Unpub Preview: Tank Tournament

Unpub Previews allow the designers a chance to talk a little more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network.

Tank Tournament, designed by Michael Scott Matecha, is a light hex based war game involving tanks.

We’ll leave the details about the game to Michael to describe…

What was your inspiration for Tank Tournament? In the early 80’s I envisioned a board/minis game using the tanks from the movie TRON.  I took some cardboard rectangles and drew the TRON tanks on them with basic stats and while it was fun, there was no objective apart from elimination.  In the late 90’s I played Unreal Tournament a LOT and wrote down a notebook full of ideas on a fast-paced tank boardgame with capture the flag, assault and domination scenarios but I never made it. In the past decade I’ve enjoyed the minis game Necromunda with its squad development using RPG-like experience points for upgrades. This past year I tried the PC game World of Tanks and it seems derived from very similar inspirations as my boardgame idea so with the encouragement of my weekly game group I’m finally taking 30 years of inspirations along with a crate of new ideas and forging them into reality.

What is your favorite part of Tank Tournament? I have to choose just one? Okay then – having a platoon of tanks and crews that are upgraded and designed for my specific play style. I like 2 Artillery, 2 scouts to spot for them and a TD to protect my flag. Max upgrade guns on Arty, max upgrade spotting on scouts and whatever is left on the TD. Repair kits on scouts since they tend not to survive long.

To your knowledge, what do other people find most interesting about Tank Tournament? The custom dice have gone over well because the color-coding is easy to remember. Some of the ways you can damage/destroy opponent’s tanks have been termed ‘awesome’. Players who enjoy building decks in CCGs or love spending almost as much time creating characters/squads in games as playing them(I’m guilty) enjoy optimising platoon configurations. There are 26 tank combination variations in a platoon.

What has been the most challenging part of designing Tank Tournament? Not knowing if the game will turn out fun. I KNOW that the design is chock full of very cool, awesome, even unique ideas and mechanisms but in the end what matters is if the game is fun to play. Also the graphic design. I am a self-taught photoshop amateur and unfortunately(at times) a perfectionist so it is a challenge to accept that any particular component or image is ‘good enough’  Oh! and balancing my desire to add all my cool ideas into the game vs not doing so to keep the play time as short as possible. Whew, Lots of challenges!

What advice would you give to players attempting Tank Tournament for the first time? Don’t worry about winning your first game, just try to experience all the cool stuff you can do with your tanks such as: Playing a command card to pull your tank out of range of an enemy tank’s shot at the last moment. Driving off a cliff edge onto an enemy tank taking out his Gun for a turn for a ‘Death from above’. Ramming/Pushing an enemy tank into deep water to drown it.

What has surprised you most in play-tests of Tank Tournament? The custom dice I designed are color coded and playtesting revealed that you can line up the dice alonside the game map and they serve as a sequence of play for the game – a very handy mechanism that emerged on its own!

People who like___________ will like Tank Tournament. Why?  People who like Unreal Tournament, World of Tanks, Battletech or any light hex and counter wargame. Wargamers looking for a lighter, faster-playing game fix will like pushing around tanks without having to look up complex charts and yet have a decent amount of detail (armor value, penetration, spotting)

Video gamers will like the achievements you can track and brag about. Everyone will like the cool stuff you can do with your tanks. The realism vs fastfuriousfun slider is definitely in the fff zone. I imagine traditional hex and counter wargames having a military soundtrack playing and serious-faced opponents carefully plotting strategies while Tank Tournament will have electric guitars wailing in the background, standing dice rolling and players pushing their luck just for a spectacular move.

Tell us anything else you want to say about Tank Tournament that I haven’t asked or you haven’t said already. Tank Tournament is for ages 12+(maybe 10+, we’ll see) for 2-4 players(maybe 6, we’ll see) and should play in about 30 minutes per player. Stop by my table to check out the game and score some free candy!

For more information, additional photos, and to see where you can play Tank Tournament, please visit the game’s page here on Unpub.net!

Author: Darrell Louder

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