So I mentioned in my last post the arrival of Blood Red Skies, which I am really loving. However almost at the same time The Two Fat Lardies unveiled a set of rules that have challenged BRS for my attention - What a Tanker!.
As I understand it WAT is one of Lardy Nick's creations. It is a deceptively simple but elegant game about the trials and tribulations of commanding a tank in WW2. At its most basic each turn the player rolls a "hand" of dice (d6) and can then use the results to fight his tank. Any 1s are "Drive" dice, allowing movement and manouvre, 2s are "Acquire"- it finding a target, 3s Aim, 4s shoot, 5 load and 6s are wildcards that can be used as any other dice. You can play the dice in any order, but you must obviously acquire a target before you aim, and then you must be loaded before you shoot. Dead simple. And so easy to screw up! And that's it in a nutshell. Actually it is a bit more complicated than that, and quite a bit more nuanced, but on the back of a postcard that sums it up.
So now to the nuances. The Drive result can be used to move forward 2D6 (inches), or reverse 1 D6, or pivot on the spot and move 1D6. Crossing an obstacle such as a wall costs a whole Drive dice. Damage reduces the result of each drive dice rolled etc etc. The other results are similarly variable depending on circumstances and vehicle.
What could possibly go wrong? Well it seems quite a lot :-) In addition to the total F**kwit moments all players have naturally when you make a stupid decision, in the heat of combat your gunner may fail to see that size of a house Tiger (no 3s or 6s) or you loader may fumble the loading of his shell at the wrong moment (no 5s). That means you have to think fast and improvise. You can set up a good shot and take care, but you can never guarantee the result. It makes for a superb, fun, tense game.
There are also some equipment options - Fast tanks can automatically turn 1 dice into Drive Dice, Tank Destroyers have advantages acquiring targets etc. There are also some clear omissions - no penalties for 2 man turrets for instance. I was speaking to Richard Clark about this and he said they had a whole raft of "historical" modifications built in to an earlier version, but they decided to remove them as they didnt add that much and the added complication reduced the fun. It's a valid point, though rivet counters like me are probably going to tinker.
I mentioned fun. Oh yes. This game is perfect for a group of players to grab a tank each and get stuck in. There are career modes, where if you survive and take out enough enemy vehicles you can progress to a better tank, or you can stay in your (t)rusty old steel beast and be an Ace tanker, gaining bonuses to your skills. There is also a points system to allow you to build scenarios or balance sides.