Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Vietnam wargames that feel like just like WW2 wargames but with helicopters and more trees, don’t last long on my hard drive, especially now I own Johan Nagel’s mesmerising Vietnam ’65.V65 is as asymmetric as bear-baiting. For totally logical and historical reasons the enemy, the VC and NVA, refuse to offer fair and open battle, preferring to stealthily infiltrate then melt away once they’ve downed your chopper, savaged your patrol, or eradicated your firebase.
This is a game in which you spend more time finding the foe than fighting them, and more time delivering supplies than actively searching for Communist bogeymen. Refreshingly – appropriately – V65 is closer in spirit to a Tycoon-style management title than a classic Tillerian wargame. The small-scale military successes that slowly convince the villagers on each randomly generated map that they’re better-off backing US and ARVN forces than insurgent ones, are impossible without an efficient logistics network. There’s no living off the land in the la Drang Valley. Every five or so turns all your patrols must either return to base to replenish, or, ideally, rendezvous with a Huey or Chinook laden with rations and rounds.
Organising these myriad milk-runs in combination with recruitment, deployment, village visits, road-building and all the other elegantly abstracted activities in the game, is never dull. On the way back from delivering supplies to Foxtrot Company I’ll send that Huey to Plei Me to MEDEVAC the remnants of Charlie Company. Once my Chinook has made its drops, I’ll use it to taxi those idle Green Berets into the heart of that unexplored patch of territory in the bend of the river… Every turn brings a clutch of unique dilemmas and solutions.
Hopefully, minor weaknesses like the under-developed campaign mode will be addressed in Every Single Soldier’s next project, Afghanistan ’11.