We always like to run at least one multi-player game on club nights so that anybody who doesn’t have a game organised can just jump in. What a Tanker seems pretty ideal for this; you don’t need a lot of figures, and who doesn’t like taking a tank out for a drive? And of course some flaming mayhem

We decided to kick the club league off right at the start of the war (or at least as close as you can get, given the omission of Poland from the WaT book). You never know, maybe we’ll make it all the way through to Berlin in 1945?

But for now, it’s dodgy early war rivetty tanks!

France

Played with 20mm kit in the lush green countryside, this pitted the British against invading Germans (nobody keen to play as the French then?). One of the guys had the tanks and terrain already, so this seemed like the ideal way to kick off the campaign while we got the stuff sorted for the desert.

Game 1

During the German breakout from Sedan, two Panzer IIs and one of the rare Panzer IIIs squared off against two British A9s and an A13.

The British probed forwards with one tank, while the Germans engaged them in a gunnery duel. One German Panzer II ran down the flank and managed to upset the British defence and cause them to scatter when it got in behind them.

We were a bit tentative in this game, the only casualty coming when Dave’s A9 was whittled down by a pair of Panzers and his crew bailed out.

Game 2

German tanks tried to stake out a position in a small village, but were outmanoeuvred and shot up by the British cruisers, with Phil scoring two quick kills in his A13.

Game 3

I didn’t play in this game, so I’m short on details, but the Germans seem to have cleaned up, with four British tanks knocked out for only one of their own.

North Africa

With half the Wehrmacht on their flank and the French falling back in disarray, the BEF waved bye-bye to the continent and returned to Blighty to mull events over.

Their wait was short however, as within a few months those pesky Italians were threatening Egypt and the vital Suez Canal linking Britain and the Med to the rest of the Empire in Asia. So off to the desert we go!

As well as the very obvious change of scenery, we’ve changed scale now. General consensus was that 15mm looks a lot better for the wide open spaces of the desert, as well as being quicker and cheaper to buy and paint!

Game 1: Frontier skirmish

Skirmishing out on the frontier, a trio of Italian M11/39s tangles with a mixed unit of four A9s and A10s.

The British roared into town, and an Italian tank sneaking up a wadi found itself the victim of concentrated fire and the crew abandoned their vehicle. Emboldened, the British formed a line and advanced on the Italians lurking in the dunes outside town. However, one of their number raced too far ahead and took a great shot to the flank that knocked the British cruiser out. Final honours: one kill ring each side.

Game 2: Operazione E

Set on the conquest of North Africa and capture of the canal, the Italians invade Egypt in Sept 1940! The British defence is slightly outnumbered, with two cruisers trying to hold back three Italian mediums.

For this game we introduced some objective markers. Any Italian tank within 6″ of an objective scored double kill rings.

The Italians were coming out of the dunes, and scored a quick kill when they caught one of the defenders in the open and knocked it out with concentrated fire. The British got a reinforcement, but not before an Italian tank that just couldn’t stop rolling 1s made a massive flank run and got in behind them. One British tank turned to face the interloper, while the other charged out into the desert to try and turn the flank on the other two M11/39s. With the advantage of a turret, it managed to get sides shots in on one Italian and knocked it out, but the Italians rallied and two of them shot the aggressive Brit out of the game.

Meanwhile, the Italian that had infiltrated the town hit the defending British tank at point blank, but then when the command dice came up with loads of 1s but no shoot dice the Italian actually decided to ram the British tank. That didn’t work, but the two tanks locked together and seemed unable to actually knock each other out. Finally, one of the Italians in the dunes got a lucky rear shot on the cruiser, ending the fight.

The final tally was a decent 3:1 victory to the Italians.

Game 3: Operation Compass

The Italian army squandered their advances, and passed the initiative over to the Western Desert Force by digging in and glaring across the desert at them.

Operation Compass was intended as a raid, but ended up battering the Italians defenders and sending them reeling.

For this scenario the British were rewarded for breaking through the defences, with double kill rings scored when in the far third of the table. To make life easier on ourselves we put an escarpment on that third. If the Brits get a tank onto the escarpment, it’s double-kill time!

The British understandably charged into the dunes and banged off a couple of shots, but the Italians somewhat unexpectedly counter-charged and some good dice saw one turn a Cruiser A10 (with an experienced crew) into a tanker-roasting fireball with a single flank shot, then the same Italian followed up by getting the drop on the other British tank and knocking it out too. The British sent in their second wave and concentrated on the other Italian tank, which spent the whole rest of the game holding them off and taking massive punishment.

Eventually one British Cruiser made it up onto the escarpment and finally finished the seemingly-indestructible Italian tank off by forcing the crew to bail. With two kill rings each side the Italians opted to retire, as by now all their infantry had probably surrendered.

And that was it for 1940! Plenty of fighting to come in 1941 with another six games planned out, including the arrival of…the Afrika Korps!