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"First Impressions of "What a Tanker!"" Topic

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World War Two on the Land

2,214 hits since 9 Apr 2018
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Trajanus10 Apr 2018 6:41 a.m. PST

I've done a number of "1st Impressions" on new rules on the ACW and Naps Boards before but this is the first WW2 post I've made. So just to clarify, as I usually do, this is based purely on a read through, these rules have not been played by me in any way as yet.

The rules in question are the Too Fat Lardies "What a Tanker" which have just been released and as the name suggests feature Armored Combat in WW2. Pretty much all of the major Tanks and Tank Destroyers of the Soviet Union, US, Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan are available for players to get their hands on in what its essentially a "Skirmish Level" game.

The rules advise one to six tanks per side but I see no immediate reason that this couldn't easily be stretched to a dozen with multiple players.

Figure (as opposed to vehicle) scale wise, they are aimed at anything from 6mm 28mm though personally given the amount of handling that's likely and the practicality of targeting on table, I would imagine that 10mm might be a better cut off. I'd also imagine 1/32nd scale tanks could be used if you had the space for a really big game!

So what are they like?

My initial thoughts, in Two Fat Lardies terms, would be "Chain of Command" meets "Sharp Practice" as there's both command dice and cards involved but then you would have to throw "Wings of War/Glory" into the mix as well. Not because there's any resemblance in game mechanics but it strikes me that games will be a kind of terrestrial equivalent one to a handful of Germans v Allied forces in similar numbers.

Not to mention the fact that each tank uses a "dashboard" to keep track of play, which has some similarities to that in the aerial game.

So Kursk it ain't! OK well maybe a tiny, tiny, tiny part of it but you get the point!

To play you role a number of Command Dice as per your tank and scores 1 5 give the relative opportunity to Drive, Acquire a Target, Aim, Shoot and Reload. A roll of 6 can be used as a Wild Can to give one extra of any 1 5 result or can be used to help steal the first turn of the next round of play. This set or "hand" of dice then dictates what you can attempt in your part of the turn. As in "Chain of Command" this then dictates your range of options but it's up to you how you best use them.

As you might expect terrain, cover, LOS, gun and amour quality all then play a part in the outcome of each turn as you jocky for position and attempt to get that vital shot in.

Here it should be noted that the rules are not a rivet counters paradise. Each Tank has a basic Armour and Strike value but there are modifiers for side and rear shots, together with standard attributes such as being, Fast, Slow, Small, Low Profile, Heavy Armoured, having Rapid Fire, or a Slow Turret.

Thus a Crusader Mk III would be "Fast" with Armour of 4 and a Strike of 5, where as a Panzer III L would rate an Armour of 5 and a Strike of 5 but not have the ability to convert one extra Command Dice into a "Drive" result each turn, it not being "Fast".

The card based element, while it can be used in the general game, is ideally for the "Career Mode" which allows players to progress through various levels of tank quality representing the entire period of the war. The number of kills obtained dictating progress and giving access to the Cards which randomly award various attributes to the tank's commander and crew.

Charts showing the progress levels and tanks available guide players through the various national options.

I can see model tank sales doing well out of this!

Overall the rules look likely to achieve a fun game with a good balance of history to keep players involved. Big tanks appear suitably nasty and small tanks will provide a challenge.

There will be opportunities at both ends of the War for players to prove they can beat Char B1 bis with Panzer IIIs or fight off bunches of Shermans with lone Tigers, or even fight Japanese tanks you have never heard of against T34s in Manchuria!

Personally, all I have at the moment is one PzIV H but its Salute on Saturday!

Now where's my Credit Card?

Onomarchos Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

Thanks for the informative comments.


wrgmr110 Apr 2018 8:08 a.m. PST

Yes! Thanks Trajanus!

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

Helpful review – I got a whole bunch of 15mm tanks last birthday (9 Shermans, 5 T-343s, 4 Panzer IV, a Panther and a Tiger – all done and weathered suitably, thanks very much!) so sounds like I should give this rule set a try

jdginaz10 Apr 2018 10:36 a.m. PST

Just to add a little to Trajanus's excellent first impressions, the bonus cards that are acquired for getting "kills" can only be used once per game and are only awarded if you survive that game. Also in order to advance to a higher level of tank you must "kill" 5 tanks, preferably enemy tanks, and become a ace. You then can either remain in the same tank with 5 bonus cards or get a better tank but lose the bonus cards until you get more "kills".

repaint10 Apr 2018 11:26 a.m. PST

the initiative dice roll seems a bit fastidious. For each tank on the table you have to roll to determine the order of play. So if you have six tanks in game, you need to have at least six rolls and re-roll ties.

Also, with the play order assigned to each tank in advance in the turn, one can anticipate right away who is going to play when leading to gamey tactics.

A more unpredictable and exciting turn sequence may be to go back to the true and tried random card draw.

the game looks tense though with action dice you can use in any order and the wild dice allowing you to improvise on the spot or wait and see what's happening and change your mind.

Tony S10 Apr 2018 1:53 p.m. PST

A more unpredictable and exciting turn sequence may be to go back to the true and tried random card draw.

True, but using the dice activation means Aces are more likely to go first, or those tanks that "bank" a wild card. Although if you used card activation, perhaps you could put additional cards in for those types, and they can act on the first one drawn?

I agree with you – knowing the sequence of play in advance is a bit gamey. A bit surprising coming from TFL!

We'll be playing it this Sunday. Can't wait to try it out!

getback10 Apr 2018 1:56 p.m. PST

Just played 5 games (in 2 1/2 hours). 4 Players, one tank each. The rules are easy to pick up and we were only looking up a few things by the end of it. The dice mechanism for determining what you is great with one caveat. The mechanism makes games very tense; I have a bead on my target but in cannot get my gun loaded, will I get initiative first next time or will my target move away before I can load.

