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Subject: Helltank and Helltank Destroyer - Counter manifest and commentary rss

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Brian Train
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The following was originally published in Simulacrum magazine.

HELLTANK AND HELLTANK DESTROYER

Designer: Phil Kosnett
Publisher: Metagaming/ Game Research Group

Players: 2
Playing time: 1-2 hours
Era: science fiction future
Scale: individual vehicle/fireteam; 90 seconds to 3 minutes/turn; 1,000 metres/map hex

Published in 1981 and 1982 as Microgames #19 and #22 , respectively. Helltank Destroyer was an expansion for Helltank, adding new units and rules. Each game can be played on its own, but we have decided to review them as one.

Components

Helltank:
1 - 12x14" game map
1 - 28-page rule book
2 - sheets of die-cut, single-sided counters, total 126 counters
1 - cardboard storage box
1 - little wee die (sometimes)

Helltank Destroyer:
1 - 12x14" game map
1 - 30-page rules folder
2 - sheets of die-cut, single-sided counters, total 126 counters
1 - cardboard storage box
1 - little wee die (sometimes)

Counter Manifests

Each game comes with a total of 126 counters, consisting of an equal number of units for each side plus neutral Evade markers.
Helltank counters are white on blue or blue on black, and Helltank Destroyer counters are black on red or green.
Evade markers are black on white in Helltank and black on pinky-beige in Helltank Destroyer.

HELLTANK Counter Manifest

Unit # in Helltank (per side)
Tank 8
Raider 5
IFV 5
Gun (artillery piece) 4
Missile Launcher 3
Air Defense Platform 3
Attack Helicopter 6
Hovercraft 5
Multi-Turreted Tank 6
Hawk Team (infantry) 5
Air Cruiser 2
HLTank 3
EVADE (neutral) 16

HELLTANK DESTROYER Counter Manifest

Unit # in Helltank Destroyer (per side)
Tank 2
Raider 1
IFV 2
Gun (artillery piece) 1
Missile Launcher 2
Air Defense Platform 2
Attack Helicopter 2
Hovercraft 4
PHM 4
Surface Effect Ship (Strike) 4
Surface Effect Ship (Tpt) 4
Multi-Turreted Tank 4
Hawk Team (infantry) 4
Air Cruiser 3
Starplex 4
Hovergun 4
HLTank 2
HLTank Destroyer 2
Transport Air Cruiser 3
Triphibious Cruiser 3
Hover-mounted ADP 2
EVADE (neutral) 8



What the designer says

Details from the HELLTANK game box:
“The nearby grumble and clank surges rank fear in your veins. Crouched low you wait. Dragons or Ogres of old might at least be fought. HELLTANKS are certain death. Closer, closer it comes. You wait and pray it strikes right or left, anywhere but here. HELLTANK is a game of tactical armored conflict in the 21st century. Each counter is a single vehicle or small unit. Included are the U.S. Klane class MBT-1 1, light cav. Raiders. Japanese IFV infantry carriers. Israeli Missile Launchers. Recon Hovers, Brazilian tri-turret MTTs. Jet-pack Hawk Teams. Air Cruisers and the first Ft. Ticonderoga class heavy launch vehicle."

Details from Helltank Destroyer game box:
“HELLTANK DESTROYER, a sequel to HELLTANK, is a tactical armored and amphibious combat game where to design your own armored task-force. HELLTANK DESTROYER introduces nine new units; hydrofoil patrol boats, surface effect transport and strike craft, hovergun mobile artillery, and triphibious cruisers. And, the dread Helltank Destroyer with force cannon, missiles, artillery, lasers - so huge it carries battletanks in its hold. Included are four stand-alone scenarios and two link-games for use with HELLTANK. This is the ultimate, until they can kill Helltank Destroyers."

What the reviewers say

"...A mundane treatment of present-day armoured warfare, with a couple of 21st Century terms loosely tacked on....the bloodbath gets so bad ante every game I played, including advanced games with Helltanks was virtually decided by the third turn. Maybe the designer is trying to tell us that he feels that future armour battles will be extremely lethal. That may well be the case; but it sure makes for a boring game....Helltank could work; but cardboard counters and a small map are the wrong approach, because of the necessary compromises. Phil Kosnett’s basis would probably be excellent were it expanded into a set of miniatures rules." [excerpt from two full pages of description and panning in Nexus #2]


Collector’s Value

These two games were among the last to be published by Metagaming before it closed its doors. Helltank Destroyer, as Microgame #22, was the very last (technically it was published by Games Research Group, a spin-off created by Howard Thompson in the last year of Metagaming’s existence). Excalibre Games, in association with Decision Games, has reprinted or reassembled stocks of some old Microgames, but these two were not resuscitated.

Player’s Value

Yes, anyone playing these games will undoubtedly make comparisons to Ogre, so perhaps it’s best if you consider them as a more involved prequel to Ogre. There are some interesting points in the design. One is the sequence of play, involving alternating activation of units - move one unit, attack with it, then your opponent gets a chance to respond, so most players are involved most of the time. Another is the changing relationships among families of weapons as technology levels advance. Some units aren't available until later time periods, while others get upgraded and become more effective or cheaper in later time periods. Finally, players get to apply force structure philosophies as they have a number of points (well, millions of dollars) to spend on units at the beginning of each scenario, and the larger or more advanced weapons may carry the player’s choice of Tank, Gun, Flak, Laser, Missile, or Force Beam weapons. That being said, the Combat Results Table is very bloody and the small map does not give much scope for maneuver.

Support Material

Reviews: Ares 13, Nexus 2, Space Gamer 49, Space Gamer 60 (Helltank Destroyer), Grenadier 17.

PBEM kits for this and many other Metagaming designs are available for free download at http://pbem.brainiac.com/meta.htm .
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Charles Picard
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After I great deal of time I've managed to finally managed to acquire Helltank & Destroyer.

I'm a G.E.V. fan, and really looking to exploring this, and my copy of Grav Armor for that matter.

Anyway, thanks for the write-up.
 
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Brian Train
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You're welcome! I've been trying to get the time to get into Grav Armor for years.
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Charles Picard
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ltmurnau wrote:
You're welcome! I've been trying to get the time to get into Grav Armor for years.


It does have some interesting complications, but they are, well, a little complicated.
 
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John Watson
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Does anyone have a picture of the counter?
 
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Brian Train
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There are scans of the counter sheets here; look in the Images section.

Brian
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