(...Well, almost the New Year for one of them anyway!)
So, before the xmas break Craig and I had decided we were going to get some wargames in. Craig comes a strong boardgames background where he and his partner Allyson have been playing and enjoying for many years. Their fantastic game room ( more later!) has all the evidence of massive amounts of fun they have had, stacked with games such as Gloomhaven, Undaunted, pandemic, memoir '44 ( ok, yes so im guilty of noticing all the games that are in my familiar genres, lol! ) and a HUGE amount more!!
Allyson and Craig have been playing more games that have been moving from meeples into fully cast miniatures such as various games from Fantasy Flight games etc. and this has kickstarted a desire to dabble in some games without boards, and this has led to them discovering the game "Gaslands" and the games "refuelled" updated rules, which are, of course, for high speed and high fun games of racing with weapon bristling vehicles in a post apocalyptic setting...cue the opportunity for us to organise a reciprocal event where I would learn Gaslands and Craig could learn Bolt Action. Score!
The first leg was a visit to Craig and Allysons game room for me just before the New Year, where I was met with the sight of their fantastic games room, complete with their excellent vinyl collection and Hifi system-nice!
So, to the background music of ACDC, Thin Lizzy and more, we did a quick bit of battleprep. Being given the generous option to choose which pair of color-coded vehicles with which to bring violence and speed to the table I -of course- chose the pair of maroon vehicles and luckily won the roll off for pole position where I chose what I felt was an inside straight line for my vehicle for the first gate on our figure of eight track.
Naming my vehicles came fairly easily; The buggy was "The No-love Bug" ( centre rear rank in pic) while "The Maroon Machine" for the car ( in pole position, or front left as we look at the pic above). At this point I probably should apologise to both Herbie and The Parachute Regiment for commandeering their nicknames...but I suspect that the rest of my regiment would also be more than comfortable with a weapons platform emblazoned with that name bombing around other warzones in addition to Kabul!
My adversaries were also cleverly named, featuring such crowd favorites from previous races as Allyson's 'Malicious Maneater" ( centre front rank in pic, converted awesomely and well painted, looking much like a certain well known Aussie police interceptor....!), and Craigs "Katsu Chicken" ( rear left) which was also converted into a sweet ride with aerosol huffing, missile loving petrol-heads who appear to have installed a missile pod on the top cover position!
What followed was an awesome death-race of hilarity and ruthlessness, interspersed with the odd moment of almost pity on the new guy ( me!) as I attempted poorly to race ahead of the carnage behind me as Craig and Allyson's vehicles fought out old grudges and settled scores from previous races. I had a game plan of racing the Maroon Machine ahead with minimal pauses for shooting except at opportunity targets, with the No-love Bug running interference.
This game was so awesome and Craig and Allyson kept me entertained with their great knowledge of the game and the game moved so fast and i was immersed so I only took one more pic which was from the first checkpoint!;
So... basically my No-Love bug got ripped open by Allyson's gunwagon at the 2nd gate and was obviously pretty ineffective as support whilst being a flaming car wreck! Eventually, the only vehicles left were the Maroon Machine who'd missed a gear and dropped back, and Katsu Chicken, whose color scheme of the Rising Sun-on-white reminiscent of Kamikaze bandanas did indeed telegraph the manner in which it drove during the second half of the race, and ended up stitching machine gun fire into my Maroon Machine as it was a mere 4-5 inches from the finish line ( enfilade fire from a defilade position...nice one Craig, lol!) , The Maroon Machine rolled....and ended up with the nose of the vehicle 3 or 4mm over the finish line!! Does finishing the race in a body bag count in a post apocalyptic setting?!?!
What a game, thank you so much for hosting me. I can see the attraction as its full on fun with inexpensive 'miniatures' that you can either customise or not to your hearts content. I hope to play again for sure!!
The 'return' leg saw Craig and Allyson visit us a couple of days into the New Year. I had been unsure who was going to attend until the time. Max is home and had become available and Allyson managed to make it also,all of which was FANTASTIC!! But left me in a quandry...I wanted to include as many people as possible and didnt feel that a introductory game of bolt action really lent itself to multi-player as there was so much going on. But what could we play?....Aha!
