Every year I like to host a big event with prizes, beer, and plenty of food. This year I reached back to my FoW roots for inspiration … and TANKSGIVING 2015 was born. I wanted a quick-play, arcade-style game that maximized plastic, resin, and lead carnage. So, I sat down over the course of a few nights with my current favorite ruleset, Chain of Command, and cranked out something workable.
The rules modifications, quick reference sheets, and more that I used are downloadable below. They are free for anyone to use. I just ask that if you do use them, then send me a message and let me know how they worked for you or what modifications you made.
Chain of Command is a terrific game, but it is geared toward historical accuracy and infantry-based forces. Since I wanted a game that was neither accurate nor infantry-based, I needed to make some modifications. Here were my design principles:
- Game must move quickly with minimum player downtime
- Game must have simple mechanics; players should be able to play more or less solo within 3-5 phases
- Game needed to be arcade-like with larger-than-life characters
- Game needed to encourage offensive actions — There should be many burning hulks on the table and plenty more spare vehicles waiting in the motor pool as replacements
- Game needed some random elements, just to make things interesting
Rules Modification Overview
Adjusting the Chain of Command mechanisms for Tanksgiving was pretty simple. We skipped the patrol phase. Instead, each player placed on jump-off point from which his tanks deployed. Since I planned for six players, each side being a team of three, I had each player place his JOP along his table edge within a designated third of the table length. Tanks could come on anywhere along the table edge within 9″ of this JOP, moving on as though they had started the phase on the table edge. I wanted to ensure rapid arrival and entry into action.
Players had an activation pool of four dice with the usual rules applying except that rolls of “5” could either add a pip to any other die rolled or count toward a CoC die. If a player rolled a double 6, he could take a second phase but not the rest of his team.
Tanks were worth a number of points equal to their list value in the CoC rulebook, so a Panzer IV from list seven was worth seven points. Players started with 25 points and could purchase any tanks up to that value, though they were not allowed to have more than four tanks under their command at any point. Players were also allowed to purchase additional tanks at any time by spending points. Killing an enemy tank earned players points equal to the value of the KO’d tank.
I stole the morale system from Battlegroup for this game. Every player started with a Force Morale of 10. Every time players lost a tank they drew a morale chit from a cup. Most chits had a value between one and three, though several had special events such as mine strikes, booze caches, mad minutes, and aerial attacks. For more on these random events, see the downloadable rules sheet below. When a player hit zero on force morale, he was out of the game. Play continued until all players on one side were eliminated.
Each player also had one Ace, which worked like a senior leader. Each Ace also had a unique ability such as +1 on his rolls to hit or free removal of one shock point per phase. I created cards for each Ace with some personality information too, but sadly the files seems to have vanished from my hard drive so I can’t share them. Every time an Ace scored a kill, the owning player marked it. Killing an enemy Ace also earned bonus points.
At the end of the game, every player rolled a die, the high roll earning the grand prize (a gift certificate to our local gaming store). Every player on the winning side got to add a second die to their roll, and the two highest scoring individual players also got to add a die.
Finally, the player controlling the Ace with the most kills also walked out with a prize–this one a six-pack of my favorite local beer.
So how did it all go? Life conspired against most of our players, so only three of us gathered for the game. We played it as a three-way free-for-all, each player taking a turn activating in a clockwise manner. We had a great time, though I know if would have been better with more players. (Unfortunately I forgot to take more pictures. Caught up in the heat of the moment, I suppose.)
The most entertaining part of our game came at the very end when only two players remained. The surviving Aces were locked in a shootout across fairly open terrain, one in a StuG and the other in a Sherman with a 76mm gun. Crazy defense rolls and poor strike rolls kept both tanks in the fight over several phases, though each slowly accumulated engine damage and crew casualties. The StuG became immobilized, trapped in the open. Then, when the American player started his victory lap, he rolled his activation dice and guess what? Four sixes. Crazy. We rolled on the random events chart and came up with a rainstorm, which reduced visibility to 18″. The Sherman was 21″ from his prey, so moved slowly to get in range for the kill shot…and rolled a 2. I built up a CoC die on my phase and when the Sherman moved again on his, I took a snap shot and detonated the tank. Victory! (Sometimes being lucky is better than being good.
Overall, the rules worked really well. With only four dice and a maximum of four tanks per player, play flowed quickly. Everybody picked up the limited rules within a few phases and required little to no support. I need to think about modifying the way points are earned and spent, so if you have feedback I would appreciate hearing from you.
If you use the rules, enjoy! And Happy Tanksgiving!