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"Japanese tank crew equivalent to SS tankers?" Topic

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Deadone Inactive Member20 Jun 2013 9:04 p.m. PST

So Battlefront are releasing a new book based on Winter War and Khalkhin Gol.

Included in the sets of army lists are Japanese tank forces, which have apparently been given rating of Fearless Veteran.

For those not in the know, Fearless Veteran is the highest possible rating in Flames of War, reserved for elite troops who displayed not only great tactical and combat ability but also good morale.

In FOW, German SS Panzer Crews from elite formations ala 2nd SS Panzer Division circa 1942-44 are generally assigned Fearless Veteran rating.

Heer/Bulge era Americans are generally rated Confident Veteran (still excellent but not as well motivated as fanatical SS).

From what I've read about Japanese tankers
- Used French doctrine (i.e. tank as supporting arm of infantry). (In FOW 1940 French are rated as Trained only)

- Most Japanese tanks in 1939 had one-man turrets and no radios. Both of these factors hinder operations – one in terms of response time, target acquisition etc, the other in terms of communication and coordination.

- Japanese tank usage in Malaya (when tank force was not so neglected as it was 1943-45) didn't seem particularly extraordinary in terms of tactics or crew performance or combined arms.

- Whilst Japanese had considerable experience in figting in China pre-1939, they had not encountered any siginificant quantity of Chinese anti-tank guns or tanks. And at Khalkhin Gol they suffered accordingly.

- Even moreso than Germany, Japan had issues with training tank crews because many Japanese had no experience with motor vehicles at all! Part of the tank training syllabus was to train them to drive a car.

So can anyone point out any research that shows Japanese tankers were comparable to SS/Heer/Western Allied circa late 1944 tankers in terms of quality, tactics, combat performance etc?

Also Soviets will be apparently rated Confident Conscript which is one of the worst ratings. Applicable for Winter War but Khalkhin Gol?

Also for those that don't like ahistorical, in this book you can apparently use T-35s at both Khalkhin Gol and in the Winter War. :p

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2013 9:13 p.m. PST

Why worry about historical accuracy? Everyone knows by now that FOW has as much to do with WWII as 40K has to do with real syfy.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2013 9:21 p.m. PST

"Fearless Veteran" will be horribly expensive, meaning they will be outnumbered by Russian tanks.
With the horrible armor available at this point, and generally decent guns, I would withhold judgement until I have a few games under my belt.

Let's not forget that "Veteran" doesn't make them shoot better, just harder to hit.

Let's see the sizes of the platoons also.

Deadone Inactive Member20 Jun 2013 9:31 p.m. PST

Game implications aside, is there any historical evidence of Japanese tankers demonstrating same or better capability than Western tankers?

Finding info on Japanese armour is difficult and often Western perspective only.

kyoteblue Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2013 9:36 p.m. PST

Keep telling your self it's only a game… sell more models…at 15+ dollars per tank……
See what I did there….

kyoteblue Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2013 9:38 p.m. PST

Oh and I already have a painted and based Japanese army with tanks already….missed me again BF…

McWong7320 Jun 2013 9:46 p.m. PST

There is no evidence at all Thomas. I left playtesting FOW when this book was being prepared (this has been in the works for a very long time), and while I knew they were being included I didn't think they'd be rated like this. FV Jap armour…sounds like complete rubbish.

Zhukov is rolling in his grave! ;)

And BTW, I'm no hater of FoW, in fact the opposite!

Deadone Inactive Member20 Jun 2013 9:53 p.m. PST

FV is rating according to Wargames Illustrated. It could be wrong though.

Trained seems appropriate form what I've read. But I'm not very well read on things Japanese so was wondering if anyone had the info.

Skarper20 Jun 2013 10:05 p.m. PST

Surely it's a relative thing. Japanese aren't going to be fighting 2nd SS Pz Div – or one would hope not!

So it's a case of how much better than Soviet tankers does it make them? If the Soviets are Confident Conscript perhaps it's a bit much of a jump but maybe justifiable.

The Veteran rating perhaps is meant to model the poor shooting and observation from Soviet tanks.