I had been after a copy of " What a Tanker " for quite some time, but I really wanted a physical copy. This is a definite "Me" thing, as there's something about reading a physical copy of rules that allows me to actually take the info in, as opposed to reading off a device. So I had got one in Hamilton when visiting friends there.
The problem? I hadn't read them! I think I had 15 minutes to read through these. Once I knew who was playing I quickly did so, grabbed two tanks each player and appointed myself GM for the game so I could look stuff up and make consistent rulings ( even if wrong!) for the game whilst it was in play.
How did it go? Well, my initial quick look caused some significant errors where i was making target acquisition too hard, but aiming too easy.
Another error I made is that, having grabbed whatever tanks were painted purely for aesthetic pleasure for the players, I then actually used the tanks as those precise variants. As I was writing the 'strike' and 'Armour' values down on the players tank dashboards I could see that we had a variance from 5-8 in these attributes across the players tanks, but in my head- currently set to "Bolt Action" including tank wars for that system- 2-3 PIPS on the dice wasn't that huge...but in WAT this is 2-3 DICE needing 5's and 6's to counter hits.
The levels of tanks listed in historical and technological progression will help new players be on a more level playing field OR simply place whatever tanks on the battlefield but choose stats so each new player has 1 of each of two stat lines/spec abilities in order to have a level playing field.
Anyway, as we played it through we discovered many points I hadn't yet in my limited read and fixed them. We had two tanks each for this one...Max lost one of his Sherman III's first from a magnificent shot at range from one of Craigs T34/85's that caused 3 unsaved Strikes and brewed it up!;
Max then cunningly went on a route that boxed around the cover on the battlefield and destroyed Justine's ( under my control while she made a beautiful dinner-doh! bad Dan, bad future Husband haha!) Panther that id stat-lined as a Pz IV for the game, and we then lost the Pz III to Craigs other T34/85!
Allyson's StuG ( yes i know it has the StuH barrel on it, I didnt change the howitzer barrel out for the AT Gun in my haste..and none of us were counting rivets!) was playing a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in angles and cover with Craigs T34/85 that was in depth by barricades in cover that showed how good they are at Gaslands can carryover to tanks!
Until, finally the Soviet tank commander capitalised on his turret advantage to destroy the "Tank Destroyer" ( Air quotes added by Allyson in a moment of laughter during the duel! ;)
Of course...in the heat of the moment, I forgot to take photos of the endgame ( Duh Dan!) but the last two players left in the game were Max with another Sherman III and Craig with both T34/85's remaining.
Craig proved Lanchesters Law of combat power ( Its a thing- look it up, ladies and gents) to pin Max's tank then destroy it with his other to end up this game day's champ!! Well done AGAIN Craig for winning, but also to Allyson who had what turned out to be a bit of a handicap with the little StuG that could (n't quite)!! Bad Luck to Justine for having me take over and coming back from dinner prep to flaming tank crew, and well done to Max for coming back from losing the first K Kill to going down to the wire with Craigs Soviets.
All in all, this was a great enjoyable day, i hope my errors didnt take away all the fun from the players game and they had a nice time. I am REALLY looking forward to games of these again with everyone, and an upcoming Bolt Action game vs Craig.
Learnings from Game 1 of What a tanker!
- Allocate tanks much more evenly than a game such as Bolt Action/Tank wars as strike and armour differences are REALLY powerful, much more so than in those systems.
-Print/laminate stiffened paper dashboards or 3D print/MDF for solid dashboards.
- Print and Laminate the ace ability cards. Playing cards can be used for the activation sequence numbered chits just as simply as printing them off...I used my trusty NZ army museum AFV cards from 1984, woohoo!
-Dashboards ideally between A5 and A4 size so dice can sit in the boxes provided, for usable gameplay tools.
- This game is awesome! suitable for one off but having a campaign would be great too!
- prepare tanks for the various levels of similar stat lines , especially the lower level (s) for entry.