Critical Hit: Dien Bien Phu Squad Leader Review Video

THE GOOD
The Counters and Dien Bien Phu map are excellent!
THE BAD
The complexity, Vietminh Fire Power rules, lack of new starter scenarios
ORIGINALITY
5.00 star(s)
PRESENTATION
4.00 star(s)
FUN
2.00 star(s)
PLAYER'S VERDICT

6 'Fair'

Carln0130

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Glad to see you post here. Some comments on your observations. David Lamb and Myself were the Designers of the first release. I am not sure which release you have, as CH re-issues quite a bit.

Originality, Presentation, Fun: All in the eye of the beholder. So no right or wrong to be had.

Why the no multi-location Fire Groups for the PAVN? This is actually covered in the Designers notes. The Viet Minh indeed did take out GM 100. With their standard 3-1 numerical and 5-1 firepower ratio which General Giap steadfastly tried to garner before attacking in force. Also, having read on GM 100 extensively, they were ambushed and nickel and dimed for a couple of months before the big ambushes were struck. The very rules you skim over, "They are like the Japanese in G etc etc," are the very rules that make them more stealthy with other special considerations in the game given them, than any other Nationality that has yet come out. As they were masters of field craft, rightly so.

They had more firepower ON PAPER, than a corresponding CEFEO formation. However, again and again in even odds or close to even odds fights, with minimal to no close artillery or air support available, they came off on the worse end of firefights that were not ambush based. The CEFEO had better fire discipline and training in that regard. The casualty reports in engagement after engagement bear that out.
When such forces appear in ASL, (Think Partisans) the no multi-location fire group rule appears again and again. Again as I say, it is mentioned in the designers notes. This was our method of handling that disparity.

So the PAVN are represented as extremely stealthy, but not a good even number match for their adversaries in a fire fight. Most of their attacks were at night. This to avoid and French air support, but oddly enough in ASL, you can't form multi-location fire groups at night either. A case of art imitating life in conveying another reason why the PAVN would prefer night.

There are PAVN ambush scenarios, indeed the Nor'Easter Pack II, recently released by LFT has one, but at DBP, once the siege began, the CEFEO was forced to accept that they would be on the defensive. It was clear who the besieged and the besieger were, so opportunities for such ambushes became scarce. There is one such ambush depicted however prior to the siege actually beginning. The PAVN were masters of ambush, there just weren't that many of them after 3/14 with the fall of Beatrice. The nature of the battle largely precluded it. Attempts to supply Isabelle at the far end of the Valley were beset by ambushes. Keeping Isabelle Fed reflects this.

Much of what you had to say in the chat seemed not to have dug a bit deeper into the above. As I say, fun is purely subjective, so certainly no way to argue that point.
Thanks for doing the review at any rate, and I certainly wish you well with future ones.
 

Dwindham

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Glad to see you post here. Some comments on your observations. David Lamb and Myself were the Designers of the first release. I am not sure which release you have, as CH re-issues quite a bit.

Originality, Presentation, Fun: All in the eye of the beholder. So no right or wrong to be had.

Why the no multi-location Fire Groups for the PAVN? This is actually covered in the Designers notes. The Viet Minh indeed did take out GM 100. With their standard 3-1 numerical and 5-1 firepower ratio which General Giap steadfastly tried to garner before attacking in force. Also, having read on GM 100 extensively, they were ambushed and nickel and dimed for a couple of months before the big ambushes were struck. The very rules you skim over, "They are like the Japanese in G etc etc," are the very rules that make them more stealthy with other special considerations in the game given them, than any other Nationality that has yet come out. As they were masters of field craft, rightly so.

They had more firepower ON PAPER, than a corresponding CEFEO formation. However, again and again in even odds or close to even odds fights, with minimal to no close artillery or air support available, they came off on the worse end of firefights that were not ambush based. The CEFEO had better fire discipline and training in that regard. The casualty reports in engagement after engagement bear that out.
When such forces appear in ASL, (Think Partisans) the no multi-location fire group rule appears again and again. Again as I say, it is mentioned in the designers notes. This was our method of handling that disparity.

So the PAVN are represented as extremely stealthy, but not a good even number match for their adversaries in a fire fight. Most of their attacks were at night. This to avoid and French air support, but oddly enough in ASL, you can't form multi-location fire groups at night either. A case of art imitating life in conveying another reason why the PAVN would prefer night.

There are PAVN ambush scenarios, indeed the Nor'Easter Pack II, recently released by LFT has one, but at DBP, once the siege began, the CEFEO was forced to accept that they would be on the defensive. It was clear who the besieged and the besieger were, so opportunities for such ambushes became scarce. There is one such ambush depicted however prior to the siege actually beginning. The PAVN were masters of ambush, there just weren't that many of them after 3/14 with the fall of Beatrice. The nature of the battle largely precluded it. Attempts to supply Isabelle at the far end of the Valley were beset by ambushes. Keeping Isabelle Fed reflects this.

Much of what you had to say in the chat seemed not to have dug a bit deeper into the above. As I say, fun is purely subjective, so certainly no way to argue that point.
Thanks for doing the review at any rate, and I certainly wish you well with future ones.
Carl,

First of all thanks for taking the time to respond and while I have you I want you to know my sincere appreciation that this product exists. I am also just taken aback every time I look at the Dinant Campaign and MAP that comes with that campaign from croix de guerre. As a self professed Francophile I will always take an interest in ASl products covering French History. I just purchased Stonne 1940 from Critical Hit This week. I have both the 2003 and 2016 release of the DBP game. The original release goes into the notes about VM rules while the 2016 one does not.

My biggest concern essentially with the game and the scenarios is not the rules per say [although we share different conclusions on Vietminh combat abilities] but the fact that nothing in hear can be easily played by new starters and the comp itself does not clearly list what you need to play on the back of the box [or ziploack bag.] I think that is an error that could easily be corrected. For example Forgotten War combined with the Rulebook has some scenarios that one can just easily play without having to pull out or purchase 3-4 other kits. Your mention of partisans is a perfect example. MMP doesn't sell partisans, none of my fellow new starter friends have partisans. So for a lot of newer younger players partisans doesn't exist. We have no point of reference for that comp and no legal way to find the rules and our income overall is smaller.

If you took Castor's Opening Act and used map d1,d2, or d3 with some new printed overlay you would have a scenario that a new-player could instantly play no fuss or overt complexity. New starters do ask about playability of the DBP game so there is a definite interest [check bgg] in the game and a possibility of increased revenue for Critical Hit. But it does no one any good if a new starter purchases it and pretty much can't play the game at all.


I think ASL is fun. Ergo I think Dien Bien Phu is fun. At the end of the video I still encourage anyone interested in the product to purchase it. I'd like them to purchase it: share feedback and make sure that information gets to Critical Hit as they modify and upgrade their comps.

I think I'd really enjoy talking to you on the phone about our co interest in French History and ASL. I just finished reading Defending The Republic by Philip Nord and I am currently reading The Year of The Tiger by William M. Waddell III . It is the first in depth look in the the English language about French operations in South Vietnam. I'll email you over my phone number and personal contact information.


Best,

DW
 

Carln0130

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Sure DW, that would be fine. You are correct, the design efforts I have been engaged in are not starter targeted. As for listing comprehensive "must haves" being omitted, I will save that for another conversation. CH gets lit on fire around here enough, not without justification in many instances.
 
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