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PANZER from GMT games is a revised edition of the Avalon Hill original Panzer Blitz and Yaquinto's Panzer with new rules and gameplay ideas and ideals tried and tested through two sister games, MBT (Main Battle Tank) and IDF (Israeli Defence Force) all of which were designed in whole or part by Jim Day (aka James M Day). So from origins to this latest version the original games designer has been in command and control all the way. To keep the old-gamers happy the box designs have all been created to have that 70's retro look depicting devastation and desolance with the archaic font proudly putting the PANZER name out there.

There are to date (as far as I understand) the main game, PANZER (£55.00rrp), Expansion 1 (£55.00), The second expansion (£30.00) and a new third expansion: -

which I believe is still at the P500 stage so as yet not available. This looks to also have a rrp of around £55.00

LIVING RULES  Panzer Series Rulebook

Sample Counters    British Sherman Firefly    US M-10    German Tiger II

Sample Data Cards   British Sherman Firefly   US M-10   German Tiger II

    

The Maps from the revised edition have come under fire for not being colourful enough and for having some rather hard to identify buildings. I can understand the latter as I have also had some visual problems but that is something I personally always put down to my spectacles and the room lighting (and the fact I'm getting old - some would argue the word "getting"). As for being not colourful enough, once the tiles (counters) are spread across the board you are actually glad that there aren't lots of distractions. My complaint would be that the boards are actually not boards as such, they are maps and not mounted in the way Avalon Hill became famous for producing reusable strong maps. The hexes are large enough for (I would guess 5mm) miniatures to be used in place of the counters but again as they aren't mounted miniatures may easily damage them.

There is also a number of complaints that the maps aren't modular when in fact this game was renown for being a modular system. The main game set features 10 scenarios that are very good for introducing new and inexperienced players to heavy duty tabletop boardgaming whilst not being dull and boring for experienced players. There are, of course, differences, not all subtle, between the original game and this second or revised edition, the main bone of contention being the Igo/Ugo turn based play rather than the simultaneous play that made the original game so well loved and caused so many arguements and do-overs and more arguements - Igo/Ugo works very well and keeps the game moving at a pace that boardgamers of recent years (say about the last 15-20 years) enjoy and the grumpy old stick in the muds of the 70's and 80's don't like. In the early days board war-gaming was like Masters Chess, make a move and then mull over the next one while you have lunch whereas nowadays the scenarios are designed to be played and enjoyed by the masses not just the elite. (for "elite" ready grumpy old stick in the muds).

        

Another elitist complaint is that the counters are square (large and smaller) rather than rectangular and circular. Of course they are colour coded and have all necessary information on them in text that most people can read without having to pick up and examine every tile.
 

PANZER, as the name implies, is mostly about tank warfare - this gets to be really or should I say additionally interesting with the second expansion whjen Urban Combat is brought into play and the tanks have to manoeuvre streets and lanes instead of open fields and hills.

The combat takes place in WWII (if you hadn't already guessed) and on the Eastern Front with the German forces coming up against the resistant and resilient Russian forces. PANZER is multi-player but in my opinion plays better with just 2 players - one per side and it can also be played with equal enjoyment as a solo game.

There are 16 heavy (thick card) double-sided Data Sheets - 4 shown on this page - on which nearly all the necessary combat (firing and damage) information can be found. It took me a little while to get used to these cards, and to be honest my memory wouldn't let me memorise the data, but once you have mastered their use then the game flows even quicker - I should point out here that although I have mentioned the speed of play a couple of times PANZER is by no means a short and fluffy game, it is a gritty realisation of individual, unit and squad level warfare, well worthy of following in the footsteps of previous games. There are two versions, basic and advanced, both being quite involved - the basic having differences like Front and Rear defences rather than 6 angles to deal with. In the Basic Game, a tank uses its front and rear armour only whereas in the Advanced version the armour has six separate angles. Todestroy an enemy tank, the firing player must roll 2D10 + modifiers to hit and then you have to check that the shot has penetrated the target’s armour. The previously mentioned data cards list everything from terrain to gun types including the penetration factor of each gun. If the shot gets through then roll more D10s based on the damage factor of the gun. Results can be anything from a dud shell (usually my luck in tight situations) to some sort of damage including leaving the target as a burning wreck. It's all down to the flick of a wrist and the tumbling of the dice - well not all, you have to get into the best combat position first - Urban combat is great for Infantry whose commander likes to use (and knows how to use) traps and ambushes.

Written orders (as were the norm in the earlier games) have now made way for the easier to use and clearer by definition Command markers.  The Advanced rules add lots of varied detail to the game but keep its playability nice and simplified (without being simple if you can understand my meaning (if you can't then I'm sorry I don't know how else to put it). The rules cover all aspects of troop, unit and situation, including infantry, artillery and anti-tank, aircraft and anti-aircraft guns, weather conditions, turret positions (open or closed hatches), close assaults, mine fields, turret rotation speeds and rates of fire for different types of guns plus varied ammunition and tons more.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015