Although I have been making plenty of counters, I have yet to play with these counters at the local clubs. Some of the complaints about Panzerblitz that I’ve heard is that it is “too choppy”, that it is too much work, too complicated, that it takes too long. Choppiness can be alleviated by changing or modernizing the turn sequence, in ways similar to Axis and Allies Miniatures, or as Panzerblitz: Hill of Death has done. You could make the CP of Panzerblitz similar to the HQ function of Lock and Load’s “World At War” Eisenbach Gap series, and then use chit based mechanics on a unit by unit basis. You can make the game shorter by planning more small unit count 6 and 8 turn scenarios. But one technique, not well used outside of miniatures, can markedly improve the quality of play for any tactical game, especially with an older population of players with diminishing vision.
Make a card that represents a single playing piece on the board. Have the counter on the card, but enlarged, so it is easy to read. Place any special properties of the piece on the card itself. In Panzerblitz terms, calculate out the weapons effects on the card and any information that ordinarily would have been placed on the UFT. Below are three examples (double click on the images to see the card at full size):
On it you have a counter representation in the upper left. In the middle is an experimental representation of facing and armor in facing (this idea I picked up from miniatures unit cards on “A Wargamer’s Blog”). The lower left text is a list of the pertinent elements on the UFT, largely Panzerleader ’70 based, and to the right some important facts, or perhaps even some historic trivia.
The cards are postcard sized, 4 inch high by 5 inches long. This size is useful because I can, if necessary, put 4 cards onto a single 1 page representation on my computer and print 4 cards at a time on heavy card stock.
The cards save a lot of math, and save older eyes. They can be applied to an existing game without having to change the rules or the counters. They can add functionality to simple counters without reworking the counter itself. They can be modified on a scenario by scenario basis.
To use them, set them out along the edges of the game board, so people can consult them while playing. You might want to laminate examples.
For people like me, it’s a way to make Panzerblitz smoother and faster, more competitive and relevant in the modern age.
For those commercial game makers out there: these kinds of cards can represent a new revenue stream for the real fans of your game.