
Average
Skilled
Veteran

 You might also get the chance to promote some pilots at the beginning of a scenario.



 This is the first screen of where you will choose your targets.




 This screen shows the targets from the deck that you are able to attack. 



 This screen is the actual one where your mission will take place. Notice the North Vietnamese assets set up in the middle of the page.




 You also have an event card deck that you can use.



 The rule book is accessible on every page. it is well written, and easy to follow.




 Here is a page from the rule book showing the North Vietnamese defenses you will meet, and the counters from the U.S. side.




 This is a shot of my planes during the setup of the mission.
 



  The great thing about the game is it is a very well done PC conversion of a boardgame. The only problem that I can see will be with straight PC users who have not played boardgames. What I mean by that is the game does not spoon feed you. A lot of PC boardgames do everything but play the game for you. With this game you will have to read the rules to understand better about what is happening game wise.

 The game has fairly short campaigns; as mentioned, some are only two days long. So pre-planning is a must, and sometimes a little luck with die rolls is also good.

 This game is more like a hardcore RPG or a management simulation than other wargames. In this game you do feel like you are in charge of these pilots. You have to manage and juggle the different pilots' stress, status, and their overall well being. Whereas in most games where you can just go for broke and attempt to win that hex before turn 10 (no matter what the cost in cardboard or computer lives), this time around your actual leadership skills are taken into account. The immersion factor is high because you have a name and  few individualized stats. You are not just ordering the 3rd battalion to take that town or whatever. Strangely, I like the game even though I do not seem to be good at it at all. Playing it does not make you throw your hands up in disgust though. You just fire it up one more time to see if this time you can actually get it  right. For you solitary players out there, this game is an easy one to give a recommendation to.


Robert



PixelPLaybox.co.uk