THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY: TET 1968

SPI’s Year of the Rat: Vietnam, 1972 (YOR) in Strategy & Tactics 35 was one occasion when wargame designers got it right. James Dunnigan, who reworked the original John Prados design, reported in The Complete Wargames Handbook (rev. ed.) that YOR had been praised by people with access to classified information. It works well enough that Joseph Miranda has talked about redoing it in S&T sometime.

Besides being a decent simulation of the Easter Offensive, the YOR system can also be used to recreate other Vietnam campaigns. For example, Phil Kosnett offered a 1975 scenario in Moves 27. With some adjustments, YOR can also simulate the large unit actions of the 1968 Tet Offensive.

Rules Modifications

The following rule changes are intended to reflect the shock of the Tet Offensive, the Communist strategy of attacking widely throughout South Vietnam, the Allied goal of destroying enemy units, and the political price paid by the overoptimistic U.S. military. All YOR rules apply unless otherwise indicated.

(1) Game-length: 5 turns

(2) Surprise rules:
Although the Allies had some indication of the coming offensive, the Communists attained both strategic and tactical surprise. To reflect this, apply the following:
-Communist attacks against towns and bases with an Intrinsic Defense Strength are shifted two columns right on the CRT on Turn 1. This represents the use of elite sapper units as well as shock.
-NLF units can ignore Allied ZOCs on the first turn. This allows them to infiltration southern cities as they did originally.
-Communist units are in attack supply status throughout the game.
-On the first turn, the Allied player rolls 3 six-sided dice. The total is the maximum number of Allied units that can move on that turn. Air and Naval bombardment points can be used freely. All Allied units can attack. On Turn 2, roll four dice for the maximum number of movable units. On Turns 3-5, all Allied units can move freely. Allied units do have ZOCs on the first turn. These restrictions represent the confused, slow response to the initial attacks.

(3) Victory Point changes:
The following Victory Points are added to or subtracted from the Communist player’s totals. He also receives the normal VPs for seizing towns, bases and regions, and for isolating Saigon.
-Change Khe Sanh’s VP totals from 1/0 to 5/2. Considering the importance placed on holding Khe Sanh by Lyndon Johnson and William Westmoreland, one could justify increasing its worth by even more. However, the North Vietnamese did not seem to view the siege as much more than a diversion.
-Award the Communists 1/2 VP for each attack made, regardless of the attack’s outcome or target. This gives the Communists credit for assaults made against smaller cities not on the map, and gives the Communist player an incentive to act as suicidally as the original commanders.
-The Communists receive 1 VP whenever the Allies bring in a reserve unit. Westmoreland’s call for reinforcements in 1968 helped create the impression of a desperate US.
-The Communists receive 1/2 VP each time the Allies use air or naval bombardment against a city. U.S. bombing tended to make lots of South Vietnamese enemies.
-Subtract 1 VP for every North Vietnamese division brought into South Vietnam from North Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia. Tet seems to have been planned as an NLF show, and using these divisions would have depleted the North’s reserves.
-Subtract 3 VPs for every Communist division eliminated or reduced to a battlegroup, and 1 VP for each regiment or battlegroup eliminated. This represents the Allied goal of destroying enemy forces.

Order of Battle and Set-up

Clarifications:
(1) The Allies often scattered battalions from the same brigade or division. Assigned locations here represent a brigade or division’s major area of concentration, and produces a rough idea of where Allied strenth was deployed during Tet. Notice that many units were in the field, thus enabling the Communists to reach the towns easily.

(2) The map’s hex grain runs left to right (east-west). Hexes north of the city are Northwest (NW) and Northeast (NE). South of the city they are Southwest (SW) and Southeast (SE). N indicates a hex two rows and directly above the town. S two rows directly below.

(3) Abbreviations:
Bn=Battalion
R=Regiment
X=Brigade
XX=Division
Mar=Marine
AB=Airborne
AM=Airmobile
Y=Air Transportable Unit
Cav=Cavalry
ATF=Australian Task Force
PG=Palace Guard
QC=Queen’s Cobra Regiment (Thai)
Res=Reserve. optional reinforcement
ROK=South Korean
SF=Special Forces or Ranger
Inf=Infantry
AC=Armored Cavalry
NLF=National Liberation Front/Viet Cong

(4) There are several errors on the YOR map. For example, Phuoc Binh is actually Phuoc Vinh, and Ban Methout should be Ban Me Thout. The set-up tables use the towns as they appear on the game map.

USA and Allied Set-up

(Unit--Strength--Location)

Quang Tri Region
26thR/5th Mar XX--5-6--Khe Sanh
1stR/1st Mar XX--5-6--Quang Tri
3rdR/3rd Mar XX--5-6--1 hex NW, 1 hex W of Quang Tri
4thR/3rd Mar XX--5-6--1 hex NW, 1 hex W of Quang Tri
9thR/3rd Mar XX--5-6--2 hexes W of Quang Tri
1stX/1st Cav XX(AM)--4Y6--1 hex SE of Quang Tri
3rdX/1st Cav XX(AM)--4Y6--1 hex E of Hue
1-501st Bn/101st AB XX--2Y6--1 hex E of Hue

Quang Nam Region
5thR/1st Mar XX--5-6--1 hex SW of Da Nang
7thR/1st Mar XX--5-6--1 hex SW of Da Nang
196thX/23rd Inf XX--4-6--2 hexes S of Da Nang
2nd ROK Mar X--3-6--1 hex SE of Da Nang

