The Final Gamble
game design by Kim Kanger
Dien Bien Phu depicts the decisive battle which took place in a distant jungle valley in northern Vietnam. It was a battle where both sides knew from start would be a final showdown. The French were desperately seeking for an opportunity to bring the Viet Minh main battle force into battle on French terms. Dien Bien Phu was a trap where superior units and weapons would crush the Viet Minh onslaught. Viet Minh felt they could not win the war unless they managed to upgrade their mode of fighting into a full scale war. The French were too strong in the delta but in a distant valley they had gathered almost all their best units without whom France would lose their will to continue. Dien Bien Phu was the place where France would be dealt a crushing defeat.
It was a battle of preparation, assault and reaction. Viet Minh dug approaching trenches before assaulting the French strongpoints. The overwhelmed French defenders were forced to react by throwing reserve battalions into the pyre in order to save their position. The game will be fast and furious. The Viet Minh player will try to make the French defense collapse, and the French player will try to make the Viet Minh steam run dry and force them to stop.
Posted by Adrian on Sep 7th 2020
Legion Wargames kindly invited me to review my recent purchase of DBP so here it is. At present I can only really write a short unboxing style review as I have not yet had opportunity to play and enjoy the game.
I purchased the game as I have recently begun to read the history of Vietnam's wars in the twentieth century avidly. I'll be reading M. Windrow's 'The Last Valley' alongside playing this game.
The components are relatively few, namely; rules, map, counters and 5 player aid cards on light weight card stock, but all nicely printed. The player aids are French and VM combat tables, ESOP, VM trench map and fold out scenario set up card. The map is functional rather than pretty but has a lot of surrounding game tracks and off map location boxes. The counters have art work based in part upon contemporary images, or so it would seem. Some may have preferred NATO style symbols but I like these as a change from the norm which may as a whole sum the game up.
The rules are apparently written in the order of the sequence of play. As I haven't played yet it will be interesting to see how this works. I'm looking forward to finding out.
Overall this seems to be an interesting and innovative design. On the one hand it looks deceptively straight forward and simple but it is also clear there is a lot going on here, in particular supply, strong point assaults and the off map boxes. Lots of decisions to make.
Regarding the VM trenches and their zone based progress (which is how the game models the approach trenches) I might have thought some better delineation could have been represented upon the map. It does look as if the only sure way to check their definition is via the play aid map. However I would also readily acknowledge that all games and art work have to compromise and this may be one of those. A preferable design decision to having a heavily cluttered map which game pieces may have obscured the detail of anyhow.
One minor gripe – after unfolding the map once one of the spines showed signs of some wear and tear as of much use. I hadn't even back folded it However it is minor gripe which is inevitable with paper map games, an issue which has been around since the days of SPI.
Speaking of which, apart from the old SPI Gondor, I don't think I have a siege game or have played one for a while, so yes very much looking forward to playing this.
One of the best wargames I've played since 1973!
Posted by Attilio N Tribuzi on Aug 1st 2020
Rarely have I enjoyed a wargame as much as this. It is simply a better treatment of the battle than most books. If you don't know the battle, you will become an expert on it after you play the game. If you know the battle, you will be astounded at how this game places you squarely in the middle of a conflict that both sides are desperate to win.
History Coming Alive
Posted by Carsten on Sep 14th 2019
It sounds so easy: take the valley (if you are the Viet Minh player) or defend the valley (if you are the French player). But after a few turns, you will see that it's not that easy. The game comes with a lot of depth, every move has to be carefully planned. Resources will run low. Moral will degrade. And then the weather changes... And if you compare the gameplay with some historic accounts you will see that history is coming alive on your table.