The Rules Directory:
Tien Len!

The Rules Directory only works if you help. Write a review. Get the review template here.

TITLE:  Tien Len!

Tien Len Coer

AUTHOR: Matthew Kirkhart

PUBLISHER: Derby Mouse Publications



PRICE (with date): $23.00 (in 2008)

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin

PERIOD COVERED: The French Indochina War, 1946-1954


Tien Len! is a comb bound booklet with clear plastic covers. It runs 22 pages, with a single laminated QRS. The book has full color throughout. It begins with an overview of force structure, and basing. The actual rules take up pages 6 thru 18, while supplemental rules, a QRS and a bibliography taking up the rest. There are no army lists per se, or scenarios.


Tien Len! is designed for larger engagements of the First Indochina War. Players will command battalion sized unit, with supports.


Armies in Tien Len should be easy on the wallet, as an infantry company is represented by 8-10 figures. Fifty figures plus vehicles for the French would be a sizeable force, opposed by perhaps 70-100 Viet Minh.


The base unit is an infantry company represented by 8-10 figures. Support units such as heavy weapons are represented with their own base, plus crew.


  • Ground Scale: Not stated (ranges are noted as being deliberately distorted)
  • Time scale: Not stated
  • Figure/Base Ratio: Varies
  • Recommended Figure Size: 20mm
  • Table Size: 6 x 4 feet or larger.
  • Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening


Figures are assumed to be mounted singly, but no basing requirements are given.


  1. Simultaneous Morale Phase:
  2. Movement Phase:
  3. Shooting Phase:
  4. Close Combat Phase:
  5. Simultaneous Close Assault Phase:
  6. Simultaneous Command Phase:


Activation & Momentum:

During movement, shooting and close combat units are activated by die roll. Each player rolls a die, with the high roll activating first. The high roller may activate a number of units equal to the difference between the two die rolls. The low roller may activate a number of units equal to his die roll. If the players tie, a special activation takes place. Die rolling continues until all units have been activated. You may activate a unit and “pass” but you must use up all your allowed activations.


The turn begins with simultaneous morale checks for both sides. Units must check morale if they took casualties last turn, are below 50% strength, were shaken last turn etc. To check morale a die is rolled, a short list of modifiers applied, and a the final score checked on the Morale & Actions Chart. On final roll of 4 or more the unit has good morale, and functions normally. On a 3 the unit is cautious and limited in its actions. On a 2 or less it is shaken, takes a loss, retreats and suffers penalties in shooting and combat.

Figures lost to morale must be tracked as it is possible to return them to their units in the Command Phase (combat casualties are all the way dead).


Movement for all units is variable, and based on the terrain in which they start the turn. The base move is 6” plus a number of dice. Infantry always get 1d6 but a jeep on a road gets 5d6 in addition to the base 6” move. Units that embark/disembark may only use their base move.

The measurement is applied only to the command base of the unit. To move a unit the commander is moved, then all remaining figures moved anywhere to within unit coherency, no measuring needed. Coherency is 6”, for elite units it is 8”.

Units may be hidden, in which case only the commander is deployed on table and that unit must be spotted before it can be engaged. Provided a unit has a line of sight to a hidden unit, it simply rolls a d6 and subtracts 2. That many figures from the hidden unit must be deployed. Units may hide during their movement phase: 1D6 of figures may be put back into “hidden” status. This may come before or after movement.

Special Activation: If the players roll a tie on their activation dice, each side may select one unit to fire instead. The unit may not fire in the following shooting phase.


Units fire as companies, but are free to split their fire. Heavy weapons may fire individually, even if attached. Depending on range, the firer rolls a number of dice for each figure shooting. Each die roll of 4+ scores a hit. The defender then makes a saving roll (based on the unit’s morale). Figures that fail are eliminated.

When heavy weapons fire, a different mechanic is used. The weapon rolls a D8 and scores hits equal to the number rolled if it falls within the “Hit” range for the weapon. For example, an 81mm mortar scores hits on a 1-3, and misses on a 4-8. In addition, an explosion marker is placed and acts as a beaten zone for the next turn. Units may not move within 2” of the marker, nor through it. Heavy weapons may target vehicles and buildings: if hit, they roll on a Save chart to see if they are damaged or destroyed.

Close Combat:

Players use the activation die roll, but it indicates the number od figures activated, not the number of units. Players initiate close combat by moving in to base-to-base contact in the movement phase. When active, a figure rolls a D6 and applies the result. Players continue rolling activation dice until all melees are resolved and no figures remain in contact. Results include KIA, mutual KIA and withdraw. Vehicles may be assaulted in the same way, but require multiple kill results to be knocked out.

Sappers (only) may “attack” wire, buildings and bunkers using the same procedure as attacking vehicles.

Special Activation: Bug Out. If the player tie for activation they may each choose one unit to “bug out.” The unit must be in assault range of the enemy. It may move it’s base move away from the enemy.

Close Assault:

Close Assault occurs between enemy infantry units whose commanders are within 6” of each other. All figures in each unit are involved - it is only the commander that must be within 6”. Also, any units within 6” of the commander, even if not part of the unit, participate.

To resolve an Assault, players roll one D6 for each figure. Based on their morale status, they must roll a certain number of higher. Players then sum up how many successful rolls they had. The side with more successes wins the assault. The loser must take one loss for each point of difference in successes, and withdraw at teh Shaken movement rate. The attacker loses one figure. In cases of a tie, neither side takes losses.

Special Activation: Bug Out (As per Close Combat phase).

Command Phase:

During the Command Phase each side rolls a D6 and receives that many Command Points. Command points may be spent for:

  • Reinforcements (Cost 3-5 CP)
  • Off Board Artillery (Cost 3-5 CP)
  • Air Strikes (Cost 3-5 CP)
  • Recover figures lost from morale test (not combat). One figure per CP.

Supplemental Rules:

Short supplemental rules cover Ambushes & Booby Traps; Mines; Civilians & Interrogation; Night Fighting; and Human Wave attacks (Tien Len!).


There are no detailed army lists or scenarios provided. The rules contain a “generic” description of infantry units but players will need to establish TO&E information on their own.


Tien Len clearly hits the mark for fast and simple. The rules are well organized and laid out, and are easy to read and follow. The activation mechanic is interesting - do you want to go first or do you want to do lots?


Not played.

[Home] [15mm World] [Reviews Home] [How To] [Beginners Guide] [Gamer's World] [Spanner & The Yank] [Points of View] [The Annex] [Links] [Say Howdy] [Corporate Schill] [Rules Directory]

T-shirts Just $8.99!