Over the past few months, we have been brainstorming ways to keep our content fresh and exciting, as well as continuing to provide designer interviews, reviews and strategy articles. With that has come various ideas, one of which is to provide a bi-weekly look at military events in history for a given date and then highlight a game that we have played or had some experience with to highlight how that event has been presented to us gamers. I will say that while I have read a lot of military history, I am not an expert and also do not have a mind like an elephant so I will be relying on several sites as well as Wikipedia and other sources for my information as I do not have all the details of these events stashed away in my brain. There is too much clutter there to remember things of this gravity!
On this date in 1942, General Joseph Warren Stilwell, whose caustic personality earned him the nickname “Vinegar Joe”, arrived in Burma after a 140 mile retreat through the jungle just in time to experience the collapse of the Allied defense of that country, which cut China off from all land and sea supply routes. Stilwell personally led his staff of 117 men and women out of Burma into Assam, India on foot, marching at what his men called the ‘Stilwell stride’ – 105 paces per minute. Two of the men accompanying him, his aide Frank Dorn and the war correspondent, Jack Belden, wrote books about the walkout: Walkout with Stilwell in Burma (1971) and Retreat with Stilwell (1943), respectively. The Assam route was also used by other retreating Allied and Chinese forces. In a press interview he is quoted as saying: “I claim we got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is as humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back and re-take it.”
I have always had a great interest in World War II in general, and more specifically, in the Pacific Theater of Operations. I have played several games in the PTO but still am continually searching for new and interesting designs to play to “experience” the war in this front. I have played such games as Empire of the Sun by GMT Games, D-Day at Tarawa by Decision Games and Saipan The Bloody Rock by Compass Games, but recently I have become aware of a great looking game from Legion Wargames called Nemesis Burma 1944 designed by Kim Kanger. I have reached out to Kim and he has agreed to an interview on the game which currently is being offered on CPO on the Legion Wargames site at the following link: http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_NEM.html
Nemesis is a two player game about the campaign in northern Burma between March and August 1944 when the Japanese decided that their best course of action was to attack the combined Allied forces rather than waiting for them to launch a prepared attack against them. One player is the Japanese and the other takes command of the combined Allied forces, including the British, led by Field Marshall William Joseph Slim, consisting of British, Indian and Nepalese troops, the United States led by General Stilwell and the Chinese led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The game uses a blind phase chit pull system to initiate the action and has some really great looking counters and has some very interesting elements. Rather than just focusing on defeating the other side and killing or reducing units, each commander must be aware of how their Superior views the war and progress made. Their Superior can add or decrease their Satisfaction Points based upon events in the game and the results of battles. Satisfaction Points will increase due to good performance in battles (such as you rolling a modified die roll of 5 or greater or your opponent has a modified 2 or less) or occupying enemy Objectives. This increases Satisfaction Points due to your proper execution of strategy by fully utilizing your assets, taking advantage of your surroundings and building proper fortifications. Ultimately, whichever Superior reaches the “9” and the other at “0”, then the side at “9” has won and the game ends here. If this doesn’t happen throughout the game, once Game Turn 10 has been played, then the game ends and the side with the happiest Superior (on the highest number) wins. If both Superiors are on the same number, then it is a draw. I have never played a game that has a scoring system quite like this so it should be a very interesting and different experience.
One other element that intrigues me is the design’s use of various methods to transport supply to the embattled units. The game utilizes traditional methods such as trucks and tracing supply to and from Headquarter counters placed on the map but they also use mules to extend that supply! Yes, you heard that right. Mules! The mules are used to travel through the jungles and mountains and can move as quickly as Tracks units on roads when they enter Mountain hexes. Really cool concept here that was used extensively throughout the various PTO campaigns.
So, there you have our first entry into our On This Day… Series. I hope you enjoyed the post, learned something and also were able to check out the upcoming game Nemesis Burma 1944 from Legion Wargames. Look for my interview with designer Kim Kanger over the next month or so.