“What A Tanker” Eastern Front battle at November Mass Pikemen Session

On November 10, 2018, the Mass Pikemen held their monthly gaming session with a game of What a Tanker set on the Eastern Front in 1942.  The scenario was a 1942/1943 one where a Soviet force consisting of 1 KV-1a heavy tank, 2 T-26 M1939 light tanks, 2 BA-64 armored cars, and a couple of Gaz trucks was surrounded and needed to break out through the Axis lines. It was my first chance to get all of my recently painted tanks on the tabletop.

Initially opposing the Soviets was a German force consisting of  2 Panzer IVd tanks and a 1 Panzer 38(t) tank.  Reinforcements were staggered for the Axis, and they consisted of a 1 Panzer IIIN tank, a Hetzer tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer 38), and an Italian M13/41.  It was imperative for the Soviets to exit the other side of the board with the KV-1 and the two trucks as quickly as possible.

The Germans moved on first – and one of the T-26’s was able to early on get a couple of shots in on one of the Panzer IVd’s, with the second one knocking it out.  This was a fun event for 7-year old Jack Burns who was playing in his first war game ever.  He was so excited to knock out the German tank.

1 Mike's Panzer IV death
The Panzer IIIN moves on the board as a reinforcement.  The second Panzer IVd takes advantage of its burning comrade’s smoky wreck.

The Soviets KV-1a was slow to move forward, and the T-26’s outran it.  The Panzer 38(t) moved up to the ruined factory and took aim at one of the T-26’s in the open.  It fired, and missed the Soviet.  Returning fire, the T-26 hit and knocked out the Panzer 38 (t).  Two down for the Axis!  Shortly after this, the other Panzer IVd peeked out from behind its brother, only to suffer the same fate from the plucky T-26.  Three down now!

2 Chris, Jared, Jack
Chris Smedile, Jared Burns, and Jack Burns advance their vehicles.  The Panzer 38 (t) is behind the wall in the center in a good defensive position, facing the T-26 that was to knock it out.
3 Chris C, Mike, Jared, Jack
Chris Comeau and Mike Morgan (and later myself) played the Axis.  This view shows the length of the board the Soviets needed to cross.  Each fighting vehicle had a magnetic dashboard, and its own colored dice.  Command Dice were always white though.

Let me add a side note here on my rules modifications for this scenario.  What a Tanker does not have rules for either armored cars or trucks.  I modified them here for the armored cars, which I made Fast (easier to always move), and Small (tougher to hit).  For their Armor, I only gave them a 1, which meant that any hit from a tank gun would very likely be enough to kill the BA-64.  As the BA-64 only had a machine gun, I gave them 2 modified Strike dice.  The modifications were twofold.  First, their range was 24″ (half that of the tanks).  Secondly, the BA-64’s would hit on a 6, but the only likely result of such a hit would be to force the target to button up if it was not already.  If the BA-64 player rolled double-6’s, I would allow 2 strike dice.  So the BA-64’s were harassers at best.  I had the Gaz trucks move last, with 2 D6 of movement (no command dice).  If they were hit, they were destroyed.

4 Chris celebrates his kill
Chris celebrates his second kill, while the Panzer 38 (t) burns.  You can see here behind the BA-64’s a D12, which I used for initiative rolls instead of D6’s and re-rolling for ties.  It worked much easier and was much less confusing.

Back to the battle!

At this low point, they got reinforcements in consecutive turns.  First, the Panzer IIIN came on in turn 2.  In turn 4, the Axis got the Hetzer and the M13/41.  The tide of battle was turning.

5 Hetzer chases KV-1a
The Hetzer ignores the BA-64 and sets out to hunt the KV-1a.

The Panzer IIIN moved up to the hill, awaiting the T-26 and a truck.  The German successively took both out, leaving the Soviets only with one T-26, one truck, the KV-1a, and the BA-64’s. The M13/41 rolled badly, and hid behind the Panzer IVd wrecks for better dice rolls, even taking humiliating fire from the BA-64’s that caused it to have to button up.

5 truck death
In the foreground, a Gaz truck burns.  The crew of the Panzer IIIN behind the hill looks at the burning T-26 in front of it.  In the left center, the Panzer 38 (t) burns, as do 2 Panzer IVd’s in the right rear.  On the left, the showdown between the lumbering KV-1a and the Hetzer is about to begin.

The Hetzer moves fast, and tried to move around to the rear of the KV-1a.  It succeeded, and missed with its initial rear shot.  The KV-1a immediately turned the tables, turning 180°, and rotating its massive turret towards the diminutive tank destroyer.  The Soviet again got initiative, firing not once, not twice, but three times – and unbelievably missing on all three attempts!  The saving grace for the Hetzer was its Small characteristic, which meant the KV-1a needed a “7” instead of a “6” to hit.

The Hetzer then got initiative and rolled its Command Dice well enough to fire but not to maneuver towards the Soviet behemoth’s vulnerable rear.  It decided to take a chancy shot at the frontal armor of the KV-1a.  It got 5 hits on 7 dice (needed a “5” or “6” to hit).  The Soviet player got zero saves, and the KV-1a was knocked out.

6 KV burns and truck faces m13 41
The KV-1a burns on the right, while the Hetzer and the M13/41 hunt the last truck (on the left).  The BA-64 attempted a ramming attack on the Hetzer to give the truck a chance to escape.

The BA-64 ramming attack did nothing to the Hetzer, which dispatched the armored car with one shot.  Meanwhile, the Italian M13/41 took out the last truck.  The surviving BA-64 was destroyed by the Italian, leaving the Panzer IIIN and a damaged T-26 in a showdown.  With the loss of the trucks and the KV-1a, the game was called an Axis victory.

7 final
Mike Morgan victoriously surveys the smoky battlefield.

The game was a fun one for winners and losers, with highs and lows for both.  Next time, I will probably give the Soviets a second KV-1a.

The next Mass Pikemen’s gaming session will be on Saturday, December 1st from 2-8 PM, at 110 Pleasant Street in East Brookfield, MA.  This is a change from our previous 3-9 PM time slot.  We will be playing What a Tanker again!

Please join us, and share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

14 thoughts on ““What A Tanker” Eastern Front battle at November Mass Pikemen Session”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s