Nam: 1965-1972 (Initial Book Review and my third tour)

Today James delves into the new Nam book,

Today we present our first post on the new edition of ‘Nam, created by Battlefront but published by Osprey!

Vietnam gets the Version 4 upgrade which brings it up to date with games like Team Yankee [well, actually beyond TY, which is still awaiting the V4 treament – Mark].
The reason why I phrased the last statement as I did is that ‘Nam is a self-contained game with histories, rules, forces picking rules and diagrams, painting, modelling and missions; so you don’t need to buy other supplements in order to play.  Everything is in this one big book.

It seems like an age since my first tour of duty; Ben and I started when the first Local Forces PDF was released and we covered a short series of blogs on some US Infantry and Viet Cong.
I was redrafted later when Brown Water Navy hit the shelves and I collected a river patrol so I could play both sides of the conflict.
Now, ready for a third tour, I’ll dust off and do a little work on these armies but I’ll be starting a new list, maybe a Third Phase Ironclad list or something from the Commonwealth: The new rules and formation diagrams provide a fresh enthusiasm and I’m excited for the new releases!

I’ve always maintained we have been able to see the progression in shifting game paradigm through releases in Version 3 into version 4 and now ‘Nam benefits from the latest version of these rules and the glossy new hardback format that has become the benchmark for the high quality publications we have come to expect.

As this is the first blog in a series I’ll touch on the content and themes in the book and follow up blogs on each of the nations, battle reports and special themes that make Nam a different and exciting game.

First let’s look at what’s included in the table of contents: This is a big book with a lot of formation diagrams and the full V4 rules!

This list is awesome on its own as a teaser, the veteran ‘Nam player will recognise formations they have already and new armies they’ve always wanted to play including the USMC which have been called for on forums for years and the PAVN Special Tasks Battalion. Here’s the first hint there are going to be some new kits too, as not everything in every formation can be made with the old product range which is at present (Jan 2018) has been removed from the online store. Separate to the index, what the book does well though is give page numbers and product codes for units in the organisational charts.

Next comes a great year by year historical breakdown of the war with lots of great maps and info. Most cool of all, every year has a music chart with fitting themes for the era!

Next and largest individual section of the book is the rules:

I’m not going to go into the rules too much; they’re Version 4 Flames of War with extra special rules to cover relevant teams, ammunition and nations in Nam. I like them, they’re fresh and new and shook up V3 which was getting very stale and had some issues. I think the rules fit more modern warfare well, though there are always issues with ranges on a table for a playable war game. We have covered V4 rules before, in fact I did so there’s a little déjà vu writing all of this, and I’d like to dispel some myths in advance about Nam.

Yes the PAVN have huge companies and it will be very difficult to break them, but that is what the absolutely devastating and lethal armoury of the free world is for. Use the speed and mobility of the free world units to be in place and watch the PAVN units shred themselves on your defensive fire or call in devastating fire support they just can’t match with that many points spent on huge infantry platoons. If you just play standard missions and you have to throw your Imperialists into the brave and loyal soldiers of the North then of course you’re going to get beaten on a numbers game but if you’ve got Pattons, SEAL Teams and Aircav you aren’t there for a brawl, you’re there to surgically take an objective.

The scenery section covers all the usual features and Nam specific terrain

A lot of players playing older style V3 lists are finding anti-tank guns over powered and from the games I’ve played, seen and read about so far is that the lists they’re using may not have enough combined arms elements to dig out those guns. This is the balance in Nam; above I have explained how the free world forces have the firepower to deal with the huge infantry companies that just won’t break but from the other side you need to work our how you’re going to kill those defensive fire assets! Will you take K2 Ironclad platoons to smash them aside, will you sit back and pick off vital teams till the weight of numbers can be brought to bear or do you use more elite units yourself. That is what makes the games different, the North and the Free World are chalk and cheese.

The V4 rules have of course been given a modern twist from Team Yankee

Lastly a lot of people say the rules don’t fit the limited lists available in V4 or are a half-way house with V3 lists. Not here, these rules have been tailored for an extensive set of lists. Even if no more books or companies are released there is so much variety even within the US before you factor in the ARVN or Commonwealth forces that allow for different ratings, moral, force composition and multiple formations. Even the PAVN have several different types of Infantry Company, three different tank formations which will play very differently from each other and useful support to protect them from aircraft and provide their own barrages from Laos. I can see five or six formations I want to collect right now and that barely scratches the surface of possibilities so there is a lot of variety.

This book draws on World War Two, Team Yankee and earlier versions to provide context specific special rules on the V4 framework the only thing that will be really new to you are the missions (if you never played in ‘Nam before).

Now let’s look at the formation diagrams with a short summary of what each force is like. Remember we’ll be going into more detail on each of these nations in separate blogs:

The US are the industrial powerhouse of the Free World and direct their technological might against the PAVN. Helicopters, attack aircraft, boats, top battle tanks, artillery, elite troops and their APCs all contribute to elite lists with even more specialised units like SEAL teams and medics to bolster the force. These units also have good ratings and average to good moral (as not every soldier was happy to be there) making them solid and dependable. Airmobile, Infantry, Blackhorse Cavalry, Tropic Lightning, US Marine and Riverine formations form the core of your armies and as you can see there is a lot support available from the US and rest of the Free World.

