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PanzerBlitz
November 11, 2010 8:14 PM   Subscribe

PanzerBlitz is a tactical-scale board wargame of armoured combat set in the Eastern Front of the Second World War. The game is notable for being the first true board-based tactical-level, commercially available conflict simulation (wargame). It also pioneered concepts such as isomorphic mapboards and open-ended design, in which multiple unit counters were provided from which players could fashion their own free-form combat situations rather than simply replaying pre-structured scenarios. (related)
posted by Joe Beese (35 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
ima
squad leader geek with a ping-pong table.
(i just love moving chits)
posted by clavdivs at 8:16 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Played this and others from Avalon Hill.
In the 1970s.

I am an OLD geek.

OFF THE LAWN! oblig.
posted by Drasher at 8:26 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never played PanzerBlitz, but I was introduced as a kid to another, slightly earlier Jim Dunnigan game from Avalon Hill, Jutland, which has a lot apparently in common—not surprising given the pedigree. Jutland was a naval tactical/strategic simulation, though, with no board per se (you just need a hundred or so square feet of flat open space), and a mix of hide-and-seek Battleship-on-Steroids hex-based strategic play and (the payoff) low-level tactical fleet-and-flotilla pew-pew-pew action.

I think my dad was hoping that getting me into Avalon Hill games would stimulate my interest in history and geopolitics. Sorry, Dad. You did manage to get me hooked on critical hit tables, though.
posted by cortex at 8:39 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh hell yes, I spent many hours moving cardboard squares around the map board, and waiting for the next expansion set to come out. We high school outcasts had our tight fraternity of war gamers.
posted by LarryC at 8:48 PM on November 11, 2010


Reading through the links, I never realized just HOW much one of my favorite games from my youth, Steve Jackson's O.G.R.E owed to PanzerBlitz, right down to aping the tank sillouette on the game box, until now. Great post!
posted by KingEdRa at 8:49 PM on November 11, 2010


Man, I could never convince anyone to play these games with me. Fortunately I was nearly as happy to pour over the rules.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:51 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always kind of preferred the earlier Blitzkrieg, but anything from Avalon Hill was aces with me.
posted by Aquaman at 8:56 PM on November 11, 2010


Oh no, not this drug.

I had an odd friend/peer in High School, and I've mentioned him on MeFi in the sword nerd thread a while back. I believe I've mentioned that he was not only our local mid 20s GM but he was also officially an adviser in our officially sanctioned on-campus nerd club.

His whole family was American Gothic otaku, house falling down around their ears and black sheep in the suburban neighborhood and everything. Dad was a RC modeler, mom was into complicated fantasy and romance novel series and their German-American slacker Rasta son was into period re-enactment, sword fighting, RPGs and tac/strat games.

I go over to his place one day and he's replaced his dad's airplane hanger in the garage with miles of scale 3D full terrain hex-cell foam maps laid out with bridges and trees and rivers and little painted tanks and armored troop carriers and everything, set up across half a dozen tables and pretty much consuming the garage. I'm pretty sure it was Panzer Blitz. He was playing by himself, recreating the Battle of the Bulge or some other famous tank-heavy battle turn by turn and not just playing the game but trying to accurately model the actual historical combat event and trying to glean data about, I suppose, actual engagements and one on one exchanges and their real world probabilities through the simulation.

He had that setup going for about a year. It was intense and a little scary. It's like a $5,000 board game or something with all that gear, not to mention the months of play.
posted by loquacious at 9:03 PM on November 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


I am an OLD geek..

I prefer thinking of it as the battle having gone on long enough that geek reinforcements have been brought in. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:16 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


And the rules! If I am remembering correctly, at one point the Squad Leader series had a cumulative 200+ pages of rules.
posted by LarryC at 9:27 PM on November 11, 2010



And the rules! If I am remembering correctly, at one point the Squad Leader series had a cumulative 200+ pages of rules.


That would be Squad Leader + Cross of Iron + Crescendo of Doom + G.I. Anvil of Victory, I think. Glorious, glorious those were for maladjusted geeks like myself circa 1981. Not long thereafter, Advanced Squad Leader came along and even I had to admit defeat. There is no way that I could conceive of a boardgame being worth that much brainpower to keep track of. Interested parties might want to see rules heading for the first chapter of the ASL rulebook.

Yes, that is one chapter: INFANTRY AND BASIC GAME RULES. We haven't even yet got to terrain, or vehicles, or off-board ordnance at this point.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:53 PM on November 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


{had a weird image of joe and i playing squad leader with cortex 'Arageing' the first off site mefi related webcast 'WARBLeOGGER'}

and then more want to play. weirder still.

