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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The Pen and Paper Tank Battle

In grade school, friends introduced me to something I hadn't experienced in Manitoba: a simulated tank battle played out with pen and paper.

The game went something like this: each player controlled a tank, one represented by a circle, the other by an x. The x and the circle would start on opposite sides of a sheet of paper, moving toward each other in turns; each turn, the player could move their tank up to five spaces, represented by dashes about 5 mm long, thusly:

x-----x                         o-----o-----o

You didn't have to move in straight lines, of course.

Eventually, when the tanks are close enough, players are allowed to shoot at each other at the end of their moves. This was accomplished by holding the pen vertically in place with your finger, with the writing end pressed down against your tank. By applying judicious force in the proper direction, you could cause your pen to skid across the page, leaving a line on the paper; if this line crossed through the enemy tank, that counted as a hit, and the tank was destroyed.

More complicated versions of the game started on pre-drawn maps with obstacles such as trees, bunkers and hills that couldn't be shot through. You'd have to get your tank in just the right position to take a shot, without being shot yourself.

Did anyone else play this game? Or was it a uniquely Albertan thing?


Jeff Shyluk said...

I played this exact game in high school in Winnipeg. I recall having a wide-ranging set of rules, and we had a brace of coloured pens for different units: tanks, infantry, and artillery. I think there were air strikes as well. I remember drawing some maps that we photocopied. That's when I discovered that one of my friends had a serious map-making fetish. When I left for Vancouver, he was hand-drawing auto-club style roadmaps of fictional provinces, using Letraset to do the labelling and inking in all the rest of the details by hand.

Scott said...

I played in Saskatchewan, but with space ships and asteriods.

Earl J. Woods said...

Fascinating! So this was, at the very least, Prairie phenomenon. Interesting to hear about the variations.

Totty said...

I also played the spaceship version in Jr. High in Fort Saskatchewan. Which of course is here in Alberta.