Charlie Don’t Surf! Or Climb Everest.
Happy Sunday everyone. Hopefully, you tossed a few dice, checked results on a CRT, and played the right OPS card at the right time. Speaking of which, I’d like to thank the folks over at the various wargame-centric Facebook pages for taking a look herein, and also for answering my question regarding LNL’s Rommel at Gazala CRT results! The answer is rather obvious…now that it was suggested. Thanks, again!
So, this is a continuation of brief descriptions/AARs/musings over the remaining two games I played in the last week. Both were solo affairs, and in the end I liked one a lot more than the other. Let’s go!
Always searching for a great solo ‘Nam game, I picked up this title and had high hopes for it.
With Khe Sanh ’68 by Decision Games we have a small format game which uses a point-to-point movement system, is somewhat card-driven, and is entirely a solitaire game. I love Vietnam War consims, and the battle for Khe Sanh is an excellent choice for exploration.
Pictured above is the game after set-up and before the first turn. NVA units are inverted to facilitate the fog of war through-out game play. The hexagons are US firebases, the squares clear, the circles jungle, the triangles hills, the red stars the NVA bases, the red squares NVA entrenchments. The cards represent different actions depending on sides; the US cards give reinforcements, bonuses, and help determine if a turn is used or not. The OPFOR cards completely dictate movement for the NVA, also bringing in reinforcements, and adding some bonuses. The overall objective: keep or take Khe Sanh.
US always goes first. You pick a card and use it, bring in reinforcements, move, and have combat. The NVA draws a card which determines whether they get to do any of those actions. There is a number on each card, both US and OPFOR, which determines if turns are used (or added) to the turn track.
I’ve played this game twice, and have won with a “Tactical Victory” each time. Unfortunately, it’s a leaves a hollow victory in my gut. The game is extremely repetitive, with choices that don’t really feel all that effective. Maybe, in some regards, this simulates the Vietnam conflict all too well? As a game, it’s tedious. Fortunately, it doesn’t take up a great deal of time.
Okay, I know: not a wargame. I cover all types of games herein, so if you’re only visiting for consims this is your chance to make a quick exit.
I love Victory Point Games (VPG) States of Siege games, their wargames, and a number of their Euros, this specific title falling into the latter category. I have bought all of their partnered titles with GMT, and had hoped for a long relationship between the two publishers. I helped Kickstart their Nemo’s War, 2nd Edition. I am extremely curious about their recent news of leaving California, overseas printing, and their relocation process.
So, after the rather depressing game of Khe Sanh ’68, I brought out Disaster on Everest (DoE). Pictured above is the game at set-up, before first play.
You pick a team of guides and hikers out of four possible teams. Each guide and hiker has their own movement values, and their own abilities and skills–each allows some sort of travel or survival bonus, but varied enough to be both interesting, and challenging to play. The team starts at the High Camp spot on the board; above, the rectangle at the bottom of the board with the two square markers (the guides) and the six circular marker (hikers).
The object: lead the hikers to the top of Everest and then back down to the High Camp. Points are awarded for success, or are lost due to misfortune.
Gameplay starts with a random drawing of an event token. Each token has three items of importance to game flow: the event itself, the cost in prestige to buy the event, and a number which represents which passes are blocked with snow. While there is duplication of event tokens, there are enough included within the components to not draw the same one (generally) twice in a row. So, there are some events which you will want to purchase, like oxygen tanks (which help with movement), and others which represent catastrophes that slow movement or even kill hikers. All the while, there are threats of a storm brewing; unpurchased event tokens are placed on the Storm Watch track , and once the six spaces are filled the storm hits. Movement is reduced, and the game is over in nine turns.
The combination of events, passes being blocked with snow, a brewing storm, and the need to reach the top of Everest, makes for a nail-biting experience. There were hikers I was rooting for, one guide which I thought was better, and I really hoped to achieve the summit and bring the team back home.
Only two of my team made it to the summit, Candie and Fernando, and as you can see above, Candie was two spaces away from reaching High Camp on her descent. Fernando still had three passes to navigate. Simon and Hektor never made it beyond the South Summit.
When the game is over, you return all of the event tokens to the drawing cup and pick one for each character. See the tokens in the Storm Watch track? See how they have Lost, Near, Medium, and Far, with Saved, Live, or Die? You draw one for each hiker (not the guides) and determine whether they made it back to High Camp if still on the board making their way up or down Everest. In the picture above, none of my team had gotten lost (see the empty Lost box?), so I had to draw for all hikers in the green “Near” circles, and the one in the red or “Far” circle. The ones in the black circles near the top were doomed, and I drew all “Die” results for the remainders. The guide with Candie is allowed to sacrifice himself, so she didn’t die, but then I didn’t get many points for her regardless.
After the complete team wipe, I scored a -15. The result: horrific loss.
But dang if it wasn’t fun losing! I’ll bring this gem back out, guaranteed!