Postby etranger » 29 Oct 2008

Capitaine Pierre La Chasse looked up at his Colonel in disgust; “Why us again? We’ve just got back from a convoy, the Bison need to be serviced & the men need a rest before they go out”.

“Because I need the job done properly, Pierre” replied Colonel Bustarde. “Besides, you’ll only need the Tirailleurs, you’re going on a ratonnade.”

Background: The French Indochina war was very much a small unit war, fought in towns, villages, paddy fields & jungles throughout Vietnam. Unlike the later American war the French had much less of a material superiority over their opponents. What they did have was an abundance of colourful units & interesting equipment.

Image Reconaissance Photos show no unusual activity.

Scenario: House to house search of a Vietnamese village for contraband, weapons caches & Viet Minh cadre. This scenario is designed for solo play, with programmed search results & VM responses. The search may find nothing, or it might uncover a VM bunker complex crammed full of troops.

Objectives & Limitations: Captaine La Chasse: cordon off, search for & capture or destroy all weapons caches, VM stores, cadres or bunkers within the village of Hau Phouc Luang.

Image Towards the Village.

Terrain: The village sits in the middle of paddy fields, small rubber plantations & some patchy scrub. Behind the village a spur of jungle covered ground rises up to join the Central Highlands that dominates the background. The village should contain 6 + 3D6 buildings. (More or less D6 can be used according to taste & availability of buildings). The land is mostly firm going however only light vehicles (jeep sized) may enter plantations & the jungle & paddy fields are impassable to all vehicles. The map provided is one possible set up. Other variations are of course possible.

Image Paddy Fields.

Set Up: Prior to the game, take 1 pack of cards (include the jokers). Shuffle & place one card face down under each building.

The French player starts at Point A. He may also optionally deploy one infantry platoon & infantry support weapons at Point B as a blocking force. These troops arrive after Turn 1, between turns 2 & 7 (roll D6 – 1, results <1 = turn 2).

Rules: The scenario has not been written for any one specific set of rules but should work with a bit of adaption with any of the sets below. Troops should manoeuvre as a squad/section rather than as individual figures. The Indochina Ain’t Half Hot Mum! variation of TFLs I Ain’t Been Shot Mum! rules & Cold War Commander would both work for this game. There are also French Indochina War variants for both Peter Pigs The Men of Company B & Crossfire which from all reports would also be suitable (see the Indochine link below for more detail).

Image "Over there?", "no, there!"

Length of Game: This depends on the rules chosen but should allow sufficient time for the French to reach the village & conduct a house to house search on foot. The French commander will wish to withdraw well before nightfall in order to avoid ambushes on the roads.

Special Rules:
The Approach: Each turn roll 1D6 per section until the village perimeter is reached by that section:

1, 2, 3: No event, full movement.
4: Rough going, half movement.
5: Very rough going, quarter movement if on foot.
Vehicle bogs, 1D6 turns to unbog. No movement that turn.
6: Random shot, no casualties but section takes cover for 1 turn if on foot, no movement.
Vehicles move as normal.

The Village: French sections can attempt to spot the occupants of a building once at close range, a successful spotting roll allowing the French player to reveal the card. It will also spot booby traps prior to detonation. Alternatively, or if the spotting roll fails then once the section comes into physical contact with the building the relevant card is turned face up.

2,3,4,5: Empty building.
6,7,8,9: Civilians.
10: Cache.
If Red, Food cache.
If Black, Weapons cache.
Jack: VM Hideout.
If Red, VM cadre leaves through the opposite side of building – enters nearest cover on that side.
If Club, Explosives cache.
If Spade, Booby trap - grenade sized explosion, centred on entrance to building.
Queen: Empty bunker.
If Red, Radio (diamonds), or Medical supplies (hearts).
IF Club, Propaganda Documents cache.
If Spade, Booby trap – mortar shell sized explosion, centred on entrance to building.
King: Occupied bunker.
If Red, 1 squad (or 1D6) VM with rifles, SMGs & grenades.
If Black 1 squad (or 2 + 1D6) VM with LMG, rifles, SMGs & grenades.
Ace: Occupied bunker with underground passage(s) to adjacent buildings.
If Red 1 squad (or 2 + 1D6) VM with HMG, rifles, SMGs & grenades.
If Black 1 squad (or 2 +1D6) VM with Recoilless Rifle, rifles, SMGs & grenades.
Joker: Special - roll 1D6:
1 – the village has been abandoned, all cards of queen or above are ignored.
2 – Mortar pit concealed in house, 1 squad (or 2 +1D6) VM with mortar, rifles, SMGs & grenades.
3 – HQ Bunker, 1 squad (or 2 + 1D6) VM, radio, documents.
4 – Hospital Bunker, 1D6 wounded VM.
5 – Small Bunker complex. 4 buildings adjacent to current building linked by tunnels & connected to bunkers. Assume 1 VM
squad is present in every remaining adjacent (unsearched) building.
6 – Major Bunker complex. All remaining buildings in village contain bunkers & are linked by tunnels. Assume 1VM
squad is present in every remaining (unsearched) building.

