Here we are, ready to take on Nemesis for the first time! OK, it’s really the second time for me, but close enough.
There’s the full map. The green part in the center is pretty much Burma, the mountains to the right are China, and the mountains to the left are India. The Japanese are coming out of the south, from Kanbalu. They’ve more or less controlled Burma for a while, cutting off the Burma Road and forcing the Americans to send supplies over “The Hump”, also called the Himalayas.
Off to the far left you can see a lake surrounded by a small number of clear hexes. This is the Imphal Valley, and it’s why Imphal was so important to this campaign. As the only flat land close to the border (until you got to Dimapur) it was a prime jump off spot for any military actions. Not that the CW forces were doing this, Burma was seen as a resource sink with very little payoff, so long as the Japanese weren’t getting into India. In fact, the British more or lessThe Americans, though, were much more aggressive because they wanted to reopen the Burma Road. The Chinese more or less sat on their hands for a while.
I’ve gotten a couple of books on the campaign, one specific to this offensive (Imphal 1944, Osprey) and another that’s more of a general history of the area during WW2 (Defeat Into Victory, Cooper Square Press). The latter book was written by Viscount Slim, the general in charge of CW forces in the area and considered by many to be the best British general of the war. It’s nice to have a primary source, even if the author has a fairly specific bias. I’ll be tossing in a few bon mots from these books as I read them over the course of the deep dive.
Nemesis moves forward through the use of a chit draw mechanism. There are four chits for each side, and players take turns drawing a chit, then doing the necessary actions that chit entails. The very first chit is always selected by the players (secretly, which I will partially randomize for the Allies to keep tension in the game), and in the first turn, the chit is the Assault Chit for each side. The Japanese always go first, as the aggressor in this game. The other three chits are for Attack, Reinforcements, and Supply. We’ll go over each as we get to them.
The Assault Phase has four parts: Movement, Japanese Battalion Exchange, Japanese Ambush, and Assault, which is a form of combat. Most of your movement will occur with this Phase, including creating Bunkers. Battalion Exchange will take place at any point in the phase, Ambush will occur after movement, and then the player can make three Assaults. Remember I said there would be at most six combats per side earlier? This is why. Limited resources are baked right into the game.
During movement, units in full supply can either make a “normal” move (as you would expect from any hex based war-game) that can enter an EZoC, “operational stretch,” which allows units to move at twice their printed value as long as they are never in an EZoC during the phase, and Bunker Creation if they choose not to move at all and are of the correct type of unit. If the unit is in Limited Supply, as the Chindits are at the start of play, they use Limited Movement, which means that entry costs ignore roads/tracks/paths (although they are still in effect for QV and supply purposes) and can’t use Operational Stretch.
Since we only have three hexes we can attack, and those attacks have to be from a single hex in an Assault, we should probably figure out where the Japanese want to go. For this play through, I’ll stick with the historical plan and make a heavy push on Imphal. There are three Japanese divisions in the area, so we’ll plan one attack for each of those areas.
There are two Support units in that big stack, and they are not Light so they can’t enter the Cliff hex. We’d like to get them into the combat, but there’s no way to get them in place effectively. They can’t enter Cliffs (Light Troops and Mules only), and while the two large regiments can move along mountain paths for 1MP, the support units have to spend 2MP, and the mountain hex they need to move into first costs 3MP, so they will be sitting out. We sent the HQ north to allow the Batt unit to move into a position to create some issues for the Jessami Locals. The Mule goes with the support units. Homalin can throw supply 5MP, and crossing the river over the path is only 1MP, then two to the HQ and three more to the Mule, so all of these units are in supply. Remember that you can’t trace directly to a Supply Entry Hex via a path, so all of these are important. Tamanthi throws 4MP, and supply traces are considered to use Light costs, so there’s no real reason to put the HQ there other than to plan for potential movement north later.
The 15th Division, colored orange, is in the center, along with the INA units. These were Indian Nationalists trying to kick the British out of India, but as you can see they are brittle and very limited in what they can do. We may use them as a backstop, as more useful garrisons, but we’ll wait and see how things develop. Here’s that portion of the map:
These units will be trying to tie down the large group of CW troops near Sittaung, allowing the 33rd Division to the south to do some things. The INA will cross the river with one unit protecting the flank of Paungbyin. It will be tough to remember that ZoC doesn’t really affect movement much! Here’s their position after movement:
In the south, we have a very interesting situation:
First, we need to try to cut the road to Imphal, as that’s the only thing keeping all of those Brits supplied. We can use Operational Stretch with the regiment near the cliffs. It’s light and has a QV of 3, so it can do this. The biggest issue is that it won’t be in supply, so we use Operational Stretch for the Mules to get them to 0214, and move the HQ to 0315. As in normal movement, supply can always trace one hex.
