World of Tanks, the Miniatures Game, attempts to bring the mega-popular PC game of the same name to the table. Players will create squads of tanks, roam the battlefield and attempt to blast each other.
If you know of other popular tabletop skirmish games with movement patterns, upgrades, and team building, then there’s nothing new here. You can easily pick up World of Tanks and get started pretty quickly. There are a few nuances with line of sight and movement that differ between what you may be used to, but it’s all pretty easy to figure out. For players completely new to the genre, the rulebook is short and does a decent job of teaching you the game. No wargaming experience required.
In World of Tanks (WoT), each player will build a squad of tanks with upgrades and a crew. There is no nationality restriction on team building, so you can have your American Sherman fighting alongside a German Panzer, but keeping it thematic is more fun in my opinion. A WoT round is divided into three phases: Move, Shoot, and Command. Rounds will continue until the determined scenario ends or one player completely destroys the other’s force.
Movement is done using the template provided, with the number of moves determined by the speed rating of a given tank. The game is quite liberal with the ability of tanks to perform turns, simulating the use of tank tracks and their ability to turn in no time. Players will move their tanks in ascending order of initiative printed on their stat cards with ties going to the player currently holding the Advantage tile. Besides just positioning your tanks, movement affects every other part of the game. A moving tank is both harder to hit but also less accurate in its own shots. Players must balance getting into advantageous positions or getting out of vulnerable positions with considerations for defense and landing shots.
Firing is done in descending order of initiative. Keeping in mind the dice modifications of the move, players will roll to see if they land any hits or critical hits. There are many upgrades players can use to modify dice, provide defense, repairs, bonuses in specific situations, and more. In general, shooting a tank head-on is not a great strategy. The front armor is thick and repels all but the lucky ones. Players will be constantly moving around trying to get that side shot or even better the back shot for big damage. Regular hits will deal damage to a tank, but critical hits can have bigger effects, like disabling your weapon or engine until they’re repaired.
In the command phase, players will mostly refresh for the next turn, but some tanks and upgrades offer abilities that will be triggered here. Command phase bonuses range from extra movement to repairs and things like that. Once all abilities are done and refreshed, damage repaired if possible, you’re off again unless the game is over.
I can’t review WoT without mentioning X-Wing. If you’ve played X-Wing, by far the most popular of this style of play, then WoT is both familiar and also significantly inferior. While the bottom-up and top-down initiative system is essentially the same in both games to determine who moves and fires in what order, WoT misses the pre-planned moves that are an essential part of X-Wing strategy. This results in the tanks chasing each other in circles looking for side and rear fire. There’s little chance of making a mistake or not thinking about your opponent when you have perfect information about the state of the board when it’s your turn. Once close, the first tank to move has no chance of getting rid of a pursuer. The rest of the gameplay is largely the same, but WoT uses fewer dice symbols to activate special abilities than X-Wing. Where X-Wing feels fast and tense, with each reveal of a movement dial a moment of impending joy or doom, WoT feels labored and random.
The tanks themselves are nice models, if a little light and flimsy. They are colored for each nationality but otherwise unpainted. The neoprene play mat is beautiful and functional. The garage, a foam case, holds all the parts from the main box with room for more tanks (up to 14 total) expansions and gives you confidence that your tanks will be protected when you bring them to your LGS.
It’s also worth noting that the main box and each expansion advertises a redeemable code for the PC game. I wrongly assumed that this code unlocked the corresponding tank in the PC game, but all the codes are the same and only unlock a less than useful intro pack and only if you’re a new player, so n ‘m not going to buy them if your goal is to unlock tanks on the PC.
In the competitive tabletop skirmish game market, there are clearly better choices when it comes to gameplay, but WoT is still a fun experience. While other options in the genre play better, driving tanks and getting blown up while making explosion noises is still a fun time. If you’re looking for a cutting-edge competitive experience, look elsewhere, but if you like tanks, I think you’ll have a great time here.