The Raising Of The Rising Sun: Introducing Japanese National Special Rules The Raising Of The Rising Sun:
Introducing Japanese National Special Rules
with Wayne Turner

Introducing a new nationality to Flames Of War means we have to create a new batch of National Special Rules for them. When doing this we had to also consider how these rules would be used the future when we move into the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

The Japanese are a major nation in World War Two, and combined with their own characteristically unique approach to warfare, warranted serious look at what we wanted to capture in the flavour and mechanics of their rules. The first step was to establish the key concepts on which to anchor the rules.
Rising Sun
Rising Sun brings you into the Soviet Union’s wars with the Japanese and Finns on its borders in 1939. Take command of the Red Army’s tank forces, infantry or cavalry forces as you throw the Japanese back into Manchuria or fight the stubborn Finns to expand the Soviet border.

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Rising Sun
Seishin & No Surrender

The first was the iron-like will of the Japanese soldier, their near fatalistic loyalty to the Emperor, and the dishonour of failure. This had to be more than simply rating their Motivation as Fearless, as we also wanted to look at lesser ratings in the future for poorer morale troops that had gone through the same indoctrination. Japanese military doctrine believed strongly in Seishin or strength of will and spirit. The commanders believed strongly in superior loyalty and morale of the men to overcome the materiel superiority the enemy. Initially we had a single Seishin rule for both Company and Platoon Morale, but after playtesting and feedback we divided the rule into two, with Seishin covering the Platoon Morale, and No Surrender covering Company Morale.

The Raising Of The Rising Sun: Introducing Japanese National Special Rules
The idea behind both rules is that when a Japanese platoon fails a morale test they are not removed from play, but instead their fatalism kicks in, they instead try to die fighting honourably. When working out the mechanics for this we had to strike a careful balance between the logical consequence of this on the tabletop, and not allowing the opponent to take advantage of it in weird ways. For example, one version of the rule had the broken Japanese platoon move and assaults the nearest enemy, which seemed logical, but in the right circumstances an opponent could use one of his platoons to lead a Japanese platoon into the field of fire of another platoon or draw them away from an objective they were already holding or contesting. We also wanted to represent the single-minded determination of these units to fulfil their fatalistic goal by only giving them limited options. These would be to move and assault. The moving would also be dictated by Objectives, which represent the winning and losing of the game/battle.
The Raising Of The Rising Sun: Introducing Japanese National Special Rules
The No Surrender rule applies to Company Morale, which if it fails means the whole Japanese Company applies the Seishin rule. Once we got the basic concept down it was a matter of tweaks and small changes to get it to work. One thing we did was to not apply it to Tank and Independent teams, which are removed from the table once the Seishin rule is applied. We gave the tanks their own unique morale rules (see below). Gun teams were easy, they now just fight like Rifle teams if they draw on their Seishin. It also made sense not to let them Dig-in once they had draw on their Seishin.

Banzai Charge
Another iconic image of the Japanese are their Banzai charges. Once again we tried a number of ideas. First we tried Assaults where they were never Pinned Down, but only saved on 5+, this proved a little too bloody for the Japanese. It was even part of the general Seishin rule. In the end we actually looked a something older, the Go For Broke rule used for the US Nisei troops in Cassino. This rule allows the assaulting platoon to assault again if it gets Pinned Down by Defensive Fire after passing a Motivation test, but also allows the defender another round of Defensive Fire. We thought this captured the somewhat bloody and fanatical nature of the Japanese Banzai charge.
The Raising Of The Rising Sun: Introducing Japanese National Special Rules
One of the simpler rules was the Kendo rule. We wanted to represent the fact that every Japanese officer was armed with a Katana (sword), and were often quite enthusiastic about using it. Initially we thought about give each Command Sword team two dice in assault, but on refection this could be stacked quite effectively to give a lot of extra dice if the Company Command and 2iC Command Sword teams were thrown in alongside a Platoon Command Sword team and his men in an assault. We decided to just make them hit on 2+ in Assaults. For most of playtesting a Sword team could not shoot, but eventually we gave Sword teams the shooting stats of a Pistol team (Range: 4”/10cm; ROF 1; Anti-tank 1; Firepower 6) as Japanese officers had pistols and were escorted by other troops.

