05 January 2016
If you're a fan of the Leader series, you'll want to snap this one up too
Designed by Rick Martin, published by
DVG, priced $89.99
I’m a long time player of the Leader series from DVG, having played Phantom Leader and Thunderbolt/Apache Leader to death and beyond, as well as having previously reviewed Hornet Leader for this Miniature Wargames (issue 387). For this one, it’s the series’ first venture into tanks and land warfare, which obviously calls for a very different playing style. In comparison to the other games in the series, Tiger Leader most closely resembles Thunderbolt/Apache Leader, yet also manages to feel like a whole new animal. You start by picking which theatre and year you want to play a campaign in, and are then allocated a number of points with which to buy your troops. These can be infantry, half-tracks, and support weapons and vehicles, through light tanks such as the Panzer II, all the way up to the super heavies, such as the King Tiger or Elefant.
The main thrust of the game is to look at a little corner map to see which enemy units you want to engage this round (a week of game time). Depending on which unit you select, you place terrain onto the main board, add in units, and then run a solo game pushing your tanks and troops across the map against a – pretty damn good – AI. The skirmishes are short and intense, and it certainly feels very satisfying when you destroy an enemy tank with a *BOOM* of your 88mm gun. However, it’s not just the skirmish battles that you need to worry about. You have resource management to deal with, utilising the Leader system’s now familiar “Special Options” points, which you need to launch attacks behind enemy lines, repair damage to your tanks, take advantage of special opportunities (through an Event Deck), or just send your men on some well-deserved R&R.
Vehicles aren’t the only things in the game that suffer wear and tear. You also have to keep an eye on the stress and combat fatigue that your commanders are under. If they’re too stressed, then it’ll start to affect their performance on the battlefield, causing plans to backfire. It’s up to you to judge when to give the boys a break from the front lines, and rest them up for a week or so… and when to throw caution to the wind and send everyone forward for a big push.
The campaigns are pretty varied allowing you to fight the British, the Americans, the Polish and the French – all of whom have their own strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, the location of the campaign affects which terrain you’ll have to deal with. The pastures and fields of France offer a very different challenge to the sands of Africa.
If you’re a fan of DVG’s Leader series already, then you’ll want to snap this one up too. The system adapts to land warfare brilliantly, and the pacing and combat is sufficiently different that you don’t feel Thunderbolt/Apache Leader has just been given a cheap facelift. If you’re totally new to the system, this is as good a one as any to start with. (Brad Harmer-Barnes)