If you think it's not right play them as Fearless Trained. That means you can't join in tournaments or will have to 'practice' with the different ratings before hand. Frankly I doubt this era will prove popular and figure much in tournaments. It would seem silly to have armies from the Asian theatre fighting armiies from the ETO anyway…but I guess it's FOW so anything goes.

FOW has some good ideas but it isn't historical wargaming. It's a game based on history. I think every single commercial game is just that. Some do it a little better than FOW – many a lot worse.

Personally I think it's high time players cut the cord and struck out on their own. Adapting and amending FOW to suit their tastes. To some extent this is already happening but it would be good to see more of it.

Deadone Inactive Member20 Jun 2013 10:25 p.m. PST

Surely it's a relative thing. Japanese aren't going to be fighting 2nd SS Pz Div – or one would hope not!

Not 2 SS Pz for 1940 but probably will be facing Western European forces in a tournament.

Actually by EW standards, Japanese tankers have best rating of all forces in FOW EW.

The question arises are they too good even for Khalkin Gol?

See below!

o it's a case of how much better than Soviet tankers does it make them? If the Soviets are Confident Conscript perhaps it's a bit much of a jump but maybe justifiable.

Without modifiers for range, cover etc:

Russian tanker: Gets hit on a 2+
Japanese tanker: Gets hit on a 4+ (5+ if Russian moves)

Japanese tanks should have +1 to hit for One Man Turret but this has so far not been mentioned)

Skill check (e.g. Cross Terrain):

Russian tanker: Passes on a 5+
Japanese tanker: Passes on a 3+


Russian tanker: Passes on a 4+
Japanese tanker: Passes on a 3+

Skarper20 Jun 2013 10:48 p.m. PST


FOW is totally broken and should be scrapped!

I think most rules somehow are stretched to breaking point when they expand beyond their original parameters – so no surprises it has happened to FOW too.

Perhaps after some feedback from players they will publish amendments are tame the tiny tank terror troopers…but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Also as said above maybe it works OK overall – with other factors considered. Perhaps it is even a device to make Japanese tanks expensive to avoid them forming 'swarms'? The Soviets should outnumber the Japanese – shouldn't they?

I think FOW is simplistic but it is not stupid. They have put a lot of work into making it simple and keeping some subtlety. Personally I think it is easier in the long run to be complicated but I am not trying to market to a mass audience (or any audience actually) so I favour long, detailed complex rules over simple 'playable' sets.

From this and other posts of the OPs I wonder if it isn't time he found a set of rules he does like. FOW doesn't seem to be doing it for him anymore.

FOW is not the only game out there. It just seems like it sometimes.

I feel the OP's pain – he has invested time and money collecting FOW forces, bought rulebooks, learned rules and is now dissatisfied. Meanwhile all the local players are content to plough on with FOW.

I say take the lead. Buy some alternatives – try them out solo and pick the best one to showcase to a group of local FOWists.

If they won't even give it a fair try they are pretty useless gamers IMO.

I'm not saying this applies to the OP but FOW spoonfeeds it's players with everything needed to play, and thereby stifles inititiave. [perhaps this is part of their business plan?]

Many older gamers – especially the pre-internet generations – are used to having to sweat buckets just to get hold of a few figures!

Deadone Inactive Member20 Jun 2013 11:00 p.m. PST

Dude, your putting words in my mouth.

Topic is Japanese Tankers.

Would be happy to read some more accounts, especially in situations where they performed well against peer level forces.

Curious to see rationale from BF and whether there's a historical basis.

Rudi the german Inactive Member20 Jun 2013 11:17 p.m. PST

The game designer should provide a source and explain the rating…

Greetings and have fun

McWong7320 Jun 2013 11:39 p.m. PST

They inevitably will, and to be fair they can stretch the history but I can't recall any instance where they outright broke it.

It may be related to balance though, be interesting to see what the Soviets get to field in opposition. I don't think the Japs would have anything on treads that could match an early T34 or KV tank. It could be this was the only way to avoid a walk over.

Deadone Inactive Member20 Jun 2013 11:50 p.m. PST

No T-34s or KVs in 1939. Both made their combat debut in 1941 in Barbarrossa.

