Saturday, 11 July 2020

What rules?

My apologies one and all, the end of any academic year is always a challenging time, but this year was even more frenetic.  Virtual assemblies and farewells, reports and administrative tasks, there was even some time for teaching!  Suffice to say, time was a precious commodity and it was inevitable that something had to be sacrificed and, sadly, it was this most humble of weblogs.
That's not to say that I haven't been tinkering around in the shadows, but things are about to go a little off piste.  The Battle for Schloss Itter was, and still is, a massive undertaking and one that James and I are committed to bringing to the conclusion it deserves.  Just before the end of term we managed to reunite the castle structure with its base board in a hope to finish off the last details before photographing the completed boards over the summer.  The plan was to work on it in the evenings of the final week at school, but I just didn't have the time and now, having returned to the Sunshine Coast and the sanctuary of Awdry Towers, the project remains unfinished.  If I am honest, I simply needed a break and that's what I have decided to do.
I have resolved to catch up with some long overdue posts of miniatures started over a year ago as well as indulge in a diversion that has been bubbling under the surface for a while now.  Expect, of the summer months, a hugely eclectic mix of periods, ideas and projects as I look to tidy up some loose ends.  As will become abundantly clear there is no scheduled plan, no themed months, just fun as I flit like a hobby butterfly from one idea to the next.

Now to start things off, I need your help, but here too lies a tale.  I have always enjoyed the escapism of the motion picture, the wonder of being transported to galaxy far, far away or the opportunity to capture a bridge too far.  Being a child of the video age this escapism had a seemingly never ending mine of material, provided you were prepared to peer through the stygian gloom, suffer the inaudible dialogue and run the risk of debilitating migraines brought on by flickering tracking; how we miss those halcyon days of the 1980s video rentals! 
When young Master Awdry wasn't being terrified witless by the latest celluloid slasher he was plunged into the jungles of the far east, rescuing forgotten P.O.W.s or stemming the tide of Communist incursion, winning the day against all odds.  Vietnam became synonymous with action and adventure, a place where camaraderie overcame bigotry and bravery was issued with frag grenades.  With the onset of age, if not wisdom, I am aware that these cinematic exploits couldn't have been further from the truth and that the Vietnam, or second Indochina War, was a complex, brutal and seemingly endless conflict that cost the lives of countless soldiers and civilians.  
The fascination with the period is difficult to pin down, but undoubtedly had something to do with films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket.  These undeniable masterpieces would portray a struggle that would often go beyond the conflict on the ground and, being a sensitive sort of chap, would strike a chord with my awkward sensibilities.  Add to this an intoxicating blend of rock 'n' roll and high explosive ordnance, all stirred together with the rotor blades of the ubiquitous 'Huey' and you had a cocktail that may a teenage boy found difficult to resist. 
So why has these bubbled to the surface now?  Again it's difficult to say with any degree of certainty, but one catalyst might be the release of several ranges of finely sculpted miniatures.  These have certainly caught my eye and a rather serendipitous series of posts by Martin Thornton on his wonderfully entertaining blog, 'The Life and Times of Mad Lord Snapcase' has seen me slowly build a fledging collection, nominally around the aforementioned films.  
Finally, then, to the somewhat circuitous point of the post, to what end?  How do I get to play with my toys?  I have in mind a rather bespoke, intimate affair and relatively small scale.  A handful of miniatures, a narrative or mission framed by the conflict in Vietnam, but not beholden to it.  I would like to roll dice or draw cards, feel the apprehension build as we edge through the steaming jungles or witness the firepower of a barrage directed by troops on the ground.  Does this already exist or is there perhaps something that can be adapted to my needs?  
I imagine this to be very much an ongoing project, the scale of which allowing it to be delved into at any given time without too much trouble.  I already have some jungle, built for the Congo games, but could see several scenarios framed around locations that might include the P.O.W. camp, the Temple, the Delta, the City, the Firebase, the abandoned Plantation and the Village, all of which will prick a memory of a film or historic battle.  The concept is very much to draw on the conflict, but not to be restricted by it historically, in doing so avoiding the grim reality of the war itself.  I am only too aware that the Vietnam War, is to many, a recent conflict and would certainly not want to belittle the sacrifices made.  This somewhat bubblegum approach is a bid to put some creative distance between the realities of war and tabletop entrainment; it should also allow me to sidestep the button counters and history police, keeping fun at the fore.   

So your ideas please, what can I use as a starting point, or for that matter is there already a game system that incorporates these ideas?  As always your thoughts and suggestions would be gratefully received. 

