Battlefront’s full entry into Vietnam has officially begun with their release of Wargames Illustrated Issue 282 and the included 40-page Tropic Lightning: Armoured and Airborne Combat in Vietnam 1965-1971 army book.
WI Issue 282 itself includes some nice material including a quick history of the Vietnam War with a look at the forces covered by the game, a battle report, a look at U.S. tracks and helicopters, and lastly a painting and markings guide.
But the main attraction of course is Tropic Lightning. TL includes the army lists for U.S. and PAVN forces as well as the rules changes/additions from WW2 FoW and four missions. The U.S. forces of course have all the really fun toys including M-48 tanks, UH-1 Cobra gunships and a whole lot more. The only glaring omission is the OH-6 Loach helicopter. Both armored and airmobile forces are covered for the U.S.. The included U.S. lists are,
- Tank Company -M-48 heavy
- Armoured Cavalry Troop -ACAV heavy
- Rifle Company (Mech) -Troop heavy in M-113s
- Blackhourse Cavalry Troop -M-113s and M-48s with M-109 support artillery
- Rifle Company (Airmobile) -Troops in helicopters
PAVN forces cover the Tiêu Doàn Bô Binh infantry battalion. This is the only force list on the PAVN side and variety comes from simply choosing among the various supporting forces. These include recoilless guns, mortars, anti-aircraft MGs, and sappers. Booby traps, bunkers and minefields also play a big role on the PAVN side.
The army specific rules for each side only take up a couple of pages each as well as a couple of pages for helicopter rules and booby traps. The only thing that seems to be missing is fast mover strikes (fixed-wing CAS) but one could argue those are out of scale for the game. Thus seasoned Flames of War players will be able to get going with a minimum of work.
There are only four missions included,
- Hot LZ -An assault landing into a contested landing zone
- Indian Country -Where cavalry units are ambushed en route to a pick-up
- Contact! Contact! -Where a U.S. patrol stumbles upon a PAVN force prepared to stand and fight
- Big Bang -A Vietnamese attack on a temporary U.S. Fire Support Base
Battlefront included the wave one model release schedule in WI282 (and they are now on the BF website). Basically the month of April 2011 will see all of the initial models released. It will be interesting to see if anything new gets produced later this year although, besides the OH-6, we are not sure what they might release besides the M-109 and the M114A1, which are the only units in the book not listed for release, and perhaps U.S. supply trucks. Historically, the U.S. did have an odd selection of vehicles supporting supply convoys.
The Radio Free Battlefront Episode 9 podcast has a great overview of Tropic Lightning by Evan, the game’s designer.
Also see Flames of War — M113 Series.
If you are interested in reading more on armor/cav and airmobile operations in Vietnam check out,
- A Hundred Miles of Bad Road
- Marine Corps Tank Battles in Vietnam
- Praying for Slack
- Tank Sergeant
- To the Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam
- We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: Ia Drang – the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam
- The First Cav in Vietnam
- 1st Air Cavalry In Vietnam: The ‘First Team
- Low Level Hell
Also see Flames of War Vietnam — Is Back?!