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Here are three different alternatives for the general counter layout in Dien Bien Phu, the final gamble. A fourth is to use NATO symbols.
Fire is used when shooting from 1-2 hexes away. If the target unit has a high mass the risk for severe effect will increase when shot at. Assault is used instead of fire when a hex is to be taken or defended. You roll against morale when you wish to avoid becoming surpressed or to be forced to retreat.
I wish to make DBP a fast playing tournament game. I will introduce a make or break system. The Viet Minh places a regiment order marker on a French strongpoint. That regiment is now ordered to continue its assault until that strongpoint is reached and conquered. While reaching it, the regiment will suffer two consequences of its assault as well as battle results (in addition to losses). The consequences are fatigue and distress. The assault will continue with movement and fighting until the order marker is reached or the units reatreat - make or break.
After each movement and assault a unit gets increasingly tired until it gets exhausted (two sides of a marker). The more tired it gets the lower its effectiveness is. After each fighting, results of distress may accumulate. First is gets disrupted and then eventually shaken (again, two sides of a marker). So a unit that starts fresh will eventually end up both exhausted and shaken, but still able to fight though.
Along the way it might also get a battle result as surpressed, which will stop an assault. A regiment can continue until the steam blows off and hopefully it will have reached its objective before its battalions receive retreat results, perhaps due to their increasingly poor status.
The trick is to know how far in among the French the Viet Minh should place the order markers. To far in the units might not be able to reach it and take unnecessary losses in the process of their struggle to get there. Also, failure is not good for morale. Not far in enough, the gains might not be that impressive and, who knows, maybe you could have taken that extra strongpoint also. And, of course, success is good for morale.
VM has a large force, probably as many battalions as the French has companies. VM will also be able to concentrate at places while the French wont be able to be strong everywhere. But France will have some very good units in reserve which can be thrown into an ongoing assault to counter a VM assault.
France's only hope of victory is this: VM has a lot of replacements but these were newly recruited rookies quickly gathered around DBP. When a regiment (consisting of three battalions and a support company) takes too many replacements it will start to get a lower morale value. This morale will get worse as the regiment continues to replace. Not only are the hardcore professionals being replaced by rookies but the rookies themselves start to get increasingly unwilling to rush into the meatgrinder.
VM will receive a morale point (one to three) for each strongpoint taken. VM must have a certain number of morale points each game turn (there were negotiations going on in Europe between VM and France. Both sides had a very strong interest of being in control of DBP when the talks started in earnest), so if Giap is too cautious his army will loose faith. If he is too aggressive his battle trained army will kill itself on the wires of DBP and become unfit for any further assault. If the French player manages to defend and slow down the VM assault and kill as many steps as possible while saving enough of his own units it might come to a point where the VM player will not be able to continue.
Join the Dien Bien Phu group. The game is being demonstrated there.
The map and the system has evolved. It will be a very exciting game.
You can see the map as it is now here: http://www.kangerproject.com/DienBienPhu/Dien-Bien-Phu.jpg
Take a look at the latest updated DBP map: