Mechanised tank combat is the subject on today's agenda with the follow-on to Brian Clough's Football Fortunes and it s questionable as to which is the more violent. As with Football Fortunes the computer program serves merely as referee and judge to what is basically a board game.
The game pack contains a 40cm x 40cm board 121 x 23 hexagons large if you count the edge hexagons), small but detailed plastic playing pieces (48 in all), a comprehensive manual and, of course, the computer tape.
The game is based around lour warring countries - Armanis, Kazaldis. Sarapan and Calderon. Two to tour players can take part, controlling either one or two countries each. If four players are involved alliances can be set up. The objective of the game is to reach and occupy the enemy's HQ.
All this is clearly set out in the manual, which is quite comprehensive in explaining the game. But what it also helps make clear is that Tank Attack is for sure no Desert Rats, and the game's relative simplicity may not be to everyone's liking.
The basic gameplay revolves around the movement and combat of tanks and armoured cars across satisfyingly mixed terrain. Most of the terrain doesn't help progress and bad weather can slow down a country's attack completely. Combat is line-of-sight based, with tanks firing upon one another once within four hexes range. When engaged in combat main battle tanks pack the most punch but are relatively slow moving and can suffer at the hands of fast moving light tanks and armoured cars- Damaged vehicles can be repaired at depots, and even totally destroyed can be brought back from the dead - at a severe cost in time. Meanwhile the enemy draws ever nearer to your increasingly vulnerable HQ!
The specific amount of damage you take is decided by the computer program which calculates the results of combat based on the strengths of the tanks involved. The computer also takes the role of a War News paper, providing vital information on the ongoing battle and how it is affecting the movement and performance of each country's forces. Despite some neat animated sequences the command system is particularly slick in execution and speed once the basics are mastered. However, while the program does indeed play an integral part in the game, seasoned computer wargamers may find the computer's presence as referee, coupled with the somewhat limited scope of the game, perhaps too restrictive.
One aspect of Tank Attack I particularly liked was the presence of notches on the rear of the pieces indicating a piece's strength. Only the commander can see it and this brings into play the ever subtle 'Fog of War' factor - you may have a thoroughly useless spearhead force but your enemy doesn't know it and he'll have to worry about it until combat reveals all. Another good touch is the teamwork factor when four players are taking part, this is often lacking from computer wargames and is very welcome here.
To its credit Tank Attack brings together the two often very different worlds of board wargames and computer wargames in one successful halfway house. It must be remembered though, that Tank Attack is primarily a board game and should be played like one (ie with 4 like-minded people!). A relatively simple a game it may be, but TankAttack is still worth consideration - provided of course you've got at least one other person around to play it! Thankfully such a fresh idea as this hasn't been abandoned by CDS - a follow-on is planned, titled Marine Attack, and revolves around, yes you guessed it, all things marine. I can't wait to see the plastic aircraft carrier!
Smart playing pieces, a functional board and a simple but effective manual.
The rules serve their purpose in so much as they inform the player of how to play the game but provide little other information.
As playable as a beginner's board game with the addition of a competent moderator computer program. The 2-4 player option keeps the game playable at all levels, and offers considerable variety of play to boot.
The program itself is well presented with some highly detailed graphics, good animation in places and well thought out command screens.
An interesting, clever approach to the wargame concept with some well thought out game ideas, a lot of fun to play. The somewhat limited game scope may prove a drawback with experienced wargamers, though.