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Rolling Hot: CoC Vietnam Mini Campaign

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:51 am
by Dog who drinks paint
Based on David Drake's 'Hammer's Slammers' novel of the same name, this campaign consists of four linked scenarios covering the actions of an armoured cavalry troop fighting its way from a rear echelon base to the relief of Hue during the Tet Offensive. Drake served with 11th ACR in Vietnam in 1970. The novel is based on accounts he heard from those he served with who had been there in 1968.

The scenarios were written for my Vietnam-modified version of Too Fat Lardies' ‘Chain of Command' (CoC) rules. A set I call Fudged Fighting Season, in honour of the Afghan rules that never were and the all-important acronym. They owe a great debt to Jason Sendjirdjian’s excellent DMZ modifications, but are tweaked to reflect my own prejudices (derived largely from Hollywood and pulp fiction rather than historical research).

Before the pedants attack, I know that the Sheridans should be M48s. What can I say? Back when I started collecting these forces Airfix kits were easily available and no one made M48s in 1/72. I just squint a bit and/or relocate the action to 1973.

Scenario 1: Attack on Camp Progress

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Camp Progress is a rear area repair facility. It is manned by engineer and maintenance REMFs, and is currently hosting a number of vehicles from various armoured cav units. When the NVA launches its Tet offensive, Progress becomes the target for a nighttime assault by a regular force of infantry and sappers. As the initial salvo of mortar shells rains down, the ranking cav officer, Captain Ranson, is getting orders to pull every vehicle that can move out of Progress, and head for Hue to support relief efforts as that city comes under effective siege from NVA forces.

US Forces

Camp Progress Garrison - Green - 4 Command dice

1 Senior Leader w/M16
RTO w/M16

2 M60 teams of 2 crew

2 rifle sections of 5 M16, 1 M79, 1 shotgun, 1 Junior Leader w/M16

1 ‘Green’ die that only counts for 5s and 6s

Task Force Ranson - Regular - 5 Command dice

M113 ACAV with Senior Leader (Captain Ranson)
3 M551 Sheridan with Junior Leaders
3 M113 ACAV with Junior Leaders

NVA Forces

Rifle Platoon - Regular- 5 Command dice

Senior Leader w/SKS
Runner w/SKS

3 Rifle Sections each:

Junior Leader w/AK47
RPD team w/2 crew
RPG7 team w/2 crew
4 riflemen w/AK47 or SKS

3 Sapper teams, elite, veteran, 2 sappers with satchel charges and wirecutters, AK47

Pre-Game Barrage

1 ‘Red’ die. This only counts when a ‘1’ is rolled, to give the elite sappers a little more aggression

Turn 1

The razor wire cast jagged shadows across the blank look on Nhung’s face as another mortar shell exploded on the American base. “Wire cutters!” hissed Duc again, though the chances of anyone hearing him over the cacophony of detonations were slim. “I thought you had some”, Nhung hissed back, “I gave mine to Hien.” Before Duc could express his fury at his partner’s stupidity, the roar of a machine gun sent both sappers sprawling in the mud, desperate to avoid the stream of tracer ripping the air just above their heads.

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Things started well for the NVA, with two sapper teams deploying in the first phase and a full squad joining on phase two. Unfortunately, the start of a run of poor rolls saw them fail to make any impression on the razor wire defences. Meanwhile the pre-game barrage stopped any cav deployment, but in phase 2 an M60 team braved the mortar shells and, despite the dark, inflicted a shock and a kill on one of the sapper teams.

Phases 3 and 4 saw the NVA bring on another squad, but continued to make no impression on the wire. The M60 team continued to blaze away in the dark, but were unable to repeat their initial success. However, a garrison squad braved the barrage and added to the volume of outgoing fire, achieving only a single shock on the second sapper team. The pre-game barrage still kept the cav from deploying.

No one likes being rudely awakened in the middle of the night, especially when the alarm takes the form off a salvo of 82mm mortar shells. Fortunately for Captain Ranson, he had already been roughly shaken out of his fitful sleep by the duty clerk when the first explosions shook the base. The staff officer, who’s urgent call had summoned the still-drowsy captain, sounded panicky through the radio static. But his message was clear: pull every track that can move out of Camp Progress and head north for Hue.

