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Rear Echelon

A solo game for the Viet Cong

Now we have the world turned upside down. I know people who like to play Americans because you have lots of nice toys and get to hit the table with heaps of artillery and air support. Similarly you have players who like to be the VC because they can be sneaky. Well this is where you get to do something different. Here you as VC player are stuck with having to worry about the bad guys getting in your way while you are trying to run a nice well-organised rear area. So let us look at a small sector of the Forbidden Zone.

A Sector.

You are running a peaceful rear area, which concentrates on resupply, rest and recovery for battered combat units. Your men are all VC who are reasonably well trained and equipped but some of your guests are men from the North Vietnamese Army. But these guests have their own agenda, you are the one responsible for ‘their safety’ and you have to use your own people to guarantee security.

All the men under your command, be they medics or porters, have a level of combat readiness. This is how effective they will be when engaged in combat. But most of your units are very busy doing real work, be it hauling supplies or treated wounded men. So their combat readiness under these circumstances is much lower. After all men hauling sacks of rice on bicycles probably haven’t got their weapons immediately to hand.

You have available to you have six different sorts of troop type. You have transport details, medical support teams, senior (and junior) propaganda teams, munitions manufacturing teams, resupply depots and even security details. Security details, anybody would think there was a war on!

In the table below each troop type has three states of being that you can move them through. This will determine their ability to do the important work you have for them, but also their combat readiness. Before the slash (/) is their combat readiness. After the slash is their ability to do the work. As you see the higher the work readiness, the lower the combat readiness.

So a Transport Platoon, if optimised for work, is rated 5, but if caught whilst working fight only as 1. If you compromise on 2/2 then they are rubbish for work but their ability to defend themselves is better. If you take them off work altogether then they’re a 3 for combat, but by definition, no work gets done and for you the work is the important part of it.

Your assets Combat value and work value.

Troop typesOptimised for workUnhappy compromiseOptimised for Combat
Transport detail1/52/23/0
Medical Support team0/102/52/5
Senior Party propaganda team1/152/103/5
Junior Party propaganda team1/52/23/0
Munitions manufacturing0/101/32/0
Resupply depot1/55/110/0
Security detail3/24/15/0

(Note well, 15 may seem a high value, but who are we to quibble about the value of a senior party propaganda team!

As the VC player you have four base areas. Một, Hai, Ba, and Bốn. Each base area has attached to it one transport detail, one medical support team, one munitions manufacturing team, and one resupply depot. (So you’ve got four of each of them.)
You have also got both a senior and a junior propaganda team and you have four security details.  

So let us assume a battered regiment arrives at Base area Một. Immediately the medical support team get to work on them, the resupply depot works out what else they need, including men. The munitions manufacturing team are beavering away to put stuff onto the shelves of the resupply depot and the transport detail starts fetching stuff to them from other centres. This puts thirty points a day (the total of the units’ work scores) into rebuilding the unit.

It takes 300 points to rebuild a Brigade so that it can be sent back out to fight the lackeys of the Imperialist Running dogs. Note that these Brigades do not, under any circumstances, remain in the area and fight to help you. On the other hand the figure of 10 for the combat readiness of a Resupply depot is assumed to include some of the men of the regiment they are resupplying. They’re willing to put in the effort to defend their lunch.

Obviously you can send both the senior and junior propaganda teams to visit a regiment you are rebuilding, (ideally not on the same day) and this will add another 20 points. So it’s entirely possible for you to get a regiment turned round fewer than 20 days.

As an aside, I would limit exposure to the propaganda teams to sixty points for each regiment. Whilst the maths tell us that in 20 days the senior propaganda team can rebuild the regiment on their own, I beg to differ. There are those less diligent than me who could claim that after that length of exposure the unit would volunteer to return to the front out of desperation, whether they’d been rearmed or not, but there is a place for such cynicism. It is in the re-education camp.

You can assign security platoons to a network as well, and if optimised to work, they can also help with the effort of resupplying and rebuilding.

As you can see things should run very smoothly. You have four camps working well. You have your security details keeping things secure, and as a regiment is rebuilt and moves out of the camp, you’re ready to accept another. I suggest you start the game with one regiment built up to 225pts, another at 150pts, another at 100pts, and the last having just arrived and at zero points.

Obviously new and battered regiments will appear in their own time, the war doesn’t run to your timetable. So each day roll a d20. On a 1,2,3,4 you are told that a new regiment is arriving in two days.

Changing over between regiments

Whilst you would hope your last regiment would leave things tidy, there will obviously be remedial work that needs doing before the area is ready to receive another regiment. New latrines have to be dug, camouflage renewed, shelters repaired etc. There is 10 points of work there. Security details and junior propaganda teams do have their uses.

