My favorite COIN experience is Fire in Lake: Insurgency in Vietnam from GTM Games designed by Mark Herman and Volko Ruhnke. The Vietnam experience is thick in this one and the interplay among the factions is just glorious. We have played the game well over a dozen times and still enjoy every minute of it. In August 2019, GMT announced an expansion to the game in Fall of Saigon which focuses on the end of the war from 1973-1975. Three Fall of Saigon scenarios enable 1-4 players to extend play beyond Paris, beginning before 1968’s Tet, on the eve of the 1972 Easter Offensive, or from 1964 all the way to the end of the war. A standalone 2‑player Black April scenario focuses tightly on the post-Paris sparring between the NVA and ARVN, including the final massive battles, advances, and retreats.
Once the game was announced we reached out to the design and development team to see if we could do a series of Event Card Spoilers and Jason Carr agreed to provide those. We will be hosting 12 of these Event Card Spoiler posts over the next several months and appreciate the effort that both Jason Carr and Stephen Rangazas will be putting into these short write ups intended to share the history of the card as well as their play effects.
*Please keep in mind that the artwork and layout of these cards is not yet finalized (although they are getting close) and is only for playtest purposes at this point. Also, as this game is still in development, card details may still change prior to publication.
#S42 “The War Has Begun Again”
Few of the signers of the Paris Peace Accords believed that the agreement would produce lasting peace. The North Vietnamese army was allowed to remain in the South and areas under communist control were recognized under the agreement. The Nixon administration hoped that continued aid to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) and the threat of renewed bombing would deter another North Vietnamese general offensive. Over the course of 1973, both the ARVN and communist forces skirmished to seize territory from the other. These violations of the ceasefire were condemned by international observers but neither side was willing to give the other an advantage in the next round of major fighting.
In early 1974, President Thieu at a speech given in Can Tho addressed the continual violations of the ceasefires by communist forces and the continued presence of NVA Troops in the South, declaring that “The war has begun again.” The United States was dismayed about Thieu’s open rejection of the Accords. The North Vietnamese had already made a similar declaration, though more privately, with their Resolution 21 in mid-1973 (See the previous Card Spoiler on Resolution 21).
This US reaction is modeled through the shaded effect, which degrades US Posture and increases Anti-War sentiment (see Card Spoiler on War Powers Act for info about US Posture). In the extended scenarios (4-player) this event will be more tempting for NVA and VC players and it can harm the US directly while limiting ARVN; in the 2-player Black April scenario, the effect is milder but may still be worth taking due to the modified Sequence of Play.
In contrast to the direct effect of the shaded option, the unshaded effect allows the placement of any 4 ARVN pieces in South Vietnam – that could be Armor, Troops, Police, or Bases. Since Armor is very difficult to place, most ARVN players will use this to bring much needed Armor onto the board. Thieu’s conviction that the ARVN needed to ready for expanded NVA Offensives was well founded, and something that the ARVN player should prepare for as well. Speaking of Armor, next week we will cover Armor pieces and Armor Operations.
You can catch up on the series to date by following these links:
Thanks to the development team for their efforts in writing these up to share with our readers. As one of America’s more fascinating periods of history, the end of the Vietnam War definitely has an interesting story to tell and I am glad to see this expansion being made and look forward to playing again once it is released. We had the opportunity to play with Mark Herman and Dan Pancaldi during WBC last July and it was a blast. Here is a video summarizing our experience: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/09/01/wbc-look-at-fall-of-saigon-a-fire-in-the-lake-expansion-from-gmt-games/
We also posted an interview with co-designer Volko Ruhnke on the blog and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2019/09/30/interview-with-volko-ruhnke-co-designer-of-fall-of-saigon-a-fire-in-the-lake-expansion-from-gmt-games/
Finally, if you are interested in Fall of Saigon: A Fire in the Lake Expansion, you can -pre order a copy from the P500 game page on the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-832-fall-of-saigon-a-fire-in-the-lake-expansion.aspx