- Stephen Rangazas
Building off of Mark Herman and Volko Runke’s legendary game Fire in the Lake, the Sovereign of Discord Expansion provides a prequel to the events depicted in the base game, covering the years 1961-1963. Fire in the Lake: Sovereign of Discord Expansion allows players to see how the war escalated from an insurgency between ARVN and Viet Cong, assisted by the US and North Vietnam, to the eventual conventional interventions by North Vietnam and the United States at the start of the base game. New scenarios allow players to extend the game backward to 1961 right after the formation of the Viet Cong, or to 1963 during the tumultuous last year of the Diem regime. Players owning both expansions, Sovereign of Discord and Fall of Saigon, will be able to experience the full Indochina War from 1961 to 1975. This allows players to see how the war evolved from the lower intensity insurgency of the Diem period all the way to the massive conventional offensives of the last years of the war. A copy of Fire in the Lake will be necessary to play the Sovereign of Discord expansion.New mechanics are introduced to reflect the war prior to escalation by the US and North Vietnam and the unique aspects of the Diem Regime:
- 1961 and 1963 Scenarios with a Fall of Diem Sequence allow players to continue play into the Fire in the Lake Campaign Scenario (1964-1972), or even through to Fall of Saigon (1973-1975) if players also possess the sequel expansion.
- New ARVN Strategic Hamlet pieces and mechanics reflect the Diem regime’s strategy of relocating the population into fortified villages.
- Hanoi and Washington Tracks control the number of available pieces and some abilities of the Viet Cong and ARVN factions. In addition, rather than possessing Troops, the US and NVA each use Advisor pieces, which allow them to enhance and control the units of their South Vietnamese allies.
- A Regime Stability Track affects the cost of ARVN Operations to model the rising urban instability and coup plotting against the Ngo Dinh Diem regime.
- A head-to-head 2 player scenario uses the Initiative system from Brian Train’s Colonial Twilight for players wanting to focus on the internal clash between the Viet Cong and ARVN, and might also be suitable as an introductory scenario for players new to Fire in the Lake.
- 72 new Events cover the 1961-1963 period, and four new Pivotal Events represent debates in Washington and Hanoi over their level of aid, the Strategic Hamlet Program by the Diem regime, and the major summer offensive by the Viet Cong. In addition, a new ARVN leader Card, Ngo Dinh Diem, is in play throughout the early 1960s scenarios and new Coup! Events reflect threats to Diem’s hold on power.
- A solitaire system using the card-based Non-player system, similar to those provided with the Tr’ung Bot Update Pack and Fall of Saigon.
In addition to extending Fire in the Lake back to the early 1960s, Sovereign of Discord also includes additional bonus content for the base game:
- 40 new Events (8 new 1964 Events, 16 new 1965 Events, 16 new 1968 Events) covering themes such as women’s role in the war, civilian victimization, the effect of the war on South Vietnamese society, North Vietnamese strategies, and the 1964 escalation debate. Among the new Events is also one new Capability Event for each faction.
- Two new short scenarios:
- Turning Point (1967 to 1969), covering the period of fiercest offensives by both communist and allied forces to win control of the countryside.
- Long 1964 (Mid 1963 to Early 1965), covering the period that historian Frederick Logevall refers to as the “long 1964,” representing the crucial escalation debates in North Vietnam and the United States.