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Subject: My "gateway" grognard game! rss

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Jeffery Hatmaker
United States
Kentucky
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That's right. This game was my gateway game to being a confirmed grognard. Here's the backstory. Over twenty years ago, my little brother was attending Berea College as an art major. (This is related, stay with me). He had just moved into his Senior dorm room and had found "Panzer Leader" abandoned there. Being an inveterate pack rat, and the kind of guy that hates to throw anything that isn't broken away, he set his mind to work to acquire this find a home. My little brother knew that I played fantasy RPG's (back then... ) and more importantly, tank games like Steve Jackson's excellent OGRE, so naturally, after a perfunctory inventory of potential rescuers, he settled on me. He dropped it off one day, and the rest is history. It sat around for quite a while, un-used but occasionally curiously examined. One day, I finally got tired of just fiddling with it and set to with the rule book and a serious desire to wage WAR. It wasn't that hard to figure, and it wasn't long before I was playing the Bridge At Remagen scenario solo. SO, as a result of the way I came by this game and the fun I've had playing it, I've ended up here at BGG, found out about, and subsequently purchased, both Panzer Blitz and Arab Israeli Wars. What a difference a game makes. Now for the particulars.

The "bits" are great. All the info you need on a VERY sturdy, (i.e., they really DON'T make 'em like that any more), chits with excellent silhouettes of the various units stamped thereupon. The Maps, once again, are not to be excelled for durability and appearance. Quick reference cards make double checking this or that rule in the heat of battle much more efficient. All in all, out of five stars, the bits get:



The Rules are at once both logical and not over-complicated. They are quite detailed, and this can result in no little confusion when trying to locate a specific sub-section regarding a particular action, but the info IS there, and it all makes sense. Also, they have detailed tables regarding the various types of units, so that the chits can be more than just silhouettes. You can compare units at a glance with an eye towards eaknesses and strengths. The rules get:



Game Scenarios are both varied and engaging. Each an historical event that makes re-enactment not only fun, but educational as well. The Bridge At Remagen is a prime example. I had read the book in ninth grade, and remembered the sense of suspense which carried me through it. In reality, (by game standards, at least), It seems as if it would be more suspenseful if told from the german point of view. I've not had the opportunity to play all the scenarios, but I have read the "setup" and am quite impressed with the variety.



So what's the downside? Indeed, I'm not the best judge of that, since my history with this game makes me a somewhat biased romantic. The only thing which might be seen as a downside is the lack of "geek factor," or "gee whiz" with regards to the bits. If you like colorful, dazzling artwork, run, don't walk, from Panzer Blitz. It looks more like a bland military map, (which is exactly what it is), than a slap-dash, color-splash light-hearted romp through France. What it is, is an excellent intellectual excercise in TACTICS. The strategy is laid out for you in the scenario setup, and it's up to you and your mental gymnastic abilities to come up with suitable tactics to accomplish your strategic goal. This is akin to chess in that you need to be able to :

(1) Be able to anticipate your opponent's best moves or likely tactics, either defensively or offensively.

(2) Use the terrain as well as the particular strengths of your units to "handicap" random elements such as dice rolls with modifiers that will pull some of the more jagged teeth of chance.

(3) Perhaps most importantly, if you get handed your head, be able to figure out WHY you lost, where the wheels came off, and how to remedy the problem NEXT time.

If this sounds like too much of a hassle, then being a grognard is probably going to bore the hell out of you. If, however, you are drooling in your lap as you read certain parts, GET THE GAME! Then you'll see why all subsequent WWII tank battle games are offspring of the holy trinity of tank games... Panzer Blitz, Panzer Leader & Arab Israeli Wars. There's no cure for the bug you get when you play this game, and I'm glad of it.

powwowdancer out


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Michael @mgouker
United States
Pembroke Pines
Florida
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Count me in as a great fan of Panzer Leader (and Panzerblitz and France 1940) as well. It's a simple system and quite a bit of fun. I sometimes play it even today. ;^)
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Michael Powell
United States
Unspecified
Massachusetts
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I share your love for the game. I have had so many wargames over the years. Every few years I go through a faze (usually after moving and having to lug a ton of boxes with games in them) where I give most of my game collection away. I can never ever give away my copy of Panzer Leader. Someone mentioned disatisfaction with PL rules. To me, I think they are very well written. PL is only one of a few games that I rarely experienced rules arguments with my opponents.