Also it might be a good idea to have a fifth base area. (Số năm)  It’ll be somewhere for an extra regiment to base itself it there isn’t another camp for it. It would give you flexibility, as even if you haven’t got the appropriate details to staff it with, when men arrive they have to eat and sleep somewhere, and you could always dispatch details from other base areas as they become available. It costs 50 points to create one of these new base areas. Medical teams, munitions manufacturing details and senior propaganda teams are excused work in ‘turn over’. The first two can always do something useful and the latter have party conferences to attend.

An empty base area

It may well be that you end up with an empty base area because the regiment has left and the next one hasn’t arrived. In this case, transport details and munitions manufacturing can keep working and build up a stockpile than can be immediately drawn down when a regiment does arrive.

The enemy

In the late 1960s, the North Vietnamese Army stepped up its infiltration of South Vietnam.  It used NVA regular troops to augment units of its southern communist ally – the Viet Cong.  Certain enclaves or “Secret Zones,” one of them being War Zone D, were used as launch sites for attacks against targets in South Vietnam.  The Viet Cong in particular referred to this zone as “The Forbidden Zone” since they had almost complete control and freedom of movement within it.
In the forbidden zone, stalwart revolutionary elements like your good self are doing sterling work. Somebody has to spoil it, and the Americans have formed Mobile Guerrilla Forces. These, (often a mixture of Americans and local forces) are supplied by air, have the ability to call down airstrikes, and they are there to fight a guerrilla war against the base areas. The idea was that the mobile force would be inserted for about sixty days.

Your response

The VC Player can, at the start of any move, switch any unit from any of the three categories to any other of the three categories. Hence a unit can be switched from ‘Optimised for work’ to ‘Optimised for Combat’ or ‘Unhappy Compromise’.

You have to look to your security. You cannot get more men, but you can obviously ensure that your current teams are more prepared to fight. So you can, for example, put have a transport detail ‘optimised for combat.’ Effectively you pull them off the job and use them as extra security details.

You’ll note that some units aren’t really usable as combat troops. Your medics carry on being medics but with their side-arms always to hand. Your supply depot digs in to defend the depot, using the people they’re supposed to be supplying along with their own men and women.

Combat readiness

Your current combat readiness is 36. (16 for the various details who have a little bit of combat readiness whilst they’re working, and 20 for the security details who are just doing security and not digging new latrines.)

If you increase your combat readiness, perhaps by putting, for example, your transport details on unhappy compromise, your combat readiness will got up to 40 (each goes from 1 to 2)

Increasing your combat readiness increases your chance of defeating these terrorist bandits, and also means they don’t find so many easy targets.

You have a number of Alert Levels. This is based on the total combat readiness of all units.

Combat Readiness Less than 30         Level White

Combat Readiness Less than 45         Level Green

Combat Readiness Less than 60         Level Amber

Combat Readiness Less than 80         Level Red

Combat Readiness 81 or over, the whole system has collapsed because no regiments are getting rebuilt.

At the start of each move, which represents one day, you decide which units you’re moving through which states of combat readiness and then calculate the Alert Level. When you’ve done that, firstly you roll to see if the Americans attack, then, depending on your readiness level, you roll a d6 on the appropriate table to see what encounter the Americans hit.

Remember, they’re Guerrillas, they don’t have to attack every day, and they win if you’re not working efficiently.

American attack table

1,2,3,4,5, Nothing happens

6, The Americans attack

+1 if they made a successful attack in the last three days

-1 if they suffered a reverse in the last three days

Level White

Die roll         Target

1        Unprepared medical detail

2        Unprepared Transport detail

3        Unprepared Manufacturing detail

4        Unprepared Resupply Depot

5        Unprepared Propaganda team

6        Ambushes Security detail

Level Green

Die roll         Target

1        Encounters Security detail

2        Unprepared detail

3        Prepared detail

4        Prepared detail

5        Unprepared Propaganda team

6        Ambushes Security detail

Level Amber

Die roll         Target

1        Encounters Security detail

2        Prepared detail escorted by Security detail

3        Prepared detail

4        Prepared detail     

5        Unprepared detail

6        Ambushes Security detail

Level Red

Die roll         Target

1        Ambushed by a Security detail

2        Encounter battle with Security detail

3        Find dug in detail

4        Find dug in detail

5        Encounter Transport detail escorted by Security detail

6        Encounter two Security details doing sweep of area

Using the tables.

If the Americans hit an unprepared detail, roll at random from your list of details, depots and teams who are still optimised for work. One of them is destroyed.

When they hit a dug in, or prepared detail, you have a combat. Remember they are guerrillas and don’t have to destroy you in combat, they merely have to call down air strikes on you to do that.

