Vietnam ’65 is an iPad/PC strategy game with a deceptively simple concept: patrol villages on a randomly generated map (above) and prevent the Viet Cong & North Vietnamese Army from doing the same. It’s simple, short, and sweet; after two matches, I am impressed.
V65 is built on extreme asymmetry. When all goes well, US infantry can race from village to village in their transport helicopters, while tanks, gunships, and howitzers dominate the countryside as far they can reach. Not everything will go well:
- There are 10 villages to cover, and too few soldiers and helicopters to protect them all.
- There are a lot of demands on those helicopters – ferrying troops, resupplying them (out-of-supply units are eventually destroyed), and evacuating injured units.
- The helicopters have finite fuel, limiting the time they can spend away from base.
- Enemies can be difficult to find, spawn continuously, and lay ambushes of their own…
At times, there were moments of panic: when supply convoys came under RPG fire, making me wonder if my distant troops were cut off; when the Viet Cong emerged at 2-3 points and I only had enough firepower to respond to one; when my only helicopter gunship came crashing down.
Eventually, I won both games1 with a two-pronged strategy: I carpeted the map with outposts, extending the range of my helicopters and artillery, while training enough South Vietnamese troops to hold the line. Now, I feel that I have a good enough grasp of the basics that I can experiment with different game modes, or just move onto another title.
Overall, V65 turned out to be precisely what I wanted from a strategy game: quick to play (a few hours per match), simple to pick up, and at the same time, fresh and thematically evocative. For $10, this is well worth a look for genre fans.
Further reading (and listening)
The Three Moves Ahead episode that sold me on V65. Contains a great discussion of the game, its depiction of its topic, and some really handy tips.
- One on “regular” difficulty, the other on “veteran”. ↩