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  Strategy&Tactics #329 by Strategy&Tactics Press Battle of Shanghai 1937  Here we are again doing a review of a magazine that is al...

Strategy&Tactics #329 by Strategy&Tactics Press Strategy&Tactics #329 by Strategy&Tactics Press

Strategy&Tactics #329 by Strategy&Tactics Press

Strategy&Tactics #329 by Strategy&Tactics Press

 Strategy&Tactics #329


Strategy&Tactics Press

Battle of Shanghai 1937

 Here we are again doing a review of a magazine that is almost as old as I am. I have mentioned before, as have others, that it is a wonderful thing to have had any wargaming magazines. They have the ability to give us conflicts that would never have seen the light of day on anyone's table. Because of their price point and manufacturing, we grognards are able to have the most varied and  rarely published battles/wars in history in our hot little hands. S&T has also had an enormous amount of their wargames republished as regular boxed games. This goes to show that even if it is a magazine wargame, it is still done damned well. I will not harp on the people who look down their noses at magazine wargames; well, just a little. All I can say is you are missing out on some great gaming by not accepting them as 'real' wargames. Even if you buy the magazines sans the wargame you are treated to a great amount of well written history. That history is also as wide ranging as you could imagine. Each article could be about something hundreds, if not thousands, of years apart. I have never opened a S&T magazine and not learned something I did not know before. I will start the review with the articles and then get into this issue's game. Here is a list of some of the articles:

The 1937 Shanghai Nanking Campaign (The history behind the game)

The "Corrupt Bargain": Presidential Election of 1824

Alexander and the Art of War: The Battle of Gaugamela

The Jordanian Arab Legion and the Battle for Jerusalem 1948

Hellenistic War Elephants (my favorite)

Human Trophies: Scalping in the American West

Sarkoy Landing: From the First Balkan War

 The articles are filled with little tidbits of history. The inclusion of the history of the 1824 Presidential Election is both a surprise and a treat. Decision Games has released a game about the subject. So, you can see that the history inside the magazine goes from Alexander to the twentieth century. The eighteen-page article on the Shanghai and Nanking Campaign is an excellent overview of the entire campaign with added insets about different parts of the campaign. The Maps are extremely well done and give the reader all of the necessary information to follow along with the written history. 

Eastern part of the Map showing the area around Shanghai




   The game itself is about a victorious campaign that was a complete failure. The Japanese were under the impression that after taking Shanghai this would bring the Chinese to capitulate. After that didn't happen the Japanese then thought surely if they took Nanking, then the capitol of China, they would surely throw in the towel. They could not have been more wrong. The battles in and around Shanghai were observed by the many citizens from around the world that lived in the 'International Settlement'. They not only saw the terrible fighting, but also saw the Japanese troops commit horrible atrocities. The Japanese, after taking Nanking, unleashed what is now called 'The Rape of Nanking'. The atrocities committed around Shanghai were just a warmup for the savagery that the Japanese troops inflicted on both the Chinese soldiers and civilians. The brutality of the Eastern Front in World War II is pretty much known to all. The  Second Sino-Japanese War and the previous fighting before it were of another level above it. Most of our biological weapons and how to use and defend against them come from their use by Japan in China. Even prisoners of war from all countries were used in the barbaric surgeries and bio weapon testing the Japanese did, much like 'Operation Paperclip', where German war criminals were secreted away by the western powers for their knowledge of warfare, chemicals, and rocketry. The Japanese soldiers who were guilty of the most horrible crimes were brought to the west without any repercussions. 

Play Example

 Enough of the history, the game is a two-player one with one side taking the Chinese defenders and the other the Japanese attackers. The Japanese Player has twelve turns to control all of the seven city hexes on the map. Any time they do so it is an automatic victory for them. If at the end of twelve turns the Chinese Player still controls any of the city hexes, they win. There are no partial or graduated outcomes here. Win or lose with twelve short turns to do so. The Chinese Player can get a Sudden Death Victory by capturing hex 3512, if on or after game turn eight the Chinese player can win by having a unit in a hex next to hex 3512. From game turns one through five the Chinese player loses automatically if they do not have a unit in a hex next to hex 3512. The Chinese are helped by, strangely enough, the Germans. The Chinese Nationalist Army was being slowly trained by German advisors. These troops are the strongest units the Chinese have. Historically, they were squandered in the fight for Shanghai. The Chinese Player will have to gauge when and if to use these units. 

Play Example

 These are the game components:

22" x 34" Map

Rule Set

170 5/8" Counters (There are six extra replacement counters for other games)

 The map is made of glossy paper. The terrain is easy to distinguish. Shanghai is in the lower Southeast of the map, with Nanking in the upper Northwest in one of the last hexes. It is marked with the various landing hexes for the different Japanese units. The counters are plain Jane, using NATO symbols. However, the counters work just fine for the game. No eye strain here. The Rule Set is sixteen pages long. It also has four pages of examples of play.  All the components are what we have come to expect from Strategy & Tactics in 2022. 

 The game is a good one with lots of options and strategies for both players to try. The rules make both players pay close attention to the battle for Shanghai. Historically this was a long and desperate battle for the city. Once, or if, Shanghai falls it becomes a race for the Japanese player to get across the map as quickly as possible. In the middle of the map is Lake Tai which is rather large. This means the Japanese units have to go around the lake to the North and South to capture all of the city hexes needed. The Japanese player has to make this a blitzkrieg on foot as much as possible. The Chinese player has to defend Shanghai for as long as possible to deny those hexes to the Japanese, and not automatically lose. Hex 3512 and its neighbors are where the toughest battles will play out for the first half of the game. The rules are clear and need no deciphering. Included in them are rules for artillery, aircraft, and Japanese amphibious landings. The game is touch and go for both sides unless Lady Luck deserts you. 

Play Example

 All in all, this is another great game in a long line of Strategy&Tactics games stretching back to my teenage years. Thank you Decision Games/Strategy&Tactics Press for letting me review this issue. I hope it continues in print for as long as I am on this earth. Decision Games have released a lot of solitaire games that have had really good writeups by players. Please take a look at them.


Decision Games:


Strategy&Tactics Issue 329: