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Combat Commander: Battle Pack #5 – Fall of the West» Forums » General

Subject: First impressions of the experimental AFV rules rss

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Chick Lewis
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I finally got to enjoy my copy of FotW yesterday, (after an imaginary flight to Milan to retrieve it from our buddy Professorelm) and I must say I am quite impressed by the very interesting rules for the early AFVs. Mind you, I was not one of the playtesters, and have not yet played any of the scenarios, but what follows are my first impressions.

The rules themselves are marvelous in their focus and brevity, comprising only 600 words, fitting easily onto one side of a player-aid card, with lots of room to spare. The detailed definitions of the four AFVs included in scenarios reside on the reverse side of the player-aid card.

For example, a PzkwIII consists of:
- Trench fortification counter
- 9-1 German AFV leader with 4fp lmg
- Weapon team with 8fp hmg
- Weapon team with 9fp medium mortar

Using existing game components is nice, and allows us to use most of the familiar rules when using early AFVs.

AFVs "drive" into hexes without expending movement points, and can use a MOVE, ADVANCE, or Command Confusion order to drive up to 4 hexes, but only into open, brush, field hexes, or when crossing a road hexside.

I would, however, like to confirm my understanding for a few issues. If I have misinterpreted, I trust that those more knowledgeable will immediately correct me.

Let's say I have the above PzkwIII, and in the same hex, an infantry weapon team with another 8fp hmg and an 8-2 German infantry leader. This is possible without overstacking, as the stacking value of the AFV is defined as only four.

By strict reading of the rules, both Leader Bonuses stack, as nowhere in the AFV rules is this changed.

Therefore the AFV hmg, if activated by the AFV leader would fire with 8+1+2=11fp and could get another +1 if the fire of the AFV lmg were added in as part of the firegroup.

Similarly the infantry hmg, if activated in a subsequent fire order would fire with 8+2+1=11fp.

When making defense rolls, the AFV crews would have an additional +2 morale from the external infantry leader, and the infantry team would have (edit:strikeouts for correctness) both a +4 cover from the AFV Trench counter and a +1 from the AFV leader. It is possible that the trench counter cover only applies to the AFV crew, but this is nowhere stated in the new rules, so my impression is that the infantry are hiding behind the AFV and using it for cover.

Including a fortification in the makeup of the AFV has a number of additional clever and subtle effects.

It means that AFVs can never 'drive' into fortification (including mines and wire) hexes, (since two fortification counters can never occupy the same hex) removing the need for additional rules. Also mines and wire can therefore never be dropped by actions into a hex already containing an AFV. Very elegant and clean.

Another effect, though, is that AFVs can never 'pass through' one another, as that would cause two fortifications to temporarily occupy the same hex. Seems a little strange, but I'm good with this, as I believe doctrine stressed keeping a good separation between AFVs when in combat.

Assault fire (with an AFV lmg, for instance) won't work, as the AFV is not activated to "move", but instead "drives".

By the new rules, an AFV is destroyed in two cases.
Either there are no units in the AFV, or
the AFV's fortification marker is removed.

So how can one destroy an AFV?

- Double-breaking the internal AFV units by fire eliminates them just as it should.

- Artillery (radios) and white-banded heavy weapons can destroy an AFV directly by removing the fortification counter, but for success you need to roll the requisite number listed on the record track. Not very likely, but possible.

- The most direct way to eliminate an AFV seems to be by melee, as nothing in the rules prevents enemy infantry from advancing into the AFV hex, playing ambushes, and winning the resulting melee.

- Breaking and Routing the AFV personnel units seems like an option, as when an AFV unit leaves the tank, it and its attached weapon go back into the countermix. The high morale of the AFV crews plus their fortification cover, however, means that in practice the AFV crews will never rout.

- Saving that 'demolition' action will not work, as there is no way I can think of to have a friendly unit in the enemy AFV's hex when the opponent discards.

- Sappers event won't do any good, as it can only be used to remove wire and mines.

Before reading these AFV rules, I wondered how the differences between historical crew sizes might be represented. In the FCM 36 (2-man) the main armament must be loaded and fired by the tank commander, who must also acquire the targets. In the Pzkw III (5-man), these functions each have a separate crew member; loader, gunner, and commander,

The answer is simple and elegant. The 37mm gun of the FCM 36 is represented by a light mortar (7fp) while the 37mm gun of the PzkwIII is depicted by a medium mortar (9fp). Apparently the German 37mm is firing more often, and more effectively. Nice.

