What a Tanker: Full Metal Dashboards
What a Tanker! is a WWII tank combat miniatures game by Too Fat Lardies, a UK-based indie rules writing company. We (and multitudes world-wide) have played What a Tanker! a lot recently. It’s great fun! The rulebook comes with everything you need as long as you’ve got a gaming table and some miniatures to push around. Never one to leave well enough alone, however, I redesigned the dashboards to integrate the core rules and a quick reference sheet. I also magnetized the boards so that the bumps and knocks of a game didn’t rearrange the all important status tokens. Files and instructions available below the break.
In collaboration with Jay Arnold (The Veteran Wargamer) here is Version 2. It’ll work even better with a magnetic backing but is equally good for paper and pen, or lamination and an erasable marker (dry or wet). The original V1 is still available below.
I’ll address concerns straight off. There will always be room for improvement on fan made material like these dashboards. One man’s critical is another man’s wide-of-the-mark. I’ve created these solely for love of the game and with greatest respect for the original game designers at Too Fat Lardies. I included what I feel is most necessary to teach and reference the game quickly with the compromise that I didn’t want to overfill the available space and give a cluttered appearance. If you feel these boards need adjustments please go ahead and make the changes you’d like then share the results with the community and I on Twitter or Facebook.
I’m lucky enough to have a sheet metal cutter at my disposal at work in the design tech classroom. Any decent metal work shop, if provided the dimensions, can knock out these metal sheets for you in no time, and without breaking the bank. In my case, access to metal work tools is one of many advantages of being a high school teacher! (I also regularly break into the music room when nobody is around to give the drum kit a good thrashing, very therapeutic) Using inexpensive and thin galvanized steel duct work I cut sheets slightly smaller than the dashboards themselves. I made sure to file the edges so they weren’t so sharp (if you think a paper cut is bad, try thin sheet steel) and rounded the corners.
After giving the steel a good cleaning with rubbing alcohol to remove the protective layer of gunk on the metal I lathered the surface up with my trusty glue stick and stuck the paper on. Take your time and make sure you get out any air bubbles. I used good quality glossy paper which looks good but has the disadvantage of being impermeable so you have to work to get the bubbles out. I found that the slightly overhanging edge of the paper dashboards covered up the edges of the metal nicely, for both aesthetic and handling purposes.
Last, I had the local copy shop cover my work with thin, shiny laminate to seal it all together. The shiny plastic (don’t get the matte finish!) works well with an erasable white board or non-permanent transparency marker so you can write in as much or as little information as you’d like.
Magnets attached to the back of the What a Tanker! tokens adhered firmly to the full metal dashboard. This not only simplifies book-keeping but also allows the boards to be carried around the table and plunked down without having to worry about tokens going astray. You can flip the board over so the Quick Reference Sheet on the back can be easily consulted. Deliberately, there is no space to keep dice lost to permanent damage. I find that in the heat of battle these dice get picked up and rolled. Every tank has a different colour or style of dice. We keep the ‘dead dice’ collected in an obvious spot so it’s clear who has lost dice, and how many.
The etching on the Universal Tanker Tool is easily filled with colour by a simple wash. I took the added step of spraying it Tamiya Clear Gloss Red as well. It’s a great device but it’s crystal clear and tends to disappear into whatever terrain piece it’s laid on. After having to look for it just about every turn I find the translucent red makes it stand out while still allowing us to see through to the top of the tank for alignment.
This was a fun project. I always enjoying learning new skills and the end result has proved both a conversation starter and a good playing and teaching tool. What a Tanker! is a fantastic group game – two players really doesn’t do it justice – and it comes highly recommended.
What accessories or enhancements to games have you found the most valuable, fun, or useful? Any tips or tricks to share?