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Fire in the Lake 2nd Printing

Status:  Charging
Orders To Date:  1212
  • One 22"x34" Mounted Map
  • 248 Wooden pieces (many embossed)
  • 130 Playing Cards
  • One full-color countersheet
  • Rules Booklet
  • Play Booklet
  • 9 Player Aid sheets
  • Three 6-sided dice
DESIGNER: Mark Herman & Volko Ruhnke
MAP ART: Chechu Nieto
PRODUCERS: Tony Curtis, Andy Lewis, Rodger MacGowan, Gene Billingsley, Mark Simonitch
Regular Price: $85.00
P500 Price: $59.00


Never Get Out of the Boat

Vietnam, 1964.  The most wrenching US engagement of the Cold War would be far more than GI versus Charlie.  The conflict had set tribesman against nationalist, Buddhist against Catholic, mandarin against villager, and of course Northerner against Southerner—even among the communists.  As revolutionary change burned through that ancient civilization, Washington would apply its armament and its operations research.  To get out, the US counterinsurgency would have to motor deeper and deeper in.  In the end, culture and will would overcome technology and math and signal the end of the primacy of industrial might in modern warfare.
Volume IV in GMT’s COIN Series dives headlong into the momentous and complex battle for South Vietnam.   A unique multi-faction treatment of the Vietnam War, Fire in the Lake will take 1 to 4 players on US heliborne sweeps of the jungle and Communist infiltration of the South, and into inter-allied conferences, Saigon politics, interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, air defense of Northern infrastructure, graduated escalation, and media war.  

Renowned designer and modern warfare expert Mark Herman joins COIN Series creator Volko Ruhnke for a collaborative production not to be missed.  Fire in the Lake features the same card-assisted counterinsurgency game system as GMT's Andean Abyss, Cuba Libre, and A Distant Plain, with a pack of twists that take the Series to another level, including:

  • Pivotal events that trump initiative (Tet Offensive, Vietnamization, Easter Offensive, and Linebacker II)
  •  Inter-coup campaign effects that vary by RVN leader
  • Counterinsurgent guerrillas (US-led Montagnards and ARVN Rangers)
  • Insurgent troops (NVA) for direct force-on-force engagements
  • Tunneled VC and NVA bases
  • Trail construction and degradation
  • A larger-than-ever event deck for even greater play variety
  • Short and medium-length scenarios with either random or period-event options.


Each Fire in the Lake faction presents fresh challenges:

  • As the Viet Cong, you must light the people’s fire for the Revolution.  How long do you build in the shadows, and when do you emerge to set the spark?  Your big brother from the North will draw the enemy’s attention away from you, but be careful that he does not take over your movement from the inside!
  • As the Republic of Vietnam, you have a big brother too.  He will help you build a strong Army, control the country, and kill the Communists, but at what cost to your traditional way of governing?  Should you fight hard with the forces and resources that you have, or leave that to the US and just focus on strengthening your political hold?
  • As North Vietnam, you have friends feeding you resources as well.  But you must see to funneling them southward through a well-developed logistical trail, then decide which moment is right for your painstakingly assembled forces to venture from the relative safety of Laos and Cambodia to control the South.
  • As the United States, you have the firepower and the mobility.  A certain number of US casualties is to be expected, but too many will break the public’s support for South Vietnam and the War.  And your air power and incursions into Laos or Cambodia can help or turn counterproductive.  Together with the ARVN, the fight is winnable—so long as your so-called friendlies do not undermine the plan!

As with earlier COIN Series volumes, players of Fire in the Lake will face difficult strategic decisions with each card.  The innovative game system smoothly integrates political, cultural, and economic affairs with military and other violent and non-violent operations and capabilities.  Terror and subversion, pacification, infiltration, NVA long-range bombardment, road and river ambushes, VC front taxation, aid diversion, US bombing of the Trail, Montagnard recruitment, ARVN Ranger raids, and many more options are on the menu.  Flow charts are at hand to run any faction missing a player—solitaire, 2-player, 3-player, or 4-player experiences are equally supported.  Ride on up the river.



Players:  1-4 (includes full solitaire system)
Map:  Area Movement
Timescale:  1-2 years per Campaign between Coups


Customer Reviews
# of Ratings: 15
1. on 3/13/2017, said:
This is the first COIN hat I have purchased and it is engrossing. It requires a whole new train of thought from wargamers.
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2. on 9/12/2016, said:
needs a reprint ASAP. Second hand market is really taking the mickey, charging over 10 times the RRRP --- Pleases reprint soon! GMT Games Fire in The Lake Board Game See original listing GMT-Games-Fire-in-The-Lake-Board-Game Item Ended Condition:New Ended: 02 Aug, 2016 18:40:06 BST Price: £627.21
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3. on 6/13/2016, said:
I'm giving this a 4 for now, although I can definitely see it going up after a few more plays. This was definitely the heaviest wargame I've played so far, having come from simpler eurogames, so it took me a while to understand the details. The hardest part was figuring out how to relate the actions available to each faction to their goals, as those two things are often not directly related. While this creates a barrier to understanding the game for newer players, it also creates a very interesting web of play. This is compounded by the brilliant "pseudo-team" dynamic. The game is ostensibly a team game, but each faction has their own individual goals which are not directly (though often indirectly) related to their teammate's goals. This creates a really fascinating political game on top of the military action on the board. I've found that the US and South Vietnam in particular seem to clash a lot. Last time I played that was their undoing. Economic and strategic squabbles left the south more undefended than it should have been, and the NVA was able to steamroll through them in the endgame, securing the victory. A really fascinating design that I want to explore more deeply. I hope that my suspicions are correct that I will be rewarded with more depth of strategy as I play it more and more.
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4. on 3/2/2015, said:
played 4 times the first scenario (the 1965) and enjoyed a lot. Now playing the full campaign game, already passed 3 coup cards, we are entering the 4 of 8 decks. From what i can see here, we are heading into a victory of someone for sure. All 4 can potentially win it, depending on wich cards come out. We are mostly playing to avoid others to win than to win ourselves, "damage containement" for all 4 parties. I don't think the game can rul the full 8 coup decks. It's clearly going to end before that.
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5. on 11/17/2014, said:
So it's hit my table 4 times now, and each time I like it a little more. I don't see any links to post rules questions to the designer here though, and I'm thinking a bit of clarity on a couple of things would put this rating up another half star. Game does give a great feel for the utter mess of this conflict. It is a dense game though, be aware. Last game went 8 hrs and 3 coup cards. Great game though, and definitely makes me want to try some of the other titles in the series.
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(7 people found this comment helpful, 1 did not)
6. on 9/16/2014, said:
We completed our first game last night. Everyone enjoyed it. Lots of decisions to make and lots of wondering how I am going to make up points while also aiding my side in general. Looking forward to another play through.
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7. on 8/31/2014, said:
Brilliant design - tense action and strategy - this has become my new favorite!
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Showing comments 1-7 of 7