Tank On Tank
Game Design by Peter Bogdasarian
Tank on Tank (ToT) is a tactical level game simulating Tank actions on the Western Front during World War II. ToT is a low complexity game that focuses mostly on armor combat. One thing I can say right from the beginning of this review is that this game is Fun, that’s Fun with a capital “F”. It’s a beer and pretzel game that’s a blast. If you’re looking for an accurate “Historical” simulation, you can stop reading right now and move on to something more to your liking.
The game package consists of the game rules, 40 counters, a players’ aid and two game maps. The quality of the components is up to Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s normal standards. The counters are colorful and laid out in a logical manner. The combat units in Tank on Tank represent hard targets (units protected by some type of armor plating) and soft targets (units not protected by armor plating). Hard targets are such units as tanks, tank destroyers, and self-propelled artillery, while soft targets are infantry and anti-tank guns. Below is an example of each of the types of counters included with the game.
The rule book is divided into 10 sections but is only 14 pages long. That’s right, that’s not a typo, only 14 pages. The pages are jammed full of information and as the complexity level of the game shows, the sections are easy to understand. The sections of the rule book are;
- The Pieces
- The Map
- Action Points
- Entry of Reinforcements
- Personnel Units
Each turn of the game has an Allied Phase and a German Phase. The scenario will advise who goes first during each turn. During the course of a turn, a player may move and shoot. However, it is through the use of Action Points that a player performs these actions and they are limited from turn to turn. As a matter of fact, it is your opponent who controls the number of Action Points you will receive in your Phase.
At the start of a Player Phase, your opponent randomly selects an Action Point Marker out of an Opaque Cup. He keeps this maker secret for the time being. His opponent begins his Phase and can use up to 4 Action Points per turn. Each action uses an Action Point. However, as soon as the number of Action Points used match the Action Point Chit pulled, the non-phasing player shows the chit pulled and his opponents turn is over. Now the procedure is repeated for the other player and he performs his actions until the Action Point chit total is met.
Using the concept of “Action Points” introduces an unknown quantity to the game that players never know how many moves they can make in a turn. It introduces an unknown quantity to the game because they never know if they will be able to complete their strategy.
Peter Bogdasarian, the designer, even introduces a way for players to play Tank On Tank solitaire. It’s a simple process and works as it changes the way Action Points are allocated. Once you spend 2 Action Points as the Phasing Player you roll a 1d6 and if the result is a 1 or 2 your Phase is over. Anything else and you are allowed to spend an additional AP and roll the die again but this time on a roll of a 1-3, your Phase ends. If you get past this, you spend on last AP and your turn is over. Again, as above in the two player game, you never know how many units you are going to be able to move and/or fire.
Headquarters Units are special units in the game. When a player activates a Headquarters Unit, not only is that unit activated, but all the units in the adjacent hexes can be activated. If you look at the strategy of the game, this makes HQ units very important pieces because of their activation capabilities.
The final item we will look at is Combat. As in most games of this genre, for it to fire at an enemy unit is has to meet three prerequisites which are;
- Target unit must be in its front Arc.
- Target unit must be in range.
- There must be a Line of Sight to the Target unit.
As long as these prerequisites are met, any number of firing units can target the enemy unit providing the Phasing units have not already fired in this phase.
Unlike other tactical level games, Combat Resolution in ToT is straightforward and simple as it should be in a beer and pretzel game. Here I will break it down stop-by-step;
- Roll 2d6 and sum the results.
- To this result add the number of firing pieces.
- Apply any Combat Modifiers.
This final number is then compared to the target units Defense Strength. If the attack roll is less than the units Defense Strength, the attack misses and the unit lives to fight another day. However, if the attack roll is equal to or greater than the Defense Strength of the Target Unit, the target is immediately destroyed and removed from the map.
Included with ToT are six Scenarios. The format of the Scenario layout is you are first told which map to use and who will have the first phase in the game. After this you are given the units that are going to be used to fight this Scenario. Finally you are provided with the requirements that either side must maintain to achieve Victory. The six Scenarios provided with the game are;
- Head to Head
- Frontal Assault
- Last Stand
- Stab to the Flank
- Night Action
Also, Lock N’ Load Publications publishes a magazine by the name of Line of Fire (which I also write for) that provides gamers with new scenarios, maps, and components for their games. In the last few issues, a number of new scenarios and physical components have been published which has expanded ToT’s scope and play-ability.
Tank on Tank is a serious fun game. I know that sounds like a contradiction but unless you try the game you won’t understand what I mean. Not every wargame/simulation needs to be bogged down in historical accuracy, and complexity to be enjoyable. Here is a game that definitely bucks that trend by giving players a fun little beer and pretzel boardgame that has tanks and infantry slugging it out on small map surfaces. What’s more, each game can be finished in under an hour which means that in one night of gaming a ton of games can be played. I am sure at the end of the night that you will hear gamers laughing, crying, and carrying on about just how much enjoyment they received playing Peter Bogdasarian’s Tank on Tank. So, if you are looking for a fun game to be used to introduce new people to the hobby, or for old grognards to settle their scores across the table Tank on Tank fits the bill and the loser will have no one but themselves to blame for the loss. To the winners all I can say is Good Hunting!!!
Available from Lock ‘n Load Publishing