I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the President who saw South East Asia go the way of China. These were the words President Lyndon B Johnson used to launch the official US Military campaign in Vietnam. The Western world has relived that nightmare war ever since by way of film, literature and even current political rhetoric. Now 'Nam gives you the chance to stop SE Asia slipping into the communist morass foretold in the infamous 'Domino Theory'; both on the battlefield and at the ballot box.
The Tiger's back
'Nam is a political war-game, with the battles fought at brigade level over a four-
The game is played via political documents or on maps of 'Nam. Troop movements are clicked onto the map, while numbers are typed in to allocate cash to the Vietnamese government. The game ticks forward day by day, at one of three speeds, through the year.
You have to survive at ten years with moderate public support, and with a chance of giving orders every day, it becomes obvious the President has a vast amount of decisions to take before the nightmare ends.
'Nam's political section presupposes that the war is the voter's primary concern. Working on the principal that troop commitment is unpopular and withdrawal popular, your Presidency faces a 'no win' scenario right from the off. As Pres' you must balance military needs against poll standings, a pertinent factor as elections draw close. Each political decision has a definite, although not always obvious reaction.
Advising you is a PR executive who wants to hike your poll ratings up and a Military advisor who is forever screaming for more fire-
Tables and charts of kill ratios are at your disposal, reflecting the prosecution of the war. Clicking through a Presidential ledger you can allot cash and troops to various parties, corps and causes. The war's profile can be altered too, as you choose to enlist reserves, define the nature of aerial support and the amount of US aid grants.
'Nam is a military simulator first and foremost though. Any troops sent for a tour need guidance to be effective. It is here that 'Nam changes from an aloof political sim to a strategic military war-
The four administrative corps that constituted 'Nam are used as the nominal divisions for the war map. Each unit has a 'square' of influence which represents the areas they patrol and will fight to protect. When they overlap with any VC or NV (North Vietnamese Army) units there are skirmishes. As the war hots up, morale and numbers are affected as casualties rise. Long-term hostilities will weaken a unit's effectiveness and must be continually monitored.
Even while concentrating upon the land war, it pays to continually check the Presidential desk for the newspaper reports. They provide early warning of public disquiet and rumours of new VC offensives. The reports can force a change of policy, must when you've started to cope. Beware though, such policy changes can turn the US military machine into "a moron wandering through a foreign land." - Tim O'Brien, GI and author.
'Nam scores quickly, even after a short period of play, it becomes apparent the war was a complex puzzle. Ad hoc tactics will not suffice, an overall strategy is needed and the manual readily supplies different theories. The parameters which can be altered to affect your initial powers are limited but the differences in response to apparently similar levels of troop or financial allocation are profound.
'Nam has massive initial appeal because it is a historical period to which we have been heavily exposed. Vietnam was the first TV war, but 'Nam is not the first computer war and for this reason it has to be more than a war-tame. The introduction of political influences does give the game a special flavour, especially if you choose to play one of the pre-set scenarios.
'Nam hits you with accuracy first and depth second. Vietnam is a stupidly shaped country and as such nih on impossible to defend in traditional fashion. 'Nam is educational, not just on a violence front, but on the style and range of decisions that presidents have to, or have the power to, make.
Ironically the accuracy of the simulation makes the game difficult to win and the game easily degrades into a series of excessive experiments. Who ever said art doesn't imitate life!