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Hill 881 North, Khe Sanh, 1967


Misc., The Vietnam War, Vietnam Skirmish Rules, 28mm

This probably wasn’t my finest wargaming moment. We were wondering what to play, and someone mentioned we hadn’t played a Vietnam game for a while. There’s probably a good reason for that – skirmish games are never particularly satisfying, and apart from the chance to put cool toys on the table and whistle songs by “The Doors”, Vietnam  doesn’t have a lot going for it. That said, the toys are particularly cool…vietnam-january-2009-015The scenario came from some skirmish campaign booklet, and concentrated around an attempt to reinforce the beleaguered US Marines on Hill 881N, which overlooked Khe Sanh. Essentially a force of US Marines would land a CH-46 Sea Knight in a “hot LZ”, and try to clear the area of North Vietnamese troops.vietnam-january-2009-010The trouble with jumping out of helicopters into clearings is that if the enemy is hidden, you don’t really know which tree line to run for. Part of my force broke left and the rest broke right. Their sense of urgency was heightened by an enemy machine gun, which opened up from a hidden bunker, just as the first troops ran down the tail ramp. Fortunately some good shooting from a circling Huey “hog” gunship managed to deal with the problem.vietnam-january-2009-005Then came the job of securing the perimeter. The Sea Knight took off safely, but as soon as it vanished two waves of enemy troops rose out of the jungle – catching half my force between two fires. The NVA player (Dougie Trail) had cunningly concentrated all his forces on one side of the table, hoping for the chance to overwhelm part of my force before the rest could intervene. It worked to perfection. Within minutes about a third of my Marines were overrun, a third more were running away, and the rest were desperately trying to march back through the jungle so they could help their buddies. In other words, the landing was a fiasco! the game ended with what remained of my Marines forming a defensive perimeter, and calling for help. Rather than helping the defenders of Hill 881N, they just added to the problem…vietnam-january-2009-017The rules we used were taken from the internet – and called simply Vietnam Skirmish Rules, by Andy Watkins. We’ve used a simpler version of them before, but since then he came out with another set, and we decided to try them out. They did exactly what we wanted – producing a fast-paced and entertaining game, without too much complication. We’ll certainly use them again – at least when someone can persuade me that Vietnam really is an interesting wargaming period, or I feel the need to pull out my cool toys again!vietnam-january-2009-018

 

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