Recommend
28 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Operation Pegasus» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Operation Pegasus: A great Viet Nam war game rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Every Man a (K-State) Wildcat!
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have found it difficult to find very many good Vietnam War-themed games. The nature of the combat is difficult to simulate. In 1980, Task Force Games created Operation Pegasus as part of their line of pocket games. Later, it was moved to a boxed-game format.
I own many of the Task Force pocket games and I generally have a high opinion of them. The rules are detailed and rarely ambiguous, which is a problem that often plagues mini games. Operation Pegasus was not the only Task Force game to make the jump to the boxed format. Star Fleet Battles is the most famous game in the line and not only changed formats but grew into an entire franchise. Starfire did the same, only not the same extent. Prochorovka: Armor at Kursk is another historical war game that also made the jump. Outside of Star Fleet Battles, I believe Operation Pegasus is the best game in Task Force’s excellent series.



Details:
Operation Pegasus is a pocket game for 1-2 players. I am guessing a pair of new players would take about 5 hours to play it. For those familiar with the play, it would probably take 3. It overall concept was designed by Perry Moore and the combat system was developed by Stephen V. Cole (of Star Fleet Battles fame). As mentioned before, it was published by Task Force Games.


Background:

Operation Pegasus was the name given to the mission to relieve the American base of Khe Sahn in 1968, which was located in a heavily forested area. During the Tet Offensive, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) mined the road that led to it and laid in a siege. They were hoping to re-create the past glory of the siege of Dien Bien Phu of 1954. During this siege, the Vietnamese Army successfully laid siege to the French fort, embarrassed France, and won their independence. The NVA planned on hiding in the jungles that outlined the mined road and create a difficulty through combat skirmishes, effectively delaying the engineer’s ability to clear the road and relieve the fort. This delay would create time for their siege to work. Unlike Dien Bien Phu, however, times and the opponent changed, and they were not counting on the United States Air Cavalry’s mobility and ability to provide quick insertion.

As I said, it is difficult to simulate combat in Viet Nam. Operation Pegasus provides a good example of a true military battle. The designers still had a daunting task of simulating the secretive nature of the NVA’s guerilla tactics and helicopter logistics, but at least they had a good starting point.


Components:

The original game comes in a Ziploc bag (as was common for Task Force’s pocket games). Later editions came in a narrow box. The rulebook is an 18-page 5.5” x 8.5” book and follows the Task Force formula of numbering rules, such as “8.41” and such. Also the only illustration in the entire book is a display of a counter, which was typical for Task Force rulebooks. More illustrations would be beneficial, but Task Force was very good at providing plenty of examples in their rules. I found only one ambiguity in the rules, and even that seemed pretty self-explanatory when common sense was applied.

The game also contains 108 die cut counters. Green counters represented the United States and Army of the Republic of (South) Vietnam (ARVN) units. The red counters represent North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units. The green counters are broken down into U.S. Army, U.S. Marine, and ARVN rifle companies, helicopters, artillery batteries, and engineering units. The NVA units are broken down into rifle companies, mortar companies, snipers, tanks, and dummy units. What is rare in these counters is that they do not contain combat or movement ratings. NVA rifle units have a number on them to differentiate them from one another. U.S. Army rifle units display their company, regiment, and battalion and Marine rifle units display their company and regiment.



The 16” x 20” game board is paper and folds to fit in the small package. Because of the folds, you must either be careful to fold the game in the other way to remove the creases, lest your thin cardboard counters fall on the ridges, or you must place Plexiglas over the map. The map is overlaid with hexagons and each hex is marked to represent forest, hills, grass, village, roads, forts, and rivers. It also contains meters to chart helicopter logistics, holding areas for reserve units, and a turn meter.



The game also includes a double-sided chart for movement cost and combat, as well as a pair of casualty charts, one for each side.


Scenarios:

There are various scenarios. The meat of the game is playing the historical scenario. There is also a pair of “what if” scenarios. A solitaire scenario involves the early stages of the operations in order to get a player familiar with the combat system.


Objective of Play:

For the historical scenario, only the U.S. player gains or loses victory points. If he has a positive number of victory points after 10 turns, he wins. If he has a negative number, he loses. These are based on the casualties of each side, the speed in which he clears the road to Khe Sahn of mines, and how effective the siege of Khe Sahn is for the NVA player.


