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The Battle of KhalKhin Gol July - August 1939 by Princeps Games  For those of you who have never heard of the Khalkhin Gol, or Nomohan, camp...

The Battle of KhalKhin Gol July - August 1939 by Princeps Games The Battle of KhalKhin Gol July - August 1939 by Princeps Games

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Inter-War Years

The Battle of KhalKhin Gol July - August 1939


Princeps Games

 For those of you who have never heard of the Khalkhin Gol, or Nomohan, campaign this is the most important battle that took place before the normal date given to the start of World War II (September 1939). In actuality, Japan and China had been fighting since 1931 and in full war mode since 1937. The Japanese had taken Manchuria away from China. They had installed their own puppet regime and called it Manchukuo. This comprised the entire Northeast of China. Abutting Manchukuo was the nominally free state of Mongolia. Japan wanted to force Mongolia into their sphere of influence. However, the big Soviet bear was watching. This showdown between the Japanese and Soviets is tremendously important. It may be one of the most important battles ever fought. The Soviets steamrolled through the Japanese forces and gave them a very bloody nose. The Soviets were partially commanded by one of the few generals in the Soviet Army who still had a pulse, Georgy Zhukov. The Japanese had up until that time been fighting a war between their own Navy and Army. The Army wanted to 'strike north' and attack the Soviet Union. The Japanese Navy wanted to 'strike south' toward the oil, rubber, and other commodities of the South Pacific Islands. The mauling that the Japanese Army received from the Soviet Army convinced the Japanese Generals to agree to the strike south proposition of the Navy. Imagine what would have happened in late 1941 if the Japanese had invaded the Soviet Union instead of going to war with the US and Great Britain etc. We know that in the final battle for Moscow in 1941, the Soviet Army units from Siberia turned the tide against the German invaders. If Japan had attacked the Soviet Union, it would have been faced with a war on two fronts and would have been unable to use their Asian forces to help stem the German tide. So, as you can see, a lot is riding on your shoulders, general, no matter which side you decide to play. Onto the game.

 This is what comes with the game:

1 Game Box - 14" x 11" x 4" 

1 Mounted Game Board - 34" x 36"

24 Calendar Cards - 2.8" x 4.8" 

18 Air Battle Cards 

16 Air Strike Cards 

The First Player Token 

1 Combat Result Table - 8.8" x 5.5" 

2 Player Cards - 8.8" x 5.5" 

2 Players'Aid Card - 8" x 4" 

1 Attack Modifier Chart - 8" x 4" 

5 Counters Sheets - Over 200 Counters

50 Sheets of Minimap - 6" x 4" 

1 Rulebook -6.8" x 9.6′′ 

45 Money Chits 2"x1" 

1 Die D8 

1 Die D10 

1 Die D12 

2 Dice D20 

 All of the Players Aid Cards are mounted like the map.

One side of the map

This is what Princeps Games has to say about Khalkhin Gol:

"The Battle of Khalkhin Gol is a beginner’s level wargame covering the WW2 border clash between Japan and the USSR at the very dawn of this global conflict.

It is a hex & counter game with unique battle mechanism, a lot of strategy and a number of features specific to the harsh conditions of the setting.

Khalkhin Gol is medium level complexity, with variable setup and random cards bringing effects to the game which offers great replayability.

Game duration is 2-4 hours and it can be played by 1 or 2 players age 14+.

The game uses unique battle resolving mechanisms from ‘March on the Drina’ and ‘Freezing Inferno’ but with many upgrades such as terrain and weather modifiers, usage of Combat Result Table and Technological-tactical improvements.

The Calendar with the most important events of the period as used in “March on the Drina” is also an important part of the game and here it comes upgraded – you have three cards for each round of the game so the effects the cards bring are different every time you play. This, combined with variable setup regarding to the units number, layout and strength and variable winning conditions make this game’s replayability value high.

The game has a beautiful twelve-folded mounted board with thick 20x20mm counters and a practical cardboard insert for storing your punched counters, markers and dice, which allow the players to store and move the game without having to worry that the components might get damaged."

Boxes inside the main box for storage

 This is a review of a preproduction copy of the game. Most of the parts are the finished product but some, like the rules, are not. It also does not have all of the great stretch goals add-ons.

 The map is interesting because it is two-sided. One side you might call the artistic wargame map side, and it is just that. It has a lot of color and is very well done. The other side, we will call the simple side, is a map that looks like an old Panzerblitz or even a Tactics II map. It is pretty much as plain Jane as you can get. However, both sides of the map work just fine. There is no ambiguity of the terrain in each hex. The only thing that each represents is the choice of the player/players at the moment of setup (Freezing Inferno also has the two-sided map choice). The Players' Aids are all mounted and easy to read. The fact that they are not just pieces of paper is a very nice touch. The counters are large and come pre-rounded. You can see below that the counters are easy to read. Three of the card decks are on the small side. However, they are very easy to read with large print. The Event Cards Deck are the size of playing card and have a good amount of historical information on each one. The card size allows the print on the Event Cards to also be nice and large. Then we come to another piece of the game that would be familiar to players of Freezing Inferno. This would be the small setup sheets for both sides. There are fifty for both sides and they come on a pad in which you tear off the sheets. This, along with the cards, makes for a ton of replayability. The components are definitely up to the high standards that Princeps Games have set for themselves.


