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Subject: Distinguishing features - or why I should buy WotS? rss

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Malcolm Cameron
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This game covers a rarely wargamed topic. The game has a rich pedigree despite not being published in English.

It has a top notch publisher on board, but a long long gestation.

What are its distinguishing features? Why should I buy a copy?

Is it the novelty of the topic, the richness of the game play? Its suitability for VASSAL? Something else? Or all of the above?

How does it compare to (say) Empire of the Sun (pure strategic level) or something like OCS Burma (operational but covering only a tiny fraction of the conflict).

I am interested - but I would like to know more about the game (and less about its journey to publication).


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Chandler
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It looks so good, but i could wait no longer I went and bought War Of Resistance by GR/D Games, an even bigger treatment on the subject if you can believe it. Also a much lighter game but still a great one is Leonard To's The Everlasting Glory, if you can find it
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Leonard To
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The following posts are copied from Consimworld forum:
Distinct features of the game (1)

Trading Space for Time

One of the distinct feature of the war in the Chinese theatre is the big strength difference between Japanese and Chinese troops. According to Chinese strategist at the time, a Chinese army has the equivalent strength of a Japanese brigade. In the game, a stack of average Japanese units will usually have more than double the strength of an average Chinese stack, making any attack from the Chinese side very difficult (at least until the arrival of American equipped units and having air superiority).

But there is a catch - the size of China. For most of the time, the front line in China is as long as that of the German-Russian front. Yet there are at most 30-40 Japanese divisions in China proper most of the time. The Japanese are spread so thin they can only control points instead of line. Large amount of troops must also be used to garrison against guerrilla and bandit.

The Japanese answer to this is to turn Chinese against Chinese. China is the only WWII theatre where there are more collaborationist than invading units. It may seem unthinkable but some suggest that Chiang Kai Shek might in fact ask some of his troops to surrender, so that they could be fed by the Japanese, and be used to attack communist guerrilla. On the other hand, Japan sometimes develop "understanding" with KMT or CCP commanders so they can attack the other side without worrying about their rear.

In the game, Japan will find attack relatively easy, especially on coastal area and along river routes, where it enjoys air and sea superiority. But must be cautious against advancing too fast and spreading too thin, or face being surrounded in Tai-er-chuang or Changsha as in history. Japan must also try to break down collaborations between KMT and CCP by balancing its position between them.
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Leonard To
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Distinct features of the game (2)

War within a War – Japan’s Strategy

Chinese theater of WWII is distinct in that there are actually 3 sides in it. IJA (Imperial Japanese Army), KMT (Kuomintang), and CCP (Chinese Communist Party) each have its own agenda. In WOTS, 3 players will play out this intrigue struggle in a game not like any others. Cooperation and deception between the players are as important as military maneuver in determining the ultimate winner.

In this section I will start by discussing the strategy of the Japanese player.

For Japan, the main objective is to capture and hold the cities and transportation routes between them. Your advantages are: Air and sea superiority until 1943, and most Chinese units of equal size are 1/3 the strength. Even the colonial units are no matches for your crack divisions. With a combined attack of air, sea, tank and artillery units, nothing can stop you from winning a battle for most of the game.

But winning a battle is not the same as winning the war. Your first enemy is the size of China. As Chiang Kai-Shek once remarks, ”The whole IJA army is inadequate to garrison China”. The superior Japanese divisions seldom succeeds in surrounding Chinese units en masse because there are just not enough Japanese force. But Chiang also underestimates the number of Chinese who are willing to collaborate with the invader. The collaborationist units are weak, but nevertheless hold the transportation routes against guerrilla.

The second enemy is the terrain, western and southern China is mountainous and crossed with rivers. Rain forest and monsoon rain halt most military activities in Burma for half the year. Any advance not along transportation routes will be slow and costly.

To win, Japan must break the cooperation between KMT and CCP. The winning conditions of CCP do not necessarily include fighting the Japanese. It may be relatively easy to capture Yenan and finish the CCP, yet it may not be worth the effort.

