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.

#S49 The Final Dagger

After replacing Nixon as President in August 1974, President Ford strongly advocated for increased assistance to South Vietnam. Repeated calls for emergency aid, particularly ammunition, were rejected by Congress who were wary of setting up American re-entry or thought that the South was doomed. Ford never felt that he had enough political legitimacy to challenge Congress by intervening to help the South.

In late April 1975, President Ford confirmed that the United States would not intervene to save the South during an address at Tulane University. Ford declared that “Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned.” Ford’s declaration marked the end of any South Vietnamese hopes that the United States would come to their aid even if they did manage to stabilize an enclave around Saigon.

In Fall of Saigon, the ARVN has access to Air Strike and Air Lift once the US Retreats. These Special Activities are of limited usefulness compared to Spearhead or Raid unless they can be combined with US activations to create a powerful combo. The unshaded text of The Final Dagger is one such option for the ARVN, as it both improves US Posture and grants an Air Strike. If the ARVN can convince the US player to take this event, and they also act on this card, the double-whammy of two Air Strikes could be devastating. The shaded event is extremely powerful if the US remains at War until 1975, as it removes any US Troops on the map to Out of Play. The event is almost as bad if the US is Retreated, as a reduction in US Posture by 2 boxes makes US intervention very ineffective. US and ARVN will need to make sure to coordinate their plans to make sure to deny this event to the NVA/VC.

You can catch up on the series to date by following these links:

#S11 Le Duan

#S2 War Powers Act

#S22 Resolution 21 & #S20 Delta Drought

#S42 “The War Has Begun Again”

#S33 Main Battle Tanks

#S74 Coup! Nixon Resigns

#S48 Ngo Quang Truong

#S69 Family Syndrome

Fall of Saigon Title Banner

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:

We also posted an interview with co-designer Volko Ruhnke on the blog and you can read that at the following link:

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: