CH Annual 6 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

THE GOOD
Maps, counters, rules, CH H, variety of scenarios
The BADD

THE BAD
Changed colors of U.S. and ARVN
ORIGINALITY
5.00 star(s)
PRESENTATION
5.00 star(s)
FUN
5.00 star(s)
PLAYER'S VERDICT

8 'Great'

william.stoppel

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So recently I received the long awaited Critical Hit Annual #6 and its attendant 3 expansion packs (River Patrol 1, Lang Vei and Beyond and To Laos and Back). Rather than piecemeal this review, I chose to do a quick review of the entire interrelated product. So first what do you get component wise? 11 maps, 9 full counter sheets, 20 pages of rules/Chapter H notes, 52 scenarios, an updated bi-fold playaid with new TH charts for the new weapons systems etc. and the magazine. Overall first impressions are this is a very nice and well thought out product.

The maps are in the Fortenberry/Action Pack style with 2 river boards, 1 stream board, 1 big hill board, 1 base camp board and 6 others with varying degrees of rice paddies, palm trees, swamp, kunai, small hills, bamboo, huts and villages. Uniformly I like the maps as I did their other recent maps both modular and historical. They are on a par with official and other TPPs. Then you get 9 full sheets of full color counters; 4 of the half inch (1.5 sheets of American Army, Marines and special forces/LRRP, 1 sheet of VC/NVA and roughly a half sheet each of Aussie, ARVN and CIDG/Montagnard) and 5 of the 5/8 inch variety (1 of American riverine craft, 2 of American armor/vehicles, ordnance, aircraft -this includes ARVN vehicles/ordnance, a half sheet of Aussie vehicles/ordnance and 1.5 sheets of NVA/VC-this includes helicopter specific info counters). The counters are full color and uniformly very nice. This is the perfect complement to their two previous Vietnam War efforts (HASL Ia Drang/LZ Xray in CH Annual 1 and the standalone Battle of Hue HASL). CH Annual 6 also adds Aussies w/ 4 flavors of squads, 7 U.S. squad types (incl 2 jar head types), 5 NVA/VC squads and 9 ARVN/CIDG/Montagnard types. Oh and of course you get a “special” SF/LRRP squad. The squad types, SMCs and support weapons will be familiar to owners of CH Annual 1 and Hue. They add NVA/VC sniper counters (a la Squad Leader), second generation LATW (RPGs, LAWs, AT-3s etc.), obviously all the riverine craft of the brown water Navy as well as lots of Huey variants, Chinooks, Skyraiders, F-100s and lots of more modern armor (and some WWII leftovers) for all sides. There are 20 pages of rules/Chapter H notes. I break that down to roughly 9 pages of rules (6 of which are nationality specific rules) and 11 of Chapter H. So not a lot of changes for those familiar with PTO and the Japanese. You also receive 52 scenarios. These include 35 Vietnamese (30 on the included maps and 5 on Hue maps), 2 French Algeria, 7 GWASL, 8 WWII (2 on Wintergewitter maps, 1 on Op Uranus maps, 1 on Infantry Attacks maps, 1 on Cambrai maps, 1 on geo board maps and 2 on the included V maps). So good value for you money, particularly if you own all the other maps. On a side not CH did sell me the Cambrai maps separately as I really like the looks of that huge scenario and don’t own those packs. So the Vietnam scenarios run the gamut from really small to large. Everything from riverine assaults and rescues to base camp overruns, defending with 5 morale CIDG troops, Special Forces super troops doing super things, and combined arms vs combined arms scenarios. There is a fair amount of air support but only 6 with helicopter gunships and slicks (plus one with helo wrecks). So truly something for every taste. Now you will notice that I left the CH Annual magazine for last. That is because once you take out the scenarios and rules it only leaves a half page article of alternate command rules for GWASL (which look good), an intro to Civil War ASL (I have no interest), an article on the 17 Modern ASL variants that are either planned or already in print (Iran-Iraq, Gulf War, Afghanistan) and an article on the Tet Offensive (I found that interesting).

So the good to me are the maps, the counters, the rules/Chapter H and the wide variety of scenarios. The bad is really double edged as I do like being able to reuse maps and components that I already own to play new scenarios but not if I don’t already own them. The ugly is that if you started with their Vietnam HASL Hue then you know have Marines and ARVN in two different colors than this product. In Hue the Marines are the dark olive drab alternate American color (which I actually prefer over the putrid green official color) while in the CH Annual 6 they are in the traditional putrid green. Also in Hue the ARVN are in a solid green shade just a tad lighter than regular Axis Minor green. In this item the ARVN and CIDG/Montagnard’s are in a two tone counter (as are the SF counters) with an American green on the outside and the above ARVN green on the inside. The other ugly is that to use the helicopter counters you either need CH Annual 1, CH Annual 5 or to order the helicopter rules direct from CH.

So on the whole I really like the product. 11 boards, 9 counter sheets, rules, chapter H notes, updated quick reference charts and 52 scenarios are well worth the $165 and change that I spent on it. Your mileage may vary of course but I am very pleased with it and am looking forward to playing a lot of these once I get all moved to Los Angeles next month. I’ll try and get the photos uploaded as well but my computer skills are limited.2122821231
 

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Gunner Scott

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nice review Bill, I do have the Hue module and have played a few scenarios from it, the Marines usually crush the NVA but they are still fun. Too bad you dont live in Chicago, we could play this stuff till the cows come home lol. As for purchasing the Annual, do I really want to spend that much money on trying to acquire 5 scenarios for Hue?
 

william.stoppel

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That would be cool Scott. NVA and VC are interesting in taking parts of Jap, Russkie and Partisans. Spider holes get added in this one as well. Lots of options for them going crazy, whether intentional or not.
 

Dwindham

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That is a really interesting review.
I am wondering if Critical Hit will revisit the French Indochina war as well.
For instance the French had smaller skirmishes for Hue in 1947. I read about these skirmishes in "French Armour In Vietnam 1945-1954" by Simon Dustin. It would be great to create some scenarios based on that using parts of the Hue Map from the HASL comp. You also have the battle of Na San and Ninh Binh that could include a Bernard De Lattre SMG and Catholic Militia army/counters as well or those could be substituted with the Thai forces.
 

Honza

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If you order the annual, do you get the expansion packs too? Or must they be ordered separately?
 

Imighthaveit

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The problem know is that if you buy the Annual #6 alone you will be paying the full price. When it was first announced I payed $56.00 for it, know it is selling for $179.00 and you don't get the extra stuff that I got for ordering it early. The 3 expansion packs where I think around $39.00 when first announced but know they are $89.95 each. Quit a difference.
 

william.stoppel

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The problem know is that if you buy the Annual #6 alone you will be paying the full price. When it was first announced I payed $56.00 for it, know it is selling for $179.00 and you don't get the extra stuff that I got for ordering it early. The 3 expansion packs where I think around $39.00 when first announced but know they are $89.95 each. Quit a difference.
Very true. I am glad I preordered all of the items when they first were offered. Hence my $165 price all in. Did I like waiting 2 years and 2 months for the Annual? Not really but the expansions came out within a couple of months so not bad. A bit cost prohibitive I think now for a lot of people.
 
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Imighthaveit

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I just got my copy of the Annual #6 after a 3 year wait, no expansion packs here. I can't believe that the counters are different colors then the ones in Hue. Why would anyone do that? There is only one sheet dated 2022. All the rest are dated 2020. Counters sitting around that he couldn't get rid of so we got them!
 
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