Set-up:

The scenario provides the outline of the set-up. Some counters go in specific hexes. Others are within a region of hexes. In addition, the NVA player gets to mix mortars, snipers, and dummy counters throughout his stacks. Finally, the NVA player turns his counters upside down.


Overview of Play:

Sequence of play

For each phase, each player has a phase that involves moving and combat. In addition, the U.S. player has additional phases for airstrikes and helicopters.

Helicopters

The strength of the game is the unique system for managing helicopter logistics. The game board contains four meters – 4 lines (Available, Reserve, Refit, and Repair) with boxes numbering 0 through 15, with a counter that marks the number for each line. For example, let’s say the meters have the following numbers: Available = 2, Reserve = 3, Refit = 4, Repair = 6. At the start of the U.S. players turn, he lowers the meter on Reserve to 0 and transfers those 3 points to Available, raising it to 5. Next, he lowers the Refit level to 0 and transfers those 4 points to Reserve (making it 4). Finally, he able to repair only 2 helicopters at one time, so he lowers that number from 6 to 4 and increases the Refit value to 2. His final numbers are: Available = 5, Reserve = 4, Refit = 2, Repair = 4. He now has 5 helicopters this turn.

The helicopters can be used in 3 different functions:

• Combat – Determine how many helicopters (up to three) will be used for this function. Lower the Available meter by this many and then place that many counters in the corner, at the U.S. staging area. During the movement phase, they are then placed next to any NVA unit. They (helicopter and NVA) conduct combat during the combat phase. If the helicopter is damaged, the Repair meter is increased by one. Otherwise, the Refit meter is increased by one.

• Recon - Determine how many helicopters (up to three) will be used for this function. Lower the Available meter by this many and then place that many counters next to any NVA units on the board. If they are upside down, they may reveal any or all in the stack and fire on the helicopter. Only visible counters may fire. If they score damage, the helicopter counter is removed, and the Repair meter is increased by one. Otherwise, the helicopter can roll to determine if any additional inverted units are spotted (if so, they are turned over). They remain next to the units in a spotting role, so that artillery can be fired against these units. Afterward, the counters are removed and the Refit meter is increased by one.

• Transport – For each helicopter, one counter from the reserve/reinforcement area on the board can be placed on the map. (A helicopter counter is not used). If the troops are delivered adjacent to NVA units, they may fire on the helicopter. If successful, the troops are not delivered, a roll is made to determine casualties, the unit is returned the reserve, and the Repair meter is increased by one. Otherwise, the Reserve meter is increased by one.

NVA hidden movement

The other great system in this game is the hidden movement for the NVA side. Their counters begin the game inverted. Anytime a NVA unit ends its movement phase out of the zone of control and out of a line of sight, it is inverted. U.S. units can only see the units under one the following conditions:

1. The NVA player chooses to reveal any counters – note: he does not have to reveal an entire stack. He could do this to confuse the other player.

2. The NVA unit fires.

3. The NVA unit is spotted by a U.S. helicopter. In this case, the helicopter risks being damaged and if not, there is still a chance the attempt to detect will not work.

4. A U.S. unit enters the same hex as a NVA unit.



Combat

Combat occurs in many varieties. This supplements the nature of the hidden movement. It also adds a level of complexity. I had to create a flow chart to wrap my brain around it, but after one turn of play, it makes perfect sense. The combat table contains different columns with various numbers associated with a 1-6 die roll. These represent the number of casualties inflicted against that counter or stack. An accompanying sheet of paper has every counter listed with check boxes.
The specific column used on the combat table is based on the unit firing (rifle unit, artillery, helicopters, tactical air strike, and whether or not a NVA unit is firing in an ambush situation or a non-ambush situation. The column also depends on the terrain of the defender – fort hexes are the best, followed by jungles, whereas open fields are the worse and produce higher casualties.

When a U.S. player moves next to an inverted NVA counter, the NVA player has the opportunity to reveal any counters and fire from the ambush column for higher casualties. The U.S. player then fires from the less effective counter-ambush column.

