Monthly Archives: July 2008

Book Review – Panzer Tactics

Panzer TacticsBook Review
Panzer Tactics: German Small-Unit Armor Tactics in World War II

Ever wanted a tactics book that would give you a good understanding of how combat works? Well this book is exactly what you would want. It details the mechanics of how the German armor corp developed it’s tactics from the outset of the war to the desperate measures needed right up to the end.

The chapters include, Offensive operations (Der Angriff), Defensive operations (Die Verteidigung), Combined arms operations (Die Zusammenarbeit) and more. Giving you a good understanding of how the panzers operated.

This book has some great photos (pg. 226, must be seen to be believed!). But perhaps best of all are the authentic maps some of which were hand drawn by the soldiers of the day. They will make for great Memoir ’44 scenario references…or Tide of Iron scenarios for that matter.

I really enjoyed reading the book and gaining some tactical insights. While Memoir ’44 fans will no doubt benefit by it, it is a must for the Tide of Iron fans.

352 pgs. Soft cover. Find the best price from Abe Books

Memoir ’44 vs. Tide of Iron!

Ok, I generally don’t like getting into debates about apples and oranges but I see that this topic has reared it’s ugly head again at BGG. I really don’t see a comparison with these two except for the fact that they are set in WWII.

I love them both! And see them more as appropriate in terms of scale and scope. Here, in my opinion are the strengths of each in comparison to each other.

Play Duration – Memoir ’44 wins!
It can play out in half an hour to an hour…but to be fair both sides need to be played so double the time. Tide of Iron is a longer game…but that’s not necessarily a negative. I have a games room where I can leave a game for weeks if need be. So we can always come back to it. In the end, time isn’t really a factor for me but it may be for others. The big advantage with a shorter game is that, if you are having a rough go of it, at least it will be over soon!

Game Play – Tide of Iron wins!
I (feel) have far more control over my own destiny in ToI. I decide which units to move in what combination (why didn’t I try to supress that MG before running my squad out into the open?!). While more involved, ToI isn’t so dependent on external factors like M’44 can be. There is nothing worse than needing a section to move and never getting anything to allow that. I just don’t feel like I am playing my game but rather the one dealt to me. This also strikes a major blow to my ego when I lose to players I know I can easily beat!

Tactics – Tide of Iron wins!
While not an exact simulation, ToI certainly better simulates real world tactics in comparison with M’44. Being able coordinate an attack with 3 units every time is more in keeping with how things do get done. There is a built in balance here as well. M’44 can take an unbalanced scenario and make it worse with an uneven distribution of cards (probe after probe gets met with attacks and assaults…that tips very quickly).

Unit Variation – Tide of Iron wins!
While subtle, the ToI units are at least varied. A Tiger is more powerful than a Sherman and you sense that in the game. M’44 does make up for this a little bit in some of the expansions, most notably the Pacific but visual aspects aside, M’44 gives off more of a chess piece feeling in that my rook is the same as your rook. I really like this aspect as I felt constrained in trying to incorporate some of my custom pieces into M’44…there just isn’t a lot of room to move there. Whereas, in ToI, it is fun to integrate them.

Flexibility – Tide of Iron wins!
I like the configurable board. While authoring some M’44 scenarios I found it difficult at times to make the situation fit the confines of the board. ToI allows for a variety of configurations that are more applicable to the situation on the ground.  I also really like the ability to ‘bid’ for initiative, that really adds to the experience.

Historical – Memoir ’44 wins!
I’m not talking about the historical background writes ups, they are both fine. I’m talking more about the historical scope. ToI seems to be by it’s very scale confined to actions that could’ve occurred almost anywhere in WWII. Things like delaying actions, assaults, meeting engagements etc… While M’44 has that grander overview of the situation. You feel more like you are in a specific theater dealing with a particular situation.

So there you have it. My take on the comparison between the two. For me, they really more compliment each other. When I want to play a quick game that is grander in scale, nothing can beat Memoir ’44. If I want to get into the nitty gritty mechanics of battles, Tide of Iron really fits the bill (if you really want a game to compare this to, take A&A minis…ToI beats that hands down!). I look forward to continue playing both and bringing more to each of the communities!

Wargaming Music

There was a post not that long ago on the Memoir ’44 forums about what music people listen to while they play. I have always listened to music, it helps set the atmosphere. I’m a fan of classical music in my wargames…the mightier the better. I also like some choral music (really makes it seem more heroic and dramatic). So I thought I would include my iMix here for those interested. If anyone thinks of some tunes I would like, feel free to suggest them.

Starting out with Tide of Iron

Tide of Iron was certainly a different game than Memoir ’44. The rules, while still very straightforward, were more involved. They were easy to understand and well written but I can see how things could be misinterpreted (as you may note from some of the posts on BGG). The key then in my mind was to start off simply. Unlike Pegasus bridge as the introduction to Memoir, I found the first scenario in ToI to be too involved and knew that not only would I miss out on some of the rules, I thought there was a very good chance that I would completely lose my wife. To get things off on the right foot, I did some research and have found that the play path I prescribe will make the Tide of Iron experience a much more enjoyable one.

Here is what I recommend to players just starting off…

New Player Scenario 1 – Infantry
by Scott Roberts
An excellent and light introduction to the game that just uses infantry (it’s enough to have to learn in the first go). Scott also points out some of the aspects of the game to be sure to try as well as a reminder of some of the rules to pay attention to. From here you can move on to…

Breaking the Line
by Unknown (this is an official ToI scenario from the Fantasy Flight Games website)
Introduces some specialized squads and some defensive works. You also get exposed to the Strategy cards here. While perhaps a bit of an unbalanced scenario, for the first play and this early in learning the game, you might not see the best strategy. An excellent progression that still keeps you to infantry.

Chain of Command
by Unknown (again, another of the official scenarios from FFG)
Introduces vehicles without having to worry about the transportation aspect just yet. Good solid scenario that will give you confidence in using your infantry by now with the addition of the halftrack and it’s capabilities.

From there, we started in on the scenarios that came with the game confident in our knowledge of how the game worked. We never did get around to the other introductory scenario by Scott but it looks like a good one as well.

Happy Gaming!

Decals for Tanks

I’m often asked where I get the decals that I’ve used for both the Memoir ’44 tanks and the Tide of Iron tanks (or my Perrins and Pendrakens for that matter).

I used to get Perrin decals but those seem very hard to come by lately. Fortunately, while placing an order one day for some Perrin miniatures, the rep sent me some sample packs of Beacon Decals which are made by I-94 Enterprises. These, I believe can also be had through the Last Square.

They work perfect for the final touch on your figs and trust me, at this scale you don’t want to try to paint a star with a circle by hand…it just never comes out right.