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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!