Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tannhauser: A Second Take, Looking For A Third

So I broke out the very first Fantasy Flight game that I ever bought for out board game day this last Sunday, Tannhauser.  This is a tactical miniature combat board game with some cool mechanics and a really cool theme.  The theme is Weird War II, or basically alternate history World War II with crazy supernatural stuff and magic and creatures.

The game plays out in a fairly simple manner.  You have tow sides, Nazis and Union (this world's version of the Allies).  Each side has 5 characters, 3 heroes and 2 troopers.  On a given turn you activate each of the characters individually, one at a time and alternating between the factions.  Each character can do both a Move and an Action.  The Action can interrupt the Move, so you can run up to a door, shoot through it, and continue on by.  You have various stats that determine how far you can move, how well you attack, how good your defense is, etc.  You also have up to four pieces of equipment that give you abilities, powers, and bonuses.  In general you're rolling a pool of d10s equal to your stat and aiming for a DC equal to an opponent's stat.  There are of course a ton of little details; but no one of them is overly complicated and they are easy enough to handle when they come up.

In the past me and my friend Jeremy has played this game quite a bit.  We found it to be really enjoyable and  a nice challenging game.  The expansion adds a new faction that is way overpowered, but we really enjoyed the base game.  Unfortunately I had not had the chance to play it in quite some time.  Also on a down note, this time when I finally did break it out we were not completely able to replicate the fun.

We had five players for this game.  The game can handle up to 10 people technically, with each character on a side being played by a separate player.  We had 2 Union players (Bobby and Anders) and 3 Nazi players (Me, John, and Tim).  We split up the characters as each team saw fit, and proceeded to play.   From the very beginning some huge inconsistencies in the rules and the powers became readily apparent.  The whole game was quite unbalanced and the Union was on their back foot from the get go.  This was in large part due to the use of various items and abilities that we never used back in the day; hence why it was quite surprising and unexpected to me.

There were quite a few very valid complaints and problems pointed out, and Bobby and Anders did not seem to be really enjoying themselves.  I was quite disappointed.  I was especially disappointed to hear Anders say that it kinda put him off on his plans to make his own tactical miniatures game.  I also am planning my own game of this style, but I took the failings as a guide on how to do better.  I hope Anders takes the same sort of lesson away and continues with his game.

On the good news side though, I was reminded of the fact that there is a whole revised rulebook for the game, so I spent the $5 to download it.  After reading through it I was very happy to see the various changes.  Combat is streamlined.  Overpowered abilities and equipment have been fixed.  Smoke grenades actually work like you would expect, and give you some defensive bonuses.  Almost every single one of the complaints we had seems to be fixed or at least helped out.  I really think the game deserves a third chance and I hope I can convince the group to give it that chance.  I'll keep it around for future board game days and Game Days, and we'll see.


  1. You had to pay for the fix for their unplayable rulebook?

  2. The game is in no way unplayable. I had tons of great and close games back in the day when I first bought it. And $5 for a complete new rulebook of like 200 pages is not bad.

  3. I think it made a big difference for two of us to be playing entire teams; I distinctly remember that there were some characters that were far better than others, and that if you were playing Nazis, just spend all your time in small rooms....

  4. Ya, I think I can definitely see the difference in viability of gameplay when you compare 2 players versus more players. When you have five characters on your side to play with, a loss here or there is much less annoying and game breaking. It still sucks, but you have 4 more characters, or even 5 if you lose the troopers early and get reinforcements.