Monday, August 14, 2017

Libery or Death Playthrough: the French Strike!

The Indian faction is due up and they assist the British by playing the event and destroy a supply depot by attacking Danbury. The Patriot side is now broke...their war resources running out. The Indian faction almost did not play the event but a die roll changed that! The bold raid sets the Patriot war coffers on it heels and they need to raise more money to fund their war!

The French strike...deciding by Flow Chart to attack in Connecticut / Rhode Island as their regulars there, led by Rochambeau, outnumber the British tories. It should be an easy victory but the tories prove to be persistent and strongly dug in.

In the first major battle of 1778...the French regulars wipe out the British tories but suffer a loss of two regulars. Meanwhile the French fleet off the coast blockades New York City.

News of the victory by the French spreads fast and this emboldens the Patriots. Coming forth now are new musters of Militiamen and they rise up in Maryland...forming a new unit and seizing control of the province!

Sadly on the frontier all is not well. The Indians are looking to slaughter settlers on the edge of the colonies as reprisal for the earlier eradication of a Indian war party. What will happen next as the Patriots and Indians are the next eligible factions? Can the Patriots stop the Indian attacks...or will they choose another option?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection playthrough as Patriots & French

After another game of Fire in the Lake on Saturday with a friend it was time to switch gears and try the American Revolution side of things with GMT Games Liberty or Death. I had explored Fire in the Lake quite deeply and wanted to see the mechanics of another COIN game before Distant Plain arrived.

The year is 1778.

In this play through it is the short game setup with the decks organized historically. I am playing the Patriots and the French to the best of my abilities and using the bots for the Brits and the Indians.

The decks were setup and the board was ready!

The first card flips sets the British as the first active faction and they event is one that is a no brainer so I make the Brit Bot (as I like to call it) take the event. This places the Queens Rangers in two separate colonies (not cities) on the map. I have to take them from available or unavailable. Since it is the start of the game I take them from available. They go into New York Colony and New Hampshire. The rule in the event states it must be British controlled. I played the event because the British flowchart states in the Event or Command box: Event places Torries in Colony with British Regulars (go ahead and play it).

The Patriots are next and that is me. I decide to march and move a militia from Charlestown and one from North Carolina into South Carolina for one resource. Rumors of an Indian War party and village persist. I do not expose my militia because there are no British in S.C. The Rebels take control of South Carolina!

I then use Partisans special activity to send the militia to root out the Indian War Party. My Militia is activated and I remove one Royalist piece...the Indian War Party. The war is indeed now in full swing!

After the first two factions go South Carolina looks as follows:

The rest of the play through will be posted as the next week goes by.

Fire in the Lake Tutorial 2: VC activities and Ops

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

1967: Year of Devastation and end game

Late 1967 starts poorly for the ARVN and US Armed Forces. Starting with setbacks in Pleiku Highlands and Kien Phong province the RVN sees itself invaded and under constant VC subversion.

The NVA launch an invasion into Binh Dinh and a showdown is set against the strongest concentration of ARVN Forces. 

Meanwhile outside Saigon the VC launch land reforms and promise more to the people if they openly revolt.

The VC subvert Kien Hoa and Binh Tuy as well as foster new guerilla units. The US loses control of Binh Tuy. The VC victory point total climbs to 32. It's a tight race now with ARVN falling to 38 and the USA to 42. 

Outside the US Armed Forces base in Binh Dinh the ARVN launch an attack against the mass of NVA stationed there.

Using the Assault operation they drain their resources and find ousting the NVA troops out of the Highlands to be difficult. The NVA lose almost 1000 men though and the ARVN losses are light.

The good card luck continues for the Communists. Light at the End of the Tunnel sees reduced American involvement in the war. The NVA play the event and stay eligible. The US withdrawals 4 units from the war and the opposition across South Vietnam stiffen. The NVA musters more troops in Laos and Cambodia.

The US is forced to commit it's Saigon reserves to take out the VC threat in Binh Tuy. They sweep out 2 units and discover VC activity. The US then launches massive air strikes in Kien Hoa, Binh Tuy and Pleiku. The VC are wiped out of Binh Tuy and the NVA lose many exposed men in Pleiku. COIN forces regain Binh Tuy. 

The ARVN take initiative and assault again in Binh Dinh after moving a division out of Qui Nhon. The attack is swift and determined and the Communists are beaten back to leave little or no presence there. 

VC presence appears in Saigon as they dish out terror in the city streets. They were directly funneled in through Tay Ninh. 

