Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FoW Tropic Lightning: Personal Reactions

I was considering writing a post about the upcoming Storm of Magic WFB supplement after pictures from July's White Dwarf have were leaked last week and no one really seems to have given much thought to it.  Instead, I feel more compelled to talk about Battlefront's (somewhat) new Vietnam supplement "Tropic Lightning" - a preview of which you can see at Bell of Lost Souls.  It's not really that new, it came with April's Wargames Illustrated, so BoLS and myself are bit behind the curve here, but moving on...

My father-in-law was drafted during the Vietnam War and was in the Army's 25th Infantry Division, aka the Tropic Lightning.  I've known him for nearly ten years and he rarely speaks about his military service.  Most of the stories he has told about his time in the Army are not about his combat experiences.  Mostly they're about how he learned to fly in Hawaii during his leave time and the bizarre food he ate in Vietnam.  I can only recall one instance of when he talked about actual fighting, which was very brief and conveyed more to me about what it was like to be there than any war film injected with narrative from a member of the Sheen family can.  I know from other family members how much the war affected him for years after he came back.

This post should not to be taken as a condemnation of the Vietnam FoW supplement, or wargaming Vietnam in general, which has been around longer than I've been in the hobby.  I think it's interesting that Battlefront is expanding outside of WWII and I think it would be great if they covered other modern conflicts as well.  However, I would admittedly feel awkward playing this because I know someone who was there.

I commented on this sentiment on the BOLS article and FatalXS suggested that I talk to my father in law about it, as his wife is Italian and he got her input before starting a Bersaglieri battalion for FoW.  Honestly, this is a sensitive subject I would prefer not to talk to him about.  I did ask my wife about it and here reaction was about the same when I explained that there were rules to represent her dad's unit.  She felt it would be weird playing out a game to represent a battle that her dad was in

"The guy on the right is my pops!" Yeah, that's kinda weird...

When I get the chance, I'll take a look at the book.  I think Battlefront does a god job handling the subject matter of their games and presenting it in an appropriate light.


  1. While the world war II veterans are dwindling, I am surprised you do not know any personally. My grandfather(now 18 months deceased) was in the Army Aircore but was never stationed overseas(he did maintenance and testing at US training fields). My wife's grandfather was an artillery man in Europe and has stated he does not like, camping, traveling, or flying since he has done it and it was called war.

    The vietnam war though has a different status in the US though than WWII. It is harder to classify it as a necessary or good war. You really do not see many games (video, board, or tabletop) that use it as a setting. My father also served in vietnam in the 25th and never talked about it with me before he passed 14 years ago.

    Not sure if vietnam makes a good battle game with lots of different types of units as so much of it was really skirmish level actions between light infantry units.

  2. I've sort of had the same feeling regarding all interpretations of modern tabletop wargaming. The Battle of Mogadishu and the movies and games it has inspired are a bit revolting to me, tbh. My brother has served with a lot of guys who fought in Somalia, and there were major liberties (and blatant insults) that the filmmakers made when producing Blackhawk Down.

    I can't give a hard or fast number of years that I believe should pass before we start mass-marketing sims or games where real men died. Maybe a good rule of thumb would be if the majority of the participants are still living and likely to be consumers of the media?