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Indochina Ain’t Half Hot Mum!

"I Ain’t Been Shot Mum!" goes East


I Ain’t Been Shot Mum! from Too Fat Lardies is a relatively recent set of WW2 rules by Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner with quite a few clever ideas which make it close to ideal for gaming the Indochina War. IABSM is designed as a set of core rules with campaign supplements detailing the specifics of each theatre. While no Indochina supplement is yet available, Richard Clarke is currently working on one (when he can be drawn away from his Vinogel, that is).
At the heart of IABSM is a card-based activation system. Each platoon gets its own card and is activated when it is drawn from the deck. In addition, the more effective leaders, the NCOs or officers that are real shakers and movers, also get their own card which allows them to activate the unit they are attached to. This is most useful since there is also an end of turn card which brings the current turn to an abrupt end whenever it is drawn. In addition, all unspotted units are moved using "blinds" or card templates to preserve the fog of war. Furthermore, army and period specific cards can also be added covering such things as bonus fire, rapid deployment or whatever tickles your fancy.
The second core system is an integrated movement, observation and firing sequence. Once a platoon is activated, its sections get to use a variable number of d6 dice, ranging from 2 to 4 for a full-strength section according to its quality, to carry out the above. Thus, a section from an elite platoon may choose to allocate 1d6 to spotting, 2d6 to firing followed by 1d6 of movement while a lowly militia section chooses to use 1d6 for movement followed by another d6 for firing. The beauty of the system is that morale is neatly covered by the fact that sections have their allotment of dice reduced as they suffer casualties and disruption. Sections may also have a positive or negative firing modifier to cover units with high firepower but little flexibility or conversely units with excellent fieldcraft but little in the way of armament. A conventional morale test can be used to cover special situations such as being on the wrong end of a flame-thrower or napalm strike.

The third key aspect is that the authors have chosen to adopt a semi-free kriegspiel approach to resolving firing and observation. Their approach seems to rely on the wisdom of the pot-belly, i.e. most players will have enough games under their belt that they can work out whether the chances are good or poor without needing long tables of modifiers. Finally, although the rules are designed for games involving an infantry company with supports, the artillery and armour rules are well thought out and are decidedly do not feel like they are merely tacked on.

This is definitely not a rule set for those who need colour pics on every page and diagrams to cover all situations but rather, as the authors put it, a tool box for players to tweak at will. All in all, the rules lend themselves admirably to chaotic battlefield situations and asymmetric forces typical of Indochina.

Suggested rules additions

No plan survives contact with the enemy
It it a well known military axiom that no plan survives contact with the enemy. The up-side of this is that plans tend to do just fine until then. Include two Coffee Break cards in the deck at the beginning of the game: as long as neither side has opened fire the turn only ends when the second card is drawn. Once firing has started, remove one of the Coffee Break cards and carry on as per rules.

Ammunition resupply
Units low on ammo may be resupplied either by moving a porter unit or supply vehicle in contact. Alternatively, the unit may move to a supply marker, porter unit or supply vehicle.

Land Mines and BoobyTraps
While IABSM has rules for minefields, something else is required for triggering the isolated land mine, IED or booby trap typically used by the Viêt Minh. These are covered by the Land Mine and Booby Trap random event cards. Mine attacks are resolved as per rule 9.7. Booby trap attacks are resolved as per rule 9.1.

CEFEO Engineers may sweep a road or path ahead of friendly troops to protect them against the use of the Land Mine card. Sweeping is achieved by using 2d6 for movement: the Engineers move forward a distance equal to the smallest result and the ground covered is considered swept. Engineers with sufficient dice may make two consecutive sweeps.

Air Drop
Normally used for resupply rather than personnel drops unless the scenario calls for one. Best resolved in the time-honoured method of dropping numbered paper squares corresponding to an infantry section or supply marker from a reasonable height.

Gathering local intelligence
CEFEO Big Men may attempt to collect intelligence from villagers or prisoners by declaring so when their activation card comes up. They may do nothing else and the attempt is resolved when the Local Intelligence card is drawn. The chances of success and usefulness of the information gathered depends on the scenario and is left up to the umpire.

Suggested Cards

Obviously not all cards will be available in each game and the make up of the deck will depend on the forces deployed, the location and the period.

An example of a PDF card set can be downloaded here : CEFEO Cards (1187 Kb), Viet Minh Cards (820 Kb), Compulsory and blank cards (230 Kb) or the whole set (2209 Kb).

Compulsory cards

CEFEO / Viêt Minh Blinds Move

Coffee Break
As per Tea Break except that real men drink café or cà phê

Unit cards

CEFEO / Viêt Minh Company HQ
As infantry. May be used as activation card for integral support weapons if these are not attached to an infantry unit and do not have their own cards.

CEFEO / Viêt Minh Infantry Platoon
As per rules.

CEFEO Tank Platoon
As per rules.

CEFEO / Viêt Minh Machine Guns
As per rules. AA Machine Guns may target aircraft as per rules.

CEFEO / Viêt Minh Mortar
As per rules for on-table mortars. May be used for medium and heavier mortars if the scenario warrants having these on the table.

CEFEO Recoilless Rifle  / Viêt Minh SKZ
Treat as anti-tank guns for activation purposes, otherwise as per rule 8.2.