THE GAME NEARS THE END. The final push for the control of South Vietnam has begun. The NVA plays the event on Phan Quang Dan and gain oppositionist support in the RVN govt. assembly. The US trains and focuses on Armed Forces advisor support. They work to pacify Khanh Hoa and remove terror there. Support there goes neutral and the terror marker is removed. The VC lose 2 VP's. The US Air Force strikes Quang Duc eliminating exposed VC units and a base there. Control goes back to COIN. 

ARVN remains ineligible due to Phan Quang Dan and we flip out last card as monsoon season rolls in.

The VC are the only eligible faction as the game winds down. They are not close VP wise either the US or ARVN so they look to cause havoc. Due to the MONSOON the VC cannot march. Through propaganda the VC rally in Binh Dinh, Kontum and ever contested Khanh Hoa. Even though guerrillas appear the VC are not able to shift the provinces from COIN control but they try one last Subversion. With subversion Khan Hoa once again is lost to the COIN factions. The game ends and we go to the final Coup! phase.

The final Coup card is a doozy: Failed Attempt. Quite true to the status of how the war is going many ARVN troops see no hope of ousting the VC presence in their country and flee or change aides. This devastates ARVN presence in South Vietnam and really thins the game board out. We enter the Coup round with no one having a straight up victory. 

After redeployment, earnings and pacification and agitation the point totals are as follows: 

NVA 15
USA 44
VC 34

Victory margins are: 1 for VC, 3 for NVA, 10 for ARVN, 6 for the United States. Due to victory margin the VC are declared the winners! The countryside has surrounded the cities and public order crumbles as the South Vietnam government collapses. 


I started off pretty skeptical about COIN games. But now with the depth and the multitude of choices and ways too win...I do understand the hype. Overall it was a great gaming experience even playing single player and I am sure I did some of the BOT stuff wrong. The outcome was still a nail biter though and as I got into the game I started to see the ways to win and what I did wrong.

1967 rolls in and new leadership: Fire in the Lake

With the most recent COUP! turn in my playthrough of Fire in the Lake...the Republic of South Vietnam sees a new leader in Nguyễn Văn Thiệu.

His new policy is to spend the US supplied injection of his economy on a new Hearts and Minds program in the outlying provinces of South Vietnam. Using this they spend a considerable amount of money to pacify Khanh Hoa, Binh Tuy and Quang Tri...provinces that were once troublesome.
He also sets up regular police patrols on Route 1 a previously unpatrolled major stretch of highway. ARVN police take over Phu Bon province as the United States folds up its base in Can Tho and exits the area along with 2 divisions of US Troops that are sent back to the United States.

Meanwhile the Communists are not idle. The NVA work hard to shift their forces into southern Cambodia quietly threatening the provinces of South Vietnam to which they lay adjacent.

The monsoon rains lift and we see the score in the game thus far as:

ARVN= 46
USA= 46
VC= 25
NVA = 10

Seems rather lopsided thus far but I could be playing this game really really badly.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fire in the Lake: Events leading to the next COUP! round

Picking up after video 3 the game started to get rather violent. A lot of combat action and activity all over Vietnam in the south. ARVN forces finally force the VC guerillas out of Phu Yen. The space is now COIN controlled as they learn well from American advisors.


Next the United States Armed Forces go on patrol and spread out along routes 14,13 and 20. This makes all roads into and out of Saigon (except route 1 along the coast) safe and protected from NVA or VC sabotage.

Exposed VC are hit again in Quang Nam removing Insurgent presence there and flipping the province to COIN control. ARVN rangers are exposed but get the job done. This is pictured below:

The NVA strike back next phase, launching assaults on the ARVN troops outside Hue in Quang Tri wiping out 2 of them and then bombarding American troops in two separate provinces (white pawns in second pic below), killing many GI's before they even knew what hit them.Outraged MACV begins an all out search and destroy ideology to contain the NVA.

NVA 130mm Artillery
The war is really heating up now with losses all over the country. The VC play up the My Lai massacre and use it to control the populace. Aid drops significantly and the populace is outraged both in Vietnam and abroad in the United States.

The next card flipped is not played but it triggers a COUP! round and a MONSOON rolls in. This limits American air power but they perform air strikes in 2 separate provinces, blowing VC bases and some exposed guerillas off the face of the earth. At the same time the Ho Chi Minh trail is bombed and degraded to a 1 value. The SECOND COUP! round will begin and there is only one left somewhere in there in the stack. The final positions of the board before the COUP! round are shown below:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fire in the Lake US Forces Playthrough Part 1

Well here we go. Let us give the COIN series a fair shot here and try out a playthrough of Fire in the Lake

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fire in the Lake short game setup

Decided to go with a short game playing as the United States and using all bots on the other participants. That will be bot AI for ARVN, VC and NVA.

