The Year in Review (includes Jan 38 stability check):

Since the start of the war in July, the Japanese have taken over Shahar and Inner Mongolia, conquered all of Hopei and Shantung, and advanced to a line that is just short of the course of the old Yellow River (forward of Chengchow, Kaifeng, Tungshan, and Tunghai). They have also taken Shanghai and Hangchow and are close to Nanking from that direction. An excursion of theirs into Shansi failed to take Yanku, the provincial capital, and had to recalled when rear communications were cut. In the south they have captured most of Canton city after an amphibious assault. They have installed new provincial governments in Shahar, Inner Mongolia, Hopei, and Shantung as well as a regional government
for Mongolia.

Yet, so far the invasion has been a mixed success and has left many in Tokyo impatient. The invaders are at the point of becoming overextended. They now struggle with serious supply shortages, and in the conquered provinces except Shantung they must contend with massive guerrilla uprisings that sap their strength. Moreover, the military leaders in China appear to be losing clout at home and are likely to see dwindling support and demands for troop releases. Although a good chunk of China has been conquered, much has yet to be accomplished, and it could still turn out that the invaders bit off more than they can chew. In the words of one Japanese general who refused to be identified: “There are 300 million Chinese; we can’t kill them all.”

On the other side, Chang Kai-Shek’s hold onto the reins seems to be slipping, no wonder after the impending loss of Canton and threatening decimation of his prized 1 Army in Honan! Serious trouble might be ahead for him, and the Chinese will to resist could collapse with his fall. [Stability level dropped to “2” in January. Actually, Canton and the plight of 1 Army had no effect on the stability check this time as they have not occurred as yet. In game terms, although the Japanese are ahead of historic performance with respect to points for cities conquered, the outcome was quite close: A very
high Chinese and very low Japanese random die roll could have kept the level unchanged. Also, the level might have remained so if the capital had stayed in Nanking, for 3 additional stabilization points. That can be argued, though, because the Japanese then would probably have gone for Nanking before Canton and might well have taken that city before year’s end.]

In game terms, the current situation is clearly in favor of the Japanese. With the points accruing for capture of at least Canton, Yungkia, and Pengpu and the formation of other provincial puppet governments in Chekiang and possibly Kwangtung, the stability level is likely to decrease again in April. However, no one should interpret this as an imbalance of the game in Japan’s favor. I have made unintentional tactical and strategic mistakes impartially for both sides, but it so happened that the Chinese ones had the more serious and more immediate consequences. Also, though conservative, I’m
temperamentally an aggressive player and probably better at devising Japanese offensives than Chinese measures to counter them, simply because for me that is more fun.

Japanese errors:

  • Too wasteful of resource points early on, including spending some on railway upgrading at a wrong place.
  • Not enough rear area security (this is coming to haunt them now with Tet).
  • Too much strength poured into Hopei-Honan offensive, from where troops are not easily shifted to other fronts, and leaving Shanghai front not strong enough for decisive action.
  • Canton operation without back-up by capture of nearby port city.

Chinese errors:

  • Not enough troops in and around Canton in initial set-up, reinforcement of that city too slow and not at highest possible efficiency (airlift too late, not enough artillery in first reinforcements, too few RTs shifted to Hsi while there was time, too few RFs and TFs moved to Hsi estuary before Nov II).
  • Tsingtao garrison left too weak.
  • Retreat by 1 Army from Tsinan initiated too late.
  • Move of KMT government to Chungking (fortunately corrected before harm was done).
  • Possibly, guerrilleros in Hopei should have been used more aggressively earlier. It may also turn out that Tet was launched prematurely, with not yet sufficient strength accumulated.
  • Not enough largesse when bribing warlords.

No doubt experienced players can add a lot more to this list. Please do!

Signing off for 1937 with the Chinese version of Auld laung syne and hoping you’ll had fun with the reports so far.