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Charlie Don't Surf

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TITLE:  Charlie Don’t Surf! Wargames Rules for the Vietnam WarCharlie Dont Surf Cover

AUTHOR: Richard Clarke

PUBLISHER: Too Fat Lardies



PRICE (with date): 15.00GBP (in 2020) for hard copy, 10.00GBP for a PDF

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin



I purchased the PDF which arrives as a 105 page PDF. It is up to the Lardies’ usual good standards of layout, writing and presentation. It is light on diagrams, and contains no “eye candy” but does contain numerous, detailed examples, as well as simple flow charts for various mechanics. The rules themselves run 70 pages (but read much faster) with army lists, scenarios and appendices taking up the remainder. Several pages of advertisements are also included.


Charlie Don’t Surf! covers the entire Vietnam War and can be used even for the late conventional war after the US withdrawal. Players command platoon sized forces, perhaps up to a company.


Each player will command about a company. This may be reinforced with support units including artillery, air, heavy weapons etc.


Units in CDS are platoons made up of squads and weapons teams. Leaders, called “Big Men” operate individually and are the focus of much of the game.


  • Ground Scale: 12” = 100 yards (1:300 scale)
  • Time scale 1 turn = very approximately 1 minute, but could be variable
  • Figure/Base Ratio 1:1
  • Recommended Figure Size: None, but assumes figures are close to 15mm or 1/72 (figure scale will not affect game play).
  • Table Size: None stated. Given high ranges and generous movement rates, I would assume at least a 6x4 foot table, 6x8 even better.
  • Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening.



In common with many Too Fat Lardies’ games, CDS uses a deck activation system. A game deck contains one card for each unit (including support units), one for each “Big Man” and other cards for various events. A Time Out card (or two) is included and when drawn, ends the turn. The game also uses the Lardies’ “Blinds” system, a simple hidden movement mechanic, and a  deck includes a card for each side’s blinds. Additional base cards include ammunition shortage, medics, FO’s, etc.

In addition, players are free to add scenario specific cards to the deck. These might include, for example, rain or fog; snipers; civilians; hesitant commander; extra recon; etc.

Cards are shuffled and drawn one at a time. When a unit’s card is drawn it may activate, and carry out a number of actions using “Action Dice” to do so. Units typically get between 2 and 5 action dice. If the card drawn is for a support unit or sniper, it too is activated at that time. Although cards activate platoons, each squad receives its own action dice, and may perform different activities.

Units may also be activated by Big Men when their card is drawn (though units may only ever activate once per turn). Big Men also use their actions to rally and un-suppress troops, initiate close combat, use smoke or call in support, etc.

When a unit activates, it may move, shoot, search, etc. Units may also go on “Overwatch” and save their dice for shooting later in the turn.


Blinds & Spotting: Blinds are a simple hidden movement system whereby units are replaced with markers. Each side may also have dummy markers. Blinds are activated on their own card. To spot enemy blinds you use Action Dice. A chart indicates the score needed to spot th blind - if successful the blind is removed and any troops “under” it placed on the table. The score needed is determined by range and terrain. Some attempts are automatically successful. In some cases, units on the table may go back “under” a blind. Blinds may be fired at with reduced effectiveness, and when activated may voluntarily “reveal” and fire, move or assault.

Movement: A unit may roll an action die and move the number of inches rolled. Foot troops may roll up to 3 movement dice each activation. Terrain reduces movement, or requires the expenditure of a die (obstacles, for example, cost a die or two to cross). Movement dice may also be used to “hunker down” or enter a building, etc.

Vehicle Movement: Vehicles move much the same way as troops through with different terrain costs. Some have a fixed number of dice, while aircraft have more fixed or unlimited movement, using action dice for spotting and attacking, as well as movement. Vehicles may carry troops with each having a fixed capacity. Transports may attempt to carry passengers above their capacity, but may not get airborne (a dice roll is required to lift off).

Action dice are used to mount/dismount and throughout the rules the vehicle/passenger is accounted for when taking fire, hitting mines etc. It is possible, for example, to “miss” the truck but “hit” the troops inside.

