Sunday 15 April 2012

AIRCAV - A Vietnam game battle report

This Sunday we played AIRCAV, the scenario 9 of  Surf's Up, the companion book to the Vietnam-era rules Charlie Don't Surf of the TooFatLardies factory. This is probably a most typical wargame scenario for this period, where an heliborne US platoon must land in a village in an enemy-held area to evacuate the civilian population, depriving the Vietcong forces of new cadres as well as much needed food and other staple supplies.

The US player has some strong pre-game fire in the form of an aerial napalm attack, an artillery battery barrage and a smoke curtain laid out by a helicopter to protect the landing zone. In the map below I have marked all these actions.

They US player did not take risks and left nothing  to chance; actually (unkown to him), outguessed the VC player and mazimize the effect of the attack: the napalm hit just straight into the position of a Vietcong reinforced platoon, which was forced to flee and to leave the table...

Napalm (front) and smoke (back of the photo)
...while the artillery barrage suppressed for a couple of  turns another platoon and an AA MG section, and finally the smoke blocked the line of sight of the thrid VC platoon and a support medium mortar section. 

View of the gaming table (south to north)
View of the LZ

In this situation the first airlift landed without opposition on the table (to the great surprise of the US player), and the US squads deployed in a triangle to secure the landing zone.

The VC forces reacted in short time and a platoon-sized force crossed the smoke curatain, deploying from blinds at the edge of the hill in the west side of the map, causing up to 4 casualties to the Americans caught in the open in a first fire.

Although bold, this was a high-risk move: inmediately a gunship helicopter was called  in support of the US forces and retaliated, causing several causalties and a large number of shocks on the VC force, fleeing back to the relative safety of the jungle behind. Once under cover, the VC player used the Didi Mau card to place the unit in blinds and recover a 50% of the shocks.

In the meantime another helicopter lift put a second platoon on the ground...

  ... while the (probably very scared by now) village inhabitants flocked into the landing zone to be airlifted to a secure area.

The VC player took no more risks and decided to pull back with his forces to fight another day; he moved the remaining platoons out of the table through the tactical edge and he only made another attempt to disrupt the evacuation of the civilians, directing the fire of his mortar section into the LZ...

...only to be the target of the gunship unit, which returned to the table in a record time after repleneshing  ammo at the base. After the arrival of the third lift with an additional  infantry platoon, the security of the perimeter was 100% consolidated; the civilians were successfully evacuated in these helicopters, and the game was called to an end. 

A full military and political victory to the US player, with 28 victory points vs 8 points of the Communist player. No prisioners were taken from the VC unit exiting the table at the opposing side of the tactical edge ( due to the napalm attack), otherwise the vitory would have been even more overwhelming. 

In my opinion the key to success was the effective use of the pre-game bombardment, which came to fall exactly on the postions chosen by the VC player. I feel that he was disconcerted by it (this was the first game in which we have introduced napalm and artillery) and later the guship firepower only increased his discomfort, making him to pull out too early and leaving the control of the battlefield to the US player.     

I  conclude this post with some additional photos of the game.

The terrain and sceney used were the warmats (see here some photos and comments) and hooches commented in a previous post. The banana trees in the first photo are made from brass, also from the same scenery designer.


  1. Great report Benito. Your friend's terrain (mats and hooches) really look good in the photos, amidst a fine looking table overall.
    Thanks for sharing,

  2. That is a stunning set up, Anibal!

    Poor VC player got it from the start. It could have been very different if he'd been able to avoid the napalm. Better luck next time!

  3. excellent report Benito. I played this scenario at Enfilade last year and it went very differently for the Americans (which I was one of).

  4. I made two mistakes. The first was that by more than four months since I played, my knowledge of the rules had greatly declined at this time.

    My second mistake was my deployment.

    The rules of the display was clear, all troops must be out of the jungle. I deployed the mortar on the hill, the AA machine guns in the depths of the jungle. And the other platoons making a square around the town.

    In the first round, napalm destroyed my first platoon. artillery suppressed some of my second platoon and a machine gun aa. smoke barrier fell over my mortar and the third platoon.

    When the first helicopter landed, I only had available a platoon and a machine gun aa. on the other side of the landing zone

    Try out the smoke as soon as possible and opened fire on the first Americans squad. With blinds Dummys try to lure the rest of America into the jungle, where were the rest of my troops and my AA guns.

    in the third Turn, cobra helicopter, killed and suppressed much of my third platoon and forced me to retire and seek for a di di mau. With the rest of my troops advance to the edge of the jungle.

    From the fifth inning, when it was clear that it wasn't a mission to search and destroy (as I thought), it was a rescue mission of civilians by the Americans, my troops were on the other side of town, if he wanted to attack the landing area had to go through the village by open area in front of two platoons of American whole. With a helicopter hovering overhead charges and an ongoing mission of artillery. Take the decision out of my Tactical Edge before suffering more casualties or captured.

    this scenario is difficult for the Vietcong, you have no orders or objectives. Do not know you have to do, just know you have a lot of Americans down in a helicopter and a lot of bombs falling from the sky. knowledge is power. I would have to be attacked with everything from the start, and have turned everything into a hot landing zone.

  5. Fantastic AAR, Benito. Great photos, great terrain and super minis. I share Alexandros' pain - playing the VC when you're hit by a pre-game bombardment is the tough way to start a game! I think when this scenario was playtested, we went through it a few times with differing results on each occassion - I certainly remember being the US player on one occassion and getting slaughtered! Hope to see more of your Vietnam set up in the fuure, and hope to catch you on Saturday at Salute!

  6. Very nice AAR !

    Best regards Michael