Using mortars (with no minimum range) for the 37mm and 47mm guns of the AFVs also elegantly allows these to use the Sustained Fire action.

Overall, I am quite happy with the new experimental rules, and look forward to getting some AFVs on a CC map !
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Bryan Collars
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Hi Chick,

Great Overview and nearly spot on. You sought confirmation of two items 1)the Command bonus from Leaders and a Tank in the same hex; and 2)whether a fortification in a tank's configuration provides cover to units outside of the tank's configuration.

1) You interpreted the effect correctly. The Leader Command Bonus's add together as you demonstrated. However, I will say that, just as in a regular game, I feel this is sub-optimal play. The Scenarios were designed so that the leaders need to command their units rather than hanging out next to a tank.

2) A tank's fortification cover only benefits the other units within that Tank's Configuration. This is found by a strict interpretation of the "Definition of a Tank" and the "Members of the Tank" rules. In the former the fortification is defined as the representation of the tank's armored hull, it protects the crew. Coupled with the latter rule which states that only those units that start within a tank's configuration can ever be "in" the tank (aka the crew). So the fortification is there to protect the crew and the crew is defined as those units the start within a tank's configuration.

All the other ramifications you point out regarding fortifications are correct.
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Chick Lewis
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Thanks, Brian !

You wrote: "I feel this is sub-optimal play. The Scenarios were designed so that the leaders need to command their units rather than hanging out next to a tank."

And I agree. Doesn't make any sense at all since I now understand that infantry leaders get no cover bonus from the tank.

I just finished our first game, scenario 81, 'The Bottleneck', with four FCM 36 tanks in it.

And we discovered that the little groups of counters behave like - - - - TANKS !! It was a very exciting game, and I'll have to write up a mini-review.

Thanks to all of the development and playtest staff !! I really like the expansion, AND the experimental 'early AFV' rules.

Chick
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Tom Peters
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Before I say anything else, I dont have a copy of FotW, but I hope to get my hands on one soon.

From what you are saying, the tank main guns are modeled as mortars ? Furthermore, the German PzIII (50mm - Ausf F ?) is considered to have the same main gun effect as a 81mm mortar (9) ?

If so, this seems rather ahistorical. First of all, if you model the main guns as mortars, you now give them +2 against woods hexes from airburst.

Second, the HE main gun round of the 50 mm gun (PAK38 , SPRGR. PATR. 38 KWK) had a high explosive mass of 165 grams (source: ORDATA). In comparison, the German 81 mm MTR (GrW34) fired a HE round containing 498 grams of explosive (source: lonesentry.com).

Clearly, the 50 mm tank HE round should not have the same rating as the 81mm MTR (9). THe 50mm tank HE round is far closer to the German 50mm MTR loading which had a HE mass of 127 grams (Firepower 6). The Tank HE round should be 6, maybe 7 tops.

Whatever the case, I hope to get to play it in a few days.

Mad Dog
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Tom Peters
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Can I play hidden Mines on a AFV ?

Mad Dog
 
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MadDog wrote:
Can I play hidden Mines on a AFV ?

Mad Dog


As Chick pointed out:

Quote:
It means that AFVs can never 'drive' into fortification (including mines and wire) hexes, (since two fortification counters can never occupy the same hex) removing the need for additional rules. Also mines and wire can therefore never be dropped by actions into a hex already containing an AFV. Very elegant and clean.
 
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Tom Peters
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Ah, thanks for pointing that out.

however, that seems a bit gamey, doesnt it ? Tanks now can represent an island of safety that can never be mined or wired ? Infantry units can now use the presence of a tank in a hex to defeat some of the defender's best advantage.

Furthermore, plenty of tanks were immobilized or damaged due to minefields (~20% of all ALlied tank losses were due to mines: ORO-T-117 study).

Mad Dog
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David desJardins
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MadDog wrote:
however, that seems a bit gamey, doesnt it ? Tanks now can represent an island of safety that can never be mined or wired ? Infantry units can now use the presence of a tank in a hex to defeat some of the defender's best advantage.


That sounds pretty realistic. Tanks are a great way for infantry to bust through wire or defeat antipersonnel mines (which generally aren't powerful enough to harm the tank).
 
