The Great War: Western Front – Better Victory Through Tanks

WW1 is a horrible quagmire of muddy trench warfare and stagnant fronts – a war of inches, as they say. But it doesn’t have to be. This game has tanks! So let’s move tactics forward 25 years.

How to Win with Tanks

What makes tanks in this game better than their real life counterparts?

WW1 tanks were…not amazing. They definitely had an impact on the battlefield, but they were significantly hampered by poor reliability, internal temperatures that slowly cooked the occupants, and other hazards like spalling (pieces of metal cracking and bouncing shrapnel around the interior when hit by bullets or shells) and other nasties like carbon monoxide poisoning from poor ventilation.

That tin can won’t feel so safe when it gets bogged down in mud on no-mans land.

But in this game, none of the above happens! The tanks are perfectly reliable! Perhaps moreso than even their WW2 counterparts. Plus they have unlimited fuel and ammo. So, let’s have some fun.

How to Get Tanks

Research “Tank Warfare” under the engineering tree to unlock them.

If you start in 1914, you need a total of 20 research points, as there are prerequisites in the logistics and trench warfare trees, too. The Germans only need 18 points, as they start with efficient heavy artillery already.

Instead of rushing, I recommend taking logistics first, and getting wartime donations on your first turn and maybe wartime taxes after that for the extra per-turn income. This will delay you getting tanks somewhat, but the extra income over time will pay for some extra tank units, meaning you can use them faster.

You can ignore missions for the most part, unless the rewards are compelling to you.

It’s a good idea to get them ASAP. Your opponent will be less able to counter them, and you’ll have a period where they run completely amok.

Infantry Aren’t for Attacking

…they’re for defending and occupying key points. We’re going to stop thinking like a WW1 general – never push with infantry unless you have cleared the way first. Otherwise you get historical results. Gestures at the Somme.

You’re going to be digging in for the first part of this war, and not attacking at all. Focus on pure defence. With regard to battles, there are other guides for how to set up your trenches correctly and so on, but suffice to say you only need to keep your command trench up to prevent any territory loss.

What Tanks Are There?

Allied Tanks

The Mark I and Mark IV (British)

These come in “Male” (with cannons) and “Female” (MGs only) variants.

The cannons can’t fire into trenches. They’re useful for taking out mortar and MG emplacements, fighting enemy tanks, or hitting infantry in open ground. The MG variants are going to do most of your work, though. Make sure to rotate them to face front towards their target, and the MG fire is devastating.

These tanks can cross all trenches.

The FT (or FT-17) (French)

This tank is actually closest to what we think of as modern tanks, having a turret on top that can rotate to hit targets in a 360 degree arc. Historically, this tank even made appearances in WW2 (though well obsolete by then) and is even rumoured to have faced the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

It’s light, relatively fast, and a bit weak – but its mobility is an asset. The cannon version of this is really great for moving around the firing arcs of the A7V or captured Mark IV tanks, though you’ll probably only encounter those rarely. It’s also good for wide sweeps around the edge of the map to find enemy artillery (more on this later). The MG version is not quite as good as the Mark I / IV, but adequate.

It can only cross the most basic of fire trenches, and communication trenches.

The Whippet

This works a lot like the MG version of the FT. The fact that it is a single unit only, paired with the far slower Mark IV in a British tank unit is annoying, as it’s fast enough to get to a destination first when paired with them, and attract all of the enemy fire. It’s also not particularly useful on its own.

Just like the FT, can’t cross advanced trenches.

Historically, it was designed to exploit breaches in enemy lines and hit rear elements, but the maps aren’t big enough to fulfil this real-life objective. If it had a cannon it’d be more useful.

German Tanks

The Surmpanzerwagen A7V

Works just like the Mark IV, in that its a fairly slow heavy tank, but there are no MG/cannon variants – all have cannons (which face in a slight arc forward). There is a tech to up their damage – the AI isn’t smart enough to try and attack from behind it seems, so they make short work of any enemy tanks you are unlucky enough to encounter.

It can cross advanced trenches.

In real life , the Germans built a whole 18 of these.

Captured Mark IV

Self explanatory, really.

