Against the Odds #36
Defeat Into Victory
The Final Campaigns In Burma
Game design by Paul Rohrbaugh
The Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was fought primarily between British Commonwealth, Chinese and United States forces against the forces of the Empire of Japan, who were assisted to some degree by Thailand, the Burmese Independence Army and the Indian National Army.
Partly because monsoon rains made effective campaigning possible only for about half of the year, the Burma Campaign was almost the longest campaign of the war. During the campaigning season of 1942, the Japanese had conquered Burma, driving British, Indian and Chinese forces from the country and forcing the British administration to flee into India. After scoring some defensive successes during 1943, they then attempted to forestall Allied offensives in 1944 by launching an invasion of India (Operation U-Go). This did fail with disastrous Japanese losses.
During the next campaigning season, beginning in December 1944, the Allies launched offensives into Burma, capturing Rangoon, the capital and principal port, from the weakened Japanese just before the monsoon struck, to ensure their hold on the country.
The magazines major article emphasis and the issues simulation game are on the Burma Campaign. But first, let’s take a quick look at the issues contents. The contents of this issue are:
- The Whiff of Grapeshot
- Order of Appearance: Work in Progress
- On Guards: The Extraordinary Orde and His Chindits
- Defeat Into Victory: The Final Campaign in Burma
- Danjite Okonoeba Kishin Mo Sakui (The Battle of Imphal/Kohima)
- And the Data Shows: All Hopes to Naught
- Some Lessons from the Senior Genre
- The Russian Campaign of 1812
- Simulation Corner: The Coming Boardgame Renaissance
- The Fifth Columnist: The Russian Civil War Book Review
Now we will take a quick look at the sections of the magazine.
The Whiff of Grapeshot
by Andy Nunez
In this issues editorial Andy Nunez discusses Special Forces and their impact on operations in the military field. Commando Teams were formed to carry out little raids and reconnaissance. During World War II you had the Army Rangers, OSS, and British Commandos. The results of many of these activities were met with mixed success. However, the troops that Orde Wingate used 60 years ago, while highly trained, still had flaws when compared to today’s fighting warrior. Here Andy provides a quick insight into these types or warriors and what they can achieve on the battlefield.
Order of Appearance: Work in Progress
by Lembit Tohver
Here you receive a short update on the next game coming down the pipe. The name of this game is “For Bloody Honor” and it takes the gamer back to the Russian Civil War. You receive a nice introduction to the game and find out some details that you should find interesting.
The second part of this area is a tribute to George A. Rawling writing by the publisher Stephen Rawling. From the manner in which the tribute is written, you can tell there was a warm and caring relationship between them. If you purchase this issue, you should definitely read this half page as it will give you a quick insight into a man from a past generation.
On Guards: The Extraordinary Orde and His Chindits
by Andy Nunez
Next up is Andy Nunez’s article about Orde Wingate and his Chindits. Right off you are told that they were a larger part of Merrill’s Marauders and often accomplished the same tasks. Throughout this article you learn how Orde put together this Commando Company and how he choose the name Chinthe. You also learn that General Wavell made sure that Orde Wingates troops where supplied by the RAF. You follow him on missions and are told of his indecision, and often he would change his plans with no notification to upper command. You begin to gain an insight into the man who was fighting behind enemy lines. The article fits well into the theme of this issue.
Defeat Into Victory: The Final Campaign in Burma
Written by Paul Rohrbaugh
Maps by Terry Leeds
This is the major historical article that is included in this issue of the magazine. This article deals with the Campaign in Burma from 1942 to 1945. The article is very well written and between the photographs and the excellent maps, Paul Rohrbaugh was able to make reading about the campaign very interesting. He takes you through the different phases of the campaign from the first Allied counter offensive in 1942 to the final Allied push in 1945. While only 10 pages in length, he captures the readers interest and provides them with a base upon which they could learn more.
Danjite Okonoeba Kishin Mo Sakui (The Battle of Imphal/Kohima)
by John D Burtt
The next article in the magazine discusses the battle that is considered the turning point of the Campaign in Burma. In this section, in 1944 during World War II, the Battle of Imphal, along with the simultaneous Battle of Kohima, was the turning point in the Burma Campaign. For the first time in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II the Japanese lost the initiative to the Allies, who retained it until the end of the war.
