Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gale Force Nine: Tanks - The World War Two Tank Skirmish Game - Panther vs Sherman Starter Set Reviewed!


Today we will check out the new Tanks, The World War Two Tank Skirmish Game - Panther vs Sherman Starter Set soon to be released from Gale Force Nine and Battlefront Miniatures of Flames of War fame! 

First of all a quick summary by Gale Force Nine themselves - Tanks, is an easy-to-learn, quick-play, small-scale game, where you take command of a tank platoon, seeking to destroy your opponent’s tanks and secure victory. Tanks is a flexible game with lots of ways to create a finely-tuned army that fits your play style. ... Sounds cool, well it's certainly interesting and great fun!

Content

As mentioned above I have received The Panther vs Sherman Starter Set which contains everything you need to play such as the rules, tank models, tokens, dice, cards and terrain templates. The boxed set contains a small 21-page rulebook explaining the rules but also containing some interesting background for tank aces, an assembly guide for the plastic tanks models along with a useful quick reference sheet on the back. The set further also contains twelve dice, six of each color which are used to determine all of your tank’s actions of the tabletop battlefield.


First of all we will take a look at the tokens and terrain templates which are supplied on three different cartonboard sheets. For those familiar with the popular Fantasy Flight Games X-Wings game, the cartonboard tokens are of the same excellent quality but somehow much easier to remove from the sheets without damaging the artwork.

The first sheet contains all the tokens you will need for the starter set and for even more tanks as you receive loads of tokens. The tokens shown are used to mark the movement, damage, status of your tank but are also used for showing certain mission objectives when playing the missions. The sheet also contains four templates representing ruined buildings (either Eastern European/ Western European) as they are printed on both side as are all of the other cartonboard sheets. The details of these buildings are excellent and give great out of the box terrain so you can immediately start playing! You can also buy the pre-painted Flames of War buildings or others to further enhance the look of your tabletop battlefield.


The second sheet contains identification tokens which are used to keep track of individual tanks when you’re fielding several identical tanks. You can find four types of identification tokens representing the four major nations involved being the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain and Germany.

Next to these tokens, the sheet also contains the very important movement arrows! Last but not least is the smaller terrain template represent a forest (either pine of deciduous) depending on which side you choose on the tabletop. The last sheet contains another forest template but covers the entire sheet creating a huge terrain template ideal for blocking sight or creating cover for your tanks.




The box also contains three card decks which are the upgrade and crew deck, the tank deck and the critical hits deck. The upgrade and crew deck contains all sorts of upgrades for your tanks such as experienced loaders, tank ace commanders and so on. The tank deck represents different tank models you can field and show their abilities, these are also used during the game to track damage and before the game to assemble your battleforce. The last deck is the critical hits deck and contains all sorts of effects your tank can take when hit such as an ammo explosion, broken tracks and so on. Really nice quality cards which can also be marked with dry-erase markers.


Last but certainly not least for wargamers are the tanks models! These tanks models are supplied on plastic sprues and are scaled 15mm. They are the same models as from the popular Battlefront Miniatures Flames of War miniature range. The tanks supplied with the starter set are the deadly German Panther tank and two Sherman tanks which can easily be used for either the British, American or even the Soviet Union under the allied lend and lease agreement.

The German Panther sprue contains enough parts to make either the fierce Panther or a stealthy Jagdpanther. I have assembled mine as the Panther as this particular tanks has a turret which is a big plus in the rules when facing the more numerous allied tanks. The quality of the Panther model is excellent with great detail and can be played as it is or can be painted using hobby model paints.


The Sherman tank sprue of which you receive two in the starter set allows you to build the famous allied Sherman tank. The sprue allows you to build five different variants of the M4A3 Sherman; the regular M4A3 (late) armed with a M3 75mm main gun as well as the Uparmoured version; the M4A3 (late) armed with the M1 76mm gun again with an option for the Uparmoured version; and the M4A3 (105mm). Each sprue actually contains two turrets so you can build two turret options for each tank. I have assembled mine as both the 75 and 76mm models as proposed in the assembly guide allowing for some alternatives when assembling your allied battleforce. Again a quality set with loads of different options and extra pieces such as loose tracks and other cool bits to add some character.

