Panzer Leader (game)
|Age range||10 and up|
|Setup time||15 minutes|
|Playing time||45–180 minutes|
|Skill(s) required||Strategic thought|
Panzer Leader is the sequel to Avalon Hill's PanzerBlitz game. Like its predecessor, it is a tactical platoon level hex and counter board wargame depicting WWII tank and infantry combat on the Western European front. It features 4 geomorphic map tiles, which can be put together in a variety of ways to play the provided scenarios (which are printed on cardstock, showing all the necessary information for a scenario) or home-made scenarios. The 20 provided scenarios cover various battles on the Western Front, with most of the scenarios involving the Normandy campaign or the Battle of the Bulge. Two scenarios cover the amphibious assaults on Omaha and Gold beaches and include special rules for naval fire. While based on PanzerBlitz, the rules were cleaned up and included additional mechanics such as for air attacks and engineers. Several optional and experimental rules are provided, including one for opportunity fire to prevent "PanzerBush" tactics.
The Panzer Leader map boards were interchangeable with the PanzerBlitz maps, and one could combine the two sets to make a larger battlefield. The scale was the same with the two games. The German units were interchangeable, and if one wanted, they could try a "what if" scenario with American/British forces vs. Soviet forces.
An extension kit covering the tanks of 1940 was also published. This was for the France 1940 campaign, and was meant for play with the Panzer Leader game.
PanzerBlitz is considered to be revolutionary in the history of tactical war-games and brought many new players into the hobby. When it was released in 1970, the few war-games available for purchase were generally larger scale strategic war-games that did not delve into the same kind of unit detail.
Beyond merely coming up with additional scenarios for the existing PanzerBlitz game, the idea of a new game featuring the western front, was an obvious one and the merits of different approaches were debated outside of Avalon Hill during the early 1970s. As an example of this fervor, a proposal in Panzerfaust No. 51 inspired three different articles in response in No. 53.
In their time, PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader were very popular among the war gamer crowd, but their popularity fell away to what is considered the next generation of tactical World War II games of Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader.
- A Western PanzerBlitz Trilogy, Paul Mills and Roy Easton, Panzerfaust No. 53 (Panzerfaust Publications, May–June 1972)
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