I got to play another Cold War Commandergame last night, once again set in Vietnam. This time Gary came over and played with me. We waited around a bit to see if John might show up then got rolling a little after 8PM.
Vietnam, January 1966
The 173rd Airbourne Brigade is deployed to West-central Binh Duong province as part of a Brigade Search and Destroy operation.
A force of Vietcong guerillas has been spotted trying to sneak through the gap between the 1st Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and the 2nd Battalion 503rd Infantry (Airborne). The companies on the flanks of these battalions must close the gap and prevent their escape. This is Scenario #8 Encirclement – right out of the Cold War Commander book.
CO – Battalion HQ 2/503rd Infantry(airborne)
HQ – CHQ Bravo Company 2/503rd Infantry (airborne)
9 Infantry stands (3 platoons of 3 squads each)
HQ – CHQ A Coy, 1 RAR
9 Infantry Stands (3 platoons of 3 sections each)
2 x HQ (2 company commanders)
18 x Infantry stands (2 companies – 9 stands each)
82mm mortar section
HMG platoon section
(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)
As per the scenario Gary chose to set up first (though now that I think about it as guerillas I probably should have set my commanders – who were using mobile deployment - on the table edge first! Sorry Gary, I’m a big cheater…) on the eastern third of the table and took the first turn. The two companies each made one move before their respective commanders failed command rolls. Slow and cautious, perhaps they thought they could sneak through without being spotted. They have twelve turns to get 25% of their force off the west end of the table to score a major victory…. He left the mortar set up in a rice paddy with a nice line of fire down the irrigation canal – the only such field of fire on the table – everything else being blocked by tall grass/sugar cane or stands of jungle.
Then the Aussies came on. The made three moves and ended with one platoon (7 Platoon) deployed at the east end of one of the stands of jungle in a very nice blocking position (the southwest corner of the table), the other two were well on their way to other positions.
The Americans made their way on to the table at an unhurried pace. Perhaps they were “sauntering”.
Gary’s VC formations carried on forward one move each.
The Aussies again surged forward. Those boys definitely have a sense of urgency in their deployment! 8 Platoon was nearly in position in an adjacent stand of trees and bush to 7 platoon’s position. 9 Platoon was to the rear of the wood where 8 Platoon and the CHQ were taking up their position awaiting instructions on where to deploy.
The Americans once again only managed one move this turn occupying a stand of jungle at the northwest corner of the table.
Gary moving the VC forward. Again, one move for each formation… That’s 9 Platoon in the open on the opposite side of the table from Gary.
The Aussies were getting a bit tired of running through the jungle, or the OC A Coy got a bit confused as to where the heck the Americans were at and where he would be needing to deploy 9 Platoon… no move! (I’m sure they were further exasperated when they got a call from the American’s Battalion Commander asking why they were sitting out in the open and not moving? – also tried to issue an order and failed…).
There’s 9 Platoon stuck out in the open. Just to the left of them, in the picture and slightly to the rear in the trailing section of 8 Platoon. Further in the background is 7 Platoon in a solid position to block the approaching Vietnamese.
The Americans started to move out of these woods here. A couple mortar rounds exploded in their vicinity as they tried to cross the canal. This got them moving! They made two moves and successfully got the two leading platoons across the canal unharmed. The trailing platoon however got stuck out in the open canal at the end of the turn.
The northernmost company of VC (on the left of the picture above) surged forward across the rice paddies (two moves). The other company continued at their slow and steady pace. The Americans can be seen at the bottom left with the two platoons in the tall grass and the third in the canal. Over to the right of the picture are the Australians.
The VC mortar, under the direction of the CO got firing! Four salvoes were directed down on the American platoon causing a number of serious casualties and pinning the whole platoon in the canal (2hits and suppressed the first in line, 2 hits and suppressed the second, 1 hit and suppressed the third, then moving back up the line to the first – another hit causing them to fall-back into the second squad and be removed from play – first squad hauled the wounded out of the canal and into the trees where they called for a medevac and waited for the choppers to arrive, taking no further part in the action).
Same time, different angle.
The Australians finished moving into firing positions and part of 7 platoon opened fire on the Vietcong moving through the tall grass to their front. Some minor casualties were sustained in two of the VC sections, but they carried on (3 hits and 4 hits, no suppression).
The Americans took some opportunity fire as they maneuvered in the tall grass, bullets whizzing by close enough to remind them to keep their heads down as they moved up (2 hits on two squads, no suppression).
The VC did some of initiative fire this turn at the Aussies (30cm initiative range is fun!). One section from 8 Platoon, which is now got VC within 10-15cm, bore the brunt of it – a number of were casualties caused and the section fell back from their firing positions deeper into the woods (3 hits total suppressed and fall back 5cm). The other two sections of the platoon were also caught off guard and took some serious suppressing fire one the first round of orders (3 hits, 4 hits, both suppressed). Lucky for me Gary failed his next command roll – if he hadn’t that platoon would have been over run and wiped out!
7 Platoon returned fire, concentrating their fire on closer two sections of VC they inflicted a coupel serious casualties and made them keep their heads down (two successful fire orders - 4 hits and suppressed, 5 hits but not suppressed!).
9 Platoon (on the left of the picture) and the Americans (on the right of the picture) fired on the other VC company.
The Aussies went first and laid down punishing fire one section was taken out and another took some serious casualties. (two successful fire orders 1 stand taken out, another 5 hits and suppressed!).
