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Indochina Border War, 1950 by Peter D'Adamo

Indochina Border War partial screenshot

Date: 1950
Location: Vietnam/China border region
Map Scale:
Time Scale:
Unit Scale:
Length: 24 turns
  Download Indochina Border Fight scenario file

Design notes

The scenario is designed for solitaire play with the human as the French Commander. It should also play well as PBEM. 

Scenario summary

"When the smoke had cleared," wrote Bernard Fall of the 1950 debacle along the Chinese boarder on Route Coloniale 4, "the French had suffered their greatest colonial defeat since Montcalm had died in Quebec." These defeats, rather than the later battle at Dien Bien Phu, were the real death knell for France in Indochina, for with the loss of the China frontier, the end was foreordained.

First to fall was Dong Khe, overrun by a massive Viet Minh assault. Although recaptured three days later by a suprise French parachute assault, it did not long survive. Giap's main offensive came on September 16, 1950 with a renewed assault on Dong Khe. Odds were 8 to 1 in his favor and the outpost fell to massive artillery barrage and human-wave infantry attack. Instead of counterattacking, the French commander, General Carpentier, decided to abandon the frontier outposts. 

The result was a debacle. The Cao Bang and That Khe garrisions were cut to pieces as they attempted to withdraw. Lang Son, the bastion of the border defenses was abandoned without a fight. 

Game Play

The French player has a challenging game ahead of him. You have two paratrooper assets in Hanoi (with adequate air transport) that historically were used to recapture Dong Khe early on, and were then decimated while covering the French withdrawal.

Because of better command and control, the French player has free support for all formations, which allows for the use of ad hoc battlegroups. The Viets have a small shock advantage early in the game, but tend to develop supply difficulties as the game progresses. The French gain a small shock advantage later in the game to reflect better overall command and control.

As the Viets are new to manipulating division-sized units, they are instead limited to only internal support, since at this point multiple division actions tended to result in each getting in the way of the other. The 1 BEP is the Foreign Legion parachute battalion (very good) and the 6 BCP is the unit of the legendary para  Marcel Bigeard (probably the best band of fighters since Alexander's hoplites).

If Lang Son falls, there is a chance that the 1 RCP (airborne regulars) may be released by Saigon. Your airborne assets are key to your success, and most certainly could have probably been better used than they were historically. However, because of simultaneous pressure on Lao Cai (near Laos) very few assets are available to protect Hanoi, which if it falls, ends the game.

Scenario design

Peter D'Adamo

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