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GMT Games Sovereign of Discord - A Fire in the Lake Expansion SEALED

SKU: GMT2316

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January 1961, South Vietnam: A month earlier, in Tay Ninh Province, bands of communist cadres, uprising peasants, and other armed groups formed the unified “National Liberation Front” insurgency against the Saigon Regime, an insurgency now more commonly known as the Viet Cong. After the passing of Resolution 15 in North Vietnam, assistance is flowing south, although the amount of assistance is hotly debated between Moderates and Militants of the Politburo in Hanoi.

The National Liberation Front’s opponent, the South Vietnamese government under President Ngo Dinh Diem, is intensely hunting both communist cadres and any enemies of the regime. In November of the previous year, Diem only narrowly outmaneuvered a coup by his own Airborne units and now faces rising violence in the countryside. A new US president, John F. Kennedy, assumes office facing a number of Cold War crises. There are currently 600 American personnel in South Vietnam, and the showdown is about to begin.

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. The 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.
Fire in the Lake Bonus Content
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.

A Note on the Title “Sovereign of Discord”:
The title for this prequel expansion comes from the chapter on Diem in Francis Fitzgerald’s Fire in the Lake. Although a classic book on the Vietnam War, there has been a new wave of scholarship over the last two decades that have added significant nuance to the period covered by the expansion. This new scholarship, relying on Vietnamese language sources, gives a much better perspective of the Vietnamese factions (see the expansion BGG page for recommended reading). A goal of the expansion is to synthesize this newer scholarship for the player, given the lack of previous attention to this earlier period of the war in wargaming and older histories. For those looking for a quick introduction to the period covered by the expansion, episode two of Ken Burn’s The Vietnam War, “Riding the Tiger,” covers 1961 to 1963.