Listen up, folks. Tomorrow, you’ll leave this training camp, and head off to your individual units. There’ll be a period of acclimatisation and familiarisation training, but we all know something big is in the offing, and soon. We’ve got time for one last briefing session this afternoon, but we’ll try and keep it short – the passing-out parade is tomorrow morning, but more importantly, it’s the last mess ‘do’ this evening, and we wouldn’t want to be late for that now, would we? Last time, we talked about the importance of selecting your tanks, and today we’ll be doing the same for your crews. Remember – the boffins can come up with the greatest tank in the world, but it’d be no use whatsoever without soldiers to operate it!

Crew roles in Achtung Panzer!

Now, as you all know, different vehicles have differing numbers of crew, as required to operate all the various systems and weapons. In Achtung Panzer!, however, we abstract this to three ‘positions’ – the Commander (that’s you!), Gunner, and Driver – this represents a composite of all the crew assigned to those general roles (co-drivers, loaders, radio operators, and the like), and means that your tank cards are rather less cluttered than they otherwise would be – particularly those of you going on to ‘heavies’! Each of these crew positions is assigned a ‘grade’ figure, representing how good they are at their jobs, which is displayed by a number of stars – one is ‘Green’, two ‘Trained’, three ‘Veteran’, and four the rare and coveted ‘Ace’ status. Naturally, the more stars one has, the better they are at their job – and their Crew Checks get commensurately easier to pass as a result!

You’ll also note that when creating your platoon – remember, for the kind of special missions you’ll be sent on, you’ll want to have the right mix of tanks for the job – you can requisition vehicles with either low, medium, or high-calibre crews, and this determines the amount of stars you can assign to each of the crew. Naturally, the higher the calibre, the easier it is to end up with lots of stars to spend, meaning you can create a more effective crew!

One important thing to remember when assigning crew levels is what your mission is, and each tank’s role in that mission – for example, take that Firefly over there. Its role is to kill enemy tanks with that whopping great 17-pounder gun, and that means there’s not much sense in assigning ‘Noodle Arms’ Johnson to load it or Corporal Adams (he of the milk-bottle-top spectacles) to fire it – you’re far better off with ‘Deadeye’ Dai Williams behind the gun, while the others take less crucial roles. Similarly, this Humber Armoured Car – it’s going to be nipping around all over the battlefield, so perhaps Sergeant Priestley might be a good choice to take the wheel, given that he used to race Bentleys before the war, rather than Trooper Gibbons, who’s had about five minutes of driving instruction and frequently gets his left and right confused! You’ll only have a limited number of stars to assign, so choose wisely, and try to bolster the strengths of each vehicle with an appropriately skilled crew!

A Jagdpanther’s commander is on the hunt for his next victim.

All of this applies to both one-off engagements and longer campaigns, but when you’re out in the field for long periods of time (proper campaigning, that, just like it was back in my day – none of this ‘one fight and back to the rear’ nonsense!), there are a few extra considerations that you as platoon commander will have to take into account – you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your crews, both in and out of combat, and it’s your solemn duty to take good care of them. They put their lives on the line to follow your orders, so the least you can do is make sure they get as much kip as possible and a hot brew whenever you stop!

British Army dismounted Tank Commander

One of the advantages of being on campaign for an extended period is that it very quickly increases the abilities of your troops – there’s nothing like the ‘real thing’ to sharpen up reflexes and hone skills! This is represented in Achtung, Panzer! with experience points, which can be used to upgrade the capability of your crew, making them real assets on the battlefield. There’s nothing like seeing Private Screwball mature into a capable, competent soldier right before your eyes! Simply seeing battle will generate experience points, but of course winning always helps, and there’s no better teacher than actually getting into the thick of the action and destroying enemy tanks! The downside of this, of course, is that fighting a war is a tiring, stressful, and frankly dangerous business at times! You’ll need to carefully manage your crews’ fatigue levels between missions, rotating out exhausted or injured crew as needed, and should the worst happen then you’ll need to bring in replacements. As the war goes on, provided you’ve done well and kept in HQ’s good books, you may even be able to swap out your old, worn-out tanks for newer, more capable models, or make field modifications to increase your survivability or hitting power. Remember, it’s your platoon – command put you in charge for a reason, so lead it as you see fit – just make sure you get results! Tankers, that’s all from me. On behalf of all the training staff, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you how proud I am of the work you’ve put in over the past weeks. We’ve taught you everything we can – now it’s time for you to get out there and put it into practice. Good luck, and Godspeed, commanders!

Tank Crews

These packs offer a great, simple way to add loads of character to any Bolt Action or Achtung Panzer! collection. Each contains a mixture of mounted and dismounted figures, so you can represent your valiant crews both at their prime in their armoured machines and when it’s all gone a bit wrong and they’ve had to bail out!

Tank Forces

Tank crews can also be found within Achtung Panzer Tank Forces! When used in conjunction with the also included stowage packs, you’ll be able to make each tank in your platoon truly unique and very much your own!

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