VM Firing & Movement: Apart from the specific exceptions mentioned elsewhere it is assumed that the VM troops will stay concealed until spotted. Once spotted they will open fire on the nearest French unit in view (1-2 fire first, 3-4 simultaneously, 5-6 after spotting unit) until their morale fails in which case they will endeavour to retreat through the village to the jungle covered spur & to safety.

Where a bunker with tunnel is indicated it runs to any adjacent unsearched building, or if nonesuch exists, to a spiderhole outside the village. VM squads may use these to avoid being surrounded/captured, or to change fighting position. It will take 1 turn to move along each tunnel segment between bunkers.

Image Covering Fire.

The Jungle: The jungle may not be neutral. For a greater challenge cards can also be deployed face down in the jungle with automatic activation when a French unit comes within close range. Note that this may rarely lead to a major bunker complex being hidden in the jungle. This is likely to be too tough a task for a single company …….

Image In the jungle, the sniper waits tonight ...

Victory: To some extent this will depend upon what the French player encounters. One unlucky enough to encounter a major bunker complex will count survival as a victory! The following points are suggested for those who like to keep score.

Each building searched: 1 point.
Each food cache found: 2 points.
Each weapons cache found: 3 points.
Every booby trap spotted: 3 points.
Each bunker found: 5 points.
Each VM killed: 5 points.
Each VM Heavy weapon captured: 5 points.
Each VM captured: 10 points.
Each VM radio found: 5 points.
Each VM document found: 10 points.
Each VM Hospital found: 10 points.
Each Civilian killed: - 3 points.
Each French soldier killed: - 10 points.
Each French vehicle destroyed: - 20 points.
Each French AFV destroyed: - 30 points.

Figures: The French Union forces were equipped from a variety of sources with British, American & French uniforms, weapons, equipment & vehicles all being used often in the same unit. There are dedicated French Indochina war ranges available in 10mm, 15mm, 20mm & 25/28 mm but at a pinch WWII US Army, USMC, Australian or 14th Army figures & vehicles could be pressed into service for the game.

Viet Minh figures are also available from a number of sources in all these scales but the Regional forces would tend to be less well equipped & uniformed than Main Force (Chu Luc) units & it might be worth trying to depict this with the different units involved.

Image Command Group

Design Notes: The scenario is designed to capture some of the uncertainty of house to house searches. The random elements should mean that no two games play exactly alike, some villages will be a gentle exercise while others will turn out to be a real hornets nest; occasionally the French player will have to struggle to extricate himself from a trap. Those seeking a stiffer challenge can remove some of the lower value cards from the deck.

The scenario could of course be adopted for the American Vietnam war or, with a little bit of adaption, just about any other colonial war. It could also be turned into a two player game easily enough. Deal out one card for each house in the village & give to the VM player. This represents his force, weak or strong & he may then place them as he chooses under the houses. He may then choose when to activate them.

Viet Minh: The VM troops may range in size & troop quality from a local defence platoon to a regular Main Force (Chu Luc) battalion. This may affect troop quality & morale, roll 1D6 when first VM troops are encountered:

1, 2 Local Defence Platoon.
3, 4 (elements of) Regional Battalion.
5, 6 (elements of) Main Force Battalion.

French Union:
Groupement La Chasse, GM11.

Detachment, Sous-Groupement Blindé
1 peloton, 42 men with:
4 M20 Armoured Cars.
4 jeeps, 2 with 0.30 cal MG, 2 with 0.50 HMG.
1 M3 Halftrack.
1 M8 HMC.

