I have long been interested in the Vietnam War and gaming it, which has lead to a couple of 1/600 scale airplanes for Thud Ridge and 20mm miniatures. Space and money constraints however meant that I wasn’t fully satisfied with 20mm as scale and decided to go smaller. While 15mm was an option, it’s too close to 20mm and vehicles are still quite expensive, plus the choice in vehicles and helicopters is rather small. Lots of Vietnam-related miniatures are available in 6mm, but 6mm infantry is probably too small for individual basing, and GHQ does not sell single vehicles. That’s how I ended up with 10mm scale. Although not commonly used for individual basing, it is feasible in my opinion. The small size should make is possible to play most battles on a 60x60cm surface, and really big battles on 120x120cm.
I will start by building a US infantry platoon and a comparable Viet Cong force. I might later expand with an Armored Cavalry platoon and NVA forces.
There are several sets of rules available for Vietnam era wargaming. One of the most popular for skirmish gaming seems to be FNG by Two Hour Wargames – although a nice set of rules, it tends to bog down when more than a squad or two are used on each side. Charlie Company by RAFM seems to be good as well, but is an older set of rules. Cold War Commander might be suitable for larger engagements – something that will also be possible with FNG: Over Green Hell, which hasn’t been released yet. Another long-awaited release is Charlie don’t surf, the rules Too Fat Lardies are working on.
I instead got interested in the Ambush Alley rules, and immediately bought their Force on Force set of rules when it came out. Although they are working on Ambush Valley, an expansion for the Vietnam War, I don’t think it’s necessary to get started. I quickly came up with stats for Vietnam vehicles and would use the World War II special rules and Fog of War/Asset cards. Ambush Alley uses individual basing and casualty removal (which I both like, I’m not a fan of abstract “this tank represents five” rules), but firing etc. is on a fireteam basis, so it’s reasonably quick even with platoon- and larger-size forces. It also has very elegant mechanics for actions and reactions, and I can spot only one thing potentially wrong with it: You need lots of dice, non-standard ones (D8, D10, D12).
Pendraken has a large range for the 1st Indochina War, the range for the American war is somewhat smaller except for the Australians. I don’t like that Pendraken sell only single-pose packs. Worse, their US forces with helmet are all in rather static poses, and the M79 gunners wear the boonie hat instead of a helmet. In pictures, the M-16s didn’t look nice. Pendraken’s assortment of vehicles and choppers is also very small. On the upside, they have nice heavy weapons set, civilians, and water buffalos.
Miniature Figurines offers four suitable packs of infantry: US, Australians, Viet Cong and NVA. Each pack has a variety of poses and enough soldiers for a platoon. In pictures they look nicer than Pendraken. Some of their “African civilians” should also be suitable for Vietnam. The vehicle range is complete: M113s and variants, M48, M551, the T-54 and PT-76 for the North Vietnamese, even a PBR and a Sampan. The choppers also leave little to be desired: Long and short Huey, Cobra, OH-6 and OH-58.
I have decided to use Miniature Figurines for infantry, vehicles, and helicopters. I will augment these with Pendraken heavy weapons and civilians. Infantry will be mounted on 12mm (0.5 inch) washers. I plan on scratchbuilding most buildings.