Panzer Expansions 1 and 2 – Boardgame Review
Panzer Expansions 1 and 2. Boardgame. Publisher: GMT Games. Designer: James M. Day. Price $67.00 and $40.00, respectively
Passed Inspection: Tons of new tanks and planes. Tables of Organization for all major forces. New scenarios and modular maps.
Failed Basic: No terrain counters to modify the maps with.
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A German recon force moved closer to the Russian town. The infantry took the lead with a mixed group of old, almost useless Panzer Is and Panzer IIs approaching on the left flank. Two eight-wheeled armored cars, models 234/4 "Pakwagens" mounted with 75mm anti tank guns stayed back in the woods until needed; they packed a nasty punch but lacked heavy armor. A Stuka spotted some Russian units on a hill in the distance and dive-bombed them. Smoke plumed up into the sky from the air strike, but German forward observers could see it inflicted little real damage on the Russians.
Suddenly Russian machine gunners opened up on the infantry and a heavy Russian tank, a T35 "land battle ship," opened up on the advancing forces. The shells from its low-velocity guns actually bounced off the thin armor of the 234s. Russian lend-lease Sherman tank crews, who were set up deeper in the cover of the town, heard the sounds of firing in the distance and cursed the lack of radios that hampered the units guarding the edge of the town. The tankers mounted up and began to drive towards the fighting.
Meanwhile, as the German infantry found itself suppressed by the heavy machine gun fire, the 234s got the T35 in their sights and their shells took out the intimidating but obsolete Russian monster. Then one of the Russian Shermans set up around the Southern edge of the town, spotting the advancing Panzer Is and IIs. The other Sherman got a 234 in its sights and destroyed the German armored car before its crew could bail out. The other 234 hit the Sherman with a well-placed 75mm shell, and the Sherman began to burn. As the Panzer IIs desperately tried to damage the Sherman with their 20mm cannons, Russian artillery began to take its toll. A Russian shell knocked out the second 234 as its crew bailed out. Not knowing what other Russian units were in the town, the German scout force began to withdraw.
So went one of my games using these new expansion sets to the Panzer game system.
GMT and game designer James M. Day have followed up their new update of the classic Panzer wargame with two expansions which offer many new additional tanks, trucks, airplanes, scenarios and other goodies. With these two new expansions, Panzer now covers the entire expanse of the Russian Front from 1941 to 1945. (Click here to read Armchair General’s review of Panzer.)
Panzer is a tactical World War II game takes place on the Russian Front. The base game features battles in the 1943-44 time period. Each hex is 100 meters and each turn is from 12 seconds to 15 minutes. Each unit is one tank, halftrack, truck, anti-tank gun, airplane, etc. Infantry units represent squads, half-squads or weapons teams such as machine gunners, mortar teams, etc. While the game focuses on armor actions, the infantry unit rules are nicely detailed, as are the airplane rules. Now two expansions add to the fun.
The first is Expansion #1: The Shape of Battle – The Eastern Front and primarily focuses on the actions during the Kursk offensive in 1943. Four new geomorphic double-sided map boards add to the feel of the fierce fighting on the steppes that typified the tank actions on the Russian front.
New units include the heavies, such as the Jagdpanther and the Jagdtiger, the SU 122 and the KV-85. Many variants of the German halftracks model 150 and 151 are added, as are some German anti-air tanks like the Wirbelwind. The Soviets get the very nasty 100 mm anti-tank gun. German Ju87 Stukas finally make an appearance in both their dive-bomber form and the infamous tank-busting Ju87G. The Soviets get Su-2 and Pe-2 aircrafts. Complete tables of organization and equipment are included for both the Soviets and the German armies, with special attention to the formations that were involved in the fighting at Kursk including the Grossdeutschland Panzer Grenadier Division, and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions.
Also included are the German SS units that were outfitted with captured T34s!
The second expansion in this series is Panzer Expansion #2: The Final Forces on the Eastern Front. This wonderfully priced expansion gives tons of bang for the buck. Included are almost all the ground units that fought on the Eastern Front that were missing in the original Panzer release, including Panzer Is and IIs, T35s and T38s and many German 8-rad armored cars. The Russians get the T28 and T35 "land battleships," plus lots of lend-lease tanks such as the Sherman and the Matilda.
Tables of organization and equipment are presented for Soviet formations using lend-lease equipment.
Scenarios are included for everything from 1941′s Battle of Brody to 1944′s Vitbsk.
Two new geomorphic maps cover deadly urban environments where house-to-house fighting rules the day.
With these two expansions, we get all the units we need to play combat over the entire Eastern Front, with additional counters and maps.
The only downside to these new sets is that we still don’t get the extra terrain that came in the original Yaquinto versions of these games. The extra trees, hills, etc., were one or more hexes in size and could just be dropped on the map for additional tactical options. I miss these and will probably drag out my old sets to use their terrain pieces.
I can hardly wait for re-designs of more World War II and modern tank games in this series.
Armchair General Rating: 96 %
Solitaire Rating (1 low, 5 high): 4
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!