Tiger Leader. Dan Verssen Games, 2015. $90. Designed by Rick Martin. 1 tactical display sheet (mounted), 1 headquarters sheet (paper), 1 rule book, 240 cards, about 400 counters, 12 terrain tiles, 1 player log sheet, 1 10-sided die. 1 player. 30+ minutes for a single battle, 2+ hours for campaign.
In Tiger Leader, a player creates and commands a combined arms German World War II Kampfgruppe. Starting with choosing a campaign (out of 9 ranging from the 1939 invasion of Poland to the final days of Berlin in 1945) and objective, players build their KG by using “Special Option” points to pick specific types of units available in the campaign time period. Units include infantry, armor, and artillery and range from Panzer I to King Tigers. Each command has cards representing six skill levels from recruit to ace.
Your enemy, played by the game system since this is a solitaire game, is represented by battalion cards. Your goal is to gain victory points by reducing or destroying as many enemy battalions as you can with the force that you have in the time allotted by the campaign you’re playing.
Each week of the campaign, you’ll assign units and commanders to attack specific enemy battalions. Then you setup a battle, including special conditions and events and a small board created from randomly drawn terrain hexes that can be used to create desert, European or winter landscapes. Units are represented by counters on the board. Battle turns then play out the action as the game’s AI uses the allied units to move and attack while you counter with your German units which may be damaged or stressed, decreasing performance.
After each week, your units and commanders have a chance for repair and recreation as well as spending experience points to improve before the next week’s assignments.
With so many campaigns, objectives, enemy battalions, units and commanders, each campaign may be highly varied which gives this solitaire game high replay ability. The artwork on the numerous cards and the level of detail give the game a good “feel” for commanding your force and it’s easy to gain stress yourself over your favorite commander being wounded or killed.
The tactical battle game is very simplified. There are few differences between units of different enemy nationalities. And allied units of the same type within a single nationality are classified the same (a tank is a tank) though they may sometimes be modified in different campaigns.
The AI is very random and sometimes feels like it’s not making the best move. Specific questions have arisen concerning details within the game rules and there is word that DVG is preparing errata and/or an expansion to improve the rules and the tactical game.
Overall, this is a fitting addition to DVG’s Leader series. The campaign concept and creating and managing your Kampfgruppe provides an interesting challenge. Unfortunately the tactical system seems very light and sometimes confusing. With rules being discussed in online forums and hopefully being changed and improved, I wish I had waited for a revised edition.
This review was written based on a privately purchased retail copy. No compensation was involved.
c2015 by Richard A. Edwards