Enfilade: The Battle of Hue and other stories

Setting up for the game. David Sullivan left. Yours truly right. Photo by Warren Bruhn.

My favorite part of Enfilade is hosting games, which I usually do with a close friend. This Enfilade was no different, and David Sullivan and I ran a couple of games together. The big project of the year, of course, was Hue and we scheduled ourselves to run it Friday night.

Hue is/was my most elaborate project ever, certainly more involved terrain pieces than I’ve ever done. I’m mostly a paint the figures kind of guy with simple terrain. Because Hue is an urban battle, I thought we’d play with a gray ground cloth. When Dave Schueler and David Sullivan came down in the weekend before the convention to walk through a final set-up we talked over cutting green felt to overlay the gray to signify the boundaries between the roads and green areas. We quickly realized this was a really terrible idea, and the gray ground cloth quickly became roads 8″ wide, equal to a turn’s movement in the game.

Because the board is pretty darn busy it took a lot of time to set up. I think the most stressed out I was at the beginning of the convention was trying to figure out how I was going to get the game ready while doing my director duties Friday afternoon. I pursuaded myself and our events coordinator that it was okay to move me to a vacant 8′ X 6′ table and get started early. David arrived mid afternoon, and well before game time we were ready to go.

David and I experimented with rules throughout the spring. We tried the ancient Giac My rules from the 70’s. They had a certain charm mixed in with verbosity and conditions we’d never encounter. Nice for nostalgia. Not so nice for a convention game. We really thought we’d use Ganesha Games’ Flying Lead rules. We really like the Ganesha game engine, but after walking through the rules a couple of times with the necessary sub-units we were concerned it might be difficult for conventioneers to figure out the nuances.

David suggested Arc of Fire, an aging set of skirmish rules by Chris Pringle and Scott Fisher. We tried them out and they seemed to work. It allowed us to give each player a squad, divided into three fire teams. The units are small and subject to quick catastrophe, but we learned that if moving from cover to cover, the Marines had a good chance of survival.

We were fortunate that we had a full house of early sign ups. Nobody dropped out as Covid cancellation casualties, a problem afflicting many games at the convention. Dean and Scott signed on as NVA defenders with a couple of squads backed up by a DsHK heavy machine gun. They were dispersed throughout the two blocks the Marines were trying to capture. Scott, Wil, Reid and James signed up to be the Marine attackers. The onus of the battle was on them. To win they had to drive the North Vietnamese from their defenses, capture the houses, and minimize their casualties. It was a tall order to fulfill.

The Marines arranged one flank squad, commanded by Scott on the far left. The two remaining squads plus the heavy weapons assigned to them directly facing the citadel at the far end of the table. Wil and Reid commanded the two rifle squads while James ran the two M-60 medium machine gun teams, plus an M48A3 tank and a Mule mounted 106mm recoilless rifle.

The game got underway with an explanation of the victory conditions, capture buildings-minimize casualties. Be smart, use cover. As if to put an exclamation point on things, Wil sent one of fire teams across the street only to have all four members slaughtered in a hail of gunfire. All that was left was a pool of blood. From that moment on, the Marines systematically approached each house, and confronted the defenders with gunfire and if need be cannon fire. No more chancing it on the road.

Despite support from his two additional fire teams, Wil’s first group never had a chance. They disappeared in a bloody mist.

on Wil’s right, Reid carefully moved to the blind ends of buildings without risking fire. He carefully picked around the right side, fought a melee in one house and threw out Dean’s defenders. He also moved against the large yellow building near the board edge.

James did his best to offer support. With his two M-60’s he was able to help shoot up some of Dean’s building defenders. However it was clear he didn’t know what to do with the tank. With the commander buttoned up, he simply couldn’t see enough to target his cannon or machine guns. Unbuttoning the commander would almost certainly invite his quick death. Moving too close would likely offer too much of a target to suspected RPG’s that couldn’t be seen, so the tank offered some cover for advancing infantry, which is pretty historical.

The Mule, however, brought down two houses with its cannon, spilling and killing defenders. It had some special concerns because the little utility vehicle is completely open to fire, and on the last turn of the game was damaged by an RPG with the crew wounded.

Scott worked around the wooded left flank, able to avoid the fire crashing down on Wil, Reid and James. He eventually moved against the defenders in the last house on his block. After persistent fire they were eliminated with slight loss. Things were looking up for the Marines, but unfortunately the game ended at 10:45 ish.

The Marines had unquestionably played well and made gains but took too many casualties to get the win. The NVA had their noses quite bloodied but still held too much of the town. A great game, well-played. Except for some rule confusion we did eventually get figured out, I really enjoyed it and would love to play again.

Our second game was the Retreat From Concord. It was a game we ran in 2019. It’s a game we were really excited about re-running because it was a success. It went reasonably well, but it was as a much a Covid casualty as the convention because we couldn’t make time to walk through and play test. So we struggled a bit with the rules, which was unfortunate. We hadn’t played Rebels and Patriots since February 2020. Sigh.

The game is simple. The British grenadiers must march about 52″ or so to within 12″ of the table edge. The American patriot militia bands do their best to work their way to firing positions to drive them stop them. It’s a tough game for the grenadier commander. However, on both flanks there are five units of British light infantry to drive off the nasty Americans.

The patriot forces are many, but brittle, but in this game the Brits just seemed to get out-shot. Lots of Americans were able to form little lines of death that the light infantry was unable to dislodge. As more militia crept closer to the stone walls lining the road, the grenadiers simply bogged down in a hail of fire. Tough day. Even so the game was pretty close with the Yanks defeating the Royal forces 7-5.

Photos of other games in the final blog entry.

5 comments on “Enfilade: The Battle of Hue and other stories

  1. Randy Miles says:

    Love the look of your Tet game.
    I am unhappy that I missed it.
    (Damn Covid)
    Well may be some time in the future.

  2. Dave S. says:

    It sounds like the games went well and the players had a fun time, which is the whole goal of the games.

  3. Randy Miles says:

    Hi Kevin,
    A couple of rules questions about your Vietnam game.
    Could the Marines use smoke?
    Could they use tear gas?
    Could they punch holds in walls to go from building to building?
    Empress Miniatures is working on a set of rules for Vietnam.
    If you have not be to the Lead Adventure Forum, Empress has great photos of some of Nam games.
    Also tons of pics on his Facebook page.
    Take care,

  4. kgsmyth55 says:

    We talked about both smoke and tear gas and decided against it. I think if it were players not trying to figure out the rules i.e., convention gamers, we would have allowed it. Don’t know if the rules allow for tear gas, but it certainly allowed for smoke. We talked about a pre-scenario mortar barrage which often contained smoke, but we just ran out of play-test time.

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