20mm Platoon Level Vietnam Rules (V3.6)
By Pete Jones

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Last Updated: 22nd March 2000

Amendments (shown in green over last version): Changes to RPG rules. Weapon ranges to hit distances altered. Alterations made to delay in artillery fire.

These rules are designed for fighting the Vietnam War in 20mm scale but could be adapted for other scales. It allows any number of troops to be used (provided you have the space).

The Vietnam War was a unique war in many ways. We had the mighty super-power with unlimited weaponry and money versus the guerilla army with small arms and homemade booby traps.

The war also saw the first use of the helicopter on the battlefield. Although the war was mainly about infantry actions there was other situations of interest to the wargamer too: Sieges (Khe Sanh); street to street fighting (Hue); guerilla operations by the US side (LURP, Special Forces and CIA ops); riverine warfare and the use of armour.

For Where's Charlie troops should be kept in squads (I suggest no more than 2" between each figure in the squad).

Equipment Required
6 sided dice
Pinned Markers
Prone markers
No Fire Markers
Terrain Markers (counters marked 1,2,3.. and upwards)

1" =10m

In S.L.A. Marshalls excellent books he discusses the soldiers "reservoir of energy", many things effect how troops react in battle. Their training, enthusiasm, experience and leadership are all factors that have to be taken into consideration. To reflect this each unit and officer is given a rating between 4 and 10, this is known as their Gung-Ho factor. The higher the number the better the troops.

Each time a unit or officer wants to conduct certain events he must roll 2D6 and roll equal to or less than his current Gung-Ho to succeed. If he rolls greater than his Gung-Ho he has failed the action. Besides a simple succeed or fail he may also have a critical success (which is any double equal to or below his Gung-Ho) and he may have a critical failure (any double greater than his Gung-Ho). A roll less than or equal to Gung-Ho is presented by =<

I do not like generic factors for troops but nevertheless some starting point is required for people with little knowledge of the war. I have drawn up some generic Gung-Ho factors for different troop types, these are not and should not be cast in iron. The reason for this is some units performed excellently in certain battles or in certain years and at other times were hopeless. Another thing was that different units within a Formation varies (e.g. 27th Marines were poor, the 3rd and 4th Marines were excellent troops). So what I'm saying is research the unit in action before awarding them their Gung-Ho factor.


Troop Type


This should only be saved for characters like the Air Cavalry commander in Apocalypse Now played by Robert Duvall.(Nothing will ever effect him and he's loved by his men).


Airmobile, Armoured Cavalry, 101 Airborne, LURPS, Australian SAS, Green Berets, ROK Marines


ARVN Airborne, US Marines, ROK, Australian, New Zealand


Regular NVA, ARVN Rangers, US Infantry, Kit Carson Scouts, VC Main Force (post '68)


ARVN, VC Main Force (pre '68)


ARVN (3rd, 5th, 9th, 18th Divs), VC Locals


VC Locals, Dan Cong, CIDG

If you want to vary the possible Gung-Ho rating decide on whether the troops at the start of the scenario are poor, fair or excellent. When they first make contact roll a D10 and consult the table.


1 = 4 Gung Ho 2-6 = 5 Gung Ho 7-0 = 6 Gung Ho


1 = 6 Gung Ho 2-6 = 7 Gung Ho 7-0 = 8 Gung Ho


1-5 = 8 Gung Ho 6-0 = 9 Gung Ho

Move Sequence
Each player must roll a D6 at the start of the turn for every squad on the table. If the VC/NVA have hidden units on the table they can be rolled for and recorded secretly against the unit details and location.

To the D6 the player adds his Gung-Ho factor and any modifers from the table below, this gives his activation level. Each squad should be clearly marked on the table with his activation level by either a counter or a dice.


