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Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs» Forums » General

Subject: A Playtest Session Narrative rss

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David Spangler
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At one time, it must have been an idyllic scene, a small Russian village nestled in a wooded valley. Now it was mostly rubble, with only an old Orthodox church and a town hall still fully standing amidst the piles that had once been shops and dwellings. In the dawning light of early morning, the German tanks paused, their commanders viewing what their artillery had wrought. It was not inviting. The ruins and the surrounding woods offered plenty of places for Russian tanks to be waiting in ambush. But inviting or not, they had to press through to objectives beyond the valley. Besides, the Soviets were in retreat, were they not?

One Panzer IV moved cautiously into the rubble, finding a spot to be hull down just in case. Another veered off and entered the surrounding wood. All seemed quiet. Then movement was spotted amongst the trees. T-34s. There were Soviets still here after all, a rear guard no doubt!

Cannons roared, breaking the morning stillness. The German commander in the woods calls to his gunner to fire at the Soviet tank that he can see moving in the trees ahead. Cursing, he yells at the man to hurry up.

It was his last thought. The T-34 spit flame and a moment later, the German tank exploded. No survivors.

In the village, commander of the hull down Panzer IV felt confident he and his crew were well concealed. It spots one of the ambushing Russian tanks in the woods at the edge of town, and fires. He just misses! For a moment, he can’t see the T-34, then to his horror, he realizes it has flanked him. His hull down position offers him no shelter as the Russian shell slams into the side of his tank. The resulting explosion kills his gunner, driver, and loader, but he and the assistant driver somehow miraculously escape, lying stunned in the rubble beside the burning wreckage of what only moments before had been their tank. He could only hope the other Panzers quickly coming up would find revenge.

With two Panzers destroyed within the space of a few minutes, the other Panzers crept forward, cautiously. The Soviets were obviously hiding in the woods. German armor would flush them out and make them pay.

One tank crept past the wreckage of their comrade, taking a moment to find cover and concealment among the still standing buildings of the village. Another Panzer entered the woods. The Soviets, emboldened, creep forward, determined to stop the invader of the Motherland or die trying.
One T-34 commander, though, was a bit too eager. Moving, he was spotted by the Panzer lying in wait concealed amongst the buildings. One shot, and the T-34 exploded. A catastrophic hit! No survivors. The German commander smiled grimly. He’d gotten revenge.

In the woods, the other Panzer spots one of the Soviet tanks responsible for killing the other German tank. It is moving to fire at his mate positioned among the buildings. The Soviet commander hasn’t seen him, so he flanks him. He fires and hits, but to his dismay and disgust, the shell doesn’t penetrate the side armor of the T-34. It should have been a perfect shot!

In the meantime, shook up by the hit, the Soviet crew nevertheless fires at the Panzer in the village. It’s a hit! Inside the German tank, the loader is killed. The crew’s morale breaks! But the commander rallies them, and they move away from the village and into a gully that runs through the forest.
The other Panzer commander has lost his flank but he still has the T-34 in his sights. He fires again, but misses.

Now the four tanks are maneuvering, seeking better positioning. It’s becoming a knife fight as they close the range between them. One Soviet tank enters the gully, pursuing the Panzer that’s hiding there. The other Panzer, though, moves out of the Woods, where visibility is poor, and into the village, moving into the rubble where, to his delight, he discovers he has flanked one of the T-34s moving slowly through the trees.

The Soviet tank in the Gully spots the Panzer moving in the rubble and realizes he has flanked his comrade. He fires, but to his disgust, the shell bounces off. The Panzer in the gully with him fires at him, but with no effect. The next few moments will determine who will survive and who will lose….but…Game Ends!

Final score: Soviets 33, Germans 14.

-----------------------
Tank Duel is an exciting, fast card game most reminiscent of Up Front, one of my all-time favorites. However, in many ways, it's an easier game to get into and play. One wonderful part of the system is that you are never out of the game, even when your tanks are destroyed. The game models a very small part of a much larger battlefield, so if you lose a tank, you simply replace it with one of the others presumed to be present in the fight. You keep on slugging it out until the Game End card appears (the timing of this depending partly on the number of players and partly on randomization). This game took about five to seven minutes per turn and there were 8 turns, so approximately just under an hour. It makes for a good quick lunch-time battle or several battles over the course of an evening. The basic rules and flow of the game are easy to grasp.

It's a game that creates instant narratives as your tanks maneuver from one terrain to another; tension ramps up when you can see the other player moving against you and you can't draw a Fire card into your hand to protect yourself. Or when you have good Move cards but no Terrain to move into that will give you cover.

Like any card game, there is luck involved, but good hand management can reduce this. Depending on your range from the enemy, your hand size can increase or decrease, which adds a tactical element to your gameplay. Moving in closer puts you at greater risk for being destroyed but gives you an extra card to play.

It's choices like these that confront the gamer each turn, keeping interest and suspense high. I love it and am delighted to be a playtester. Can’t wait to see the published copy later this year. It’s currently on GMT’s P500 Order list.
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Simon Hunt
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OGRE 6e at last!
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Thanks for an intriguing AAR. I keep visiting the game's page on GMT and each time I get closer to pulling the trigger!
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Mike Bertucelli
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Go ahead just pull, it's easy.
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Simon Hunt
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Hobiecat wrote:
Go ahead just pull, it's easy.
Oops!

Thanks for spending my money 😜
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Mike Bertucelli
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Awesome! thank you.
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Stuart McIntyre
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Great to see some progress on this game... looking forward to trying it!
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