Saturday, January 3, 2015

Product Review: Stalin's Tanks

Back in the late '70s, a company called Metagaming sprang up with a new product concept called Microgames.  These were popular because as teenagers subsisting on our parents' allowance money, we could buy a portable game for about $3 to $5. 
Some of these Microgames fell into two categories:  MicroQuests and MicroHistory
Stalin's Tanks was the third game printed in the MicroHistory line. 
The game includes a 22-page rule booklet, two counter sheets, a small 6-sided die (1d6), an errata sheet and a map.
(The rules, counter sheets, die and errata)
The rules appear to be fairly simple, with the last several pages of the book devoted to various combat charts scenario lists.  I haven't read the rules yet, but Kent Reuber came up with an errata and made some rule suggestions, while Vin Maresca created more graphically pleasing scenario cards.
(A close-up of the counter sheets)
The 126 playing pieces are thin, and the quality of the images--well--looks like something $3 would buy you in 1980.  Thanks advances in computer graphics and printing, people like Brian Train, can make nicely detailed, color counters to replace the flimsy originals.

(Somewhere in Mother Russia...)
The map measures 14" x 12".  Since it's unmounted, there are several folds in the map, which are needed to store it in the small box.  Playing on it will probably be easier, if the map is placed under some clear plexiglass.  Or better yet--print a copy of Alois Schimmerlos' updated map (along with additional counters).
Additional information and support for Stalin's Tanks has been provided by The Maverick with his overview and component manifest and Marcrogamer's YouTube review and tutorial.
Stalin's Tanks appears to be a quick & easy game to play.  However, the graphics on both the map and counters are dated.  Gaming enjoyment should be enhanced by downloading and utilizing the updated map and counters mentioned above.
My printer is currently low on ink, but I printed-off a set of Brain Train's counters.  They're a tad too big, so the images will have to be reduced, maybe between 10-25%. 
For additional information on mini-games of the '70s & '80s, check out The Maverick's Microgames Museum.


Brian Train said...

Thanks for your note. I made those counters a long time ago, on an ancient Mac, in imitation of the original style. I will have to make some new ones one day, properly sized as a PDF so they will print out properly.

Brian Train

Ted Henkle said...

You're welcome Brian! Your counters are much better than the originals, no matter how long ago you made them. Once I print and mount them, I look forward to playing this game.

Brian Train said...

Honestly, for replacement counters I don't think you could do better than the ones by Alois Schimmerlos that you linked to. Now that I've seen them, I am going to print them and play with those instead!

Ted Henkle said...

Ah! Thanks for the advice! I was planning on heading to the print shop next week. They do a much better job than my desktop printer.