Bolt Action Empires in Flames

After exploring Europe in the beginning and the end, from east to west, covering tank battles, the next supplement for Bolt Action focusses on the pacific and far east, with Empires in Flames.

Bolt Action - Empire in Flames

Empires in Flames is the biggest of the supplements with 124 pages. It covers a lot more than the just the Allied actions of the americans and british troops, and adds the sino-japanese campaigns as well as the first aggressions of the imperial japanese army. Even being a bit thicker, it still is on level with the other books at 19,99 GBP or 29,95 USD (~ 25 Euro).

This book is written by Andy Chambers, who already took care of the soviet book, and wrote the Ostfront supplement for Bolt Action. He was busy in the past, among others for Dust Studio and Blizzard. Direct customers of Warlord Games received a limited miniature along with Empires in Flames, John Baseline, who was a US Marine that fought in Guadalcanal.

What is it about?
In Empires in Flames you find a broad selection of conflicts all over the pacific and far east. Beginning with the conflict between the Japanese and Chinese, it even covers an army list for the later. This is followed by the attacks of the japanese army on to the commonwealth and colonies of the western states. Closed by the reaction of the British in Burma and the american Island hopping. The last chapter, after 4 campaigns, is covering new scenario rules as usual, but this time night fights, amphibious assaults and smaller fortifications.

Bolt Action - Empire in Flames

First Impression
It is an interesting read, as it covers some of the lesser known parts of the second world war and the prelude in the far east. Layout is steady and on a high level like we are used by the Osprey / Warlord Games cooperation. So lots of Artwork, mainly from the talented Peter Dennis, along with a lot of scenic shots of miniatures set up in jungle terrain and dioramas. As in Germany Strikes, this book covers 4 campaign chapters, that are in detail:

  • The second Sino-Japanese War
  • The Red Sun rises
  • Burma and India
  • Island Hopping

They are in chronological order, beginning before the official begin of world war 2 in 1937. The battles cover among others Shanghai, Burma and the Manchurai, including even the soviet army in this conflict, not only the Chinese and Japanese. And of course, there are new units and characters, like horse-drawn limber or Baron Takeishi Nishi, even a whole army list for the chinese army. This first chapter takes up almost a third of the book. In the second Chapter, Red Sun Rises, it is more about the background information, as it is quite short, with two theatre selectors and battles in the philippines. The third chapter, Burma and India, gives you a lot of Chindit action, gathering special and allied commonwealth units. Very colorful with Merrill's Marauders, the Indian National Army, Chindits and Gurkas, and is even expanded in the fourth chapter, and finally gives you the rules for Shotguns included in the US Marine plastic kit, along with some battle-hardened Legends-characters.

Beside that, Empires in Flames gives you an unexpected low level of new scenarios, only 8.

  • Scenario 1 – Marco Polo Bridge (The second Sino-Japanese War)
  • Scenario 2 – Trench Warfare in Shanghai (The second Sino-Japanese War)
  • Scenario 3 – Battle of the Points (The Red Sun Rises)
  • Scenario 4 – Airfield Defence (The Red Sun Rises)
  • Scenario 5 – Ambush on the Burma Raid (Burma and India)
  • Scenario 6 – HQ Raid (Burma and India)
  • Scenario 7 – Alligator Creek (Island Hopping)
  • Scenario 8 – Bloody Tarawa (Island Hopping)

Bolt Action - Empire in Flames

How does Empires in Flames play?
As we are talking hot jungles, impassable islands and other difficult terrain, the action in this book isn't about heavy vehicles. Most are mobile infantry units, with the support of light or scout vehicles. Unfortunately this book lacks the "players note", they introduced in Germany Strikes! and covered hints for the players. Other than that, the book shifts the game from plain open battles, towards a more difficult gaming experience due to the already mentioned impassable terrain.
Never the less, i like that its still Bolt Action, even with these new units and rules. Most of them are "just" new configurations of already known choices and options, along with scenario rules, that apply for specific situations and give you more variety in the long run.

Bolt Action - Empire in Flames 

What's next?
After the Pacific, the next book will be "Duel in the Sun - The African and Italian Campaigns", giving you rules for the Desert Rats, the Long Range Desert Army (LRDG), or the Afrika Korps, amongst others. This book will be released by end of february. There are rumours about a revised, second edition of Bolt Action next year, and all other announcements of other books by Osprey and Warlord Games have been revoked (there were among others a World War One supplement noted). Together with Clockwork Goblin we'll see Konflict 47, a weird war 2 ruleset based upon Bolt Action.

Bolt Action - Empire in Flames

Empires in Flames moves a part of the conflict into the spotlight, that we usually only know from the later years and events. That is one of the reasons, why the background is more present than in the other books, as you need to give more information to the reader, unlike in the western theatre. The book could have got more scenarios, but is not overloaded with new units, as most of the ones you need are already covered in the Commonwealth and United States book, but only more detailled / precised. That is why the Legends of characters feel so present in this book, as it was more about many skirmishs, small operations and raids, so single persons had a bigger impact.

As usual with the Bolt Action books, the depth of background information is compact and easy to read. If you want to know more or get more into detail, I suggest Wikipedia or the matching Osprey books. Beside that, there are a lot of movies, to get into the right mood, like HBOs The Pacific and many more "historical"-ish action movies.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

Posted by Dennis B.

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