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Old 11-26-2022, 09:23 AM
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Tegyrius Tegyrius is offline
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Default Does 4e change the viability calculus for a tank-centered campaign?

Once every 1d6 months or so, I'll raise periscope over on RPG.net to see if anything of interest is being discussed. Today, I noticed this thread on running a tank-focused campaign in a post-apoc world. This prompted some thoughts on the viability of such a campaign in T2k.

Long-time forum denizens or capable search engine operators will no doubt recall or find several threads on this topic from previous editions. We've generally concluded that running a tank is a loser's game for PCs due to the logistical issues of fuel, parts, and main gun ammo, as well as the tactical issue of being a huge effing target. However, I don't think we've taken a detailed look at the issue in the light of 4e, so let's see if the dead horse has a few more resonant thumps left in it.

With a limited selection of tanks available in the 4e core rules, I chose to focus my initial work on the T-72.

Fuel Economy



... so, in terms of fuel economy, the 4e rules give us roughly equivalent fuel economy over distance when running on diesel, but are much more favorable if we retain the conceit of diesel engines being converted to alcohol fuel. Interestingly, 4e's road movement speed is significantly lower than 2e's.

Fuel Production

But what about those stills? Well, let's look at the means of alcohol fuel production in 2e and 4e:



Again, 4e is considerably more generous/forgiving, assuming both a 2e party and a 4e party are using mobile facilities. What becomes a crushing logistical impossibility in 2e is actually kind of feasible in 4e... at least, from a strict numbers perspective.

More thoughts to come, assuming productive discussion, but this is already plenty long for an initial post.

- C.
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Old 11-26-2022, 11:32 AM
Ewan Ewan is offline
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This is really interesting and the sort of details I like seeing and gives an interesting perspective on running a campaign.
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Old 11-26-2022, 10:10 PM
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Agree with Ewan.

I'm in favour of PCs having vehicles, or at least trying to keep them. I acknowledge all of the "issues", but there's no reason it can't be successful if played well.

I think generally 4e is pretty excellent. I've only just gotten to gaming "vehicles" in my game. But i am expecting the rules to be good and solid. I'm looking forward to my first few vehicle encounters and seeing how they go. Happy to compare notes in this thread.
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Old 11-27-2022, 12:34 AM
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While it seems like 4E makes a tank slightly more practical in terms of fuel I'm not sure it helps with the other factors of parts, main gun ammo, or being a big target. I think the biggest problem after fuel is parts. I'd guess their treads would be the first thing to go. By 2000 any tanks left in Poland would have been in combat for almost five years with two being post-TDM with few if any fresh from the factory part replacements.
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Old 11-27-2022, 06:35 PM
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Well, this game in all its editions is much more post-apoc adventure survival fantasy than excruciatingly-accurate simulation (Apotheosis Saga, anyone?). So treads and lube aren't usually tracked to the level of tank extinction. But let's talk about the mechanics of mechanical issues for our hypothetical T-72 owners.


Maintenance v2

A T-72 requires 14 hours of maintenance per week. Potential breakdowns occur every 8 hours of movement or combat, rolled against the vehicle's Wear value (10% for like-new, to 100% if it's on its last legs). If there's potential for a breakdown, the mechanic who did the last maintenance rolls a Difficult Mechanic check to see if his work prevented the breakdown.

Assuming a well-optimized but not maxed mechanic PC (Strength 8, Mechanic 8), a Difficult Mechanic check has an 80% chance of success.


Maintenance v4

Every vehicle requires the same amount of maintenance: 6 hours per week in which it was driven at least one hex on the overland map. Maintenance requires a successful Tech roll. Failure reduces Reliability by 1 (with most vehicles maxing out at Reliability 5, so you have some margin for error).

Assuming a well-optimized but not maxed Mechanic PC (Intelligence d10, Tech d10), a Tech roll has a 75% chance of success.


Parts and Repair v2

A well-buried rule indicates that parts need to come from a vehicle identical to the one being repaired. Furthermore, there's some text indicating that parts are also component-specific (engine, main gun, radio, etc.). There are no explicit rules for scrounging or buying parts.

No roll is required to cannibalize a donor vehicle's component for parts. However, if the component is damaged, there's a 30% chance that the part is useless.

A character who's a capable machinist (or gunsmith, for ordnance repair) may also fabricate mechanical parts with a successful skill check andaccess to a machine shop.

Most repairs require 1d10 parts (1d5 for minor breakdowns).

Damage is tracked by vehicle component, with most components having two states: OK or inoperable/destroyed. A few have an intermediate damaged-but-still-partially-functional state.


Parts and Repair v4

"Vehicle parts" are generic - when needed, a bolt, brake cable, or turbocharger materializes out of the quantum foam of your mechanic's spares box.

A successful Tech roll when scavenging a vehicle yields one part per success rolled, -1 for a destroyed vehicle. Parts are considered to be "common," which means a 67% chance of availability in a typical settlement.

Only one part is needed to repair a destroyed item, though each repair only restores 1 Reliability per success, so thorough work will likely consume more than one part. Restoring reduced Reliability on an item that wasn't fully destroyed doesn't consume any parts.