To make this more risky, only one counter may move at a time, meaning the U.S. counter sustains all casualties in this instance, whereas the NVA player may distribute casualties from among all revealed counters in any way he chooses.

Next, the U.S. player has the option to enter the hex with the NVA player. At this point, the NVA player must invert all counters. He fires from the standard combat table. The U.S. player fires from the counter-ambush column. Note: if the NVA player chose to reveal and fire under ambush, this means that each player has fired twice. In this case, movement stops. The sides would then conduct ANOTHER round of dice-rolling combat during the combat phase.

If he chooses this route, he can then bring additional troops into the hex and since the NVA units are revealed, there are no additional opportunities to ambush and the other counters enter without undergoing fire because there is already a U.S. unit in the hex. In other words, the first unit took the damage to reveal the enemy so that the other units could enter and assist.

The U.S. unit also has the option of NOT entering the NVA hex. The advantage is that he does not have to subject a unit to an additional round of fire. That unit still gets to conduct combat during the combat phase and is in position to spot an enemy (so artillery can be used against it). The disadvantage is that any inverted counters remain inverted. So why is this bad?

Dummy Counters

Dummy counters are the great equalizer. They represent regular people or vivid imaginations. They are inverted and placed on NVA stacks. When the U.S. forces them to be revealed (through successful helicopter surveillance or through entering the same hex), they are removed from the game temporarily. However, if the U.S. fires on a stack (rifle or artillery), and an inverted dummy counter is in the column, the U.S. player loses victory points (this represents firing on civilians and losing the hearts and minds of the people). Therefore, the only way to make sure you are firing at legit units is to risk additional casualties. It also explains why the historical scenario does not work for solitaire play.

Snipers

In addition to dummy counters, there are also sniper counters. When in combat a sniper does not roll a die. It automatically inflicts one casualty. When a stack takes 3 casualties in a combat exchange, the sniper is automatically the 3rd casualty and removed from the game. Both snipers and dummy counters are placed in the reinforcements box and each turn, one of each may be brought into the game and added to a stack that is not adjacent to U.S. troops or in a line of sight.

Artillery

In addition to rifle combat, both sides may engage in artillery shelling during the combat phase. The U.S. player has artillery batteries and the NVA has mortars. The artillery batteries have more range, but are immobile. They can be moved once by helicopter. The NVA mortar units are mobile (but less so than rifle units) and have shorter range. Both types can only fire on units that are adjacent to a friendly unit or in the line of sight.


Conclusion:

I really enjoyed this game. I am not as experienced as many grognards, but to me, it had a very unique game play system within the hex-and-counter genre. The combat was very complex, with multiple rounds coming from a pair of units and rules on inverted and spotted units. However, this is what makes the game so great. It took a lot of rules to make the hidden movement work and this game pulls it off with flying colors, yet they still kept it within an 18-page pocket game format.

Both sides have their advantages and enjoyable game play. The U.S. player gets the helicopters and the NVA player gets the hidden movement. Therefore, both players are having fun.

The game does a great job of capturing the difficulties of guerilla warfare while providing a measurable goal.

If you are a grognard, this is definitely one you should add to your collection. If Vietnam-themed games interest you, you should definitely add this to your collection, since there aren’t too many to choose from. The game is out-of-print, but can be had for a decent price (generally $10-20) on EBay, and if you have someone to play this with, you’ll get your money’s worth.

Within the genre of pocket games, this rates an easy 10, because it’s one of the very best, along with TSR’s Revolt on Antares. Within the spectrum of all games that I have played, I would give it an 8.5.

24 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
StevenE Smooth Sailing...
United States
Torrance
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review of the game... makes me want to get it on the table again.

It has been a long time but I remember playing with air strikes from B-52's and F-4's dropping napalm.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
flag msg tools
Every Man a (K-State) Wildcat!
badge
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You are right. The B-52s are pretty ineffective. The F4s are better. I didn't want to cover all the rules (I should have a made a passing reference to these, though). I wanted to cover the helicopter and hidden movement and how combat works with these because I thought these 2 areas are where this game shines.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tyler
United States
Kent
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
I appreciate the thoroughness of your review. Looks interesting!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.