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Monday, November 4, 2013

AAR "Ambush Alley" - Road Block Mission in Tour of Duty

by Tom Burgess

I had always thought that Road Block, a Version Two Flames of War Mission that did not make it into Version Three, would be great for playing out missions similar to that actions that occurred along “Route 9” during Operation Lam Son 719, the infamous “Ambush Alley” during the Vietnam War. My friend Charles and I had already been planning to resurrect the V2 Road Block Mission. Our plan was to use his ARVN Cavalry Squadron versus my PAVN Infantry in a fight to keep the VC from cutting the main supply route. So, when Wargames Illustrated #311 came out with the updated Road Block mission we jumped right on it and set up the following battle.

The most important thing about setting up the Road Block mission is that you must have six feet of road that runs along one side of the board. It has to be entirely between 8” from the one of the long edges of the board and 8” from the center of the board.  We have been using a lot of light “jungle” in our previous Tour of Duty games, but for this one we just used a lot of normal jungle/woods and then left the area in-between as clear.

 The battlefield looking down “Route 9.”

The Jungle areas are normal woods. The rice paddies are slow going and have bullet-proof cover for infantry along the bunds (edges). There is a dry stream bed on the other side of the village that is very difficult going, and provides bullet-proof cover as well as concealment.

My Tiêu Ðôàn Bô Binh (PAVN) Bn tasked to close “Route 9” consisted of the following:

Charles ARVN Cavalry Squadron consisted of:

For my ambuscade’s target I chose Charles’ M41 Platoon as I thought it would be best to try to take out his heaviest hitting platoon first. To the deliver the ambuscade, I choose the 1st Bô Binh Infantry Company with the Bn HQ’s 75mm recoilless rifles attached.  Charles then had his Loach and 2IC’s platoon (M113 and ACAV) as his two escort platoons.

Charles decided to deploy the M41 “target platoon” close the nearest short edge of the board in the above photo and then placed other small/weak platoons on the board. This way he could bring in his bigger platoon as reserves “Racing to the Rescue” right on top of where my Ambuscade unit would have to be placed.

The Ambuscade opens up.

The Ambuscade destroyed three M41's and bailed out another Causing a morale check which the unit did not pass. Note: We did this wrong. The losses from Ambuscade do not cause a platoon morale checks nor do losses from it count in the game.

Two platoons of ACAV’s “Race to the Rescue”

Charles then immediately brought in two platoons of ACAVs which, guided by the Loach “Marking the Target,” proceeded to clear the edge of the Jungle knocking out all three 75mm Recoilless Rifles and B41 teams that had participated in the ambuscade. This though left most of the company untouched deeper in the jungle.

With no AT assets left to the PAVN 1st Company, they simply tried to dig in and failed. Note: The Ambuscade Platoon starts dug-in, messed that one up too! The only action against the ARVN that the PAVN could take was to place a minefield under one ACAV platoon, the one in the above picture that left the road, and Booby Traps were placed under two ACAVs from the other ACAV platoon threatening the 1st and also under the two vehicles of the ARVN 2IC’s platoon on the other side of the board.

The minefield has a big impact on one ACAV platoon.

In order to get deeper shots into the jungle against the 1st PAVN Co, the ACAVs close in. But the platoon on the minefield losses one ACAV and bails two others so does not add much firepower.

The Zippos come in from the back side of the PAVN 1st Co and unleash a wall of flames!

The fact that one ACAV platoon was largely hung up in the minefield was made up for by the fact that the ARVN brought in a Zippo platoon behind the PAVN 1st Co.

 The PAVN 1st Company takes terrible losses and is surrounded, but refuses to give up.

Frustrated that the PAVN will not yield a mounted assault is sent into the jungle to finish the communists off. But two B41's hit and halt the charge.
Flanking the Flankers!

While the 1st PAVN Co was hanging on for dear life, the 2nd PAVN Company emerged from Guerilla Reserves behind the Zippo platoon and manages to get three B41 hits despite having to shoot on the move.  Two Zippos explode  and one bails out, but its too much for the unit and it fails morale. First Battle Point for the PAVN!

The 1st PAVN Platoon continues to get pounded.

The 1st PAVN Co. finally succumbed to the ACAVs (six dice of shooting/ACAV!) and break, yielding up the first Battle Point to the PAVN.

 Ranged in by the Loach, ARVN 155’s rain down on the left edge of the 2nd PAVN Company.

A 106mm Recoilless Rifle make a miraculous shot and takes out the PAVN Artillery Forward Observer, the 130mm guns will never fire in this game.

The 3rd PAVN Company arrives from Guerilla Reserve. After a short march it will be able to threaten the other objective which is currently only guarded by the ARVN 2IC’s M113 and an escorting ACAV.

A Bô Binh Anti-air Company armed with Type 54 12.7mm AA MGs arrives from Guerrilla Reserve but has poor deployment options. It does manage to dig in at least!

 No sooner had the 12.7 AAMGs showed up, than the ARVN SP Mortar Company showed up right behind them.

The M125 Mortar tracks cause no damage from their shooting against the 12.7mm AAMGs. The M125’s then try to assault, but end up with two bailed out tracks and are unable to close in.

The PAVN AT Company arrives from Guerrilla reserve and is able to get good hits on the ARVN ACAV platoon that had moved into the center village. The ARVN ACAV break yielding a second Battle Point.

An ARVN ACAV platoon, supported by the ARVN Squadron CO’s M113, push through the jungle to engage the PAVN 2nd Company in the open. This fire destroys many PAVN AK-47/B-41 teams and the company fails it platoon morale check awarding a second battle point to the ARVN!

The PAVN 3rd Company continues to close on the ARVN 2IC and the other objective. Advancing B-41 fire knocks out the escorting ACAV.

The following assault by the 3rd PAVN Co. takes out the ARVN 2IC’s M113 and the consolidation move is used to spread out and secure the objective.

Unable to move to contest the objective with any ground forces, the ARVN bring in a final barrage of 155 artillery. The barrage causes a lot of damage, but not enough to make the 3rd PAVN Co. flee from the objective.

So, the game ends with Route 9 being cut. The ARVN have two Battle Points for destroying two PAVN Infantry Companies. The PAVN have three Battle Points for destroying three ARVN platoons (2IC’s, Zippos, 1 x ACAV) and two Battle Points for destroying seven ARVN “tank teams” (One Battle Point per three destroyed tank teams). With a differential of three Battle Points, this action ends up as a Major Victory for the forces of Uncle Ho.

A truly great game and a lot of fun with a great opponent. Though we still manged to get a few things wrong rules wise, I think we are getting much better at understanding the unique aspects of Tour of Duty. And the more I understand it, the more I like it. The war is not over yet! Charles and I have many more missions to try with these forces and I am expanding my PAVN collection to include Divisional assets, like bigger B-10 Recoilless Rifles and a Local Forces Company. We look forward to continuing to share our battle accounts here.

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates as Iron-Tom on WWPD.

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