Friday, June 7, 2013

AAR - Charlie Don't Surf game (Long post and picture heavy)

Well, this is an After Action Review (AAR) for my first Charlie Don’t Surf (CDS) game.  After trials and tribulations starting 24 hours prior to the game, up to the beginning of the game, it almost never came to be (including almost having a head on collision with a truck driving down the wrong way!)  I was much frazzled, before, during, and after the game.  I really was not joking too much about if the game went really south that I was going to sell off everything to someone else in a foreign country because I don’t ever want to see it again.  Alas, l will not sell everything off, but I was still not happy with the game – mostly due to my poor set-up. 

I did not take any notes through the game, but I think I have the basic outline of the events in the game.  I base the game off of the second scenario in the TFL’s Surf’s Up CDS’s scenario book.  But due to the rush in getting things together after flying almost half way across the country and having only thirty minutes to grab my stuff at the house to take game, I left a lot of stuff back at the house.  So, that why there are no buildings on the board and why it is not laid out as in the description in the American’ s Operational Order (OPORD) that was to be given to them at the being of the game.  Since things were so different from the OPORD, I didn’t use the OPORD.  But I will post it below for your review of the way it should have been.

Anyway, everyone ran a US platoon of Air Cav.  I ran the game and the local force VC as the game was weighted heavily against the VC.    Steve H. ran the company headquarters & 1st Platoon.  Curtis T. ran the 2nd Platoon.  Dave S., who was new to Too Fat Lardies, ran 3rd Platoon.  I expected it to go badly for the VC, but it really went bad for them because the US was always able to get two platoons to overwhelm one VC platoon with small arms fire.  I also choose the wrong table edge to defend.  The game over all ended with a US military victory and political coup.  The game over all ended with a US military victory and political coup.  The US only lost 3 men killed, one being a medic.

Below is the pictures of the ebb and flow of the battle with comments and markings on the pictures.  Sorry about the quality of the pictures, my camera was slightly out of focus or something.


This shows the general overall setup and plan.  The two red circles are the two hidden local VC platoons.  The arrows show the expected axis of attack.  The pink square is the hidden cache of food and weapons.  The two yellow squares are the local civilians, each of three groups of civilians.  The three different blue color circles are the starting points for the US platoons.  1st Platoon is medium blue; 2nd Platoon is light blue; and 3rd Platoon is dark blue.  Their arrows represent the main axis of their advances.


Movement in the first round of game.  The 1st Platoon makes it across the stream without any problems.  It should be noted part of this was this was due the amazing First Sergeant for this company.  I kid you not that about half, if not three quarters of the drawings from deck, the first or second card to come up was the US’s First Sergeant through the entire game.  He really was the driving force for the US side.  Curtis is moving his 2nd Platoon into the stream.  For the next several turns he will make very little head way getting his platoon across the stream due to horrible dice rolls with the negative movement penalty for crossing the stream.  Clearly, his men did not bring their water wings!  Dave’s 3rd Platoon has not starting moving yet, but they also fell victim to the raging current of the stream and got struck taking several turns trying to cross it.


This is the beginning of turn 3 or 4.  As mentioned above, you can see both 2nd & 3rd Platoons are struggling in the stream, while 1st Platoon and the Company headquarters was slowing moving forwards with one die to move, one die to spot, and one die to hunker down.


This is about three turns later.  A bit more excitement this time!  Steve’s 1st Platoon breaks up into second sections, one rounding up civilians in the paddy fields and the second, under the hell kicking First Sergeant is moving around the paddy fields to towards the woods on the other side.  One platoon of hidden VC moved up and later was forced to fire (orange arrow) due to their poor fire discipline at part of the 1st Platoon, but luckily the cards came up right that they were able to withdraw before they were removed from their blind.  Unfortunately for them, their fire was pretty ineffective, only a pin and one point of shock.  The little yellow circles are some the civilians running away from the Americans.  I gave the civilians three dice to move, thinking with my normal rolls that they would be moving about average or less.  Oh, no…they were the RVN’s Olympian track and field team tryout members!   Also during this turn the Americans, being the monsters that they are, decided to open fire (orange arrows) on the fleeing civilians!  They killed one, but the other got away.  Again, one can notice that the stream is very sticky point for both the 2nd & 3rd Platoons.   


A few more turns later, the First Sergeant and the two squads strong 1st Platoon (the other two squads are on detail securing the civilians), move up to the woods were the one local VC platoon retreated and starts getting in a serious firefight.  Both 2nd & 3rd Platoons are mostly across the stream by now.  In this picture, you can also see one of 3rd Platoon’s squads now in position to support the 1st Platoon.  In the yellow box is the dead body marker for the fleeing civilian that was murdered by the American soldiers.


