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Buckle For Your Dust

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TITLE:  Buckle For Your Dust: Miniature Wargames in Vietnam, 1965-73 Buckle For Your Dust Cover

AUTHOR: Greg McCauley

PUBLISHER: Paddy Griffith Associates



    None known.

PRICE (with date): $15.00 (in 2013)

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin

PERIOD COVERED: The Vietnam War 1965-73


Buckle For Your Dust (BFD) is a glossy paperback, 64 pages long. Besides the base rules, it includes good introductory background material and two bonus rule sets as well: “Mouth of the Dragon” Riverine rules by Paddy griffith, and “One Braincell Vietnam” a two-page rule set  for 1/300 scale figures.


BFD is a skirmish game in which each side fields a few squads or perhaps a couple platoons. The rules cover the years 1965-73 from the American involvement to the fall of Saigon.

ARMY SIZE: BFD can be played with a force as small as one squad (10 figures). A good force with lots of playability would be two compete platoons, a few support weapons and vehicles, for the US. For the VC/NVA a couple platoons of each with support weapons will give plenty of gaming options.

BASE UNIT: Each figure represents one soldier, organized into squads and platoons.


  • Ground Scale: 1” = 10m
  • Time scale 1 turn = 1 minute
  • Figure/Base Ratio 1:1
  • Recommended Figure Size: 20mm
  • Table Size: Not stated.
  • Game Length: Most games should be playable in a few hours.

BASING SIZES: None stated. Bases play no role in the game so any convenient size may be used.


  1. VC Fire
  2. VC Movement
  3. FreeWorld Fire
  4. FreeWorld Movement


Hidden Movement & The Umpire:

BFD uses extensive hidden movement for the VC player. In general FreeWorld forces are placed on the table while VC forces record their movement on a paper map. As such, the game requires an umpire. The umpire may play the VC side if desired, since he controls/monitors hidden movement.


There are three speeds of movement: normal, cautious and contact. Units move normal speed paying for terrain as they go. Terrain is broken down into Tunnels, Jungle, Rough, Open/Tracks and Sealed Roads. Units move normally when not in action. Cautious movement is used when combat is expected. Units move slower but have a greater chance of spotting the enemy, as well as mines or booby traps.

Units move at the slower Contact rate when they have lost C&C or is under effective enemy fire.

There is also a section dealing with River Movement. Movement allowances for various craft (ASPB, Sampan etc.) are included.


BFD uses a detailed system for detecting the enemy. Noise, scent, electronic detection, and visual observation are all covered. Detection is automatic in some cases, but must be diced for in the rest.

In order to detect an enemy unit, a D10 is rolled. Depending on the detecting method various scores are needed. Infantry units have an Observation rating which reflects their ability to detect the enemy. Based on range and rating, a D10 is rolled, subject to modifiers. If the roll is high enough the enemy is detected and placed on the table.

Other detection methods include ADSID, People Sniffers, Radar, infrared etc. Each method has a range limit and score needed on a D10 to be successful.

Command and Control:

BFD uses the command radius. Units without radios must stay within a given distance of the commander. A US squad, for example, has a command radius of 10”. Units that are outside the radius are said to have lost C&C. units with casualties of 40% or greater have also lost C&C. BFD does not have a morale check per se. Instead players are simply instructed to “act in a way that is historically accurate.”  Units that have lost C&C fight at reduced effectiveness and are severely restricted in how they may move. To recover C&C lost due to casualties a unit must roll 6 one one D6.

Fire Combat:

Units in BFD are rated for Combat Effectiveness. To fire, the number of men in the unit is cross referenced with their Combat Effectiveness to determine how many men can fire. Then the Direct Fire Table is consulted. Based on target type, weapon firing, and range, the chart indicates the D10 score needed to cause casualties. A single figure can cause up to three casualties. There are no modifiers to the die roll as variables like cover and range are built directly into the chart.

Indirect Fire:

In order to use indirect fire, you must have a spotter in radio communication with the battery. The turn after the call for fire goes in, a spotting round lands. There is a template marked off into quadrants. Roll percentile dice and locate the corresponding quadrant on the template. That is the aiming point. You may either go Fire For Effect at that point or call in a correction. A correction re-rolls the next turn with a +25% modifier. This is repeated until the target has landed where desired.

Once FFE is called a template (based on weapon size and type) is placed on the table. A d10 is rolled for each figure and vehicle under the template. They may either be neutralized (may not fire or ove next turn) or are destroyed.

Rules of Engagement:

The rules include a summary of the Rules of Engagement FW troops operated under during the war. It is strongly recommended that the umpire or judge structure the scenario accordingly.

Melee: The rules do not include detailed melee rules, but offer a suggestion for a roll-off with a D10 but casualties and retreats are left up to the umpire.


The book includes good reviews of the TO&E of the various forces involved. While not covering every possible unit, there is a good review of all the most important troops so even a player new to Vietnam will be able to field sensible forces. The rules also includ a starter scenario with just one squad a side, and a full scenario featuring several platoons per side.


BFD is, in some ways, more a game kit than anything. Much is left up to the discretion of the umpire. For example, under the detection rules it is noted that shouted orders cna be heard up to 6” away. But there is nothing in the rules to indicate how you figure out who is shouting or not. The same goes for melee - roll off with D10s. But results are up to the umpire - there are none in the rules.

That said, the “gray areas” are in fine detail. The basic game mechanisms are complete and well detailed. A found a few a bit tricky to follow at first, but take your time and work through the process and it comes clear.

These are definietely more highly detailed rules - what some would say are more toward the “simulation” end.


Not played.

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