If it’s a fixed installation like a depot or manufacturing then I suggest that you set up a nicely cluttered wargames table with the guerrilla’s target at one of the short edges, and the guerrilla force comes on the other short edge and has to get their forward air observer within 15” of it to be able to see their target, recognise it, and they can then call down an air strike. Once it’s been ‘seen’ the observer merely has to be in line of sight of it, anywhere on the table, to guide the aircraft in and bring in more strikes if they feel it’s needed. The defenders can deploy up to half way between the depot edge and the guerrilla edge.

If it’s a strike on a moving unit, transport, medics or whatever, then it’ll be an ambush. The unit being ambushed sets up on the trail and the ambushers have to be within sight of the ambush site. They merely need hold them there and keep them pinned down until the plane comes in.

When you get encounters, both sides deploy prepared to advance and fight if necessary with scouts and flanking parties out.

The size of forces

It depends on what figures you have and how big a game you want to play. They could be section strength, platoon strength, it’s up to you. Because I geared up to Hell by Daylight, I’m just using a simple squad as the basic building block of the scenario.

Replacing damage.

If an unprepared detail is hit, it’s destroyed. A prepared one may be destroyed or may even win.

To replace a detail

Troop typesLength of time to replace
Transport detailSeven days
Medical Support teamThirty Days
Senior Party propaganda teamFive Days
Junior Party propaganda teamTwo Days
Munitions manufacturingTwenty Days
Resupply depotTwenty Days
Security detailThree days, ‘volunteers recruited from your guests’

Troop Quality

These are done for Hell by Daylight, but can obviously be translated for the rules of your choice. As I’ve said elsewhere, use the size of forces you’re happy with.

Your security details are not front line combat troops. In normal times they’ve probably spent more time digging latrines and rearranging camouflage than they have in combat. But they’re reasonably keen. If you use them as a ten man squad I suggest the following

Squad Leader. Normal 2, Submachinegun. D6 leader points

Machine gunner. Normal 2. Light machine gun.

No 2.  Green 2

Soldier. Green 2, Submachine gun

Soldier. Green 2.  SKS carbine

Soldier. Green 2. Bolt action rifle.

Soldier. Green 2. Submachine gun

Soldier. Green 2. Bolt action rifle

Soldier. Green 2. Submachine gun

Soldier. Green 2. Bolt action rifle

You can have a couple of hand grenades per man as well.

If you upgrade other troops (transport etc.) then they won’t aspire to the high standards set by the professionals. After all some of them may have done little or no military training, they joined to push an overloaded bicycle.

Squad Leader. Green 2, Submachinegun. D6 leader points

Soldier. Green 2, Submachine gun

Soldier. Green 2.  SKS carbine

Soldier. Green 2, Submachine gun

Soldier. Green 1.  SKS carbine

Soldier. Green 1. Bolt action rifle.

Soldier. Green 2. Submachine gun

Soldier. Irregular 1. Bolt action rifle

Soldier. Irregular 2. Submachine gun

Soldier. Irregular 1. Bolt action rifle

The American forces

These were a mixture of Americans and locals.

Squad Leader. Veteran 2, Submachinegun. 2D6 leader points

Machine gunner. Veteran 2. Light machine gun.

No 2.  Normal 2

Radio man. Veteran 2. SMG and radio.

Soldier. Normal 2, M79 grenade launcher

Soldier. Normal 2.  M1 carbine

Soldier. Veteran 2. M14 rifle.

Soldier. Normal 2. Submachine gun

Soldier. Normal 2. M14 rifle

Soldier. Normal 2. Submachine gun

Soldier. Normal 2. M14 rifle

You can have a couple of hand grenades per man as well.

Defeating the Americans

Assume they have three such teams in your area. You never see more than one at once in a combat, (but obviously all three could attack separate targets on the same day.)
If they lose men, they can amalgamate teams. If they lose their last radio then they’ve been defeated and have to pull out.

In that case you’ve won. But obviously they are not going to attack so recklessly that they take heavy casualties. They’ll also try and carry off their wounded, (they can get them Casevac home.)

Winning and losing

I suggest you look at the big picture. You are supposed to turn around regiments every twenty days. Regiments arrive in their own time, so there could well be a backlog, sitting somewhere out in the bush, growing older but not getting reequipped.  

Failure is every regiment at the end of the game that is in a backlog, not in a camp being reequipped. So given you’re facing a guerrilla campaign, if you only have a backlog of a couple of regiments, it’s probably a reasonable achievement.
If the backlog is bigger than that after sixty days, it’s not looking good.


If you don’t know Hell by Daylight rules, they’re available from Amazon as paperback or on Kindle,

Or you can get the pdf from Wargame Vault

2 thoughts on “Rear Echelon

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