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Helltank Review
Metagaming MicroGame 19
Review by David Lent

Helltank Review by David Lent

Helltank is a microgame about armored conflict in the 21st century. It was made in 1981, so the 21st century was the future back then. The available forces are light tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, missile launchers, attack helicopters, anti-aircraft, hovercraft, jetpack infantry and the helltanks.

The helltanks are multi-weapon heavy tanks that serve a similar purpose as the ogres in the microgame Ogre. Hellanks have 6 weapons that can consist of any mis of tank weapons, guns, missile launcher, flak, lasers and force beams. Helltanks take 30 damage points to kill unless it takes a critical hit, which will immediately destroy it. Whenever the Helltank takes damage, it’s owner rolls to see if it lost a weapon.

Units in this game have two movement rates: the regular movement rate and the evasion rate. Obviously, the evasion rate is faster. A unit can choose to go into evasion mode either at the beginning of its impulse or when it get shot at with regular fire (not opportunity fire). A unit in evasion mode may not shoot or opportunity fire during its turn.

Sequence of Play:

  1. Initiative
  2. Sequential execution phase (each unit may do on of the following)
    1. Move
    2. Evade
    3. Fire (if the unit hasn’t opportunity fired this turn)
    4. Fire and move (if the unit hasn’t opportunity fired this turn)
    5. Move, fire then move again
    6. Do nothing
  3. Remove evasion markers

The sequential execution phase is different than how impulse phases usually work in wargames. Instead of all of one side’s units activating and then the other side’s activating, the side with initiative activates one unit and then the other side activates one unit and this goes back and forth until all units have activated. I’m not a fan of this type of sequence as it’s difficult to keep track of units that have activated. Sure, you can rotate units to show they have moved, but I would have preferred I-Go-U-Go. The reason for that is if you create a scenario with 20 units on each side, you will have to do 40 impulses per turn, which is very tedious. While that won’t equal 800 impulses in a 20-turn game due to units being destroyed, it will still be a large number.

Helltank has 5 scenarios and you can make your own also. This is excellent re-playability for a microgame. In addition, the scenarios are interesting and consists of delaying actions, recon, taking cities and an evacuation under fire.

This game is fun to play, has great re-playability and a wealth of interesting unit types. The only downsides are the sequential activations, excessively thin counters and simple map. It’s definitely one of the better microgames from the early 1980’s and I recommend it.

Watch Len’s opinion of this game below:

View the components of Helltank in this unboxing video:

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  • Fun to play
  • Easy to learn
  • The rulebook is easy to understand
  • Enough scenarios
  • Good replayability


  • The sequential activation is tedious
  • The counters are too thin
  • The map is nothing special


Rulebook Clarity - 8
Fun - 6
Originality - 7
Component Quality - 5
Replayability - 7.5
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