Publisher: Lock ‘n Load Publishing
Game Designer: Peter Bogdasarian
Lead Programming and AI: Jo Bader
Ages: 10 and up
Playing Time: 20-45 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Lock ‘n Load Publishing (LnL) recently released a digital take on their tabletop Tank on Tank series covering both the East and West fronts. The games can be bought individually for $24.99 each, but your best bet is in grabbing the bundle for $39.99, and saving ten bucks in the process.
The Tank on Tank games are most decidedly entry-level wargames, as I discussed in my previous review of both titles back in October. Don’t let that moniker deceive you, entry-level in this case means these are very easy to pick up but are deceptively tough games to play.
Fans of the tabletop game will be able to jump right in and begin throwing steel down range. Newcomers to the fray can click the help button and get up to speed quickly thanks to the handsome layout, replete with illustrated examples of play. If you prefer to read hard copy, you can also print out the included rulebook in PDF format. I don’t think that will be necessary as everything is covered well enough in the in-game rulebook but it’s there if you need it.
Both East and West Front come with nineteen scenarios in ToT digital, along with seven campaigns between the two. There’s plenty of action to be had both against the tough AI or human opponents using the online matchmaking tool for synchronous play.
The gameplay is a direct port of its tabletop counterpart, with new scenarios and seven campaigns added. Individual scenarios can be played in about 20-30 minutes, making ToT Digital perfect for when you want a quick game without breaking out the box version.
Graphically the game is excellent, using identical graphics to those of the tabletop version. The addition of sound and visual effects further helps bring the battles to life. Shells crashing into their targets, planes flying through dropping bombs and snow animations to depict weather changes are fun additions one can only enjoy in digital format. I find these simple animations pleasing, adding a neat little touch to the game, but I know they may not be for everyone.
All of the audio settings can be adjusted in the options menu and the game can be played in either full screen or windowed mode. Together with the simple yet intuitive interface, all of this provides a superb look and gaming experience.
The AI is definitely up to the task and will punish you for bad strategic thinking. Sometimes it even felt as though the AI was cheating, getting all of the good rolls to my bad ones. However, it’s a known fact that the dice gods hate me, so I’ll chalk it up to that. Be that as it may, you really do need to think through your moves in this game because you are so limited in actions and units. Wasting AP’s or units will make for a very short venture as commander, that’s for sure!
One thing missing in the game that really must be added is an undo button, both to save you from your own mistakes as well as the fiddliest aspect of the game, the facing function. When you select a unit, the hex areas you can move to are lit up, along with options to change the units facing.
On more than one occasion I have inadvertently selected the wrong facing because the facing felt a bit too touchy when I selected the hex to move to, and sometimes the facing arrow gets lost in the surrounding terrain. The ability to undo this is a necessary function that should have been in there from the start. When playing the board game it can easily be rectified, but cannot be corrected in a digital format without an undo button. Since facing is important, you could set the AI or your live opponent up for a flank shot accidentally. Adding an undo function will fix this issue.
This isn’t a game breaker, but an annoyance that can easily be corrected with a patch update. Otherwise, everything plays pretty flawlessly and is well worthy of your time. These games would be perfect for both iOS and Android tablets as well, something I hope we see in the future for sure!
On target again
Lock ‘n Load Publishing has done an excellent job of bringing this highly accessible series to the PC. Owners of the tabletop versions will find this as enjoyable as newcomers to the series. Now you can easily play solitaire or grab a game with a friend online without having to wait for game night.
If you’ve never played either game, the in-game rule book will get you up to speed and playing in minutes. It’s a very simple system to understand, mastering it however will take time. The decisions you make are tough because you won’t always have the action points necessary to move every unit, as you may be accustomed to from other wargames.
That is where the beauty of this system comes to the fore, it’s very simple, some may feel too simple, but it’s exactly what it intends to be. This is a gateway wargame and quite an addictive one I must add. One that can bring new blood to the fold and allow us to share our passion for the genre with others who may be afraid to dip a toe in the waters of conflict simulations. Letting them wade in the kiddie pool, as it may, is a better segue into engendering them to play more meatier fare in the future. Whet their appetite a bit and see if they are hungrier for more, giving them a bite of this tasty morsel makes for a great appetizer.
If you already own the tabletop version and are a fan of it, it’s worth having the digital version for when you want to play without dealing with setup and tear down. You can also easily play with a friend across town or the globe at your leisure, without waiting for game night. For those who don’t already have either game but have been considering it, now’s your chance to have both by grabbing the Tank on Tank digital bundle and giving it a whirl.
Now go out there and put some steel on target!
Company Website: https://store.lnlpublishing.com/
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/LnLPub
Note: A digital review copy of this game was provided to me.