Army Tanks Aren’t

People love army tanks. They’re tough, fast, and do high damage at a long range. If your clash-like is modern or futuristic it’s gotta have tanks. But a clash-like can’t have realistic army tanks. The amazing thing is we can make something that’s nothing like a tank, call it a tank, and players will agree it’s a tank.

The problem is that in a point system, everyone instinctively thinks of units pound-for-pound effectiveness. A tank doing the damage of 10 men but costing 20 is a low damage unit. That’s not just math. Your last army had those 20 soldiers and you can clearly see the tank is killing at 1/2 the rate.

You can make a deadly, tough unit — costs 6 but has the damage of toughness of 10. All you need to do is give it some horrible drawback. But tanks only have advantages. Their high speed is nice, and long-range is a huge advantage. They suffer in rough terrain, but clash-likes don’t have terrain. You can’t have a unit that’s above-average in every area. It’s a super-troop that ruins the game.

To make tanks fit into a point system, we’ll need to give them drawbacks. We’ll change their speed from fast to slow. That seems crazy, but treads feel slow and everyone’s seen war movies where a tank crawls along city streets. Next we’ll give them low damage. We have to make a big cut somewhere. We preserved toughness and long-range. It turns out that’s almost enough to make them feel like tanks.

We use the rate-of-fire trick to make tanks shots feel stronger. Instead of firing for 50 damage every second, they fire for 100 damage every 2 seconds. That’s the same low damage, but when they first drive up to something and deliver that double-strength hit, it feels strong.

The net result is a group of tanks slowly rolling to within long range of a building, then slowly knocking down its health. The tanks are taking very little damage in return. Then slowly moving a bit to the next. These tanks feel like an unstoppable force. The entire effect is so … well … barely acceptable as an army tank, that it’s widely copied.