+2 Fresh Troops (no combat this game)

-2 Under Artillery fire or Airstrikes

+1 In soft cover

-1 Attacked in flank

+2 In hard cover

-2 Attacked in rear

+3 In bunker

-2 Each casualty received

+1 Not under fire

The squad with the lowest activation level becomes the active player (if two units have the same activation level they roll a D6 and the lowest roll becomes the active player). When the unit has finished all actions the unit with the next highest activation level becomes the active player. This continues through to the player with the highest activation level. When all players have been that is the end of the current turn.

During its active phase the unit may:

The non-active player may make opportunity fire at the active unit. See Opportunity Fire.

Infantry can travel in 3 modes: Cautious, Patrol, Fast.

Cautious: In this mode the troops are looking for booby traps and the enemy.

Patrol: The normal mode, moves faster but less chance of finding booby traps.

Fast: A mode of travel to move quickly over large distances when there are no threats. However, very susceptible to enemy fire and booby traps.

3D6 are rolled each time infantry want to move and consult the following table:


Good Terrain

Bad Terrain


Single Middle Dice

Single Lowest Dice (VC, Lurps, Rangers: Middle dice)


2 x Highest Dice

2 x Lowest (VC, Lurps, Rangers:Highest & Lowest)


All 3

2 x Lowest (VC, Lurps, Rangers:Highest & Lowest)

All movement rates reduced by 50% at night        
-2" Crossing obstacle
½ turn to mount/dismount
½ a turn to pick up stores etc.
½ speed if carrying stores (not porter)
2 men carrying a wounded buddy travel at half speed.

Figures in the open may move half and then go prone, if a figure is pinned it may also go prone (but not move). The figure should be marked with a prone marker. A figure may stand up and move up to half its movement roll. A figure who has moved under half and is fired at with opportunity fire may only go prone after receiving the incoming fire. If moving greater than half may not go prone.

Unit Type

Good Going

Bad Going

Tracked AFV (heavy)


1D6 x 1

Wheeled Movement


1D6 x 1




PABR (Patrol boat)



Helicopters have unlimited movement, they take 1 move to hover before landing, 1 move landed to load, 1 move hovering after landing and then they have unlimited movement again.

Hidden Movement
In the Vietnam war the VC were very hard to find, to simulate this in these rules numbered markers are place in all the terrain pieces on the table. That is in jungle; elephant grass, hills; buildings etc. Large pieces of terrain may have more than 1 marker.

The VC player then notes on a piece of paper the location of all his units, stores and booby traps by writing the marker number next to them. He may also write down other locations applicable to the game i.e. the location of peasants.

If a hidden unit wishes to move but is not within the visibility of the Allied troops then move the marker as if moving the unit within the movement rules. To confuse the Allied player it is suggested you also do the same for 2-3 markers where nothing is concealed.

If an Allied player takes a piece of terrain where a marker is and there is nothing concealed there the marker should be removed or turned over.

A hidden unit may use opportunity fire.

Unless the VC/NVA fire they will not be placed on the table. Exceptions to this are: if they are the in open and within 16" of US and moving; or if in paddy fields and within 8" and moving; or if in the jungle and within 4" and moving.

Hearing distances are: Vehicle:15"; US moving: 8"; VC moving: 4"; Weapon fire: 30"; Choppers: 35". In all cases the figures would be put on the table.

2 figures, a tank or APC take 1 turn to search, whilst searching they cannot fire. To search a terrain card place figures on top of it. The troops can capture any stores hidden there and may carry them off moving at half speed. Alternately they may spend one entire move destroying the stores.

Units travelling in FAST mode may not fire. Pinned figures may not move, but they may fire. Roll the number of dice per number of figures firing depending on the weapons the figure is equipped with. Then apply any modifiers.




Dice per number of Figures

Old Rifles



M14, M16, AK47, SLR etc












LMG (M60)



M79 or M203



HMG (0.50) and RCL and PKM and Minigun



Tank Guns, Cannons, Minigun, Flexigun.



