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16 - La vallée de la mort

By the beginning of 1954, both the French and Viet Minh realized that the war in Indochina was nearing an end. Ho Chi Minh had requested cease fire negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, and the French government was looking for a way out that would give them peace with honor. Both sides felt that a "big win" on the battlefield would finally secure at the peace table what they had been unable to obtain in six and a half years of war.

The site of this battle would be near a village called, in Vietnamese, "Seat of the Border County Prefecture" located in a distant valley of north western Vietnam near the Laotian border. The French high command, under General Henri Navarre, reasoned that such a remote location could not be successfully attacked. General Vo Nguyen Giap thought the position was nearly impossible to defend. The siege of Dien Bien Phu would be the result.

La vallée de la mort ("Death Valley") is a simulation of this epic siege that ended the French colonial presence in Asia and marked the beginning of a 21 year struggle for national unification. The game is designed for 2 players, one taking the role of the French commander of the fortress complex at Dien Bien Phu, the other of General Giap, commanding the Viet Minh forces laying siege. The game and scenarios are small enough to be played solitaire, however.

Each turn of the game represents one week. Each assault impulse represents one day. A point of combat strength represents 150 to 200 men, 6 aircraft, 5 or 6 guns, or a single tank. An inch on the map corresponds to 700 yards.

Bonus Game Inside!:Also included in this issue is a bonus mini-game called An Illusion of Victory on the battle at Na San in late 1952. This smaller battle, similar to Dien Bien Phu, the French won, but lulled them into thinking their strategy was correct. Compare just how much each side learned about the other over the course of the two battles!

La vallée de la mort and issue #16 of ATO

Maps - One full color 22"x34" mapsheet
Counters - 280 full color 1/2" die-cut pieces
Rules length - 10 pages
Charts and tables - 1 page
Complexity - Medium
Solitaire suitability - Average
Playing time - Up to 4 hours

Design - Paul Rohrbaugh
Development - C. Rawling
Graphic Design - Craig Grando

The Expanded Edition option (only available directly from us) for this game comes boxed and also includes "Flights of Fantasy", an expansion kit for the base game with extra counters, a map and rules. Players can game and explore the proposed French plans (Operations "Condor" and "Albatross") to relieve and/or breakout their garrison at Dien Bien Phu!

Like the topic, designer, or types of challenges in this game?
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16 - La vallée de la mort
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Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader version 5 or later. Free download here.

Download an example of play for La vallée de la mort (in PDF format)

And, the publisher of this game recommends the books below if you would like to learn even more about this battle: