It's now 1100 on 2 April 1943, two days after the squad's last firefight. The American column continued pushing northeast, when once again the lead elements spotted movement up ahead in a (presumed) enemy-held village. Sgt Cherry's squad got the call: they rushed forward, climbing a ridge to the southwest of the village, then took up an observation post approximately 900 yards from the center of town. Squinting through his field glasses, sweat stinging his eyes, Sgt Cherry glassed the village slowly from west to east. Twenty minutes passed with only shadows and blurs suggesting problems, until finally his eye was drawn to a desert-colored patch of unnaturally straight lines. He lowered the binoculars, wiped his eyes, gave them a few seconds to re-focus, before again raising the glasses. "There you are," he muttered to himself. "Cpl Petry, run back to the Lootenant and tell him the Germans have a tank on the east end of the village."
Cpl Petry took off and reported back to his platoon leader: the next two hours were filled with runners furiously moving back and forth, responding to questions from their superior officers: how many tanks were there? What kind of tank was it? Where exactly is the tank? Which direction is the tank facing? Are there any tanks to the southeast? The north? The northeast? How about he southwest?
By 1330 the constant shuttle of runners had drawn attention to Sgt Cherry's position; a machine gun opened up from the village, keeping the Americans' heads down, and the German tank pivoted and began slowly rolling towards their observation post. Sgt Cherry and his squad quickly beat feet back to the platoon, a mile to their rear, where an American tank platoon of five brand-spanking new M4 Shermans had arrived.
It was April 1943 and the Americans still had much to learn about the ways of war: the American tank platoon commander, 2nd Lt Barker, was wracked by nerves and indecision. Should I move my platoon forward aggressively? What if it's a trap? Should I flank? What if we run into a minefield? He made his decision, turning to his Platoon Sergeant: "Sergeant Smith, you are in command of the platoon. I am taking my vehicle forward in order to determine the enemy's true strength and dispositions." "Sir, I don't know if that's such a great idea." "Tut, tut, Sergeant, I'll be right back. And if I'm not, give them hell!"
And with that, Lt Barker hopped aboard his tank, plugged into the intercom, and ordered his driver forward.
This is our first game of Too Fat Lardies' new "What a Tanker." I'm handling the Sherman and the Boy General is handling the Panzer 4. We started with just one tank per side so we could get a handle on how the rules work.
"Dammit," exclaimed SSG Smith, the Tank Plt's Platoon Sergeant, about half a mile to the west, "the Lootenat's tank just dropped off the net, I can't raise them." "Sarge, you heard all that shootin', I bet they bought it." "Shut up Bosley! Listen up boys, here's what we're gonna do. The Lootenat went straight in, but we're gonna hook around to the left and see what we can see. I got the lead, everybody follow me." With that, the four remaining tanks of the platoon pivoted and headed off to the northeast, skirting Al Egheila and setting the stage for the next tank fight, though along the way Snow's tank developed some sort of mechanical issue. SSG Smith wasn't sure what the deal is; SGT Snow has seemed a bit pensive about heading into combat, hopefully this was a mechanical issue and not a 'mechanical issue.'
Anyway, that was a good bit of fun and we feel like we have a good understanding of the rules, just need to play some more games. I love the activation system, very much like Chain of Command, lots of fun and lots of friction. My only issue with the game was the lack of lethality: the American fired six times at (what I would gauge to be) 100 yards or less, scoring five hits, but didn't penetrate even once, costing the German tank two 'back-ups' and the temporary loss of a quite a few command dice (that the boy was great about buying back). The German fired five times at 100 yards or less, scoring four non-penetrating hits, with one of them being a flank shot, and only killed the American tank with it's fifth shot, a shot on its rear armor.
I suppose that brings up my only other gripe: if you hit an enemy tank but don't penetrate, you may force the target to fall back. Despite the fact the target moved straight back and is still in your line of sight, you now have lost your 'aim' and thus may not be able to fire again (this happened to me in the game), even though you just slammed a round into him and he only moved about fifteen yards, still in your field of vision and within fifteen degrees of your last shot. I might house-rule that.
Anyway, the poor, overly-aggressive Lieutenant is gone, SSG Smith has taken over leadership of my attached tank platoon, with his first fight coming right up.