Theme: Vietnam War
Brian Train's District Commander is a series of operational games on counterinsurgency situations. The players alternate activation of groups of units (stacks) to perform discrete operations (missions) through the expenditure of Task Points (TP). Some missions are Tactical Missions - straightforward military tasks such as performing patrols, ambushing or attacking enemy forces, or moving from one place to another - and these may be performed multiple times by a stack during a turn. Other missions emphasize the "non-tactical" end of the campaign, establishing friendly influence, control, and infrastructure in an area, reducing the enemy's claim to the same, and recruiting or training troops. These missions take more time to perform and so unlike the tactical missions may be the only mission performed by the stack during the turn.
Missions are resolved by play of secretly-held Chance Chits, each with ratings that are better or worse for certain types of operations. Chits are played simultaneously and the ratings compared, modified by units, assets, and the current board state to determine the outcome. Using the right chit at the right time - knowing when to save a good chit for later and when to use it, and trying to determine if your opponent is going all-in or holding back - will require steely judgment in an atmosphere of doubt and deception.
All this is done in pursuit of objectives handed down to you by your superiors (i.e., chosen randomly) and kept secret from your opponent - objectives that may even change over the course of the game. Within this framework, the two sides - Government and Insurgent - play very differently, with the Insurgent player, in particular, depending on bluff and deception to achieve their goals. A large number of variant rules allow you to turn the game into a sandbox for exploring counterinsurgency doctrine and practice.
The second volume is District Commander Binh Dinh, set in the jungles of Vietnam circa 1969. This is a period of transition that sees Government forces shifting their focus from pitched battles to providing population security and pacification. Mr. Train gives each player very different tools - here, we have rules for Agent Orange, the Phoenix Program, and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, among others - with which to pursue a sometimes shifting set of operational goals in a highly-customizable sandbox.
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