Monday 30 April 2018

Paytest of What a Tanker!

This weekend I finally had a chance to not only thoroughly read the What a Tanker! rules but also play my first game. This was a solo playtest featuring just two tanks and a lot of terrain. Despite selling most (but thankfully not all) of my 15mm WWII stuff a few years ago I kept a lot of the terrain that I had and, combined with my new mat from DeepCut Studios, I was able to quickly throw together an interesting scenario. 

For this initial test of the rules the game is set in 1944, deep in the Normandy bocage. The roads here are often hemmed in by steep banks crowned with ancient hedgerows making this terrible tank country. Through this nightmare environment a lone Cromwell tank stalks a Panzer Mk IV in the fields surrounding a deserted french farmhouse. 

Entering by opposite ends of the table the German Panzer IV H on the left and the British Cromwell entering on the right. The initiative and command system mean that each turn can progress very differently which keeps the game fresh and interesting. 

The Panzer IV gets to move first and having rolled three movement command dice quickly moves up to the cross roads and was able to take up a good position in partial cover. 

The Cromwell meanwhile moves slowly (rolling fewer movement dice) and has to cautiously edge forwards. 

The Panzer takes full advantage of the steep banks to gain partial cover and take up a commanding position dominating the road that the Cromwell is approaching. 

The Cromwell has better armour and under the rules doesn't suffer an armour penalty for being hut in the side armour. This means the Cromwell is able to edge forwards to get a clear line of sight on the Panzer. Like its target the British tank is taking advantage of the bocage to gain partial cover. 

Both tanks have acquired their targets and have aimed and begin shooting. Several rounds follow of near misses and deflected hits with both tanks taking minor damage. Damage reduces the number of command dice available making it more difficult for tank commanders to do what they want. Fortunately both tanks only suffer temporary damage and are able to recover and continue the gun battle. Then the Panzer IV is hit and although undamaged it is forced to pull back, giving the Cromwell an opportunity to change position.   

The Panzer has lost its good position and the Cromwell manages to dash forwards (with a very good movement roll) giving it a better attack position firing into the side of the German tank. Despite the disadvantage of firing through major terrain (the bocage hedge) hitting the side armour makes hits more effective. Taking damage and unable to turn around the Panzer decides to try and get back to the crossroads and around the corner in an attempt to get out of the danger zone. However a lucky set of command dice rolls mean the British tank is able to turn tightly and get behind the Panzer. 

The Perfect command dice at just the right moment. Once a tank has acquired its target and aimed if it can keep the enemy in its sights it can fire as many times as its command dice allow. Having got the Panzer in its sights the British tank rolls a fantastic set of command dice. 4's mean the tank can fire while fives are reloads so this turn the Cromwell can shoot three times into the rear armour of the Panzer. 

The Panzer commander has just enough time to exclaim "Mein gott!" when the first of three Armour Piercing shells slam into its thin rear armour. The third shot results in a catastrophic explosion destroying the Panzer and killing the crew instantly. 

The explosion blows the Panzer's turret completely off and it lands in an adjacent field. 

At first the game seemed to go quite slowly as each tank pounded away at the other with little effect. But as soon as one tank was able to get a side shot in the game changed completely and from that point onward the Panzer was hounded to its death. The rules are quick to understand and the game play was fast, varied and exciting. I can easily see how multi tank, multi player games could be great fun and I'd quite like to take this to the Shed-o-War to see what the other Rejects think of it. 


  1. Immersive and wonderful report, love these pictures, this battlefield is just superb!

  2. Hmmmm? I quite like the sound of these rules! You better buy more tanks!

  3. Brilliant!

    I've got the rules and I cannot wait to try this game out!

    Lovely report, by the way...

  4. Confirms that I need to get the rules, thanks

  5. Great demo. I am very curious about this game and it looks great based on the above. cheers

  6. "The Perfect command dice at just the right moment" that never happens! At least not to me!

    A nice report, I am wondering about the advantages early war to late war. For example in early war you may have an armour of 3 and a strike of 5, so you will never unbutton! While in late war the armour is so much more unbuttoning becomes an option! Yes I know the guns are more deadly BUT the ratios are very different! and loosing an armour dice when you have 7 is a lot less devastating than loosing an armour dice when you only have 3.

    I say again I think this would be a good Reject game, give Postie and Ray something else to moan about!

    1. I'm considering my options already... I'd like to go early desert war with this (using some of the terrain I already have). It would also make me feel marginally less stupid for selling off all my 15mm Normandy WWII tanks a few years ago! If I opt for 1/100 desert tanks I won't be rebuying and repainting stuff I used to own! Besides I like the idea of early British tanks against the Italians. That's always been a evocative period of the desert war for me and one I wouldn't mind revisiting in 15mm.

    2. Options considered! I've just bought some Valentine Mk II's and Italian M13/40's from Old Glory to get me started. I'm also looking at PSC's boxed sets of A9/A10's. I have a lot of terrain and two desert game mats to choose from so really all I need are the vehicles and I'm good to go. It's not often I buy into a game and find getting started is so easy.

  7. Shinybloodyeyetus strikes again!

    1. I may have got a little carried away. £91 and sixteen tanks later....

      Mind you, in a couple of days I'll get the first of four deliveries begin to arrive and I'll be a kid at Christmas again!

  8. Wonderful looking battlefield! We too have greatly enjoyed playing WaT, although so far none of our crews have survived long enough for "ace" status.

    And if you don't mind a gentle observation, you may have confused a Cromwell with a Churchill. Cromwells don't have heavy armour, so their side armour is just as vulnerable as most tanks. We actually used a bunch of Cromwells, Shermans, STuGs and Pz IVHs in Normandy for our first play through as well, and found that both sides' tanks were 'orribly vulnerable!

  9. Very cool. Love the terrain and the tanks are awesome. Makes me want to try these rules too! Thanks Lee.

  10. Tanks only? Or do the rules cover infantry/artillery/etc?


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