Before things started crashing down around me these last few days, I’d started revisiting the numerous gaming shops in my area. Why I’ve been doing this – and amassing a sizeable collection of RPGs that I know good and well I’ll never play – is beyond me, and frankly, a topic for another day. So, instead, I’m going to talk about a tabletop game that I discovered while on one of those visits (and one I’m more likely to play than not).
Tanks is a “World War II Tank Skirmish Game,” by Gale Force 9, that
involves the use of miniature tanks battling it out on a standard table top. For the record, I’ve yet to play the game – I’ve only just purchased it, and while I thought I’d have time to play it with The Little Woman this weekend, neither of our schedules were kind enough to afford us such a luxury. Because of that, I’ve decided that – God willing – we’ll be able to try the game come my winter break in a few weeks. I would ordinarily chafe at the though of having to wait for something that looks to be fun like this, but I’m welcoming the delay. But first, here’s what you get:
The game comes with three (3) 15mm miniature tanks – one German Panther, and two US Shermans. Both are kits that players build, and there are enough pieces for one to make variants – either the 75mm or 76mm Sherman cupola; or the Panther tank or the Jagdpanther assault gun. They come molded in either olive drab (OD) or Panther yellow, and are easy to assemble. In addition, the game comes with the rule book, tokens, dice, and two die-cut panels to represent groupings of trees. There are a number of cards that are the heart of the game play, and my understanding is that the master game set contains most of the cards used by the other tanks (that are available separately) for the game. As of this writing, there are fourteen (14) additional vehicles and variants, as listed below. The master game is $25, while individual tanks are $10 each.
- Sherman 75mm / Sherman 76 mm
- Pershing / Super Pershing
- Sherman Firefly / Sherman V
- Panther / Jagdpanther
- Stug G
- Panzer IV
- Puma / Pakwagen
- T-34 / T-34/85
- SU-85 / SU-100
- IS-2 / IS-85
- IS-122 / IS-152
- M-10 Lend-Lease
Here’s why I’m enjoying the wait: Even though I have no clue how the game will play out, I’ve enjoyed piecing together my miniature tank platoon. Currently, I’ve added two more German tanks, another American, and two Soviets. I’m debating about getting a couple of the British tanks, and I’m really hoping that at some point the designers will consider adding Japanese tanks, although I know that there’s little possibility (or playability) with them.
My US Sherman platoon, with the 75mm and 76mm variant.
I’ve also taken to painting them. I can’t find decals for them just yet (I’m sure they’re out there), but I have been trying to make them look less “new” and more “tried and tested.” This means trying to replicate mud and filth, and as someone who is still learning how to do realistic weathering on models, I have to say that I really like how these guys turned out. These were primed, painted olive drab, and then weathered. My only regret was that I didn’t do the wheels and tracks as thoroughly as I would have liked. Here’s the kicker: Because the kits come with two cupolas, I’ve assembled them all. If I need all of my Shermans to be identical 75 mms, I can swap out the correct cupola. Two tanks for the price of one!
And with my German platoon, there’s another issue.
See the yellow Panther? That’s the original color. I’d attempted to paint it as-is after I assembled it, but that was difficult. When I purchased another Panther, and then the Panzer IV, I decided to forego the yellow and opt for a Panzer Gray. Again, mud and filth were added, as was some staining at the end of the respective barrels to represent use.
The yellow Panther is glued together (I did it first, so I learned a lot in retrospect), but the other one is not. I completed the extra top for the Jagdpanther, and now – just like with the Shermans – I can swap the tops to have the vehicle that the situation might require.
And with the Soviets:
As I said, I was more curious about the Soviet tanks than anything else, because I thought they’d be useful for a diorama that I’ve been wanting to make. But they get the same weathering treatment as the others. For some reason – and it could have been due to fatigue – it just seemed as if the Soviet tanks required more attention during assembly than the others. But I will say that they’re pretty nice looking vehicles and I’m toying with the possibility of adding a couple more once I do some research on Soviet armor.
Tanks is, from what I’ve read, extremely popular right now, and judging from the Gale Force 9 webpage, there’s more to come. I like the models as models, so even if I never play the game itself, these guys have given me a new reason to visit my local gaming stores. But I’ll also add that I hope the designers look at more recent conflicts. While the Soviet T-34 was in use well into the 1970s, I would love to see the US M-48 and M-60, alongside the Soviet T-72 and T-80. But until that time, I’m going to make do with these fine models.
Now, to learn how to play this game . . .