39 comments:

  1. The problem with Vietnam is the jungle, "jungle is massive". It will snag on your cardigan. I suggest only using the bases of the trees and not all that pesky tall foliage.
    Recently played a jungle encounter based in Dahomey using french foreign legion against the Fon army. Used IHMN rules and random encounter tables on a dice roll and lots a hidden traps. It worked really well with 6 legionnaires, they won but only 2 got out and they were chased out of the jungle. IHMN is a great mechanic and easily tweakable.

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    1. Thank you Martin and I was chuckling away at the idea of my cardigan snagging - so very true! I love the sound of that game, sounds pretty close to what I am aiming for. I might have to revisit IHMN.

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  2. It's hard to be serious with Hot Shots Part Deux playing on the TV but how about Ambush Alley or Men of Company B or Crossfire.

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    1. Ah, the exploits of Topper Harley, nonsense at its best. Thank you for the suggestions, all familiar titles so will definitely have a look.

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  3. You didn't mention Hamburger Hill. That's going to lose you a mark, Master Awdry. But a nice piece of work, even if it does pose, rather than answer it's own question.

    How many different colours of highlighter do I need to track this, I wonder....

    Is there bolt action 'Nam about ? failing that, I'm sure Osprey will have something which you could start with. Dr John Lambshead would probably know what you need straight away, it might be worth giving him a nudge.

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    1. Now, unbelievably I've not seen Hamburger Hill! I have no excuse, a complete oversight. I was looking at Black Ops a while back as I liked the stealth mechanic and so that might be worth revisiting. Thank you.

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    2. Funnily enough, Warlord Games recently announced that they are working on a Vietnam rules set for Bolt Action. Don't have any idea on where they are at with it at this time though.

      And, never having seen Hamburger Hill??? Shame on you sir!

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    3. I know, I know the shame of it! Interesting news about Bolt Action, makes sense that they would go that way. Be interested to see what they do given the quality of the Empress Miniatures sculpts.

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  4. Sorry can't suggest any rules for this project Michael, having never played a Vietnam or semi modern wargame, but do look forward to seeing how this project progresses

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    1. Thank you Dave, the thorny issue of 'modern' wargaming can be troubling, which is why I am keen to steer round it. As always your support and encouragement will be invaluable.

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  5. Thanks for the plug for my blog, Michael. Happy to take the blame for a fellow gamer feeling the need for another project! Where's the Rambo figure from BTW? I need a Rambo in my rag-tag unit. As to rules, if you are playing small scale there's Fistful of Lead or Pulp Alley. Pulp Alley's plot point system would work well for games like 'Rescue the P.O.W.' I like Osprey's Black Ops which seems to be for modern games but could easily be used for the 'Nam.

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    1. Thank you Martin and great suggestions. Fistful of lead has appeared on my radar before as too Pulp Alley so both might be worth a look. I think borrowing from different systems might be the way to go and just enjoy the narrative. As for Rambo, I have a couple the one pictured is the Assault Group, but have found a couple of Movie heroes at Studio Miniatures including a First Blood Rambo and Colonel Kurtz!

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  6. I've played a few solo games of 'The Men of Company B' during lockdown and quite enjoyed the rules. they are based on a grid system and are rather abstract on the firepower front but seem to give some interesting choices for both the US and VC/NVA forces. They cover 'searching villages for caches', 'rescuing downed aircrew', 'attacking firebases' and 'using mountain tribes' scenarios. There are some battle reports on my blog: http://trooptime.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you! I have just been and had a look at the game and that would certainly be a great starting point.

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  7. I played 'Nam' games many years ago, with a 'Role-play light' element; small numbers of figures (about two dozen or so for the 'Free world' and less than a dozen needed for the VC. The rules had the VC hidden for the majority of the game. There were no 'deaths' on the game. merely 'casualties', which the Free World forces had to look after and the VC had to secure.
    Both sides had objectives which necessarily didn't 'gel' with their Victory conditions. A mere four pages of rules covered everything I needed for many great games.
    Originally from "Wargames Developments" and given freely at their initial conference.
    I have other other 'older' sets of rules, but none gave the feel of the war as these did.

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    1. This sounds perfect Joe, thank you. Something that is rule light yet intuitive is definitely what I am after.

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  8. I use Ambush Valley, the Force on Force supplement for Vietnam. It really is a wonderful system that catches the feel of the conflict.
    Foe smaller scale I would use Fistful of Lead

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    1. I like the sound of Force on Force and another vote for Fistful of Lead, which is interesting. A clear front runner. Thank you Kaspar.

