Silver Bayonet: The First Team in Vietnam, 1965
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In October of 1965, General Vo Nguyen Giap launched a full North Vietnamese Army division in a sweeping offensive against the thinly-guarded II Corp area west of Pleiku in South Vietnam's Central Highlands. Two special forces camps, a handful of elite soldiers, and thirty miles of rugged, jungle terrain were all that stood between the onrushing NVA and their objective, the strategic town of Pleiku. The NVA quickly surrounded and besieged the camps, threatening a quick and easy victory over the outnumbered II Corps defenders. Desperate to hold back the tide of Communist soldiers, the South Vietnamese commander asked the U.S. for help.
The newly-formed 1st Cavalry Division, fresh in country and bivouacked at nearby An Khe, rushed to the aid of the beleaguered garrisons. With its complement of over 400 combat helicopters, the 1st Cavalry was completely air-mobile. While the helicopter's mobility guaranteed quick movement and ready supply, it did not guarantee victory. The soldiers that the unblooded Americans faced were tough, well-trained veterans. Victory would not come easily for the Americans.
Between October 23 and November 25, 1965, a desperate struggle between a full North Vietnamese Army Division and the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division took place west of Pleiku in Vietnam's Central Highlands. Silver Bayonet is a company-level game focusing on this pivotal conflict.
This is the right level to simulate Ia Drang, which was a long battle. The scale (company level for the USA) feels right, and playing the game gives me a feel for the battle. The fog of war via group markers, the American air superiority, helicopters, the ARVN, fatigue, and other aspects of the campaign are all there. The game isn't too complex, and plays smoothly once you get the hand of it. The graphics are ok even by today's standards. I'm not sure how realistic the maneuver/assault combat mechanic is, but the overall effect is excellent.
We decided to play after reading the book We were soldiers once ... and young.
It certainly reminded me of the book. The limited intelligence via the dummy markers worked very well. It takes a little while to get into the game and some of the combat mechanisms are odd. But the overall effect felt right. Too bad they never made a sequel.