The Second World War, What a Tanker!, 28mm
I’d never played What a Tanker! before, so when the guys suggested it I was fairly amenable. I gave them a read during the week, and brought along a handful of German AFVs on the night. Rather strangely, there were three of us playing, but we fielded three AFVs a side – three Sherman Vs from Guards Armoured on the British side, and two Pz. IVHs and a Marder III for the Germans – ostensibly from 21st Panzer. We took two vehicles apiece – Sean the two panzers, Gyles two Shermans, while I had the Marder and the last Sherman. Of course my main aim was not to have my two AFVs fighting each other. Gyles laid out the table, and he assured me you needed lots of scenery for this. So, the 6×4 foot table was filled with fields and hedges, roads and copses, until it looked like you wouldn’t be able to see a thing. In fact it worked out pretty well. The three German AFVs set up on one short edge of the table (the southern one) , the three British tanks on the other northern edge, and off we went. The idea was that both sides would advance to contact. In fact one of Gyles’ Shermans got off a lucky shot, and brewed up one of Sean’s two panzers, before it even had a chance to move or fire. So, right from the start the British were one tank up on their opponents. In What a Tanker you roll six dice per tank, and depending on the result these can be used to move, acquire, aim, shoot or reload. A “6” is a wild dice, which you can use for anything. My Sherman trundled on, but try as it may, I never rolled a “2” – the dice needed to acquire a target. Meanwhile Sean’s remaining Pz. IVH and Gyles’ left-hand Sherman advanced down the central road towards each other – trying to get the first shot in. Until then, Sean had been aiming and firing at my Sherman, but this new threat was more important. He switched targets, giving me a chance to move forward, to give me a better chance to acquire and aim. By then though, things were kicking off on the British right flank. Gyles’ other Sherman was advancing there, and reached the edge of a small copse. However, my Marder was lurking behind a nearby hedge, and was able to acquire, aim and shoot, then reload and shoot again.The first shot did some superficial damage, but the second was a real corker, making the Sherman lose two more dice. Both sides pulled back, then came on again. This time Gyles fired and missed. I was a little luckier, and got a clean hit, which ended up brewing up the Sherman. So, we were down to two AFVs apiece. In the centre, the two remaining Shermans were picking on Sean’s remaining panzer, and in the end they scored enough hits on her to drive her into hiding. The British felt pretty pleased with themselves with this, and began advancing down the table. However, Gyles had forgotten about that pesky Marder. It turned, and its hedge was on the far side of a field from the hedge-lined road the Sherman was on. It acquired, aimed and fired, causing a loss of two dice. Now it was all down to who would get the next few shots in. In fact it was the Sherman, which for some reason kept advancing, but turned its turret to fire at the Marder. it couldn’t target it though, and so the Marder got in the next shot. it was a highly-effective hit on the Sherman’s side armour, causing just enough damage to brew her up. So, the British only had one tank left. The Germans had a battered Pz.IV, and that pesky Marder. So, at this point I gave Gyles control of the remaining Sherman, and I kept the Marder. During all this Sean was trying desperately to roll “6s” – the wild card dice, which gives him the chance to regain one of his lost activation dice. Dice by dice he was slowly getting back into the game, going from one remaining dice to three. My Marder was still in play of course, while Gyles drove his Sherman across the table, crossing the road and plunging past its burning companion. Strangely, he’d given up on firing. He was out to ram me! That, of course, was exactly what he did. He shot across the table using four “1s”, or move dice, and rammed me. This is a pretty simple game, so there’s no such thing as opportunity fire. So, I just had to take it. A Sherman is a lot sturdier than a wee Marder, and he got the better of the clash, but all that happened was that I lost two dice, and got driven a foot back up the hill. Then though, it was all down to who got to go next. It turned out to be Gyles, then me, then Sean. Gyles didn’t get any move dice, but he managed to fire – and missed. Then it was my turn. My Marder fired and hit the Sherman, causing a permanent hit, and two temporary ones. HE was halfway out of the game. Then it was Sean’s turn. His PzIV trundled forward to the edge of the trees, and fired off a round. it hit the Sherman squarely, and knocked it out. It was game, set and match for Team Nazi!All in all it was a great little game. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yes, I know this wasn’t proper wargaming – it was just a lightweight and fun set, for a bit of light relief – but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I can see myself doing this again, and fielding more tanks. I’m looking forward to getting back to Normandy, and it has even inspired me to give my tanks a new lick of paint. Incidentally, Gyles’ Shermans were all 1/48 scale, while the German ones were 1/56 scale. it didn’t matter though. This was a fun little game.