April 18, 2024

#UnboxingDay ~ Banzai Magazine Vol. 18 charges in from overseas

RockyMountainNavy, 17 August 2023

My contribution to #UnboxingDay this month is a bit different as in I can show you, but telling is a bit more difficult. Let’s take a look together at Banzai Magazine Vol. 18.

Banzai Magazine Vol. 18 is the latest edition from publisher Yasushi Nakaguro‘s Bonsai Games out of Japan. My copy of Vol. 18 is the dead tree edition on glossy magazine paper. Vol. 18 that comes with two wargames inside.

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Oh…shiny! (Photo by RMN)

click images to enlarge

The back of Vol. 18 and the insert for one of the wargames are very well illustrated. This is how you catch a wargamer’s eye!

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Backs (Photo by RMN)


The feature wargame in Banzai Magazine Vol. 18 is Corvettes at War. My machine-translation tells me this about the game (very-lightly edited):

The first to fight against Adolf Hitler’s fearsome U-boat was the “Flower-class” corvette built in England and Canada. It is a small escort ship with a total length of less than 70 meters, but in order to send the Allied fleet to the destination, it fiercely and relentlessly cornered the U-boat like a bulldog ….

“Corvette Command” has not been spotted in the world of war games until now, but it protected the North Atlantic convoy from U-boat attacks and brought the allied forces the victory of the “Battle of the Atlantic Ocean.” It is a solitaire game that depicts [a?] fight to the death. Players will serve for up to three years as the captain of the Corvette from June 1941. Will you be able to raise your military exploits and survive until after the war? Or will it fall prey to the U-boat…?

In addition, the mini-game “Operation Crete Descending” is also included!!

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Corvettes at War (Photo by RMN)


The countersheet lists Alan Eagle as the designer of Corvettes at War. A little bit of internet sleuthing lead to the BoardGameGeek listing for a 2021 version of Corvette Command that is described thusly:

Corvette Command is a strategic level solo narrative generating game giving you the chance to experience the worst that the Atlantic can throw at you while taking on the German U-boats. Your crew starts out raw and with basic skills which they get the opportunity to improve over the course of the campaign. Your mission is to protect the convoy from attack and success is measured by the scale of the losses incurred rather than by how many U-boats are sunk. If vital supplies are lost then this can impact on how quickly new technology becomes available to you such as radar and HF/DF detection.

It is May 1941 and the Battle of the Atlantic is reaching a critical point. The Royal Canadian Navy has extended its convoy cover eastwards and the Royal Navy has pushed their cover west so that convoys are now escorted the whole way across the Atlantic. For the purposes of game play only these two forces have been combined and you command a single Flower Class Corvette all the way across the Atlantic. Although the “Escort Gap” has been closed the “Air Gap” remains. The escorts are still waiting for the arrival of ship borne radar and spotting surfaced U-Boats and keeping station on convoys in the dark and poor visibility is still reliant on the lookouts. Ship to ship communications is also via signal lamps and flags and occasionally by loud hailer. The game ends on 31st May 1943.

This is a free print and play game that can be played in a small footprint with optional advanced rules that enable you to play a quick set up one-off game or a two player game and introduce greater level of detail. If you enjoyed Nicholas Monsarrat’s book or film “The Cruel Sea” then don your sea going gear and head out into the Atlantic.

The paper map for Corvettes at War looks busy but, as a solo game, it’s likely very procedural and laid out as such to support that approach.

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Corvettes at War game board (Photo by RMN)


The counters for Corvettes at War are of moderate thickness. Looking at the sprue, I think I’m going to need my Fiskar circular cutter to assist cutting these out.

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Countersheet (Photo by RMN)


Although the ad copy translation called the second mini-game “Operation Crete Descending” the card clearly calls it Race for Crete. The counters are at the lower right of the countersheet and the designer is identified as Marco Campari. Here my google-fu failed me as I didn’t find a game that looks like this one. A totally new publication?

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“Race for Crete” (Photo by RMN)


The rule book for both games in this issue of Banzai Magazine are saddle-stapled together. When I say “together” I literally mean one stapled inside the other.

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Rulebooks (Photo by RMN)


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Now the second game… (Photo by RMN)


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Centerfold (Photo by RMN)


Now all I need is a translation! Anybody know where they are?


I would be very remiss if I didn’t thank Mr. Nakaguro for sending me this free copy of Banzai Magazine Vol. 18. What did I do to get a free copy? Actually, I need to also thank Mr. Nakaguro for publishing my post “Wargame SITREP 230227 N3 Ops: Final exam in TASK FORCE: Carrier Battles in the Pacific (Vuca Simulations, 2023) + Bonus Thoughts on this War Game” inside. My article is one of many others included, all of which I wish I could read!

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中黒さん、ありがとうございました (Photo by RMN)


The quality of the wargame components inside Banzai Magazine Vol. 18 are easily comparable to publications with wargames like Strategy & Tactics, Paper Wars, or even C3i Magazine. I am very interested in Banzai Magazine and wish that translations were more readily available. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy just flipping through the magazine…


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