Gary and I had our first go at The Great War with the Tanks! expansion last night, using the Cambrai scenario. Although there are lots of new rules for the mighty machines, they aren't too complex to integrate into the game, and there are no new cards, suggesting that, to some extent, there has been some excellent design in the basic game to allow for a smooth integration of such things further down the line.
Tanks are powerful, but prone to bad luck. They have a small number of hits, but get a save-roll. Obviously you could make the saves all day and trundle all the way to Berlin, or you could fail them dismally early on and have burning wrecks on your start-line. They conceded two victory medals to your opponent as well, so it's worth not getting them killed. In addition to the save-rolls they can also bog down in terrain or if they try to move too quickly. Bogged down tanks can start up again, but it costs you an activation, and may require the expenditure of precious HQ tokens as well.
Anyway, in the Cambrai scenario only the British have tanks - two Mk IV Males and two Mk IV Females. And, yes, the rules do differentiate. They have a horde of infantry as well, trying to push through and capture two German strongpoints at the far end of the board, or move troops off the German edge.
I got to play the tanks!
Halfway trough the game. The German front-line fell very easily co a concentrated assauly by the British armour, and I'd rolled forward onto the hills beyond where I was now taking fire from the German field-artillery (another new addition) beyond. Two tanks had bogged down and one was damaged.
My infantry was lagging behind because I'd had a bad case of New Toy Syndrome and concentrated all my efforts on using the tanks.
I pushed my luck, and kept driving the tanks forward. A concentrated artillery barrage took out oe German strongpoint, which helped, but my tanks were soaking up hits from machine-guns and the field artillery, and also kept bogging down. One was destroyed. The other three were all on their last hit.
I managed to drive one off the board, to the green fields beyond (coated in white mist, as you can see).
The two medals I got for that pushed me well towards my victory level, and a few German casualties in the following turns clinched the win. But it was close. Gary had picked up a few points for the 'ticking clock', and I'd lost one tank to his shooting. My other tanks had survived well against the odds, and a second lost tank would have probably pushed the game Gary's way.
I realised afterwards that there was a rule I'd forgotten about which could have helped me - you can abandon tanks. They are removed, but don't concede points to the enemy. In that way if you overextend them (like I did) you can ditch them, and try to win the rest of the game with the infantry. And I had plenty of that, sitting around waiting for something to do.
It was a fun game, and the tanks are a welcome addition.
Elsewhere was a game of Flames of War (which I failed to photograph) and a big game of Full Thrust featuring players and their offspring and this beautiful spaceship from Geoff's collection.