Counter-insurgency Vietnam ’65 Style

By Nik Gaukroger 02 Mar 2015 0

1965, more or less half way through the Vietnam War, was also the year that Johan, the man behind developer Every Single Soldier, was born and, by coincidence, your editor. Now, 50 years on, Johan has produced a game about the conflict which, interestingly, focus’ on the “hearts and minds” counter-insurgency nature of the war – something a bit different for a wargame. Here we take a preview of the game ahead of its release later this week.

Regular readers will recall that in January we interviewed Johan about the game, and anyone who missed this, or would just like to reread it, can find that here – and to set the scene here is the promo video:

Vietnam ’65 is being released on PC and iPad, in fact unlike many of Slitherine’s other games this one was originally being developed for the iPad and has grown a PC version rather than the other way around. We previewed the PC version (mainly because we were given a Steam preview key), however, we saw nothing that suggests that the iPad version will be any different and as the PC interface only requires the left mouse button its genesis is clear. Whilst we’re on the interface it is worth mentioning that it is easy to use with options clear on the screen and, again, I fully expect it to be very useable on the iPad even if you have fat fingers.

Also worth noting is that there is a useful tutorial and “briefing” section to take you through the basics and how things work in the game.

This latter is rather important as this is not a stand up and fight wargame, as mentioned above this is all about “hearts and minds” counter-insurgency and so you really do have to know what consequences your actions may have – just killing the VC ain’t going to win you this game and getting your head around that is a big step towards being successful.

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Graphics in the game, always a subjective point, worked for me as did the sound effects – the latter included ongoing “jungle sounds” as an ambient soundtrack with “radio calls” cutting over it when your units take actions, etc.

As you might expect with the counter-insurgency facus you get to play as the US/ARVN – there is no option to play the baddies. You have to think in ways that are alien to traditional “battle” wargames (tactical or stragtegic) as frontlines in the usual sense do not exist and more time is taken finding where the enemy are than is spent in actual “hot” combat. As this means your men and resources can get spread rather thinly across the combat zone you also spend a fair amount of time making sure your units are supplied and supported. Units whose supply fails will degrade in effectiveness and eventually disappear as no longer having any fighting capability. Helicopters are, unsurprisingly, the key to keeping widely separated units supplied from remote bases.

 

The scenarios you play are not based on any actual incidents of the Vietnam War, but are randomly created to set the player the sorts of challenges that faced the real combatants during the fighting in 1965.

Overall from our, admittedly, short preview play of Vietnam ’65 this looks to be a great little game. It has certainly been challenging, not least because the type of warfare is so different for the games we usually play and, I’m not ashamed to admit, to date we have not been very successful in claiming the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. However, this just means we are ever more determined to try again to stem to rise of Communism in South East Asia. We heartily recommend this game to our readers and will, of course, bring a full review when the game is officially released.

Lastly, for anyone of around my age there is no way we can finish off a piece about the Vietnam War without (a possibly gratuitous) reference to "19" by Paul Hardcastle – worryingly I realise that this was released in 1985 and so is a decade closer to the ’65 of this game’s title than it is to the present day … Sometimes the world knows how to make you feel old!

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