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Panzer (second edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Panzer and how the Metal gods ruled again! rss

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Perry Pender
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I recently took the dive and bought GMT Games Panzer, and all of the modules available at this moment in time (Expansions 1/2&3), I also purchased MBT 2nd edition (but that is for another review), and I thought I would put some of my initial thoughts and impressions down.

Overview

Panzer covers at the moment the Eastern front from 41 up until the end of the war in May 45 and the western front from Normandy onwards,it is set at the tactical level so a Tank counter is just that, A Tank, and a infnatry counter is a squad/section. 100 meters per hex. we know that France 40 is on the way and one assumes more will follow.

Components:

As we expect from GMT games, the game parts are simply very well made, and finished, the base map is a nice bit of work, but the extra maps in the expansions really add to the game, and the DYO aspect Panzer. Counters are to my mind a simple joy, large easy to read, not to thin or thick and very well executed, nice graphics on the AFV overheads and they really do add to the game. Charts and player aids are again upto GMT's very high standards, and when all is set up the layout looks epic.
The boxes are something that I feel add to the system in a visual way, when on the old book shelf they just pop, the base game box automatically drags you back to the PanzerBlitz days of Avalon Hill fame (I remember buying PB back in 1985 at 15 years of age!) Box art is simple but very effective, and ties the whole set together so far (when France 40 is released I hope it compliments the set so far).

Game-play:

After reading the Basic and advanced rules I threw a few Panzers and Soviet Tanks down on the base map and set to, what grabbed me straight away was the turn sequence, Pure genius, having to issue orders before you know who has the initiative and thus first go is a really good way to make players think moves in advance, and think or at least try to think tactically, when you tie this in with the Advanced rule of staggered initiative and the game really breaks down into a grimy dirty dog fight with both sides trying their level best to gain the advantage over the other side. I used as much as I could advanced rules wise, and am still adding more of those, and some of the optional rules, this almost modular approach to game play and rules really works for me. If I have had a long day and really am in brain drain mode I can just play the basic game rules, which stream line loads but still has flavour, if however I want to ramp it up to the maximum I can add all the advanced rules and optional rules, this does slow down game play, but really does add to the game no end.

A typical engagement follows this basic format:
Player A's Tank wishes to fire at Player B's Tank 6 hexes away,
First you must see if the target has been spotted and if the firing tank can indeed spot the target (to fire on a target with Direct Fire it must be spotted, Over-watch is different). if the target is spotted, you work out the range referencing the firing tanks Data Card,


As can be seen, on this JagdPanther on the AP row, in the R (Range) line, 6 hexes comes into the S (Short) range band Maximum is up to 9 hexes and minimum is 5 hexes for a short range shot.
you then cross reference this with the AP to hit table and modifiers,
this gives you a basic TH# that you must then roll equal to or under to achieve a hit, you then (assuming you hit) roll a D10 for hit location depending on the target facing Front, Front side, Rear side, Rear, and within these there are different hit location, Hull front, Turret front, Hull side, Turret side etc. Each location as might be expected will have a differnat armour value depending on angle of hit, is it a level shot, is it a rising shot or a falling shot and such, so going back to our JagdPanther he rolled a hit at 6 hexes against the Front side of this little beauty


When checking for hit location (1D10) the German player rolled HF (Hull Front), we next look at the SU-85 M43's data card, a level shot that hits the SU-85 from a front /side and achieves a HF hit must be able to punch through the SU-85's Armour factor of 21.
We quickly look now at the JagdPanthers P (penetration) Factor for a S (Short) range engagement, we see at ranges from 5-9 hexes a JagdPanther can penetrate up to and including 42 Armour Factors! This is clearly not good for Ivan as his SU-85 if hit in the front/rear side HF location with a level shot only has a measly 21 Armour Factors, this results in the round punching through the SU's armour, we now look to the JagdPanthers AP damage section of it's Data card, and roll a D10.
Lets say we roll a 7, looking at the table this gives a result of KO, the SU is Knocked Out and is removed from play and is replaced by a Knocked out counter. The action can be further detailed by AP hits variances and such like, but the combat is to my mind simply brilliant, you try as much as you can to keep your front to the enemy and sometimes you HAVE to get on to the flanks, especially if you are in a Pz III L trying to drop a KV-1s or such.
Infantry combat is to my mind toned down a bit, but that is no great worries, what you have is more than good enough, and to be honest the Tanks/Panzers are the star of the show, so as said, what we have infantry wise is more than good enough.