The wiki Panzer leader (game) page has an interesting contention going on. (on the low-importance list...thats just.wow. that.)

"Some of the SPI games that became Avalon Hill games were Jutland, 1914, Panzerblitz ...and the 1940 expansion. My son doesn't like board games so they remain in my attic collecting dust."
posted by clavdivs at 9:57 PM on November 11, 2010


Oh, man. My very best friend from Jr. High and I were fanatics about this game. We played all the scenarios, and would stay up laaaate on Saturday nights at his house in 5 & 6 hour games. We bought books about WWII military hardware - we hung pictures of the planes and tanks on the walls. We built models. I learned a lot of history from the explorations that Panzerblitz spawned. No other board game has ever stacked up to that one -- the detail is just phenomenal. The most fun though, was when we blew off the scenarios, and just went "all in" -- Germans on the left, Russians on the right, and every piece on the board. We'd each get to set up our 1/3 however we wanted, and the middle third would be empty, then we'd just charge at each other. Mayhem. The final result was often a 'Blitz version of 52-card pickup when someone would finally upend the whole thing.

Once I moved back to San Francisco from Houston in the 8th grade and discovered girls, drugs & punk rock, I never did play that game again. I hung on to it for years and years, though -- through 2.5 marriages. Sadly, I think my worn & taped up Panzerblitz box was one of many possessions that got hauled off to the dump in the trunk of my '63 Buick Skylark when i was in to much of a booze-addled funk to do anything about it. My Happy Day Griddle-Grill was in there, too. Damn.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:00 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


For some reason I read the game as PaneerBlitz and I got disproportionately excited.
posted by threeants at 10:21 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, played way too many games of PanzerBlitz. I recall more about arguing over rules than I can recall about dramatic gameplay though.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:33 PM on November 11, 2010


ASL + ATRw/Rising Sun + EIA = nerdgasm.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:49 PM on November 11, 2010


I haven't played PB, but SL, which seems quite similar. I did however spend quite a few evenings in college playing Steel Panthers on the PC. Seems like it was inspired quite a bit by PB.

Dunnigan is still going strong, apparently. He's editing StrategyPage. I recommend his book How to make war for anyone looking to understand conventional warfare. It's getting a bit dated, though.
posted by Harald74 at 12:27 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Avalon Hill games. If it comes in a tube and is comprised of hexes and cardboard, then I know it's going to be awesome. I've played a few tank scenarios from them, don't even remember what they were called, but the terrain was horrendous, we were out of gas, and there was artillery. Is there anything better?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:51 AM on November 12, 2010


The game is notable for being the first true board-based tactical-level, commercially available conflict simulation (wargame).
PanzerBlitz was published by Avalon Hill in 1970.
As mentioned in several comments above, there were earlier ones. This one, for instance.
Tactics is generally credited as being the first board wargame. It was designed by Charles S. Roberts in 1952, and self-published in 1954 under the company name of The Avalon Game Company (later changed to Avalon Hill in 1958).
That's the kind of thing that makes Wikipedia an unreliable source.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:07 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I played other Avalon Hills games (like Waterloo and Blitzkreig) rather than this as a kid, and loved them.

There was a massive disappointment when I tried to introduce boardgamer friends to these games - and they hated them, thought they were unbalanced and boring. I felt like my entire childhood had been dismissed out of hand. Philistines.
posted by Coobeastie at 4:08 AM on November 12, 2010


THE ripping yarn for board gamers of all ages:

Iain M. Banks' "The Player of Games."

BTW, a 35+ year old box of Panzer Blitz is in my book case.
posted by rdone at 5:04 AM on November 12, 2010


Pffft. PanzerBlitz.

STARFLEET BATTLES 4LYFE, YO
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:40 AM on November 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have almost every game mentioned in this thread so far. I recall having a huge Squad Leader/Cross of Iron map on my bedroom floor, that I was playing solo, for weeks. I literally jumped from my bed to the doorway in the morning for school.

Don't feel bad for me, I had friends. Just not gamer friends, back then.
posted by Splunge at 5:50 AM on November 12, 2010


Splunge, I don't feel alone now. Solo. I loved to play them all solo. I had gamer friends, but they just weren't as into the tedious details as I was. I haven't really recovered. Instead, I turned my mania into a career: I teach military history.

PanzerBlitz forever! (That said, I preferred SPI games. They were more "serious").
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:21 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


My big brothers played PanzerBlitz, et. al -- but we played Dawn Patrol in the grade school cafeteria, and later Car Wars on late-start days in the junior high cafeteria. Having to peel the game pieces off a sticky lunchroom table adds a whole 'nother element to the gameplay.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:28 AM on November 12, 2010


Some of these games were disappointing to me before I could even play them.