A vehicle's Reliability score covers its overall structural integrity, its transmission, and its engine. Weapons, radios, and other subsystems either have their own Reliability tracks or have OK/inoperable states.

- C.
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Old 11-27-2022, 07:10 PM
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With the above in mind, I think 4e does make it easier to play a tank-centric campaign, since nit-noid details of keeping the tank up and running is sufficiently abstracted. A PC mechanic could take a lot of pride in keeping 'the beast' repaired and working, which gives the player a nice raison d'ętre to be part of the party.

I mean, imagine being a STR 8 Mechanic 8 PC and being told repeatedly, - no, don't bother rolling, you don't have the exact part need... why show up for the next session if that happening multiple times in a game?
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Old 11-27-2022, 07:45 PM
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That is a strong argument for troupe-style play in which everyone has a primary combat/adventuring PC and a secondary support PC. Or just for the GM to not be an ass about denying a character a chance to do their thing.


So our last resource obstacle for running a tank-focused party is ammo. How's that work out in v2 versus v4?

Ammo v2

2nd edition provides varying availability levels for different ammo types.

125mm HE is common (80% chance of being available in cities, 70% in towns, 30% in villages).

125mm HEAT is scarce (60% in cities, 40% in towns, 20% in villages).

125mm sabot is rare (20% in cities, 10% in towns).

12.7mm and 7.62x54mm for the MGs are both common.


Ammo v4

As a broad category, all non-guided heavy weapon ammo is scarce (33% chance of availability in any settlement).

All small arms ammo is common (67% chance of availability in any settlement).

In both cases, chance of availability is for the broad category of item. The referee decides whether a specific sought-after model/type/caliber from that category is available. The West Possum Trot Trading Post may be fresh out of 125mm HEAT, but surely 122mm howitzer mustard agent shells are close enough for government work, right?


ETA: And here's a price comparison for main gun ammo:




Really, that last paragraph captures it. Ammo availability, perhaps more than any other resource, will be subject to referee judgement and fiat, even with strict adherence to the framework of the rules.

- C.
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Clayton A. Oliver • Occasional RPG Freelancer Since 1996

Author of The Pacific Northwest, coauthor of Tara Romaneasca, and creator of several other free Twilight: 2000 and Twilight: 2013 resources.

If you dislike change, you're going to dislike irrelevance even more.
- General Eric Shinseki

Last edited by Tegyrius; 12-04-2022 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 11-27-2022, 09:31 PM
Green Monkey Green Monkey is offline
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Default Tank carriers

Hi all,

Very interesting thread. We rolled the M1 in a 4th edition campaign (which is way too easy to roll and ended up being the only radio and night vision that a group of 5 players/10 characters started with) so this is topical and I appreciate inputs.

Some questions that have come up in our group that I'd be interested in your thoughts on:

1. How often has anyone used tank carriers. Our group generally moves the tank on a trailer (this was probably originally inspired by the Ukrainian tractors)? The tank is under a tarp and actually has its silhouette disguised to look like soviet SPA.
2. How far away can someone hear an M1 driving, especially given hills, wood, other terrain. Scouting team on dirt bike often moves ahead of the truck which is towing the tank.

Also, very much agree ammo becomes a constraint at some point. So far only two rounds of 120mm have been fired, both times special occasions.......

None of us have any real world experience with tanks so we have really had to wing it.......
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Old 11-28-2022, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Monkey View Post
How far away can someone hear an M1 driving, especially given hills, wood, other terrain. Scouting team on dirt bike often moves ahead of the truck which is towing the tank.
No first-hand experience here either, but I seem to recall reading in Team Yankee and/or Red Storm Rising that the Abrams' gas turbine engines are quieter than it contemporaries' diesel engines. IIRC, this feature was used as a plot point- a company or so of Abrams was able to outflank a Soviet formation and catch it completely be surprise by moving quickly and stealthily along a forest access road or some such. I don't know how realistic that was. Hopefully, someone with RL tank experience can enlighten us.

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Last edited by Raellus; 11-28-2022 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 11-28-2022, 04:47 PM
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Definitely an interesting thread. Regarding ammo and parts - I've spent a completely unreasonable amount of time studying the 4e OrBat info. Out of curiosity, I went back into the 2e books to find OrBat info for comparison, and it seems like there's a few items of note:

1. Units in 4e tend to be a little more consistent in terms of their manpower still available. Where a division in the older editions might have anywhere from a few hundred men to ~5000, in 4e they generally have somewhere between 1-3k personnel. 4e brigades typically have between 400-1200 manpower.
2. The older editions seem to mention tanks exclusively for vehicles. 4e, by contrast, simply mentions "Combat Vehicles". Looking at the US 1st Cav in particular, in the older versions it had a combined 48 tanks. In 4e, it's listed with 47 combat vehicles. Other units, when there's a comparison available, can vary drastically.

In short, from a ammo supply/spare parts perspective, I'd expect 4e to be somewhat similar to the outlook in the older editions. Though as you've noted, 4e's spare parts rules tend to be a little more forgiving than prior editions.
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