I think PL was the first wargame I ever had too. I got it at a garage sale.
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Don Merner

North Carolina
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Counter pushing was fun back in the '60s with the AH board games, but when PB came out.... WOW! Tactical dream come true. I started writing varient rules within a month. The system got better with PL and I wore out a couple of boards back in the late '70s. Some folks believe that the game system hit peak with A/I Wars, but I always thought it got a little TOO deep. When the tactics of the scenario gets lost in constant rule referring..... well, it takes the chutzpah out of it.

To make a geezer's ranting a bit shorter, after a quarter century hiatus, I recently found myself getting a couple of decent sets of both PL and PB off ebay, so I could get back into it. Already I have a couple of ideas on rules varients to make playability a priority, but to add some more realism to the game. You know what.... it's still fun.
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Jim Hatfield

Washington
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I have 6 sets of PzrLeader and PzrBlitz.
One thing I enjoyed was using the reference OOB's to build Divisional scale units and carryout large scale battles requiring battalion and regimental command restrictions.
A memorable clash for me was US 2nd Armored Division vs. 2nd SS Panzer Division
Being able to see the power of massed Panthers and the amazing mobility of US forces
brought home how tough it was for the Germans in the final years of the war.
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Ken Jarosz
United States
North
Ohio
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My first cardboard tank game I owned. As an avid mini player, it offered a chance to have EVERY unit (well close). Have collected many articles and additional units over the days. Have wanted to play the France 1940 game and the Poland 1939 , but never got past the beginning of play in '44 and '45 teaching others the game.


Has anyone gone over to the dark side and started to play on any of Ward McBurney's boards or with his counters? (Dark side reference to "un-official" counter play)


http://www.imaginative-strategist.layfigures.com/

I would love to get his boards vinyl printed (thin and easy to store) and wonder if PB-PL-AIW could get a resurgence. (it seems to be more "in the news" in my circle) Also to create some SL type overlays for some specific battles (specifically Mokra in Poland 1939....get those armored trains working!!!!)


Cheers


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Ward McBurney
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Oh, it's not so dark as all that. cool
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Steven Bucey
United States
Lancaster
Ohio
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> I have 6 sets of PzrLeader and PzrBlitz.

If you dance on over to the Dark Side and are willing to spend some money on ink, glue and apply a little bit of elbow grease then basically you can make game counters and maps at will.

I've found that 2mm "foamies" with the sticky back are perfect for my needs. I print out a countersheet onto heavy paper, wait 5 minutes for the ink to dry, peal off the backing on the foamy and put the countersheet onto the foamy. I wait 15 minutes and then start cutting using my Frisker's rotary cutting board, and half an hour after I started the whole thing I have a set of counters. Printing the boards takes even less time (because there is less to cut). In short, you can make as many copies of the original game boards and counters as you need, and you'll also have new boards and counters for scenarios in the Boardgamer's Special Issue's or your DYI scenarios.
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Matthew Rademacher
United States
Indiana
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This was my first war game that I played. I saw it in a place called Boardroom Games and wanted for my birthday. I got it and have had a fun time with it ever since. I enjoy the features, and even now like the stripped down features. My friends and I now play more multi-player games, but I look at the game and discuss it with my other grognard friend. He agrees about getting the urge to play this game again. Unfortunately some of the counters have gotten misplaced in movements to different houses.
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John Kovacs
United States
Elyria
Ohio
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This was my gateway game as well, and is still one of my favorites. I got The Arab-Israeli Wars next and eventually PanzerBlitz as well. I still have my original copy of this game and a second used copy from a toy show in Toledo, OH. A great game, and judging by the number of websites, the series still has plenty of support even though all of the games are out of print.
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