My only caveat is that if your opponent manages to aim at you but cannot fire your tank commander telepathically knows that he is being aimed at and so can react. I suppose if he sees a turret rotating towards him this is OK but often in game terms he may not have acquired the tank that is aiming at him yet.

Overall there was much laughter and banter – so as a fun game it worked really well. We will probably trot it out again soon. Oh, and in our games John was one kill short of becoming an ace by the end; but down to a single activation dice (through damage) with two Shermans (one undamaged) moving in on him. He took the option to bail out and keep his score, but not his tank.

jdginaz10 Apr 2018 4:24 p.m. PST

We sure are lucky to have such clever guys here who can critic game rules that they have never played. Otherwise we might play them and find out how well they actually work and how much fun they

repaint10 Apr 2018 4:31 p.m. PST

We sure are lucky to have how guys who can critic game rules that they have never played otherwise we might play them and find out how well they actually work and how much fun they

woke up grumpy?

People have sufficient experience to know what they like or dislike. When I read the rules, I thought of Saga and X-Wing, both set of rules that I like.

I find your comment contributing very little.

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2018 1:32 a.m. PST

Looks like a fun game . You have me interested. Thanks for the write up .

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2018 3:01 a.m. PST

We sure are lucky to have such clever guys here who can critic game rules that they have never played. Otherwise we might play them and find out how well they actually work and how much fun they

He clearly stated it as a first impression.
Not a review or a preview.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2018 3:38 a.m. PST

Gunfreak: +1

These rules were not on my radar and Trajanus's post was informative to the point that I went to the TFL site, read more and now am very interested.

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2018 4:13 a.m. PST

I can see me using this game as a prelude before I start playing Battlegroup Tobruk . My tanks are nearly there as far as painting but havn't started my infantry as yet for either side. The game I think would be ideal for the desert as there were skirmishes without infantry involvement. It will give me chance to perhaps, gain a couple of tank aces, perhaps one for either side and then incorporate The Tank Ace rules from the other Battlegroup books, into the Tobruk game . Its an idea.

Vigilant11 Apr 2018 6:26 a.m. PST

Sounds like a fun game. I hadn't intended to get this, but now I am interested. Thanks to both contributors for the read through and the review.

Trajanus11 Apr 2018 8:59 a.m. PST

We sure are lucky to have such clever guys here who can critic game rules that they have never played. Otherwise we might play them and find out how well they actually work and how much fun they are.

And yet strangely when someone plays them thanks for the words "getback" they turn out pretty much as per the 1st Impression.

Funny that.

There was me thinking that 45 years wargaming experience, reading more rules than I can even remember, writing and editing the odd set here or there, along with having magazine published reviews, would leave me wide of the mark.

What a relief !

Oh! And thanks to those who found things helpful!

EricThe Shed11 Apr 2018 10:45 a.m. PST

Just posted my review up on my blog -

This is not Wings of War with Tanks – wings of war has a lot more skill (my opinion) but if you are looking for a tank Slug Fest then this delivers – may the dice be with you


Marc the plastics fan11 Apr 2018 10:52 a.m. PST

Nice review Eric. Good to see your balanced thoughts. Sounds like not for me, unless something has been missed

jdginaz11 Apr 2018 12:21 p.m. PST

Just to be clear. My second post wasn't interference to Trajanus's post, which I feel was a good first impressions review.


Trajanus11 Apr 2018 12:35 p.m. PST

Fair enough! : o)

Trajanus11 Apr 2018 12:54 p.m. PST

Interesting to note Eric says he likes the rules but wouldn't want to play every week. That's also what I would expect.

I like WoW but feel exactly the same about them, which guess is part of what I was alluding to in my OP. Something small scale, quick to set up and fun to play but not a replacement for a table full of figures!

That said, I've never found a set of rules in any period I would want to play every week but some people do just that.

Lucius11 Apr 2018 1:38 p.m. PST

Great reviews from both – thanks.

Can one of you give me an idea of how big a playing area is suggested for a couple of 1/48 scale tanks?

jdginaz11 Apr 2018 2:16 p.m. PST

4x8 is what the TFL guys use for 28mm so I would thing that would be ok for 1/48.

Marc at work12 Apr 2018 2:58 a.m. PST

1/48 – got to be good for a garden game. When I saw the reviews, my first thought was as a simple filler game for my children. But I think the dice roll for actions will be too cumbersome for what I am looking for.

Trajanus12 Apr 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

1/48 would be good for kids it's around the same size as Lego men !

28mm is supposed to be for 1/56.

As it's all going to happen a rediculiously close range I doubt it matters too much.

10mm tanks on a 12ft table could be a challenge!

Trajanus17 Apr 2018 1:23 a.m. PST

Watched the TFL Demo at Salute and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.

They were using 1/56th scale on a fairly small table with about half a dozen participants so the action was fast and furious.

Convention conditions not withstanding I thought it needed more space or less participants. Not that the game seemed to suffer but rather my sensibilities did, in that a lot of the action was almost within touching distance!

Slightly double standards on my part, as I happily play Wings of War/Glory at similar distances, but there I can happily suspend disbelief knowing the real life participants would come that close and zoom past each other. Not quite the same with tanks.

However, easy to solve. We will be playing with 1/72 (20mm) or even 10mm, on bigger tables. Did wonder if some potential customers might have been turned off though.

Vulture22 Apr 2018 4:16 a.m. PST

I've played this game twice at the club I go to, the first game was a 2 v 2 player and the second a 3 v 3 game. We approached it as a fun beer and pretzels game and we had such a laugh in both games. We are on with a campaign and so looking forward to next weeks game.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2018 4:23 a.m. PST

I watched a full let's play on YouTube. Looks very fun.

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