A wide shot of the action described above.  The small group near the rice paddy with the medium blue box is the 1st Platoon Leader, Company Commander, and the attached FO.


A couple of turns later, the 1st Platoon is giving a lot of damage to the VC platoon in front of them, with one squad suffering two dead and five points of shock.  Squads from the 3rd Platoon help giving supporting fire to 1st Platoon.  That is until the second hidden local VC platoon came rolling up the hill to try to put down fire on the 3rd Platoon.  The 3rd Platoon shifted their fire to the new threat.  The 2nd Platoon moves up and now also starts laying down fire on the second VC platoon.


On the following turn saw massive destruction with the firefight.  The local VC platoon facing the 1st Platoon delivered a very effective volley causing one US squad six points of shock and killing the attached medic (I treated him as a Big Man to see if the kill hit was on him or on a soldier in the squad.)  The US dead body marker for the medic is boxed in pink for the picture.  In CDS, the location of dead bodies is important for calculating Political victory points at the end of the game.

 After another turn, the other local VC platoon also got one deadly volley off on a squad from 3rd Platoon, killing two men and causing five points of shock.  Luckily, this time the nearby medic was attached to a different squad and was spared from rolling to see if he was one of the two kills.



This is basically the end turn.  As you can see, the amount of firepower that the US could bring on the VC platoons was massive, but the VC’s could not really get any advantage themselves.  Eventually, the VC retreated off of the board.


These next set of pictures were taken by Dave S. who sent me them to add to the blog.  Thanks, Dave!

Hey ladies, that handsome guy on the left is still available!  Steve & Curtis plot their actions.

Blake points at the game that he would not get in!  

The US company plus a special appearance of a Rome Plow that was scratch built by Steve.

1st Platoon leading the way while 3rd Platoon debates getting their feet wet.

One squad from 1st Platoon escorting the civilians to an evacuation point to be sent off to a government hamlet.

Destruction and death in one of Dave's 3rd Platoon's squads.

Finally, below is the copy of the OPORD that the US was to have at the beginning of the game.  I used the OPORD format that I was taught, and later taught to future leaders.  I used actual radio call signs from Vietnam for the 2nd / 5th Cav and their support.  It took some time to create and looking back on it, it was a waste of my time to do.  I doubt that I will ever do one again for a game.

OPORD Partial 

Task Organization: B Troop, 2/5 Cavalry BN  

I.  Situation:   

     A.  Enemy Force  

          1.  Weather: Clear and hot, with slight breeze moving west to east 

          2.  Terrain:

               Observations & Fields of Fire: Clear observation down roads and over rice paddies. No known Fields of Fire.

               Cover & Concealment: Heavy woods to the northeast and northwest of village. Woods surround village pretty much in all other directions.

               Obstacles: Rice paddies bordering the south and northwest of the village. Irrigation ditches connecting the paddies to stream to the south. 

               Key terrain: Several houses, all thatch, in the village; hill to the north east of village.

               Avenues of Approach: Dirt roads coming from the west to village and another heading north from village. 

          3.  Identification of enemy forces: Unknown. If any are present will most likely to be local cadre VC

          4.  Location(s): Unknown. If any VC are present, they will most likely be outside of the village where they have good cover and concealment

          5.  Activity: If present, they will defend until starting to be overwhelmed and will then withdraw from the area

          6.  Strength: Unknown, but expect a platoon size element of light infantry, armed with obsolete weapons. Possible 1-2 LMGs and may deploy some snipers. Local villagers are considered non-combatants, but may show some hostility when forced to relocate.

          7.  Probable course(s) of action when contacted: Mostly likely will use snipers to pin a friendly platoon and use their main platoon elements to attack the pinned element or set ambush for reactionary elements.

     B.  Friendly Forces

          1.  Mission and concept of next higher unit: 2/5 Cav is to conduct search operations in local villages looking for weapons / food caches for VC forces. The villagers are citizens of RVN and to be treated as non-combatants. If evidence of weapons or food caches, the villagers are to be rounded up for relocation and village destroyed. They are to be given at least one hour to gather their belongings before destroying the village.

          2.  Location and planned actions of units to the left, right, front, and rear: Bravo Trp will be conducting this mission alone.Alpha Trp will be conducting a similar mission at a village about 5.75 km to the North by North East. Delta Trp will be on standby as a reaction force at the Battalion fire base. Charlie & Echo Trps will be responsible for Battalion fire base security to the south.

