Sunday, June 1, 2014

"In Country," Game 13 (7 Dec 1967)


Following the bloody QRF mission to save the LRRPs on Thanksgiving, the squad had a few days to regroup, recover, then get back into light patrolling.  The day after Thanksgiving, another Huey was shot down near the Cambodian border, then everything went quiet, no contact for several days.  On a hunch, the Brigade S-3 (Operations Officer) threw a few patrols back to the east, and trouble was immediately found.  Particularly perplexing was the fact the brigade was not only running into the customary local VC, but several NVA had been killed or captured.  What are they doing to the east of us, particularly so near the scheduled Christmas cease fire?  The ARVN, to the north at Kham Duc, are reporting a buildup to their south as well.

The brigade has been pushing patrols further and further east, trying to determine the extent of the problem.  It's 7 December 1967 and the squad is on point towards the village of Kao San, pretty much at the eastern edge of the brigade's area of operations, heading in the direction of the two other major US bases, Kontum and An Khe.  The squad is on point for all of Alpha Company, having just rotated up front.  It's approximately 0930, and they've been on the move since 0645.

Overview, north is up, with village of Kao San at top center.  The squad is entering the board on the trail at bottom, with their pointman almost halfway up the board.  You can see NVA spread all over the top left and right/top right sides of the board, all starting unspotted.

Closeup of northwest.

Kao San, sporting a couple rifles, a 12.7mm HMG, and an 82mm mortar.  Looks like the NVA are not only ready for a fight, they're looking for a fight...

Closeup of the DshK HMG.

And the mortar.

The right side of the board, with trail at left.  Blow the pic up and look closely for the pink beads, there are NVA all over the place.

The initial set up, with only part of the squad on the table.  Kruczek (top right) is on point, diddy-bopping up the trail, followed by Sgt Russell, Brown (w/M-60), and Bradshaw.  Russell: "Hey, dumbass, get off the trail."  "Wha???"

Then automatic weapons fire pierced the still morning air.  NVA in foreground open up, missing Krukzek on the trail but hitting Russell in the bushes, putting him down.

Their fearless leader, SSgt Banaszak (center right, on knoll, with Kruczek on trail to left and Russell's body next to him) sprints on, goes prone, but can't spot the enemy...

Kruc passes his morale test, hops off the trail prone (top left), but can't spot the enemy either.  Brown (bottom right) doesn't do so well on his test and assumes the fetal position, while Bradshaw moves up next to Ban and Russell, goes prone, and fails his spotting attempt...

Banaszak screams to the rest of the squad: "Bradley, take Kolb and Clack right, Ham, take Thomas and Grossman left, we've got big trouble up ahead!"

At far left from top: Bradley, Clack, and Kolb (trail is just off camera to left) come on the board, moving right, smack into an NVA (far right), who opens up but misses everyone.  Bradley goes prone but can't spot the NVA, while Clack drops prone and spots the NVA, but it took two actions so he can't fire.  Kolb goes prone and fires, missing.

While on the left, Grossman leads the way, trailed by Ham and Thomas (trail is off camera to right).  There are three NVA in picture: left side at corner of paddy, top center, and top right.  All three spot our GIs as they maneuver aggressively...

Grossman finds himself almost nose to nose with the NVA at the paddy corner, and the NVA gets the drop on him, felling Grossman with a long burst of AK fire.

The second NVA opens up, lightly wounding Ham, who goes prone and spots the NVA that shot him, while the third NVA opens up and puts Thomas on his back...

More NVA in the northwest move forward to establish a firing line.  The squad has big, big problems as only Ham is still in the fight on this side, and he's lightly wounded.

And NVA move up on the right, forming a crescent around Bradley, Clack, and Kolb (bottom left).

Banaszak is lying on his knoll, gets on the radio, gets through to the Brigade Fire Direction Center.  "Red Leg, Red Leg, this is Spartan 1 Bravo, Fire Mission.  Standby."  Ban sprints left across the trail (he's at center along spine running parallel to trail, with Ham at bottom left), goes prone, and takes a look at a whole bunch of NVA.  "Give me one round on spot, coordinates..."  "On the way" (blue bead).  One 155mm artillery round is on the way, which Ban will use to adjust fire on the enemy.  Yes, things are bad enough I'm using off-board arty at severely danger close.

Ham (bottom left) assumes the fetal position.  The NVA at top center left spend quite a few actions trying to spot Banaszak (to right of Ham), and finally succeed.  When they do their RPG gunner fires a rocket at him, but misses terribly (cotton at far right).  A couple riflemen fire at Ban, missing, and a couple fire at Ham; five misses, then the sixth round of fire hits him, seriously wounding him...

On right, Bradley (bottom left) takes a couple attempts, but finally spots the mass of NVA at top center.  They are so close that he loads a canister (AKA, "buckshot") round in his M-79 and fires.

And it's a doozy: one NVA is down, and two others are seriously wounded (red beads)!

NVA at far right does okay on morale test, goes prone and fires at Kolb (bottom left), misses twice, while Kolb returns fire and misses three times...  Clack passes his test and fires, missing three times...  The only good news is that the last NVA rifleman (next to the three guys on the ground from Bradley's buckshot round) fails his test and runs screaming into the jungle.