Modifiers (cumulative):

Halve The Dice
If a figure is pinned
Firer Recon By Fire*
Firer moving in Patrol mode
Target in soft cover
Vehicle moving over half distance

Double The Number of Dice
Firer ambushing enemy (first round of fire only)
Target moving fast

Quarter The Number of Dice
Target in hard cover

Optional modifiers :
Gung-Ho =>10 : Double the number of dice (this simulates better troops having better firepower)
Gung-H0 <=6 : Halve the number of dice

*Recon by fire is when the enemy has not been seen and the firer is firing wildly to try and flush them out.

Hand Grenades have a range of 4" and add 2 dice to the total of the firing weapons.

To Hit
There are two possible results when the dice are rolled:


Roll required

Up to 15" (or less by weapon)

6: Hit, 5: Pinned

15" +

6 number of hits halved, 5: Number of pins halved

Tank Guns, cannons, minigun

5, 6

Saving Roll Per Figure:
Each figure when hit (not pinned) makes a roll to save:


In jungle/forest; in a building ; bunker; carried by AFV


In village or paddy field; in soft vehicle


In the open



-1 for peasants
+1 wearing flak jacket
+1 if prone

If figure does not make saving roll he is a casualty. If he makes a saving roll he becomes pinned, he cannot move but can fire as area fire. In these rules there is no distinguishing in casualty type, they are considered out of action for the rest of the game.

Remember both sides must make every effort to recover their casualties.

Optional: If you wish to know if the casualty is wounded or killed roll a D6, the figure is injured on a 1-3 for small arms or 1-2 for heavy weapons. Wounded casualties cannot fight but they can be interrogated if captured.

Opportunity Fire
When a player is the non-active player he may make opportunity fire in the active players phase, providing he hasn't already fired this turn. He can elect to fire at any point in the active players phase. When he has finished firing mark that unit "No Fire". He cannot now shoot in his own phase, at the end of the turn all "No Fire" markers are removed from units.

Direct Fire on Vehicles / Soft Targets
Used by RPG's, tank guns, mortars etc. against vehicles and soft targets (including vehicles and infantry).

LAW (66mm) or RPG


see direct fire rules

MAW (Carl Gustav)


see direct fire rules

60mm Mortar

Min 5"

see indirect fire rules

81/82mm Mortar

Min 10"/18"

see indirect fire rules

Mortar 82mm +

Min 50"

see indirect fire rules

Rocket pods, Chopper grenade launcher, artillery


See indirect fire rules

Area of burst = 3" x 3". Saving roll per figure, in blast area.

Roll D6: 5,6 = hit (-1 if target moving).

If an RPG rolls a 1 it has run out of ammo.















Immobilised: Requires 5,6 to get going again.





Penetrated armour. Crew and passengers make a saving roll each. Soft vehicles and PABR are destroyed. Armoured vehicles are destroyed unless hit by an RPG : roll D6 for vehicle and it is only destroyed on a 6 other wise it is immobilised as above.

Small arms against soft vehicles -2 to roll

Direct Fire on Helicopters
Require 6 to hit. Only when chopper landing or hovering.
Small arms may fire at aircraft on flight path.
Saving roll against RPG = 4+
Saving roll against small arms = 2+
If the saving roll is not made the chopper is shot down. Make saving rolls for all occupants as if in open.

Artillery Fire
The Allied player is restricted on using artillery within 1000 metres of a village, unless in a Free Fire Zone. Even when under attack it will be difficult to receive artillery fire that close to a village

The requesting officer must be a platoon commander or higher to request artillery. There are a few exceptions to this (e.g. LURP and Special Firces teams).

The figure rolls on his Gung-ho factor.

Roll =< Gung-Ho

Artillery arrives in D3 turns

Double =< Gung-Ho

Artillery arrives next turn.

Roll > Gung-Ho

Request not authorised

Double > gung-Ho

Request not authorised wait 1D6 turns to try again

Modifiers to total:

+2 target not located
+2 FO/Officer requesting is pinned

The player now states if he wishes the artillery to arrive in box or sheaf pattern. A box pattern has the template facing with the template at right angles to the gun firing; a sheaf pattern is is placed along the line of fire.

