There is no doubt that Fire in the Lake is my favorite COIN Series game! It is always a great experience sitting at that table for 4-5 hours and playing through the whole of the Vietnam War. To me, the inter-factional dynamics and loose alliances really makes for a tense and interesting experience as you see people work together for a few turns and then turn on each other near the end when victory is in sight. I also have enjoyed the expansion to Fire in the Lake called Fall of Saigon that just came out this past year. With that being said, Stephen Rangazas, who had helped with the research on Fall of Saigon and is now finalizing the design for The British Way, the first COIN Series Multi-Pack, is now designing a prequel of sorts for Fire in the Lake called Sovereign of Discord, which was added to the P500 last year.

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 Stephen Rangazas and Joe Dewhurst agreed to provide those. We will be hosting a series of 6 of these Event Card Spoiler posts over the next several months and appreciate the effort that both Joe as developer and Stephen as designer have put into these short write ups intended to share the history of the card as well as their game play effects.

*Please keep in mind that the artwork and layout of these cards is not yet finalized 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.

#P41 Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson served as part of the British advisory mission to the Diem regime. With experience from the Malayan emergency (1948-1960), Thompson advocated for a more measured approach to the Strategic Hamlet Program that would begin in populous relatively secure areas and then branch out to more insurgent dominated areas. This approach contrasted with the South Vietnamese strategy of constructing the hamlets in insurgent dominated areas to maximize the damage to the insurgency by severing its support base. Thompson also advised for a limited withdrawal of US advisors to signal the US commitment to aiding rather than controlling South Vietnam contributing to the debate over the ‘phased withdrawal’. Thompson would go on to describe his experiences from Malaya and South Vietnam in his now famous text on counterinsurgency Defeating Communist Insurgency.

This Event Card is a small nod to The British Way: Malaya, which features mechanics for the New Villages that inspired Diem’s Strategic Hamlet Program. Like the New Villages in Malaya, the Strategic Hamlet pieces in Sovereign of Discord allow the ARVN player to block VC Rally and Tax actions, as well as preventing any Opposition in the space from contributing to the VC player’s score. Placing Strategic Hamlets usually shifts a Province towards Active Opposition, as the population objects to their coercive ‘protection’, but the unshaded effect of this Event allows for a more careful application of the program that instead shifts a Province towards Active Support. This more cautious approach is not cheap, however, and the shaded effect forces ARVN to pay upkeep for each Strategic Hamlet already on the map.

If you missed the previous entries in the series, you can catch up on the posts to date by following the below links:

#P17 Law 10/59

#P22 Exterminate Traitors

We also recently posted an interview with the designer Stephen Rangazas on the blog and you can read that at the following link:

Finally, if you are interested in Sovereign of Discord: 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:


Note: Sovereign of Discord is compatible with the First and Second Edition of Fire in the Lake, as well as the Second Edition Upgrade Kit. The Solitaire System included in Sovereign of Discord is for Sovereign of Discord only, and cannot be used to play the scenarios included in Fire in the Lake.

A copy of Fire in the Lake will be necessary to play the Sovereign of Discord expansion.