The turn sequence is simple, and games flow along at a happy pace, even some of the more larger scenario go along at a fair clip and can be nailed in a night or two.

all in all I like Panzer very much, it is my go to game if I want some light relief from heavier games or games that need to be set up for weeks (L2 DG streets of Stalingrad and such like).

The only weakness to my mind are the maps, they could of been a bit more colourful and made a bit more robustly, the split maps are easy to rip if not careful, I have copied them all and laminated them so the originals are now sat in a box and safe, also the hexes need to be slightly bigger as the counters do tend to overlap and this can get slightly annoying when the action gets close in.

What would I like to see added, Leaders, the same as is being added to MBT's BAOR & FRG, a slightly more detailed infantry combat system. More maps, I make my own with Hexdraw but not everyone has the time or inclination to do this. Extra counters, by this I mean the ability to purchase extra T34 models and such like, you do not get enough T34 models to my mind, especially on the more open maps, those Panthers and Tigers can really tear up a bunch of T34 in no time, so can the humble Pz IVH and such like.

Summary:
Panzer is to my mind what you make it, GMT has set it up so it really is 3 games in one depending on what rules you add or do not add depending on your tastes. It is well produced, well thought out and again, to my mind simply an awesome game of Armoured warfare, albeit with a few cons (map based mainly).
I can only look forward to what GMT does next with the series, maybe a Desert module, and then battle specific modules, Kursk and such like.

all the best

Perry
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Warren Smith
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I like it for the armored warfare, even with a bunch of advanced/optional rules which add a lot of flavor but don't overburden it.

What I haven't gotten past yet (and admittedly, I haven't put a major effort into it) is when you add Infantry and the other stuff. I'm probably being completely unfair, but that seems to add a great deal of complexity. Maybe ... for me ... too much.

Have you gotten into those rules and what do you think? I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. If it was just the armor, I'd be fine. But, not only would that get boring pretty quickly, but there's only 2 basic scenarios before your required to use all those other rules and the idea of DYO is decidedly uninspiring for me.

I'm not giving up but that's the wall I've hit with this so far. Need to put more time into it and see if it's as "bad" as I'm thinking it is.
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Jim Day
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Proff3RTR wrote:
What I would like to see added, Leaders, the same as is being added to MBT's BAOR & FRG

All of the WWII leaders are to be included in Panzer Expansion 4: France 1940.

Check it out here:
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-605-panzer-expansion-4-france-1940...
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Scott Shafer
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And ably supported by the designer!
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Robert
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wsmithjr wrote:
I like it for the armored warfare, even with a bunch of advanced/optional rules which add a lot of flavor but don't overburden it.

What I haven't gotten past yet (and admittedly, I haven't put a major effort into it) is when you add Infantry and the other stuff. I'm probably being completely unfair, but that seems to add a great deal of complexity. Maybe ... for me ... too much.

Have you gotten into those rules and what do you think? I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. If it was just the armor, I'd be fine. But, not only would that get boring pretty quickly, but there's only 2 basic scenarios before your required to use all those other rules and the idea of DYO is decidedly uninspiring for me.

I'm not giving up but that's the wall I've hit with this so far. Need to put more time into it and see if it's as "bad" as I'm thinking it is.


I only played the first edition and loved the tank rules, but I wanted a game that could handle infantry as well. Once I added the infantry rules though, I really didn't like them. The game felt like a game of armoured combat (which obviously it is) but with tacked on infantry rules that didn't quite fit. Not sure if second edition is different though?

... ATS (advanced tobruk system) was for me, a better game to handle overall elements of infantry, AFVs, artillery, air strikes. Yeah, not perfect, but it felt pretty good. Sadly, support from the publisher was horrible and I could never find anyone to play it with me so I sold all my ATS stuff to reinvest elsewhere. For better or worse, ASL is where it's at if you want to find an opponent I think ...

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Perry Pender
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mongoose27 wrote:
Proff3RTR wrote:
What I would like to see added, Leaders, the same as is being added to MBT's BAOR & FRG

All of the WWII leaders are to be included in Panzer Expansion 4: France 1940.

Check it out here:
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-605-panzer-expansion-4-france-1940...


Outstanding, that will add to the system.

Thank you Jim.
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Perry Pender
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wsmithjr wrote:
I like it for the armored warfare, even with a bunch of advanced/optional rules which add a lot of flavor but don't overburden it.

