Wednesday, 8 February 2017

AAR trial solo Vietnam games (MCB)

This is a brief report of my first few solo games of Men of Company B (MCB) (RFCM, 2017). Normally I don’t publish my solo trials with new rule sets, but in this case I thought it might be useful to give a flavour of the resulting games. My figures are 20mm individually based but this works fine within the rules; each figure equals a stand. The VC leaders are represented by a NVA figure to clearly distinguish them. I’m also short of SE Asia buildings, so I’ve used ruined stone buildings instead, which works OK. I only have 8/9 cache markers, so I created a quick ‘top man’ marker designed to look like ‘Uncle Ho’s’ birthday cake!
Cache Loop shown at bottom, includes 'Uncle Ho's' birthday cake marker

The first game was a ‘regular’ US platoon with a troop of carriers and an extra infantry stand, versus VC opposition. The VC tried for ‘snipers’ and ‘experienced leader’, but both attempts failed.  The US deployment saw the platoon commander on one side of the table, whilst the 2 squads were located on the opposite edge. The initial turns saw the US squads moving into the nearest building squares and searching (they did find the ‘top-man’ cache). I pushed their luck too far because this frenetic activity resulted in ‘failed’ activations, and this meant the platoon commander failed to move quickly. This was a bad decision! The arriving VC managed to recruit new stands from peripheral buildings and then move against the lone US platoon commander. He took shelter in some jungle but the VC quickly assaulted, forcing the commander into the open, where he was easily eliminated. This early loss in the game was a disaster for the White Star forces: All units lost 2 activation dice due to ‘out of command’; there would be no artillery support, and no Casevac of casualties! At this point the carrier troop arrived, but the VC were able to displace the arrival point by 5 squares! The carriers were isolated and a close by VC unit fired and took one carrier out! The second carrier only had 2 activation dice (-2 for isolation, -3 for KO’d carrier), so moved slowly down the road towards friendly forces. Unfortunately this attracted VC opportunity fire, who promptly threw ‘boxcars’! The carrier failed its save and the unit was kaput! The remaining US squads began taking casualties, failing morale checks which exacerbated their low activation dice pool. They had no choice but to hunker-down as the VC closed in. The game ended and the points tallied up: A Decisive Victory (+39) for the VC!
The basic US forces available in both games

Lesions learnt: The US platoon command squad is very weak (only 2 stands) and it needs to be quickly moved to a central position, protected by other squads. I think it should also go ‘Down’ whenever possible. I’m not sure if a squad leader can be upgraded into a new platoon commander? US forces need to move in a co-ordinated manner, working as a team. They should also aim to move quickly to search as many village/building squares as possible. The VC need to recruit up to 5/6 bases ASAP but should aim to leave 1 or 2 peasant bases for later use. Once a VC unit is reduced to 2 or 3 bases then it will have negligible impact and should bug-out ASAP to be re-cycled.

The second game played was a re-run of the first, again the VC failed to get a ‘sniper’. This time the initial US deployment was much more favourable; the platoon commander was central and had squads either side in village/building squares! By the halfway point in the game the US were well on top; they had searched a good number of villages, found the best caches, moved the carriers unharmed to a central supporting position, and Casevac’d  the few casualties sustained. The VC were struggling, but the US got over-confident and moved a squad into an isolated position. The VC nipped into a bamboo grove and plastered the isolated squad with fire. In the last turns the VC again gambled; They moved squad against the central US platoon commander and, with only 2 remaining activation dice, they fired from close range scoring ‘boxcars’! The US platoon commander responded by throwing ‘snake-eyes’ for his saving throw! The platoon commander bit-the-dust again! The game ended and the points were added up: A ‘Narrow Victory’ (+5) for the White Star forces. The victory could have been better, the dice for the caches was 8-down compared to the expected average result. The US had killed 18 bases of VC, but in the process killed 9 peasant bases. The media was outraged (rolled ‘6’ on the dice for killing more than 4 bases of peasants). With a bit more care and better dice rolling, the White Star forces could easily have achieved a more decisive result.

Lesions learnt: Don’t get ‘cocky’. Stick with a steady approach through to the end of the game. Gamble if you are ‘behind’ in the final turns because the ‘Dice Gods’ seem to appreciate the gesture! The VC should maximise bamboo groves and place then centrally near villages. The US player needs to swap the bamboo so that they are peripheral on the table edges. Once VC get into the bamboo, they are a b****r to shift! Artillery is the best option but deviation can cause peasant and friendly casualties.

Overall, the game moves very fast. The ‘Push the Luck’ mechanism works very well. It is surprising how quickly you pick up the rules and how little you need to refer to either the QRS or rulebook. The main thing I needed to remind myself of was the -2 dice when shooting etc. with the ‘raw’ VC. I have yet to try many of the special options e.g. helicopter gunships and snipers (the VC failed to get these in both games).  Over the next week or so I plan to play again with these options, and also try the NVA game (I will simply use VC figures as NVA). Then, I will look at the supplementary games given at the back of the rules. I very much doubt whether I will manage any opposed games over the next couple of months.

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