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Tom Peters
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Tanks are a great way for infantry to bust through wire or defeat antipersonnel mines

...except that tanks cant bust through wire or mines, can they ? If they cant enter hexes with wire or mines, then the game becomes relatively "bust-free".

Furthermore, there are some other unintended consequences. Consider maps 7, 18, or 20 (or other similar ones). There are places on these maps with VP locations in channeling terrain. Given the defenders ability to play hidden fortifications, there is the possibility of effectively preventing the AFV from moving around or even off the map. Heck, consider if the defender buys wire - it is possible to set up wire on some maps to prevent an attacking AFV from moving out of the attackers starting area.

Granted, this is before I have read the tank rules so I may be missing something. A this time I can only respond to what I have read on this forum. For some reason Consimworld is very quiet on the subject of FotW.

Mad Dog
 
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Cindy Nowak
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MadDog wrote:
Tanks are a great way for infantry to bust through wire or defeat antipersonnel mines

...except that tanks cant bust through wire or mines, can they ? If they cant enter hexes with wire or mines, then the game becomes relatively "bust-free".

Furthermore, there are some other unintended consequences. Consider maps 7, 18, or 20 (or other similar ones). There are places on these maps with VP locations in channeling terrain. Given the defenders ability to play hidden fortifications, there is the possibility of effectively preventing the AFV from moving around or even off the map. Heck, consider if the defender buys wire - it is possible to set up wire on some maps to prevent an attacking AFV from moving out of the attackers starting area.

Granted, this is before I have read the tank rules so I may be missing something. A this time I can only respond to what I have read on this forum. For some reason Consimworld is very quiet on the subject of FotW.

Mad Dog


You seem to have lots of questions. Perhaps once you get the game and read the rules, you'll have your answers?
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Tom Peters
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You seem to have lots of questions. Perhaps once you get the game and read the rules, you'll have your answers?

I certainly do. Always with the questions. It's like I can't stop.

I suspect, that if the information I have read in this forum is true, then reading the rules will generate even further questions. Life is funny like that.

Mad Dog
 
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Richard Pardoe
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MadDog wrote:
Consider maps 7, 18, or 20 (or other similar ones).

One point to keep in mind as you think out loud here - the AFV rules in this battlepack allow a set of components that could be considered a tank to be used in a grand total of four (4) scenarios.

The rules do NOT bring tanks into CC as a whole, do not introduce tanks into the Random Scenario Generator, do not add tanks as an option for other scenarios in CC. As a result, a lot of your hypothetical cases are just that...hypothetical and not germane to the four experimental scenarios that utilize AFVs in this battlepack.

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Tom Peters
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That is a good point Richard. THe choice of maps could certainly make for fewer questions.

thanks,

Mad Dog
 
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RPardoe wrote:
MadDog wrote:
Consider maps 7, 18, or 20 (or other similar ones).

One point to keep in mind as you think out loud here - the AFV rules in this battlepack allow a set of components that could be considered a tank to be used in a grand total of four (4) scenarios.

The rules do NOT bring tanks into CC as a whole, do not introduce tanks into the Random Scenario Generator, do not add tanks as an option for other scenarios in CC. As a result, a lot of your hypothetical cases are just that...hypothetical and not germane to the four experimental scenarios that utilize AFVs in this battlepack.



Except the toothpaste is out of the tube. DIY scenarios are going to play with the AFV rules to see what else can be simulated. Battle of the Bulge games will be rife with new ideas for heavy tanks, coupled with limited visibility house rules. Etc. etc.

I am looking forward to many happy years of chaos.
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Quote:
however, that seems a bit gamey, doesnt it ?

Perspective, please: remember we're talking about tanks. In Combat Commander....

Quote:
DIY scenarios are going to play with the AFV rules to see what else can be simulated.

Swim at your own risk; no lifeguard is on duty.
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John Foley
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Richard is completely correct that the rules are strictly constrained to the four scenarios and the four maps in question.

Those of you who are going to venture into DIY land are going to discover some interesting things that you have not yet learned yet.

For example: if the particular scenario settings, forces and maps were extremely well defined, we could omit COUNTLESS UNNECESSARY RULES. There are very few terrain restrictions - because the maps and situations were carefully weighed, one against the other, distilling the necessary to the least possible to discuss in rules terms.

For example: what currently available materials for a force could be reused to model both the effect and the comparative difference - without inventing any new counters? We added none because we could use (apparently unlikely calibers and platforms) to model the effect and the comparative differences - as expressly interacting with the main CC system (remember - cannot break and disfigure the central engine).