Counter close-up

 If you have played their Freezing Inferno game most of the concepts will be known to you. That does not mean that you cannot start your gaming with Khalkhin Gol. While it may seem that there are many cogs and wheels working at the same time, the game is not hard to learn at all. It is a simple process that the rules work you through one by one. With all of the decks it may seem like a card driven game. However, it is not; it is just a card assisted game. Unlike most designers or game companies, (hint, hint), they have done excellent videos on YouTube to walk you through their games step by step. Perhaps the hardest part to understand are the Air rules. If the step-by-step version in the rules still gives you pause, once again I point to their video on YouTube about them. 

Soviet Cards
Japanese Cards

 These are the Victory Conditions:

"Victory Condition No.1: In order for the USSR to win, it must occupy 5 of the 9 checkpoints on the disputed territory (marked with white flag) and hold them until the beginning of the next round, while also controlling at least 4 of its 6 checkpoint on the Soviet territory. If this is not achieved by the end of the 8th round, the winner of the game is the player who controls Japan.

Victory Condition No.2: If the Soviet player takes control of the Nomonhan and holds it until the beginning of their next turn the Soviet player wins the game.

Victory Condition No.3: If the Japanese player takes control of the Tamsak-Bulak and holds it until the beginning of their next turn the Japanese player wins the game.

The game uses unique battle resolving mechanisms from 'Freezing Inferno', the previous game of Princeps Games studio, successfully funded on Kickstarter last year."

 This is a YouTube video about how the Air Battle System works:

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. The Players set markers on PPC
  2. Players take the appropriate number of units from the box
  3. Minimaps are filled and players place units on the board according to the minimaps
  4. A deck of calendar cards is formed
  5. Initial weather conditions are set
  6. Tactical progress boards are placed
1. A calendar card is revealed and effects that last a full round are applied
  2. Air Superiority Battle is Resolved
  3. USSR’s turn
  3.1. Actions with units (move, attack, regroup)
  3.2. The PPC marker is adjusted if a Check Point is captured
  3.3. The player takes as many PCs as indicated on the PPC
  4. Japan’s turn
  4.1. Move, attack, regroup units
  4.2. The PPC marker is adjusted if a Check Point is captured
  4.3. The player takes as many PCs as indicated on the PPC
  5. End of round
         1. A calendar card is revealed and effects that last a full round are applied
  2. The weather is adjusted
  3. Players replenish units on the board and buy new ones (only in round III, V, VII and VIII)
  4. Air Superiority Battle is Resolved 
  5. USSR’s turn
  5.1. Tactical progress is adjusted on the Player’s Card
  5.3. Actions with units (move, attack, regroup)
  5.4. The PPC marker is adjusted if a Check Point is captured
  5.5. A player takes as many PPs as indicated on the PPC
  5.6. Places newly formed units on the board (only in rounds III, V, VII and VIII)
  6. Japan’s turn
  6.1. Tactical progress is adjusted on the Player’s Card
  6.3. Actions with units (move, attack, regroup)
  6.4. The PPC marker is adjusted if a Check Point is captured
  6.5. A player takes as many PPs as indicated on the PPC
  6.6. Places newly formed units on the board (only in rounds III, V, VII and VIII)
  7. End of Round/Game

 Historically the Soviets' equipment and troops, mostly equipment, were far better than the Japanese material, except maybe in their air assets. You will be playing on the defense as the Japanese most of the time unless you get and play the right cards and some die rolls go your way, this could change. The Soviet Player may want to be more cautious than they were historically. As the Soviet player, you will more than likely start on the attack (this can also be completely up in the air if you are using the hidden setup maps). The Japanese are not equipped or have tactics to deal with armor battles in the Second World War. This is strange in that they were one of the few armies that embraced tanks and their mobility early on. When faced with the Chinese and the equipment that the Allied nations had in the beginning of the war it did not matter much. Against the Soviets, this was another matter altogether. The Soviets had not yet given up on the 'Deep Battle' strategy that they would hone to a sharp point in the end of WWII. 

 This is a very enjoyable game from both the game and history sides of the coin. I like Princeps Games because they do a lot of historical research, and it shows in their games. Then they are also able to make the situation into a good playable game.

 Thank you very much, Princeps Games, for allowing me to play this very good reproduction of the fighting in Mongolia in 1939. It achieves all Princeps Games was looking to produce with this game. It is somewhat quick playing, compared to many wargames, and gives the player a lot of choices in their tactics and strategy. Princeps Games has now produced March on the Drina, Freezing Inferno, and Khalkhin Gol wargames. The games are definitely some of the finest produced games out on the market.

 The KickStarter for KhalKhin Gol is here:

The Battle of Khalkhin Gol by Princeps Games — Kickstarter

It has already hit two stretch goals and is very close to the third.

You can purchase all three of Princeps Games wargames during this KS campaign (March on the Drina, Freezing Inferno, and Khalkhin Gol) for the unbelievable cost of only $160 in the US and Canada. The three games are a steal at that price.


Princeps Games:

Home - Princeps Games 

Khalkhin Gol:

The Battle of Khalkin Gol - Princeps Games

This is a review of Freezing Inferno that Polydor did for AWNT:

FREEZING INFERNO - A Wargamers Needful Things