Rifle Company, 1er Battalion Marche, Regiment Tirailleurs Marocains, with
HQ Platoon, CO, 2IC, 1 FOO, 3 NCOs, 4 RTOs, 12 men with:
1 60mm mortar.
1 0.30 MG.
1 57mm RCL.

3 Rifle platoons, each:
HQ Section, CO, NCO, RTO, 3 men.
3 Rifle Sections, with 15 men each:
3 SMG.
11 Rifles.

5 M3 halftracks, 2 with 0.30 cal MG, 3 with 0.50 HMG. Allocated to HQ section (1) & 1st platoon (4).
6 2.5 ton trucks. 3 each allocated to 2nd & 3rd platoons.
5 Dodge WC. 3 allocated to HQ platoon, 1 to 2nd & 3rd platoons.
1 jeeps (HQ).

Fire Support: 2 missions, at call.

4 105mm Howitzers.
(off table).

Image Closing in.

References & Links:

http://members.lycos.co.uk/Indochine/index.html - The first stop online in wargaming the French Indochina War.
http://hksw.org/vietnam.htm - Peter Hunt’s evocative series of articles on the war.
http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_memor ... RM5271.pdf Rand Corporation (Victor Croziat). Document on the FIW, based on French Military Briefing Papers.
Men-At-Arms 322: The French Indochina War 1946-54. Martin Windrow.
Vanguard 42: Armour of the Vietnam,Wars. Simon Dunstan.
Street Without Joy: Bernard Fall.
Hell In A Very Small Place: Bernard Fall.
The Last Valley: Martin Windrow.

Last edited by etranger on 30 Oct 2008, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ratonnade

Postby Olivier » 29 Oct 2008

wouahou... great, nice, fun, thanks for sharing.

Only on little thing...
"ratonnade " is a term used primarely in the French army during the Algerian war...
a r"aton" is a slang word for North African, so a ratonnade was basically the hunt for "algerian natives". it was more or less a punitiv expedition where any and all civilians were chased, beaten, and sometimes worst...

Le pen's seids are still running "ratonnades" nowadays in France.....

don't think this term was much used in Indochina..
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Re: Ratonnade

Postby Faustnik » 29 Oct 2008

Excellent scenario :hello: :hello:

By the way I need to write mine :doh:

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Re: Ratonnade

Postby Sam Scott » 29 Oct 2008

This is a very clever set up and I can't wait to adapt it to one of my games. Well done.

My only question is why you include ALL of the vehicles for the French? I count 27 vehicles in your OOB which would be a lot to handle even in 15mm. Wouldn't it make more sense just to include the vehicles likely to directly support this kind of operation?
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Re: Ratonnade

Postby etranger » 29 Oct 2008

Thanks for the comments guys. Basically this was an exercise to give me a framework for some solo Indochina games that wouldn't become too similar too soon.

Oliver, I was aware of the use in connection with Algeria but hadn't realised it was so specific, my understanding being that it was originally a slang term for 'rat hunt'. (The perils of being a non-native speaker!). My only possible excuse is that it's a Moroccan unit. Is there another term that would be more suitable?

Sam, yes it's a lot of vehicles but the idea is to get the French to debus early & approach the village on foot, hence the heavy penalties for losing a vehicle in the Victory points. The 'table setup' is a bit of a sketch rather than a scale drawing & I'd usually be playing this on an 8' X 5' table, so there's plenty of space for parking! Some of the vehicles could be cut out, especially the transport, which are really a bit of window dressing. The intention is that the infantry have to slog through the paddy fields & plantations (both impassable to all/most vehicles) to reach the village. Anyone trying to use their M3s etc as IFVs can expect to sustain a few vehicle losses. Basically I've used the TO&E of an infantry company & a cavalry platoon from a Groupe Mobile who could be expected to have a reasonable amount of M/T available. I haven't 'scaled' the OOB either as I'd expect most players to adapt it according to their own resources as not everyone runs to a full GM!

Once I get a few more comments I'll add some more explanatory notes as required.
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Re: Ratonnade

Postby Richard B. » 29 Oct 2008

Superb Huw :hello:

I like the random find generator very useable in other games.

Great entry :thumbsup:
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Re: Ratonnade

Postby etranger » 29 Oct 2008

Cheers Richard - I'll send you a copy formatted for the Journal at the weekend.
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