CEFEO / Viêt Minh Sniper
As per rules. More than one sniper per side would be rare.

CEFEO DLO (Détachement de Liaison et d’Observation)
Forward Observer. As per rules for Forward Observers. May control either artillery or air strikes.

CEFEO Engineers / Viêt Minh Sappers
As per rules. This would usually cover small detachments of one or two sections. CEFEO Engineers may clear mines ahead of road bound unit see Minesweeping above.

Viêt Minh Tank Killer Team
As per rules.

CEFEO / Viêt Minh Big Man
As per rules.

Viêt Minh Commissar
Treat as a “Big Man” that may only rally, reduce disruption and initiate a Tiên Lên ! charge ; i.e. Commissars may not activate units.

CEFEO PIM / Viêt Minh Porters
May resupply units that are low on ammunition. PIM stands for Prisonniers et Internés Militaires, Military Prisoners and Internees deemed sufficiently reliable to be used as porters.

Support cards

These cards govern both when an event is activated within a turn and the delay before it becomes  effective. E.g. if Air Support is available with a 5 turn delay, it will come on table the fifth time the Air Support card is drawn. Devious umpires are encouraged to substitute decoy cards for the real ones : e.g. insert a Luciole card to count turns before Artillery Support is available.

Mortar Support
Basically as per Artillery Support.
As an option, two such cards are included in the deck to reflect the CEFEO mortars’ shorter response time; if used, CEFEO mortars fire on whichever card is drawn first (drawing the second card in the same turn has no effect, it is not a bonus fire card).

Artillery Support
Properly spelled “Artillary Support”, this is as per rules.

Air Support
As per rules.

Air Drop
This regulates on-table parachute drops.


Criquet (Cricket)
Airborne Forward Observer and Forward Air Controller. As per rules for Forward Observers. May control both artillery and air strikes.

Luciole (Firefly)
Flareship. Illuminates the whole table once overhead.

Force characteristics cards

Due to the very wide range of units and their very variable performance, the force characteristics cards included in the deck should be very scenario dependent. Where no nationality is mentioned the card may apply to either side. Care should be taken when including these cards in the deck: while the Viêt Minh Tiên Lên ! or Commissar cards will also be used, Poor Fire Discipline should be used for some of the lower quality Du Kich only. On the other hand, while any force commanded by the one of the Paratrooper Mafia in Dien Bien Phu warrants a Dynamic Commander card, a game involving Charton's column on the RC4 should definitely include both Hesitant Commander and Hesitant Troops card.

CEFEO Heroic Commander / Viêt Minh Socialist Hero
As per rules for Heroic Commander.

Dynamic Commander
As per rules.

Hesitant Commander
As per rules.

Hesitant Troops
As per rules.

Poor Fire Discipline
As per rules.

CEFEO Rapid Deployment
As per rules.

CEFEO Local Intelligence
Used for gathering intelligence from villagers or prisoners.

CEFEO Final Defensive Fire
Basically a Bonus Artillery Support that is best restricted to a few pre-set points. Otherwise as per other bonus fire cards.

Viêt Minh Infiltration
All Viêt Minh Blinds may make an immediate move, even if they have already moved this turn.

Viêt Minh Tiên Lên! (Forwards!)
As per rules for Uhraaaahhh! Charging group must include a Big Man or Commissar.

Viêt Minh Trình Sat (Intelligence and reconnaissance units)
The Viêt Minh player may make an immediate spotting attempt with 1d6 on a CEFEO-held ground feature or Blind. Line of sight to a friendly unit is not required. Normally used if the scenario is a Viêt Minh set piece attack.

Viêt Minh Dich Van (Propaganda amongst the enemy)
The Viêt Minh player may force a CEFEO Indochinese section (typically local auxiliaries) to take a guts test. If failed, control of the section passes to the Viêt Minh. The scenario must be a Viêt Minh set piece attack and obviously not all such scenarios will use this card.

Bonus Machine Gun Fire
As per rules. This is best restricted to MGs in defensive positions firing on pre-set lines.

Bonus Mortar Fire
As per rules.

As per rules.

Any one reconnaissance unit may take an additional turn, moving and spotting, but not firing.

Random events cards

Apply results immediately and draw another card. The means of selecting units randomly is left to the umpire's discretion.

Land Mine
The Viêt Minh player may make a mine attack on any one unit of his choice which is currently moving on an unswept road or path.

Booby Trap
The Viêt Minh player may make a booby trap attack on any one infantry unit of his choice which is currently moving off-road. Unlike the Land Mine card, minesweeping provides no protection.

Low on Ammo
On a result of 6 on a d6, one random section or vehicle is low on ammunition, its firing is limited to one dice until resupplied.

Bogged Down
One random vehicle which is currently moving off-road bogs down immediately. This is in addition to the normal bogging down rules and should only really be used for very wet terrain (e.g. wet season in the deltas, the Plain of Reeds...).

One bogged down vehicle chosen at random immediately unbogs. One use for this card is to have only amphibious vehicles benefit from it.

One random CEFEO infantry section which is currently moving off-road is immediately immobilized. It may extricate itself when next activated by losing 2 dice, any remaining dice may be used for firing or observation only. Use sparingly in very wet terrain only.

Vehicle breakdown
As per rules.

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