Thursday, January 07, 2010


A quick turnaround this time. The randomly selected game this time is Helltank, a small game of futuristic armored combat published in 1981 by Metagaming. This game fills the same genre as Ogre and G.E.V., games which I have enjoyed for years. Both games cover armored combat in the 21st century, but there are differences. Helltank, unlike Ogre, doesn't assume that everyone goes to tactical nuclear weapons, and it doesn't include cybernetic units. Helltank also has more unit types, including attack helicopters and "air cruisers," magnetic levitation weapons platforms that fly. Cool beans! Another differences is that where Ogre/G.E.V. just gives you a certain amount of units to play with, with Helltank you have to pick one of seven different time periods, which impacts what units are available, as well as what those units cost.

Game play in Helltank is relatively simple, though there are some complexities. Every unit has a movement type, a combat range, a movement allowance, and an evasion movement allowance. When evading, you move faster, and are harder to hit, but you can't fire. Critically, as long as your unit hasn't fired yet this turn, you can put it into Evasion movement as soon as you are fired upon. Units that haven't fired yet this turn can also interrupt an enemy unit's movement to opportunity fire on them outside of the normal turn order.

The combat system itself is different from what I am used to. Most games like this give each unit a combat factor, and then you compare that to a defensive factor on a chart and try to beat the target number on a die roll. This game, however, simply has a large chart where you compare the firing unit to the target unit, and you are given a target number to roll under or equal to. You then apply a lot of die roll modifiers (for terrain, evasion, etc.) to that roll. The end result isn't that different from what I am used to, but it allows for certain units to be really deadly against certain units, but pathetic against other units (like AA units being good against helicopters, but not against tanks).

The game comes with enough different units so that there is a lot of variety in games, even if you play the same scenarios again and again. One thing that I feel is lacking is a regular infantry unit. The game comes with jet-pack infantry, but where are the regular ground-pounders? I can't come up with a good reason for their absence. Additionally, the game comes with only one map. Granted, there is a good variety of terrain there, but after a few games it would get old fast. It looks like you can use maps from other games pretty easily, though, so if your collection is big enough that shouldn't be a huge problem.

In the end, I can't help but compare this game to Ogre/G.E.V., and I find that while the game has some differences, I still like it. In fact, my ratings at boardgamegeek are identical for both games. They play in the same sandbox, but they do different things, and that is OK.

1 comment:

EdwinaHugh said...
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