Dist of Columbia
My friend Mike Wiik and I had opportunity to sit down over the weekend and hammer out Kim Kanger's new release, "Nemesis", by Legion Games. In this effort, we started with a couple turns for our first match. Deciding that things were not quite right, we set it up a second time on Sunday morning. This time, we believe we got things right. Of course it did not help that I had reviewed a previous, now out-dated, rules draft. Apparently, there's been considerable changes since the 2017 writing.
In our play, I had the Japanese. As expected, the game took some getting used to. Following our game, a reread of the rules revealed we made a number of mistakes. None that were game changers, as I can recall. While we do truly love Kim Kanger's games, like Tonkin, a thorough examination of the rules are in order. Keep them handy, because you will be constantly referring to them until need-to-know agenda is absorbed from experience. Yet the reward was worth the trouble, as we quickly realized we had a winner here. The map is gorgeous, with enlarged hexes, and the counters lay well on it, in large print and readily identifiable.
The Legend of Sir Golaghat: On GT3, I managed to infiltrate a regiment up onto the India RR, just south of Golaghat (hex 0302). In fact, infiltration here is the Japanese main form of "combat". Like OCS Burma, the Japanese tend to "seep" into effective blocking positions. The idea being to force the CW into attacking strongly-held Japanese defensive positions. This against strong units in good defensive terrain; often in Bunker complexes.
In this infiltration effort, I managed to kill the Golaghat garrison unit, racking up some serious General Mutagushi Satisfaction points. However, Mike managed to perform an epic, "fight to the last man" defense here, thereby denying my triumphant troops entry into the prized Indian city. Following the next chit-pull, Mike was able to quickly reoccupy the city. From then on I was denied any further possibility of recapturing 'Sir' Golaghat in the future. Come GT4, Allied reinforcements started to pour in via the Dimapur/British Reinforcement Entry Hex, like angry wasps. Freaking out at the loss of the Golaghat Garrison, Mike had considered pulling some of the Stilwell US/Chinese forces back from their Maguang Front, just to insure Golaghat remained staunchly British! This proved unnecessary, as the Japanese besiegers were quickly rolled over by those oncoming 'angry wasps' of GT4. The Dimapur entry area is the main reinforcement base, where Allied Reinforcement Phase pour in. It is also from here they can be railed anywhere on the 4-hex RR line w/i India, or up (off-map) to the Stilwell Front.
These "Fighting to the Last Man" battles occurred on at least three hard-fought situations in our game. The other two occurrences took place during the bitter fighting for the Imperial Tennis Courts of Kohima. I never experienced such a desperate fight as what transpired for possession of this critical town. It felt like I was actually there (I love this in a game)! Kohima proved to be the vital litch-pin to the whole of the Imphal Valley and it was here that we waged savage back & forth battles, for several crucial turns.
The Key to Victory: In our game, the Japanese managed to successfully block off a vital section of the Imphal-Dimapur Road quite early in the game. The Imphal-Dimapur Road - from hex 0307 (just north of Kanglatongbi), up to the blood-stained streets of Kohima - was effectively blocked on GT3. Japanese seizure of Kohima had now placed the entire Imphal forces into Limited Supply mode, as they were now forced to rely on stockpile reserves maintained within the Citidel. Yet this is to be anticipated. Please note there is enough in this Imphal stockpile to provide Limited Supply to the Imphal forces for approximately 4 turns. By GT4, Mike had consumed half of this stockpile. The situation was becoming dire. Churchill's Satisfaction rating plummeted to -0, allowing Hirohito's Satisfaction level to rise to 7! I affectionately refer to my Imphal-Dimapur Road Block as "Lock Jaws"!
The Road of Bones/The Siege of Kohima: Kohima had to be re-captured, and soon. It was a position that Mike repeatedly pounded with the CW forces (largely the 2nd Inf Div, supported by powerful armored assets and lots of air), continuously launching Massive Attacks. Alas, these very bloody efforts were in vain. Though the CW attackers did weaken the stubborn position -- held by two very tough Japanese infantry regiments joined by two support units -- the defenders began to 'hog-up' their lines, roadblocks turning into Bunkers. The task of clearing them became increasingly more difficult. Beads of sweat apparent on Mike's forehead.
During the Japanese GT4 Reinforcement chit pull, 5 newly-rebuilt battalions were brought aboard near the heavy fighting. In their Assault Phase, these battalions were rushed in to reinforce the two beleaguered, reduced regiments of the veteran 15th & 31st Regiments. Welcomed reinforcements, accompanied with ammo, mizu (water), fresh rice and some cold rat meat were rushed into besieged Kohima; THEY SHALL NOT PASS!