Though in that case, it's not just the Japanese that are in trouble – it's any of the 1939-40 forces (French, British, Poles or even 1941 Commonwealth forces).

McWong7320 Jun 2013 11:53 p.m. PST

Duly noted buddy.

Skarper21 Jun 2013 1:47 a.m. PST

Apologies to the OP for 'putting words in his mouth'. I was extrapolating from another thread and shouldn't have.

I think the FV rating needs justification and we will probably get some at some point. I'm not sure it's based on any historical facts but rather on a game balance thing. We will have to wait and see.

From my point of view allowing ahistorical matchups in a tournament is going to stretch the rules beyond breaking point. But some people enjoy open tournaments and don't mind these issues.

Lewisgunner21 Jun 2013 2:18 a.m. PST

It's hard to know how good Japanese tanks are because they are just overrun at khakin Ghol and face money tank opposition in Malaya or Sumatra. FV makes them very expensive and if my experience with Germans against Russians is anything to go by then they will drown in shots from ten tank Russkie platoons.. Nowhere have I seen that their technical competence justifies Veteran status. Germans in real life did clever stuff like hiding in depressions and racing round Soviet tanks whose rate of turret turn they knew to be less than theirs, then halting and getting two shots into the side armour before the Russian turret could bear… And if it did, then reversing rapidly to get beyond its angle. I read the book on Marine tank battles in the pacific a long while ago, but remember that Jap tanks really just came straight at the Yanks.
So anything better than confident trained would really be too much.

Personal logo Martin Rapier Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 3:18 a.m. PST

If you don't think the ratings justified then just use different ones.

Everything I've read about Japanese armour is that their doctrine was antiquated, their training poor and their equipment appalling, even if the crews were brave to the point of lunacy.

Fearless conscripts perhaps?

The Red Army tore them apart in 1939 and did so again 1945.

Tgunner Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 4:45 a.m. PST

Fearless Trained IMO.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 5:29 a.m. PST

Not being a FOW gamer I am unsure of the rating – but as I recall, having read a lot about Khalkhin Gol in my misspent youth, calling a Japanese tanker fearless is accurate – but this is in the context of fearlessly charging straight ahead in an outdated tank with almost no support at all – so perhaps as noted Fearless Trained (if I understand the ratings) is most appropriate

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 7:34 a.m. PST

Since your Troop Quality reflects how hard you are to hit in Flames, I suspect that the FV rating is to represent how lousy Soviet shooting was, NOT that the Japanese were geniuses at exploiting terrain to hide in.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 8:06 a.m. PST

My guess is that the geniuses at BF are perfectly aware that this reaction would happen.
It is also likely that they had long drawn out arguments about how to rate the Japanese, and this is an uneasy compromise.
Let's see how this works in the context of the Russian lists.

If the results suck, I will at least have a pretty book with extensive lists and otherwise "accurate" stats.
I have a Bag O'Japs looking for an excuse tp paint them. Please, do not tell me that Command Decision Japanese "will not work", because I will ignore you.

John Thomas8 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 11:05 a.m. PST

Game implications aside, is there any historical evidence of Japanese tankers demonstrating same or better capability than Western tankers?

No, there is not. The tanks themselves were junk, both armour and gun-wise, prone to break down during short road marches, and the crews were at best average. The tactics ran from making them pillboxes (many places) to insanely stupid charges (Peleliu) and against anything other than Allied light tanks, they just couldn't compete.

Lewisgunner21 Jun 2013 12:42 p.m. PST

Why won't Command Decision Japanese work? I run a combination of them and QRF and they fit together just fine.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 5:03 p.m. PST

I am not saying they won't. What I am saying is that IF they don't, I don't want to hear about it! grin

Since Japanese are HIGHLY unlikely to be used in any tournaments, just change the ratings to whatever you want, and go with the stats for armor, organization and weapons.

spontoon21 Jun 2013 7:55 p.m. PST

To fight just about any other country's tanks in Japanese armour they'd have to be "fearless veteran", perhaps also "raving looney"! Italians tanks would be a serious threat to Japanese!

