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“…we had no idea that France had tanks like that.” James Day’s “Panzer Expansion 4: France 1940” Board Game Review | Armchair General Magazine

By Rick Martin

Panzer Expansion 4: France 1940   Board Game Review.  Publisher: GMT Games   Game Designer:   James M. Day and Fernando Sola Ramos  Worth  $65.00

Passed Inspection:  extremely detailed however straightforward to study, provides French and early German tanks, thrilling solo guidelines which apply to all the Panzer/Important Battle Tank (MBT) video games, tremendous enjoyable, provides Leaders to the World Conflict 2 system

Failed Primary:   no British Expeditionary Forces, hidden unit/fog of warfare rules need clarification for solo use (one further paragraph would make clear these rules), counters are a bit of too darkish making it troublesome to discern the front from the back of the tank or armored automotive, wants a rule and playing cards for fighters to escort or intercept the bottom assault planes

“After a while, a fourth tank appeared through the orchard. It was a real monster and we had no idea that France had tanks like that. We fired 20 shots at it without success. However, after a few more shots, we managed to knock off its track. […] a fifth tank appears, another B1 firing all its weapons. […] We fired, but could not knock it out until a ricochet hit the turret. The next shot hit it in the rear. Calm returned and we abandoned our tank again because we had exhausted the ammunition.”  Feldwebel Karl Koch  Panzer IV vs Char B1 bis: France 1940  by Steven J. Zaloga


Let me state upfront that I’ve nice admiration for James Day’s Panzer collection.  As a teenager one in every of my first warfare gaming experiences was getting the Yaquinto Video games’ printing of “88”.  Yaquinto put out three tank games within the late 1970s – “Panzer”, “Armor” and “88”.  “Panzer” coated tactical tank battles on the Russian Front whereas “Armor” coated the Western Entrance and”88” was North Africa.  After Yaquinto’s recreation line vanished, there were a couple of misguided makes an attempt to get these video games again in to print.  However, thankfully, GMT has reissued the updated versions of these basic games (properly all except “88” – come on James and Fernando – we’d like the North African front please!) and they’re unbelievable.  The games have been updated from the unique written orders to utilizing Command Chits which are positioned order aspect down close to each unit or formation of models.  When each side have placed their orders, the Chits are flipped over and the battle commences.  In addition, guidelines have been clarified and the angles for figuring tank armor have been dropped from 16 in the unique recreation right down to 7 which enormously increases the velocity of recreation play.

That is the 4th enlargement to the GMT Panzer collection.  It focuses solely on the Campaign for France in 1940 though the tanks, armored automobiles, vans, halftracks, infantry guns, infantry and aircrafts can all be used within the other expansions. The participant will need to have the bottom Panzer recreation with a view to use this enlargement.

Upon opening the field, the gamers will discover:

  • 4 Counters sheets
  • 264 double-sided 7/eight” counters
  • 160 double-sided 5/8” counters
  • 4 10” x 27.75” double-sided geomorphic maps
  • 21 double-sided 5” x 4” Knowledge Playing cards (French and German, see under)







Bre.693 Plane


CA25 SA-L 34 ATG

CA47 SA 37 ATG

CA75 97/35 ATG

Char B1-bis




Infantry Mortars, HMG and Anti-Tank Weapons

Infantry Squads, Half-Squads & Sections


Lorraine 38L

MB.174.A3 Aircraft




Truck AA 13.2



Unic P107

2cm FlaK 38 AAG

2cm FlaK Zgkw 1t

3.7cm FlaK Zgkw 5t

3.7cm PaK 36 ATG

7.5cm leIG

15cm sIG

Hs 123A-1 Aircraft

Ju 87B-1 Plane


PSW 221

PSW 222

PSW 231

PzKpfw 35(t)

PzKpfw 38(t)C

PzKpfw IB

PzKpfw IIC


PzKpfw IVD

SPW 251/10

SPW 251/2


  • Playbook: 44 pages
  • TO&#zero38;E Booklet: 24 pages

The situations included in the recreation are:

  • Tank Battle at Crehen, Pt. 1: Crehen, Belgium, 12 Might 1940
  • Tank Battle at Crehen, Pt. 2: Crehen, Belgium, 12 Might 1940
  • Delaying Motion at Ernage: Ernage, Belgium, 14 Might 1940
  • Rommel Crosses the Meuse: Bouvignes, Belgium, 13 Might 1940
  • Checking the Thrust: Philippeville, Belgium, 15 Might 1940
  • The Seize of Stonne: Stonne, France, 15 Might 1940
  • Counterattack at Stonne: Stonne, France, 15 Might 1940
  • De Gaulle’s First Action: Montcornet, France, 17 Might 1940
  • Déjàvécu: Montcornet, France, 19 Might 1940
  • Closing the Lure: Lille, France, 28 Might 1940
  • The 6th Panzer is Delayed: Monthermé, France, 15 Might 1940 – Solitaire State of affairs
  • Billote’s Cost: Stonne, France, 16 Might 1940 – Solitaire State of affairs

The 2 solitaire situations make the most of a recreation pushed AI system for French forces in the 6th Panzer is Delayed and the German forces in Billote’s Cost.