Fire Combat: Units use their action dice to fire. They roll their dice and sum them. The result is cross indexed on the fire chart. the firing chart has three range bands: 0-9”, 9-18” and 18+. Additionally each band is broken down in to three columns, for shot quality: Great, Good and Poor. To resolve shooting cross index the dice score with the range and shot. This yields a number of hits and a possible pin or suppression. The firing dice can be modified for a number of factors, such as low ammunition, poor weaponry, Shock (a morale effect, see below), recon by fire, etc.

For each hit scored a die is rolled. On a 1-3 it is no effect. On a 4-5 the target acquires a point of Shock, on a 6 a figure is killed. In addition the target may be pinned or suppressed. Pin and suppression are removed at the end of the turn. Shock may be rallied off by Big Men. Some weapons have special effects - for example, Flame throwers score double shock.

All fire against troops uses the fire table - so a squad of riflemen to a Cobra’s miniguns all use the same chart an basic mechanic. Just the number of dice and shot quality are modified.

Vehicular Combat: Shooting at vehicles is different from infantry combat. The firer starts by rolling 2d6 to hit the target. This is modified by movement, Big Men, aimed fire etc. The score needed to hit depends on range and shot quality.

If a hit is scored, the firer rolls one d6 per Strike Value of the weapon. The target rolls a number of d6 based on armor. Strike dice score hits based on the target’s armor. The defender negates a hit on a 5 or 6. If the defender scores more successes, the attack has no effect. If the attacker equals or exceeds the defender’s rolls, a chart is consulted and the attack effect applied, based on the roll of a d6. The target may take Shock, lose mobility or its gun. Three hits destroy an AFV with hits being rolled against each crewman. There are separate effects charts for tanks, APCs and soft skins (soft skins roll no defense dice at all).

Artillery Fire: Indirect artillery fire uses a typical gamer’s mechanic. The fire is called in and deviation determined. The firer may spend time adjusting the fire or fire for effect. Fire boxes 6” square are placed, and the fire resolved. The number and pattern of fire boxes depends on the weapon firing. Two medium mortars place a single fire box, napalm attacks are a 3 x 2 fire box rectangle.

Once the box is placed, fire dice are rolled. The firing unit determines how many dice, and what column on the fire chart is used. Fire is resolved the same way as shooting.

Morale: Units acquire Shock points from combat. Each shock point acts as a negative die roll modifier for shooting and moving, so units under shock quickly become useless, even with few or no casualties. When a unit has 3 times as many shock points as base action dice, it suffers from “Awe.” Effects of Awe are immediate. A unit so affected falls back 2” for every excess Shock, and may not advance toward the enemy. It will also fall back every time it acquires shock thereafter. Big Men may rally Shock from units within their command range. High quality troops may also have a Rally card in the deck allowing them to remove a Shock from one unit.

Melee: Close combat is fast and deadly. A d6 is rolled for each figure involved in the combat. Dice are added/lost for the repsence of Big Men, terrain, enemy movement, support weapons, etc. Each side rolls their dice, with a 6 scoring a kill, and a 5 scoring a Shock on the enemy. The loser is the side suffering more casualties, and they withdraw based on the casualty differential. If a side outnumbers the enemy’s dice by a factor of 4, the loser routs or surrenders if surrounded.

Other Rules:

The CDS rules are quite comprehensive, and I have only summarized the main points. The rules include spotting for night actions along with the use of flares or illumination aircraft. Action dice can be used for searching as well as fighting. Rules of Engagement may limit the US player. Rules are given for snipers, claymores, booby traps and ruses.


The book includes seven generic scenarios as well as a dice driven Force Generator. These could easily be used for casual pick up games. The army lists include the ARVN, Anzac, US and Communist forces (VC and NVA).


As usual with their products, CDS is well laid out, well written, and easily digested despite a 70 page length. Many rules can be skipped to start (for example night fighting, and ancillary rules such as snipers or tunnels). They have copious examples, and Too Fat Lardies have a great reputation for supporting their games.

CDS may not be entirely suitable for multi-player games as the card driven turn means only one unit is active at a time. So a player can spend a lot of time waiting for his card to come up. And based on my reading, I do have one concern. It is often important that one card follows another. For example, IF a unit has a low ammo marker and IF the low ammo card is pulled immediately after that unit fires, THEN it suffers low ammo. BUT if the low ammo card was pulled after something else, it has no effect. I assume you would write all this on the card, but some of the sequences seem the kind of thing easily forgotten, especially in early games. But, as I have not played, this may be less of an issue than appears.


Not played.

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