Developer Diaries: Special Rules
Not every tank is created equal and in the online game there are a multitude of numbers behind the scenes that help to create the rich environment that many of us love to play in. Translating that into a tabletop experience where there isn’t a computer to do the heavy lifting means that certain aspects of the game are simplified. In the future we will have an article taking a closer look at some the work that went on to determine the stats for each tank, but for today we are going to take a look at some of the most common special rules that you may have seen on cards so far.
Certain guns, like the British QF 2-pdr Mk X fire a small but high velocity round. This means that it is highly likely to penetrate targets (up to a certain point) but once that round gets inside the tank the amount of damage it’s likely to do is limited. In game terms this means that the shooting player has to modify one of their critical hits to a normal hit. If you can roll well and get more than one critical then it is obviously an excellent shot, or has found a particular weak spot on the tank and potentially dealt some critical damage.
Inside the Starter Set every tank has a turret, but in our first wave of releases we see the powerful SU-100 and the iconic StuG III Ausf. G. Both of these tanks lack the turret that is common on most tanks and instead have their guns inside an armoured casemate or superstructure. Designers learnt early on that turrets, whilst providing great offensive capabilities, add a significant amount of weight to a tank, restrict the amount of armour and the size of the gun you can mount. By removing the turret, you can mount the incredibly powerful 100 mm D10S inside the chassis of a T-34, creating the SU-100.
In game terms this change has a number of impacts. Firstly it changes the initiative that a tank starts with before all the other calculations come in to play. The lack of a turret just means you are a little slower when the gun-fights get up close and personal. Secondly it means you cannot engage tanks outside of your front arc.
This is for guns that are on the opposite end of the spectrum to the guns with Arrow Shot, the rule represents the ability of a tank to fire big heavy rounds that pack plenty of damage dealing ability. The British 3.7 inch Howitzer from the Cromwell is a perfect example of such a gun. After rolling attack dice the shooting player can upgrade a hit to a critical hit and with any luck it will sneak past the defending players dice and cause some particularly nasty damage!
Some tanks are just so well armoured that it doesn’t seem to matter whether you shoot them in the front or side, they can bounce everything thrown at them. The Tiger 1 is the first tank that comes to mind, especially if you have seen the movie Fury! In game terms we have awarded this ability to tanks that have a similar front armour to their side armour. It does not mean that the tank has a massive armor value to start with, as even the Valentine light tank benefits from the rule. Tanks with the Fortress rule do not loose a defense dice when shot in the flank, this makes them perfect brawlers that can get in the thick of it. It is especially powerful when a Heavy Tank has the rule as these can already re-roll a defense dice tank to their tank type!
The High Explosive special rule is for those tanks that like to lob around HE shells, rather than the traditional AP (or armor piercing) shells. High explosive shells are filled with explosives that detonate on impact. They are not designed for anti-armor applications, however HE shells with enough explosives can still penetrate armor by burning through it with sheer explosive power.
Most tanks in the online game are capable of firing HE shells, but in the tabletop version we have simplified things a little. This is because in most situations (once again in the tabletop version) the traditional AP round is capable of achieving as much as the HE round.
In the tabletop version a HE shell normally has a higher firepower stat than the normal shell giving it the potential to cause more significant damage. Because the shell does not penetrate the tank as such though (like a normal AP shell) once the defense dice have cancelled out any attack dice, only the critical hits are actually kept. This means the tank has a higher chance of causing a serious hit, but often misses out on causing single points of damage. HE is the epitome of go big or go home.
Much like how Arrow Shot and Big Gun are related, so are Fortress and Light Flank. Here we find tanks with awesome front armor but considerably less around the side. Often these tanks are designed to sit back and deal out the punishment from a distance and are not expected to be stuck in the middle of a swirling firefight. Assault guns like the SU-100 immediately come to mind when thinking of tanks with this rule.
On the tabletop, tanks with Light Flank loose an additional defense dice if they are shot in the side. The lesson here is obvious, don’t get caught by fast tanks seeking to take advantage of your weakness!
Each of these special rules provide additional flavour to a tank and making the most of them (the good and the bad) are the key to unlocking the highest performance from them on the battlefield.