 

The ARVN are the US trained Southern Vietnamese armed forces. They have a similar structure to the US formations but don’t have the very elite US formations or support like the SEAL teams. The big difference is that you’ll get more of them whether they’re a riverine force or a tank company as the ARVN is not as elite and their moral is more fragile than the average US platoon.

The ANZAC forces in Nam come to support the US and ARVN and their support section is full of US air power and the might of artillery but the core ANZAC formations lend tenacious and elite infantry, APCs and tanks. The big tank the Australians bring is the Centurion which can be taken in its own formations or added to infantry platoons. Similarly to the US, the ANZAC forces are elite with good ratings and good moral with good equipment to back them up.

Then there is the other side, the communist PAVN. Three different massed infantry battalions form the core of the PAVN each with different ratings from the Local Forces colloquially known as the Viet Cong to the Special Tasks formations.   Not only that, but there are lists included for phase three of the Communist offensive. These forces never engaged the Free World historically but were held in reserve until the US lost the stomach for the war. K1, K2 and K3 (amphibious tanks) Ironclad formations are supported by APC equipped infantry and other Soviet equipment. The T54 provides a solid battle tank and the T34/85 returns in huge quantities to envelop the heavier Free World Armour!

 

Next we come to the missions you can use your Nam forces with and there is a whole list of special missions including more missions for Riverine lists, Aircav and even a small-table urban mission. These missions as well as the scoring method (which combines objectives with killing key, expensive units as it costs to field a top generation battle tank or attack helicopter and communism will triumph by grinding down their ability to fight the war beyond their capacity to fight it!) fit them theme of Nam well and are different to the missions you’ll play in World War Two games and Team Yankee, though adapting them for the latter would bring variety to some cold war conflicts.

Add-ons here like the night fighting and medic rules round out the rules section, which are both important as Charlie Owns the Night and the Free World doctors can keep even wounded teams fighting.

Last, the usual high quality painting guides and a large catalogue of models for ‘Nam complete the book before the book index closes it out. I like this in the new range of V4, Team Yankee and V4 books as it gives hints and tips as well as what you should be looking to collect.

In summary, Nam is a great quality, self-contained, interesting and historical, different as well as the same and evocative… whilst writing this I had 60’s and 70’s rock playing and in between I also watched Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket… I want to collect it and as I said when I reviewed the new Italian book Avanti recently, that is the highest plaudit I can give a book.

Category: BattlefrontFlames of WarmissionsOspreyReviewsV4Vietnam

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10 comments

  1. The book is overall great, our local Moscow community will try it ASAP, and i can already say that most likely we will move from v3 rules. But some mistakes should be pointed out:
    1) No hogs. BF, really? They sculpt new model for Ontos, and in the same time, they are too lazy to resculpt most iconic attack helicopter of the war. It’s a shame.
    2) Wrong “modern” Cobras.
    3) A lot of typos.

    1. The lack of Hogs really bothers me too. I’d have liked to be in the meeting where they decided sending the Hogs “to market” was a good decision. There are a lot of issues with the force compositions regarding allowed support options(or lack of) as well. Sometimes I think that BF should stop making all the important decisions in the pub at the end of the day….

  2. Great teaser write up. Would make me want to order the book if I had not already done so. One beef that remains is that the South Korean forces are once a gain left out as well as the Pathet Laos forces.

  3. Those modern Cobras really bug me. Another minor gripe and one I didn’t expect from an NZ company, is the RAAF roundels aren’t handed……sigh. I’d buy a couple of the aircav boxed sets if we were getting the proper aircraft though 🙁

    Also noted the 4+ to hit Centurions? How is a FV tank easier to hit than the numerous CT ones?

    1. Yeah, the use of an AH-1S makes my aircraft pedanticism twitch…

      The reason for Centurions being hit on 4+ the same as “Confident trained” US Pattons (not sure why you said easier – its equivalent at worse) is the move to V4 style rules reflects less training (though still a factor) and more attitude (cautious versus aggressive).

  4. This initial review is great, I agree a splendid stand alone book; the scenario’s are a first set; so much more to develop! This cries for campaigns or linked scenario sets.
    There is a great number of options in the game concept for a SEAL/SF search and rescue mission, to assaults on fire bases: Great!!!
    For the aerophile players, my hogs will crowd the table as tuned down Cobra’s, akin to the capabilities hey have in the set.

  5. The book is full or errors and missing info, i.e., napalm, use of sampans, door guns, to name a few. Some of these show-up on the unit cards. The book had 15 “proof readers”, but one has to wonder what they reviewed. I spent $48.95 for a boom with typos and missing info. This is not the best performance by Battlefront, let alone Osprey. It gives me concern about how badly they will butcher Fate of a Nation.

  6. Hi I am beginning to play Nam and I have a question about command teams. I am using a US rifle platoon which has 6 4 man rifle team stands and 2 3 man stands. I think one of the 3 man teams is my command team does the other 3 man stand count as a 7th rifle team or is it also a command stand?

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Article by: Jersey James