ASL News by: Neal Ulen
Hints were dropped earlier this year that MMP has begun playtesting of a new historical Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit campaign game unofficially titled Marco Polo Bridge, named after the incident that occurred in China in 1937. The news of this activity by MMP may have fallen through the various cracks on the internet (or was not noticed by all) because nothing has been posted on their official website.
Scroll past the historical perspective if you want to see the limited info on the module …
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident
So what happened in July of 1937 and what was the “incident”?
Leading up to the incident tensions between China and Japan had been high since the Japanese seized control of Manchuria for its resources in 1931. On the east side of the bridge was Beiping (also known as Peking, and as Beijing today), which was controlled by Japanese forces all the way to Manchuria in the northeast. The west side of Marco Polo Bridge (this is its western name, it’s also known as Lugou Bridge) was controlled by the Chinese who had not previously resisted the takeover of Manchuria with much muster. But that all came to a head at the Marco Polo Bridge.
Late on the evening of July 7th, 1937 Chinese and Japanese soldiers exchanged light fire, the cause of which may have been unannounced Japanese military exercises. In the aftermath the Japanese found that one of their soldiers was missing and demanded they be allowed to cross the bridge and search the walled city of Wanping for the missing man.
The Chinese commander flatly refused, and both sides began to mobilize. Later that night the Japanese attempted to infiltrate Wanping but were driven back. This lead to further escalation, and despite efforts and negotiations to stem the constant skirmishes that followed, on July 9th the Japanese began deploying light armor and shelling Wanping across the bridge.
This led to further skirmishes. Battles began to break out up and down the Yongding River, eventually spreading to the nearby city of Tianjin and beyond.
Thus the first shots of the Second Sino-Japanese War (7 July 1937 – 2 September 1945) were sparked over Manchurian tensions and the misunderstanding of a missing soldier who only happened to wander off from his unit … that soldier was later found alive and well.
But What About the Module?
Well, there’s not a lot of official information available other than it’s a historical campaign game based on the escalated aftermath of the incident detailed above, and that it’s a Starter Kit product … so SK fans rejoice! No longer will you have to think about dropping $100+ for a used copy of Decision At Elst (2014) to play an historical CG.
It appears that Ken Dunn is again at the helm, and that playtesting commenced earlier this year. Based on Decision at Elst it’s probably safe to assume this will be a more accessible product than full ASL historical campaign games from a scope and price perspective. So I would expect:
- A single, good sized map sheet
- 4-6 scenarios played on various parts of the map
- 1 campaign game
- A campaign booklet, with special rules (for bridges, and perhaps the Wanping fortress, etc)
- Maybe 1-2 sheets of counters (IF they plan to make this a standalone product, or if they introduce new ordnance/vehicles)
Below are some photos from the ongoing playtesting …
MMP’s ASL roadmap is bit of an enigma, which throws boxcars at any speculation. Some products seem a bit lost in development (or dropped altogether) while others will just pop up on pre-order out of the blue. That being said, I have NO idea when this might see the light of day. But, the fact that it’s in playtesting bodes well. Optimistically it might go on pre-order next year, and be published in 2023. Pessimistically (realistically?) it will probably go on pre-order in 2023/24, and in your hands … Monday.
No one really knows, except MMP, and even then it probably has to get in the production queue with other ASL and games in the pipeline.
If there are any updates I’ll be sure to post up some news about it.
.END OF BRIEFING.
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