Central Coast Region
11thX/23rd Inf XX--4-6--3 hexes SE of Chu Lai
198thX/23rd Inf XX--4-6--1 hex SE of Chu Lai
2ndX/1st Cav XX--4Y6--3 hexes NE of An Khe
1stR/ROK Capital XX--3-6--2 hexes NW of Qui Nhon
9thR/ROK Capital XX--3-6--2 hexes NW of Qui Nhon
CavX/ROK Capital XX--3-6--1 hex W of Qui Nhon
28thR/ROK 9th XX--3-6--Tuy Hoa

Cham Coast Region
29thR/ROK 9th XX--3-6--1 hex NE of Nha Trang
30thR/ROK 9th XX--3-6--4 hexes E of Dalat
3-506th Bn/101st AB XX--2Y6--6 hexes E of Saigon East

Central Highlands Region
1stX/4th Inf XX--4-6--Dakto
2ndX/4th Inf XX--4-6--2 hexes S of Pleiku
3rdX/4th Inf XX--4-6--Pleiku
173rd AB X--4Y6--Pleiku

Tay Ninh Region
1stX/101st AB XX--4Y6--2 hexes N of Phuoc Binh
3rdX/101st AB XX--4Y6--Phuoc Binh
2-501st Bn/101st AB XX--2Y6--2 hexes N of An Loc
1stX/25th Inf XX--4-6--2 hexes SE of Tay Ninh
2ndX/25th Inf XX--4-6--2 hexes N of An Loc
3rdX/25th Inf XX--4-6--Tay Ninh
1stX/1st Inf XX--4-6--An Loc
2ndX/1st Inf XX--4-6--An Loc
11th AC R--4-6--2 hexes N of An Loc

Rung Sat Region
3rdX/1st Inf XX--4-6--2 hexes S of An Loc
199th Inf X (Light)--4-6--Long Binh
1stX/9th Inf XX--4-6--1 hex E of Saigon East
QCR--2-5--1 hex E of Saigon East
ATF--4-6--1 hex NW of Vung Tau

Mekong Delta, East Region
2ndX/9th Inf XX--4-6--2 hexes NE of Vinh Long
3rdX/9th Inf XX--4-6--2 hexes SW of Saigon West

Other
2 Naval Bombardment counters
15 Air Bombardment Points

Reserve
3rdX/82nd AB XX--4-6
27thR/5th Mar XX--5-6

ARVN Set-up

Quang Tri Region
1st SF R--2Y6--Khe Sanh
2nd AB X--2Y6--1 hex NW of Hue
1st Inf XX--3-6--Hue

Quang Nam Region
51st Inf R--1-6--1 hex SE of Da Nang
2nd Inf XX--2-6--2 hexes SE of Da Nang

Central Coast Region
22nd Inf XX--2-6--3 hexes NE of An Khe
2nd Mar X--2Y6--3 hexes NE of An Khe

Central Highlands Region
42nd Inf R--1-6--Kontum
2nd SF R--2Y6--Pleiku

Darlac Region
23rd Inf XX--2-6--Ban Methout

Rung Sat Region
5th Inf XX--2-6--1 hex NW of Saigon East
18th Inf XX--2-6--Long Binh

Saigon Region
PG--1-0--Saigon East
1st AB X--2Y6--Saigon East
3rd SF R--2Y6--Saigon West
5th SF R--2Y6--Saigon West

Mekong Delta, East Region
25th Inf XX--2Y6--1 hex W of Saigon West
1st Mar X--2Y6--2 hexes NE of Vinh Long

Mekong Delta, West Region
7th Inf XX--2-6--1 hex NW of Vinh Long
21st Inf XX--2-6--2 hexes SW of Vinh Long
9th Inf XX--2-6--2 hexes W of Vinh Long
4th SF R--2Y6--6 hexes SW, and 1 hex W of Vinh Long

Communist Set-up

North Vietnam
320th XX--6-6--Panhandle Supply Center
324th XX--5-6--Panhandle Supply Center

Quang Tri Region
325C XX--6-6--adjacent to Khe Sanh
304th XX--5-6--adjacent to Khe Sanh
4 NLF bns--1-1-3-- anywhere in region

Quang Nam Region
2nd XX--6-6--anywhere in region
1 NLF R--2-1-6-- anywhere in region.

Central Highlands Region
2 Rs--2-1-6--anywhere in region
2 NLF bns--1-1-3--anywhere in region

Central Coast Region
5th XX--5-6--anywhere in region
1 R--2-1-6--anywhere in region
1 NLF bn--1-1-3--anywhere in region

Darlac Region
1 R--2-1-6--anywhere in region
1 NLF R--2-1-6--anywhere in region

Cham Coast Region
1 NLF bn--2-1-6--anywhere in region

Tay Ninh Region
7th NLF XX--5-6--anywhere in region
9th NLF XX--5-6--anywhere in region
4 NLF bns--1-1-3--anywhere in region

Rung Sat Region
5th NLF XX--5-6--anywhere in region
2 NLF bns--1-1-3--anywhere in region

Mekong Delta, East Region
3 NLF bns--1-1-3--anywhere in region

Mekong Delta, West Region
9 NLF bns--1-1-3--anywhere in region

Other 7 Dummy Units anywhere in South Vietnam

Sources James F. Dunnigan, The Complete Wargames Handbook; Don Oberdorfer, Tet!; Shelby L. Stanton, The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973; and Vietnam Order of Battle; Command #18; Conflict #6; Moves #27; Strategy & Tactics #s 35 and 281; Tet Offensive (GDW), and gruntonline.com.

This is a revised version of Year of the Monkey: Vietnam, 1968 which appeared in Strategist 34 (February 2003):10-11 and (March 2003):9-10. Comments and other ideas welcome.


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