With the Video to Tabletop series, we went over Dark Souls: The Board Game, Resident Evil 2, and much more to see how their gameplay translates to the table. While some successfully do so, others strike out on their own to create something new. Today we're going to look at the World of Tanks Miniatures game, what it does right and wrong and we spoke to Chris Townley, a designer on the set, to see where it might go in the future.
The World of Tanks series has been going for over a decade now and has expanded into different videogames and, of course, tabletop. The video game is a huge multiplayer game set in the middle of the 20th century where you have to destroy other tanks to achieve objectives. It can be rather methodical and has tons of customization options.
In our Video to Tabletop articles, we look into the development process of making a video game into a tabletop game. We’ll talk about why more and more IPs are moving into the tabletop genre. We’ll look at video game IP tabletop games and talk to development teams about the difficulties of bringing a video game to life on the tabletop.
The game can be purchased from their site here
World of Tanks Miniatures Game
The World of Tanks Miniatures Game is a very methodical one. If you don't have much patience, this likely won't appeal to you. The first time playing it, my partner and I spent more time setting up the table and reading through the huge amount of instructions than playing the game. This isn't a bad thing. It's just worth mentioning. Let's talk about setting the game up, shall we?
Straight out of the box, you'll notice some foliage. This can be used to set up your map and figure out how you're going to play the game. One player starts at one corner and the other starts at another end. There's a small World of Tanks arrow that essentially spaces out the entire game. The interesting thing about setting up is there's no set map to make. You pick a surface and build the board around that with pieces of foliage like trees, houses, and walls.
This adds a nice sense of personality to play as you figure what works for you and makes your board just a little bit different from last time. The key is that foliage has to be an arrow or more apart and you and your enemy put together the board as a team. You place one wall, they place the other. This often means balancing the board is an important strategy to making each side fair.
Once this is done, you start building your hand. You get a certain amount of gold which changes with players and skill and you can use that to pick your tank and arm it properly. You do so with extra cards that you can add. Some of them have a single-use where others generally buff you for the game.
This is where I could see the World of Tanks Miniatures Game being great in the future. I think setting up your hand, building your tank class, and making the table is a fascinating build of natural world-building. It doesn't feel like you're putting bits of plastic on a table, it starts to feel a bit more organic than that. You're building a world where two tanks are trying to deceptively take each other out.
Actually killing each other is a different story. Each tank has movement which indicates one World of Tanks arrow. Touch it to the base of the tank and move it along that arrow to conveniently place yourself for tactical fire. Preferably, you should likely want to move last and shoot first. These are determined by your initiative. Once you've lined your tank up for a good shot on an enemy, there are a few caveats to making a good hit.
Once you've decided you're going to attack, you have to make sure you can see their tank from your tank's eye line, you have to take stock of how much of their tank is behind a barrier and you have to look at your own stats and abilities. You throw a number of dice according to your firepower. Black indicates a miss, a shell indicates a hit and the World of Tanks logo indicates a critical hit.
To block that, the defender rolls an amount of dice equal to their defense pool. This adds their survivability to the total movement, how much they are in cover, how close range they are, and what angle the attacker is hitting from. You can only throw a maximum of 6 dice. You tally both roles and cancel out any equal dice. If the attacker has hits or critical that the defender can't match, the damage goes through. You then draw for any critical attacks, use any items you want, and continue to the next turn.
This is a pretty addictive gameplay loop that gets harder and more complex as you control multiple tanks. The World of Tanks Miniatures Game has a high skill ceiling that makes me look forward to what comes next. That being said, it would be nice to add extra objectives and modes and occasionally, the arrow system and site system can feel a slight bit finicky. Against an opponent willing to cheat or challenge anything, the game is not entirely secure. That being said, maybe I just need better friends.
The World of Tanks Miniatures Game Interview
We spoke to Chris Townley, a designer for the World of Tanks Miniatures Game, about the process behind it and the future of the set
TechRaptor: Were there any other design ideas you wanted to explore with the franchise?
