A Friend in Need (is a pest)

Thanks to Tyler BGG id Whisky_Bear for submitting this fine AAR!

Warning: This report contains event marker-related spoilers.

My regular LnL buddy had to cancel on me this afternoon, citing honey-do responsibilities. As a newly-wed of eight days myself, I know the feeling exactly — so I took to some yardwork in the morning so I could set about watching golf and playing games by myself all afternoon. Though I consider myself a veteran to the LnL system, I am very much a beginner to Forgotten Heroes. What follows is my third crack at the game, and first go solo.

Scenario: A Friend in Need

This scenario, a one-mapper with few units and no helicopters, appealed to me for its simplicity. Two American platoons look to root out suspected VC in a village in the A Shau Valley in a game that spans eight turns. The Americans and Lt. Jenson are opposed by three VC squads, but a further two squads of NVA regulars soon appear west of the village. All in all, it’s a pretty even fight. Victory conditions are simple: Both sides receive 1 VP for control of each of four buildings on the board at the end of the game. The Americans receive 1 VP for each MMC and SMC eliminated; the VC receive 2 VP for the same.

Turn 1: The Americans divide in half, with Lt. Jenson taking his platoon north of the main road to deal with the NVA. A second platoon heads south and captures the ridge west of the village, wary of a flanking attempt by the VC through the jungle.

Turn 2: Catching an NVA squad out in the open, one of Lt. Jenson’s squads (armed with an M-60) lights ’em up, shaking the unit. Outnumbered and outgunned, Lt. Van Du drops his command back into the rice paddies to regroup. But the Vietnamese leave a surprise behind — a VC sniper sets up in the bamboo hut. To the south, the Americans hope to nullify the VC’s ambush ability by pressing into close quarters against the enemy. The gamble pays off — only one American squad is shaken by opportunity fire, and is rallied by the medic in the subsequent rally phase. The VC can’t possibly match the U.S. Army in conventional tactics … right?

Turn 3: Unfortunately, the American commander underestimated the VC’s ability to dissolve into the jungle. With the initiative to the US, an American squad attempted an attack against Diem’s squad. But the +3 TM for heavy jungle worked in the VC’s favor, and the Americans didn’t get the chance to test the VC’s piddly base morale of 4. On the ensuing turn, the squad northeast of Diem slipped out of the jungle and around, catching the Americans off-guard. One squad and a medic — 4 VPs — were knocked out in melee. Not trusting their conventional tactics any longer, a second U.S. squad engaged Diem in melee. But the defenders were tenacious, and the melee round resulted in no effect. Not wanting to risk losing a second squad, the U.S. reinforced the melee, hoping to win the initiative in the next round and guarantee a 4-to-1 ratio.

To the north, the VC sniper attempts a potshot at a U.S. squad, generating a hero. But he also does his job, slowing up Lt. Jenson’s advance for another turn. In the meantime, Van Du’s two squads retreat to guard the village.

Turns 4-5: In the tentative midgame, the U.S. resolves its earlier melee, eliminating Diem and one VC squad. But the second VC squad slinks away into the U.S. rear area (where, like a pistol on the wall in the first act, it will be fired in the third). Jenson’s squad advances and eliminates the enemy sniper, capturing the first of four building hexes. Around the same time, Jenson’s radio crackles to life, and the Americans receive a fire mission. Now, about that village…

Turn 6: With the initiative flipping to the Vietnamese for the first time, something needed to be done before Lt. Jenson could rain fire on the village. But Van Du’s spotting roll failed, and any other move would needlessly expose the limited Vietnamese forces. So the village defenders braced themselves for attack. The U.S. spotting round was perfect, but luck failed from there — modest attack rolls and some hot dice for the defender yielded a hero for the NVA at the cost of only a shaken Van Du. Finally, with time running out, the U.S. went after the lead NVA squad guarding the approach to the village. An initial attack shook the unit, but with the open ground commanded by twin Vietnamese machine-gun emplacements, Jenson’s own gunners could only attack at range. No matter — the attempt failed, and the corresponding volley by the VC and NVA carved up Jenson’s men. (Kunai grass does not provide the most adequate of cover.) With only Jenson and a shaken half-squad remaining, the aforementioned VC squad crept to within killing range. U.S. hopes rested on Turn 7’s rally phase…

Turn 7: … which was, unfortunately, a failure. The (now-wounded) U.S. hero attempted to save Jenson and his men, but was cut down by an enemy machine gun, and the VC closed for the kill. With the VPs at 15-4 for the Vietnamese (and 12-3 on casualties alone), I called the game. (And switched over to Sunday Night Baseball. Golf? What was I thinking?)

Post-mortem: Though I much prefer h2h play, it’s a marvel how well this system solos. I felt pretty good about the way I handled the NVA retreat (probably my best maneuver of the game) and the way I had the southern platoon close to adjacent to the VC. (Unfortunately, my follow-up move left much to be desired, as I should have gone straight into melee.) My worst move was to push Lt. Jenson into the kunai grass to set up a spotting round — by first knocking out the advance NVA squad and coming in from the north, I might have better used the terrain to my advantage. Still, any U.S. victory would have been razor-thin; as it played out, the Vietnamese carried an overwhelming victory.


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