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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bolt Action - Radio Networks in Tank War

Many of us are preparing for Tank Wars from the purchasing, modelling and painting fronts, but before they're on the table, you've got to check out those radios!

Unlike a weapon system upgrade, where things like armor penetration can be measured, the effects radios had on tank combat are difficult to measure. It's not difficult, however, to imagine that a commander signalling other tanks with his hands, flags, or impossible-to-hear shouts during a heated battle would be much less effective than a commander communicating through radio signals. Such differences in command were exhibited on the battlefield during the Second World War by many of the belligerents involved.

The new rules in Tank War attempt to address these differences. For me, these are really some of the most important changes to the game. On page eleven of the Tank War book, rules for tanks lacking radios is discussed.
"In World War II, effective communication by radio made it possible for armoured formations to co-ordinate over a relatively large battlefield. Forces that lacked radio communication found themselves at a considerable disadvantage. Very few French tanks were equipped with radios, for example, and this severely hindered their effectiveness both strategically and in the field. The same is true of Russian tanks, especially during the early war when Soviet forces found themselves hopeless(ly) outmatched by the German Panzer divisions. Japanese armour also commonly lacked radios during the early part of the war, although this would prove less of a problem in the Far Eastern theater.
To represent units lacking effective radio communication French, Soviet and Japanese Armoured Platoon Command Vehicles can reduce their morale bonus distance from 12" to 6" at a reduction in cost of 10 points for the Command Vehicle. This represents communication by means of flags or hand signals."

For my ten points, this discount is not worth it. I understand many players will use this discount in historical games to represent tanks without radios, but in my opinion the difference between a twelve inch command radius and a six inch one is worth a lot more than a ten point discount. Of course, the command upgrade for a tank only costs twenty five in the first place, so a near fifty percent discount seems perfectly logical. I see it as the cost of three assault rifles or panzerfausts or Browning automatic rifles, though, and that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to get the extra distance on that very important +1 command bonus you get on your tank platoon commander for only twenty five total points.

Speaking of those command bonuses, there's a way to get an even greater benefit out of your platoon's War Daddies!

This article is, after all, entitled "Radio Networks in Tank War". The biggest boost in the Tank War book is the fact that you can make the vehicles in the platoon connected through a Radio Network. Check out these rules:
"If the three compulsory vehicles forming an armoured platoon are all taken from the same entry in the relevant army list (for example three T34/76s) then the player can add a Radio Network. The Radio Network adds one to the Command Vehicle's morale bonus when adding its bonus to any armoured vehicle that form(s) part of that platoon. This costs an additional 5 points for the Command Vehicle.
This extra +1 boosts the Command Vehicle's bonus from the usual +1 to +2 - but only for vehicles that belong to the same platoon. Vehicles from other platoons still receive the +1 bonus as usual.
Note that the three compulsory vehicles of the same type can have different options if these are part of the same entry. They could have different weapons, for example, or the crews might be of different qualities, and so forth. These differences do not matter. It is only important that the three vehicles are chosen from the same entry in the army list. Other vehicles in the platoon can be chosen from any of the permitted entries, and any armoured vehicles still benefit from the boosted morale for the Radio Network. Of course, players are free to choose a mixture of vehicles to form the compulsory portion of their armoured platoon if they prefer, but such a 'mixed' armoured platoon cannot be given a Radio Network."

This bonus is fantastic. Consider a standard infantry game, where CH has brought along his trusty IS-2. Pretty rough and tough, right? Now picture that same IS-2, with a built-in +2 to not only its own morale tests, but every other tank within a foot of it as well. Well, my BARbarian friends, that's a tough tank, and it only cost thirty points to upgrade it to that level. So you're telling me I can avoid buying a three-man or less, overpriced command team? Instead I can buy a badass tank, which I was going to do anyways, that is harder to pin into futility, and helps other tanks avoid the same fate? Yes, please.

We're as excited as you are to get the tanks on the table, and there will be a podcast very, very soon talking all about Tank War and what's inside.

Tell us all about your preparation for Tank War on the forum!

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