The cost of the starter set - Panther vs Sherman - was £17, which I suppose might seem a lot (though compared to some large boxed tabletop games it isn't) but just look at the amount that's stuffed inside...
Aside from the manual, dice, various types of game cards and several sheets of cardboard markers and scenery, there are four plastic sprues so you can make your 15mm (1/100) scale German and US/Allied tanks! That seems good value for money to me.
So, let's have a look at the contents of the box...
The manual is a very nice full-colour A4 booklet which covers the basic rules and gives you some ideas for your first set of missions and also tells you a little about the tanks that are available and how to put the plastic models together.
The playing cards are central to how the game mechanics work and are divides up into three types; the combined tank & faction cards, the critical damage card and the crew upgrade cards....
|These are tank/faction data cards, they determine your tank's 'strength'.|
They show your tank's initiative (blue), attack (red), defence (green)
and damage points ('lives' or armour if you like).
(I will describe their uses - as with all these game items - in more detail in my next post, where I run through a quick demo game.)
The next set of items in the box is a pack of 3 cardboard game and 'scenery' token sheets. These 2D markers come need to be detached from their A4 cards...
As with the manual, these are wonderfully illustrated and are all the markers you need to get a game started on your tabletop (the basic size of play-area is 3' x 3'). The tokens are fine as they are, but some may find the 2D printed scenery items a little mickey mouse, but remember these are only so you can get up and running straight 'out the box'....
|(Sorry about the photo - but I'm busting to play this game!)|
And last, but definitely not least, we have the actual eponymous TANKS!
The are two different sets of 15mm scale tank sprues. Naturally, for a US/British/French/Polish (let's call them 'Western Allies') force you have the good old Shermans...
I was really surprised at just home many parts you get just to make two tanks. There are plenty of optional bits and pieces, the main choice being whether to make a standard 75mm Shermie or to make the up-gunned 76mm version.
However, you do get two examples of each turret so you can opt for a vanilla 75mm Sherman unit, a 76mm unit or a mixed force of one of each. Moreover, there are other smaller detail options, such as open of closed hatches and a nice 'hedge cutter' so you can make the specialised M4 Sherman 'Rhinoceros'.
To oppose your M4s, the Germans have the just one tank - although you get the choice of two alternative versions - and that tank is the fearsome Panther!
|Note that you get two hulls, one the standard Panther and the other the|
Jagdpanther tank destroyer variant!
Now you may wonder about game balance - two Allied versus one German tank - especially as you have the option to make two 76mm gunned Shermans, but fear not. The way the game works you can add special crew upgrades to you takes to an agreed points level so that both sides - in theory - field a balanced force. We shall see.
(I'm buying some small magnets so that I can experiment with making the Sherman optional turrets and the Panther's optional hulls swappable. That way I can have an extra bit of variety to my game.)
And talking of variety, it's worth mentioning that the tank/faction card included in this starter set don't only include the data/attributes for the Shermans and Pather variants you are given the models for. The manufacturers supply you with a total of 19 tank cards covering four factions - US, British, Soviet and German - which means you can easily add additional tank models to your set. This is particularly good news if you are already a 15mm scale modeller (or player of Flames of War game) as you will likely have a little garage of tanks ready to add to this game.
I think that was a wonderful idea, and for the cost conscious among you, you could even just print out tank 'markers' and use the stat cards supplied to have a decent game with a variety of different tanks until you can buy the corresponding plastic model!
I'm very excited about this game, particularly as I have found some solo rule additions so I can try out a few practise games before I try a 'live' game a the Scarborough Games Society! :)
Next: I put together the tank models and try a practise game.