And the Data Shows: All Hopes to Naught
by Ed Heinsman
This five page article provides the reader with some statistical information as related to the Campaign in Burma. The information here compares the Colonial Powers manpower against Japan during World War II. Following this, the reader is taken to post World War II and the recoveries that were experienced in the Philippines, French Indochina, Dutch East Indies, and British Burma. You learn how difficult it was for these Colonial areas to recover after the devastation of war.
Some Lessons from the Senior Genre
by Jim Werbaneth
This is a column by noted game designer Jim Werbaneth where he is discussing the impact of miniature gaming rules on boardgaming. He points out that the basis of miniature gaming and boardgaming are very similar except that one uses miniatures and a tape measure while the other uses a paper map and cardboard counters. Mr. Werbaneth espouses that the research done for miniature rules can and has been used on board wargames to good advantage. A sidebar that he writes discusses intuitiveness in gaming, especially computer games, that I also found very interesting.
The Russian Campaign of 1812
by Frédéric Bey
Frédéric Bey is a well-known and respected game designer who specializes in the Napoleonic boardgame era. He has designed over 50 wargames and a large number of his designs have been featured in the French wargame magazine Vae Victis. In his article the Russian Campaign he takes us on a tour of what he feels are some of the most important historical game designs on this subject. He takes us down the path starting with a game in 1983 and finishes with a quick look at the latest rendition of La Bataille de Moskowa by Clash of Arms that was published in 2011. This article is well written and provides the gamer with a good view on these games from the game designers’ point of view.
Simulation Corner: The Coming Boardgame Renaissance
by John Prados
In this issue of Simulation Corner, John Prados talks about the future of boardgaming. He provides us with some of his insights and he takes a close look at the success of Columbia Games. This month’s column is fascinating to read as he provides the history of Columbia Games from the 1970’s to the present. He shows the reader how in spite of everything, through the years Columbia Games has been able to adapt, overcome and stay in business.
The Fifth Columnist: The Russian Civil War Book Review
by John D Burtt
The last column in this issue of ATO is the Book Review column. Here Mr. Burtt gives us an excellent look at a book that is the subject of the next issues game. I thought of this as a warm up, getting readers prepared for what will be coming in the next issue of Against the Odds.
The final item we will look at that is included in Issue 36 of Against the Odds is the “Defeat Into Victory” game. The rule book that is in the center of the magazine is 20 pages long of which 4 are Charts and Tables. The game focuses on the March 1944 to August 1945 campaigns in Burma and the Indian frontier.
Components and Scale
With the magazine, players receive the following items:
- 1 – Set of Rules
- 1 – 22” x 34” map
- 2 – Sheets of 300 double sided counters
- 4 – Sheets of Charts and Tables
The gamer will have to provide 1 – six sided die (1d6) and 1 – ten sided die (1d10).
Each turn of the game is equal to two-week’ time during the regular weather turns or five or six weeks during the Monsoon Season turns which usually last from May through September. Each map hex is equal to approximately 10 miles across and units in the game represent mostly brigades and regiments though some corps units are seen.
Defeat Into Victory Campaign Game
Sequence of Play
The Sequence of Play for Defeat Into Victory may seem like it’s complicated, but after a few turns you begin to see how the sequence makes sense and flows for each player. The full Sequence of Play is:
- · Air Phase
- o Air Power Determination Segment
- o Air Interdiction Segment
- o Allied Air Transport Segment
- · Initiative Determination Phase
- · Supply Phase
- o Supply Acquisition Segment
- o Allied Strategic Supply Segment
- o Supply Adjustment Segment
- o Unit Supply Status Determination Segment
- o OOS Unit Disruption Determination Segment
- o Road/Railroad/Trail Construction Start Segment
- o Operation Thursday Declaration Segment
- · Activation Marker Phase
- · Operations Phase
- o Reinforcements Segment
- o Chindits Segment
- o Activation Segments
- · End Phase
- o Air Unit Return Segment
- o Attrition Segment
- o Disruption Segment
- o Construction Segment
- o Allied SP Reduction Segment
- o Random Event Segment
- o VP Accumulation Segment
Operation U-Go: Imphal/Kohima
Initiative Determination Phase
The Initiative Determination Phase may not seem like an important phase within the game turn sequence, but let me tell you it is something that is very subtle. The side (player) that wins the Initiative will start the Operations Phase. Initiative is determined simply by rolling a 1d6 and adding any die roll modifiers from the Initiative Determination Table. This high roller will win the initiative for that turn and perform the Operations Phase first when we arrive at that phase of the turn sequence.
