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Death and Destruction in the fight for Oil in the Caspian Sea region of Asia in 2022.
Equally matched players vie for control of the Oil and Gas reserves under the Caspian Sea, using realistic, very detailed plastic pieces.
Their missions are to control the region's largest city and to destroy the enemy airbase. This is a classic hex based wargame, with four maps included. Also included are plastic chips, rules and 7 dice.
- four maps
- plastic chips
- 7 dice
- detailed plastic pieces:
- 2 HoverTanks
- 8 Main Battle Tanks
- 8 Mechanized Infantry
- 2 Multiple Rocket Launchers
- 6 Armored Personnel Carriers
- 4 Helicopter Gunships
- 4 Assault Hovercraft
- 2 Tactical Air Bases
Another day, another threatening letter. We do, I admit, get a lot of "attack mail" at Clifford Towers, but this is mostly from Crabby Appleton fans bemoaning my omission of their "Greatest Hits" album in an ancient biography. In this specific case, Winsome Games' guv'nor John Bohrer demanded "review HoverTank, or we'll mount the maps and staple the rule book". Nothing gets me more feisty than a gamekit publisher reaching beyond his station, but then Winsome have transcended their humble(ish) beginnings and built an enterprising outfit on the back of several excellent titles (thanks for the tenner, John).
HoverTank, the subject of John's missive, does indeed have fairly modest components -- black and white rulebook and maps (two, double-sided) but does, surprisingly, include well-detailed plastic playing pieces which depict armoured vehicles post 2000.
The objective for both players is identical whichever of the four maps is utilised -- take, and then hold the city for one turn and destroy the enemy airbase. If I tell you that the make-up of both sets of forces are identical, then you may be thinking "chess". Well, "you" are wrong. The terrain layout will force players to try variable tactics, and this was clearly demonstrated in a first run-through when my initial gambit of "accelerate and hold" crumbled into oblivion when the lack of a fast attack vehicle left me floundering.
The base elements of HoverTank will be familiar to all wargamers, both hardcore and peripheral. There are terrain penalties, fast road movement, restricted landing areas, etc. The heavy mob have a turn restriction placed upon them (a clever touch) which adds significantly to the suspense of their pending arrival.
The units involved range from the piddly Mechanized Infantry (a blocking aid only) to a Tactical Air Base. The key machines are the Hovercraft and Hover Tanks, who move rapidly and are paramount to the end game. Each unit has an Attack/Defense/Movement factor clearly noted on the excellent Reference Chart, where Terrain Effects are also listed (minor gripe - only one sheet is included with the game).
The sequence of play comprises five actions, with absolutely no fiddly sub-turns -- you know the sort of thing, refer to rule 8.14, section 11, paragraph 19 "Distribution of deodorant for infantry (if sleeping, ignore)". Players must advance markers on the refit sections for the Multiple Rocket Launcher and Tactical Air Base, move all units, record the Helicopter and Hover moves (they are allowed to split their allocation), attack and finally move the Helicopters and Hovercraft independently. All of this works almost without question, and combat is resolved by throwing the number of dice noted on the chart, the higher numbers (modifiers apply) succeeding. Combat losses are marked with a chit, but it's two strikes and you're out.
My only query up to this point was wether units could attack INTO forbidden terrain, but common sense suggests not. The only other irritation caused by the rule set was reference to the "Phasing Player" an ambiguous bit of nonsense best left to the sniffy, elite wargame set. In making this latter point, I want to emphasise the simplicity and ease of play. Those wary of hex-based games will hardy glow, let alone break into a cold sweat, after a brief perusal of the instructions.
In a point made many times over (usually by me), a graphic upgrade would brighten the rather dull look of HoverTank, but the excellent plastic vehicles, straightforward combat system and common-sense rules more than compensate.