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  9. Great post Michael,and a good idea to utilize all you Congo scenery again for a new period. Sorry cant help you with rules, I did dabble in Vietnam gaming a few years back but only got a far as painting the US troops and making a village, before I sold the lot at a Salute bring and buy!

    I'd go to "Free Wargames Rules" for a look before I spent any cash, but then I am tight as a drum!

    Cheers Roger.

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    1. Thank you Roger as sage advice. Not sure how far this will go, all depends on how quickly I can get a set of rules to work with.

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  10. Hi Michael, I guess the rules would be based on if I was using squads (then why not Congo) or individuals (Pulp Alley or 7TV) - though I haven't played 7TV, Simon really makes it sound good! Of course you can use historical game systems too for small unit actions. Depends on how quick you want the game.

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    1. Thank you Terry, I wondered about 7TV especially given the whole movie segue into the era. I have always fancied giving Pulp Alley a go, but Congo is a real possibility. It was where I started with the Schloss Itter game.

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  11. Sadly not a period I have indulged in (so far) as always it will depend on the level of complexity you desire, we have played several bolt action games using single figures which I think could be adapted and made as simple or complex as you want.

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    1. Thank you Matt, Bolt Action has to be a consideration. I am aware that there is now a Korean War supplement, so surely not too far a jump to adapt it to Vietnam?

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  12. I go for Joes tip.Role-playing or pulp with missions would be a nice setup.I also played some NAM-games using 1:72-figures in plastic but they were all homemade but real fun to play.

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    1. I think that's the way I am going to go. Having a look at a fistful of lead, which looks promising.

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  13. One Hour Skirmish Wargames. I have actually hosted a game with African Militia against Cylons in the jungle.

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    1. Another great shout and that game sounds amazing! More than happy to encompass room for the obscure and down right ridiculous.

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  14. Castle Itter looks fab!

    As to ‘Nam I have used a number of different sets of rules but largely driven by the type of game I wanted to play. For small skirmishes I have had a good experience with Two Hour Wargames’ FNG which plays well solo too.

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    1. Thank you Al, the solo aspect is an important factor too. Whilst I may hope to lure in a couple of willing combatants, ultimately this would be a private venture.

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  15. Don't forget that Vietnam had ... in places ... red soil/earth that is prominent in weathering effects of tanks operating in that situation. I'm sure it would have rubbed off on the soldier's uniforms.

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    1. Thank you, will definitely be dry brushing some red dust on, thank you for the tip.

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  16. This sounds like a grand diversion for you, and for us watching it progress. Sorry I've no suggestions on rules, I mainly only use 2 Hour baseic rules and adopt them to the situation, but that's the advantage of solo. I would guess that radio communication, air and artillery strikes are key, as well as some form of stealth movement and distance sound travels.
    For my Vietnam game I did field tests on our walks through the local woods. Mrs V was not very happy having to stand still facing away from me as I tried to creep up on her. Our shouting test was instructive as once she couldn't hear me she just kept on walking away, I don't know why!
    Look forward to see where this goes.

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    1. That is just the best story John! The depth of your research is unparalleled.🤣

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  17. Hi Michael, I've been playing 'Nam for years. My rules preference leads towards FNG by Two Hour Wargames. To me they give the best feel for infantry combat in Vietnam. Plus the rules are pretty adaptable to making your own house rules, use the rules you want, toss the ones that might make things feel bogged down. Like Wisperin Al mentioned above they work great solo too.

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    1. Thank you so much Rod, I am definitely going to have a look at FNG, they sound just what I am after.

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  18. For rules, I know that someone has produced a "DMZ" mod for Chain of Command. Look for the "Carportgaming" blog. They might give you some ideas if nothing else.

    You've mentioned films set in the Vietnam war, but did you ever catch the TV series "Tour of Duty"? Well worth getting the DVD box-set if you haven't.

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    1. More great shouts, thank you Tamsin. Tour of Duty was an amazing series, just the opening title sequence had me hooked.

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  19. You can access a router’s configuration page using the default IP address of a router. This is usually set by the Manufacturer. The commonly used ones are 192.168.1.1 (Linksys), 10.0.11 (Apple) and 192.168.0.1 (D-link, Netgear, etc). 198.168.1.1 follow this link to configure and set up your wireless router for use Connect the router to a desktop or laptop via an Ethernet cable. For this to work, you might require LAN drivers pre-installed.

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