The scenario covers the US Marine attack on the village of Xom Phuong in 1968.

Xom Phuong, near Nhi Ha, Vietnam, May 4th, 1968, 13:55

Historical Background

The first objective of the NVA during the Tet II Offensive was to open an invasion corridor along the DMZ. At the front was the 3rd Marine Division. The Division was caught in massive battles around Dong Huan and Dai Do. Vulnerable to the constant enemy attacks and unable to push the NVA north, the Division commander requested a battalion to help secure the Nhi Ha area. Sent on loan was the US Army 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division - the "Gimlets". Their mission was to take and hold Nhi Ha in order to block NVA infiltration along Jonesí Creek. Elements of the 270th Independent NVA Regiment had entrenched themselves in Nhi Ha and the surrounding hamlet of Xom Phuong. After clearing most of Nhi Ha, Company A was ordered to conduct a reconnaissance in force to Xom Phoung, northwest of Nhi Ha. Hidden amongst the burial mounds, cemetery and rice fields, the NVA had every intention of holding at all costs.

American Forces

Elements of the 196th Light Infantry

Squad HQ [10 men]
- Captain, FOO, radioman (2) , soldier w/M16 (4), scout w/M16 (2)
Squad A [11 men]
- Corporal , soldier w/M16 (7), soldier w/M79, support soldier w/M60, medic
Squad B [11 men]
- Corporal , soldier w/M16 (7), soldier w/M79, support soldier w/M60, medic
Support
- Phantom w/1000lb bomb (direct support)
- Medivac Huey (direct support)
- 105mm Howitzers (direct support)
- 155 Howitzers (general support)

Objectives:
- Decisive Win: secure the village and both trails
- Marginal Win: complete either of the decisive win victory conditions

NVA Forces

Elements of the 270th Independent Regiment

NVA Squad HQ [9 men]
- 2nd Lieutenant, FOO, radioman, soldier w/SKS (2), bazooka team (2), MG team w/Type 24 (2)
VC Squad B [10 men]
- Corporal , soldier w/SKS (4), soldier w/SMG (4), soldier w/DP
NVA Squad E [9 men]
- Corporal , soldier w/AK47 (7), soldier w/SMG
Support
- 82mm Mortar (direct support)

Objectives:
- Decisive Win: inflict 15 US casualties and retreat 7 men off the board
- Marginal Win: complete either of the decisive win victory conditions


Game information and Deployment

General Set Up:
- 3 players on each side
- each player commanded one squad
- each deck contained 25 cards
- there were two Artillery Arrives Now! cards in the US decks (for the 105 and 155)
- there was one OffBoard Activity Arrives Now! card in the US deck (for the Phantom and the Huey)
- there was one Artillery Arrives Now! card in the NVA deck (for the 82mm)
- playing time: 3hrs

US Forces:
The US team deployed the HQ squad west of the creek, Squad B deployed west of the N-S raised road and Squad A deployed in the rice paddy. The forces started about 3 inches from the game table.

NVA/VC Forces:
The NVA team deployed the HQ squad near the eastern end of the E-W raised road and the Type 24 MMG in the jungle, Squad B was deployed at the jungle edge and Squad E was deployed in the bunkers on the north edge of the E-W raised road. The NVA/VC forces began the game hidden and were not placed on the board (the force placement was recorded on a map). A soldier become unhidden if they fired, moved or were spotted.

Weather:
Clear sky. Light breeze from the east.


Plan of attack.

Turn 1

The NVA were content on waiting out the turn to see what the American plan was. All NVA/VC squads were hidden. The US HQ Squad ordered some smoke from the 105=s and placed the OBA markers on the raised E-W road. Bad die rolls indicated the smoke would arrive sometime during turn 2. The 155=s could not be contacted. The American forces moved cautiously towards their objectives.

Turn 2

US Squad A started to take fire from the eastern jungle. They also came under fire from the Type 24 MMG located at the jungle-road edge. US Squad A was taking a lot of casualties. US Squad B fired a LAW rocket at the MMG and killed the gunner. Smoke for the 105=s started to land along the E-W raised road obscuring NVA Squad E and some of US forces in Squad HQ and B. The NVA contacted their 82=s and placed them along the N-S road in the middle of US Squad B. The US forces were having trouble firing on the NVA/VC in the jungle. The 155=s were not contacted. The Phantom jet was contacted and would arrive on Turn 6.


NVA and VC on the move.


