Tanks! A Gale Force 9 Skirmish Game Review
Recently we were lucky enough to have a go at playing “Tanks!”, a skirmish game by Gale Force 9. The 15-minute game serves as an ideal gateway into wargaming, but that shouldn’t provoke the more experienced gamers amongst us to jump ship just yet. Tanks! also has the potential to progress from just a quick game to very basic list building. To put it simply, this game is relevant to first-time wargamers, on the hunt for an introduction, and veteran gamers after a short break from reality alike!
As a two-player, starter set that retails for the affordable price of around £20, the World War Two themed “Panther Vs Sherman”, gave us the starting point we’d hoped for. The kits provided, are the same as those in Battlefront, for their “Flames of War” franchise, both the detail and materials are outstanding. So, just think, you could always use your Tanks! Miniatures in your next game of Flames of War.
In the set, you’ll find three tanks: a Panther (or a Jagdpanther if you so desire to assemble it this way), and two Shermans.
The Sherman tanks come with a variety of armaments, allowing you to build a couple of easy 8’s, or even a Firefly, whichever you may fancy. Each tank and each variant is assigned a points value, so why not tool up a highly elite Sherman Firefly with an expert crew and several upgrades and field that one-on-one against the Panther? If that isn’t for you, you could go relatively bare-bones and field both the Shermans in fairly basic configurations. Give it a go, find out what you prefer.
Now, here’s a tip for you, use your glue sparingly and expand your options, by using it to assemble the lower portion of the Panther and then keep the top portion separate, allowing you to swap between the Panther and Jagdpanther. Why settle for one, when you could switch between two unique vehicles?
We played a 46 point game with one Jadgpanther going toe-to-toe with two Shermans. The Shermans proved to be fast and manoeuvrable and attempted to use their speed (and higher numbers) to catch the Jadgpanther in a pincer movement. But a good shot from the German tank destroyer’s 88mm gun tore through half the health of the Sherman (armed with a long 76mm gun - rather like Brad Pitt’s tank in Fury) and caused the crew to bail out - effectively drawing its time in the game to a close.
The remaining Sherman (armed with a rather modest 75mm gun) tried valiantly for two rounds to cripple the German tank hunter, despite the point-blank range, it was unable to get through the frontal armour of the Jadgpanther. Yet, once again, the 88mm armament of the German behemoth sliced through the Sherman’s armour like a hot knife through butter.
Having witnessed the demise of their colleagues in the Sherman 75, the war-weary crew of the Sherman 76mm refused to remount their vehicle, and instead beat a hasty retreat - leaving the Jagdpanther in possession off the field.
So, the question you’ve all been waiting for, what exactly do we like about it? Well, If you’ve ever played Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing, then you’ll recognise several features in Tanks! The tanks have a base points value, and can then be upgraded by equipping them with extra upgrades/crew, at an increased points cost. This means that in a 100 point game, you could field a couple of elite Super Pershings or a horde of smaller (and weaker) vehicles.
With a straightforward and intuitive gameplay, based around opposed rolling of six-sided dice and aiming for a roll of four or more to succeed in hitting your target/repairing/avoiding damage. Sixes are critical hits that will also deal additional severe damage in the form of debuffs. To score a hit against your target, you’ll be comparing the number of successes you rolled (if any) to your opponent’s defence dice rolls to see your round found a weak spot - or glanced off some well-angled armour.
Right, time to summarise. Tanks! Is an enjoyable pastime, its quick and intuitive rules make for a fast-paced game between a couple of vehicles. Alternatively, take it up a notch and incite battles between half a dozen vehicles per side, with no fear of bogging the game down. It is fair to say the simplicity of this game may not scratch the itch of a veteran gamer looking for an in-depth simulation of armoured combat. However, to its credit, it does still reward tactical play, historical tactics - and provides you with some excellent tank miniatures that can also be used in Flames of War (or any other 15mm scale WW2 wargame for that matter).
Rules for line of sight, cover, armour, flanking are all present - but executed simply and effectively. It rewards historically accurate deployment and movement of your forces - with careful use of cover and flanking fire all providing players with important bonuses. These bonuses take the form of more dice for you to roll when attacking, and less defensive dice for your opponent (but you’ll both still be looking to roll fours or more).
Now, to round it all up, from brand new wargamers to the more accomplished, Tanks! truly is a game that has a lot to offer to all corners of the wargaming world!