Brown gets his stuff together and crawls up on the knoll at bottom center, fires at ville but misses, though the machine gun fire causes the NVA leader in the village to go fetal while the rifleman next to him runs!  Another NVA rifleman assumes the runner's place and tries to spot Brown, but fails.  Bradshaw is just to left of Brown, while Kruczek is forward of him.

Kruc (bottom left) crawls forward towards the ville, putting the HMG gunner down.  The A-gunner was going to take over the gun but failed his test and goes fetal.

Then the 82mm mortar opens up, three rounds in the air (blue beads), targeting Ban (far left), Brown's M-60 (center), and Bradley/Clack/Kolb (right.

Bradshaw (bottom left) crawls forward and fires at the HMG, missing.

Enemy rounds land, with first two dead on, lightly wounding Banaszak and Brown...

And the 155mm round hits a little left of the call...

But puts two NVA down and lightly wounds two more.

Banaszak: "Four tubes, fire for effect!!! Then give me another spotting round at shift right 50!" (blue bead at village).

NVA on left are firing up Banaszak, but no hits so far.

Ham crawls to rear (bottom left, with Banaszak to his right) as the 155mm barrage hits!

Back on the right, there is only one NVA remaining (far right).  Bradley loads buckshot, fires, misses, reloads buckshot, fires again, misses again.  Terrible shooting, but the stress from all that buckshot (red dice) is enough for that particular NVA to call it a day.

Clack and Kolb move forward towards ville, finish the two NVA seriously wounded on the right, and keep moving.

Meanwhile, the squad has its own runner: Brown can't take it, and runs off, carrying the squad's machine gun with him...  Bradshaw (far left, just above trail) takes up a good prone firing position and lights into the HMG.  I actually roll a 20 on the first try, but as the gunner is prone behind the wall I figure it's impossible to hit him, so let's just call Bradshaw's efforts 'suppressing fire,' which is enough to keep the gunner pinned down for another turn.  The NVA in the ville spot Bradshaw and toss a bit of lead his way, but miss, and Kruczek (center) returns the favor (that is, shooting a bunch and hitting nothing).

The NVA mortar pops out three more rounds.

This is un@#$%ing believable!!!  Last turn he fired three rounds, two on target.  This turn, three rounds, all three on target!!!  This is getting a bit ridiculous.  Bradshaw (far left) and Kolb (far right) are lightly wounded, while Kruczek (center) is not hit, only shocked.  I will say that, as good at the NVA shooting dice have been, their casualty dice have sucked.

Then Banaszak's 155mm spotting round hits the ville.

And Ban again calls "fire for effect!"  This severely dampens the NVA's spirit, and they relinquish control of Kao San.  The LT comes on the radio, "Alright Banaszak, get your squad into the ville."  "Negative, we require MEDEVAC, I've got four men down, three ambulatory, and one missing."  "Roger, and don't worry about your missing man, we policed him up."

The NVA suffer 14 KIA, a 12.7mm HMG, an 82mm mortar, and several tons of food and ammo.  Banaszak's lucky streak continues: he picked up a bit of shrapnel, but not bad enough to require evac, as did Ham and Kolb.  Thomas wasn't too bad either, they want to keep aboard base until 12 December, and Bradshaw took shrapnel all over his body, enough that they're sending him to China Beach until 23 December.  However, one of the 'cherries,' Grossman, bought it, and, regretfully, trusty old Sgt Russell, with half a dozen Purple Hearts already, was also killed in action.

The squad is having a rough time, unable to keep any veterans around in its key positions, with Banaszak the only real continuity.  One wonders how long his lucky streak can last...

In any case, Alpha Company returns to Dak To with irrefutable proof the NVA have slipped past the US/ARVN border posts and are massing in the interior.  But Christmas is coming, and things wind down for a happy, quiet holiday season.



  1. Another great report. You know, although the enemy side, the way the mortars work makes for a very good narrative in this and previous games. When they open up, I always get a chill for our side.

    Where are your ideas coming from? A 155mm barrage?! Are they in the rules?

  2. I'm playing the mortars as written in the rules (Some Corner of a Foreign Field). The arty barrage isn't really in the rules, per se, but I just stepped up the idea of the mortars, threw in a little of my own stuff for calling up support on the radio. There's a couple problems with it:
    1) On my tiny board, a 155mm barrage would have wiped everything off the map. But, we must sacrifice things for gameplay, so I'm okay with that.
    2) The arty probably shouldn't have responded so quickly. I should probably make it a several turn process, i.e., 1-call it in, 2- spotting round, 3-fire for effect. But I was worried the squad was about to be wiped out!

    I was playing this game with Platoon Forward-style blinds, but just about every 'blind' ended up being a real troop, hardly any were dummies, and so I was worried it was going to be curtains.

    3) The RTO (radioman). You may have noticed that I don't have an RTO figure in my little 10mm squad, and I really need one. I need to figure this out, then have him follow the squad leader non-stop.

    And I feel the same way about the enemy mortars, it leads to quite a bit of tension/suspense.