Critical Hit (2018)
Country of Origin:
Desperation Morale has not examined this product and cannot confirm claims of its contents. However, it appears to contain a historical map formed from 9 glossy 12" x 18" heavy paper/light cardstock map panels, a historical map formed from 1 glossy 12" x 18" heavy paper/light cardstock map panel, 8 pages rules, 3 1/2" countersheets (840 counters), 1 5/8" countersheet (176 counters), 1 strip of 16 5/8" counters (16 counters), 1 set of charts/tables, 6 pages helicopters rules, and 15 scenarios. NOTE: it is not clear if all copies included the helicopter rules.
The Fight for Hue: Apex of the Vietnam War is a largish historical module published by Critical Hit in 2018 that transports ASL to the Vietnam War–specifically, to the city of Hue during the Tet Offensive in early 1968. It is Critical Hit’s second venture into the Vietnam War, following 2015’s CH Annual Issue 1, the rules and counters for which provide the basis for the Hue rules as well.
Note: Critical Hit publishes products at a high volume and its products have a general history of quality control issues. Critical Hit provides no review/evaluation copies and typically prices its products very high. For all these reasons, Desperation Morale no longer acquires all, or even most, Critical Hit products for analysis and write-up on this website.
This entry, then, is not a typical Desperation Morale write-up but rather more of a placeholder and historical marker. If Desperation Morale ever acquires a copy of this product, this placeholder entry will be replaced by a full write-up.
Fight for Hue doesn’t include the entire city; it only maps out the Citadel area and southern Hue, with a historical map formed by 9 glossy 12″ x 18″ heavy paper/light cardstock map panels. Assembling that many map panels–and keeping them assembled–can be a real pain. However, many scenarios use only a portion of the entire map area. A separate map consisting of only one 12″ x 18″ map panel, depicting the An Cuu bridge area is also included (2 scenarios take place on this small map).
Overall, the map artwork is decent, though not spectacular. It is the terrain itself that is more interesting than Critical Hit’s graphic depiction of it. Though there are some areas of Hue that resemble other ASL terrain, Hue is distinguished by the huge number of tiny wooden buildings, as well as the many water obstacles in and throughout the city. Many locations (such as the MACV compound and the Imperial Palace of Peace) are labeled, while there are various types of city walls. Critical Hit still has its longstanding inability to render runways accurately, though. The city is depicted without war damage; through the course of the battle much of it was rubbled.
Hue comes with 8 pages of “regular” rules and another 6 pages of CH’s helicopter rules (though it is not clear that every copy of Hue shipped with the helicopter rules included). See the write-up for CH’s French Algeria for more on the Critical Hit helicopter rules. The Hue rules deal with the USMC (but not US Army, who also took part in the battle, in greater numbers than the Marines), ARVN, and the North Vietnamese (apparently both PAVN and Viet Cong), the terrain of Hue, and Chapter H style rules for various vehicles and guns.
The USMC in Hue, colored in dark Olive Green, are represented by a steroidal 8-5-8 squad type, as well as a 4-4-8 half-squad (with a ‘2’ smoke exponent!). They have 4-8 LMGs, 6-10 MMGs (which can fire when Dismantled as 3-8, just like German MGs), RCL rifles, 60mm MTR, LATW, and various Guns, AFVs (including M48A2s, M50A1 Ontos, M35A1s, and others), and transport and gunship helicopters.
The ARVN (South Vietnamese) troops, seemingly depicted in Axis Minor green, have basically the same armament as the US, but are represented by 6-5-7 (Elite), 5-4-7 (1st Line), 4-3-6 (2nd Line) and 3-3-6 (Green) squads.
The North Vietnamese, appearing in a Soviet-like color, have 5-4-8 (Elite), 5-4-7 (1st line), 3-4-7 (2nd Line), and 3-3-6 (Conscripts). They also have a non-specified 4-2-7 squad type, which is probably for the Viet Cong. They have 3-7 LMG, 6-10 MMG, and 8-12 HMG, as well as 12-4 LATW and Soviet 60mm MTR. Some North Vietnameswe half-squads, too, have a Smoke Exponent. NVA are always stealthy, have Kindly Commissars, may create DC heroes, and have Japanese-like HIP/concealment, plus other concealment bonuses. However, they cannot form Multi-Hex Fire Groups (which is quite detrimental in city fighting, and also hard to justify historically) and cannot Deploy or Recombine. As they were in CH Annual Issue 1, the NVA in Hue are unfortunately given original Squad Leader sniper counters (which can move around, etc.). This is just bad.
Hue comes with 15 scenarios. Eight of them feature fighting between the USMC and NVA; seven between the ARVN and NVA. It is nice that the product is not too American-centric. The scenarios strongly tends towards the large or very large. HUE15 (Stalemate in the Citadel) is a monster-sized scenario that takes the place of any campaign game.
At the same time as Hue was released, Critical Hit released–for separate purchase at $99.95–an “Animal Mother Hue Monster Map Set,” featuring the Hue and An Cuu maps with extra-large hexes (25 map panels for the former and 3 for the latter). The Hue map is too large to be practical, though the An Cuu map would still be playable enlarged to that degree.
Not surprisingly for a Critical Hit product, reports of play since its release have been very sparse, but some players have commented that the USMC simply have too much firepower for the NVA.