Building a Bigger Japanese Army

Building a Bigger Japanese Army

Building a Bigger Japanese Army
with Chris Townley

The release of Rising Sun in 2013 first brought the Imperial Japanese Army in to Flames Of War. Since then people have been building lists and using them to defend the islands of the Pacific from invading American players. With the release of Banzai they can finally build a ‘true’ Pacific Japanese force.

To read Wayne's Design Notes for Banzai click here...

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the two core companies in each book and see how they have changed and what new options are now available to help fill in some gaps, or maybe reinforce their original strengths. 
Building a Bigger Japanese Army
Hohei Chutai (Infantry Company)

The Hohei Chutai in Rising Sun is built around a core of infantry platoons with up to 13 teams; 9 Rifle teams, 3 Light Mortar teams and a Command Sword team. The Company HQ includes a pair of Sword teams and the option to upgrade the 2iC to have a Regimental Standard that helps teams in a platoon the 2iC has joined pass all Motivation tests. In Banzai all of these options are available as well as the ability to upgrade one team per section to be a Nikuhaku team. In Banzai you can now add an additional Light Mortar team (JSO01) to you Hohei Platoons if you feel like you need a little extra firepower.

Moving on to the Weapons and Regimental Support Platoons the Fortifications in Rising Sun are replaced by an option to take a Hohei Weapons Platoon (JP707) that includes a pair of machine-guns and a pair of Type 97 20mm anti-tank rifles (which can be combat attached out to your infantry). 

Building a Bigger Japanese Army

In Banzai you can also take both a Rapid-fire Gun Platoon and a Hohei Regimental Gun Platoon. No need to choose one or the other now. The Rapid-fire Gun Platoon now includes options for a Type 1 37mm gun (this looks just like your existing Type 97 37mm gun) or the newer Type 1 47mm gun (JP510)  with ROF 3, AT 8, FP 4+.

Left: Type 94 37mm Anti-tank Gun (JP501)

The Divisional Support Platoons are where we see the most changes with significantly more options for a Japanese player to defeat their enemies. Both books include options for Transport Platoons, additional Hohei Platoons, Engineer Platoons and Artillery Batteries. In Banzai you will have slightly less tank support but what you can have is better with options for five tank platoons of Type 97 Chi-Ha and Type 97 Kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha (JBX09), Type 97 Te-Ke (JBX05) or captured American M3 Stuart tanks, as well as the same Type 89 Chi-Ro and Type 97 Ha-Go tanks from Rising Sun.

Right: Type 97 Te-Ke (JBX05)

Building a Bigger Japanese Army

Building a Bigger Japanese Army


You can also field a platoon of 3 Self-propelled guns; the Type 1 Ho Ni I (JBX07) or Type 4 Ho-Ro (JBX08), or even a pair of captured M3 75mm GMC. You can also add some recon to your force with a Scout Platoon or Recon Tankette Platoon armed with Type 97 Te-Ke tanks.

The new Banzai Hohei Chutai is rounded out by a Medium Mortar (JP705) Platoon to drop smoke or direct fire against dug-in enemies as well as a Light Anti-aircraft Platoon (JP541) armed with 20mm guns and finally the Mitsubishi Zero (AC017) is available to provide air support!

Left: Mitsubishi Zero (AC017)

Sensha Rentai (Tank Company) 

In Rising Sun Japanese players had two different tank companies to choose from, the 3rd Sensha Rentai armed with Type 89 Chi-Ro tanks and a small number of Type 97 Chi-Ha and Type 97 TK tanks, or the 4th Sensha Rentai armed with Type 95 Ha-Go and Type 89 Chi-Ro tanks.

The tank company is Banzai is pretty similar with the Type 89 Chi-Ro and Type 95 Ha-Go tanks available in large numbers. You can now field entire platoons or companies of Type 97 Chi-Ha or Type 97 Kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha tanks with their new turrets that have a 47mm gun inside, which gives the tank ROF 2, AT 8 and FP 4+.

Right: Type 97 Chi-Ha Platoon with both Chi-Ha and Kai Shinhoto Turrets (JBX09)

Building a Bigger Japanese Army

All versions of the Sensha Rentai include options to support your tanks with Hohei Platoons, Engineer Platoons and Artillery Batteries, but now you can also include the same Self-propelled guns, Recon Tankettes, Anti-aircraft and Air Support that support the fearless Japanese infantry. 

Building a Bigger Japanese Army

New Companies in Banzai

Building a Bigger Japanese Army

If neither of these two lists float your boat (or amphibious tank) then there are a couple of new lists that you can always check out. The Ka-Mi Sensha Chutai is an Amphibious Tank Company with Type 2 Ka-Mi tanks (JBX06). Equipped with massive floatation pontoons these tanks look pretty odd, but there is something to be said for these unique looking vehicles. 

For the more defensive player (or maybe if you used Fortifications in your Rising Sun Hohei Chutai) there is the Yosai Hohei Chutai (Fortified Infantry Company) that has smaller infantry platoons than the traditional Hohei Chutai, but lots of trenches, minefields and other fortifications to hide behind.

Hopefully this quick look at what has changed between Rising Sun and Banzai will help you to work out what you should be looking to add to your company to bring it fully in the Pacific and take advantage of reduced points cost of many of your units if you bring the Japanese from Early-war in Manchuria to Late-war in the Pacific. Or maybe you can just swap out some options from your Early-war list to change things up and surprise your regular opponents.


Pacific War Late War  

The isolated nature of the Pacific Theatre of Operations and the slow development of weapon technology by the Japanese meant the power and effectiveness of the weapons in the Pacific seem somewhat out of balance with what was being used in Europe at the same time. This led to some weapons, like the Sherman tank, having a greater impact for a longer time than in Europe.

We realised many gamers will also want to pit their Pacific forces against forces from Europe. To cover this you will find two point levels for each platoon, one for the Pacific War, intended for playing games within the context of the Pacific Theatre, and Late-war, with points compatible with any other Flames Of War forces with Late-war points.

Pacific War Points are also compatible with Early-war Points, although not all the equipment was available in the Early-war (1939-1941). Whatever points option you select, you and your opponent’s forces must be entirely selected from that points option.