By GT4, I finally had the slow-moving Nippon Army HQ within the Jessami area where I wanted them. Gen. Sato was coordinating the carefully arranged supply network, working in cohesion with the 15 & 31st Divisional HQs. Both divisional HQs were able to draw supply directly from supply depots situated along the Chindwin River. This carefully aligned supply network allowed the Japanese to effectively stretch their lines all the way into the Dimapur Valley. Considering the welcome inclusion of the 15th Army HQ by GT4, I was thus able to maintain an effective supply conduit to the Chindwin River supply depots at Paungbyin, Homalin & Tamanthi. Each divisional HQ was able to draw, trace and throw supply directly from one of the ports in this manner.
Chindit Operations: As our saga unfolded, the Chindit operations alongside the vital Japanese-held Mandalay-Myyitkyina RR line were also simultaneously occurring. The small village, train stop and supply depot of Mohnya (1709) changed hands several times. With the arrival of two fresh Japanese independent regiments on GT3, things quickly began to turn sour for the Chindits. On GT4, their 'Broadway' air landing strip was overrun and several irreplaceable Chindit units permanently removed from the game. With only the "Picadilly' airfield available, hex 1409, the central Chindit operations were indeed in a desperate situation.
The Valiant 17th: The 17th Inf. Division's story sounds akin to that of the Donner Pass expedition. This powerful inf division starts more or less trapped on the Kabaw Ridge. Alongside their left lies the Kabaw 'Valley of Death'.
Posted at Fort White near Tiddim (0216), the valiant 17th Div is harried right from the game's start. This hapless division began a race for survival, bitterly fighting hogged-up Japanese blocking forces of the formidable Japanese 33rd Inf Div.
One tough Jap inf regiment, joined with the mules of the 33rd, had incredibly navigated the imposing Kabaw Cliffs and blocked the road of retreat back into Imphal. Mike had to continuously drop in what air supply could be afforded, given the increasingly high demands for air supply placed on the Allied air forces.
Nevertheless, Mike persevered in his attacks and managed to clear the Japanese roadblock at 0114. The gallant 17th had made it back into the welcoming arms of the Imphal forces.
We were not sure, though on GT3 I believe I may have temporarily placed Stilwell and his entire US/Chinese crew into Limited Supply. The previous rules which I had downloaded from Legion earlier indicates, "The US Supply Entry Hex will function as such only if no RR hex in India is occupied by the enemy. If it is, then the Stilwell force will have to rely on Air Supply (see below) from the Airfield at Maingkmang (1801)."
Remember my mention of parking on this line, per above, during our epic "Fight to the Last Man" battle of Golaghat (0301)? We weren't sure if this still applied, as the new rules edition does not allude to what provision incurs to the Stilwell forces should the India rail line be cut, as was the case in our game (albeit briefly).
Lessons duly learned: What became abundantly clear was the utter importance of holding the supply road at Kohima open for the British. It is the litch-pin into to the Valley. With so many various dramas occurring all over the map, Nemesis plays out like a soap opera!
The Japanese-held airfield at Indaw should also be considered a high-priority target early in the campaign for the Chindits.
Like most of Kim Kanger's titles, there is an "onion" of mystery that has to be slowly unwrapped, layer by layer. Despite our game's cumbersome launch (both of us having reviewed different rule editions), I thought we had a great time unraveling some of the more perplexing aspects hidden deep within the game. A good many of these nuisances are not so readily apparent on first go round; many of these nuisances I'm still trying to fully grasp. Yet once absorbed there's all that flavor to savor and so the game turns out to be huge fun. I really love how the Japanese can echelon their supply networks, providing them a huge advantage in maneuver. For me, this networking of Japanese supply links was inspired long ago in numerous plays of OCS Burma. In fact, now I've had time to reflect, the comparisons are striking. I'm here at the House of Sweden tonight, composing my thoughts & reflections on this fine game.
It was really a fun two days, as we had the house all to ourselves. I'm looking at my calendar and I will try to clear a day for a return to Nemesis, maybe this time taking on the Allies. I expect we should get at the game now with a faster pace, now we've gotten our feet wet.
An outstanding report, Alan, Cheers!
Jan van der Laan
Als u begrijpt wat ik bedoel.
Great AAR, thanks. My copy is on the way and I’m eager to try it out asap.
Please tell us what happened (if anything) on the Salween front, particularly with regard to that intriguing Chiang-Kai Shek rule.
The Salween front is usually ignored in games on Burma. Unfortunately, the OCS Burma add-on doesn't work because, as written, the supply rules make any advance impossible. (We managaed to make it work, sort of, only by liberalising Nationalist supply off-road).
If I buy Nemesis, it will be because of its inclusion of Salween.