Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tannhauser for Beginners

I thought that I would take a little break from custom building and work on an introduction to Tannhauser, that will probably be followed by tips and occasional “hot to” articles.

This is a very long article to give new players and those thinking about playing as much information as possible.  There is much, much more after the jump.

Let’s get started…

First let’s look at what Tannhauser is (note: we’re only going to look at game play and the actual components, for background and story see the rule book):


Tannhauser is a “Squad Level Tactical Combat Board Game” (now say that three times fast). What all that means is this Tannhauser is a game that pits two teams of characters against one another in some sort of struggle for supremacy. Now the nature of that struggle is determined by either “game mode” or the scenario, all of which will be discussed later.

Next let’s look at what’s in the box:

(We’re going to be looking at just the Core Game, which is all you need to get started)

Now if you don’t have Tannhauser yet make sure you purchase a copy with the “Rules of Play Revised Edition” included (see below) (a red sticker on the box will tell you if it’s in there). I you already have a copy of Tannhauser but not the revised rules you need to get a copy, they’re available in actual print form for $9.95 MSRP, or as a PDF for $5.00. Believe me these greatly improve the game play and are the only truly required “add on” to the original Core Game. (For the rest of this article all page numbers will reference the printed edition of this book.)



The next thing you’ll find in the box is the game board, which is what makes Tannhauser an actual board game and not a “Tactical Miniatures Game” like AT 43 or Warhammer. The first thing you’ll notice about the Tannhauser board is it’s covered in small circles, which have a variety of colors (see below).


These circles are the game spaces much like the squares on a chess board they denote where a character or token can be placed. The truly unique thing about the the Tannhauser board is that each circle is “color coded” so that line-of-sight (what a character can see) is easier to determine than in many other table-top or miniature board games. Looking at the image above you can see the yellowish circles near the center; any character standing on one of those circles can see anything on one of the other yellowish circles. For more details look in the rule book on page 14.

Now let’s move on to the characters:

I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about each of the 10 characters included in the Core Game, you can learn more from the rule book beginning on page 36. What we are going to do is look at the components for some characters.

A character has three basic components first is the miniature, this is the game piece you actually move around the board (see below). As I mentioned earlier Tannhauser has 10 characters and ergo there are 10 miniatures in the box.

tannhauser_38 copy

The next two character components are the Character Sheet (often called a Character Card) and the tokens for a character. (see below) Now the Character Sheet contains all the stats for your character, their picture, their skills, and an area for their equipment tokens (called inventory slots). Much more information on reading a Character Sheet can be found on page 11.


tannhauser_21 copy

Now that we’ve covered all the basics of what’s in the box, let’s look at one character in detail and see what they can do in a game.

Let’s take a look a Tala Aponi, now we’ve already seen her miniature and most of her Character Sheet above; so let’s look at what all those numbers and symbols on it mean. The most important thing on a Character Sheet is the “stat grid”. The stat grid is made up of four columns and four rows; the columns each contain the numbers for an individual characteristic. These represent a character’s Combat, Stamina, Mental, and  Movement values, and we’ll look each of these in a moment.

The rows on the stat grid are analogous to “hit points” or “health points” in other game systems. So as a character takes “damage” their stats are reduced accordingly. This is tracked by rotating a token called the “Health Indicator” to point at the appropriate row.

Below is a close up of Tala’s stat grid, skills, and the circle where her health indicator goes. (you can click on it to make it bigger)


So, let’s look at each stat column in order starting on the left. First is the Combat Value, the Combat Value is your attack value, it’s the number you subtract from 10 to determine if a dice roll is a success (hit) or not. Now all combat in Tannhauser is resolved by rolling 10 sided dice. So, for Tala (at full health (top row)) to score a hit in combat she needs to roll 5 or higher (10-5=5). We’ll delve deeper in to combat later.

The next column is the Stamina Value, it represents your resistance to damage, and when we look at a round of combat we’ll see how this functions.

The next column is the Mental Value, what some games call intelligence. It sort of an indication of how smart a character is, but is also an indicator of mental fortitude, or how much psychological strain the character can take. Now Tala has an inverted mental stat column, meaning the numbers get larger and the rows get lower. This is to represent something known as “adrenalin clarity”; which is when stress help one to “think” more clearly. The mental stat is probably the least used of a character’s statistics starting out, but once you get deeper into Tannhauser you will use it a little more.

Finally we have the Movement Value, this is simply how many circles a character can move through during their turn. See page 17 for more on moving.

Now, we’ll save skills for another day, let’s instead move on to the third and final component for a character, and that’s the tokens. If you flip through your rule book to page 50 and 51 you’ll find rules for all of Tala’s Equipment Tokens (the only token you won’t see here is the Health Indicator Token, see page 11 for details on it.)

Example Tokens


As your reading through Tala’s equipment you’ll notice that each item has a one or two bold face words at the beginning, these are Traits. Traits are standardized rules that don’t change from item to item. For instance the “Pistol” trait denotes that you roll four dice for attacks, and this is the same for a “Smith & Wesson 1917” token as it is for a “Lugar 1900” token. After the traits there are often other rules that can modify the trait or simply add other rules to the equipment.

The next thing you’ve probably noticed is that a characters equipment is divided in to three “Packs” and a “Special Item”. The Special Item is an extraordinarily powerful piece of equipment that a character must always carry. Next are the three Packs, and they are named by what stat they focus on, the Combat Pack for instance enhances a character’s ability to do damage to the enemy. The Stamina Pack is similar, but instead focus on defense. The Command Pack is the one that stands out form the rest, it often contains tokens that are of little use in combat, but may be of great advantage in the overall game.

Well I think that will be enough for today, next time we’ll look at combat.