Bolt Action Campaign New Guinea

After Empire in Flames, Bolt Action revisites the far east with the supplement Campaign New Guinea.

Bolt Action - Campaign New Guinea Bolt Action - Campaign New Guinea

With 132 pages, Campaign New Guinea set a short new high score for page load, trumping Battle of the Bulge and Duel in the Sun (both 124 pages), only second to the recently released The Road to Berlin (148 pages). This campaign supplement covers the part of the pacific wars on the planets second largest island, between the Japanese Empire and the Allied Forces (Australian and US American). The price tag on this book reads 19,99 GBP or 30 USD, which translates roughly into 25 EUR. I want to start this review with the comparison of the final cover (left) and the early cover (right), presented by Osprey in one of their product catalogues. Nothing unusual, we already saw different covers circulating early among others for Duel in the Sun as well.

Warlord Games is bringing Mark Barber back into business, after his first work for Bolt Action and the first supplement for the second edition - Battle of the Bulge. As with his other book, Barber works closely with the community and thanked them for their work. Before the release of Campaign New Guinea there was an extensive pdf supplement available for the Australian Forces, written by Bryan Cook and Patch Adams, which was the foundation for the included Australian Army list in this book. And of course, as this is a proper Bolt Action supplement, it gets his own special miniature. In this case it is an australian Soldier, named Corporal Lesley Charles "Bull" Allen, in the iconic pose that shows him at Mt. Tambu.

Bolt Action - Campaign New Guinea

What is it about?
In 1942 the Japanese Empire invaded the Australian Territories and Netherlands New Guinea. To put this into perspective, New Guinea is the second largest island in the world (after Greenland) and just north of Australia. The Japanese held the north of the island for almost three years until the end of the war in 1945. The battles were fought along the northern and eastern parts of the island, and for the Australians it was a very fierce and important battle to fight, as losing these territories, would mean having the enemy right at your door step. Why was the invasion by the Japanese such a big threat? Back in september 1939 the Australians declared war on Germany and supported allies as Part of the British Commonwealth on several theatres of war, like Northern Africa, keeping only a reserve on the mainland and the colonnial territories. Therefore the aggressive actions by the Japanese Empire was a greater danger as it would be, if the Australian Forces could concentrate on them, without already being involved in fights on the other side of the globe. Therefore Campaign New Guinea covers the 3 years of conflict in 12 scenarios (without the claim to be complete, as that would not be doable in a single book) on ~70 pages, and an extensive army list, including several theatre selectors for the Australians (among them even the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in the Mediterranean & North Africa 1941–42) on roughly 20 pages, leaving the remaining 40 pages on new units for US Americans, Japanese and Netherlands, along with rules for the specific conditions of the fights all over the tropical island.

First Impression
I don't think that I need to loose that many words on the quality of these books. Osprey and Warlord use their skills, the broad fundus of art work and miniatures, to publish a very well layouted supplement for Bolt Action. New Guina uses the chance to give the Australian army a proper stage and raises it from the "official" PDF supplement, to an official publication, along with a campaign and more depth. You could play them before, as part of the commonwealth, but to be honest, that did not honour the bravery of these men, that fought so far away from home. But the Australians did not only fought in the Pacific, but in North Africa and the Mediterranian. Warlord doesn't offer miniatures for them, but the Desert Rats plastic kit with the according WW5 Australian Slouch hats will take care of that.

But this is not all about the Australians. The Japanese and Dutch receive new units and theatre selectors, the army list for the Netherlands can be found in Armies of France and the Allies. For the Americans there is a new theatre selector for the Ghost Mountain Boys. And of course, New Guinea adds a few new Legends to Bolt Action, among them Sgt. Major Katue, Lt. Col. Hatsuo Tsukamoto, Cpt. Geoffrey Vernon, Col. George Warfe, Second Lieutenant Tetsuo Ogawa and the special miniature Corp Leslie Bull Allen.

And a new unit for every army, the chaplain. A non combatant buff for nearby units, that helps them remove pin markers.

Bolt Action - Campaign New Guinea

Campaign New Guinea covers 12 scenarios each in their own small chapter, as the conflict covers three years of fighting on different locations, thousands of miles apart. These are mostly jungle missions, where emplacements, camps or trails would be attacked or defended, with some coastal landing missions among them.

