Island Assault! Starter Set – Japan

Box Contents

The Japanese half of the Island Assault! Starter Set is an all plastic force containing:

  • x4 IJA sprues (24 Infantry) – Plastic
  • Chi-Ha Medium Tank – Plastic

The Indirect Support List

Standard Reinforced Platoon
2nd Lt (SMG) – Veteran – 65
Buddy (SMG) – 13
IJA Veteran Squad – 9 men – 117pts
IJA Veteran Grenadier Squad – 6 men – 78pts
x2 Light Mortar – 50
IJA Veteran Grenadier Squad – 6 men – 78pts
x2 Light Mortar – 50
Suicide Anti-Tank Team – Veteran26pts
Chi-Ha Medium Tank – Veteran162pts
Total6 Order Dice642pts


  • Rifle – 16
  • SMG – 3
  • Light Mortar – 4
  • Light Howitzer – (1)
  • MMG – (2)

(x) denotes a vehicle-mounted weapons.

Notes and Analysis

The objective of this list is two part – 1) use as many of the components from the Starter Set as possible and 2) make a List that is an ‘even’ match to the US side. Please keep in mind, this List was written using only the content of the Starter Set.

Unlike Starter Armies, Starter Sets are built to provide two forces to be used against one another. Because I wanted to create two even forces that used as much of the Starter Set as possible, the point total of the list is completely arbitrary. Thus, this list (like the US one) uses all 24 bodes, the vehicle and all six Order Dice. With all the preamble out of the way, we are looking at a 6 Order Die, 642pt. Vet. IJA list. Let’s break it down.

This is an interesting list, one that I did not expect to turn out like it did. I wanted to use as much of the unique features offered to the IJA as possible and that’s how I arrived at the four Light Mortars. The IJA have access to Light Mortars embedded in their Infantry squads, something you rarely see. These two Grenadier units are not only strong fighters in an assault (Veteran Fanatics), but also can fire two 1″ HE templates a turn with split fire! That’s right. Each of those squads can fire at three separate targets a turn. One for each Light Mortar and one for the remaining two rifles. Now, of course you do not have to split the fire but if you are faced with a large number of enemy units you can toss Pins out left and right. To support these two six-man Grenadier squads you also have a strong nine-man Vet. squad. That unit can act as a screen for your Grenadier mortars or serve as a reserve unit to fill in a gap if a Grenadier goes down.

For AT, it’s thin. The Suicide AT Team is another unique IJA option and one that is both incredibly risky and effective. If you can get into contact with an enemy vehicle, you are all but guaranteed to blow that thing sky high. But it’s a big if on making contact. You need to play cagey and hide this lone solider whenever possible. The ability to deploy as a Spotter/Sniper is a major boon but it’s still just one man. A single round of small arms might be all it takes to eliminate him. Of course, if your opponent is spending a round of shooting to take down the AT Team, that is less fire put on your Grenadiers.

Unlike the USMC, this IJA force includes a tank! And it’s one of the better ones available to the IJA. the Chi-Ha is not to be overlooked. A turret mounted Light Howitzer is a 2″ HE template that can deal some serious damage firing over open sights. Two additional MMGs offer even more support. Of course, one of those MMG is rear facing so you may not always have a target, but all that plus Armor 8 for just 162pts? That’s not bad at all. Just be sure to keep an eye out for an USMC Bazooka Teams!

All things considered, you’ve got yourself a unique and powerful IJA force here. It uses all six Order Dice and comes in at just under 650pts. There are, of course, other ways to build this army but we are a bit limited by what’s included in the box. Plus, I think this is one of the most unique takes on a Starter Army we’ve seen.

In closing, how does Island Assault! compare to Band of Brothers? I think it’s a massive improvement. The two forces included in Band of Brothers are not event and do not give you enough options to build compelling forces. The contents of Island Assault allow you to build two forces that look and feel like true Bolt Action armies. I am impressed with this set and highly recommended it to any new Bolt Action players.

What’s Next?

If you want to expand your USMC from the Starter Set, maybe push up to a 1,000pts List, I would recommend a few additional items:

  • Get more infantry – The 24 IJA you get are a great start but you simply need more bodies. The IJA can employ massed ‘human wave’ tactics better than just about any other nation but you need more men. A lot more. Well, one more box of IJA plastic infantry (or the SNLF box) will get you what you need. From there you can bulk up the existing squads and add even more units.
  • Bigger HE Support – Maybe it’s because there are already four Light Mortars and a Light Howitzer in the list and I want more but adding some fix artillery support would be a big help. Even if it’s just a Light Howitzer (Medium would be great too), that would free up some serious points to spend on more Infantry if you drop some of the Light Mortars (switch it to just one per squad, for example).
  • Add a Truck – The half-track is fun, it’s thematic, it’s cool but it’s not effective. If you want to move troops quickly to where they need to be, use a truck. Slap a MMG on the truck and put the petal to the metal!
  • Get Campaign New Guinea – Of all the Armies of…books, Armies of Imperial Japan is the thinnest. The whole book is only 56 pages. Armies of the Soviet Union is 88 and Armies of Germany is 106! All of this is to say, you need more options for your growing IJA collection. My recommendation is to get a copy of Campaign: New Guinea. Not only is it one of the best Campaign books Warlord ever published, it’s a wealth of information, units, Theater Selectors and rules for anyone playing Japan. You are limiting yourself by not exploring what Campaign: New Guinea has to offer. Plus, it may inspire you to start some Australians as well…


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