Human Bullet
Another rule related to Japanese morale was the Human Bullet rule. Even when dealing with enemy tanks the Japanese chose a spirit over technology approach. Special attack teams were organised armed with Molotov cocktails and anti-tank mines. These anti-tank assaults were known as Kikuhaku Kogeki (Human Bullet Assaults) because the men themselves were the weapons. Hand-picked for the task these men showed particular determination in their job, not so much suicidal, but a certain unwillingness to fail. At Nomonhan, where Japanese anti-tank guns were available in limited numbers, they proved very effective against the hordes of Soviet BT fast tanks and armoured cars they faced. We decided to represent them as swap out troops, much like Flame-thrower teams in pioneer platoons. The teams themselves would be Tank Assault only that could not shoot. The next task was to decide on their abilities in the assault. Pretty early on we decided to make them immune to being pinned down from Defensive Fire and ignore Tank Terror. As part of a platoon they would sometimes be the only teams, even after a Banzai Charge, which made it into the assault. Once in the assault we decided to make them reasonably effective. We decided to give them multiple dice in assault, but these could only be allocated to tank teams. We began with four, and also tried three. But there was something missing, they seemed a little two powerful. One dice didn’t cut the mustard either. We tried allowing only one round of assaulting then removing them from play (like flame-throwers), but this didn’t seem right either. One suggestion from the playtesters was to make them Improvised Tank Assault. This hit the mark, it allowed them to be effective on occasion, but any dice roll resulting in a 1 would destroy the team. This seemed a good way of reflecting the high-risk behaviour of these teams. This allowed us to give them four dice in Assaults against tanks.
The Raising Of The Rising Sun: Introducing Japanese National Special Rules
Banners & Reigmental Standard
Our final morale related rule for the Japanese were the Banners and Regimental Standard rules. Both these rules are aimed at making the Japanese motivation a little tougher. The Banners rule is an optional upgrade to Japanese infantry platoons, and quite visual as you represent your platoon with Japanese infantry with banners attached to their rifles. The platoon with banners has to take an additional hit to become Pinned Down. The Regimental Standard is also an optional upgrade, this time to a Japanese Company HQ. While the Regimental Standard is flying any platoon joined by it passes all Motivation tests.

Hell By Day, Paradise By Night
Japanese tactics are also covered by a couple of rules based on Japanese tactical and operational doctrine. The Hell by Day, Paradise by Night rule reflects the Japanese doctrine of using the night to overcome the superior firepower of the enemy. We tried a couple of ideas to reflect this in Flames Of War. We allow the Japanese to choose to attack, and if they do so they attack using the Dawn rules, giving them at least three turns of darkness allowing them to get into position to launch their attack. We tried for a while having defending Japanese always use the Dusk rules, but in the end we decided having the Japanese play every game with some sort of darkness rules unappealing and dropped this option.

One of things the Japanese did to take advantage of attacks in the dark was to work around the flanks and rear of the enemy before attacking, American and British fighting them later noted that this was done with great stealth and good speed. The Envelopment rule was developed to allow Japanese infantry, man-packed gun, and light gun teams to Move at the Double through Rough Terrain as well as at night. Japanese tanks also operated at night, and don’t seem to be as cautious as other nations’ tankers in such conditions. We allowed them to move their normal movement speed rather than be restricted to 8”/20cm like most vehicles at night.

The Raising Of The Rising Sun: Introducing Japanese National Special Rules
Duty To The End
The Japanese tanks we also thought needed a few rules to cover their unique style of fighting. Japanese tank crews would often find a way to fight on, even after their tank had ground to a halt. They would defend their tanks with great courage, viewing it as a dishonour to abandon it on the battlefield. We created the Duty to the End rule to represent this never say die attitude. We tried a number of variations on this, some more complexes, while others were much simpler. One option included a dismounted MG team to represent the crew. In the end our final version of the rule simply allowed a Bogged Down or Bailed Out Japanese tank to keep being able to fire its turret machine-gun and fight in assaults (but not move, and they can still be captured at the end of an Assault). They also count as still operational for Platoon Morale tests.

Hip Shot & Japanese Turret MG
The Hip Shot rule accounts for the Japanese habit of firing on the move. It allows a moving Japanese tank to reroll its misses if shooting at enemy teams within 16”/40cm. The third Japanese tank rule covers the unusual mounting of Japan turret machine-guns, which were mounted in the rear of the turret and were used by swing the turret around to fire. The Japanese Turret MG rule explains how this means you can’t fire your main gun at the same time as your turret machine-gun.

The Raising Of The Rising Sun: Introducing Japanese National Special Rules
Fire Burst
The final section of the Japanese special rules deals with their artillery. The Japanese tended to deploy guns to twos and would use rapid bursts of fire rather long continuous barrages. The Fire Bursts rule allows Japanese two gun batteries to fire bombardments without having to re-roll hits under the template, just as if they were three or more guns.

Type 92 70mm Battalion Gun
The second artillery rule just deals with one particular weapon, the Type 92 70mm Battalion Gun. These were used by the Japanese in a similar role to other nations’ mortars, so we have given them the mortar rule where they may re-roll their first failed attempt to Range In.

Well that’s a quick and dirty explanation of the Japanese National Special Rules and some of our thoughts behind them. I’m looking forward to seeing some Japanese forces taking the field and adding something a little different to the Flames Of War Early-war gaming scene.

~ Wayne.

Last Updated On Friday, July 19, 2013 by Wayne at Battlefront