For many who have never played the Panzer or MBT collection, the scope is tactical armored and infantry motion.  Each unit is one car or a squad or half squad of infantry or a heavy weapon staff.  Every flip is from a couple of seconds to some minutes lengthy.

This can be a fantastic enlargement.  The challenges of either commanding or preventing towards the French forces of the time interval make this recreation extremely fun.  The French tanks have really good armor and respectable guns but French doctrine limitations and the shortage of high quality radios in over 80% of their tanks makes sustaining a cohesive tank push very troublesome.  French doctrine relegated the tank as an infantry help weapon though some Char 1 B models have been allowed for use in mass tank attacks.  The game displays this doctrine in a couple of ways.  French tanks and other models have a  lower “command span” than the Germans.  That’s to say that French models have to be closer collectively with a view to keep away from being out of command because of the lack of radios.  As well as, the French are hampered by a -20 to their initiative rolls for each turn whereas the Germans have a +20 added to their initiative rolls.

As in real life, the French Char B1-bis (Char de Bataille, a “battle tank” ) is a monster of a tank! I have included a detailed picture of the info card for this unit.  The tank’s armor can virtually not be penetrated by the weapons of the run of the mill German panzers of the time.  But, as in actual life, the tank does have its flaws that are nicely represented within the recreation.  The Char has two weapons – one 47mm gun within the turret and one 75mm gun within the hull.  But the 75mm gun can’t be fired when the tank is in a hull down place or throughout a short halt.  As well as, the 75mm can solely be fired in the entrance arc of the tank and suffers when capturing at a shifting target.  There is a flaw within the armor of this beast; the Char has an engine air intake grill on the left rear hull.  This grill has far less armor than the remainder of the tank and must be targeted by German gunners.  While being a monster of a tank, the Char could be very sluggish; when commanding them I tried to keep them on the roads and tracks up until I needed to maneuver the tanks in to cover simply to get some additional velocity out of them.

I found that the only solution to take out the Char B1 was to use Panzer IIs or different tanks to fireside HE rounds in an effort to suppress the tank’s crew  (particularly if the Char B1 crews have their hatches open) and then rush the tank with Panzer IIIs and IVs.  Get to the aspect of the tank after which attempt to hit the air consumption – it’s slightly like the tactic utilized by the Rebels to take out the Demise Star in Star Wars.

This enlargement additionally adds Leaders in to the World Warfare 2 combine.  Day already added leaders to the MBT recreation system (the identical recreation system however tailored to trendy combat).  Leaders can add additional bonuses relying on the talents shown on their playing cards.  Some add to your close assault probabilities of success or rally models more effectively whereas some add to a tank’s attack possibilities.  Leaders can be found for each infantry and armored models.  My favourite is Steiner who was lifted from the guide and movie “Cross of Iron”.

A serious element of this enlargement is the brand new solitaire system for Panzer.  Earlier than I delve in to a evaluation of the solo system, let me first say that I’ve been enjoying the Panzer system solo since I was given “88” as a gift for Christmas back within the 1970s.  GMT’s iteration of Panzer made it so much easier to play solo as the Command Chits could be easily used to find out what a selected enemy unit is doing for the turn.  I got here up with a system whereby you identify what the enemy’s common goals are.  I came with up with Defending, Attacking or Meeting Engagement.  Then I took the Command Chits and sorted them in to sets for each common goal.  For example, for a Defending, I had more hearth and brief halt chits than motion chits or for a Assembly Engagement I had an equal mixture of Hearth, Transfer and Brief Halts and Hull Downs.  Then I put the Command Chits in a bowl or cup and drew them without taking a look at them and put them face down by each enemy unit.  In the course of the flip I might turn them over and have the enemy do what the chits stated.  It wasn’t good however it labored.  I truly designed the video games Tiger Chief and Sherman Leader with a view to have a greater technique of enjoying most of these games solo and for the early play testing I used Panzer for the sport board and the models.

Panzer’s new official solo system is a murals!  It’s not too heavy to study and works very properly.  In a nutshell, here is how it works.

A number of of the situations are marked as suitable for solo play.  The precise rules and circumstances for the battle are included within the state of affairs description.  As well as, I have found it attainable to play any state of affairs (including participant created situations) with the solo guidelines.  You just should perform a little work with the Hidden Models Rules.

