Tanks on the table

A Panzer boldly advances towards the enemy

A Panzer boldly advances towards the enemy

On the table is Panzer, Jim Day‘s game of tactical combat in World War Two, published by GMT. This originally came out in 1979 (gulp!) from Yaquinto Publications, was reissued by Lost Battalion Games as a set of miniatures rules, and is now back as a board game. Two versions with a more modern setting were previously published by Avalon Hill: IDF, and MBT.

Currently, on top of the base game there are three expansions which give you the opportunity to refight actions from the Eastern Front from 1941-45, and on the Western Front from 1944-45. There is a France 1940 expansion in the offing. I have not seen anything about Pacific battles being made available. The latter does not trouble me as I have less interest in that theater of the war. I would, however, like to see a Western Desert expansion…

The game scale is individual tanks and squads. Time scale is ’15 second to 15 minutes per turn’ which is one way of dealing with the challenge that time scales offer! The ground scale used to be 50 meters per hex, but for this version it has been changed to 100 meters per hex. The rationale given is that this is to maintain consistency with the forthcoming release of a new version of MBT which uses that larger scale. I do not like the change in scale, but it doesn’t seem as if that is a widely held objection.

The original game featured simultaneous movement using written orders. This is now replaced with an ‘I go, you go’ system where you give orders to units. For example, you might order Tank A to move, Tank B to fire, and Tank C to overwatch. Then, units can only do what they are ordered to do.

The game comes with a basic game that lets you handle tank on tank warfare. The advanced game adds the leg units and weapons like anti-tank guns. The optional rules bolt on more detail at the inevitable expense of added complexity and playing time.

For example, in the advanced game you may not be able to give an order to every unit; available orders depend on the size of the unit and its quality. There are no explicit morale rules unless you use those given in the optional rules.

The core of the game is the amount of detailed information given about tanks, their armor, and their weapons. Almost everything else is subordinate to that. I find the combat procedures to be easy to assimilate, and so less daunting than might be apparent from the rulebook. However, I’m uncomfortable about the lack of morale as a standard feature, and have tried to think of house rules to compensate. So far, no success, but it’s fun trying things out.

This is never going to replace ASL, but I like to have it as an alternative. It’s a better solitaire experience.