What I haven't gotten past yet (and admittedly, I haven't put a major effort into it) is when you add Infantry and the other stuff. I'm probably being completely unfair, but that seems to add a great deal of complexity. Maybe ... for me ... too much.

Have you gotten into those rules and what do you think? I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. If it was just the armor, I'd be fine. But, not only would that get boring pretty quickly, but there's only 2 basic scenarios before your required to use all those other rules and the idea of DYO is decidedly uninspiring for me.

I'm not giving up but that's the wall I've hit with this so far. Need to put more time into it and see if it's as "bad" as I'm thinking it is.


Push past that wall, I play ASL so complicated infantry rules mean nothing to me, The infantry rules work well as far as I am concerned, I bought the whole series brand new and un-punched in one go for £120 all in (a snap if I do say so my self), and I set up Villiers Bocage Morning as my first scenario, it took two play through's to get how the 'Grunts' work in this system, yes it is not ASL when it comes to infantry, but it is not meant to be, they are there to compliment the Tanks, and in that I feel Mr Day has achieved his aim, the game comes alive when you chuck in grunts and anti tank guns and such like, the base game would of benefited I feel from more maps as opposed to the original versions 1, that would allow you to get in the grunts fast as I fell the original map does make life hard for the ground pounders, but having said that in open country during WW2 infantry were at the mercy of Tanks if not supported by their own or even anti tank guns.

My suggestion would be to get a companies worth of German and Soviet infantry out, and fight a few small engagements with them, do so until you are happy with how grunts kill grunts, then add a few tanks each side and go at it, before you know it you will be close assaulting tanks left right and center.

all the best

Perry
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Roger Hobden
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Nice review of a great game !

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Warren Smith
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Proff3RTR wrote:

My suggestion would be to get a companies worth of German and Soviet infantry out, and fight a few small engagements with them, do so until you are happy with how grunts kill grunts, then add a few tanks each side and go at it, before you know it you will be close assaulting tanks left right and center.

Thanks for the thoughts. I'll put some effort into it. That said, I do play ASL so we'll see if there's enough room for both.
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Perry Pender
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wsmithjr wrote:
Proff3RTR wrote:

My suggestion would be to get a companies worth of German and Soviet infantry out, and fight a few small engagements with them, do so until you are happy with how grunts kill grunts, then add a few tanks each side and go at it, before you know it you will be close assaulting tanks left right and center.

Thanks for the thoughts. I'll put some effort into it. That said, I do play ASL so we'll see if there's enough room for both.


Warren,

There is always room, ASL has it's role in my war gaming world, Panzer has it's role, I would say it all comes down to what your mood is at the time, if I want a real deep full on whistles and bells game where EVERY little thing is catered for, ASL is it.
If I want a good city fight, Streets of Stalingrad is it,
but if I want a good Tank dust up with infantry there as well in SUPPORT, then it is Panzer all the way, far lighter than ASL, but with the ability to go deep if you wish, the Infantry do work, I have heard some who have said that the infantry combat in Panzer seems a bit, well light/wrong, I can see where they are coming from to a degree, but the game is about Tanks, with Infantry there as support, the two work well together, I look at Panzer as an almost perverse ASL light, try setting up one of the Panzer scenario in ASL as close as you can (try Villiers Bocage Morning for instance), in Panzer I can conclude it in an evening (roughly 4-5 hours play as long as my 5 year old Daughter does notkeep creeping into my gaming room when she should be asleep in her bedroomlaugh) ASL takes far longer, is far heavier and sometimes feels sterile, don't get me wrong, I like ASL a lot, but there are times when I just can not be bothered to go through the whole ASL thing to play a scenario, Panzer fills those times more and more these days.

A good system that does what it says on the box, both games have their pro's & con's, and each to my mind does what it does well.

Happy gaming.

Perry
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Tom Willcockson
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Counters are to my mind a simple joy, large easy to read, not to thin or thick and very well executed, nice graphics on the AFV overheads and they really do add to the game.


