Sunday, 29 May 2016

Tiger versus Sherman, the test.

As you can see by the photos below my Bolt Action collection is about finished. I just removed the bases for these shots. OK, so I went a little heavy on the Shermans, but overall I'm pleased with everything, just have a final bid on for a lovely pro painted German Puma armoured car ending Sunday and that will be it. I do have the same kit here unbuilt so if I don't win the auction I'll probably take my time and built the kit and paint it later. I'm now going to start to put some proper BA lists together as I have plenty to select from, the focus will be Normandy.

I did have a somewhat disappointing run through of a Tank War battle the other day, I wanted to do the classic test of armoured warfare rules by pitching  M4 Shermans and a Firefly against a couple of Tiger I's. IN my opinion, if a 75mm Sherman is capable of punching through the front armour of a Tiger then something is not quite right. In 2 test games Tigers were destroyed by Shermans, the first was killed by two 75mm Shermans, first shot hit the tracks and disabled it for the turn, with the second Sherman finishing it off by rolling a 6 with a +5 penetration to beat the Tigers defensive value of 10, then requiring only a 4+ on the Damage results table to kill it. Just a little too easy for my liking. On the other hand the Tiger was missing it's 'hit' shots with a run of poor dice throws, and it becomes apparent once you start to play armour only games that firing a single shot/ dice to hit produces a string of potentially bad results that are averaged out when playing infantry based games where you might be rolling 12 or more dice for a 10 man squad with mixed weapons. If you move and fire it's a +1 modifier to that basic 'hit' requirement of 3+ so you have only a 50% chance of scoring a hit and that does not change even on a second shot so you have the spectacle of an experienced Tiger crew missing it's target at ranges where it should be most effective. Much to think about, it's clear to me that the armour rules are 'broken' but it's only something that becomes apparent once you play armour only games, they work OK within the context of infantry games with perhaps a single tank model in support role, but that's a bit of a blow to me having been building up my armour collection for months in order to play some tank only games!

The final insult was a 'FUBAR' result (double 6) on a Tigers morale throw after it had been hit and pinned by a Sherman M4. I abandoned proceedings at this stage to re check the rules, but the FUBAR chart stated a 'panic' resulting in the Tiger executing a 'run'order away from nearest enemy, I have re checked but can't see anything excluding tanks from these results?

Might need to revisit Flames of War for my planned tank battles as they do model tank v tank actions very well in my opinion.

My entire 28mm 'Tank War' collection (so far!).

New addition Marder tank destroyer.

Warlord loveliness.

These 2 Shermans managed to destroy a Tiger!

The M10 waits for a clear shot, but grey dice came out first, the Tiger advanced down the road and knocked it out first shot.

New playsheets found on the net, these are far better than the warlord download!


An open table for the tank test games.

Edit: I have been giving this some thought since posting the above this morning, family are away to Brighton for the weekend, Youngest Daughters 15th Birthday, ( she was our little 'surprise' when I was 43 and my wife 40!!), now taller than Dad, slim and with bleach blonde hair). Anyway, with time on my hands I have been spending a bit of time playing with my tanks. There may be a simple 'fix' to my gripes around the 75mm Sherman punching a hole through the heavy frontal armour of a Tiger, downgrade the 75mm Sherman to a 'Light Anti Tank Gun'. Still a Medium tank but with a less potent main gun. By dropping the penetration modifier to +4 it becomes impossible to penetrate a heavy tank, even on a roll of 6 the worst you can do is to disable it ('superficial damage' so it's a D6 -3 roll with a 4,5 or 6 to knock it out, which obviously can't be done. Thinking about it, this would now bring these results more into line with FoW results. I'm feeling a bit happier about things now, but there is still the issue of the Target missing the same target twice!


  1. Very interesting, if not a perplexing problem. I would not have any issue with the FUBAR result as that is simply doing what it should do, but the frontal penetration of the tiger as a consequence of 'normal' fire, should not really be possible, unless we are saying on that occasion the tank had a special AP round such as HVAP.

    The problem I see with your solution is the Rusian T-34 shares the same gun characteristics as the Sherman and that cannot penetrate frontally, so the 'fix' would require all medium guns to down grade and that does not seem right - it has got me thinking about how to get another +1 modifier into the equation.

    There are some other bits of the rules I like, such as making the 75/48 better than than the 75/40 and giving the Panther a +1 to its frontal armour, since this sort of detail has been recognised and taken care of, it leaves me surprised that the medium guns can take on a Tiger frontally ....... Though from a purely gaming point of view, I sometimes feel that Tigers are too strong ... They did frequently fail on the battlefield, but many were to mechanical breakdown rather than frontal shots!

    As an aside two other rule sets that may interest you are Iron cross from Great escape Games and Battlegroup by Iron Fist Publishing.

  2. Hi Norm,
    Thanks for your thoughts on this issue, you make some good points.Funny enough this only really becomes apparent in the Tank War games, in the base game the tanks seem to fit well into infantry support role.Got a thread running over on the BA forum asking for opinions on Tank War, some interesting points been made, especially comparative top speeds of a Sherman and Tiger based on information from the chaps at Bovington.

  3. Lee, I was wondering whether. A more gentle way to do it would be to class any frontal hit to the Tiger by a medium gun as a Superficial Hit, so that there is a -3 on the damage table.

    1. I really like this idea and will probably try it out when I eventually get my stuff painted up and finally start playing.

    2. Norm's idea works well Dai, just feels more realistic to me.

  4. This is a very interesting conundrum - I played a game recently with two Panthers being taken 'overwhelmed' by a platoon of Sherman tanks - seemingly too easily, in our humble opinion. One of the equalising factors between the gun sizes is the rate of fire and the ability to miss. If one big gun keeps missing on its' first and only roll every turn - there's nothing you can do about it!

  5. I guess that's the fun of Bolt Action, that unpredictability, but it can be frustrating when the big guns miss the target time after time! As you say, once you have moved and fired with a tank it's at the mercy of the anti tanks teams and hunters!


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