WaT! : A Question of Scale and a Game

Buckle yourself in, because this post goes on a bit of a journey. But it's a journey through Lard, so it must be good, right?
It all begins with What a Tanker! (and it'll end up back there, I promise). What a Tanker is special to me for a lot of reasons. The greatest of these is it's the first time I've been in the fortunate position of having enough cash to buy into a pre-order. Not just for Too Fat Lardies, but for any company anywhere. Having the link to the  PDF arrive in my inbox on day of release was wonderful. To know that a hard copy would arrive in the post was, let's be honest, frankly amazing. You know where you are with a set of rules from Too Fat Lardies, and this set is no exception.

At the time, I had begun assembling some 15mm troops for Chain of Command. This was my first time with 15mm, using troops from the original Open Fire boxed set for Flames of War. I'd purchased it years ago and done nothing with it apart from read the rules. Yup, you guessed it. It didn't float my boat. So with the release of What a Tanker! I began work on some of the tanks that came in the box.
 I decided to make two of the Shermans, one Sherman Firefly and the three StuG III G's that come in the box.
 And boy are they tiny compared to anything I've ever done before!
 By this point I had assembled my 15mm troops for Chain of Command. Of course, when I say 'assembled' I really mean clipped them from the frame, removed any mould lines and stuck them to a base. There's not much beyond that with miniatures of this size. And I missed the assembly I normally enjoy with 28mm plastics. It was at this time I made some hedges which you can find out about here and here. I wanted to make ones suitable for my usual 28mm gaming, but able to represent much larger hedges for my new 15mm scale models.




 Of course, I should be talking about What a Tanker, but this is all part of the journey, so please bear with me. Because whilst the hedges were turning out rather nicely...
... sadly, the same couldn't be said about my 15mm men. I began with a German Infantryman. It didn't go well. I tried exaggerating the shade and highlight, but I wasn't happy with the result. I didn't like the lack of detail compared to 28mm. I know I should have expected that. What I didn't expect was how much I couldn't adapt my painting style to get the kind of result I was happy with.
 I worked on some US Airborne, but it wasn't working for me.
 I much prefer the character of a 28mm model. I don't get drawn to a 15mm model in the same way. I can't seem to read them. And as a painter who games, I can't settle with something I'm not happy with.
 I'm not even going to post a picture of what I did to a poor StuG. It was a bad experience for me. A very, very bad experience.
 So I dug out my old Warlord Games Commandos. I had come across a copy of an army list for 47 Commando in Operation Aubery by Stephen Philps. I didn't need to think twice. Happily back with my 28mm models, my attention turned once again to What a Tanker!  I wasn't happy with my 15mm tanks.  At all.

I knew I had two tanks in 1/35 scale in the loft.  I had a lot of fun assembling them.  However, it's a scale that looks absolutely stunning in a diorama because of the level of detail on them.  This is not so good a thing when it comes to wargaming. The tiny parts have a habit of getting damaged even when you are trying your best to be careful with them.  Plus, the kits are very expensive these days.  You're not going to get much change out of £35 per tank.  This is clearly out of my price range.

It would make sense to get some 28mm scale tanks since I'm doing everything else WWII in this scale now.  But whether I go for 1/48 or 1/56 however, the cost is prohibitive for me as well. If only because I really want a few tanks. Okay, quite a few.

And if you're stuck between 28mm and 15mm (somewhere between 1/48 and 1/100) then there really is only one place you can go. 1/72, or 20mm gaming. And here's where everything becomes much more affordable. I saw many options for around £10. That was until I stumbled across Armourfast, an English company that give you not one but two tanks in a box for around £10.50 including p&p on eBay. If you don't believe me just type armourfast into your searchbox on eBay and you'll see what I mean. I took the plunge when I came across a deal for a box of Shermans for only £6 post free. Of course, there's still the fear of painting something smaller than I'm used to,  but I think this is a logical way to go with the rules.

However, all this is academic because What a Tanker is a while off. We are committed to our ongoing IHMN campaign. So last Monday I set up for the next thrilling installment of Sir Rupert Utterley-Barkinge's New World Disorder. We normally play these games on a 4' x 4' table.  Sometimes it's a 6' x 4'.  But the scenario we had planned to play is set in a bustling town.  I wanted to do something different.  I wanted to do something more than just a square with a road running through the middle of it.  I wanted to create the sense that the board was just a slice of a much bigger and busy town.  In the wild west of course.  So here's what I spent a while coming up with:
Yes, an all-new games sixe of 6' x 2'!
Full of busy streets and broken lines of sight!
I reckoned it was the perfect space for some crazy dashing about.
Thankfully Derek liked what he saw when he came round, and we looked forwards to putting the layout to the test.
But it didn't happen.
Derek had been to Carronade in Falkirk, and he had made some fantastic purchases.  They will all make an appearance on our gaming tables (and subsequently this blog!) in the coming months and years.  We were particularly enthused by a giant worm.  You can expect to see some Tremors-like gaming at some point in the future!

We got so carried away blethering about the amount of stuff he had been able to purchase and it's effect on our gaming plans that it had become 10pm before we had realised.  There was no way we could fit in a game of In Her Majesty's Name.  And it was as we began to pack away that I had a crazy idea...

"How about a game of What a Tanker?" I asked. It was a mad moment. My 1/72 tanks weren't assembled.  They weren't much use anyway as I only had two Shermans at this point.  But I did remember that I had two 1/35 tanks in the loft.  A Panther Ausf D and a Sherman. This might just be possible after all...
So the other three boards came out of the loft; the buildings were safely packed away in their boxes and put to one side, and my two 1/35 scale tanks were dusted off.  I'd not planned this one, so my available scenery was limited to two ruined buildings and some lichen to represent hedges.  Admittedly they were rather low hedges, but they served the purpose.
Despite the size of the tanks, we kept the ground scale as outlined in the book.  And it in no way had a detrimental effect on our games.  Yes, I say games.  We were able to complete two games by 11.15pm.
In the first my Sherman was able to blow up the Panther which was a complete surprise to myself.
And the second?  Well, you can see the game progress in these few photos I took.  I was completely outmanoeuvred by the Panther. I was able to turn my German to present its front armour but had been unable to reverse far enough to put the building between us.  His shot set my tank ablaze and my crew bailed out. Not only did we have a brilliant time playing the game, we also had a Kill Ring each!
What a Tanker! is easy to pick up and play.  You can come to a clear conclusion in your game and have a bloomin' good time getting there.  Derek hadn't read the rules, so was relying on what I could remember.  I hadn't read the rules in more than a week before our sudden impromptu game. Despite making a few mistakes (which we can rectify next time!) the games flowed in a wonderfully tense narrative.

What more could you want?

What's that?  More tanks you say?

Well guess who's been busy working on his 1/72 Armourfast tanks? And it looks like I'll be able to introduce Andrew to the rules tonight!

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