Power Armor

Power Armor
Khurasan power armor infantry with conversions

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Retreat from Tu Le: A free French Indochina War scenario for A Sergeant's War

Here is a freebie scenario for my WWII rules A Sergeant's War, available from Wargames Vault.  It's from the French Indochina War and features a platoon of French paratroopers attempting to slip out of a Viet Minh encirclement.  Thanks for looking!

This scenario is for my rules, A Sergeant's War, but can be used with other games.  If playing with A Sergeant's War, use the optional rules found in Optional Rules Addition.


History: Years before the United States waged its doomed war in Vietnam, France fought to retain its colonies in the region.  The war—known as the French War, the First Indochina War, or the French Indochina War—saw savage fighting across all of Vietnam and parts of Laos.  The French, fighting on a shoestring budget with colonial forces and volunteer metropolitan troops, a highly motivated guerrilla enemy, the communist-led Viet Minh.  Despite massive American material aid, the French were ultimately defeated by the rising tide of Vietnamese nationalism and anti-colonialism, their road-bound forces destroyed by the fleet-of-foot Viet Minh troops.  One of the last colonial wars ended in a miserable imperial failure, and paved the way for another two decades of suffering in Southeast Asia.

This scenario is taken from some of the desperate fighting of the French Indochina War.  Along the Red River in the fall of 1952, the French High Command prepared for another demoralizing retreat.  The Viet Minh launched a massed assault into the region, destroying numerous outposts and threatening the dispersed French units in the region. To provide a rearguard for a general retreat, French transport aircraft dropped the elite 6th Colonial Parachute Battalion near the post at Tu Le, where they were to draw in Viet Minh forces and provide French Union garrison forces time to fall back to the Black River.

The 6th BPC, under command of Major Marcel Bigeard, parachuted into Tu Le on 16 October.  They held the post as French Union troops fell back through the area, until on 20 October the battalion commenced its withdrawal under increasing pressure from several regiments of Viet Minh troops.  Over two days, the battalion marched through miserable hilly and forested terrain, harassed by Viet Minh for the entire retreat.  They reached the Black River on 22 October, at 40% of their pre-battle strength.

This scenario represents part of the 6th’s harrowing withdrawal, as a platoon of paratroopers are caught in a tightening noose of Viet Minh troops.

French Objective:
Escape Viet Minh encirclement with minimal losses.  Exit at least 19 soldiers off the south table edge.

Viet Minh Objective:
Trap the French paratroopers.  Prevent French objectives.

Special Rules:
1.  The Viet Minh ignore all terrain restrictions on movement.
2.  The stream counts as difficult terrain.
3.  The forest, brush, rocks, and stream all provide cover.  The stream’s cover is ignored by fire coming directly down the stream, or from an elevated area.
4.  The brush and rocks block LOS as though they are forest.
5.  The rocky area on the hill is significantly elevated.  Troops in that area have LOS to all places   in between the north and south areas of forest.

French Forces: All are Quality 4, Morale 3, does not test for Breaking Point.

Deployed anywhere in the northern forest area (marked on the map).

1x Platoon Leader
1x Platoon Command Element (3x, Firepower 1)

3x Squads:
Squad Leader
Maneuver Element (6x, Firepower 2)
Fire Element (3x, w/magazine-fed LMG, Firepower 2)

1x LMG team (3x, Firepower 3)

Viet Minh Forces: All are Quality 5, Morale 3, Resilient Breaking Point.

Initial Forces: Deployed anywhere in the southern forest area (marked on the map):

3x Rifle Sections (5x, Firepower 1)

Turn 1 Reinforcements:
Arriving from the south table edge:
Infantry Squad (8x, Firepower 2)

Arriving from the north table edge:
Infantry Squad (8x, Firepower 2)
Infantry Squad (8x, w/magazine fed LMG, Firepower 3)

Turn 2 Reinforcements:
Arriving from the north table edge:

Infantry Squad (8x, Firepower 2)

Infantry Squad (8x, w/magazine fed LMG, Firepower 3)

Scenario Options:
The game can be made easier for the French by making the Turn 1 south-table edge Viet Minh infantry squad come in from the northern table edge instead. 

The game can be made easier for the Viet Minh by adding a 4th rifle section to the initial Viet Minh forces, or by making the Turn 1 south-table edge Viet Minh infantry squad instead begin the game on-table with the rifle sections. 

Consider adding another full squad to the French order of battle, and giving the Viet Minh a 3-man belt-fed LMG team (Firepower 3), which begins the game in the rocks on the west-table edge high ground.  The French will likely have trouble advancing with strong enemy firepower on the hilltop.

Notes for other systems:

The French should be tough, determined troops—but not necessarily super-elite.  The Viet Minh are equally determined, but have generally poorer training and lighter firepower. 


The game is played on a 4’x4’ table.  The “top” of the map is North.  The small green shapes indicate areas of brush, bamboo, etc.  The grey areas indicate rocky outcroppings.  The blue lines indicate streams.  The brown indicates a hill.  The open area between the forests should be approximately 18”  across at its eastern end, 34” across at its western end.  

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