Edit - Forgot to mention that the assembly manual of the Sherman tank included in the booklet isn't entirely correct. You can find the more detailled manual for the construction of this model and all the included options here on the Flames of War website


The assembly of these models is very easy and you can easily assemble all of the models included in less than an evening's worth of hobby time. For those not familiar with the models made by Battlefront Miniatures, these are a bit like the Airfix and Revell tanks models but smaller yet much easier to assemble as they have less fiddly bits.

All you need to assemble these models are some hobby tools like clippers, a sharp hobby knife, plastic glue and a vile along with the assembly guide from the rulebook or from the Flames of War website. Below you can see the tank models on my workbench, note that I haven't glued on all of the extra bits included on the sprue such as machine guns, tracks and so on.


Gameplay

Now we will take a look at the actual gameplay of Tanks which is fast, lethal and easy to learn. Note that not all details are covered but the basic features are mentionned and explained offering you a good understanding of the game. First of all you need to assemble your forces using matching points or using the models required by a scenario. You can further upgrade tanks with upgrade, crew and commander cards giving your tanks more power, attack, defence and so on along with special effects. When you have assembled your battleforce you can give the game a try.

As said the game is quite easy to learn and play, yet it's not a simple game as you will really need to think about your moves and balance offensive actions with defensive actions (taking advantage of cover, blocking line of sights, hitting your enemy in the flank and so on) as your tank can easily be destroyed in a matter of turns. The game is divided in three phases being movement, shooting and the command phase. These are played in this sequence yet the sequence in which tanks act depend on their initiative value.

During the movement phase, tanks with the lowest initiative may move first while tanks with the higher initiative move later. This means that some of your own tanks can move, then some enemy tanks  followed by more of your tanks and so on depending on their initiative value. The measurement of movement is really easy using the movement template which you place touching any part of the tank. Then you move the tank along the arrow placing the model under the head of the movement template but next to the tail of the template.  A tank can move once or twice but the number of moves has an influence of your own defence or attack abilities. Movement is marked with tokens.


During the  shooting phase you may shoot at your opponents with the highest initiative tank starting first followed by the second highest and so on again switching between players. The actual shooting is easy with the shooting tank throwing his attack value in a number of dice, while the defender throws his defence value in dice increased or decreased with certain modifiers such as close range, side shot, movement of your tank and that of the shooting tank and cover.

Throws of 4 and 5 represent possible hits while throws of 6 represent possible critical hits. Hits represent damage to your tank while critical hits can cause damage and other effects (such as decreased movement, decreased initiative and so on) These hits and critical hits can be cancelled by the defender's dice if these are also 4, 5 and 6's. Remaining hits are taken as damage and critical hits are taken by drawing a random critical hit card.

Great fun is that tanks that have taken all their damage and would be destroyed can still shoot back as they are only removed during the following phase. In our game, my Panther was destroyed after he had destroyed the last Sherman tank because I managed to throw three lousy 3's while defending my opponent threw much better with his attack dice!


The last phase is the command phase in which you can repair taken critical hits and their effects, check if enemy tanks are destroyed, check for victory and last you remove all speed tokens in play. Then the game sequence starts again untill the game objectives are reached by one of the players or all enemy tanks are destroyed.

Conclusion

If you're looking for an easy to learn, fun yet challenging straight out of the box game you will certainly be interested in Tanks. This new skirmish game by Gale Force Nine combines model tanks with swift and decisive action in wargames of less than half an hour. Another big plus is the price of the starter set price at only £18.00! You can further expand this set with expansion sets which offer new tank models and cards offering even more possible tactics. Also just noticed that you can buy extra tokens and even wargming terrain mats for further enhancing your tabletop battlefield.

If you want to pre-order this game, you can find it here on the official Tanks website or through most online retaillers such as Wayland Games and Element Games. The release date is somewhere late may 2016 according to these websites. I hope you enjoyed this review and really hope you will give this game a try and enjoy this new fun game by Gale Force Nine. If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact me through the contact form or in the comments below. Edit now available!

Disclaimer - We received this game for free from Gale Force Nine for reviewing purposes. Please note that this doesn't influence our review as we always strive to supply you with our own independent and honest opinion about the wargame products reviewed.

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