Japanese Board War Games

Japanese Board War Games

Exploring Japanese Board War Games: A Fusion of Strategy and Tradition


Japan, renowned for its rich cultural heritage and innovative creations, has a vibrant board gaming scene that extends beyond its traditional offerings. While the country is famous for ancient games like shogi and go, it has also embraced modern board gaming, including captivating war games. These Japanese board war games, with their complex strategies and unique themes, provide players with immersive experiences that test their tactical prowess. In this article, we delve into the world of Japanese board war games, examining their origins, gameplay mechanics, and notable titles.

Origins and Influence

The roots of Japanese board war games can be traced back to the post-World War II period when the country underwent a cultural transformation. Influenced by Western board games, Japanese designers began crafting their own titles that combined elements of traditional gaming with innovative mechanics. This led to the birth of a distinctive genre of war games, which quickly gained popularity among enthusiasts seeking intellectually stimulating challenges.

Gameplay Mechanics

Japanese board war games encompass a wide range of themes, from historical battles to futuristic conflicts. While each game offers a unique experience, there are common gameplay mechanics that typify this genre. Generally, players assume the roles of military commanders or strategists, making decisions that impact their armies’ movements, resource management, and combat engagements.

These games often employ a hexagonal grid system, allowing for precise movement and positioning of units. Command and control mechanics play a crucial role, with players facing the challenge of coordinating their forces effectively. Furthermore, Japanese war games frequently emphasize hidden information, simulating the fog of war and requiring players to carefully deduce their opponents’ intentions.

Notable Japanese Board War Games

  1. Axis & Allies: Designed by Larry Harris Jr. and first published in 1981, Axis & Allies is a globally acclaimed war game set during World War II. While not exclusively Japanese, it exemplifies the influence of Japanese game design on the genre. The game allows players to control the major powers of the war, employing strategic planning and diplomacy to secure victory.
  2. Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel: Created by Uwe Eickert and translated into Japanese by Mabuchi Satoru, Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel is a tactical war game that immerses players in the intense battles of World War II’s Eastern Front. With its innovative firefight system and detailed unit management, this game offers an engaging and authentic experience.
  3. Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan: Designed by Matt Calkins, Sekigahara is a highly regarded war game that captures the dramatic conflict during Japan’s Sengoku period. With its elegant card-driven mechanics and historical accuracy, players must navigate the delicate balance of power to secure victory on the battlefield.
  4. Battle Line: Created by Reiner Knizia, Battle Line is a two-player war game that focuses on tactical maneuvering and bluffing. Known as “Schotten-Totten” in its original version, the Japanese edition incorporates the nation’s distinctive artistic style while maintaining the game’s strategic depth.


Japanese board war games offer a captivating blend of strategy, history, and innovation. From World War II simulations to ancient conflicts, these games provide players with immersive experiences that demand careful planning and critical thinking. Drawing on traditional gaming principles while incorporating modern mechanics, Japanese war games stand as a testament to the nation’s ability to combine tradition with innovation. Whether you’re a seasoned war gamer or a novice seeking an intellectually stimulating challenge, exploring the world of Japanese board war games is sure to offer countless hours of strategic enjoyment.

On the COIN series of games by GMT

DBA Solo

DBA Solo

Here are some solo set up variations for DBA from Lone Warrior.

More Solo rules for DBA on Fanaticus.

De Bellis Solitarus is a set of rules designed to all you to play DBA solo with a competent opponent.

Wargames Research Group

Alexander’s Solo Campaign for DBA

A Good AI?

A Good AI?

AI knows how to: 
– Use terrain (will vacate poor terrain; will defend on terrain with bonuses; will avoid attacking good ground and instead look to bypass). 
– Feints or masses in one location while planning the real attack elsewhere. 
– Knows how to withdraw to pull an enemy forward streching supply lines and then counter attacks looking to encircle/cutoff an army. 
– Use seasons; will attack in the Spring and use the Winter to consolidate and secure its gains. 
– Will set up a layered defense such that the enemy is gradually attrited as it advances. 
– Will use blocking and delaying forces to slow an attack so that the main defensive line can prepare its positions. 
– Will maintain a reserve for various uses like a counter attack when the enemy is spent. 
– Will use pickets to gather intelligence about the enemy. 
– Will use screen forces to deny the enemy intelligence about actions and movements deep in the rear. 
– Will give priority to the transportation network such it will attempt to seize key junctions denying the enemy ability to move troop and reinforce a battle. 
– Will peform a hasty attack if it perceives that the enemy is disorganized; will perform a careful cohesive attack against a prepared defense. 
– Will use terrain as part of a defensive plan like set up a defense on the far side of a major river; give priority to holding bridges. 
– Will use exploit a break in the lines with fast forces such as cavarly to cause havoc in the rear. 
– Will give priority to political objectives that might break the will to fight. 
– Will attempt to flank a line a roll it up. 
– Will draw the enemy into kill areas made up of difficult terrain, prepared defenses, and artillery barrages. 
– Will trade terrain for time if the future offers recruitment/trained troop/foreign reserves. 
– Will preserve its forces and avoid attrition situations if manpower levels are low. 
– Will force high attrition combat if the enemy has less manpower. 

Well, the above are just some examples. The point is that the items above are what you would expect of a human commander. 

-Markshot, at the Ageod Forum

AI for Solo War games

AI for Solo War games

I have often espoused the opinion to much scoffing, that all table top war-games be they with figures or board war games, should include a solitaire system with good AI.   Most in the industry or simply people like me who love to play games usually disagreed.

Thankfully, these days, there are game designers, who share my feeling – Dan Versen and others feel the same way and back that up by including solo rules and challenging solo opponents.


I have often thought: Would it be possible to make a solo AI for board war gamers, that was not only generic enough that it could be used with most games, but would be challenging too.

Do any of you know of such a system?

I would love to hear from you in the comments section  below.  Is there some kind of computer software that we could use?


Years and years ago, I used to convert many of my board war games to the computer using the scenario editor of various computer war games I had.  Tanks was one of them,and Empire Deluxe was another.  The AI of the latter was not very good, so unless you played the vastly weaker side, it made for a boring game.

I would love to hear your comments below!

Visiting Japan? Check out the guests houses that are loaded with games!

To How to teach English in Japan (New)

To Kevin`s Guest Houses

To I am Hakone

To Kevin`s English Schools