Sunday, 17 June 2018

What A Tanker ... first game

Yesterday we tried the new tank combat rules What A Tanker, published by Too Fat Lardies.
We were underwhelmed.

Although it was a moderately fun game, we couldn't see why this game gets the praise in some of the reviews published in magazines or in the blogosphere. Sure, it is meant as a light-hearted game, but even light-hearted games should be designed well.

I won't give a proper review here (many of others have done that before), but I'll simply list our observations:
  • The game is quite random. No matter how careful you manoeuvre your tanks around the table, a single hit can mean game over. In one of our games, both my tanks were eliminated on the first incoming shot ...
  • There is a discrepancy in the detail of some of the procedures. Movement is explained carefully in the rules, stipulating how much a tank can wheel, how much your turret can rotate etc,. but then the other procedures such as acquisition of a target and aiming are quite coarse. That doesn't result in an elegant gaming engine.
  • Firing is overly complicated, with a distinction between hits and critical hits, then a save roll, then having to count whether you scored more critical hits than others, which might result in temporary or permanent damage ... the whole procedure was not that quick and not that elegant either. On the one hand you have to keep track of accumulating damage, on the other hand a tank can be destroyed when you score 3 hits in a single shot. That doesn't match well as a gaming mechanic ... 
  • There is a campaign system, getting more skills in subsequent games by scoring more kills. But why bother if the kill rate can be so random?
  • The game felt as one of our Wild West games, in which every player has a shootist, and if you're unlucky, you get a headshot in the first round of the game. Great fun, but apparantly the concept doesn't translate that well to tank warfare. Other people have compared it to a game such as Wings of War.
Overall, I don't think the game would have gotten this much attention if it wasn't published by Too Fat Lardies.  It is obviously an attempt to bring a computer game such as World of Tanks (WoT? WaT?) to the gaming table. But the result is not too much to my liking.

Anyway, here are the pictures of our games. The games were a good opportunity to bring out our collection of WW2 Eastern Front vehicles (which belonged to various former members of our gaming group), which go back a long time. See The Battle for Gross-Untendorf, a game we played in 1997, one of our earliest battle reports published online!

Bart is studying the battlefield. 20mm Eastern Front. The Russian tank started in the far-left corner, the German tank in the opposite corner.
Another view of the battlefield.
Russian T34 hiding behind a hedge and a house.
Russian T34 and German armour - a PzKpfw IV (although we used a different model guess which one :-)) trying to outmanoeuvre each other in the village.
The Germans were able to sneak behind the Russians and hit them in the back. Game over.
Game 2. Same tanks, but we added a tank destroyer on both sides. Both tank destroyers faced each other along the main road. First shot by Ivan, and the Germans were destroyed.
Full hit!
More tactical tinkering ...
The remaining German tank is trying to use the woods as cover.
... but is hit by Ivan the terrible when he comes out of the woods. Game over. The Russians had to fire twice, and twice, the German vehicle was destroyed immediately.


  1. I'm with you on this one Phil. I think it only works best with at least 6 tanks each side, like you I'd prefer a less random system. One house rule I'd like to add is to carry forward any one unused dice to the next turn, replacing one of the command dice. Thoughts?

    1. I am not sure whether that would solve my "issues". It would require some more bookkeeping though. PArt of the charm of the game is that you'll have to do with whatever dice you rolled. Making that more flexible (by carrying over dice to the enxt round) would diminish that effect significantly.

  2. Still waiting to play my first game
    Thanks for your comments