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 8:46 p.m. PST

I agree with spontoon. If you watch that battle scene in the movie 'My Way,' in which the outclassed Japs kamikaze rammed superior Russian armor with nothing but trucks with fuel drums attached to the front, you'll understand why they're considered 'Fearless.'

John Thomas8 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 11:07 p.m. PST

Uh, I'm going to go with "I'll take my history from some place other than a movie", please.

Fearless doesn't make them effective. The tankers that charged across the airfield on Peleliu were probably fearless, but they were also idiotic and completely ineffective. The Marines registered 177.5 claimed kills on 17 Japanese tanks.

jameshammyhamilton Inactive Member22 Jun 2013 9:51 a.m. PST

Fearless I can live with but Veteran….. it does strike me as rather odd.

11th ACR22 Jun 2013 11:15 a.m. PST



And do not forget.
PDF link

tberry7403 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2013 8:32 a.m. PST

In my vast store of useless crap I found a copy of an old (2006) Japanese Unofficial Intelligence Briefing for FoW by Michael Miller and Brian Cantwell.

Basically they have ALL Japanese as Fearless Trained. The exceptions are:

- Divisional Artillery Company: Fearless Veteran

- Parachute Rifle Company: Fearless Veteran

- Conscript Rifle Battalion: Fearless Conscript

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2013 3:08 p.m. PST

Well, Flames stats ALL paratroopers as FV, so I'm not sure that's a valid data point.

Veteran artillery observers are more likely to get arty on target.

Again, I think it's an attempt to model how craptastic the Soviet shooting was, not to reflect how good the Japanese were at exploiting terrain.

Deadone Inactive Member23 Jun 2013 4:21 p.m. PST

Guess we'll find out when designer notes are published or indeed the book itself is published and we'll see the rating.

(Stolen Name) Inactive Member23 Jun 2013 4:37 p.m. PST

Veteran artillery observers are more likely to get arty on target.

Not in FOW they are not
Once you have ranged in Vet gunners will be more likely to hit

Oh and TH Jap tankers are BETTER than SS as in EW SS are FT hahahahahahahahaha

Now where did I put that can of petrol?

Deadone Inactive Member23 Jun 2013 5:01 p.m. PST

So they're the best tankers in FOW EW?!?

Ruben Megido23 Jun 2013 5:04 p.m. PST

The explanation is much simpler than that.

Using realistic japanese tank forces would mean that they should be quite crappy, quite innefective and would suffer horrible losses due their poor armour and small caliber guns. That´s "boring" to play. Who wants their tanks destroyed on the first turn?

Why then any tournament-FOW player would like to collect a japanese fank force instead? That would mean low sales. Inaceptable. They have to "balance" somehow the japanese tankers. Expect some bizarre special rules to give them some advantage. Exploding kamikaze tanks or something like that :p

VonBurge24 Jun 2013 5:59 a.m. PST

If it's just a balance issue, then why not simply make those "quite crappy, quite ineffective" Japanese Tanks cheaper in points? Works well enough for other forces in FoW. If the sinister secret BF plan here is to make you buy more tank models, then creating a force structure where you buy less but better tanks seems rather counter to that goal.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2013 9:29 a.m. PST

If it's just a balance issue, then why not simply make those "quite crappy, quite ineffective" Japanese Tanks cheaper in points? Works well enough for other forces in FoW. If the sinister secret BF plan here is to make you buy more tank models, then creating a force structure where you buy less but better tanks seems rather counter to that goal.

Brit Armoured Reg't. Historically accurate lists from the TO&E, but never apparently fought as the TO&E. Probably the best force in the entire EW…

Lewisgunner24 Jun 2013 11:35 a.m. PST

The 1940 Brit armour is presumably 1st armoured in France. I doubt they ever managed to put a force in the field that trembled the list because mostly they broke down or were not ready for combat.. Did they ever manage more than a couple of squadrons in action together?

In fact, for early Brit armoured one would have to strike a balance between the number that had broken down off table and the compositing of the remainder into AD hoc squadrons.

