Recommend
37 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

800 Heroes: Defense of Sihang Warehouse» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review of 800 Heroes rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Martí Cabré

Terrassa
Catalonia, Spain
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
800 Heroes: Defense of Sihang Warehouse is a wargame about an episode of the Battle of Shanghai (October 1937). This is the second edition of the game, published by Battles Magazine. The first edition was published in Chinese by Formosa Force Games.


The story.

October 26, 1937. Chinese resistance in Zhabei is faltering. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek orders to withdraw all forces in the area to defend the rural western regions of Shanghai against the Japanese offensive. The 88th Division is ordered to stay behind to cover the retreat, but fearing the the whole Division will be wiped out, the Divison commander orders only the 524th Regiment to cover the retreat. In turn, the Regiment chooses to retreat leaving behind only the 1st Battalion (reinforced), led by Lieutenant Colonel Xie Jinyuan. They were to make the last stand in the divisional headquarters of the 88th Division, a huge building stocked with food, first aid equipment, shells and ammunition, known as the Sihang Warehouse.



The building was taller than the surrounding buildings, made of concrete and it was just by the bridge leading to the British-American concession. As the Japanese did not want the Americans to enter the war (this was 1937), they renounced to use neither chemical weapons nor naval or air artillery to capture the warehouse, in fear of stray bombs falling on the concession buildings, and relied on infantry assaults.



The Chinese defenders held the warehouse during five days, until the whole of the Chinese army had withdrawn from the area. During the battle, girl guide Yang Huimin brought the defenders a Chinese flag that they would hoist on the roof of the building, to much chagrin of the Japanese. After five days the defenders retreated across the bridge to the concessions area, where they were imprisoned by the British, who feared that the Japanese would attack them if they helped the Chinese. Xie Jinyuan became a symbol of Chinese resistance and lots of Shanghai civilians tried to help the group of prisoners during three years, until they were killed and/or escaped. The survivors had to retreat to Taiwan after the war as the Communists prosecuted them for being soldiers of the Kuomintang.




The components.

This version of the wargame has the map printed on the back cover of the magazine, something inusual. I've xeroxed the map and laminated it in order to make it easier to play, but it's really playable on the magazine (unless you want to read some of its great articles).



The map is divided in zones, with simple graphics. There's only the minimum information needed to play the game, nothing more. The turn track and two special holding boxes are printed on the map.

The counters are thick and nice. They're so thick (1,5 mm) that it's a joy to push them around, but don't try to stack the dead pile too high or they will fall.



There are only eighteen counters in this game.


Playing the game.

I've played this game solo ten times. Each game has lasted about 20 minutes, so it's a game you can have around to play between other things.

Turn sequence is standard IGO/UGO. Each unit has a number of actions it can perform during a turn (either move or attack). As each unit spends an action rotate it to display the number of actions left. When there are no more actions to do or both players pass, the turn ends.

Combat is straightforward: roll two dice, add possible modifiers and compare to the target's defensive number plus terrain. If equal or higher, defender has to retreat spending an action. If unable to retreat or spend an action, defender takes a step. All units have two steps.

As you can guess, these rules create two things: if a player is conservative, he can keep alive his units by always keeping an action point to spend, to allow for retreats, but at the cost of not pressing th enemy. Spending all actions in attack can cause damage to the enemy but will also expose your own units. So here's a decision that the players have to take every turn. Press or wait?



I've found that in my games, when the Chinese side wins it's because there's a nightmare turn for the Japanese where they lose a lot of troops, too much for keeping pressure on the Chinese. This nightmare turn can be either Turn 1, when the Japanese have nowhere to retreat and the Chinese MG can break havoc (put it in zone C), or either on Turn 4 when the Japanese are usually trying to enter the warehouse and the Chinese receive the flag. In this case, if the Japanese spend all their action points to enter the warehouse, a combination of Chinese rally using the flag and area attacks using the grenades can shatter the Japanese troops.



On the other hand, in my games Japanese victories have usually come by eliminating four Chinese units, so they are unable to retreat two units to the concession area. Entering the warehouse by Turn 5 is really difficult, as the tanks are not allowed to enter and usually the MG and MTR are already dead by then. The Japanese infantry that enters the warehouse has to expect a Red Barricades-style welcome and they usually disintegrate. So, I think that it's better to just wait outside the building, concentrate fire on the same Chinese units to destroy them and wait for the Turn 6 rush across the bridge for the last shots. Use the artillery to cover the bridge. Also, if the Chinese have lost Xie (which should be the primary objective), they are forced to end Turn 5 outside the warehouse, in zone H, in order to reach zone J. Take advantage of that.

Replayability is medium: there is only one scenario with few units and a small map, so you'll be fighting again and again in the same spot, but each unit's special rules provide you with an array of tactical choices that combine with the die rolls to offer a wide spectrum of results. In this case, no two plays are the same.


Conclusion.

800 Heroes: Defense of Sihang Warehouse is a small beautiful wargame that can be played in less than a hour and demands from the players difficult choices to take. The rules are quite easy and simple but don't be fooled by the game's simplicity: to win you'll have to make plans and see them through.

37 
 Thumb up
1.50
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Silverman
United States
Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
Florida (FL)
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wonderful review. You included just enough detail and discussed the gameplay, not just the mechanics.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
alex w
Singapore
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Totally agree with your review. Simple, fast and challenging game play.

Only drawback is the replay value on such a small battle.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martí Cabré

Terrassa
Catalonia, Spain
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
alexisW wrote:
Totally agree with your review. Simple, fast and challenging game play.

Only drawback is the replay value on such a small battle.


Yes, replay is limited to some tactical choices. You can always let it sleep for a year and replay it to check if you've devised a new tactic. Or remember the old ones.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.