Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lotta "What A Tanker!"

Keith's 20mm tanks stalk one another across a cityscape in What A Tanker! rules
Sometimes, I'm the odd man out in my group. For instance, many of my regular Sunday night gaming group love all things tank related. I've always abhorred tank games. Maybe I've been stuck in one too many chart-intensive, plodding micro armor games in my four decades of gaming. Whatever it is, my group knows I am not the biggest fan. However, Keith was insistent that we try out Too Fat Lardies "What A Tanker!" rules. He said they were not like most armor games.
Peekaboo! My Italian tank sneaks up behind Andy's British one and squeezes off a shot
Keith was definitely right. If I had to sum up the two things I dislike most about armor games it would be: (1) Their tendency towards dense rules sets that force you to calculate angles and thicknesses of armor; (2) Their unabashed love of anything German. Of course, that last one could be true of many World War II rules sets. More than one gamer has joked that if wargamers wrote History, the Germans would have won WW II. On that note, the French would likely have won the Napoleonic Wars, etc.
Our Sunday night gaming group engages in a swirling tank melee in a North African city
What A Tanker completely fixes those two things in my book. Tanks are given armor ratings, which is the number of defense dice they roll. With the tanks we've used, this has tended to be three to five dice. The rules fix the second thing I hate because a German "4" is no better than a British "4" (let's wait a second while the tank lovers run screaming from the room...). The way side and rear armor is covered is you needed different numbers to hit if you are shooting from that side (let's wait again, while the rest of the armor heads leave the room). Yes, no dense charts in this game at all!
Finding avenues of fire and playing cat and mouse is a big part of the fun of these rules
It IS a different style game, though. The dice dictate what happens and generate their own fog of war. You cannot do what you want to do some of the time...check that: MOST of the time. You roll a certain number of six-sided dice when initiative says its your turn to move.  The score on each dice lets you a different thing: 1's = movement, 2's = spotting, 3's = aiming, 4's = firing, 5's = reloading, and 6's are "wild," allowing you to use them as any number. So, yes, that means you may have a bead on another tank, be spotted, aimed, and ready to fire but roll no 4's. Your crew freezes, or random smoke has drifted across your vision -- whatever.
Joel and Brian check a ruling in this easy-to-learn set, while Mike S ponders his tactical situation
Although these pictures are from our third game, our first game featured me in a tank rated Fast, but not so heavily armored. I was able to race around and get on my opponent Brian's rear. Though my movement dice were fantastic, my shooting dice were awful. I fired away again and again, bouncing off his armor. Equally frustrated, he was unable to get move dice and get facing me. The game definitely works best with players controlling only one or two tanks each, we've found in our massive three games of experience. It also works best with lots of terrain, so you can play cat and mouse with the enemy. The dice provide the fog of war, so that your stalking doesn't always work out the way you wanted it to. I can recommend What A Tanker rules for anyone who normally doesn't like armor games. That said, my friends who DO like them also enjoy the rules. 
More What A Tanker action (don't ask me which tanks these are -- remember, I hate tank games! Ha, ha!!)

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