29 June 2012

Duel of the Giants

One of the advantages (in a long list of disadvantages) of moving house every two to three years is that you get to delve into those deep recesses of your Man Cave and find hidden treasures.  This happened recently when I discovered this game, which I had bought somewhere on special (for Christmas I think!) and then forgotten all about it! Oops. Instead its now a  Christmas in July present, just in time for my Birthday!

The components are beautiful and the board is much like Memoir 44 - big hexes on a 9 x 11 grid and terrain tiles that can be placed wherever you like for extra replayability.  All with great colour and graphics on thick, durable cardstock.  The whole thing comes with two sets of terrain and the board is two sided - Summer and Winter.  You even get winter and summer counter sets so they match the boards.  A great touch to improve the aesthetics. You get 11 very nice Plastic minis - 2 Tigers, 8 T-34s and a Stuka.  These are well detailed in 1/144 scale with rotatable turrets (a key feature for the game) and yes, painted up they look awesome.
Not mine but you can see the quality of the cardboard components and the plastic tanks (they come unpainted)
The idea behind the game is that OPERATION CITADEL (aka the Battle of Kursk) has just been lost by the Germans and now they have to stem the hordes of Russians trying to force an armoured breakthrough.   The Russians get 8 x T-34s and the Germans get 2 Tiger Is and a Stuka.  The catch is, the Russians start with 16 markers (of which only half are real tanks) but the Tigers have to be programmed (using cards) a turn ahead.  It forms a very neat guessing game with great fog of war elements.  The Germans also get some minefields (real and dummy) and 2 Anti Tank Guns (1 x 88, 1 x Pak 36 plus 6 dummies) to keep those Rooskies guessing.  (of course, being the sad, hopeless sport that I am, I want to find 1/144 scale guns to use on the board now!)
A Winter scenario in progress (pic from BGG)
Interestingly, the combat system is diceless.  Each tank has a firepower value (which diminishes with range) and an armour value for each facing.  Basically when firing if the firepower > armour = kill, though that is simplifying it a little.  The Stuka has very limited endurance and only a single attack (it carried very limited ammo for the 37mm cannons) so its value is more as a flying spotter.

Victory is such that the Germans have to kill the Soviets.  The Russians get VPs for killing Germans, but get more for exiting their tanks off the other side of the board as per the strategic scenario of trying to achieve a break-through.  this keeps the game pretty tense and the Germans try to rack up enough kills before the few Russians escape.
Unit card for the powerful Tiger I
The rulebook is pretty thorough and half of it is a great turn by turn example game.  Each page is in both German and English, which gave it a very authentic feel to me!  Its also available free online if you are interested at the ZMan Games link below.  Game play is pretty quick, somewhere between 30 and 45 mins.

Somehow though, its feels a little unfinished and is yearning for an expansion.  More scenarios and I think some extra units like JS-2 Heavy Tanks or Panthers could be added in with little difficulty and without changing the rules.  Or maybe a few German infantry tank hunter teams, or pre-arranged artillery fire.  What would be really awesome though is a set of solo rules to place the Russians on automatic play.  Then you could play solo, or have two German players each commanding a Tiger and see who can get the most Kill Rings - now that sounds like fun!

Overall, its a very different game with some abstractions and which applies different types of restrictions on the two sides.  I've enjoyed a few solo games and am looking forward to playing the Lad next week.  I recommend this game for something a bit out of the ordinary and say:

Panzers Vorward!
Game entry at ZMan Games is here

PS There is a Player Aid sheet in the files section of the BGG page for this game:


  1. Amazing, I never find anything like that hidden around 'Awdry Towers'. :(

  2. Hhmm? Not heard about this game before, but it looks like a lot of fun!!

  3. Is it related to Duel in the Dark? (seems to be very similar in concept and look)

    That's a very good game indeed.

    1. Well picked up Dunc - Same game designer, Duel was his firt game, this is his second. I havent played Duel but based on this game I would happily pick it up if I found it