Japan can see KMT as a coalition of cliques and factions and break it as such. Many of the warlords can be neutralized if their home territories are taken.

Finishing off Britain in Burma and India is hard, but not impossible, if a large force invades fast enough. If accomplished, winning against a sealed off China would be much easier.

Don’t hesitate to upgrade your air units when given the chance. The Zeros will be needed against British and American fighters.

The war becomes a lost cause by 1945. Reserve your force and minimize lost in VP by holding on to the supply centers in the last 3 turns. You can lose the war but still win the game by having the highest VP.
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Leonard To
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Air War In China

While the number of air units involved in China is very small (compare to Europe), the theatre probably has the widest variety of planes flying. From the early biplanes used by China and Japan, to the B29 near the end of the war. The outnumbered Chinese Air Force fought bravely, but have a hard time replacing lost planes and pilots. While the Flying Tigers are much more well known, the Russian Voluntary Units also plays a significant part from 1938-1941.

WotS simulates the air war using historic air units, strength of each unit is represented by the planes initially used by the unit. Players also have the option to upgrade their planes as new models become available.

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Leonard To
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20 years of research

The Japanese OB has never been a problem in the design of games involving the WWII Chinese theater. However, most wargames shy away from it because of the difficulty in finding reliable and complete OB of the Chinese army. Some designers use anonymous units, while others have to use whatever can be found in English publications.

When I first designed the game in 1983, the main source of info is "Ho Ying-Chin's Military Report During the War of Resistance". It was published in 1946 and could still be found in Hong Kong's library in the 80's. It is quite detail but obviously have some mistakes on the Japanese force.

By the 90s I was in the States, and started reading material in English. The Japanese Monograph (particularly no. 70, 71, 72) and Hsu Long-hsuen's History of the Sino Japanese War 1937-1945 are the 2 English sources I would recommend. However, the former is from a strictly Japanese perspective, while the later is quite bias towards the KMT. I designed the game a second time then.

2 years ago, I was motivated once again to redesign the game "War of the Sun" after reading the book "A brief history of the Kuomintang Army", published in simplified Chinese in China by the PLA in that year. With 2 volumes of 1600 pages, it is anything but brief. Despite having no maps, charts, or pictures, it is by far the most detailed book on the organization of the KMT army from 1924-1949. It covers history and evolution of every unit from the top down to divisional level (with info on some of the brigades too). There is even a smaller section on the air force and navy. If you can read Chinese, this is the only thing you will ever need for the Chinese OB at any year from 1924-1949.

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Leonard To
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The game doesn't shy away from controversial subjects, here are just a few:
1. The cliques and divisions among the KMT army.
2. The political agenda of the CCP, and its relation to USSR.
3. The effects of war atrocity (Nanking Massacre), political negotiations (secret peace talks between the warring sides), famine (the famines in Vietnam 1944, Bangel 1943, and Honan 1943 all took millions of life), opium (China was the world's largest opium manufacturer, and important source of income for all), attitudes of the international powers, etc.
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Leonard To
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What if scenarios:
If you fancy something ahistorical, there are 10 "alternate history" options including:
- What if Stalin supports Mao instead of Chiang during the war?
- What if Mao is ousted during the Rectification Movement?
- What if Japan try to finish off China first before taking on the colonial powers?
- What if Stilwell is never recalled and have full command of the KMT force?
- What if US makes amphibious landing on Chinese coast?
- What if the atomic bomb is never used?
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Sam H
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Great stuff!

If I hadn't already preordered this, you would have convinced me run out and do so right now.
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Malcolm Cameron
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Leonard,

Thank you so much for posting that information.

Does the game work for two players? Or is it really necessary to have at least three (CCF, KMT and JP)?

Regards


Malcolm
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sloop hmsstarling
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Leonard,

Thanks very much for the update! I preordered WotS almost as soon as it was announced, and I'm eagerly awaiting it publication, hopefully soon!

Jan
 
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Geoffrey Noble
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Does anyone know the maps required for each scenario.

I am fascinated by the subject but cant see myself ever playing the Campaign game on 3 maps

Therefore I need to know more about the scenarios
 
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