Sunday, January 19, 2014

Charlie Company After Action Report

We ended up playing the two scenarios over roughly two hours, which for wargames is almost lightning fast. The rules themselves are pretty minimal and the players started up with only a brief tutorial.

Battlefront US
The first game was based on Mines and Men. The players start on a road having just taken two mine related casualties. To the left are rice paddies and then a small hamlet. On the right are fields and then a tree line. As the turns progress the players begin to take sniper fire from the tree line and small arms and light machine gun fire from the hamlet. The players need to protect the wounded and deal with the attack.

Quality Castings VC
This game ran smoothly and the players had fun. They got to experiment with mortar fire, medevac, and fire and maneuver. They also got to fire bazookas at hooches and in the end drive an M113 ACAV through the hamlet. The enemy force was VC and more pesky than flat out dangerous. The players did think to avoid driving across the mine-filled field and the outcome matched the historical notes, with organized regulars advancing to the hamlet and vehicles providing the punch required to rout the attackers.

The second game demonstrated some of the difficulties with Viet Nam gaming. The players were tracing a trail up the Ngok Kom Leat range prior to the battles at Dak To. In the scenario the second platoon stumbles into a NVA company and has to pull back in an organized fashion and call in artillery and air support. None of the players had that reflex to pull back and drop supporting fire and so I had to step in and suggest that this might be second nature to soldiers in 1967. The players felt that if their mission was to follow a trail then they should absolutely follow it even as bullets begin to fly. It's striking and reminds one that skills learned in Napoleonic and Second World War gaming may not apply here. They players reluctantly pulled back, weathered two human wave attacks, and then sat back as Company B at hill 823 took the worst of it.

Flashpoint Hooch
The game system as a whole worked well. A squad of Americans has fair firepower but not enough to deal with entrenched enemies. That's appropriate. VC fire causes damage through attrition, NVA fire is more likely to quickly devastate a unit. Air support is quite spectacular but tough to use at close range. IN sum I felt the game design was sound and period appropriate.

My main concern is that to play Viet Nam you either have to think period appropriately or spend several games being decimated until you learn. The latter is probably historically accurate and educational but demoralizing and time consuming. Weekend gamers may not be up for several sessions of calamity even if they learn from it.

Overall we were pleased with the rules and the games. I'm not sure I'd run this with casual gamers but for people with an interest in the period Charlie Company is well done.

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