Thursday 6 February 2020

Nam ’68 First Play-Test

Please be aware this is very early days, and the game is rough, very much a WIP, with lots to do and lots will change, but, the best way to workout if things are working and if the game is fun, is get some models on the tabletop and get moving them about.

The first part of the game is to generate the Scenario, and there are various elements to this. This would all be done before the game, to save time, and be ready for game-time. Creating the scenario is broken down in various steps.

1. Threat-level. This game will be a low (Lima) threat level, the lowest, so not expecting too much VC activity today and the area is considered reasonably secure and pacified. Obviously, there will be some resistance, otherwise there is no game, but it shouldn’t be too severe, mostly a few local VC.

2. Game size. 1 Squad. The smallest, so 1 squad of my platoon will be involved. I randomly generated which one from my platoon roster, and its 3rd Squad, under Sergeant Redecker.

3. The Mission. A random roll got me a Security Patrol, and fairly routine mission, just checking out the area for VC activity and keeping a high profile to discourage any. No doubt we are still fairly close to the platoon’s base. So, ‘send a squad, take a look around, report back anything suspicious’.

4. Location. Where this is taking place. A random roll (you could pick) and this is along a highway or road location. My patrol is moving up that road.

5. Civilians. Are any civilians present? In a low threat area, along a road, yes. 2D6 of them in fact. So I roll, and get 8. 8 non-comms are currently in the area or using the road.

6. Search Points. The mission contains a single search point for the US patrol to investigate. More later, but in effect, its some thing for the US troops to take a look at. On the highway, it might be cart or vehicle, but it could be anything.

7. Sub-plots. Optional this, but as a test, best include one. A random other sub-plot that might effect the fighting. I roll, its a Tropical Downpour. It is raining, a lot. So my guys  reduce their Morale a bit (-2) for being out in the rain, and the ground is muddy for any vehicles (of which there aren’t any in this game, but if my squad were armoured infantry, they could have an M113, but its unlikely to be used in a low threat scenario, armour comes in as the threat gets higher).

8. VC Forces. In this low threat area what VC forces are actual lurking? I generate them and get.

1 VC sniper
1 VC Infiltrator (starts hidden as a civilian model)

A hidden VC command bunker, containing 3 men, all with AK-47s. One is a Cadre (commander), one is his radio operator, the other their guard/ runner.

3 VC riflemen with bolt action rifles (1 has a rifle grenade), these are the extra guards for that bunker.

In all, that's a Break Rating of 25.

VC lurking, with 'old man farmer' infiltrator, not that the US knew this. Sniper, 3-man bolt-action rifle team, 3-man command team with AK-47s.

US Forces
My platoon’s 3rd Squad has 2 fire teams. Fire team 5 (of the platoon) is 4 men. The Squad Sergeant, the fire team’s own corporal, a grenadier with his M79 ‘blooper’ and one rifleman. These guys are Veterans, and have seen some action before. They are Sergeant Redecker, Corporal Brown and Privates Cummings and Madden.

 Sergeant Redecker, Corporal Brown, Privates Cummings and Madden

Fire team 6 is 5 men. The fire team’s leader, a Corporal, their grenadier, 2 riflemen with M16s and a rifleman with a shotgun. These are all Recruits, new guys. They are Corporal Santiago and Privates Hobbs, Myers, Swados and Orlando.

Santiago, Swados, Hobbs, Myers and Orlando on the shotgun.

They might have some platoon support, from their weapons teams or platoon HQ, but as a 1 squad game in low threat area, the platoon support team options are 0. For Fire Support Requests, again, as the smallest and lowest threat level game, there are none. No mortars, arty, helicopter gunships, extra reinforcements, etc. will be aiding them. So, its just these 9 guys, foot-slogging it out in the rain. In all, that is a Break Rating of 22, but minus 2 for the rain, so actually 20.

That is it, we’re ready for our small skirmish, as 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, make their wet-ass patrol along this muddy road, and run square into 8 local VC guerrillas defending their hidden bunker and a Cadre.