VonBurge24 Jun 2013 12:02 p.m. PST

Maybe the EW Brits should have had something like that "Sabotage" rule rather than or in addition to the EW Soviets?

ubercommando24 Jun 2013 2:41 p.m. PST

I haven't read a FoW forum topic for weeks and I come along and STILL the ardent critics are flooding the message boards! I just don't get it but I've said it enough in the past.

So, on topic: Japanese tanker ratings. Fearless Veteran. Which is what you'd expect when wargaming the Japanese. I mean, if the game presented them as anything other than Fearless and Veteran or Trained you'd think something was wrong. I know how the Japanese are rated in Squad Leader and it's pretty much the same. So what's the problem?

Let's face it, how many of you rolling your eyes at Rising Sun are going to buy it, and a whole bunch of Japanese tanks as well? And if you don't like the ratings, why don't you modify them for your games to something you think is more suitable?

Same old FoW moans, I'm afraid.

Deadone Inactive Member24 Jun 2013 4:21 p.m. PST

mean, if the game presented them as anything other than Fearless and Veteran or Trained you'd think something was wrong.

I don't think anyone who has a passing interest in WWII armour history would "think something wrong" if Japanese tank crews weren't represented as elite Veterans.

In fact representing one of the poorer performing tank forces of the war (and not just due to equipment but doctrine and actual performance of crews) as Veteran is what will get anyone's goat unless they have no interest or knowledge of history.

And representing them as the best tank crews of 1939-41 period is just ridiculous.

Fearless Trained would be a sufficient rating – in fact this is what I would've expected.

For later on in the war, even Fearless Conscript due to extremely poor handling.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2013 5:20 p.m. PST

Let's face it, how many of you rolling your eyes at Rising Sun are going to buy it, and a whole bunch of Japanese tanks as well? And if you don't like the ratings, why don't you modify them for your games to something you think is more suitable?

Me, for one. grin
But, I really want it for a clue to the Barbarossa organizations, and the Japanese are a bonus. For them, I want Guadalcanal.

Deadone Inactive Member24 Jun 2013 6:24 p.m. PST

I guess them Japanese boys at Alligator Creek will probably also be Fearless Veteran, immune to pinning, immune to morale, Hit on combat on 2+, Fire at full ROF with rifles on move and have special "divine wind" 2+ save.

As for Russians, that's interesting. Soviets used 17 strong light tank companies which BF in early EW PDFs did not allow (limited to 10) but has since allowed albeit with inclusion of "Sabotage" rule.

The heavies are interesting – in past PDF KV-1/-2/T-34 could run out of ammo and KV-1/-2 had to come in from reserve regardless of scenario.

All these rule were obviously designed for balanced play.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2013 6:39 p.m. PST

@Lewisgunner: That was kinda my point. But since FoW doesn't have a real way to model how many tanks broke down on the way to the battle, you get the top tournament players in Flames saying "BAR is too powerful as written!"

Deadone Inactive Member24 Jun 2013 6:47 p.m. PST

You model how many tanks broke down by buying less tanks per company/platoon. This also takes into account combat losses.

Remember German tanks also had large breakdown rates (especially Big Cats) but the game doesn't penalise them for this.

The game designer makes certain assumptions about the how they want the game to play and that may not be in line with how things operated historically and that in turn creates ahistorical issues of units performing above or below historical average.

BAR in France is a good example of that. They assumed full regiments fought together, and then introduced some dinky rules and the result was apparently borked in terms of not only historical accuracy in terms of performance but game balance as a whole.

It's all down to design paradigm and the assumptions that underpin them.

Skarper24 Jun 2013 11:31 p.m. PST

I agree with ubercommando. It is what many would expect but it plays to the stereotype.

There is no evidence to support this characterisation of Japanese as ALL being heroic supermen.

I'm guessing it's a marketing/play balance decision. If I were interested in playing these battles with FOW I'd just change the ratings.

But personally I think it's a backwater that will not get much interest. Time will tell I guess.

FOW is what it is. Some like it that way.

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member25 Jun 2013 3:22 a.m. PST


tberry7403 Supporting Member of TMP25 Jun 2013 9:47 a.m. PST

Finally, the voice of sanity! grin

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