“You can hear we’re under attack here? Over” said Ranson, as calmly as he could manage. “Not your problem Ranson. Get that armor headed north. Out.” Ranson dropped the radio mic and headset and ran for the door, only to be flattened by a soldier headed fast in the opposite direction, as more shells shook the bunker. Lying, winded, under a couple of hundred pounds of GI, Ranson wondered if things could get any worse. As the contents of a sandbag, torn open by shrapnel, started to cascade onto his face, he considered that, on balance, they probably could.


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In phase 5 the remaining NVA forces deployed but still no luck with the wire. Ranson finally convinced some crew to leave the safety of their bunkers for the dubious protection of their ACAVs and Sheridans, with 2 vehicles deploying. The garrison, with the help of a double phase, deployed a second M60 team and wiped out both the ineffectual sapper teams. NVA Force Morale dropped by 1 to 10.

In phase 6 the NVA returned fire, inflicting 2 shock and a kill on the US squad, who could only achieve one shock in return. Ranson deployed two more ACAVs and used a CoC dice to end the turn, in the hopes of ending the pre-game barrage. I decided to allow the NVA to burn a CoC dice of their own to keep the barrage firing. Not strictly RAW, but at this stage I felt they needed all the help they could get.

Turn 2

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Thanh and Hien crouched by the wire, grateful that the green and red tracer filling the night air was not coming in their direction, yet. Thanh held out the wire cutters to Hien, only to realize his comrade was holding a pair in each hand. The awful implication of this over abundance of equipment struck them both at the same time. They glanced involuntarily to their right, where the rapidly intensifying firefight marked the place where their fellow sappers should have been slicing through the American defences with the very tools they were holding. Then, without a word, they set to work.

The NVA started with a double phase, and whilst they continued to make no impression on the wire, the two squads in support managed 2 shock and 3 kills on the American defenders, despite the darkness and hard cover. Return fire from the M60s went high and wide in the dark, but the rifle squad was more accurate and inflicted 1 shock and 3 kills on the enemy. When the second squad deployed it added another 3 shock. Ranson continued a fruitless search for more vehicle crew.

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In Phase 2 it all kicked off. The last sapper team finally cleared a section of wire. The NVA Lieutenant removed shock from his squads and their Junior Leaders led two squads into close combat with the American defenders.

That was a mistake.

The US got more than double the dice of the NVA assault, which was effectively wiped out with the 3 survivors (of 18 attackers) heading for the jungle. However, they did inflict damage, wiping out an M60 team and breaking a rifle squad. NVA Force Morale dropped to 6, the US Garrison to 7 from 9. Meanwhile, Ranson had deployed all but one vehicle and his own, but none of them had started moving.

The NVA then chose to end the turn with a CoC dice to rout the broken squad, dropping Garrison Force Morale to 6 but finally ending the pre-game barrage.

Turn 3

Phase 1: the NVA tried some ineffective rifle fire and an RPG flew wide of an ACAV, but attracted the attention of the surviving M60 gunner who scored a shock and a kill. Ranson finally had all vehicles deployed and the first tank left the compound.

In Phase 2 the NVA lieutenant busied himself removing shock, the sappers crept forward and another RPG round narrowly missed an ACAV (rolled 7, needing an 8 because it’s nighttime). The M60 fired and missed while the armour all started heading out.

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In phase 3 the remaining NVA squad headed for the gap in the wire and the M60 finished off the RPG team. Then in phase 4 the Vietnamese lieutenant led his remaining troops in a final assault on the US defences. Both sides inflicted 5 kills, wiping out the American garrison (apart from the senior leader and his RTO who were still cowering in a bunker) and breaking the NVA. At which point it was time to bring down the curtain.

With all 7 vehicles leaving the table unmolested, this was definitely a US victory. That said, the garrison was effectively wiped out and things could have been even messier if only the sappers had got through the wire sooner.

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With dawn light creeping over the horizon and a modicum of order descending on the newly christened Task Force Ranson, the Captain took a deep breath, released his hold on his .50 cals’ grips and surveyed his command. To the left, the smoking remains of Camp Progress seemed devoid of life. Ahead lay ‘Happy Days’, the settlement which had provided R&R facilities for the men of Camp Progress. Only this time, judging by the night’s events, they were unlikely to be greeted by anyone offering to “love you long time, GI!”