The 1st platoon of Bravo Company fired and finished off the pinned section and caused some light casualties in another section. The other two American platoons maneuvered in the tall grass. The platoon that had been suppressed in the canal the previous turn moved out and into the tall grass opposite, taking further harassing fire from the mortar – with no injuries, however.
This is where the training and fire discipline of the professional Auatralian rifleman made it’s value known and it kind of all kind of came apart for Gary.
The company on the north half of the table made a single move towards the woods – trying to get them out of the rice paddies. Riflemen from 9 Platoon caught some of the VC out in the open and pinned them down there, again causing sever casualties. (This picture above was take later actually and the stand… and a few others have been removed, but it gives you an idea of where they were headed and where 9 Platoon caught them…).
The OC A company found himself, at the beginning of this turn, with all his troops unsuppressed and in excellent firing positions - with the exception of the one stand from 8 Platoon which had fallen back into the woods as a result of VC fire on turn five. The balance of 8 Platoon was within half range of a half-dozen VC sections. There was some initiative fire, which caused some grief to the VC. The I started making command rolls; first one needed seven (-1 due to assorted initiative/opportunity fires), rolled a seven – more severe fire laid down on the VC. Then passed another roll, fired. Passed another roll, fired. Passed yet another roll (needed 4, rolled 3!), fired. Finally I needed a three to pass the next command roll… it comes up snake-eyes – double action – laid down some further hurt. Couldn’t roll snake-eyes again so I moved on to the Americans – not that it mattered much as the game was pretty much over when the Australians finished firing! In a single turn of firing they had taken out NINE Vietcong infantry stands and caused five hits on a further two, suppressing one of them!
The Americans, as usual throughout this game were only able to move once – as all vidible VC targets were out of range…
The VC Battlegroup broke! Some ran, fading back into the bush. Others surrendered. Many just lay there bleeding… I thin Gary needed to roll a four – he had lost 4 or 5 stands over his breakpoint…
Final positions (picture taken from the north). In the bottom right are the Americans in the tall grass. In about the center of the picture is the northern VC company – stuck in the open trying to get to the cover of the jungle. Just above them, in the tall grass on the southern part of the table is the sole remaining stand of the other VC company and the CHQ. One platoon of Australians can be seen just about the Americans, the other two platoons are hidden in the jungle beyond – some of 8 Platoon can just be made out. On the far left of the picture is the VC mortar section that caused the only serious casualties to the Americans during the game.
Same thing different angle (from the west). A few more Aussies can be made out.
Again, from the north.
The more I play it the more I like it. Ran a little smoother – had to look a couple things up that I forgot or just wanted to double-check so Gary wouldn’t think I was cheating TOO much! I think next week when I have a few more of my WW2 stuff rebased I’ll try another Blitzkrieg Commander game – with some of the changes from CWC; opportunity fire, close combat, etc.
It was a tough scenario, especially for Gary. But it provided some interesting challenges for both of us and we both learned a bit more about how the game really works.
I think we finished up in just over two hours... maybe two and a half?
Again light casualties for the Americans and Australians. Though none of the Aussies stands were taken out I imagine they probably took more casualties than the Americans due to that short nasty close range firefight 8 Platoon had with the VC. I’d expect there’d have been a KIA there and a few wounded over varying severity from small arms fire. The Americans, another KIA from a mortar round that landed right in the middle of the squad crossing the canal, along with a number of severe shrapnel cases.
Also once again, there were severe casualties for the VC. Thirteen stands! Of that I expect ther would have been a dozen or two KIA and critically injured. Two or three times as many WIA, but who knows how many would have been found. I’m sure a couple dozen Prisoners would have been taken here – maybe some good candidates for the Chu Hoi program – if that was up and running at this time. Maybe a bunch simple chucked their rifle in an irrigation canal and went back to their farms..
Given the scenario and how it played out I wouldn’t think it too entirely unrealistic.
If I hadn’t had that run of luck with the Australians command rolls and the game lasted a few more turns the Aussies would have taken a few more casualties as the VC tried to punch through 8 Platoon and overrun the CHQ on their way off the table. I still think the VC casualties would have been severe. It certainly was a tough scenario for them.
There was an Operation Crimp in January of 1966 which the 173rd Airborne Brigade was involved in. The scenario is fiction however – I know very little about the actual Operation Crimp – this was just a situation that I imagined could take place on a Brigade size Search and Destroy mission and it involved Aussies working in close cooperation with the Americans. After march of 1966, 1 RAR rotated back to Australia and the replacement battalions formed their own independent taskforce.
I also don’t know for sure that the three platoons of A coy were numbered 7, 8, and 9. I’m just making an assumption here as the RAR battalion’s organization has changed little from the standard commonwealth battalion of WW2…
Back on the subject of body counts; one thing I do know about the historical operation is that the Aussies suffered 8 KIA, and 29 WIA and caused 27 VC KIA. The entire 173rd Brigade suffered 22 KIA, 106 WIA and reported 128 VC KIA, 92 PW taken. This info was found on the Digger History website – or an associated site linked to it.
Other info I found in Shelby L. Stanton’s Rise and Fall of an American Army.
If you made it this far post a comment below and let me know you were here and what you thought of it! Cheers!