For example: does a particular capability get implemented by creating a new rule or rules on top of what's there, or does it occur naturally as a by-product of a few basic (seemingly unrelated) rules placed in the hands of the players, who discover the dynamics of the capability? How you use, move, screen, protect, stand off, charge, all these will come to light, even if there are so few rules there on the one sheet.

Are there nuances missing? Yes. For each nuance, a half-dozen correctives would have to be applied, chasing down the curve of obscure effects and interactions.

Less really is more.

And when you explore in DIY (which I encourage by all means), you will find yourself crashing hard upon the rocks of detail. A bushel basket of detail may please you, but it is not the heart of Combat Commander.


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Tom Peters
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Perspective, please: remember we're talking about tanks. In Combat Commander....

To be fair, these are experimental rules. I have not yet played it with tanks. My perspective may change.

thanks,

Mad Dog
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Hey Chick, can you point out in the rules where it says that White banded Heavy weapons can remove fortifications or AFVs? Trying to find it but can't seem to locate it.

Chris


Quote:
So how can one destroy an AFV?

- Artillery (radios) and white-banded heavy weapons can destroy an AFV directly by removing the fortification counter, but for success you need to roll the requisite number listed on the record track. Not very likely, but possible.
 
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Christopher
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ca_squires wrote:
Hey Chick, can you point out in the rules where it says that White banded Heavy weapons can remove fortifications or AFVs? Trying to find it but can't seem to locate it.

Chris

Quote:
So how can one destroy an AFV?

- Artillery (radios) and white-banded heavy weapons can destroy an AFV directly by removing the fortification counter, but for success you need to roll the requisite number listed on the record track. Not very likely, but possible.


Isn't that just in Stalingrad?
 
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Per the AFV rules:

Tank Elimination:
A tank is instantly eliminated if:
* no unit remains in the tank; or
* its fortification is removed or destroyed [F100.2]

Quote:
F100.2 Removal—Fortifications may normally only be eliminated during play via various Events, the “Demolitions” Action [A31], or an Artillery Impact Roll [O18.2.3.3].


No mention of white banded heavy weapons

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war_hero wrote:
ca_squires wrote:
Hey Chick, can you point out in the rules where it says that White banded Heavy weapons can remove fortifications or AFVs? Trying to find it but can't seem to locate it.

Chris

Quote:
So how can one destroy an AFV?

- Artillery (radios) and white-banded heavy weapons can destroy an AFV directly by removing the fortification counter, but for success you need to roll the requisite number listed on the record track. Not very likely, but possible.


Isn't that just in Stalingrad?


Probably there was a confusion with the fact that in Stalingrad Artillery and Infantry Guns (not all white-banded ordnance weapons) can create Rubble.
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Chick Lewis
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War_Hero and ProfessorElm are right, I was confused with the Stalingrad rules, and muddle-headed as well.

Apologies for steering everyone away from the one true path.
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chicklewis wrote:
War_Hero and ProfessorElm are right, I was confused with the Stalingrad rules, and muddle-headed as well.

Apologies for steering everyone away from the one true path.


I like the War Hero part. With my size, I would probably have fitted as the 6th crew member in a Tiger tank - if they were so kind not to put me into the tool box outside.
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(posted on BGG and Consimworld) I wanted to inflict my opinions and questions on the new tank rules presented in the Fall of the West battle pack. At this time, I have read the rules, the various posts on comsimworld and boardgamegeek, and I am part way through scenario 85.

I understand these rules are experimental, and I hope that changes are possible. And, no, while I play SL/ASL, I dont want to turn CC into ASL.

Tank Leader: The VASSAL tank leader in Scenario 85 doesnt appear to have a Leader bonus listed on the counter.

Members of a Tank: Why are infantry units outside of a tank, in the hex containing a tank not allowed to be the beneficiaries of Field Promotion, Hero, Infiltration, Scrounge, or Walking Wounded ? It is clear that none of these Events should effect the units inside of a tank, but why not for units outside ?

Driving a Tank: Shouldnt tanks be allowed to move along a railway ?

Movement Activation: I fail to understand the rationale for allowing Command Confusion to activate tanks for movement. This is a tremendous boon for the French and (should we see them in the future) Italians, both of which are the "beneficiaries" of numerous Com.Conf. cards, and neither of which really were noted for their armor initiative.

