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Hover Tank 2 might have been better titled x2, because what we have is a bigger version of the neat little wargame HoverTank reviewed in Counter 5 (May 1999). Crucially, it's not twice as difficult nor twice as cumbersome.
John Bohrer has sensibly refrained from any weighty embellishments other than the addition of approximately 100 plastic playing pieces (nice), although the unit types remain the same. The geographic area is also significantly bigger. Its predecessor included four maps, of which just one was utilised. HT2 provides a symmetrical map in sections, measuring in at approximately 4' x 9". One big Mother.
HT2 objectives are extremely straightforward, each player being required to exit one of four units--either Mechanized Infantry, Armoured Personnel Carrier, Main Battle Tank or Multiple Launcher, Rockets--from the opposite side of the map.
Military gamers will quickly familiarise themselves with the terrain types and each unit's abilities on Attack, Defense and Movement. The reference chart included provides an instant visual aid to the specifics and a perfect sop to non-wargamers terrified of over-complexity (there is none). Rate this on the El Grande level.
Once set-up, it is simply a case of storming across variable territory looking for an outlet that your opponent has not covered. Expedient use of the fast moving Hovercraft and Helicopter Gunships is crucial, particularly as they can, uniquely, move, attack and move again. The identical armies are too diverse to offer a chess-like contest, but it is fascinating to watch your opponent (in my case) attempt the complete opposite to your personal plan of action.
When units confront each other, all combat is resolved by simply throwing the number of dice indicated on the chart (both participants), and using the highest number rolled. For example a Hover Tank confronts an Assault Hovercraft in one of the central cities. The HT rolls four die (its attack rating), the AH rolls two die (its defense rating). Assume a high roll of 5 for the HT, and 3 for the AH (plus one for its location). The AH receives a step loss (two and you're a goner). A differential of four or more eliminates the losing unit. Combination attacks are prohibited, and all units may attack once per turn, apart from the Tactical Air Base, which takes four turns to re-group. Away dastardly minutiae!
Most units are expendable (to a point), but it IS vital to protect the Tactical Air Base. As John Bohrer writes in his notes, it cannot be moved and therefore has an inherent weakness.
HT2's cover blurb states "More Death and Destruction in the fight for Oil in 2022AD". 2022AD? Join us on the UK petrol forecourts now to see what a real kerfuffle is.
FOOTNOTE: I am not certain whether HT2 has replaced its predecessor. It if hasn't, then you will need to ponder "Short and Sweet" (version 1) or "Extended and Intense" (version 2).