As Reliable As You Want to Believe It Is
from Galactipedia, the Galactic Encyclopedia
This article is about the martial sport played with armored fighting vehicles, sometimes known by the German name Panzerspiel. You may be looking for Panzerkunst, the cyborg combat style also known as "The Armored Arts".
Armorsport is a martial sport which consists of simulated combat between armored fighting vehicles, usually (but not always) crewed by girls or young women. Although the specific eligibility rules vary depending on the style of play desired by the sanctioning body, it is widely known as "the tank game" - a misconception encouraged by the television drama miniseries Game of Tanks, which achieved something of cult status when it aired on Tomodachi TV in 2392.
Armorsport is known by a number of different names depending on galactic region. The name "Armorsport" was adopted by the Interstellar Armorsport Federation for the standardized interscholastic version of the game in 2377, and when capitalized, specifically refers to that version of the game. In more general terms, simulated tank warfare for sport is also called armorsport (with a lowercase A) in much of human-controlled space. Old-line purists of the "pre-Federated" form of the sport still prefer to call it "Tankery" (with a capital T), or even by its original German name, Panzerspiel ("Armored Game"). In the Greater Rigel Sector Co-Prosperity Sphere and on other primarily Japanese-influence colonies (such as Zipang in the Enigma sector), it is known as sensha-dō (Japanese: "the way of the tank"), and is held to be one of the gendai budō or modern martial arts.
The roots of modern armorsport can be traced back to pre-Contact Earth, where, legend has it,[folklore?] an early form of the game was invented in 1945 as a way of doing something useful with all those tanks left over from the Second World War. Inspired in part by the writings of automotive pioneer Bertha Benz (who had died the previous year, and who speculated that the game could replace war in resolving future conflicts), Panzerspiel - or, in English, Tankery - quickly caught on with young women, who had been largely excluded from active participation in the war by the patriarchal social standards of the time.
Within a generation, the sport had achieved worldwide acceptance and come to be popularly regarded as an almost exclusively feminine activity. By the time of Earth's First Contact with the Salusian Empire, and through it the greater galaxy, in 1999, the sport had grown to be regarded as one of the traditional feminine arts - particularly in Japan, where, under the name sensha-dō, it had already earned status as a modern martial art.
The sport grew, but also changed radically, in the decades after Contact, as the First and Second Diasporas of Earthborn humanity carried it with them into the stars. Many other species - indeed, many other branches of humanity - found the very idea confounding. Also, the expense and the hazardous nature of the sport made it impractical to continue in many places, as did the stricter rules regarding equipment eligibility (which were among the first of the original standards to be amended in various interstellar versions of the game).
In other places, however, Tankery and/or sensha-dō thrived. Many colonies, particularly the Japanese ones, maintained a strong traditional bond with the sport, and some governments also saw it as a sort of backdoor to military preparedness in the event of problems with the homeworld. The game, or at least the right to the equipment required for it, is actually written into the Constitution of Tomodachi, Article XII: A well-regulated Militia being necessary for the Security of a Free World, the right of Young Women to keep and drive Tanks shall not be abridged.
The 2370s saw the first concerted attempt to reunify and standardized the scattered branches of the sport, with the establishment of the Interstellar Armorsport Federation and the publication of Standard Rules of Armorsport. As these things usually do,[sarcasm not required] this effort resulted in further, but more formal, fragmentation, as a number of other rival sanctioning bodies sprang up with their own preferred versions of the rules.
Main article: Rules of Armorsport and Variants
Although it is commonly summarized for laypeople as "tank warfare for girls", armorsport in all but its most absolutist forms is limited neither to tanks nor girls. It is conducted with a wide range of armored fighting vehicles, not just tanks, and although culturally viewed as a predominantly feminine activity in many places, Federation law does not allow players of any organized sport to be excluded on the basis of gender.
All forms of armorsport have the following in common: Matches are simulated battles fought between two teams of armored fighting vehicles. Beyond this, there is considerable variation.
Team sizes can vary widely, and range from single tanks fielded by small school clubs to large and diverse forces that would be significant military assets under other circumstances. It is customary (see Culture) for the captain of the larger team to at least make an effort to ensure something close to parity between the two forces actually taking part in the match, unless specific tournament rules preclude it or the captain of the smaller team waives the handicap.
