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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

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

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:

World at War Issue #62 Spanish Civil War Belchite & Teruel by Strategy & Tactics Press From Decision Games  ...

World at War Issue #62 Spansih Civil War:Belchite & Teruel by Startegy & Tactics Press from Decision Games World at War Issue #62 Spansih Civil War:Belchite & Teruel by Startegy & Tactics Press from Decision Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Strategy&Tactics Press


 The Spanish Civil War has always intrigued me. Unfortunately, almost all of the books about it spend most of their type on the political history instead of the military history, especially all of the disparate groups on the Republican side. This is a bit strange because this War was used or looked at by the entire world to see what weapons, tactics, and strategy worked. Many countries came away with the wrong answers to the above questions. Some, particularly the Germans, came away with the correct answers to these military questions.

 Looking at this issue of World at War was a bit like going home, and a bit strange. It was like going to see your childhood home after it was entirely renovated. The visual look of the magazine is, in a word, stunning. Some of the maps are actually a full page in size. They are also well marked and easily read. The pictures in the issue are also very well represented. 

 The articles are very well done and full of normal information on the subject. They also have small insets that have incredibly interesting tidbits. I will give as an example of one. On December 31, 1937 four foreign correspondents were following some Nationalist units in a car. The car was hit by artillery and three of the newsmen were killed. The fourth was Harold 'Kim' Philby. Yes, that Kim Philby. I imagine the British government was not that happy he survived in retrospect.

                                          Some Counters

Strategy & Tactics Press is comprised of these four magazines:
   Strategy & Tactics
   World At War
    Modern War
    The new Strategy & Tactics Quarterly

 One thing that Decision Games has implemented that I think is excellent is that you can buy a subscription to get every single article that has been released over these many years. It does not include anything to do with the games, but that is still a stunning amount of military history. At $19.95 for 12 months, it is really a steal. You now get all of the articles from:
 Strategy&Tactics issues 1-300
 Modern War issues 1-19
 World at War issues 1-44

Teruel Map

 The articles in issue #62 include:
  The Spanish Civil War
  War Winner -  Allied Lend-Lease
  Operazione C3 -  The Italian Plan to Invade Malta
  Operation Causeway - Planned Allied Invasion Plan of Formosa-Amoy
  Observation post - Could the U.S. have won the Battle of Wake Island?
  Observation Post - Planed Swedish Invasion of Denmark
  Observation Post  - Russian Donkey the Polikarpov I-16

Belchite map
 The games included are of three battles from the Spanish Civil War: two in 1937,and one from 1938. The battles are Belchite, Teruel, and Alfambra. Both of the battles of Belchite and Teruel occurred because the Republicans were trying to take pressure off the Republican and Basque strongholds in the Northwest of Spain. The Nationalist forces had decided to conquer those areas after their failed attempt to conquer Madrid. Alfambra simulates the last battle for the city of Teruel in 1938.

 The battle areas are both somewhat small, with both of them fitting on a standard 22" x 34" map. One battle is orientated one way of the map and the other is the opposite. They both have their own turn record track etc. The maps are well done with terrain, roads, and towns easy to see and read. The games come with, naturally, a smaller number of counters. There are actually 180 of them. The game uses the 'Fire and Movement System' for its rules. 


 The Sequence of Play:

Movement Phase
Bombardment Phase
Combat Phase
Mobile Movement Phase - (only if the unit did not move in the Movement Phase)
Mobile Combat Phase
 The victory conditions in each game are as follows:

Belchite: You count up the amount of cities/towns that the Republican player controls on the Nationalist side of the front line, then subtract the number of cities/towns that the Nationalist player controls on the Republican side of the front line. If the number is seven or greater the Republican player wins.

Teruel: Whichever side controls the city of Teruel at the end of the game wins.

Alfambra: The Nationalist player must control any five hexes of the North-South road anywhere from hex 2505 to 1717 by the end of turn eight and still hold them at the end of the game.

Belchite Counters (Front)

  The rules are only sixteen pages in length, and the setup and separate battle rules take up four of those. The rules are in color and are well spaced and easy to read. The small maps and low counter density allows players to play multiple times to try out different strategies. Just as it was historically, the battles are a grind for territory. You are not going to be able to do any sweeping blitzkrieg moves (unless your opponent mistakenly allows it). The Spanish Civil War was mostly a replay of World War I with newer armaments. The rules and the units/terrain make the game historically accurate that way. This was why so many countries took away the wrong lessons from this war. The Soviets were very advanced as far as armored warfare for the time. However the Spanish Civil War had them rethink all of their ideas and that is why they fell so far behind the Germans by 1941 (among other reasons). 

Belchite Counters (Back)

 The wargames that have come out of Strategy&Tactics down through the years, and its offshoots, have given me tons of gaming pleasure. This issue is like many others in that respect. Strategy&Tactics has allowed the wargamer to game so many obscure wars and battles that we would have otherwise never seen on our tables. So, thank you for the chance to review this issue, and for all the other great gaming moments since I was a teenager.