TITLE: Operation Nam
AUTHOR: J. W. Brown
PUBLISHER: Absinthe Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 1992
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM: None
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The Vietnam War
Operation Nam is a 52 page pamphlet. The cover is carstock and the interior simple black and white. The rules occupy 40 pages, the remainder to a brief overview of the forces involved, and some maps of the Corps areas.
SCOPE: Operation Nam is designed for short firefights between squads or, at most, a platoon.
ARMY SIZE: Operation Nam could easily be played with a dozen figures a side. Certainly no more than 30 or so a side.
The base unit is the squad or heavy weapon crew. Figures act individually and command and control rules are very minimal.
In fact a lot of the rules are just left up to the players to decide, based on experience and/or common sense. The rules have an almost RPG feel in the sense that they expect a lot of what the figures do will just be improvised, while the rules provide a framework to work from.
- Ground Scale: Not stated (estimated at 1” = 5 or 10 meters)
- Time scale 1 turn = 20-30 seconds
- Figure/Base Ratio 1:1
- Recommended Figure Size: 25mm or approximate
- Table Size: 60” x 60” is recommended as a minimum, but the larger the better.
BASING SIZES: None
- Command Phase
- Air Alert
- Artillery Fire Phase
- Movement/Fire Phase One
- Morale Phase One
- Combat Phase One
- Movement/Fire Phase Two
- Morale Phase Two
- Combat Phase Two
- Rally Phase
- Casualty Check Phase
AVERT: One of the key mechanics is a hidden movement system. This relies on teh simple expedient of having one side turn their back on the table while the other side moves. The reasons an Avert may be called are spelled out, but this allows for hidden movement, getting concealed, disappearing in to a tunnel, etc.
Command: In the Command phase orders and order changes, radio calls for artillery, air or Medevac are given. There are no real rules for this per se. Radio calls for artillery and air are covered, but the rest is left up to the players or the game master.
Movement: Movement rules are relatively detailed for a game of this level. Infantry move a base of 6” in the open, 10” at a run. During movement a figure may also take two actions such as throw a grenade, go prone, or gesture. A big part of the game is hidden movement using map pins. A map pin represents a hidden figure or bunker. The pins are placed on the table then hidden. A map is also used for some thinks like bunker locations, etc. With the Avert you can simply ask for an Avert, then remove a figure and replace it with a map pin. Additionally, the NVA/Vc may use Accelerated Movement. Each group of 3 or more figures may use this once per game. It allows them an additional 4” of hidden movement.
All terrain is classed as open, mixed or closed, and this affects movement speed as well as scoring hits when shooting.
Shooting: Shooting is done at Target Markers (map pins again). You can shoot at areas or suspected enemy positions. Based on the type of terrain your target is in, each weapon has a “To Hit” number. You must roll this number or less on 2d6 (called, confusingly, a D12). Modifiers for movement, being prone, firer being wounded, etc. are also taken into account. If a hit is scored, a D6 is rolled to determine the extent of the wound (light, serious, KIA). Firing is unaffected by range. Area Fire and Collective Fire allow for sustained fire at an area. The Target Marker is placed and the area of effect determined - it is 2” deep, with width determined by the number of figures firing. All enemy figures in this area are potential casualties.
Indirect Fire: As with shooting, fire missions are called in on Target Markers. An observer gives the coordinates for where the Target Marker will be placed. The are of effect is a function of the specific weapon and number of tubes. Three 105mm tubes will have a barrage box 5.25” wide by 3.5” deep. The actual mechanic is a tad vague but appears to work just like shooting: roll 2D6 to hit and, if successful, roll for casualties for every figure under the template. There is no mechanic for drift or targeting correction - artillery always lands on target.
Air Power: Air power works essentially the same as artillery with a few differences. Spotting requires a Forward Air Controller (FAC); and aircraft move across the table in a straight line. Otherwise they use the normal artillery rules, but with the appropriate stats and templates. Anti-air fire is as normal, but with a special damage chart for aircraft. The enemy only gets a certain number of attempts. The aircraft is halted (2 times for jets, 4 for helos) and all figures in range may then fire.
Melee: If I am reading these rules correctly, melee is entirely deterministic. Each figure has a melee value which can be modified for circumstance, such as figure fired prior to melee: -3. Figure is facing away from enemy: -3. The lower value loses and rolls on the casualty table - there is no dice roll involved.
Morale: Morale is by unit. Each squad has a morale value. If you take a casualty you check in the ensuing Morale Phase (there are 2 per turn, see above). Roll 2D6, apply the appropriate modifiers (there are a dozen or so) and score under your Morale Value. If you fail there are three levels of bad morale. Level I simply prevents you advancing. Level III is a rout. Level II is a 50/50 between good morale and a retreat.
There are no army lists or scenarios included.
Operation Nam is a cryptically written set of rules. There is a lot left up to the players or GM to just improvise. For example, units are expected to follow orders, and units in bad morale may not act on orders as fast. What are orders? How do they work? Entirely up to the players. There are lots of sentences allowing certain activities with no explanation. For example, there is a DRM for firing at aircraft with artillery and mortars. I guess you just shoot the gun normally? Players will have to decide if a gun can even elevate to get a shot off. The basics can be determined easily enough, but your first game will probably entail a LOT of deciding how to make the rules work.