Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Ghost Panzer: Shooting While Moving Ain’t Happening

The big lesson of the Ghost Panzer tank combat scenario is that moving and shooting just isn’t going to happen. If you’re in one of those massively well-armored T34’s, then you’re going to fail your proficiency check on the turn you’re moving into position. So you wait. The next turn, you’d like to be able to hit a German tank so you stay still. Making you something of a sitting duck. Even then, due to the low-initiative nature of the Russian tank crews, you still have less than a 50/50 chance to take a shot– because the Germans are going to be on the move.

On the other hand, being a sitting duck is not such a bad deal when you’re a Russian. The solid front armor of the T34 tanks are pretty much better protection than anything else you can do. So you line up, hang back, and wait for the Germans to come to you. This is a simple scenario where the winner is the person that kills the most tanks– and the Russians win ties. So they can afford to let the Germans come to them.

The German Panzers are pretty awesome, though. They’re slow and lightly armored in comparison. But they shoot a lot. And critically, their crews have about a 50/50 chance of being able to take a shot while on the go. And the Panzer IV has a gun on it that very nearly ignores even the best armor.

Now… I’ve played this scenario by the numbers and I’ve played it with absolutely no idea about any sort of sane strategy. I have to say… it was fun trying to play this “wrong.” Tanks were scattered all over the board and facing every direction. Germans would position themselves just out of my firing arc so that I’d have to take a -1 to proficiency when I had to change facing. It was an absolute nightmare of carnage and destruction and not a great day for the motherland.

I’ve wanted a playable tank game for a long time. Certainly, whatever it is that miniatures players tend to do is way too complicated for my table. This is just right. In Ghost Panzer, a tank that is shot by another tank is either dead or (more rarely) probably dead. The tanks are described fully by weapon, armor, movement, and proficiency values– in such a way as to encourage players to rediscover their nation’s doctrine. And the only thing that is even close to being confusing in the rules is the terrain modifiers and line of sight stuff.

Especially with the new “Remastered” edition here, you’ve got a MicroGame level of rules density combined with the sort of game components people expect from a contemporary board game. Even better, you’ve got everything you need to blitz Russia!

If you are looking to branch out from euro games and role-playing games and into historical wargames, this is one that is liable to give you a great deal of bang for the buck. Like everything else Jim Krohn has designed, it’s engineered to give you a great deal of flavor and nuance from a relatively small number of “almost invisible in actual play” type rules. Check it out!

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7 responses to “Ghost Panzer: Shooting While Moving Ain’t Happening

  1. Cirsova March 21, 2018 at 8:27 am

    How does this one compare to older tank tacticals, like Panzer Leader?

    • jeffro March 21, 2018 at 8:38 am

      I don’t know. Ghost Panzer’s line is most provocative in its handling of the infantry. The subtext of this game is… “we’ve been wargaming wrong for decades due to habit and convention.”

      So far I’ve played the tanks and infantry separately. I have no idea what will happen when these two aspects of the game come together in, say, Kursk.

      • Cirsova March 21, 2018 at 8:50 am

        I think the biggest issue i had with the tactical tank games I’ve played has been that opportunity fire made them feel fiddly and REALLY hard for attacking players in a lot of cases.

        In some of the games I’ve played, if the defender could get somewhere that they had line-of-sight, they could just slaughter the attacker with response fire and the attacker had to hope they could throw more cannon-fodder than the defender could shoot back at. Or, in the case of others, like those set in the Ardennes, it’s like “how am I supposed to have a tank battle with all these trees in the way?”

    • jeffro March 21, 2018 at 8:56 am

      The sequence of play does not really reward opportunity fire for tanks. If I’m reading it right… you are basically betting that an enemy unit will come into your firing arc. The more mobile Germans don’t really need the proficiency modifiers for that… and the Russians will see themselves flanked when they make that bet, taking hits through their weak side armor.

      • Cirsova March 21, 2018 at 9:08 am

        I think the issue with the older Panzer Leader series may have been that it didn’t take facing into account, IIRC. So, you couldn’t really flank anyone.

        The Arab-Israeli entry into the series had such long lines of sight (cuz, y’know, desert), it was more like a tower-defense game than a proper tactical wargame. In fact, I am pretty sure one of the scenarios we played was literally “The Israelis have 6 tanks hidden in the dunes; the Egyptians have to get X units down the highway and off the map.”

  2. Anzon March 22, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Enjoying these posts. Presumably you don’t mean firing *while* moving? I thought that was really only something which became do-able with Abrams/Challenger-era tanks?

    • jeffro March 22, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      My use of the terms is in reference to the sequence of play, not the historical capabilities of the tanks.

      In Ghost Panzer, Germans will routinely move a tank and then fire with it in the same turn. Russians? Not so much!

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