Thursday, 15 June 2017

Expanding to 20th-Century Wargaming: Bolt Action

My first World War II miniature, a Warlord Games Imperial Japanese Army NCO, assembled whilst watching The Bridge Over the River Kwai for inspiration.

This blog began as an effort to chart progress in my ancient warfare projects, of which there are two main thrusts:

1. The Punic Wars (which is really an excuse for armies from the whole Western Mediterranean)
2. Greeks (which dovetails with the first - I kid myself that somehow that's efficient!)

As if that weren't enough, a friend has lured me into World War II wargaming by offering to help paint some of my figures if I agree to field an Imperial Japanese Army force so he can fight the Pacific War.

Everyone else in our area seems interested in the war in Europe despite the fact that we're based in Malaysia (I know, who am I to talk? Look at my Ancients project).

Damon's invite was timely, since to tell the truth of late I've started to look at figure ranges for the Malayan Emergency and Warlord inter-regnum China, Mark Copplestone's wacky Back of Beyond range in particular, with its 'Dare to Die' units; what's not to love about half-naked brutes swinging big swords and blasting with a Mauser?

No rule set has caught my eye but local players are using Bolt Action. It's not the most historical approach given the emphasis on equal point games, but it's a gateway to period gaming that other rulesets can serve better at a later date.

I ordered one of Warlord's Starter Deals that comes with a free tank. With two boxes of 30 Imperial Japanese Army infantry, a command HQ, scout car, medium machine gun section and a 97 Chi-Ha Tank, that's well over 1,000 points and will serve me for a good long while.

In retrospect, I should have ordered the Special Navy Landing Force boxes as they are the same sprues but with extra metal heads and two metal command figures for the same price under the deal. I could have then mixed and matched. No big loss though.

Though I don't care for the politics the Japanese Army is an apt choice for me since in my martial arts practice I have studied or tried three weapons associated with their armed forces of the period. I study the Toyama school of swordsmanship used by the officers, the short staff art of jodo (though it wasn't used in the field), as well as an exposure class to jukendo, the bayonet form derived from French methods.

Naturally, the first figure I assembled was of an NCO charging with his shin gunto. I've had a go at cutting target mats with one of these. It was much shorter than I expected, but kept a good edge despite much written about their substandard quality.

The NCO plus my experiment with coloured wood filler on the base. Looks good despite some tendency to crack when drying.

I'm assembling my force for the Malaya and Singapore campaign of 1941-42, with an eye towards Guadalcanal for Damon's US Marines to pepper.

Two Fat Lardies have a doorstopper of a campaign book on the Japanese invasion of 1941-42. Their Fall of the Lion Gate has 21 scenarios for their I Ain't Been Shot Mum company-level rules. It should be easy enough to shave off some platoon-level action from these guidelines.

There are some Perry Brothers' Desert Rats on their way to serve as Indian Army and 1st Malayan Regiment troops for Malaya and Singapore. A check with a local WWII enthusiast suggests that their helmets and gear can be used as is for the Indian and Malay troops. If I pitched the flesh tone right I may be able to paint them up for dual use.

At one point I was worrying about whether I would need to order some separate metal heads from Woodbine wearing the khulla and turban. I may do so at a later date but for now, let's go the cheap and cheerful route.

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