At first glance you may not realize it, but the Supply Phase is the most important phase of the turn sequence in the game. Everything, all your actions depend on your supply. The player that can balance supply throughout the game is the player that will be victorious.
The Supply Phase begins with each player rolling a 1D10, applying any modifiers, and finding out how much supply they will receive that turn by referring to a chart. So for example, let’s say that the Allied player rolled an 8 and he currently was at a Supply Level of 1 or 2, he would receive an additional 3 supply this turn. As such, his Supply marker on the Supply Points Stockpiled Track would advance 3 spaces.
Supply is represented in two different ways in the game. First there is the “Supply Points Stockpiled Track” which is located on the map and second there are the common Supply Point markers that a player can use on the map. Players remove supply from their track and apply the markers where needed as long as they are within 5 hexes of an HQ unit who then can supply other units. Supply Markers must be placed on roads or railroads so as to maintain supply back to their base. Ultimately, each player has a hex or city to which their supply line must be traced.
At this time we should mention a bit about stockpiling supply. This is a good thing that players should do if they can, as it raises their supply status level from turn to turn. There are four Supply Levels status’ in the game and they are
- Supply Level 1 – Players’ stock marker is on 0 to 4 boxes on the map.
- Supply Level 2 – Players’ stock marker is on 5 to 8 boxes on the map
- Supply Level 3 – Players’ stock marker is on 9 to 12 boxes on the map
- Supply Level 4 – Players’ stock marker is on 13 to 18 boxes on the map
Players should always strive to remain in supply because of the effect that good supply has on your units is:
- They can use their full movement allowance
- They do not suffer attrition at the end of the turn.
- Attack and Defend at full strength
- Give a replacement to a unit.
The Allied player can also call for Air Transport and Air Drop supply to units that have fallen out of supply. This provides the Allies with a lot of flexibility when supplying their units out in the field that is not available to the Japanese player. But, the one thing you should keep in mind throughout the game is that all actions will consume supply points, so, be judicious.
Drive on Rangoon
Activation Marker Phase
Activation Markers are the mechanics which activate units so that they can move, initiate combat or receive reinforcements during a turn. What drives the Activation Marker Phase during this part of the turn is the players Supply Level. The Activation Markers are laid face down on the table and mixed. This is the mix that players will select their own sides Activation Markers. At this point, depending on the Supply Level for each player, they will choose the following Activation Markers.
- Supply Level 1 = One Level I AM
- Supply Level 2 = Two Level I AM
- Supply Level 3 = One Level II AM
- Supply Level 4 = Two Level II AM
As you can see from the sample Activation Markers, depending on the Markers chosen, players will be able to activate different units or formations. The Initiative Player can look at his Activation Markers and pick one that he will use during the next Operations Phase. All of the other Activation Markers that may have been picked are placed in an opaque container with the two (2) End Turn markers and players will alternate picking markers during the Operations Phase.
Operations Phase (Ops Phase)
During the Ops Phase, players are instructed that they must strictly follow a specific sequence. This sequence is followed beginning with the Initiative Player who already has his Activation Marker in hand that he selected during the last phase. The Ops sequence that players must follow is:
- Receive Reinforcements per Scenario or Random Events
- Initiative Player Move, Combat or Reinforcements
Players alternate segment until:
- All Activation Markers have been selected
- Second End Turn marker is chosen
As you can see, the Activation segment is closely tied to the supply segment and that supply directly effects movement, combat and additional manpower.
Defeat Into Victory, The Final Campaign in Burma is a solid game that has a lot of subtleness. While there are only three (3) Scenarios provided with the game, this fact has no effect on the games replay value because with the games Supply/Activation Phases so closely tied you never know how many units will activate. This guarantees that each and every play will vary as you try and create strategies. Defeat Into Victory is also very playable solitaire for the same reason it has a high replay value. The game designer, Paul Rohrbaugh, was very successful in creating a generally low complexity game on a subject that has not often been covered as a boardgame that is as engaging as it is challenging and it provides gamers with an excellent replay value. Add to this, the Against the Odds magazine with the articles on the same subject, and you will enjoy many hours of reading and gaming.