Booby-Traps and mines were of such importance that no game set in Vietnam can be complete without them and their constant threat of instant death or mutilation. Booby-Traps can be divided into four broad categories for convenience: non-explosive, explosive, anti-vehicle, anti-helicopter. Many of the devices can fit into more than one category.
This information is most valuable to wargamers who play the VC or NVA as a guide, to players who specialise in the USA and its allies to show the threat and to the umpire who needs a ready reference to spice up the play.
The system is based on a sketch map with the sites of the major concentrations of traps and mines marked and any "specials" - buried 105mm shells etc - marked accurately. The rest is up to a dicing-and-card system.
The area of operations is divided up, by the umpire, into zones:
In each zone the chances of a squad or minor unit being liable to encounter a
booby-trap or mine is expressed as a number. Throw equal
or less than this number on one d10 and the umpire consults the appropriate
incident card and rolls his die. He then has the victim throw a die and consults
the correct booby-trap card. The situation is now described to the players,
together with any dicing required. The umpire should not reveal too much and he
must remember that booby-traps caused severe delays in addition to
The wording of each potential incident can be
expanded e.g. on the trail (card 2) and a roll of 4 "The point man of the
squad feels a pull on his leg. He freezes and passes word back by hand signals.
What does the squad leader want to do?" In a village clearing operation the
squad throws a 0. "The leading grunt has noticed a US Army ammo box lying
outside a hooch. He indicates its location to you. He is a short timer and is
unwilling to investigate."
BOOBY TRAP CARDS
Card 1 - Long Grass
Card 2 - Log on Trail
Card 3- Punji Traps
*Poisoned if even number thrown
Card 4- Disturbed Earth
*In Jungle = Swinging Mantrap
Card 5- Trip Wire
*Jungle or Gap only: otherwise Single Grenade
Card 6- Jungle Specials
Note Vietnamese, Koreans etc Subtract 1 from effect die roll.
Card 7- Sniper
NOTES REGARDING SNIPERS
Card 8- Booby Trap Effects
The umpire should feel free to alter some of the effects for particular traps. Of course the larger devices such as the buried bombs and shells should have a reduced effect from that of a correctly delivered bomb or shell. For example a buried 105mm shell would have a much reduced danger area but its strike power would not be so badly affected -it may even be increased by the amount of debris thrown up as well. It will also be noted that there is a column headed "nothing". This is included so that the umpire can inflict delays and bring a bit of role play into the situation.
The point "grunt" of a patrol comes across a trip wire. The umpire consults any special abilities that the figure may have, is he a trained patroller, is he a Green Beret, is he a short timer, etc? These factors would govern his reaction to his find. The umpire finds that he is a short timer and so is nervous about being blown away with only two weeks left in the 'Nam. He throws a 9 - he thinks it's a claymore! He throws again. This time a 4. Although there is nothing there the umpire decides that he is not going to play a hero. "There's a claymore wire here!" he calls. The squad leader must react as he sees fit. A LRRP might, with the same throws, have called, "There's a trip wire connected to a dummy mine" once he had investigated. Or, "It's OK. Just a vine snagging my boot!" Or he may just say nothing and keep going.
The purpose of these traps was to inflict casualties and delay. They can be used in a wargame this way. The grunts start to move slower, take more care where they drop into cover and generally get frustrated.
These rules are designed for use with actions fought at platoon or squad level where the complications of booby-traps are acceptable. If you want to fight large scale battles they should still be included, but you may need to try to simplify them.
The Village Card is dealt with in In the Villes
Alan AD Hamilton, The Village War in South Vietnam, Wargames Illustrated n. 24, August 1989