So, two days ago I played my first battle against the Japanese and I wanted to record some initial thoughts/moan about them, but I don’t have any pics of the battle (annoyingly) so it doesn’t deserve a post of it’s own.

As it happens though I have completed another vehicle, this time a Panzer IV. The best image of it is the one at the top of this page but here are two more:

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It’s a bit blurry, but the general effect is clear. Lots of mud on the tracks and Shirtzen, and a nice simple freehand flag. Nothing overly elaborate here.
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With the camera flash my Panzer Grey comes out a lot bluer than it appears in natural light. Even so you can hopefully see my liberal use of Rust Effect.

You can see some better pics (minus all the mud) that do the colours more justice in my previous post: HERE

Anyway, onto the Japanese.

My first game against them was with Pete, a regular at our gaming group. We played a 1250 points battle and the “Top Secret” mission from the V2 book.

My list was a real mixed bag, with one unit taken from every slot on the GRP*. It looked like this:

  • 1st Leutenant & Medic (Both Veterans)
  • 3x 8-man Grenadier units (All Reg)
  • An 8-man unit of SS in a Hanomag (Veterans)
  • Sniper and Flamethrower teams (Regulars)
  • A Medium Howitzer (Reg)
  • An 8-Rad armoured car
  • A Panzer IV Ausf G

Pete’s list was very different. He fielded 1250 points of exclusively Veteran Infantry; no vehicles, transports or anything with wheels. The whole force (I think) was painted, so it certainly gets the moral victory for looking awesome.

I’m not sure of the specifics but I think his list was something like this:

  • 1st Leutenant & Forawrd Observer (Arty) (Both Veterans with a +1)
  • 3x 10-man Squads of Fanatical Veterans (One of the units had tough fighter I think)
  • A squad with 3 light mortars in it.
  • Sniper, Flamethrower and MMG teams and a medium (or was it heavy?) mortar
  • 2 Bomb-stick guys

 

The battle raged over the full 7 turns (having rolled for the extra one) and ended (frustratingly for Pete as he got really close) in a draw, my first in our mini-league, but Pete’s 2nd.

Here are some thoughts on the battle and the Japanese force:

  • Firstly, I really liked it. I know it doesn’t always look and fight like Pete’s did but my other battles had been against lots of vehicles and this was a very different challenge. I’m not sure I’d like to face the Japanese on a board with lots more cover.
  • Fanatical infantry are not as dangerous in combat as they sound, because as most combats are over in one turn anyway, it’s actually pretty rare to go for 2 or more. What makes fanatic AWESOME is the not needing to take morale checks for casualties. The large blobs just refused to break and remained a threat until they were wiped out. It meant that a couple of times I had to waste an entire unit’s shooting to kill off 1, or maybe 2 men.
  • Bomb-sticks….eugh! They’re really potent, especially when, like me, you forget about them. Pete’s two denied the entire centre of the board (and the objective in it) to anything with wheels for 3/4 of the game. One of them completely wasted my Armored car in the third turn, so I then spent the rest of the game desperately avoiding the other. It made a mad Banzai rush for my Panzer in the penultimate turn, but I gunned it down before it could activate again. They’re an awesome denial unit, and Pete played them in that role perfectly. He knew my vehicles would have to get close to enable me to get the objective, so made sure that wasn’t going to happen.
  • The ability to take three light mortars in a single squad is really cool. Sadly for Pete I don’t think he got the best of them in our game, as their first shot (smoke) scattered badly and ended up all over the place. I responded with a neat 6 for my howitzer, which promptly killed 2 of them in return and a single light mortar isn’t a threat I was too worried about.
  • Banzai is interesting. When the lines are closing the rule is awesome, but other than that they deal with pins as normal, so it doesn’t seem too broken. It is only broken if (as the rules seem to suggest) you remove D6 pins every time you do it. The army behaves pretty normally until it rushed you.
  • MMGs don’t really work with the Japanese, or at least Pete’s didn’t. Most of the faction rules seem designed to keep the army running forwards, which isn’t what MMGs do. Apart from putting a pin on the Hanomag I don’t think it actually did anything at all in our battle: it was either running, or had it’s LOS obscured by friendlies.

 

As for me, I had one of my better games of bolt action. Until Pete I had three losses in a row for our mini league (although 2 of them were really close games) but I feel like this one displayed the fruits of my learning. I didn’t make any of the stupid mistakes I’d made in previous games, and the list I used as a whole felt nice and balanced. The squads did what they were meant to do and were large enough to stay in the fight while staying well supported by teams. I also felt I had exactly the right amount of dice (12).

In the interests of balance I did have my share of good luck (mainly Pete’s bad rolling for mortars) but I had some bad luck too (loosing 12 men to artillery in the first turn). Our Flamethrower teams, which often make-or-breaka game of BA were killed within a few minutes of each other, with neither having made a shot.

Despite being pressed really hard in the final turns I  was able to compensate and force the draw.

This is both encouraging and frustrating, because if I’d played like this against Dan a week before I’d have probably won that game.

I can also see that a draw is a frustrating result for Pete too. We’d got into a position around the third turn where the only viable option for either of us to win was to rush then of objective with as many troops as possible. As most of my army was pinned, Pete decided to try it, so the remaining 4 turns basically consisted of him rushing the objective, securing it and then getting blown the objective marker with everything I had for his troubles.

The game was meant to be a balanced mission, but felt very clearly like it was Attacker/Defender instead.

Hopefully my next game in a couple of weeks will have pictures and I can get my first win.

I’m hopeful.

Mat

*GRP = Generic Reinforced Platoon

 

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