I spent a good chunk of the extended holiday weekend, when not extending my waistline, trying out the three multi-year Vietnam campaigns in TOAW 4. These are all fascinating scenarios, well thought-out and very challenging. I think they all play at about battalion level for the FW forces and regiment for the NVA (smaller in most cases for the VC).
I dipped into Boonie Rats 65-72 and Vietnam 1965-1968 but spent most of my time playing Campaign for South Vietnam 1965-75. I suffered for a while trying to open supporting documentation for these complex scenarios as they are .doc files and I had to uninstall the annoying pre-installed Office teaser on my laptop to finally allow me to view the files in WordPad with some formatting loss. It would be very nice if all of these files could be converted to PDF!
I played CSV first but was frustrated with not having much info about the political game, particularly political influence, without having the supporting doc. Dipped into Boonie Rats for a while and did pretty well. It is a scenario with 1 week turns that are interpreted to be 1 month in actual time. This works out pretty well in most cases at the scenario's operational scale. However, though there were challenges early on, I found that by mid-68 I had rid the south of any credible NLF/NVA threat and had a scad of US divisions piled up in coastal bases ready to react. My unseasoned impression is that my theater intel was too good and that I was able to swoop in, cordon and destroy any credible attack.
Then I moved on to Vietnam 1965-1968, which is an honest weekly-turn game. The map on this one is absolutely fantastic, at 5km. My only beef is that I have no idea when or where my reinforcements are scheduled to appear. Everything is event based and I was hampered by the .doc issue above.
Once I was able to read supporting files I went back to CSV and that's where I am now. The ability to tailor the US commitment and the associated political cost is awesome. It also forces you to engage with the VC to drive down their influence in the various provinces to keep their victory point total down. In my previous game I had just gone after sizeable units my theater recon revealed. Now I found myself having to scour provinces with air and ground forces to reveal those pesky little hex-converting NLF units.
Some notes on that. It's hard to know what NLF units are effecting the populace and to what degree various hexes in a province have on political influence. When alerted to NLF activity in various provinces, on turns where I wasn't busy putting out other fires, I usually began by searching areas closest to labeled cities and going from there. I found you had to go slow with ground units, with the Supply and Controlled Hexes views on, then mouse into adjacent, NLF controlled hexes to see if it allowed a move or turned into an attack cursor. If the latter, you knew you had located a still-invisible NLF unit. Or you might just see them, too. Once that happened you continued your searches elsewhere then determined QRFs to deal with detected NLF forces.
Of course a fun part for me was trying to determine what forces to commit and when. The US forces all come with an EEV cost that ramps up your commitment and causes varied events to occur. The other FW forces (Australians, ROKs, etc) all show up for 'free' when various EEV thresholds are reached. My understanding is that the FW is directed to begin pulling out of VN at 95 EEV and is fully removed at 100. Other events cause the EEV 'clock' to start counting, too, so it looks inevitable that the 100pt limit will be reached one way or another.
So starting out in Jan '65 (this campaign uses the 1-week game time = 1-month calendar system) you begin with a smattering of MACV units and a bunch of garrisoned or reserve ARVN units. You get a handful of useful maneuver units like ARVN Rangers and Paras, too. There's a penalty for committing too many US forces too quickly, something like 12 EEV by Turn 7 according to my spurious Googling. So I start with the 3rd Marine Division (3 EEV) and the the 173rd AB Brigade (1 EEV). Because of the entry hex bottleneck I stop there for the moment because I want these units to enter without interference from others. The 3rd Marines head to the DMZ while the 173rd goes to Saigon. As these ship in I bring in a brigade of the 82nd AB (1 EEV) - these brigades come with inherent airmobility - also for the south, and the 1st Air Cav Division (4 EEV) in brigade groups along the coast in Da Nang, Qui Nhon and Nha Trang. Later I add the 1st Marine Division, 9th Infantry Division, 2nd Air Division, MACV & MEF support forces. ROK units are just now starting to show up.
Early game is mainly getting the DMZ secured using an ARVN division supported by a couple of USMC brigades, keeping the third in Hue as a reserve and for pacification. The 1st Cav is set up to assist in I Corps and to pacify the central coast and further inland via helos. The 173rd and 82nd brigades are QRF for the Saigon (and by extension the Delta) areas. You get three supporting Carrier Air Groups within a few months along with a slowly increasing number of South Vietnamese air units. These, along with some attack helicopter battalions, allow you sufficient combat support while also keeping fighter cover up and a bit of interdiction in the mix. At least when it's not Monsoon season.
The early '65 battles are mainly vs VC, either ones I detect via theater recon or those I hunt down. There were a couple of NVA regiments sneaking around, too, of which I destroyed one near the DMZ. The need for helicopters is high as you need to jump and surround VC units as quick as you can. As such I brought in the 12th Aviation Group with it's hefty number of helos and a couple of airmobile battalions, pricey but worth it. You find you do a lot of breaking down units to get the necessary number of blocking forces in place. This is dangerous because in some cases you really don't know what you've found - it could be a small VC company or a potent VC regiment that can blast its' way free of your encirclement.
To this end you find that your supporting firepower - HQ artillery and airpower, are some of your best combat intel assets. My SOP was to locate and surround units, then call in an air/arty strike early in the turn. Once the bombardments were resolved I'd get a nice outline of what the enemy force looked like in the combat results. With luck the turn wouldn't end and I could either assault a weak unit, or dig in and pour on more airpower/arty against more powerful opponents to weaken/destroy them. Because the US forces don't get replacements without expending EEV I assault with ARVN where possible.
Once I get over the 'too quick' deployment hump I add the 1st Marines up north, the 9th Infantry Division in the Delta, the 2nd Air Division across South Vietnam, the MEF supporting units (more Marine regiments, arty and airpower) in I Corps and supporting artillery. I'm staying clear of the air war in the north and the strategic bombing Theater Option for now. There's a section of the Ho Chi Minh trail where a bunch of non descript units travel - my understanding is that a human player can remove them to flush their constituent units into their replacement pool. Since I'm playing this against the PO I figure those units will be just fine as is. I don't think I want to pay the EEV cost for hitting the North either. For now I'll count on tac air providing combat support and interdiction.
I'm now at mid-66 and starting to see the NVA becoming more aggressive. There was an offensive out of Cambodia north of the Fishhook which took a few months to surround and destroy, and a concentration with associated attacks along the DMZ. There are more powerful VC units turning up, too. With the ROKs showing up my plan is to place them along the DMZ to free up the two regiments of USMC I've got holding the western section. Those marines are good QRF troops for use elsewhere and are just getting shelled sitting on the border. This should allow me to keep the 3rd Marine Division up north as a reserve and pacification force, freeing up the 1st Cav and other Marine units for use elsewhere. The 9th Infantry Division has 2 brigades in the Delta and another at Qui Nhon.
The 2nd Air Division is in country but still resting as it is Monsoon and they come in with low a/c numbers. They'll begin combat ops this turn, though. The MEF air units are also spooling up. I'm going to start using more targetted interdiction strikes with those squadrons on interdiction missions, too, to hammer anything I can see as best as possible. I need to be careful with these units as losses and supply can be an issue.
With an eye to the future I'm looking at bringing in a US infantry division, probably 1st ID, but am holding off until the ROKs fully deploy. Still not sure where I'll put them but probably a brigade in the south near the Cambodian border where I've been seeing some action and at least one in the Central Highlands, which have been quiet so far, but that won't last.
It's been a lot of fun trying all three of these scenarios and it's interesting to see how CSV will turn out!
< Message edited by Primarchx -- 11/28/2017 2:24:36 PM >