I am a real fan of this one, the first Victory title that I ever bought. I was thrilled to see that the company even existed, something that I noticed when I saw what appeared to be SPI games in Avalon Hill boxes with a new imprint in a local hobby store. A week or two after that revelation, as I was a poor student at the time, I went back and bought Vietnam.

It has been criticized for ignoring the hearts-and-minds, civic action elements of counterinsurgency warfare. Those criticisms are probably true. But as I see it, it was never the intention of the design to simulate the details of counterinsurgency, but to put the players at higher levels of command. The American/ARVN player is tasked with making South Vietnam safe for counterinsurgency, abstractly represented, through a more detailed representation of military operations. The Communist player is supposed to make the country unsafe for democracy, and has the dual mission of seizing territory and creating space for his political cadres to operate.

Fundamentally, it is a game in which military operations have the population as the center of gravity.

Additionally, the political situation is fully represented, just not in the ways that some players and reviewers would expect or perhaps want. National commitment and morale are vital, and determine how much a side can do, and how long they can do it. For the American particularly, early activity leads to early national burn-out, as the domestic polity tires of the war. Doing a lot less can increase national stamina, but result in having insufficient strength incountry to prevent an early North Vietnamese/Viet Cong victory.

I am also impressed by the game's simulation of South Vietnamese military leadership. Competence and loyalty are independent variables, so that a really good general might be one that a player can't afford to trust, and a bad one could be too politically safe to cashier. That leads to some hard choices, and at times to leadership changes at the presidential level in Saigon.

Vietnam is not a quick and dirty, two hours and you're home type of game. It requires a great deal of commitment to play the campaign, which is a monster game in terms of time demands if not necessarily in table space.

Not just because it is the first Victory Game title in my collection, it is one of my favorites from the company.

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Admittedly I made a similar post about this game in May, but wanted to go into more detail, and in a more organized manner.
I think this game is one of those sleepers - CI has become an area of greater interest to me with first SASO and then 9/11.
Great summary, Jim. I just completed a full campaign game, my 4th, and found it just as enjoyable as ever. It took about 120-130 hours of actual play time over a period of about a year. Definitely an endurance contest, but that's the way a Vietnam simulation should be.

I hadn't played a full campaign since 1994. I was never really a fan of the scenarios, so I usually hold out for opponents that are willing to invest the time in the campaign game. Hopefully I won't have to wait more than a decade to play it again!

I definitely recommend this game to anyone with the stamina to see it through.
Granted, there hasn't been much out there to compare this game with. But as a military simulation, it stands head and shoulders over many other attempts. I'll admit, I've only played scenarios and never gotten through the campaign. But I liked this game better than 3W's NO TRUMPETS NO DRUMS and SPI's venerable YEAR OF THE RAT---while both these titles are still good, VIETNAM is just so much better.

Would love to see this game get redone given all the scholarship that's come out about the war in a Revised or Second Edition someday.

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