Silver Bayonet Wargame 25th Anniversary: The First Team in Vietnam
Silver Bayonet is an almost legendary wargame on Vietnam war published in 1990. 25 years before, the historical facts the game intents to simulate took place in Vietnam. To be precise, between October 23 and November 25, 1965, a desperate struggle between a full North Vietnamese Army Division and the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division took place west of Pleiku in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Silver Bayonet is a company-level game which focuses on this conflict.
The 1st edition of the Silver Bayonet was published in 1990. As shown below, the bookcase had also different cover. The original game time scale was one day per game turn, with a map scale of one mile per hex. The unit scale was company with two players. Depending on the scenarios it could be played between 5-30 minutes for introductory scenario, 1-2 hours for advanced scenario and up to 2-20 hours for campaign game. The game Design was by Gene Billingsley and had many game innovative features such as: Innovative combat resolution, integrating maneuver combat, close assault, artillery bombardment, gunship, rocket and air support into one easy-to-use system Air-to-Ground and surface-to-air combat Transport helicopters, aerial rockets, observation helicopters, and gunships North Vietnam.
Now, again 25 years later, GMT published a Silver Bayonet 25th Anniversary Edition with new updated maps and high quality counters. As you can see in the counters sheet, the helicopters play a capital role in this game. There are many counters with different types of helicopters accurately reproduced with their silhouette. In fact, in the historical operation, the 1st Cavalry division was engaged. this division was the first to be completely airmobile and consisted of a massive mobile support of over 400 combat helicopters, which allowed her an unprecedented mobility and fire support. However, this was not enough to achieve a quick and decisive victory.
During the Vietnam War as part of the U.S. airmobile offensive code-named Operation Silver Bayonet I (October 23 – November 18, 1965) several key battles were fought and elements of the 1st Calvary Div. were committed. The Battle of Ia Drang comprises two main engagements conducted by the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment that took place on November 14–15, 1965 at LZ X-Ray and by the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment on November 17 at LZ Albany further north in the Ia Drang Valley. It was the first major battle between the United States Army and the North Vietnamese Army-NVA (People’s Army of Vietnam-PAVN). In fact, the battle was part of the second phase of a search-and-destroy operation code-named “Operation Long Reach” that took place from October 23 to November 26 during the Pleiku Campaign.
The main historical background was as follows. In October of 1965, General Vo Nguyen Giap launched a full North Vietnamese Army division in a sweeping offensive against the thinly guarded II Corps area west of Pleiku in South Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Two special forces camps, a handful of elite soldiers, and thirty miles of rugged, jungled terrain were all that stood between the onrushing NVA and their objective, the strategic town of Pleiku. The NVA quickly surrounded and besieged the camps, threatening a quick and easy victory over the outnumbered II Corps defenders. Desperate to hold back the tide of Communist soldiers, the South Vietnamese commander asked the U.S. for help. The newly formed 1st Cavalry Division, fresh in country and bivouacked at nearby An Khe, rushed to the aid of the beleaguered garrisons. With its complement of over 400 combat helicopters, the 1st Cav was completely airmobile. While the helicopter’s mobility guaranteed quick movement and ready resupply, it did not guarantee victory. The soldiers that the unblooded Americans faced were tough, well trained veterans. Victory would not come easily for American forces.
New map features from Silver Bayonet, 25th Anniversary, GMT wargame 2016.