I’m sure if I dropped this box and all the pieces fell out, I would be left with a pile as high as Pork Chop Hill. Heck, the box hasn’t been able to shut completely because I can’t M*A*S*H them all in there.
And that’s the end of my Korean War movie knowledge, so I’ll stop the jokes there.
But seriously, there is a ton of crap in this box. Fields of Fire covers the lives of the 9th US Infantry from WWII through Vietnam. Because of such a wide scope, you have chits for German Infantry, NK forces, NVA forces, Tanks, Helicopters, Engineers, ammunition, spotters, weather, command lines, communication lines, casualties, buildings, trenches, bunkers and maybe even a chit for the chits that were in one soldier’s pocket one time.
That’s a lot of chit.
Yes, I realize I could get a tray and separate everything nicely, and get tuckboxes for the cards and sort everything so nicely. I’m just not one of those guys.
But luckily all ya’ll who cringe at seeing messy chits and unclipped counters will not have to worry for I will be using Vassal to play out this mission, so anything that looks ugly can be blamed on the programmer. Hrumph.
So as I start setting up the mission, I’m noticing that Mission 2 is a Combat Patrol. These are the least liked style of Mission in the game due to the vaguest rules, the most repetitive of play and the longest of play time.
I may have to pop open those 2nd edition rules to make sure I do this right since I kind of hand waved most of the Patrols to get them out of the way as quickly as possible. Ah well. Anyway, here’s the Company I will be commanding as we patrol the Naktong Line in August of 1950.
Okay, it looks a bit dry. And obviously I forgot to type out the Ammo for 3rd Platoon. The important bits are the experience levels for the various squads. There are three levels: Green (they stink!), Line (Meh), and Vet (Finally worth a damn). From the first mission quite a few of the higher ups were promoted to Vet status, while some of the lower ranks were killed and replaced with Green squads. But there’s a sprinkling of Vets in there, too, so I hope the goods outweigh the bad.
But you’ll notice that’s 28 squads under my command. The squad can be from 3 to a dozen people. This is a BIG game. Oh, and before each mission, Command sends you a few extra people to help out.
That’s some Forward Observers for Mortar and Artillery as well as some Heavy Machine Guns and Recoiless guns in case we meet heavy resistance.
So what does all this look like graphically?
Chitty chitty bang bang!
And that’s not even counting radios, ammo, flares, rocket grenades and the like. Overwhelmed yet? Now you see why many people buy this game and leave it in the shrinkwrap. But don’t worry, it gets better. I just have a lot of typing ahead of me. So let’s see what our Mission Details are:
Type: Combat Patrols (dangit)
Duration: 8 (how many turns we play)
Visibility: Moon: +2 (It’s dark out, so every combat has a +2 defense modifier)
Map: 8 columns by 4 rows (the terrain is made up of cards, so it looks like this):
This map is kind of large and wide. Unusual, to be honest. It also looks more confusing than normal because when you have hills, you must deal another card on top of the Hill card and offset it slightly to show the terrain is on a higher elevation. Unfortunately Vassal doesn’t really let you offset ever so slightly, so you have to offset a LOT in order for the cards to not automatically stack themselves on top of each other. That’s why there are squares that look like this:
That is a Hill with a Hill on top of it which has an Embankment on top of that. It would only look a bit wider than normal on a table, but I had to do this ridiculous layout in order to get it to work with Vassal. If anyone knows a better way, let me know.
Okay, there’s our maps. Further Mission Parameters:
US Start: Start on Rows 1 or 2
Attempts: You must attempt the mission once with each platoon.
Mission Goal: You must move the platoon selected to the Primary Objective in Row 4 and return it to Row 2. You must choose the route, marking it with Route Points. You do not have to clear the route or objective, just move to it and return. The select platoon is the only unit that you may move beyond Row 1.
Initial Placements: Place the Primary Objective on any card of your choice in Row 4. You may place up to 2 Foxholes per friendly-occupied card in Rows 1 or 2. You may place a Target Marker on any card per (rules stuff).
Historical Opponents: 9th NKPA Division
So, in order to win, I need to send Platoon 1, 2 and then 3 (though really I can go in any order) on a nightly patrol on a specific route. So, as a for instance. I can send 1st Platoon from this embankment:
Up the hill to another embankment to look down onto the nearby village.
From there into a gully near the frontline to check for any enemy movement.
And then return home.
Not a huge path for a huge map, amirite? Well, yes. I could have them march ALL along the line for 8 cards if I wanted to. Why would I want to? Experience points. Sweet, sweet experience so I could make all my troops Veterans and become all-mighty!
Or dead. All-mighty or dead.
That’s the trade off. I could walk 2 cards, or 16. I chose 3. It’ll be quick and (probably) easy. But we’ll still see some action, so no worries from an entertainment standpoint. Those “Potential Contact ?” counters show all the times that we might get attacked, so there’s three separate chances that bullets will begin to fly (or mortars, or rockets or whatever), so don’t worry, there will be blood.
But sadly, that will have to wait. I should probably do some work today. Tomorrow we’ll work on “PYRO!” MWUHHAHAHAHAHAH!
(Actually not as much fun as it sounds)