This leaves us with a ton of support units that are fairly limited in what they can do. The Japanese decide to make a big push toward Tamu Moreh to the north, and move the stack of Smalls in 0417 to press the Brits at 0217. We can really only make one assault, and the road through Tiddum will be very long and difficult for the 33rd, so we are hoping that the units we cut off will be put out of supply quickly. Remember, we don’t know exactly when that will happen! Here’s the position after movement.
In the central valley, the Chindits are hanging out in Limited Supply. What the heck are they doing out there? It turns out that the entire reason the Japanese decided they could actually attack over the mountains at the border was because of Operation Longcloth. Longcloth was the brainchild of Major-General Orde Wingate, who believed that the mountainous border was not as much of a barrier as his higher ups believed it was. He sent the Chindits over the mountains to disrupt Japanese supply lines, and they were successful enough (barely) that the British started considering invading Burma via Imphal. Hilariously, this was also what convinced Lieutenant-General Mutaguchi Renya that what was good for the goose was good for the gander, and decided to try to take Imphal, drive into India with the INA, and convince the general population to overthrow the British government. They were also worried that Longcloth was a harbinger of a future larger offensive, so the Japanese offensive was also intended as a bit of a spoiler.
While this may look like a supply nightmare, it really isn’t. Both of the roads leading off the south edge of the screenshot connect to a Supply Entry Hex, so everyone is OK. If there is a danger, it’s that the depot at Katha is a bit exposed. On the other hand, the southeasternmost Chindits unit will require an airdrop to be supplied (allowed all the way out there because they are Special Troops), and he won’t be able to use the road rate to get to Thabeikkyin. I’m glad that wasn’t on the spelling test, sheesh. I don’t do a lot here, preferring to move a couple of units to block off Galahad in the north, and moving a Batt to Katha to safeguard it.
The Chinese border is similarly uninteresting, but this is a good time to discuss what the Japanese want to avoid doing if they would like Chiang to continue enjoying all of that delicious American aid money.
First of all, if the Japanese attack a Yunnan Force unit or move onto a Yunnan Transporter, the Chinese will come in. Also, if a Japanese unit threatens their Supply Entry Hex. Both are unlikely.
The second way the Chinese enter is determined when the Allies play their first chit of the turn. There is a Chiang Loses Face marker in the upper right of the map, it’s currently on the 1 space of it’s track. When the Allies play their first chit of the turn, they roll to see if they can hit or get under the current marker value. The Japanese will improve these chances by 1 pip if they have more than 8 steps of units (transporters are not counted) within seven hexes (not MP of any Yunnan unit. They currently have 11 steps, so they draw the 2 step reduced regiment in Wanding to 1816 using Operational Stretch, and pull the reduced regiment in Zhefang back to Bhamo, both to limit the danger of that Chindit unit we noted earlier. Note I could not have split the regiment as it was reduced, I can only do that for full strength units.
At any point during movement, the Japanese could have dropped battalions, they chose not to. I suspect that knowing when to do this has a lot to do with good play, but I am certain to learn all about when I should have done it as we progress.
The Japanese will now drop a few bunkers, mostly in the central valley, for units that didn’t move during the turn. We lay three down in spots most likely to be attacked by the Americans or Chindits at Indaw, Mohnya, and 1803. These are limited resources, but can be removed any time to place a new one.
The other thing the Japanese can do now is lay Ambushes. These are also limited, and will probably stay where they are for most of the turn, or when an Allied unit moves in them. They go next to Light Troops, and we focus primarily in the west. There is no point in keeping any back, they’ll all come back next turn and this is the only time we place them.
Here’s the map pre-combat:
We have three assaults we can do, and we’ve already determined where they are. Now we’ll run through each combat in detail to demonstrate how this works. Before that, it’s good practice to see if Lament points have been scored, and the answer is no. No troops have been eliminated, no combat, no objectives have been captured, the Y Force is inactive. This is why Michel’s play aid is so freakin’ useful, it lets you see very quickly when to manipulate the tracks by activity.
That has been a lot of information, so I think I will break here and continue combat in a separate entry. Interestingly, we have three assaults to prosecute, and an educational foundation is that you want to do something three times when you are teaching it. It’s why so much folklore has heroes doing something three times, or going on three quests. This will not be on the quiz.