As a WIP, and the first time at that, this was very slow and a lot of time was taken checking and changing things that didn’t work, or didn’t feel right, or were, basically, just wrong. I had no idea how to deploy, what to deploy, or where, or how all that would work for this scenario. In the end I plumped for 1 fire team on point, up 15” onto the table, but more than 5”, and 1 fire team is support, up to 5” onto the table. The VC, well they would pop-up, and given no special deployment rules (like hidden tunnels), they be within 20” of their table edge.

Once set-up, turn 1… and things got going. The point man, Private Madden of 5th fire team, headed up the road to investigate the one Search Point, roughly central to the table. The waiting VC sniper took aim, took his shot, missed, and we had contact!

The 3 VC bolt action rifle men emerged from hiding to open fire, with no major effect but pinning Madden in the road as he hit the deck, joys of being point-man. US return fire, M16s blazing, caused zippo too, as the VC good cover of the wall proved itself valuable. The only down side for them, a suppressing HE 40mm grenade scored a lucky hit and wounded the sniper… he was down and bleeding. Some of the civilians moved (how this will work is very up-for-grabs), most heading up the road, whilst the old man left his water buffalo to wallow and moved across the field, I’m sure he had urgent ‘agriculture-stuff’ to do! The US player had no idea if there were any infiltrators and if so, which civilian any might be.

The fire fight built up, prone in the road, Madden was hit and wounded, bleeding but not badly, but Sergeant Redecker crawled through the paddy field to try to get to him, and got pinned himself by incoming rifle fire. The Sergeant had is head well down, but his grenadier behind kept up those 40mm blooper grenades in support, which failed to pin much except all the women at the tea-house. Pinned civilians do zippo and are hard to unpin. So they were just screaming on the floor!

Corporal Santiago tried to get to the good cover of the stone wall, running across a paddy field bund, only to get winged by a rifle round. He was down, but only a flesh wound.  On the left, Private Orlando with the shotgun, paused to check the one civilian by the house wasn’t a VC, then moved up round the house, whilst Private Swados covered him. Two VC appeared ahead in the tree line, the bolt action rifleman doing little, but an AK-47 then opened up and sent Swados diving for cover in the bushes. Orlando, in reply, slung his Ithica, and flipped a M26 grenade into the trees. Boom! Good shot, the AK was silenced as the VC was down, badly fragged in the blast. The other guy was pinned, dazed, but OK. Orlando then got to blasting the tree line with 12 gauge buckshot to keep his head down. In the end, out shot by a M16 and booming shotgun, the VC crawled off, deeper into the woods, to ‘regroup’, leaving his bleeding comrade behind.

Meanwhile, up the road, Madden had recovered and was back in the fight, he finally reached the search point and checked it out. It was a supply cache… awesome… more morale lost for the VC. But then, completing the search, he was hit again by rifle fire and down, badly wounded this time, he needed help if anybody could pin that damned rifleman to help the others get to him, but they couldn’t, the wall was too good cover (that VC passed 5 of 5 cover saves, and kept shooting, one tough bastard).

On the far left, Corporal Brown, bypassing the old man civilian in the field, sprinted then cautiously advanced under no incoming fire to try and find that downed sniper. The sniper was under a bush and he just couldn’t see him, repeatedly failing to spot, even at 2”. Seriously wounded, the sniper, if spotted, was a dead man - 5.56mm, 2 to the chest, 1 to head…

That old man turned out to be the infiltrator, emerging from the undergrowth, he found grenadier Cummings, blooping away, and lobbed a hand grenade his way. Cummings dived for cover but was pinned by the blast, ears ringing and smoking slightly, but OK. The old man, now declared as a VC fighter, turned and ran off, and sprinted for the board edge (no other weapon, just 1 grenade), dodging M16 fire that couldn’t pin him, until another 40mm grenade went off and blew him of his old feet… he was pinned now.

Unpinning had cost the VC side heavily in morale, and the 40mm grenade barrage had done its HE job. HE is good at pinning. With two men down, the VC decided enough for today and ran-off. Mobbing up, 3rd Squad would find themselves with 1 VC corpse, the sniper bled-out. One seriously wounded POW… who might actual be just another corpse in the AAR, to increase the body count. They also had a supply cache found and a command bunker that would need some tunnel rats to investigate further. In return, Private Madden was wounded, with a 3-month lay-off in the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. Corporal Santiago was OK though, a flesh wound that wouldn’t see him miss any action, but would get him a purple heart. (Is it true that 3 purple hearts meant you got a ticket home?).