I have shuffled ALL the event cards together mixing up the 1965, 1968 and the 1964 cards. The game will not be a certain time period or historical in the least as I wanted to make it as random as possible. After shuffling all the cards I pulled out 3 stacks of 8 as described on page 23 in the Rules of Play.

I also removed the needed coup cards as described and set the RVN leader as "Young Turks".

I then took my 3 stacks and piled them on each other and I was ready to setup the starting forces and the victory point track. I will not be using any of the difficulty options on 20 and 21. Next post I will start the game and flip the two event cards and discuss what is available.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Fire in the Lake...the next title covered

Fire in the Lake will begin a rather Vietnam centric posting spree on this blog the next few days. Expect to see me learn, cover and make a lot of mistakes in the game.

GCACW: Final try...Ewell's attack is a disaster, the 1st Maine cavalry dissolves....end game

 The Confederate victory point total now stands at 0. They had one but lost one when they lost a manpower point last turn on that disastrous creek attack

Next initiative phase sees the Confederacy win yet again. Jackson, after being refused the creek crossing last initiative go round, uses a leadership activation to tell Ewell and Winder to advance and beat back the Union from their positions before the majority of the Northern Army mobilizes.

To the left Ewell advances past the school house and attacks Union General Bank's fatigued and dogged division from the southwest. Under Nathaniel P. Banks command is Williams, the commanding officer that held the creek last turn.

As with many aspects of learning a system I am starting to see that you need a large ratio to really do some damage. Not rolling like ass is also a big contributor. Attacking across clear terrain against a defending unit with artillery is also not smart.

Richard S. Ewell

The -2 artillery modifier of the defenders negates my 3-1 ratio modifier and it comes down to a straight up roll once more. The Union forces roll a 4 and the Confederacy rolls a 3. Not good as the result is a -1. Ewell suffers a devastating setback and takes a loss of about 500 men as the dug in Union artillery eats him as he goes across clear terrain.

Williams is fatigued even more and though tired and low on supplies they hold ONCE AGAIN. The Confederate VP total is now -1, which cant happen, but its interesting to note how bad they are doing.

Now its up to Winder on the right of Jackson to give the South some good news. Winder takes his 4000 man division and prepares to attack the 1st Maine Cavalry Regiment. Like all Union cavalry before, in a sneaky delaying nighttime withdrawal, the 1st Maine retreats but is cut down as they try this now familiar tactic. Winder, low now on movement after planning a prepared attack, moves 1 mile up the road. With the loss of the 1st Maine the Confederacy gets a victory point back to move back to +1.

In his path now is Christopher C. Augur's 4000 man Union infantry division. The Confederate forces are about to be held in check and not able to advance much further.

Christopher C. Augur
Well seeing as how I have totally screwed up the Confederate advance learning the system, and I have indeed learned, I decide to wrap this one up and lick my wounds since there are forces heading down the road the South will not be in shape to contend with.

This scenario was however a great learning process in what I believe is an excellent Civil War battle system that really captures the ebb and flow of command, fatigue and the fog of battle. Most importantly it is a FANTASTIC solo game to attempt.

Next time time.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

GCACW: August 9th A bloody day as Jackson shatters the 1st Rhode Island Regiment

August 9th has rolled around in my playthrough in the Cedar Mountain scenario of Stonewall Jackson's Way 2. On turn 2 all restrictions from turn 1 are lifted and forced marches are allowed.

There were no random events and no leader transfers so we go to the Action Phase. On the first action phase the Union army wins and Ricketts immediately moves his division of 9,000 men south through Culpeper to cut off Stonewall Jackson. The Confederacy wins the next initiative roll and use Gregg to march toward the school house across the Robertson River.

Gregg's infantry brigade attacks Bayards Cavalry at the school house forcing him to retreat far back. For some odd reason Gregg is not allowed to advance on the school house and he pulls his men up short (scenario rules dictate Gregg cannot enter that hex).

The Rebels win the next initiative roll and then use Stonewall Jackson to do a Leadership activation. They will now cross the Rapidan and drive on Culpeper!

Jackson's Confederate command pushes north. Ewell and Winder cross the Rapidan River.

Stonewall Jackson drives A.P. Hill into the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry regiment and during the retreat of the Union cavalry they collapse and, demoralized from the attempt to withdraw, cease to exist as a unit giving the South a victory point.

Stonewall presses on and launches an attack across Cedar Run Creek against the under strength infantry division of Williams.

Williams is bolstered by Pope himself and told he must hold (picture above shows the stacks split apart so the chits can be viewed). Surprisingly he does. A.P Hill suffers horrible losses trying to cross the creek and loses about 500 men. The Union defenders are disorganized but they do not give any ground. Stonewall is forced to lick his wounds and regroup for the next assault across the creek. The action phase ends.