Bolt Action Vietnam!!

Yep you read that correctly, Bolt Action Vietnam, that’s the game I played at the club Monday night and it was a lot of fun.

A friend of mine was talking about doing some Vietnam games but wanted to try and use Bolt Action as the base rules as they are a fast and simple set of rules, so I did a quick search on the interweby thing and found a version someone had already done.

After reading through this set my friend decided that a few bits needed adjusting and set about putting together a set that we could use down the club.

To these adjusted rules he added some ‘Event Cards’ and some ‘Trap Cards’ to add just a little extra to the game, and these worked well in the game.

He also did some cards to represent hidden movement of the PAVN force, this was three cards for each unit / squad / weapons team etc. two were blank and one was the actual unit, so the enemy didn’t know exactly where the unit was or what the unit was, this worked really well in the game.

The forces for the game were –

The US force had three ten-man squads plus a command squad and two machine gun teams

The PAVN force had two nine-man squads plus a command and one machine gun team

And the PAVN force started the battle close to the village and the US would come on the table from the opposite edge.

This was a PAVN infantry squad ready to move into the thick jungle on the left of the village.
Most of the US force moving towards the village.
The machine gun team in the village hut bottom left with the command squad moving through the village to the right, and another infantry squad top right in the jungle waiting for the US troops.
The blue tiddly-winks are the hidden traps.

The game started fairly slowly with the US troops moving cautiously forward towards the hidden units in the jungle, they knew something was there but they had no idea what it was.

Then throwing caution to the wind two US infantry squads moved into the thicker sections of the jungle and were both attacked by the waiting PAVN infantry squads, one US squad took a couple of hits which was very disappointing for my PAVN force, but the other squad took lots of hits and seven US troops died, the remaining three ran away!

The surviving two PAVN troops running away from the US troops after their failed ambush!

That felt good!! But my troops were soon going to pay for that sneaky attack as the US troops moved in to push my squads back, the US kept advancing and shooting while I kept moving back trying to get far enough away to hide back in the jungle, but the US troops kept coming and shooting until finally I lost all but two troops from those two squads.

This was the more successful attack on the right of the village, but now the US troops are chasing and I had nowhere to run!
I kept moving back but the US troops kept following!!
I eventually lost all these troops from this squad…

At that point my commander called to the machine gun team and they all slipped away into the jungle to fight another day.

Well it wasn’t a huge success for either side as we both lost a lot of troops but I guess victory went to the US force for pushing me back out of the village.

The rules ran really well, giving a nice feel to the game, the hidden movement worked well and did give the US commander a few problems early on.

We found that the way the event cards worked needed a little adjustment as they didn’t feel exactly right, but this will be sorted before our next game.

The traps ( the blue tiddly-winks in the pictures ) these were activated when troops got too close or moved over them, they could be searched cautiously if you wanted.

A random card was turned over for each one, these could be nothing or a trap or things like a weapons caches etc. again these worked ok, but would probably be better if there was a scenario / objective where you actually had to search for these, we just tried to avoid them in this game.

Even though I lost the rules felt right for the PAVN in that they would all jump up and ambush the US troops and then slip away back into the jungle, the issue was that the US had another squad plus the command unit and a machine gun team all close by when I attacked their infantry squad which meant that I just couldn’t get away, which didn’t feel wrong it was just a little annoying.

The other squad of PAVN that attack on the other side of the table should have done better, they attacked a US squad that was on its own, so they should have killed lots of the US troops and then ran off back into the jungle and hid again… but I rolled really really badly and only killed two, which left lots of very annoyed US troops in that squad all ready to kill PAVN troops, which they did.

I think that I did mess up a little by keeping my machine gun team back in the village, as they never fired a single shot in the whole game, looking back I think that I should have put the team a lot further forward in the trees ready to ambush the US troops as they moved forward or chased my fleeing troops!

Even so I think on the whole it was a good run through of the rules, lots tension and excitement and I felt it gave a good ‘Vietnam’ type feel to the game.

Bolt Action works well as the base rule set and I am looking forward to trying this again after a few of the little bumps in the rules are smoothed out.

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  1. Zac

    Hi Mac
    Interesting, nice table although hills and rivers would have spiced things up a bit.

    I think PAVN should have know where the traps are as it was probably them who set them.
    Possibly immune or draw two cards and pick the best one!
    Also maybe machine gun nest’s would make a cool card reinforcements card for PAVN too.

    This would slow the USMC and give the PAVN a chance to escape.

    Humping the boonie’s is kinda a classic aproch but for me what makes NAM interesting are the larger engagement’s with the USMC owning the sky and the PAVN owning under the ground.
    Watch “we were soldiers” for an interesting scenario.
    Also hamburger hill is also another interesting source.

    • Mac

      Hi Zac,

      I agree about the traps and said something similar to the guy running the game, and I think next time it may be done a little different.

      We do intend to go for bigger engagements at some point, but we decided to start smaller for our first run through of the rules.

      I may have to watch a couple of films to work out a scenario or two as I have troops for both sides in 20mm so this might be the push I need for me to get my figures painted and used in a game.


  2. Zac

    We were soldiers
    Is a must its about 90% successful and is made with out addressing the american trauma.
    Hamburger hill
    Perhaps less successful is still a less successful film because it is more about American truma/race,class issues
    But the combat is well done.
    Full metal jacket
    Is perhaps more successful than H.H. in the
    America trauma .
    It was unfairly paned for not looking like Nam! or not looking like platoon.
    But seeing as the battle takes place during the
    Tet offensive deep jungle would have been an odd choice.
    To my mind has little wargaming mileage as it is more a character price.
    Also their is
    Apocalypse now
    Casualties of war
    The green berts

    Also WW2
    Has some good jungle war movies
    To late the hero
    Yesterday’s enemy
    Objective Burma
    Come to mind.

  3. Steve

    Hi Mac
    Good fun game you got there.

    Would you have a copy of the adjustments or mods you and your friend made to the bolt action rules?

    I would like to try these out too.

    Thank you

    • Mac

      Hi Steve,

      It was fun but it is very much work in progress for the rules, the basic rules that I use are available Facebook –
      They are almost ready to release a new version, this is a Community driven rules set so not an official one.

      My friend has just taken a few Vietnam “bits” and added them to Bolt Action which makes the game a lot quicker and simpler ( which I like ) I will chat with him and get a copy of what he has done and will hopefully post it on here.


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