The counter art is my main critique of the game. Depictions are a little hard to distinguish and not as well executed as I would like given the current counter art standards. Think they could have used some firmer line-work to make the art stand out better. The boards are ok, but once again I think the map art could have been much better. ASL is pretty much stuck with its look (not that I think it is all that bad) but I think GMT could have done a better job with the art and cartography in Panzer, starting out from scratch. But like ASL, it is too late now. Not a big critique, but yes a little disappointed and I do sort of wonder why I have been collecting all the expansions since I still haven't played the game yet. Just very hard to put away the lifestyle ASL game to investigate other tactical systems I suppose.
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Perry Pender
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TomW731 wrote:
Quote:
Counters are to my mind a simple joy, large easy to read, not to thin or thick and very well executed, nice graphics on the AFV overheads and they really do add to the game.


The counter art is my main critique of the game. Depictions are a little hard to distinguish and not as well executed as I would like given the current counter art standards. Think they could have used some firmer line-work to make the art stand out better. The boards are ok, but once again I think the map art could have been much better. ASL is pretty much stuck with its look (not that I think it is all that bad) but I think GMT could have done a better job with the art and cartography in Panzer, starting out from scratch. But like ASL, it is too late now. Not a big critique, but yes a little disappointed and I do sort of wonder why I have been collecting all the expansions since I still haven't played the game yet. Just very hard to put away the lifestyle ASL game to investigate other tactical systems I suppose.


Tom,
I was of the same mind, why play anything else but ASL? Take the plunge, it is worth it, ASL is a very, very good game as we all know. But and this is a big but, other games out there do the tactical level very well. Panzer does a good job, it is not as detailed infantry wise as ASL is, but it feels right, and you do not get bogged down in very detailed and picky rules such as by pass freeze and such like. The Infantry combat is clear simplified, as the game is mainly about Panzers and so it should be.

As to the counters, I can see where you are coming from, I like them and think they are nice, but maybe a stronger out line but they are to my mind nice.

All in all Panzer is a good sound game, it I is not as detailed as ASL is infantry wise, or over all system wise, but it does do armoured warfare very well and combined arms in a good strong and playable way.

All the best

Perry
 
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TomW731 wrote:
Quote:
Counters are to my mind a simple joy, large easy to read, not to thin or thick and very well executed, nice graphics on the AFV overheads and they really do add to the game.


The counter art is my main critique of the game. Depictions are a little hard to distinguish and not as well executed as I would like given the current counter art standards. Think they could have used some firmer line-work to make the art stand out better. The boards are ok, but once again I think the map art could have been much better. ASL is pretty much stuck with its look (not that I think it is all that bad) but I think GMT could have done a better job with the art and cartography in Panzer, starting out from scratch. But like ASL, it is too late now. Not a big critique, but yes a little disappointed and I do sort of wonder why I have been collecting all the expansions since I still haven't played the game yet. Just very hard to put away the lifestyle ASL game to investigate other tactical systems I suppose.


Since we're talking about counters, I have to say I miss the rectangular counters from the original Yaquinto edition. I'm sitting here trying to think *why* I prefer the Yaquinto rectangular counters and I think it's because a rectangular counter means the entire counter is contributing to communicating the facing of the tank ... which in Panzer is a fundamental concern.
 
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Perry Pender
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rayofsunshine wrote:
TomW731 wrote:
Quote:
Counters are to my mind a simple joy, large easy to read, not to thin or thick and very well executed, nice graphics on the AFV overheads and they really do add to the game.


The counter art is my main critique of the game. Depictions are a little hard to distinguish and not as well executed as I would like given the current counter art standards. Think they could have used some firmer line-work to make the art stand out better. The boards are ok, but once again I think the map art could have been much better. ASL is pretty much stuck with its look (not that I think it is all that bad) but I think GMT could have done a better job with the art and cartography in Panzer, starting out from scratch. But like ASL, it is too late now. Not a big critique, but yes a little disappointed and I do sort of wonder why I have been collecting all the expansions since I still haven't played the game yet. Just very hard to put away the lifestyle ASL game to investigate other tactical systems I suppose.


Since we're talking about counters, I have to say I miss the rectangular counters from the original Yaquinto edition. I'm sitting here trying to think *why* I prefer the Yaquinto rectangular counters and I think it's because a rectangular counter means the entire counter is contributing to communicating the facing of the tank ... which in Panzer is a fundamental concern.


That is a good point, maybe there should of been a small red arrow or mark on the front facing side of the counter to aid people? just a thought.

like this maybe:
 
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Stephen Foulk
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Remember the national insignia and base movement are always front edge with the vehicle sandwiched between, even if the vehicle doesn't have a long gun (like the Brumbar) that should be an easy way to spot facing from a distance.
 
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