Turn 3

The US Squad A was still under heavy fire in the rice paddy. More soldiers were INC or KIA. US Squad A was returning fire to the tree-line but VC Squad B headed north back through the jungle and left the DP to cover their retreat. The NVA HQ Bazooka team was also firing into Squad A, killing the M60 gunner immediately. US 155=s were contacted and would arrive next turn. The NVA 82=s landed in US Squad B and caused some casualties. US Squad B was desperately trying to support Squad A with machinegun fire, the M79 and M16 fire. Due to the range, heavy jungle and well-entrenched NVA=s and VC=s, they were having little affect. US HQ Squad was moving north along the creek. Both US Squad B and the HQ Squad were trying to spot NVA=s in the village and bunkers. The US 155=s were contacted and would arrive in turn 5. The smoke mission from the 105=s was cancelled and HE was called. The 105 HE would arrive next turn.


Marines taking hits in the rice paddy.


Turn 4

US Squad A was fighting for its life it the rice paddy. Caught in the open with attacks coming from the jungle from VC Squad B and NVA HQ force, they were barely hanging on. US Squad B was slowly moving over the road and into the fields north of the rice paddy. They were also sending a small force along the road to wait and enter the village. The US HQ force was supporting Squad B and moving into position to cross the creek. NVA Squad E forces east of the village were inflicting some casualties on the US forces. The 82mm mortar was causing grief to the US Squad B. The big 155 came down into eastern jungle around Squad B. Also, the 105 came down into the same area. The NVA and VC were surviving the barrage due to their well dug in positions. The VC Squad B had left their starting position and was moving northward along the jungle when it came under the artillery fire. A couple of well-placed shells decimated the squad.


US Marines advance along the river bank.


Turn 5

US Squads HQ and B continued ad hoc spotting in the village. They were unsure if more NVA forces were hidden in the village. US Squad A in the rice paddy was wiped out. Elements of US Squad B and the NVA HQ were exchanging fire across the field. Form the N-S road to the jungle. Most of VC Squad B was KIA or INC so they decided to cover the retreat of the HQ Squad. The Type 24 would also supply covering fire to allow the remaining HQ and NVA Squad E forces to retreat.


The artillery starts to land.


Note: I reminded players that turn 6 would be the final turn. Neither team had achieved any victory conditions. The NVA team had 5 more kills and had to exit another 4 men. The US player was not in control of the village or roads. All players realized that they had not even reached a marginal victory. The NVA players decided to try and INC/KIA 5 US forces and exit the last 4 men. The US Players unsure of the village status, decided to wait until the air strike and then take the village. A risky move since they did not now when the air strike would come. Due to the fog of war (hidden units) the US player did not know there were no NVA forces in the village.

Turn 6

The US Squads HQ and B were waiting for the air strike before making a mad dash to the village. Some of the northern point of the US HQ Squad decided to cross the creek in an attempt to flank the village. The NVA were attempting at any cost to cause more US casualties and move forces off the board. As cards turned the pressure was on for both teams to stay, move, fire or advance to their objectives. Commanders for all squads had to make some tough decisions. The US player was running out of cards and had not entered the village. The NVA player had only 2 more US soldiers to INC or KIA to get a marginal win. Suddenly at about : of the deck the air strike came and took out the village. The US player using fatigue moves and any available leadership cards pushed a small amount of Squad B into the village and secured it. The NVA players ran out of cards and luck and did not finish exiting forces or inflicting enough casualties. With the village secure, the US team had a marginal win. The game was over.


A look at the village.


My Observations

This was one of the best scenarios I have ever watched. First it was an exiting game, with the results determined by the final 10 cards. The battle always changed and each forces victory conditions slipped into and out of grasp. Secondly it was a superb tactical game. Both the NVA/VC players and the US players played their forces historically and kept them focused. It was good use of tactics, weapon knowledge, support and the objectives that kept the game close and very challenging. The game relied more on good player leadership, period knowledge and instinct, than rules. The NVA and VC hidden units were tough to play against as it added good fog of war and kept the US players on their edge.

There were 6 players; 2 novices, 2 players who had played a couple of times and 2 veteran TFoB players. Considering there were assault rifles, SMG's, bazooka's, LAW's, artillery, aircraft, a wide variety of terrain and more, all players played the game with ease. Even the novice players were able to grasp the game within the first turn and played unsupervised. The new The Face of Modern Battle rules for morale and firearms were enthusiastically received.