TITLE: Mekong...Vietnam: Riverine Warfare in Vietnam
AUTHOR: Martin Fenelon III
PUBLICATION DATE: 1987
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): $19.95 (in 2008)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The Vietnam War 1965-75
Mekong Vietnam is a slim booklet of 44 pages. It has a two-color cardstock cover with black and white interior pages. The book includes a brief glossary and short index. There is an extensive table of contents.
SCOPE: Mekong...Vietnam (MV) is designed for company to brigade sized engagements during the period of American involvement in Vietnam. It covers ground, naval and air forces in detail.
ARMY SIZE: Large, but will vary widely depending on the scenario being played.
In MV a fire team or individual vehicle or boat is the base unit. There are no specific command and control rules so each stand may freely move and intermix with stands from other units.
- Ground Scale: 1” = 25 meters
- Time scale 1 turn = 1 minute
- Figure/Base Ratio 1 infantry base = 1 fire team of 2-14 men; one boat/vehicle represents one boat/vehicle.
- Recommended Figure Size: 1:285 MicroArmor
- Table Size: Not stated
- Game Length: Not stated
The rules do not provide a set basing scheme. Given the ground scale, basing fire teams on bases close to 1x2 seems reasonable. Vehicles will probably remain unbased as they will be grossly oversized relative to ground scale in any case.
- Write messages and artillery orders
- First Movement Phase: Players determine initiative. Winner may move first or second.
- First Fire Phase: Spotting checks are made and fire resolved in order: stationary units fire first; moving units fire; second shots from eligible units; AT guided missile impacts are resolved
- First Melee Phase: Melees are resolved in the following order: infantry vs. infantry; infantry vs. armor; armor vs. infantry
- Aircraft Phase: Aircraft arrive, move and attack during this phase (helicopters are considered ground units for movement and combat).
- Second Movement Phase: This is identical to the first movement phase except that the player moving first in the first movement phase moves second in this one.
- Second Fire Phase
- Second Melee Phase
- Artillery Phase: Artillery attacks are resolved
- Morale Phase
- Place/Remove Smoke
Umpire: Some of the key mechanics assume an umpire is available - especially Spotting, Recon by Fire and the optional Fire Discipline rules.
Movement: Mekong...Vietnam (MV) provides detailed rules for the movement of vehicles, boats and infantry. This includes rules for carrying infantry on boats and vehicles, with rules covering capacity, dismounting etc.
Boats have limits on how much they may change speed and direction. They pay 1” of movement for every 45 degree turn, and may only change speed by 12 knots (8 inches) per turn.
Carrying passengers is covered in detail. Each boat or vehicle has a Portage Capacity. Each fire team is one portage point, weapons teams 2 etc. Vehicles are rated both for capacity as well as exits. Infantry leaving a vehicle with poor exits may not move - but when leaving a vehicle with good exits they may move 2/3 of their normal move. The rules also cover further limits for boats.
A detailed terrain guide describes the movement costs, LOS impact, cover value and other special rules for each terrain type. This includes rice paddies (dry or flooded); buildings; jungle, bamboo and more.
Spotting: Spotting is automatic within range. Units may be represented by counters or markers until spotted. Spotting range is determine on a simple chart, cross referencing the target type (vehicle or infantry) and the terrain it occupies.
Units may recon by fire, using 1/10 their normal firepower, but affecting an area 50x50 m (2x2”).
Fire Combat: There are several different mechanisms for resolving direct fire depending on the type of weapon fired and the type of target (vehicle, infantry or aircraft). Note that helicopters are treated as normal ground vehicles.
Cannon Fire Against Vehicles: Once a target has been determined, the firing player consults the Direct Fire Table. This table accounts for the stabilization system of the firing weapon, whether the firing unit moved, the type of target and the terrain it occupies. The result is a “To Hit” number from 0 to 95. The firer must roll equal to or less than this number on percentile dice to score a hit. Each hit then attempt to penetrate. Ammunition for each weapon has a penetration value. The target’s armor value is subtracted and the Penetration Chart consulted. Again the firer must roll less than the given number to kill the target. Passengers on target vehicles may be destroyed as well.
Cannon Fire Against Boats: The procedure is the same except that a damage table is consulted if the boat is hit. In addition, it is possible to get Special Hits against boats when rolling doubles or any number ending in 0. These include loss of engines, steering, etc.
Small Arms Fire Against Boats: To fire small arms at a boat add up the firing factors of the firing units. Against armored boats only the exposed crew may be affected. Unarmored boats are treated as soft cover and may be damaged by small arms.
Cannon Fire Against Infantry: The procedure for getting hit is the same as for cannon fire against vehicles. However, if a hit occurs, the HE factor of the firing weapon is added to any other fire factors at the target and the sum treated as a single small arms attack.
