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Posted on Mar 27, 2018 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

High Flying Dice Games Hits its Target with this Fascinating Vietnam War Game.    Game Review

High Flying Dice Games Hits its Target with this Fascinating Vietnam War Game. Game Review

By Rick Martin

Gone to Pieces The Battle of Binh Gia Game Review. Publisher: High Flying Dice Games Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh Price: $14.95 (non mounted counters) $19.95 (mounted counters)

Rick Martin

Passed Inspection: Exciting game play. Interesting subject. Dynamic turn sequence. Fantastic value for the price. Nearly perfect solo play. Easy to learn. Engages all players in the action at all times.

Failed Basic: Needs a full sequence of play aid including rolling for weather sequence. A typo in the rules says that the map is only one 11 x 17 inch page when it is actually two 11 x 17 pages.

High Flying Dice Games (HFDG) has consistently delivered highly engaging games at amazingly low prices. Each game covers a unique historical battle many of which have not been covered by other gaming companies. Their newest release “Gone to Pieces” is no exception.

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Gone to Pieces covers the Battle of Binh Gia which lasted from December 28, 1964 to January 1st, 1965. From HFDG’s own introduction to this game, “Following the disastrous 1963 battle of Ap Bac, more military equipment and advisors were sent by the United States to the Republic of South Vietnam in the hopes that better armaments and training could defeat the obviously growing strength of the Communist forces in that embattled country. The Battle of Binh Gia was the first major test of the effects of the escalating US presence in South Vietnam, and its outcome had a telling effect on the US role in the conflict.”

Gone to Pieces is a sequel to the excellent “What Went Wrong The Battle of Ap Bac” which was reviewed by Armchair General in 2015.

http://armchairgen.wpengine.com/what-went-wrong-the-battle-of-ap-bac-boardgame-review.htm”

Gone to Pieces uses the same game play system so if you know that game, you’ll be able to play this one in no time. As the rules are mostly the same, I have reprinted relevant sections from my previous review of Ap Bac.

As with most other HFDG, Gone to Pieces is a desk-top-published product which is delivered in a plastic report cover but don’t let that detract you from this high quality gaming product. The game’s components are in full color and first rate. HFDG provides two different options for the counters, the lower priced option provides counter sheets that you have to mount and cut. For $5 more, HFDG will mount the counters. I had to cut the ones they sent me and I’m not the best “counter trimmer” so please forgive the somewhat ragged edges in the pictures.

The game includes two 11” x 17” maps which fit together to form the battlefield, one 8 page rule booklet and 120 double sided counters. The players will need to bring their own deck of cards plus 6 and 10 sided dice.

The map is suitably gloomy and atmospherically represented in dark shades of green, grey, brown and blue. Terrain includes clear areas, roads, cart paths, plantations, jungle, rice paddies, hamlets and streams. Graphic designer Iiya Kudriashov has created a masterpiece with this map design. It pulls you in to the hopelessness of the environment that the American ‘advisers” must have felt.

Each unit is rated for Attack and Defensive values plus whether the unit is considered a heavy weapons unit, a sapper or a sniper. Counters are also provided for air and artillery strikes.

As with Ap Bac, the game does not use traditional turns as in other war games but uses a system of back and forth activations were each activation is controlled by drawing cards from a deck of playing cards (not included). If a red card is drawn, the NLF player cans activate a number of units equal to half the card number. Conversely, if a black card is drawn, the ARVN player can activate his or her forces.

When a Joker is drawn from the deck, the turn ends and the turn counter is advanced. Each turn represents six hours and nighttime and weather modifiers are factored in to the game. A normal game takes 2 or 3 hours to complete.

During the turn, the player can move or attack and/or call in reinforcements, artillery fire or airstrikes. Units have a maximum movement of 2 areas a turn but terrain may drop this down to 1 area a turn. If you are forced to call in reinforcements your enemy gains victory points so use those reinforcements wisely and only when you absolutely need them.

This non-fixed turn sequence adds a dynamic element to the game play. You don’t know how much time you really have to achieve your goals. Plus, with units able to opportunity fire, the non-active player has to keep careful watch on his opponent. There is no relaxing while the other side takes his or her turn!

Combat is elegant and simple. Units may either move or attack. If they attack they can fire on an enemy who is in the same area or an adjacent area. The attacking player draws a card and adds its value to his unit’s attack value. Heavy weapons units or sappers may add their attack value to the attacking unit’s attack value. The total attack value is modified by the target’s terrain and concealment. If the attack number is less than the target’s defense value, the attack has no effect. If the attack number is equal to or greater than the target’s defense value, the unit is reduced by flipping it over. If the unit is already reduced, it is destroyed.

Every casualty affects the moral of the forces. If the National Liberation Front’s forces lose too many moral points, they must withdraw but they get victory points for withdrawing to fight another day!

A huge strategic factor is to realize how to hit the enemy hard and cut off their points of retreat. In addition, at one point in the game, as the National Liberation Front’s forces are in retreat, they can add snipers to their mix in order to slow down the Republic of Vietnam’s forces. There is also a crashed helicopter whose crew must be rescued or all important victory points are lost by the Republic and International forces.

There are many subtleties to this game and many strategies to experiment with for both sides. It also plays very well as a solo game.

There are a few flaws with the game. A typo in the rules states that the map is one 11” x 17” sheets but, in reality, the map is comprised of two 11” x 17” sheets which join together in the middle. In addition, a complete turn sequence should have been printed on either a play aid or on the map itself. As it stands, the abbreviated turn sequence leaves off the weather determination step which is rather critical to the game.

If you are interested in the Vietnam War or just want a cracking good war game for a few hours of play, Gone to Pieces will be your cup of tea and for less than $20, you really can’t go wrong with this one!

Armchair General Rating: 95 %
Solitaire Rating: 4 (1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)

About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

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