Bushido Denied – Boardgame Review
Passed Inspection: Two games in one. High quality for a low price. High solitaire playability.
Failed Basic: Problems with initial unit-counter set up. Rules need clarification. Additional editing needed. Needs an index.
High Flying Dice Games has consistently put out high quality, lower-priced games that approach subject matter not normally covered by other war game publishers. While Bushido Denied is a fascinating study of the fighting on Bataan and Corregidor in 1942, it has some issues that harm its playability.
After the stunning attack at Pearl Harbor, the Empire of Japan moved quickly to take advantage of the nearly devastated American fleets by launching airborne and seaborne invasions of American and British occupied territory. The fighting on the Philippine peninsula of Bataan was the first time American troops met Japanese ground forces in combat. The Japanese government was expecting a quick victory, and the 14th Japanese Army led by Lt. General Masaharu Homma was given naval and airborne support in order to achieve that goal. When General Douglas MacArthur and the Philippine government moved to Corregidor for security reasons, the American and Philippine troops were ordered to fight a delaying action until they could be evacuated but, on mainland Bataan, the US supplies were beginning to run low due to the overwhelming Japanese sea and air control. The Japanese found that their opponents were not the weak fighters they were expecting, and an operation that was supposed to have lasted a few weeks dragged into a three-month bloodbath. When Bataan’s defenses finally collapsed, it became the largest surrender of American troops in history, but the defeat was not in vain. Japanese plans for the Dutch East Indies had been delayed and the Allied forces were already planning their counterattacks.
Bushido Denied features two games in one, which can be combined should the players want to. “The Battle of Bataan” features a stunning map of the peninsula, with each hex equal to 1 mile; each turn represents around 1 week. “The Battle of Corregidor” features a nicely detailed map of the small southern island. Each hex is equal to 1,000 feet and each turn is roughly 1 to 2 hours. Each unit of infantry is roughly 600 to 3,000 men and each tank unit is 12–20 tanks in “Bataan” or 1 tank in “Corregidor.” No scale was specified for the air units were not specified.
The rules run 16 pages long and are without an index, so I constantly found myself flipping back and forth in them. The counters are full color and nicely detailed using standard military designations. Each infantry unit is rated for size, type, efficiency, division/battalion/regiment information, and attack, defense and movement factors. Tanks and airplanes feature nicely detailed pictures of the units.
The sequence of play is slightly different for “Bataan” and “Corregidor” but, in brief, each turn includes the following phases: reinforcement/refit, supply, initiative, bombardment, movement and combat actions. The Japanese may, at their discretion, attempt amphibious and airdrop operations.
Supply is key to the “Battle of Bataan” game. A supply chart is included and the supply of the Japanese and Allied forces drops based upon the number and type of actions completed. The Allies lose supply faster, but the Japanese had planned for a 4 to 6 week action and their supply chain is also at risk for this operation. When units are activated or bombardments occur, these actions use up precious supplies. While each unit can perform multiple actions per turn, the Allies will soon find their forces having to make die rolls to achieve any action other than defending their positions. It is this innovative integration of supply into the fabric of the game mechanics that leaves the Allied player with several critical choices early in the game. Should the American and Philippine units actively and aggressively counterattack the invading Japanese and use up valuable supplies, or should they defend and fall back to conserve their food, water, fuel and ammo? This decision could spell victory or defeat. In the “Bataan” game I played, the American player aggressively counterattacked and fought the Japanese forces to a “hollow victory”—which is the best the Americans can hope to achieve in the face of overwhelming Japanese superiority in man and material.
The game uses a series of back-and-forth activation phases, starting with the side that gains the initiative. Units are moved by their formations, so all units of a side can never be moved at one time. When combat occurs, the damaged units can either be destroyed outright, reduced by a given amount, forced to retreat, become disrupted or may not affected at all. Tanks add to the combat by giving a shift on the combat results chart but must be used wisely. Neither side has tanks to spare, and every time a tank force is used a die must be rolled. On a 5 or a 6 that tank unit is effectively destroyed!
Rules are provided for tactical air support, strategic air support, artillery, night combat, amphibious assaults, airborne assaults, and Banzai attacks.
At the time General MacArthur is evacuated from Corregidor Island, American supply drops by a large amount and both sides know that the end is near.
While “Battle of Corregidor” is much more tactical than “Battle of Bataan,” “Corregidor” can be played as either a side battle during the Bataan game or as its own smaller war game using similar but slightly more tactical rules.
Optional rules include MacArthur taking more initiative during the battles and not just sitting on Corregidor planning the fighting; no surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (allowing greater American air control by the use of their B17s and P40 fighters); greater supply reinforcements by the way of the “Pensacola Convoy,” improved Japanese logistical support, etc.
While both games included in Bushido Denied are well thought-out, and both are fun and educational to play, both would have benefited from more editing and play testing. For example, at least four units listed as being set up in specific hexes in Corregidor had no hexes on the Corregidor map that corresponded to their set-up hexes so we had to guess their starting locations. Additionally, some of the rules seem a little strange – for example, towns do not increase the defensive modifier of the defending unit and units that are out of supply but are occupying a port cannot use the port to have ships provide resupply. Strangely, tanks must be targeted after infantry and can’t be destroyed first during a battle.
Additionally, while the set-up rules reference directions such as North, South, East and West, these are not marked on either map. I guess the player is assumed to know which direction is which.
More charts could have been useful in the game. A supply-use chart would have been handy, as all actions cost supply points but no chart is provided. Also, a Victory Point chart should have been included on the Bataan map as it was on the Corregidor map.
While Bushido Denied is a fun and challenging game it could have used some more fine tuning before being released.
Armchair General Rating: 75 %
Solitaire Rating (1 is low, 5 is high): 4
About the Author A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games that came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!