Small Arms Fire against Infantry: The Fire Factors for all firing units (including cannon fire - see above) are added together and the Infantry Fire Table (ICT) consulted. The total Fire Factors are cross referenced with the target’s terrain. There are a handful of modifiers for movement and certain targets. A ten-sided die is then rolled. Results are either No effect, Pinned, Suppressed or Killed.
Anti-Tank Missile Fire: AT missiles may take more than one turn to reach their target. If the firing stand is suppressed or killed before then, the missile is lost. Targets may move out of range but new targets may be acquired for fired missiles.
Melee: Melee occurs when two stands are in physical contact at the end of a fire phase. In melee each side rolls a D6 with the higher modified total being the winner. Modifiers include terrain, outnumbering the enemy, armament etc. The loser is eliminated. Infantry in melee with armor roll 2D6 to disable the vehicle. Vehicles may - if allowed by the umpire - conduct overrun attacks against infantry and unarmored vehicles. In these cases the target is automatically destroyed. This means that if infantry assault a tank and fail to disable it they will be automatically eliminiated when it is the tank’s turn to conduct melee.
Artillery: The indirect fire rules for artillery cover both on-board and off-board fire. The procedure for indirect fire is as follows:
- Call for fire - eligible units may call for indirect fire. There will be a delay between the request and the mission depending on the type of mission being called for. This is put in writing during the artillery phase.
- Mark the intended target point and roll for scatter.
- Once the actual impact point has been determined, an area effect template is placed. Any units wholly or partially under the template are affected.
- Fire for effect - each fire mission has an associated firepower value. For un-armored vehicles and infantry the Infantry Combat Table is used. For artillery against armored vehicles the firepower is calculated. The resulting value is cross indexed with the target’s hardness from 1 to 5. A D10 is rolled and the effects implemented. This may be no effect, destroyed or disabled (i.e. may not move).
Rules are also included for counter battery fire, tear gas, smoke, and walking barrages on to the target.
Aircraft: Aircraft in MV, as one would expect, are modeled in great detail. Aircraft availability is driven by the scenario being played. When aircraft arrive, they are moved across the map toward their targets. Along the way any eligible anti-aircraft units may fire at them.
Once at the target, aircraft may attack it a variety of ways. Aircraft attacks generally work like artillery. A given attack type has a Fire Power Equivalent (FPE), and an area of effect. Attacks must first check for Bomb Scatter. Then, every unit within the attack area is attacked separately using that FPE. Ordnance type, altitude, cover etc. all affect the attack. Attack types are conventional bombs; improved conventional bombs; napalm; strafing; air to surface rockets; smart bombs; LZ clearing bombs and automatic grenade launchers.
The details for air support calls are quite detailed and should include such particulars as target location and type, flight direction, location of nearby friendly units etc. Attacks may not be made within 300 meters (100 if dug in) of friendly units.
Morale: The morale rules for MV are fairly basic. A variety of events can cause a unit to check morale. These events are such things as casualties, taking sniper fire, lossof an HQ or whenever the umpire feels it is appropriate. Units suffering from bad morale may recover during the morale phase at the end of the turn.
To conduct a morale check 2D6 are rolled, modifiers for troop quality and situation applied, and a table consulted. The table will indicate if a unit should go to better morale, worse morale or stay the same. All units may be Normal, Pinned, Suppressed or Routed. A natural 12 always results in a one level improvement, a natural 2 an automatic one level decrease, and the unit may surrender.
There are additional rules sections in Mekong...Vietnam which cover smoke, snipers, anti-shipping mines and water terrain.
There are no scenarios included with the rules. There are TO&E charts and detailed unit statistics for all of the major combatants. While not every permutation is covered, the rules do provide enough detail to allow players to easily translate a real world unit into the MV game.
Mekong...Vietnam is a very detail oriented set of rules for the Vietnam War. While it allows for re-fighting large-scale engagements it also requires extensive and highly detailed record keeping. For example, river craft crew must be tracked as it is possible to eliminate one weapon system on a boat by killing that specific crewman. Likewise, players must track ammunition for most weapon systems, especially for vehicles and aircraft. It is clear that, since they evolved from MBT, they are rules built around the technological aspects of war. In contrast, the morale rules are very simple and there are no command and control rules to speak of.
It should be noted that much is left up to the control of the umpire, without that fact being explicitly stated. For example, many situations call for actions not outlined in the rules, and for judgments by the umpire. Some examples:
- Aircraft need not make a scouting run if the target is “marked by smoke, laser designator, or fire patterns (tracers)” yet nowhere do the rules tell you how to do any of these things.
- Morale checks may be required “whenever the judge feels their is sufficient cause to require a check.”
- MV requires tracking missiles that have been fired but nowhere that I can find are missile speeds listed (the rules explicitly state missiles may not reach their targets in one turn).
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