In the following article I’ll write about my first two games of What a Tanker! by Too Fat Lardies.
Maybe you have read my review of the game already. After this I guess it’s time to share some more experiences from my first games.
Within a week I attended two game nights of What a Tanker! as everybody was eager to try the new game. Even Cpt.Shandy, of The Wargames Raft fame, was excited to give the game a go, even though his interest in playing anything WW2-related usually is limited. He does have a taste for Lard though. Even non-wargamers were roped in with the promise of fast and action-packed tanker action.
Game 1 – Villers Bocage, 1944
The first game depicted actions around Villers Bocage in 1944. Six players, 3 per side, 4 Tanks a side.
Virago – Cromwell Mk. IV / Cromwell Mk.IV
Klaudius – Cromwell Mk.IV
Stephan – Sherman Firefly
Annatar – Panzer IVh “Hilde”
Sigur – Panzer IVh “Elise” / Panzer IVh “Ratte”
Yeld – Tiger I “Lilly”
We rolled for initiative, my Elise was to go first, so I had my driver put the pedal to the metal and rush down to street into the village to go get me some kill rings.
Not losing a second, Stephan’s Firefly rolled up, fired its horrible 17pdr gun at my Elise. She went up in flames. My once-eager crew evacuated and fled the scene. My tanker career got cut short (to about 3 minutes, approximately.). So I wouldn’t spend the night sitting by the table sulking and complaining we decided each side would have a replacement tank which would show up the next turn.
I seriously had underestimated the firepower and deadliness of these things. Of course I heard that important tanker rule ‘get off the roads’ several times on that night. 😛 On- and offline. From then on I was much more cautious.
With their right flank seemingly secured the British players directed their attention to their right, where Yeld’s Tiger “Lilly” and Annatar’s Panzer IV approached. They eagerly hugged cover after the example that had been made of my Elise.
Virago made use of the excellent speed of the Cromwell to outflank us to the right. Because he had read all of the books by all of the magnificent bastards and knew how to approach Tigers.
Driving up went swimmingly, but then the dice rolled badly for Virago’s Cromwell, Commander Yeld turned his Tiger around, drove up the hill at atypical speed and made short work of the Cromwell. Time for the Allies to get the replacement tank out as well.
An overview of the situation mid-game: Annatar’s Panzer IV at the centre, Yeld’d Tiger just returned with his first kill, my tank is slightly visible in the very top, sitting in an orchard, being generally cautious. Virago was temporarily out of the game, but about to pop up again in a shiny new Cromwell.
The Tiger was a major concern to the Allied players, so the Firefly was brought up to deal with it.
Annatar’s Panzer IV already had taken a battering before and the driving gear was damaged. This time the Firefly was less lucky though. The driving gear took another hit, but nothing all too serious (yet).
Retaliation came swiftly in the shape of Annatar returning fire and the Tiger finally blowing up the Firefly. At that point things didn’t look so well for the Allies. Especially so after I managed to zip out of the orchard, catch Klaudius’ Cromwell with multiple shots to the rear and the tank lit up.
In the end only Virago’s replacement tank was left, but finally got taken out by the Tiger as well.
Tigers are scary. So are 17pdr guns. Sure, it wasn’t a perfectly even fight by points and such, but for an intro game (none of us really had read the rules beforehand) it worked really well. One thing we noticed was that the initiative process with six vehicles on the table could be sped up somehow. On one half of the table we had a lot of terrain, and that can lead to some discussion concerning maneuvering, lines of sight and such. Everybody seemed rather pleased with the rules though. Fun game, that What a Tanker!.
Just a few days later Cpt.Shandy asked for another go at the rules, as he couldn’t make it to the first game night that week. This time we went for a very different setting and got out early Western Desert tanks. British vs. Italians!
Game 2 – Operation Battleaxe, outskirts of Sollum, 1941
Cpt.Shandy – A13 Cruiser
Stephan – Crusader Mk I
Sigur – Fiat M11/39 “Piccolino”
Sigur – Fiat M13/40 “Padre Cane”
Cpt.Shandy’s Cruiser zipped forward to take the hamlet and get into the action. I was more cautious, following my early losses in the earlier game. Stephan, also cautiously, covered Shandy’s flank.
After a pretty nice command dice roll I decided to move the bigger M13/40 around a hill and take aim at Stephan’s Crusader. He rolled well again though (a developing theme for these games) and instantly fired back, damaging the optics of my poor Padre Cane. So I pulled him back behind another hill further away from that nasty Crusader.
My next plan was to try and punish the Cruiser tank for being so cocky and just sit there in the middle of the hamlet. While the M13/40 sat behind the hill Piccolino, the M11/39, flanked on the left side. By the way, what a curious thing that is. the main gun is built into the hull, while the turret carries the MGs. Having the main gun fixed in the hull of course makes gun orientation it a bit harder.
Either way, I wasn’t as fast as I would have liked to, and suddenly Piccolino found himself the target of two enemy tanks.
The whole thing devolved into a nasty knife-fight.
Piccolino took the brunt of the damage and soon was reduced to two command dice and a completely beat up running gear. The M13/40 somehow managed to do some damage to the Cruiser, but it didn’t do much to change the overall outcome of the game. Piccolino was shot up swiftly thereafter, and lateron Padre Cane.
In a really cool move the British even did that thing in the end. That thing where you sit behind a hill, drive up, fire, and retire behind the hill again. That looked good.
Speaking of good – yup, another good game. Initiative is much faster of course with just four tanks on the table. The most remarkable thing is how different this feels to 1944 tanker games. You roll fewer dice in general, there is less instant blowing-up and such. Once more, I think that ‘early war’ stuff plays more interestingly than 1944 big cat things. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, good to see such usually underrepresented types of tanks on the table.
As Stephan and I were familiar with the rules already it also played out rather fast. Cpt.Shandy seems to be taken with the rules as well.
I hope that this gave you a bit more insight into how the game plays. It’s good fun.