Binh Dinh: unbagging video by Players Aid

Over at the Players Aid blog, the indefatigable Grant Kleinheinz unbags and explores the contents of Binh Dinh ’69 from OSS Games.

Thanks Grant!

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Kandahar: unboxing video from The Players Aid

 

 

Grant Kleinheinz does an unboxing (technically unbagging) video of Kandahar from One Small Step Games.

Thank Grant! I hope you will enjoy the game.

2:02 Green Beret and a couple of other titles are “out of stock” right now because the publisher ran out of folio covers… so as soon as he has some more printed, these will be back in stock! Real Soon Now.

3:45 counters and map by Ania Ziolokowska! Very nice.

4:15 playable solitaire, no AI, though more fun with two certainly.

4:50 there is one enormous long (2 pages) example of play at the end of the booklet to show how it all works together.

8:06 That’s right!

9:20 Right again!

13:45: eight games of mine? You have a few to go before you can call yourself a true completist! B~)

Tactical Practical plays Colonial Twilight

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Over at his Tactical Practical blog, Chris Davis starts in on a play of Colonial Twilight where he consciously applies the principle of “clear, hold and build” which was introduced in French counterinsurgency doctrine at the time of the Algerian War and found further expression in American doctrine for Iraq and Afghanistan, as in Field Manual 3-24.

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/revolt-of-the-wretched-reflections-of-colonial-twilight-part-1/

I did write on this a bit in the Designer’s Notes to the game. We’ll see how he does, and I will post links to his further posts here.

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/revolt-of-the-wretched-propaganda-round-1/

First Propaganda Round, of the full scenario. Early play of the Casbah card let the FLN seize Algiers for a moment, but he got some traction in the countryside by building up Support and will soon move on the FLN stronghold in Tizi Ouzu.

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/revolt-of-the-wretched-propaganda-round-2/

Second Propaganda Round. The FLN fights for the cities and builds up strength quickly, but a timely play of Mobilization allows the Government to engage the guerrillas and knock them back down. They’re on the offensive now, but how long can they keep it up?

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/revolt-of-the-wretched-propaganda-round-3

Third Propaganda Round: Government Victory declared, so game over, man. The French Army pursues the remnants of the FLN while securing its rear area with police and auxiliary forces. Have a look at the map at the link: he has used the Government Bases to full effect, providing more Resources to the military; kept the France Track down to a dull roar; and grouped his Troops effectively. He also eliminated enough Guerrillas in Rounds 2 and 3 to attrit the FLN significantly.

Well done!

Binh Dinh ’69: review of related book, Losing Binh Dinh

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Kevin Boylan has written several books and articles on the general topic of the Central Highlands throughout the Vietnam War. I wish that I had had his work available to me when I was designing Green Beret and Binh Dinh ’69. Here is a review of a recent book by Boylan on the situation in Binh Dinh. (review originally appeared on the site H-War)

Kevin M. Boylan. Losing Binh Dinh: The Failure of Pacification and Vietnamization, 1969-1971. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2016. 365 pp. $34.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7006-2352-5.

Reviewed by Heather P. Venable (Air Command and Staff College)
Published on H-War (March, 2018)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey (Air War College)

Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=50993

Kevin M. Boylan’s Losing Binh Dinh: The Failure of Pacification and Vietnamization, 1969-1971 seeks to test the revisionist claim that the United States was winning the Vietnam War through its pacification efforts after the Tet Offensive but lost anyway because policymakers did not stay the course. Boylan does this by focusing on a particular province to explore the interrelationships between pacification and Vietnamization, arguing that they worked at cross purposes, ultimately failing both to prepare South Vietnamese troops to fight independently and to eliminate the VietCong insurgency. Vietnamization, in particular, could not succeed because of poor South Vietnamese leadership, which also challenges the revisionist claim that indigenous leadership improved significantly after Tet.

Kevin Boylan draws on his dual background as a defense analyst concerned with Iraq, among other issues, and as a graduate with a PhD in military history from Temple University, where he studied under Russell Weigley. The author recently left his position as a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to support his wife’s academic career.[1]Overall, Boylan challenges revisionist approaches, claiming they rely excessively on top-down assessments made by high-ranking policymakers and overly sweeping views of South Vietnam. By contrast, Boylan takes a bottom-up view focused on the specific province of Binh Dinh in order to better understand the localized and multifaceted nature of insurgencies. While certainly not the first to take this approach, he has chosen a province that represents a geographical aberration in South Vietnam, which made it especially challenging to pacify. In particular, it had poor soil that made it difficult to sustain its overpopulated numbers. Communist ideology thus found a receptive population, becoming entrenched as early as World War II, when the Viet Minh filled a power vacuum enabled by French defeat and gained a reputation as nationalists for battling the Japanese. In short, the province could be considered the Appalachia of South Vietnam.

Ironically, early pacification efforts made significant headway, offering hope that they might be successful. From April 1969 to December 1970, the 173rd Airborne worked in Binh Dinh to “secure individual hamlets” while providing training to the Territorial Forces that ultimately would replace it (p. 8). In this way, the approach certainly represented a more population-centric method of counterinsurgency than the United States previously had attempted in Vietnam, although it would be dangerous to draw many comparisons to recent US COIN efforts in Iraq and elsewhere because this program did not attempt to win “hearts and minds”. Rather, it represented a “quick fix” designed to regain “military control of enemy-dominated communities” (p. 48). This approach rested on policymakers’ assumptions that villagers were “apolitical” (p. 287). By contrast, the VietCong had a more targeted policy of maintaining their “psychological grip” on those villagers most likely to be active in leading their communities (p. 289), which provided them with an important advantage.

