Tanks! Game Review and Battle Report

Or to be more specific, Tanks: the 15mm WWII skirmish game from Gale Force Nine.

I spied this WWII game in my local model shop a few months back, and decided to pick up a starter pack.  This comes with:

  • A 24 page rulebook
  • Game tokens
  • Unit cards
  • Critical hit cards
  • Upgrade cards
  • Some 2D cardboard starter terrain
  • Dice and measuring sticks
  • Four 15mm tanks (two Sherman variants, and two Panther/Jagdpanther)

GF9 is basically the same as Battlefront, so the models and rules are reminiscent of Flames of War - very high quality, clearly laid out and easy to follow rules.  The cut-out tokens in particular were extremely sturdy and durable; you can feel the quality.

Tanks! is a skirmish game, where you control a platoon of several tanks.  It's a very simple dice-based wargame, with the creative addition of collectable upgrade cards.  It's really cheap - the starter kit, which as I mentioned above includes everything you need to get going and costs a very reasonable $24.99 from the website.  Individual tank packs, including the model and unit card, cost $9.99.  There are British, German, US and Russian tanks available.

We recently got together for a long overdue game in the sangar (Mike's attic), and had a really enjoable evening.  Aside from the very fun game, it was great to see everyone after a long break for various travel and work related reasons, and we took our time playing this nice easy scenario.

Verdict: Tanks is cheap, fast and enjoyable game - although experienced gamers might find it a bit 'shallow'.  That last comment is a bit harsh - I just feel like I have to say something negative in the name of balance.  Tanks is not designed as an intense, ultra-realistic game, and I enjoyed it for that very reason.  It's a perfect relaxed social game, with minimal rules-fussing and it's really cheap to get started.

(For those who are interested, Meeples & Miniatures did a very extensive review when Tanks was released last year.  They gave it 3/5 stars, citing lots of concerns about movement rules which were open to abuse, and other historical accuracy points.  I felt this whole review was unduly harsh and missed the point of this game - sure, they could make loads of rules which restrict movement and make it realistic.  It would probably not fit into 24 pages.  I might well play such a game, and enjoy it - but that's not what Tanks is.  Someone in the comments described it as a 'Beer and Pretzels' game - that's a perfect description.)

Ze dastardly Chermans plotting away, unaware of my arial reconnaisance flight subtly photographing their upgrade cards...
I played the Comet tank today.  You upgrade your tank with a series of cards which give bonuses; there are 'national' bonuses (marked with the Union Jack), and 'global' bonuses available to everyone.
With Kieran dropping down for a battlefield-eye view, my Comet (at the bottom of the picture) and Mike's Sherman Firefly (which you can just see on the left) warily skirt around Ollie's Tiger I (in the middle, in a fetching factory grey) and Kieran's Panzer IV (just behind it).
Wait for it... wait for it...
The Germans cautiously approach the open area in front of the chateau...
I take an 88 shell, but escape with minor damage and a 'crew stunned' result.
An impeccably-dressed Ollie picks up the dice to fire that fearsome 88 - largely avoiding the Panzer IV, we focus all our efforts on bringing down the Tiger.
But too late for Mike!  His Firefly goes up in smoke, but not before damaging the Tiger.
His valiant sacrifice - and a stunning round of shooting from the Comet, blows the Tiger up at last, but with his final shot Ollie takes me out as well.  How futile is war!  As last tank standing, Kieran and the German team are the winners.
There you have it!  A really great game, and one we'll keep in the sangar ready for short-notice, fast-paced games.  I highly recommend you fork out the minimal cost for the starter set and give this game a try.



  1. Very fun looking game. Nice to see you lot able to get together again!

    Beer and pretzels indeed. I find Bolt Action also comes under this banner, which is just fine for me. Not quite a tank v tank game, but ruleswise simple enough to just throw some dice and enjoy a game for a couple hours maybe.

    1. Thank you Dai. Yes, I never really thought of BA as falling under that heading but I suppose it does. Those are the games you remember ten years later.

  2. Koolio. Although the parity of forces is debatable...

    1. Yeah, we thought that as we were going along. It's always more fun to fight against impossible odds! The Comet is actually a really good tank, and the high initiative values of the British tanks go some way to making up for the disparity in guns.

  3. Indeed! Thanks Paul, it was a fun game.


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