Arrival of fire: 5,6 on target.

If off target roll a direction dice and 3d6. The round lands in this direction that distance in inches.

(The direction dice can be a blank dice with arrows painted on all sides or a D8 with the faces painted -1:N, 2:NE, 3:E, 4:SE, 5:S, 6:SW, 7:W, 8:NW).

Area of effect - 105mm : 10" x 8", 155mm : 12" x 10"

Any figure in burst area is hit on a 4,5,6. Make saving roll.

If firing at the same target each subsequent turn roll against Gung-Ho, if you roll less than your Gung-Ho reduce the number of D6 for deviation by 1. (Thus simulating corrective fire).

Optional Rule (Less realistic but more fun)

The calling player has to guess the measurement of the landing spot from two table edges (usually the edge he has entered from being 1). That is where the round falls.

e.g. '63" from my base edge and 23" from the left table edge'

Each move he/she may correct the fire by calling out the new cordinates

Mortar Fire
This is similar to artillery fire but the deviation is 2D6 inches.

Area of effect - 4" x 4"

Air Support
The requesting officer rolls on his Gung-ho factor.

Roll =< Gung-Ho

Airstrike arrives in 2D6 turns

Double =< Gung-Ho

Airstrike arrives in D6 turns

Roll > Gung-Ho

Request not authorised

Double > gung-Ho

Request not authorised wait 1D6 turns to try again

Modifiers to total:
+2 target not located

The player requesting should indicate the exact path of the aircraft to and from the target. Any enemy eligible to fire may do so at the aircraft.

When the air support arrives roll 1D6: 1-4 = fixed wing 5,6 = helicopter gunship.

The aircraft has only a limited time over the table: Fixed wing stay over table 1D6 divided by 2 turns. Helicopters stay over the table 1D6 turns. each aircraft can make 1 attack per turn over the table and is used as opportunity fire.

Roll a D6: 5,6 on target        

If off target: 5,6 = over. 4 = left. 3 = right. 1-2 = under (x 2D6")

Area of effect - 10" x 8" along the flight path of the aircraft

Any figure in burst area is hit on a 4,5,6. Make a saving roll.        

Close Combat
When troops are base to base they make carry out close combat. To resolve roll 1D6 per side:

-1 per extra opponent faced (maximum of 2 extra)
-1 pinned
+1 if figure has the highest Gung Ho

The highest result wins and all opponents are killed.

When a figure becomes a casualty all figures within 3" of it must test to see if it panics. Roll against Gung-Ho

It does not apply to VC or NVA.

Roll =< Gung-Ho

Figure O.K.

Roll > Gung-Ho

Figure panics and becomes pinned. He cannot move but may still fire.

Units must roll against their Gung-Ho when they are under fire for the first time or they have sustained a casualty this turn.


Casualties =<50%

Casualties > 50%

=< Gung-Ho

Unit carries on

Unit carries on

Double =< Gung-Ho

Unit carries on - all figures become unpinned.

Unit carries on

> Gung-Ho

Unit halts may not advance towards the enemy

Unit withdraws out of range of enemy fire

Double > Gung-Ho

Unit withdraws out of range of enemy fire

Unit continues to withdraw from the table

Modifiers to total:

-2 Unit in bunker
+1 Under HE fire
+1 Majority of unit pinned

(If at any point in the game you come across something that isn't mentioned in the rules roll against the units/figures Gung-Ho factor if it rolls less or equal than it the unit/figure succeeds!).

Removal of Pinned Markers
Figures remain pinned for 1 whole turn. So when figures from a unit become pinned they attempt to remove their pinned markers at the end of their next turn. That way any pinned markers will be effective for one of their phases.

To attempt to remove the marker each figure must roll under their Gung-Ho factor. If he fails, the pinned marker remains.