The Flakpanzer

Shoots at planes, but can hit some ground targets too if you rotate it side-on. I’ve never had planes be a serious issue as far as my tanks go but YMMV. I don’t recommend using this if there is no air cover around. It’s weak and of poor utility otherwise.

How to Use Them

There are three primary uses of tanks.

Breakthrough unit

The first and most obvious. Like nothing else in this game, tanks have the power to punch through enemy trench lines.

Your goal here isn’t to kill as many people as possible, but you utilise the morale damage to force them to free their lines and open up the trenches for your infantry to take.

The problem is that tanks can’t do this without support. See, this era of tanks kinda have little slits that the crew need to peek through and don’t have any sort of advanced optics (though they experimented with periscopes).

Now this means, in game terms, that you have to get embarrassingly close to the enemy, which if they’re being clever, are using a layered defence in depth (multiple trench lines), so moving forward likely exposes you to more fire, and more damage, leading to a destroyed tank (tanks from this era could have their crew killed by sustained MG fire, it would cause pieces of metal to fracture (spall), and bounce around the interior turning the crew into rather unsavoury looking pink chunks.

Not great.

So you need to:

Use barrage balloons to spot for you, and then you can use your cannon armed tanks to take out any distant threats. You can’t get full coverage on all maps, but you should at least cover the initial victory point you’re going for.

Where possible (ie. range permits), you should use artillery to soften the enemy trenches and lower their morale.

Now, move forward with your MG mounted tanks, to clear out the trenches. Get them in range for the morale penalty, and those units may melt, unless they’re Belgian or American (more on that later).

Then send in the infantry, behind the tanks, but in range of the morale boost for now. These iinfantry hold position, capture the victory point (or command trench) and brace for a counter attack.

Rinse and repeat.

Neutralising infantry and enemy tanks in open ground

Any infantry caught out in the open, such as during counter attacks will be at a severe disadvantage next to your tanks. The moment they dip below half morale, move your tanks forward and watch them flee.

Your cannon armed tanks will also be able to protect themselves against enemy tanks, for the most part.

Exploiting behind enemy lines

The FT is best for this due to its speed. A mix of cannon and MG variants is useful. If you travel around the borders of the map and can travel along that top border, you may reveal artillery units that are easy pickings.

On the Campaign Map

You should always soften up a square you plan to attack with tanks, with as many small attacks from other hexes as possible.

This gives your enemy a morale penalty. If this is low enough, units will just surrender as soon as they even see your tank. But that’s a rare circumstance. Still, the weaker the enemy is, the better.

You can choose to cease fire out as fast as possible, or auto-resolve. Victory doesn’t matter with these attacks, you just want the morale penalty.



This can kill you quick. To avoid it, always keep moving ahead, outside of the big red circle. Remember that even enemy artillery has a fire arc. They typically won’t cover the top-left or top-right of a map for instance.


I haven’t encountered too many of these being a threat. The counter is your own fighters, or the flakpanzer if you’re playing as Central Powers.

Layered trenches

If you go too deep into a line of trenches, you’ll draw fire from everywhere. If this happens, retreat as fast as possible and take a slower, more methodical approach.

Other tanks

Beware the enemy firing arcs. If you have an FT available, move it behind the enemy tank to avoid retaliation fire.

Americans (if playing Germans)

These guys are not at all intimidated by your tanks, meaning they operate at near full morale.

If you’re playing as allies, they get an additional boost from your tanks being around.


These guys just aren’t afraid of anything. Not impossible, but challenging to morale break.

Tanks That Sadly Didn’t Make the Cut

  • Gun Carrier Mk.I (British, the first SPG – saw service in late war).
  • The Schnieder CA1 (French, would work a bit like the Mark IV).
  • Saint Charmond (French – the 75mm frontal cannon would be deadly).
  • Mark V (British, would be too similar to Mark IV I guess).

Didn’t quite see war service

  • Mark IX (British, the first APC – didnt see war service).
  • Mark VIII “Liberty” (British/American, better than the Mark IV in every way but rolled off the production line when the war was basically done).
  • Char 2c (French- the biggest operational tank ever built – in physical dimensions though not mass. Has a turreted 75 mm gun, so would be pretty devastating – didn’t see service in the war itself, but acquired an almost legendary status post-war.).
  • LK II (German – kinda like a German FT equivalent).

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