Too good to be true? Sure was, and is fickle as ever: A wave of furious cold fronts has hit. Temperatures in the north have plummeted and torrential rains have pelted central and southern China. Seas are rough all along the coast.
Japanese Player Turn
A Japanese-sponsored provincial government of Honan has been installed at Kaifeng. The governors of Hopei, Shantung, and Honan now plan to discuss the formation of a regional governement of North China [see comment at end].
Don’t count your chicks before …, oh no, that was that eggs, wasn’t it? 11 Army, all posed to storm south from Yanku to take Linfen [last unconquered Honan dot city] and thereby “liberate” Shansi, had to hold their horses and buggies so as not to get stuck in mud. Didn’t get very far. Well, at least it now matters little that one entire division is still tied up restoring order in Yanku. Wait for another day! Not wait did 5 and Formosa Mountain Divisions, who defied the weather and conducted another successful guerrilla sweep in the Taiheng Mountains [3 pts eliminated].
After conferring with the supreme command, 2 Army in northern Honan opted against a Shensi offensive. Only one division pushed forward to the Shensi border to interdict the rail line to Linfen, the others were redirected toward the Yangtze [West China now no longer has a supply base as Lanchow and Linfen have ceased to be “connected.”]. One elite division was released and railed to Tunghan, where it is embarking.
In northern Kiangsu a merry chase is being enacted. A few Japanese reserve units now reinforced with more artillery are hunting down Chinese stragglers, only to find new gangs being recruited from the villages. Although the Japanese command had hoped to avoid this, it may become necessary to “pacify” the entire province to put a stop to such annoyance. [Kiangsu has a relatively high replacement rate that can be used to raise new KMT units in reference cities not yet conquered, of which there are quite a number. To conquer them is easy, but they must then be protected against recapture by guerrilleros or CCP regulars lest the new provincial government topples.]
Mop-up in the great Yangtze bend west of Nanking continued at its pace. A small KMT contingent is still holding out at the south shore of Lake Chao, its retreat route cut. Only a few stragglers now are left north of the river between Nanking and Hankow. Weather made it impossible to catch up with and
bag the greatest remaining prize: 5 Army HQ with two tank battalions and an artillery regiment that are racing for Hankow. River barges have been moved to a point upstream of Nanking so they can be used as ferries.
Severely hampered by mud, the Japanese troops facing Nanking found themselves not strong enough for a direct attack on the city. Instead, they bypassed it and reached the river on its upstream side, riding roughshod over a motley collection of KMT brigades, engineers, and factional rabble. Nanking is now completely isolated. Farther upstream, the way to Wuhu from the southeast is still blocked at Lake Ta Nan by a Corps of Chiang’s finest divisions.
On the road to Nanchang (in Kiangsi) the advance has run out of steam. Beefed up and well-supplied, the defenders are just too strong to be taken on by a single reinforced division at the end of a long, long supply line. How does one say no pasaran in Chinese? The Kure Marines stormed ashore again at the Fukien coast, seizing the little town of Putien with its magnificent harbor, easily evicting an overmatched garrison. The port will provide an excellent basis for an advance on Foochow. A serious mistake not to have had that port destroyed!
Chinese Player Turn
The respite provided by the weather made it possible to beef up the defenses of Linfen a bit more. On the other hand, the rains interfered with guerrilla sabotage in Hopei, making it ineffective.
The massed troops at the Shensi border spent most of their time glaring into empty space from their bunkers, waiting for attacks that didn’t come. Much like the Maytag man?
In northern Kiangsu, some of the hunted KMT troops went underground to form a new guerrilla base in the rice paddies near the big lakes. Now hide-and-seek has been added to the merry chase. When capture seems imminent, the hunted can just disappear from the face of the earth. It won’t win the
war, but it sure is sure fun to tweak noses of the mighty.
In the Great Yangtze bend, all but a few remnants at Lake Chao have reached the safety of the river. The debris that flooded back is being integrated into a strong defense front that follows the river from the vicinity of Nanchang to Hankow, which is being turned into a heavily fortified
Farther downstream the retreat to Wuhu along the river continues, its eastern flank shielded KMT VII Corps, the victors of Lake Ta Nan, now absorbed by the reconstituted 1 Army. Another batch of supplies [GSPs] was brought in by barge from Hankow.
The garrison of Nanking stoically awaits its fate. A night air lift from Hankow brought in some badly needed supplies [3 GSPs].
At Yukiang in Kiangsi on the Hangchow-Nanchang road, a stalemate has developed. The Japanese thrust has been stopped cold, but a counterattack would require further reinforcements.
At Foochow, one brigade advanced toward the new Japanese Putien beachhead to delay any advance on the city from that direction. The best fighters of the resurrected Chinese-Soviet airforce have been stationed to cover Foochow and Amoy. They are still missing the favored I-16s, however, whose repair requires more spare parts from the Soviet Union [they were elim, need 2 ARPs for repair]. All quiet at the Canton front.
The North China regional government probably should have been installed long ago, last November. I had overlooked the geography rule 3.E.3 that makes East Hopei part of North China, letting its provincial government qualify as one of the three needed for formation of the regional government. I had gone by the Japanese Replacement Chart, on which E.Hopei is not listed in the North China puppet block. In game terms, no harm done. The Japanese would just have had one more destabilization point in January when the level dropped anyway, and would now have two or three more puppet brigades on the board. I still
feel the game works better not counting E.Hopei for the regional government, so as not to give the Japanese too much of an advantage with the stability level rolls early on. Perhaps Mark Royer will comment.
If this has short-changed the Japanese, I made a more serious mistake with my Chinese by not systematically destroying the sea port facilities in Chekiang, Fukien, and Kwangtung. In particular, the port of Putien should long have been demolished to remove a danger to Foochow. Even the ports of Swatow, Amoy, and Foochow should have been destroyed except for a 1 or 2 RE capacity to make it harder for the Japanese to evacuate their strong landing forces after a successful amphibious assault. In game terms, The Japanese can now capture Foochow with troops in supply through Putien. However, they could also easily take Foochow by direct amphibious assault, though at the expense of ResPts for landing craft.
I also see I overlooked a rule that gives the Japanese an advantage here and there, especially in guerrilla sweeps in the mountains: a +1 DRM for light divisions in attacks in some terrain including mountains. Still on a learning curve with this complex game.