If Communist morale and activity did suffer greatly in 1969, however, those gains resulted from the efforts of US rather than South Vietnamese troops. Moreover, all of the US military effectiveness in the world could not counterbalance the local government’s political shortcomings. Simultaneously, the Phoenix program failed to destroy the Vietcong infrastructure even as the Communists increasingly responded to pacification’s successes by engaging in acts of terrorism against local government officials. By 1970, policymakers problematically sought to both enlarge and consolidate pacification, effectively working at cross purposes. The exodus of US troops from the country only made this even more unrealistic.

Meanwhile, the United States hoped optimistically that more training of the Territorial Forces might turn the tide. But Boylan compellingly argues that all of the training in the world could not solve the real reason Vietnamization failed—an almost unsolvable problem with South Vietnamese leadership. He depicts Vietnamese officers who eschewed the support of their advisers, just seeking access to “stuff”—particularly the logistical and firepower support the US provided. Most of their “casualties” resulted from desertions rather than battle. Advisers bemoaned that belaboring Vietnamization just made these patterns worse, because the South Vietnamese only became more dependent on the United States. In short, the South Vietnamese simply had not “commit[ed]” themselves to winning (p. 83). In large part, though, Boylan concludes that this can be explained by the fact that the “South Vietnamese themselves were never fooled” about the depth of US commitment (p. 295). This conclusion, however, rests on the kind of sweeping generalization about South Vietnamese morale that he critiques the revisionists for making, which ultimately challenges his provincial focus. A clearer overarching roadmap to guide the reader either in the introduction or within the individual chapters themselves also might have helped to alleviate some of these problems, as one frequently arrives at the end of a chapter with only the unfolding of the narrative to guide the reader as to the author’s overarching purpose.

It is almost impossible for the reader to avoid drawing tragic comparisons between today’s current conflicts and debates about how and if victory is even possible. Ironically, the United States did make substantial short-term progress in pacifying Binh Dinh, but it failed utterly at Vietnamizing the war, which made victory unattainable. Pursuing both at the same time was impossible. As a high-ranking US official wrote in 1970, “We have gone about as far as we can go in turning this country into an armed camp” (p. 289). This work could have done more to shed light on perspectives from the Vietnamese “camp,” but it does provide an excellent exploration of how Vietnamization and pacification coexisted uneasily in a challenging province in South Vietnam.

Note

[1]. LinkedIn profile, https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-boylan-538835128, accessed January 22, 2018.

Citation: Heather P. Venable. Review of Boylan, Kevin M., Losing Binh Dinh: The Failure of Pacification and Vietnamization, 1969-1971. H-War, H-Net Reviews. March, 2018.
URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=50993

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Nights of Fire: Kickstarter is done!

 

nights_of_fire_ks_stretch_goals_V2.1-step014

The Kickstarter campaign is over. And the final tally is: $87,821 !

Over three times the minimum $25,000 goal required to get this game produced at all… so I am gratified!

Final counts:

  • 167 people bought just Nights of Fire
  • 396 people bought Nights of Fire and the expansion pack (which includes 28 miniatures, two decks of cards for expansion of Nights (scenarios and leaders) and rules for play of the the campaign game)
  • 94 people bought the combined Days of Ire (reprint) and Nights of Fire package
  • 254 people bought the combined package with the expansion pack
  • 8 people bought something else – e.g. large group buy (thanks!)

So that’s about 900 copies at least that will be out in the wild… plus more for the retail trade, no idea of the production numbers.

Really nothing left to do now except review bits and pieces of stretch goals like new art bits for the Insurgent pieces… everything that has anything to do with the actual play of the game has long been written, arted-up and tested. Which is all I wanted to know.

If production goes well some copies will be in people’s hands (or at least for show) at the Essen game fair in October. However, to be sure, they are committing to a delivery date of March 2019 which will cover all exigencies.

If you backed this Kickstarter, good for you and many thanks!

If you didn’t, I hope you get a chance to buy or at least play it when it comes out! I think you will be pleased.

Site addition: Scenarios and Variants page

One thing I like to do, when I have the time and inspiration, is to write scenarios and variants for other peoples’ games. I think this is probably how many designers got started. Sometimes I write or revise items of my own work, too.

Anyway, today I created a page on this website for these items, moved over from my other older website. Have a look, there are items there for many old and new games!

Scenarios and Variants

Copyrights remain with the original creators or holders. No challenge is intended. The variant material is all created by me and is free for the downloader’s personal use, but I would appreciate name-checks and notifications of its use… motivates me to make more of these. Right?

I’d appreciate if you would send me any comments you may have, provided they are constructive and/or adulatory. (as always, I am not responsible if any of these files make your machine go **SPUNG**… though I don’t see how, they are all .docx and .pdf files)

NOTICE:

All material on this website, including all its subsidiary pages, that is written by me is made available through a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Please contact me if you want to discuss other uses of the content.

Nights of Fire: 48 hours to go!

Nights of Fire - A sequel to Days of Ire -- Kicktraq Mini

Less than 48 hours left in the Kickstarter campaign for Nights of Fire!

At the time of writing, we’ve just broken the $70,000 barrier – nearly three times the initial $25,000 “all or nothing” point – but there are a couple of stretch goals left to crush.

Please back it now, if you’ve been thinking of doing so! Yes, at this point the game will be produced but if you back it now you will

  • get it before The Others
  • get a nicer product than otherwise
  • save yourself quite a few dollars!

Thanks!