Rumble in the jungle
This is now an abandoned period - the US Marines you see here have found a new home, up in Shetland of all places.
My brief foray into Vietnam came about through the influence of my regular wargaming opponent, Dougie Trail. He'd read Bernard Fall's Street without Joy and was keen to try his hand at wargaming the French war in Indochina. I rashly read the same book, then others on Dien Bien Phu, and before you know it I was hooked on yet another period. What French Indochina has that Vietnam doesn't is elan - just look at the French units - Foreign Legion, Paratroops, Spahis, Moroccan Ghoums, Tirailleurs .. hell, even foreign Legion Paratroopers! How hard can they be?! Also, unlike the Americans, the French didn't have overwhelming force at its disposal, only a handful of aircraft (including ex-German Junkers transports), precious little armour and even fewer troops on the ground. In other words the engagements were often fairly well matched, or else complete turkey shoots where all the French could do was to hold on as long as possible!
We first tried this in 15mm, then plumped for 20mm figures, which just looked nicer. We tried various rules, but in the end we settled for our standard WW2 set, Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier. Those rules have great reconnaissance and spotting rules, which are vital to any game of this kind, and without any real modifications they worked perfectly. However, my French opponent Dougie Trial abandoned the period, and we both landed up selling our armies.
Then someone had the idea to try it in 28mm. People in the club already gamed it in this larger scale, but what really tipped me over the edge was a present of a Huey gunship - a great little 1/48th scale helicopter model by Corgi. that was soon followed by lead, and before I knew it I had a US Marine platoon at 1:1 scale, circa 1968. Between several members of the Edinburgh club we have a respectable collection of Vietnam figures and toys, including about a dozen helicopters of various types, a dozen tanks and AFV's, a riverine force and a lot of scenery to fight over. That's partly why I sold my kit off - I can still play a game, but now I don't have to store all those helicopters!
Most of my Marines came from an outfit called Baker Company, although a few were bought from Assault Group and West Wind. I also picked up a Corgi model of an M-48 Patton tank, a small Ontos, and a CH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopter to go with my Huey gunship.
Rules have presented something of a problem. For our skirmish-level Second World War games we used Disposable Heroes, which works reasonably well, but are a bit fiddly. The reason is, for Vietnam we need a modern supplement, plus a second supplement to cover Vietnam itself. We often spend half the evening checking and cross checking between three rules books, which slows things down somewhat.
There are dozens of rules sets out there, many of which are pretty complicated. the trouble is, most of our occasional Vietnam games are big, multi-player affairs, so simplicity is important. We tried an on-line set by Andy Watkins which ticked most of our boxes. We may well try modifying them a bit, which will invariably make them a little more complex. Andy has also modified them quite extensively, and the new ones are a bit more complex, but we've tried them, and they work. Jack Glanville also runs a Vietnam helicopter game once a year, using a set of rules called Low Level Hell - themselves developed from a SciFi set. They're fast, fun and furious, but use 1/200 scale models. If I do revisit this period I probably won't get any more figures for it - I'll just play with other people's toys. Besides, I have Gurkhas in 28mm for Borneo, and they can easily work as Anzac troops for Vietnam, especially if I can find a 1/60 scale Centurion tank to go with them...
Andy Watkins' Vietnam Skirmish Rules & Andy's new Vietnam Rules Low Level Hell
for 20mm French Indochina games, see Journal 2
and for 28mm Vietnam games see Journal 8 , Journal 13 , Journal 23 & Journal 31
Also, Journal 50
Colonial The Great War Second World War Vietnam
or on to Naval periods Home