"Classic" Tankery, played under the original pre-Contact rules, permits only the use of AFVs designed and built on Earth before the surrender of Nazi Germany to end the European phase of that planet's Second World War, May 8, 1945. Some extremely strict forms of sensha-dō take that restriction even further and require that teams limit themselves only to equipment that would logically have been operated by one combatant force in that war (e.g., all Soviet equipment, all German, or mixed UK and US hardware), but that rule is considered archaic and optional even under the modern Co-Prosperity Sphere Ministry for Sport regulations.
More modern or "freestyle" forms of the sport permit newer types of armored vehicle, usually broken down into period classes based on Earth's history. Non-Earth vehicles are either prohibited or assigned to classes based on a comparative analysis of their capabilities vs. different eras' Earth tanks. Better-funded armorsport programs may have multiple teams, each designed to compete in a different class. There are also occasional "all-up" competitions where the class rules are abandoned and any team can field anything it wants. These usually - but not always! - end in a rout of the lower-tech team.
Armorsport is played with live weapons, not paint or laser-designated damage simulation, but the ammunition is specially constructed for less, rather than more, penetrating power. Normal anti-armor weapons are specifically designed either to penetrate the target vehicle's cabin, or to cause the interior surfaces to fragment lethally (a phenomenon known as "spalling"). Armorsport ammunition, by contrast, is designed to minimize rather than maximize cabin penetration and the possibility of injury or death to the crew. In addition, the interior spaces of vehicles prepared for armorsport are specially reinforced to further guard against spalling.
A direct hit from an armorsport tank's main gun will still damage the vehicle being hit, sometimes quite extensively (powerplant destruction is not uncommon), and the impact may throw the crew painfully around the cabin, but the above measures ensure that crew safety is maximized even if the vehicle itself is put out of commission by the hit. Instead of outright destruction, telemetry from the vehicles and the shells themselves is used by the referees' computers to gauge how much damage a given vehicle would have sustained, including possible crew casualties, had it been hit by a full-power war shot. Crew members who are marked as incapacitated will be notified and penalized for taking any further part in the action. A vehicle that is ruled "knocked out" (even if it has not literally been disabled) will shut down until the end of the match and display a flag indicating its status.
Although most forms of armorsport are open to all players today, the vast majority of armorsportists, Tankers, and sensha-dōka today are young human, part-human, and near-human females. Dedicated armorsportists start in grade school, with simulated skirmishes between armored cars, then move up to light tanks and cavalry fighting vehicles in middle school before graduating to proper tanks and heavy AFVs in high school. Along the way, the tactics and strategies used by the teams evolve in sophistication as well. (Some college teams even employ artillery and air support.)
There are no professional armorsport leagues at present, so for most girls and young women, armorsport ends with graduation from high school or college. Some go on to join armed forces and operate tanks for real, but most leave armored combat behind in adulthood.
The traditions of armorsport, and of Tankery and sensha-dō before them, call upon the players to be chivalrous and courteous to their opponents. Fair play, honesty, and honor are all qualities prized in and by most armorsportists. Team captains have been known to forfeit matches upon discovering that members of their team are engaging in underhanded tactics, even if technically permitted under the rules. At the same time, however, there exists a complicated web of customs and traditions dictating what is and is not a legitimate ruse de guerre (as opposed to cheating), and some teams are notorious for treading that sometimes-hard-to-see line very finely.
Modern armorsport rules place particular emphasis on the fact that it is a game, not a war. For instance, under the IAF's Standard Armorsport rules, players are not permitted to use the word "enemy" in reference to the opposing force, nor to describe the elimination of a competitor as a "kill". Doing so within hearing of the referees (for instance, on the radio) will result in a penalty. Actual fighting in the course of a match, either by tampering with safety systems or simply engaging in extravehicular fisticuffswomanship[I should edit this, but I just don't have the heart to!] with another player, is strictly prohibited, and players caught doing so will automatically forfeit the match for their team (many team captains will capitulate voluntarily before the referees can step in).
In extreme cases (such as deliberately firing any weapon at an opposing player who has left a vehicle), penalties can be much harsher, and often involve lifetime bans from the sport and criminal prosecution.