  • Prelude – Scenario 1 – Operation RI
  • Target New Guinea – Scenario 2: The Salamaua Raid
  • The Kokoda Track – Scenario 3: The First Battle of Kokoda
  • The fighting escalates – Scenario 4: Creek Ambush
  • Milne Bay – Scenario 5: The Battle of Milne Bay
  • Fighting back to the beaches – Scenario 6: The Battle of Buna–Gona
  • Pressing the advantage – Scenario 7: Bobdubi Ridge
  • Salamaua – Scenario 8: Mount Tambu
  • Maintaining the offensive – Scenario 9: Scarlet Beach
  • Unhealthy for the Japanese’ Operation Cartwheel – Scenario 10: Los Negros
  • The last strategic point – Scenario 11: The Aitape counter attack
  • Bougainville – Scenario 12: Slater’s Knoll the aftermath

And it covers an appendix with several special rules for the missions in the pacific, with tropical hazards like mud or monsoon, rules for night fighting, digging in, amphibious assaults and raids.

How does New Guinea plays?

As the terrain did not allow to deploy many (heavy) vehicles, the composition of the armies is very heavy on infantry with - if you use them - only a few light vehicles on both sides (with the Japanese not having that kind of gear, and the Australians not being able to field the heavier gear of the commonwealth in the jungle and mud). Still the book covers an Australian tank platoon made from Matildas.

New Guinea and the scenarios in it invite you to go heavy on the terrain. Many of the special rules reduce movement and / or sight (weather conditions, night fighting), changing the dynamic of the game. This invites the player to use smaller, but denser tables, with smaller armies representing scouts or raiding parties.

It shares many similarities with Empire in Flames, as that book covers the fights between the Americans and Japanese, along with the prelude and conflicts of the early war. New Guinea is more focused on the country and has 12 instead of 8 scenarios, with the benefit that these do not need to cover from the Sino-Japanese to the down fall of the Japanese Empire by the US Marines and other Allied forces.

Bolt Action - Campaign New Guinea

What's next?
With New Guinea being covered in this review, two further cooks are already in the review schedule to be presented in the next weeks. The Road to Berlin was the next after New Guinea and covered the forces of East Europe rising against the German invaders / occupants, covering the late years of the Great Patriotic War and the uprising of the Polish and Czechoslovakian. In february Campaign Market Garden was released, covering on the extensive airborne action along the dutch-german border. Due to the early listing by Osprey, we know about the next three books for Bolt Action, with current release dates (not confirmed) coming in August Campaign Burma (British / Commonwealth in the Pacific, I expect a lot of Chindits and Gurkhas), the Western Desert in September, narrowing down the Duel in the Sun content from the mediterranean in general to Africa, and the Battle of France coming in November.

Bolt Action - Campaign Market Garden Bolt Action - Campaign Battle of France Bolt Action - Campaign The Western Desert

Unsurprisingly, it is a well done and produced book. A high quality, with an appealing layout and a "wholesome meal" of input for playing Bolt Action in the Pacific. At a price of 20 GBP it might be slightly out of the range of just to be added to your collection for the sake of it. If you're not playing Australians, the added value of this book may be rather low for you and your fellow players, as the special rules for the scenarios are already available in similar ways be the other supplements from the first and second edition (Nightfighting is even part of the rule book).

If you already own Empire in Flames and want more focus on the jungle warfare and scenarios to use with your armies, then New Guinea might be an interesting addition. If you do not own either and you have just a general interest in the war in the Pacific, Empire in Flames might suit your interest better (unless you are focused on the Australians). It is going to be interesting to see, how the upcoming Campaign Burma will differ from these two books.

Don't get me wrong, this is not an unteresting book. Over the last few years we can see, how the supplements gradually change from broader campaigns into more specific, narrowed down time frames and theatres of war. That is normal, or better said necessary, if you do not want to re-print all of the old books with very similar content and minor changes, bringing the risk of displeasing the players. Still, as Bolt Action is a historical wargame, there is only so much to tell about the second World War, until you've covered everything.

And if you just want to take a look at the Australian Army list, Warlord still offers that one free of charge as a PDF download.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

Posted by Dennis B.

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