Game over… first test complete and, well, it worked, mostly. Many things didn’t… might have to look carefully at HE’s effectiveness - at the moment it is very and the 40mm bloopers dished out a lot of pinning which ultimately broke the VC. The ammo rules worked well, although the US rolled well and didn’t run ammo low with anybody, one VC rifleman did… the guy that did most of the shooting, and missed with his rifle grenade! Much to do, but a good start.

In all, 3-4 hours work, too long for this size of game, but there was a lot of fannying about, talking, discussions of options… I’ll get it down to 2 hours or less.

Shot of the actions…

Roadside tea-shop ladies. 3 of 8 civilians in the game. 

The search point, just a point on the tabletop. Here marked with a spare civilian porter, but it could be anything really, a pile of sacks or crates, or just a bush. 

 On Point. Private Madden heads up the road to check it out, and gets the first incoming rifle fire. Duck!

 Over in the fields, the old farmer and 'suspicious' water buffalo. 

Orlando and Swados warily eye the house and house-wife ahead. 

 Private Orlando checks out another civvy, but all clear! She ain't VC.

He is. Sniper deploys and opens fire at Madden. 

Unwanted guest at the tea-shop, the VC rifleman giving the US guys up the road hell with an old Mosin-Nagant, that wall corner proved excellent cover. He wounded Madden, twice. 

Lucky shot, 40mm HE blast wounds the sniper. 

Cummings, veteran on the blooper, lots of support fire, good job. 

 Orlando rounds the small hut and flings his grenade into the tree line.
 Boom, 1 VC down, 1 pinned.

 Swados give Orlando covering fire from the bushes. Team work sorted both the VC out.

 The command bunker entrance in the trees. The guard just deployed to defend it. cadre is still inside.

 Getting wet. Sergeant Redecker crawls through the paddy, behind the bund, to try and reach the wounded Madden, but no joy. Accurate rifle fire, and an inaccurate rifle grenade, got his head down too. 
 The 'old farmer' appears beside Cummings, grenade in hand. Argh! Infiltrator, he lobs it into the undergrowth.

 Boom! Cummings is pinned, deaf, but not wounded. Luckily for him. The old fella then ran off with a surprising turn of speed.
 But Cummings gets his own back, a 40mm grenade explodes and pins the fleeing VC before he can get away off the table.

Quick Appendum to this; I thought I'd just continue the game by testing the campaign system I'm working on, that hopefully will be a big part of the final game. So, post-battle, having lost 1 man, I gain 5 new green recruits (FNGs), which fills out the platoon its it maximum size, so at full strength now - good. But, then it was transferred into a High-threat area, meaning the next game will be against tougher opponents, in a free-fire zone. I assume that a new Search and Destroy mission has been cooked up and the platoon are part of it. This bad news did not go down well, and reduced the platoon's overall morale slightly as third inter-game event. I guess some of the guys have a bad feeling about this next op.

As part of the post-game sequence you also get to generate the next game, which will be at High threat-level, of medium (2 squad) size. But the advantages here are the platoon will gain some platoon support options (weapons teams) and off-table fire support requests, so bring on the big guns (should they be needed). Still, those FNGs are in for a baptism of fire first time out.


  1. Looking good Warwick, your write up of the action seems to me that the rules have the right vibe so far.

  2. Hopefully, not there yet though

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  6. Looks good, the tour idea is very cool, seems as though you are capturing the unconventional aspect of the conflict verytvery well too. Looking forward to the rule set.

    I read an article about a Vietnam Veteran who won 6 purple hearts and it said he earned the right to go home after 3.

  7. Nice to revisit this. Would love to get my 'Nam collection on the table again.

  8. Oooo this looks interesting, been sniffing around for a ruleset for nam and nothing has taken my fancy. Tried FNG from two hour wargame but his rules melt my head. Used to be a big fan of battlegroup series so this will be an auto buy

  9. When can we expect the rules to be available? They sound just what I've been looking for.