Noisy Movement: in CC:P, when the Japanese player uses a Charge card, all enemy units are allowed to participate in Op Fire, without a Fire card. The stated rationale for this is that a Charge is an obvious, noisy affair. Isnt a tank a pretty obvious, noisy affair ? I propose that a tank can trigger Op Fire without the opponent using a Fire card. Now, to be honest, this isnt a big change, as only weapons are allowed to Fire on a tank, and Ordinance cannot Op Fire….unless you amend the rules that ordinance can op Fire a tank...

Firing a Tank: Given that tank does not expend movement points, it appears that units in a tank cannot switch or transfer weapons to other teams within the tank. Is this intended ? I dont know how cross-trained tank crews were.

Armored Hulls: As the rules are written, units outside the tank, but in the same hex, can only be fired upon by Weapons. What is the rationale for making infantry outside the tank immune to non-Weapons fire ? It would seem reasonable to give infantry in the same hex a small cover bonus, but making them immune to non-Weapons fire could be terribly abused.

Consequences of Being a Fortification: Why is the tank described as having a fortification, as opposed to having some of the benefits ? Would it not be easier to describe the tank as having a cover of X ? The numerous consequences of having a fortification seem very odd:
- no dropping hidden minefields on a tank even though mines accounted for 20% of US tank losses on the west front
- cannot enter a hex already containing a fortification. Foxholes or pillboxes now act as roadblocks. This can have serious consequences on some maps.
- +1 cover against overhead fire, even when totally unwarranted in the case of open topped vehicles.

Triggers and Events: If a Blaze moves a tank to an adjacent hex, but there are no valid adjacent hexes, is the tank eliminated ?

Main armament: In the 4 AFV listed, one is armed only with a MG (Bren Carrier), 2 are armed with 37mm cannon, and 1 has a 47mm cannon and a 75mm sponson howitzer. In regards to the cannons, the weapons that are used to simulate the 37 and 47mm main guns are inappropriate. The 37mm main gun in the FCM is given the 60mm MTR effect of "7" while the 37mm gun in the PzIII is given the effect of the 81mm MTR "9". The 47mm gun in in the Char is given the 60mm MTR effect of "7".
The 75mm gun in the Char is given the effect of the 75mm French 75, but in this case, this is entirely reasonable.
Lets examine the HE payload in each of these rounds.

French 37mm: no precise entry found, should be ~40 grams
German 37mm Sprgr.Patr.34: no precise entry found, should be ~40 grams
French 47mm: no precise entry found, should be ~150 grams

(all data is from various sources, such as wikipedia, QJM, or ORDATA)

By way of comparison, the Italian 45mm MTR has an effect of "4", and this weapon has a HE load of 70 grams.

Therefore, it is inconsistent to give these tanks the effect they are shown. For a 37mm round, a "3" or "4" is more consistent, and a 47mm round might be given a "5". Furthermore, using mortars as representations is inappropriate given that mortars get the Airburst bonus against certain hexes - a bonus that flat trajectory weapons such as the main guns should not get.

Now, I suspect that due to the lack of counter printing, the GMT guys chose what they thought was the effectively closest weapon. However, I think there is no way around it - new weapon counters (virtual or real)
are going to be needed at some point.

I am also a little surprised that there is no apparent application of a tanks biggest weakness - you cant see much from the inside of one.

Mad Dog
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Cindy Nowak
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I'm confused by your reference to "infantry units outside of a tank"

MadDog wrote:
Members of a Tank: Why are infantry units outside of a tank, in the hex containing a tank not allowed to be the beneficiaries of Field Promotion, Hero, Infiltration, Scrounge, or Walking Wounded ? It is clear that none of these Events should effect the units inside of a tank, but why not for units outside ?


And:
Quote:
Armored Hulls: As the rules are written, units outside the tank, but in the same hex, can only be fired upon by Weapons. What is the rationale for making infantry outside the tank immune to non-Weapons fire ?


The units are in the tank, not outside it.

As far as the blaze:
Quote:
Triggers and Events: If a Blaze moves a tank to an adjacent hex, but there are no valid adjacent hexes, is the tank eliminated ?


Yes, the same as would happen to other units in CC

Quote:
Firing a Tank: Given that tank does not expend movement points, it appears that units in a tank cannot switch or transfer weapons to other teams within the tank. Is this intended ?


Yes
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