The solo guidelines use the Hidden Models Rule as discovered within the core recreation.  With these rules, the enemy models are represented by numbered chits.  The solo situations provide a chart to position on with a view to decide what the unit is.  Earlier than rolling on that chart, you identify in case you can spot the enemy unit and when you can, you position on a chart to determine if the unit is an actual unit or only a false sighting.  Hidden enemy models might transfer and, in the event that they do, only move as much as 2 hexes.  To make use of the Hidden Unit Rules for situations that aren’t specifically solo situations, simply assign the enemy models on the Hidden Models template from the core e-book.  There are 10 spaces on the chart.  Put the attainable models within the packing containers and once you sight a Hidden Unit just roll the 10 sided die and the number that comes up is what you might have spotted.  This various system should have been addressed in the guidelines for my part.  Observe that any unit which attacks is routinely spotted.  As well as, when a unit is noticed, there’s a chart to roll on to fix its actual place in relation to the place the Hidden Unit Counter is.

The turn sequence for enjoying solo is nearly the identical as the usual recreation flip sequence.  There are a number of further phases for figuring out what the solo models will do.

The sequence of play is:

1) Spotting

2) Command Part

3) Determine Initiative

four) Air Phases

5) Transfer and Combat

6) Restoration and Morale

All the solo tables are included on the back of the Expansion Rule Guide.

To find out what an enemy unit will do in a turn, determine if the enemy’s mission is Attack or Defend.  Roll on the appropriate Attack or Defend table with applicable modifications for the state of affairs and as as to if the unit is on a Victory hex.

The attainable Assault actions are : Move, Brief Halt, Hearth, Full Cowl or Find a Hull Down Place and lastly Entrench.

The potential Defend actions are: Move, Hearth, Full Cowl or Discover a Hull Down Place, Entrench.

As soon as you identify what the models are going to do, roll on the suitable motion desk.

For a Hearth Action the desk tells you to both Hearth on the Most Dangerous and Nearest Enemy, Attack Nearest Enemy, or Attack the Weakest Nearest Enemy.

For a Move Motion the table tells you to Transfer to: Biggest Cover Hex, Nearest Victory Level Hex, Highest Value Victory Level Hex, Move In the direction of the Most Harmful Enemy, Transfer in the direction of the Nearest Enemy

If a unit Strikes – roll on a table which tells you the way it strikes: safest route, fastest route or probably the most direct route.

All of these motion die rolls are modified based mostly upon the expertise of the enemy unit in addition to other elements.

Solo guidelines are also offered for Attacking and Defensive Angle (cautious, reckless, and so forth.) and Close Assault/Hand-to-Hand/Overrun assaults.

The 13 pages of solo guidelines clarify virtually every thing you want to know. Then the useful 1 page chart makes it move easily and easily.  I do want the Solo Chart web page was also included as a cardboard stand alone participant’s help.  I ended up making my very own.

I found the enemy AI (so to speak) is nearly good and I’ve ported the Solo Rules over to the other Panzer and MBT video games as well as to the original Yaquinto variations of the sport.

If there are any negatives to this enlargement, they are few.  Specifically the British Expeditionary Forces should have been included even if it drove up the worth by a couple of dollars.  I might like to have Matilda Is and IIs within the recreation.

I additionally found that the counters have been printed a bit of too darkish for my eyes.  I had to get out a magnifying glass and use my telephone as flashlight to determine which was the front and back aspect of a number of the tanks to determine car dealing with.

I might like to see fighter planes added to the game.  Whereas the game has ground attack planes comparable to Stukas and such, I might like to be able to have fighters escort the bottom assault planes.  It might add an entire new tactic to this high-quality recreation collection.  The principles wouldn’t need to be complicated as they might characterize the interception in the summary.

In addition, with the core recreation and 4 expansions for the Panzer collection, GMT must launch a concordance for the principles.  Having to remember which rule is in what enlargement is getting a bit of too clunky now.

All in all, this 4th Expansion to the venerable Panzer collection is a should have for all gamers of Panzer and even MBT.  The Solo Rules and tactical challenges of the French campaign make this set unimaginable!

(Full critiques of the Panzer Core Game as well as all the expansions as well as the Foremost Battle Tank Video games and an interview with James Day could be discovered right here at Armchair General)

Armchair General Score: 95 %

Solitaire Score: 5 (1 to five with 1 being Poor and 5 being Good for Solo)

Concerning the Writer

A university film teacher and small enterprise proprietor, Richard Martin has additionally labored within the legal and actual estate professions, is concerned in video manufacturing, movie criticism, sports capturing and is an avid World Struggle I and II gamer who can keep in mind conflict games which came in plastic luggage and price $2.99 (he’s really that previous)!  Rick can also be the designer of Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Improve Package and Sherman Leader.