While I was in High School, I came across a copy of Clausewitz and found it surprisingly accessible. I eagerly bought Waterloo but on reading the rules I realized that combining forces counted for jack. You just had to stack counters. Bah.

Later on I got Squad Leader and was crushed to find that, even at a squad-level game, buildings on the map were an abstraction for a group of buildings. Bah.

I got the most mileage out of high-level abstractions (e.g., Warsaw Pact) or close-combat add-ons for RPGs, like Traveller's Snapshot. (Favorite rule: a bottle is a club until you score your first hit. Then it's a knife.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:03 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


We used to play 3-handed games of Panzer Blitz crossed with Arab-Israeli Wars in Jr High. Had to outlaw the Israeli armored infantry though; they could haul ass halfway across the board & flatten both the Germans & Allies. It took the idea of the Blitz to a whole new level. You gotta respect the Churchill though. Flamethrower on wheels, ouch.
posted by scalefree at 12:11 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


My older brother played this, pretty much by himself. No offense if this was or is your thing, but reading PanzerBlitz just made me a little sick.
posted by fixedgear at 1:38 PM on November 12, 2010


I bought a copy of this game at a garage sale when I was a teenager. It's probably still somewhere amongst my accumulated crap.

I remember spending days reading and making sense of the rules. Eventually, on a vacation, I managed to convince my cousin to play a game with me. We spent maybe an hour setting up the board. I think that by that point, I hadn't gotten all the way through the instructions so being impatient young teens as we were, we ended up just winging a scenario. I placed my pieces and he placed his.

What I didn't realize was that we were in each others' range of fire.

We rolled to see who got to play the first turn and I won.

So, first thing, I opened fire on his pieces with my long range guns. And completely wiped him out. Game over.

And that was the last time I ever found someone willing to play PanzerBlitz with me.
posted by suetanvil at 3:05 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


none of you have admitted to calling yourselves grognards yet?

Never quite got into PanzerBlitz, but played a lot of PanzerLeader, before moving onto more strategic level games. World in Flames Classic edition was truly epic, not like Europa, actually playable, but still awesome.
posted by wilful at 9:05 PM on November 12, 2010


It seems like it's in need of a little TLC, but VASSAL (a great thing to know about if you're a lonely grognard) has a PanzerBlitz / PanzerLeader module that you might want to check out.

(As well as modules for many of those other classic war games that you never got a chance to play but now can!)
posted by jammer at 3:48 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just now, totally coincidentally, came across Lgeneral, described here as:
15- Lgeneral: another Panzer General inspired tactical turn based wargame. I didn’t play this one and information was sparse, but will quote the website for some of the features: “Entrenchment, rugged defense, defensive fire, surprise contacts, surrender, unit supply, weather influence, reinforcements and other implementations contribute to the tactical and strategic depth of the game.” Also offers custom downloadable scenarios. [Freeware, Single player or hotseat multiplayer against another player, Windows, Linux]. Go here to download.
posted by wilful at 3:52 PM on November 14, 2010


From what I've read, LGeneral's a bit on the weak side.

If that's your bag, you might want to check out a recent ubermod to PG2 which brings it up to semi-modern resolutions, adds better graphics, and makes it play nice with modern Windows.

PG Forever
posted by jammer at 4:20 PM on November 14, 2010


ChurchHatesTucker: "Some of these games were disappointing to me before I could even play them.

While I was in High School, I came across a copy of Clausewitz and found it surprisingly accessible. I eagerly bought Waterloo but on reading the rules I realized that combining forces counted for jack. You just had to stack counters. Bah.

Later on I got Squad Leader and was crushed to find that, even at a squad-level game, buildings on the map were an abstraction for a group of buildings. Bah.

I got the most mileage out of high-level abstractions (e.g., Warsaw Pact) or close-combat add-ons for RPGs, like Traveller's Snapshot. (Favorite rule: a bottle is a club until you score your first hit. Then it's a knife.
"

I so love that you posted this. I got a friend of mine to play this, just once. As well as this a couple of times.

Yeah, okay. Grognard, geek, nerd. So sue me.
posted by Splunge at 4:12 PM on November 16, 2010


You actually played through Luftwaffe with someone? Damn. I'm sure people are laughing at me at this point, but it's hard to find someone with the patience to do that.

And why aren't any of these online thingys Mac-friendly?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:34 PM on November 16, 2010


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