Chris Townley: There are always mechanics that we wanted to include but just couldn’t seem to get right. The first one that springs to mind is the rules around ramming. Such a great “last-ditch” option when you are out of better ideas in the online game. The problem we faced is that World of Tanks has a computer to work out all the calculations and we needed something simple that players could quickly resolve with a couple of dice. We also needed to make sure it wasn’t so overpowered that it was the default “go-to” option for players. We will keep playing around with ideas in case we come up with something though.
The other area I really want to get more involved with (and I will discuss later) are the special events.
TR: There’s a focus on space and setting up your battles, how did you settle on this idea?
CT: The maps in World of Tanks are not only beautiful to play in, but they are also massive. Whilst it would have been awesome to give players that much space to play on it just wasn’t feasible. We also wanted players to get right into the thick of the action from the first turn. When we thought about our experiences in-game we found ourselves talking about great moments inside the larger game. Everyone has a story along these lines, “that time we rolled up the hill in Mines, brawled with a couple of tanks, seized the high ground and then rained fire down on enemy tanks on both sides”. The terrain rules are all about helping to create this same feeling by ensuring that there is enough terrain that every tank type can do its job but also add complexities and challenges for players that differ from game to game. We also wanted to add a little mystery to each game by having such a dynamic terrain system.
TR: The World of Tanks has a certain flair for special events like its October Spooktacular, any plans of adapting these strange aesthetics into the board game?
CT: I am so excited by the time and effort that Wargaming put into these events and whilst it was a while ago now the “Road to Berlin” campaign was amazing. To be able to create tabletop versions of these would be fantastic. Right now, I’d like to be able to bring a tabletop version of the Battle Pass system to players as a way to get involved with Organized Play in stores but with everything that is going on around the world this might be a little way off.
We have discussed the idea of incorporating the idea of similar events to the game and creating them as part of ongoing web support for the game. Stay tuned for more on this front.
TR: Are there any plans of bringing more foliage and structures to the game?
CT: There is no lack of plans or desire when it comes to things we want to do for the World of Tanks Miniatures Game. Our first game mat is based on imagery from the iconic Prokhorovka battlefield so all the initial terrain in the Starter Set is designed to be suitable for this mat. We’ve love to release more mats themed around other battlefields, Sand River and Artic Region being two of my personal favorites. In which case we would want to release themed terrain packs that match the mat.
In terms of adding other types of terrain, such as rocky outcrops or larger buildings and structures that would block movement and line of sight, and water features that would impede movement, we think that these would be a great inclusion for our Organized Play packs. This would give players new tactical challenges for each event, as well as adding to their collection of terrain.
TR: What about stranger tank types?
CT: Absolutely. Our initial waves are focused around the iconic real-world tanks that fought throughout World War II, but we are just as keen to deliver the paper-Panzers that evoke excitement and disbelief in players. Whether it is the massive Maus or the mighty FV215b (183) we want to bring these to players. The one issue is that we have so many we want to do that trimming down the list to something that is achievable is going to be the cause of more than one office debate as we push for our personal favorites, in case you are wondering in my case that is the Löwe.
TR: Where do you plan on taking the board game in the future?
CT: Bigger and more would be two words that come to mind. Wargaming has made some fundamental changes to how equipment works in the online game and whilst we cannot replicate this exactly, we do have plans to introduce some of the great new options into the game as new models are released.
There is no shortage of great new tanks to add to the game and the next year or will see plenty of the most common tanks hitting the battlefield, but after that, the options really start to open up and give us the opportunity to explore some of the more unique tanks. We will also have the first of our SPGs joining the battle and they really change up the dynamics as suddenly you can find positions that were once safe from enemy fire turned into a trap for unwary commanders.
Last, but certainly not least, is that we are really keen to see Organized Play in store hitting hard. World of Tanks has a vibrant community and we want to see players venturing into their local store for game nights, meeting new people, and sharing our shared love for an amazing game (digital or tabletop). We have some work to do on our end before we are ready to release this, but at the same time, we need the world to be ready for hanging out and playing again.
TR: Thank you very much Chris for taking the time to answer our questions.
The copy of the World of Tanks Miniatures Game used in this article was provided by the World of Tanks Team.