Tuesday, 3 April 2012

In Ambush Valley, Charlie don’t surf

 ++ Whiskey Echo Echo One. Come in, Whiskey Echo Echo One. This is Alpha November Delta Yankee calling. You receiving? Over++ 

++Roger that, Alpha November Delta Yankee. This is Whiskey Echo Echo One. You are being received loud and clear. Please report++ 

It may seem odd as an opening shot on a company’s product line to kick off with a supplement, and not even the latest one at that. But Ambush Valley was a release from Ambush Alley Games through Osprey that I know I wasn’t alone in waiting for with baited breath. 

It wasn’t by accident or lack of choice that when we put together our first demo game for Force on Force at Arkham, that we picked the Nam mission from the rule book, and bought up every Westwind Productions 'Nam model we had on the shelves, and then some. 

Everyone has a fetish and taste when it comes to a wargame period and Vietnam for myself and many others comes pretty darn high up the list. So while we will look at Force on Force itself shortly, its to Ambush Valley’s Vietnam expansion that my first display of fandom must be given.

There’s no guff when you pick up an Osprey/ AAG publication. The writing style and content assume a level of awareness and talk to you like a grown up. The introduction tips its hat to the original pdf from Ambush Valley, but this is no mere glossed up reprint. In Ospreys style and with AAG now having that firm backing to take things up a level, the book provides the wargamer a lavish background to the events of the time, accurate troop types and many exciting missions.

We see sections for example that give us the lowdown on how the VNMC Infantry Company worked, and what stats it should have, accompanied by designer’s notes on VNMC Armour and why it is what it is and how it should operate. Special Rules are clearly highlighted right next to the Unit descriptions for the troops they refer too and best of all are the Historical Notes, which detail the real and actual events or methods of operation that the various Troops or missions called for.

The 6 Missions that are included detail everything you need to play in the Vietnam era including unit composition, deployment, and terrain. As with all AAG FOF missions, those based on real events are accompanied by Historical Outcomes and what really transpired. The Missions are varied and represent the different nations and actions that took place in the region. The sheer wealth of data, which is very accessible within the book, allows you to easily understand and make your own missions. While FOF is not a points based game, the method of developing balanced missions isn’t rocket science - and any amount of willing help and advice exists on the AAG Forums itself.

A Section at the start outlines all the New or adapted Rules specific to Nam, this is another reason I Love FOF. You don’t get bogged down in an ever expanding rules set. The Core rules are what they are, and anything new is only applicable to the theatre of combat you have selected, AAG generally keep the rules representative, sensible and straight forward. Their core aim being that you have an enjoyable and absorbing game that accurately depicts the conflict being fought, but doesn’t descend into a dice and rule fest that forgets about gameplay and fun.

If you are a follower of Vietnam, then Ambush Valley is a worthwhile resource, even if you never play FOF, its detailed as you would expect from the stable its sprang from. It is clear to read and broken down into sections that flow together, not fight for your attention. The Book itself is 177 pages long, including the FOW Fog of War cards to copy and use in play. Full colour, with pictures both of miniatures in play and art work from Osprey’s other related publications.

Here’s another joy, with AAG/Osprey you always get plenty of colour plates of the various troops and their uniforms, making painting your models that little bit handier. Unless you’re a total fact freak who needs every last detail 100% right :-)

Those unsure where to start are aided by the suggestion of companies already producing ‘Nam Minis in various scales. While most FOF is about the MEN, I have to say this is one supplement that cries out and in your blood you know it’s true, to have Hueys, tanks and APCs trundling around, playing ride of the valkyries in the background while you wear your tin hat and chew on a cigar.

I’m sure there is more useful stuff I could tell you, but really it boils down to this - If you like ‘Nam as a wargame or not. If you do, and you’re looking for a good aid to your games then this is really worth a look, as is Force on Force itself.

For Me Ambush Valley is a 10/10 - hands up to being biased, I love FOF. If nothing else I’d tell you it’s definitely worth checking out. So pick up a copy and have a look.

 Right, I’m off to watch Full Metal Jacket and shout ‘get some' at the TV - peace out.

Ambush Valley Vietnam 1965-1975 apx £15 soft back : available from Osprey and all good hobby stores and bookshops. ISBN 987/1/84908/534/2 Force on Froce Companion 3

Wee Andrew

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