The development of armorsport as a traditionally feminine art is said by historians of the sport to have begun with a desire to encourage girls and young women to be physically active, mentally disciplined, spiritually enlightened, and morally upright. Particularly in the Co-Prosperity Sphere, sensha-dō is held to cultivate the most vital virtues of a modern woman, including honor, righteousness, compassion for her crewmates and opponents, physical courage, and the ability to hit a moving target at 250 yards.[uh, that last one may have lost something in translation]
Despite the extensive safety precautions mandated by all the reputable sanctioning organizations, armorsport is a dangerous game. Player injuries are common, though usually not serious. The biggest danger is of blunt force trauma injuries from colliding with interior features of one's own vehicle. Few dedicated armorsportists reach the end of an active career without having suffered at least one concussion, and a great many have broken at least one bone. Since explosive ordnance and machine gun fire are also everyday features of armorsport matches, players must be very careful when leaving their vehicles (which is permitted, and often tactically necessary). Most armorsportists do not wear body armor because of the difficulty of managing it inside a tank, and quite a number have been accidentally hit by shrapnel or stray bullets while engaged in extratankular activity.[oh come on, that's not even a word] [it is now suckaaaaaz]
Beyond the above, there are numerous environmental hazards involved in the sport. Fire is always a possibility in any activity involving high-powered internal combustion engines and explosives. Toxic exhaust gases can build up in the confined spaces of a tank's compartments if the vehicle is not properly maintained or sustains damage to its exhaust system during play. In addition, most tanks do not swim well, so any battleground involving a water feature presents a small but nonzero drowning hazard.
However, an extensive studied conducted in 2401 by the CPS Ministry for Sport concluded that, statistically speaking, sensha-dō (which as a more "purist" approach is considered one of the most dangerous forms of armorsport) poses less risk of permanently disabling injury or death to an average player than repulsor racing, turfball, roller derby, or field hockey.[seriously?] According to another study, conducted in 2397 by the Crown Colony Commonwealth Health and Safety Executive, crew risks are about on par with Friday Night Firefight (which has an HSE "acceptable" rating for an interscholastic sport).
The Sport Today
In the early 25th century, armorsport and its variants are not widely popular, but tend to be embraced fervently wherever they are embraced at all. There are several different versions of the game sanctioned by different organizations, though each one's rulesets have special clauses under which teams from different branches of the sport can compete by mutual agreement. The IAF maintains a database of all the various rules convergencies and exceptions, and can provide referees trained in officiating so-called "mixed" matches.
Places where one or another variant of armorsport are played include:
- The Greater Rigel Sector Co-Prosperity Sphere (sanctioned by the CPS Ministry for Sport under the name sensha-dō)
- Zardon (IAF Standard Armorsport)
- The Vega Sector Crown Colony Commonwealth (mix of IAF Standard Armorsport and the Crown Colony Tankery Society's "classic Tankery" rules, depending on individual world)
- The Klingon Union (IAF Standard Armorsport, although traditional CPS sensha-dō also has its Klingon adherents, most notably at St. Mary Our Lady of the Blessed Blade Catholic Girls' Academy of Qo'noS (Extracted) on Klinzhai Prime)
Armorsport was popular in the Klingon Empire until the Civil War began, at which point it was banned as "human and decadent" (for which read "for girls") in the territories controlled by the Klavaarite revolutionary government. Many of the best Klingon Armorsport and sensha-dō schools fled the Empire during the confusion at the start of the war and took refuge on Klinzhai Prime, including St. Mary's above.
Armorsport has never achieved much of a foothold in the Republic of Zeta Cygni or the Salusian Empire, where walking mecha combat sports like Friday Night Firefight are much more the norm, but the game does have small, dedicated cult followings in both nations.
- Sport in the Co-Prosperity Sphere
- Friday Night Firefight
- Game of Tanks (TV miniseries)
- The Feminine Arts
- The International Armorsport Federation
- Greater Rigel Sector Co-Prosperity Sphere Ministry for Sport sensha-dō page (Japanese)
- Klingon Armored Battle Games League (Klingonese)
- Vega Sector Crown Colony Tankery Society (that weird Standard they do in the Vega sector)
- Girls and Tanks: An Armorsport Fan Site
Categories: combat sports | primarily feminine sports | stuff that involves tanks