Have You Played… Vietnam ’65?

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.

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  1. Shiloh says:

    Indeed I have Tim, and I think it was on your recommendation… once I understood what it was and (as importantly) what it wasn’t, I enjoyed it a good deal – it captures in game terms very neatly many of the problems the US commanders faced, and controls-wise it’s a doddle to pick up and get into.

  2. spec10 says:

    Logistics is the centerpiece of successful warfare. Usually that’s also the part I enjoy the most in any wargame, so maybe I finally should give this game a try.

  3. Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

    I haven’t but I remember your Flare Path about it. It’s an interesting concept and adapting it to the modern propaganda/information warfare is brilliant.

    I’m more interested in playing something like that from the other side, though: any recommendations? Some kind of vietcong (or other kinds of guerrilla ops) simulator, I mean. I love XCOM 2 but I found the whole “underdog” side of it a bit undercooked.

    • Darloth says:

      Hmm… Have you tried AI War?

      • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

        Well…Yes. I have. See Graham’s article about “Games you tried to like but didn’t manage to”? I didn’t comment in it, but that was the first game that popped into my mind. It’s probably great and I admire its craftmanship, but I found it so head-bashingly inscrutable that I had to give up on it. I own the complete collection and I WILL go back sooner or later (I’ll watch some walkthrough first, though). Thanks for the suggestion anyway, that’s pretty much the kind of game I was talking about.

  4. Stugle says:

    I picked it up (based on your recommendation), but after playing one or two turns I was so paralyzed by indecision due to the lack of knowledge of my enemy’s whereabouts (“Where are those bastard VC? I can’t possibly send my squad this way – what if next turn my foes show up over there?”) that I fled and I haven’t been back. I should really rectify that.

    • jgf1123 says:

      The first several turns are the hardest in the game. However, on the strategic map, you get intel reports on how many VC and NVA units there are. NVA spread from the western side of the map, so if VC numbers are low, flying around the eastern side of the map is pretty safe. Use that room to visit villages for intel.

      Build your fire base to provide a second base of operations to reach villages your main base can’t. Green berets are expensive, but their 3 hex recon radius is worth it. Post them in a forward base, and you don’t have to worry about their supply.

    • hamilcarp says:

      Like the other reply said, check your strategic map, it will give you an idea of the general areas the enemy might be milling about. Also, Green Berets can detect hidden enemies better than your other units, in fact it’s best not to put them in the line of fire but rather to scout remote areas and act as spotters for artillery, gunships, and airstrikes.

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