A figure may only have 1 pinned marker at a time.

Peasants and VC may be interrogated by Allied player. On first turn of interrogation the figure will talk on a 1-3, if it is a young male on a 1-2 (+1 to dice for VC or NVA prisoner).

If it talks it will reveal a cache of the VC players choosing. A second attempt may be made. On a 1,2 the prisoner dies, on a 3 he reveals a VC unit of the VC players choosing, 4 he reveals a cache of the VC players choosing, 5-6 no information passed. (-2 ARVN interrogating)

Booby Traps
When a unit comes across a trap roll a D6

To set off

Unit type


On foot in fast mode


On foot in patrol mode


On foot in cautious mode


If vehicle

Otherwise the trap is detected.

If the trap is set off make a saving roll as for each figure, if the figure survives he withdraws and becomes pinned.

Certain traps only affect 1 figure (e.g. punji sticks) others explode as a small mortar or grenade. Claymores have a range of 6".

A sniper rolls a D6 on a 4-5 he pins a figure down. A 6 kills an enemy of his choice. To disappear back into the undergrowth without being seen he has to roll under his Gung-Ho to succeed. If he rolls a double under his Gung Ho not only does he disappear but he also kills another enemy before leaving. If he fails his Gung Ho he can be seen leaving so the allies may follow him. The roll may only be made once by the sniper at a time when he wishes to try and bug out.

Communications includes requesting artillery and air support. For communication between units 3 methods may be used.
1) Record messages on a hand held cassette recorder, play the messages back to the recipient. If unit under fire reduce the time they are allowed to record their message.
2) Use childrens' walkie talkies, reduce talk time if under fire.
3) For each message passed roll D6 each turn. The message fails to arrive until 3+ rolled, if under fire 4+.

VC may only communicate by audible signals (e.g. whistle blasts under pre-planned signals) or by hand delivering communications using figures as runners.

Determining VC Troops
Unless the VC player has predetermined his forces at the start of the game then when his cards are turned over he can determine his unit as follows:

Local VC

  1. VC sniper
  2. 3 VC with AK47
  3. 6 VC with AK47
  4. 6 VC five with AK47, one with RPG
  5. 9 VC eight with AK47, one with RPG
  6. 12 VC eleven with AK47, one with RPG

VC Cadre

  1. 3 VC with AK47
  2. 6 VC with AK47
  3. 6 VC with AK47
  4. 8 VC with AK47
  5. 9 VC eight with AK47, 1 with RPG
  6. VC HMG team or mortar team or VC with RPG


  1. 6 with AK47
  2. 7 with AK47
  3. 8 with AK47
  4. 9 with AK47
  5. 9 with AK47
  6. RPG or HMG team or mortar team

Victory Points
At the end of the game add all points the highest score has won.

US Points

VC Points

+15 Each cache destroyed

 +2 Each US killed

+20 Each cache captured

+3 Each US captured

-10 Each fire mission or airstrike called

+2 Each peasant killed by US 

+3 Each VC captured

+15 Each AFV destroyed

+2 Each VC killed

+20 Each chopper destroyed

-2 Each casualty abandoned

-3 Each casualty from friendly fire

End Notes
The rules are designed as a fun set to be as flowing as possible, so that the game moves quickly, but at the same time some flavour of the period is maintained. The Vietnam War was a unique war and a good rule system should reflect this.

This system is inspired from a number of ideas and sets of rules including: Free Fire Zone, Vietnam 1967 - Search & Destroy, Buckle For Your Dust!, Dinky Dau, Nam, Bump in the Boonies, R.A.S.H., EDNA by Mark Hannam, Slammer for the activation sequence.

Thanks to players at my local club especially Will and Kevin for their comments and playtesting. Also many thanks to the active participants at the Vietgaming e-mail list.

I do hope that you find Charlie and live to tell the tale!

Pete Jones

Return to Dustoff

These rules may be freely distributed so long as Pete Jones & SOTCW are credited.