          3.  Units providing fire support:

               E Trp's Mortar Platoon (81mm)
               A Batt, 1/77 Arty (105mm)
 
C.  Attachments/Detachments
            
         Attachment: FO from A/1/77 FA
 
         Detachment: B Trp's Mortar Platoon will remain at base
 
II.  Mission
 
          Primary mission is to search the village for enemy's supplies or intelligence and deny the enemy of their use.  Secondary objective is if there is evidence of local support to the enemy, relocate non-combats and destroy village.  If enemy forces present, priority is on denial of area/supplies for future enemy use, secondary is destruction of contacted enemy. 

III.  Execution / Intent of operation (Pre-game Troop Commander’s duty to explain to others how he wants the game to go)

     A.  Concept of the Operation: How the unit will accomplish its task(s) from start to finish? Identify all mission essential tasks and the decisive points of action 

          1.  Move: Discuss the mechanics of the operation, including designating the main effort

          2.  Fire: Describe how the leader intends to support his maneuver, including what is to be achieved from the fires, the priority of fires, and any restrictive control measures for the fires 

     B.  Tasks to Maneuver Units: Go over the task and purpose for each unit as primary/alternative duties: security, surveillance, support, assault, searching, guarding collection points, and other details

     C.  Tasks to Combat Support Units: Describe how combat support units will be employed
 
     D.  Coordinating Instructions: Lists the details of coordination and control to sub-units: Order of movement, formations, and movement techniques; Routes (primary/alternate); Actions on enemy contact; Time schedules (Give who must be where and when, then what happens); Rules of Engagement (When/who can start shooting)
 
IV.  Service Support (critical logistical information required to sustain the unit)

      A.  General: N/A for scenario

     B.  Material and Services: N/A for scenario

     C.  Medical Evacuation: N/A for scenario

     D.  Personnel: N/A for scenario      

     E.  Miscellaneous: N/A for scenario 

V.  Command & Signal

     A.   Command
 
          BN Commander will be in Command & Control helicopter "Chuck Chuck" between A & B Trps' AO's

     B.  Signal
    
          Radio Call Signs

          Battalion HQ "Arizona"
          A Troop "Lean Apache"
          B Troop "Ridge Runner"
          C Troop "Tall Commache"
          D Troop "Ready Navajo"
          E Troop "Prescott Arizona"
          A Battery, 1/77 FA "Birth Control"
          Attached FO from A/1/77 FA "Birth Control One Eight"
 
          1st Platoon "One"
          2nd Platoon "Two"
          3rd Platoon "Three" 
          Platoon “Four”
          Mortar Platoon “Five”

          BN/Troop/Platoon Leader "Six" 
          BN/Battery Operations "Three"
          Senior NCO "Six Mike"
          Radio Operator "India"

Examples:


B Trp's 1st Platoon's Sr NCO's RTO: "Ridge Runner One Six Mike India"
E Trp's Mortar Platoon's Operations: "Prescott Arizona Five Three"
B Trp's 2nd Platoon's Platoon Leader: "Ridge Runner Two Six"

5 comments:

FlyXwire said...

Joe, this is a great AAR!

Reading through it brought back the sights and smells of those sticking rice paddies. Actually though, the game was very fun to play, and it gave off that "feel" of Nam (if not actually the stink too).

Perhaps you having run the VC, and performing as you thought they would have in this firefight, conveyed to me a sense of one of those countless small unit engagements that must have been typical to the war. The scenario didn't play as if "here is the objective, go get it to win, fail and you lose". No, the scenario was more intangible.....we had civilians to approach, difficulty with the terrain, and with keeping our platoons together, and then the contact was made with the VC followed by a hot firefight, and then it was all over (with just the jungle mist and smoke left after the battle rising into the air).

Well, that's the feeling I got from playing the scenario.....I liked it very much! Thanks for all your effort in putting it on for us, and for surviving that near head-on collision especially!

Dave S.

Pete. said...

Looks like the kind of game I'd want to play in- like the report. The orders are very detailed too- impressed with that. More than I give my players tbh....

Cheers,

Pete.

Grah said...

Excellent AAR. I love the way the pictures are annotated. It gives it a kind of map-view look but we still get to see the great terrain! You could almost imagine these pictures were taken from a command Huey.

And don't be too hard on yourself over the organising. I always manage to forget something when I'm putting on a game. Pens for a start!

Grah

Anibal Invictus said...

Glad to see that you are still in one piece!!!
Excellent idea this annotated photos.
The AAR is really good, I'm printing the OOBs to use them in the future in my club at Madrid

Sapper Joe said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone. I was very tried that day with every happening before and during, so I was and still slightly moody...but improving fast.

@Pete & Benito

The OPORD is the basic outline that the US Army has been using for since the '50's for a commander to his subordinates. It will always follow the same format. Only the amount of intel on the enemy and conditions will flux depending on how well S-2 and military intelligence is on their game.

Cheers,

Joe