Book Review by Greg
To compliment the release of Gung Ho, Battlefront is releasing Banzai to give those Marines someone to fight against. While the Japanese were introduced to Flames of War with the release of Rising Sun, this time they really have a more Pacific feel to them, despite the similarities in the companies available to you.
As with Gung Ho, there is a really great run-down of the Japanese campaigns in the Pacific starting with Pearl Harbor in 1941 right through to Okinawa and the ultimate defeat of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy at the hands of the Americans.
The run-down of Japanese special rules is very comprehensive and fits well with the tactics that Japanese players are likely going to have to employ. Many of the rules have appeared in Rising Sun and they’re here as well, including the Hell by Day, Paradise by Night rule that allows the Japanese to Always Attack at Dawn, which will make things difficult for the Marines.
In Banzai, you’ll have the option to choose from four different company types. You’ve got the Hohei Chutai (Infantry Company), Sensha Rentai (Tank Regiment), Yosai Hohei Chutai (Fortified Infantry Company) and the Ka-Mi Sensha Chutai (Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank Company).
Japan’s infantry were some of the most fearless and well trained of the war. Fielding them in battle as the Hohei Chutai will take all the skill you can muster. You have two motivation and skill options in Fearless Veteran and Confident Trained with the points values changing as a result. You’ll need to field a minimum of two Hohei Platoons of either 2-3 squads. As FV, they’re going to cost you 230-335 points while CT will be a mere 150-215 points. You also have the option of modelling your rifle teams with Banners for an additional 25 points per platoon. Banners allow the platoon to ignore the first enemy hit when considering pinning, for both small arms and artillery, and also from defensive fire in assaults. Definitely worth the points in my opinion as you’re likely going to get these guys into assaults more often than not. You also have the option of replacing one team per squad with a Nikuhaku team at the start of the game, allowing them to utilise the Human Bullet special rule.
The Japanese were masterful defenders and, as the war wore on and on, found themselves having to dig in and defend the islands they’d fought so hard to conquer. To allow you to field these dug in troops, Banzai includes the Yosai Hohei Chutai or Fortified Infantry Company. Very similar in structure to the Hohei Chutai, you infantry platoons now come with an HMG Nest, Barbed Wire and Trench Lines to deploy. You can also upgrade your HMG nests to Pillboxes or even mount a more powerful weapon such as 37mm, 47mm and 75mm guns. You have the same level of support in terms of tanks, artillery and air support as well as the opportunity to place minefields. That should definitely test any infidel Marine that dares set foot on Imperial land!
The Japanese war machine started developing its own tanks in the 1930’s developing many designs however due to the emphasis on raw materials being used for both the Navy and Air Force, development and production slowed later in the war. Banzai does allow the option to field many of these designs in a Sensha Rentai. The Japanese Army regularly mixed tank designs within the regiment HQ, likely as a result of the limited and sporadic production. Your HQ will include either Chi-Ha or Chi-Ho medium tanks paired with the Ha-Go. The Sensha platoons would then be armed with Chi-Ha or Chi-Ho medium tanks. You also have the option of fielding a platoon of light Ha-Go tanks as well. Once again, divisional support options include infantry, artillery and air support to compliment your tanks.
The final selection is the specialised Ka-Mi Sensha Chutai or Ka-Mi amphibious tanks company. As part of the SNLF armoury to support beach landings, the Ka-Mi amphibious tank was developed and deployed with reasonable success at both Leyte and Saipan. Based on the Ha-Go, it was modified to stop water entering both the engine and fighting space. Your Ka-Mi Sensha will be made up wholly of these amazing machines, with the typical Japanese to help them make it on to the beaches and into the Marine lines!
In terms of divisional support options, the Japanese have a number for you to utilise. You can field SPG platoons equipped with either the Ho-Ni or Ho-Ro SPG’s or possibly even a captured M3 GMC to provide mobile artillery support for either landing advances or defensive positions. Field artillery comes in either 2 or 4 gun batteries and with the Fire Burst special rule; you’re not disadvantaged in taking 2 guns. SP Guns don’t use this rule though, so bear that in mind.
NGFS and Naval Air and Sea Support is available, as it is for the Marines, allowing you off-shore artillery support in the case of NGFS or the ability to complete fighter interception or disrupt the enemy NGFS.
The usual choices of tanks to support infantry or vice-versa are available as well as the options for Engineer platoons and Scout platoons.
One of my favourite options is the Recon Tankette platoon, allowing you to field Te-Ke recon tankettes with either MG or 37mm options. The little tanks are quick and when used properly can really get in and make a mess of the Marines before they know what’s happening.
And lastly….ZERO! That’s right, you finally get to field one of the most iconic planes of WWII, the Mitsubishi Zero! Need I say more?
So there you have it, your opportunity to defend the Empire of the Rising Sun from the advances of the US Marines. BANZAI!!!!
For further reading, check out Breakthrough Assault's review of Banzai here: