Tanks with Guns are so last century; Tanks with Knives are all the rage!

 KnifeTank Cover

KnifeTank: The Shüffling (2020)
Designer(s) Doctor Popular Artist(s)

ilCorvo Artworks


Doctor Popular Toys & Games

2 or 4 12+ 20m

Tanks without guns may seem a little odd until you imagine them with big freaking knives and other traditional melee weapons attached where the guns would normally be...then you have something really unique and kick a...butt. KnifeTank is a fun combat game where players will maneuver tanks across the battle field to either blow up the enemy tank or to reach the other side. I view this game as a very light X-Wing like game. Players will plan two moves for the current round, both reveal one of those cards, perform those actions, and repeat for the second card. Rinse and repeat. There is more to the game than that, let's dig into what the game is all about. 

Box and Components

KnifeTank 1The game is packed into a standard sized card box and includes 43 cards and a small rulebook. 

  • 31 Action Cards
    • 18 Movement Cards
    • 7 Stab Cards
    • 6 Special Action Cards
  • 5 Hit Cards
  • 5 Double-sided Tank and 5 Health Cards
  • 2 Player References

On the tank and most of the Action Cards, there are a few icons players will need to be familiar with.

  • Turret Icon: Circular bulls-eye icon; these will be used to show where most stab cards will originate on the tanks. There are some Movement cards that also use this icon to allow for the tank to turn 360 degrees. 
  • Tread Icon: Pairs of square icons on each tank; most tanks have two of these symbols but more mobile tanks will have a second pair of these icons. These icons will be used with Movement Cards to move the tank around the battlefield. There are some Stab Cards that use these symbols as well, which I envision being like a stabbing ram.  
  • End Movement Icon: This icon looks like an explanation point. This will be used to show where Movement Cards end.  
  • Hit Values: These numbers and the asterisk symbol represent the amount of damage dealt with the tank and Action Cards. 

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How each of these icons are used with Action Cards will be explained in the next section. 

The artwork on the box is really cool; it has a tank equipped with knives on top and looks very heavy metal. The opposite side has a gravestone that has the description of the game written out. Everything about this small box looks great. 

My one issue, which could be isolated to my copy, is it took me 10 minutes just to get the box open. The little side tabs for the lid seemed to be just a little too big and refused to let me open it. Once I finally did just barely opened without ripping the box, I was able to trim down the flaps a little bit and everything works great. Again, this may be isolated to my copy, but that was a simple fix for someone who is over protective of their game boxes. 


The game is really easy to learn and should only take a few minutes to explain to new players. Ideally, the game should be played on a table roughly 3 foot wide. 

KnifeTank 3Setup

  1. Separate the tank, health tracker, action, and player reference cards.
  2. Shuffle the action cards and deal five to each player.
  3. Players will decide which tank they want to use (use whatever method you want for deciding this) and take the matching color health card once everyone has decided. Players will close their eyes and place their tank on their side of the table just along the edge.
  4. Rotate the health card so you read the value for your starting health shown on your selected tank card.

You are ready to play. 

Game Play

At the start of the round, players will decide which two cards to play from their hand and place them facedown in front of themselves. Once everyone is ready, players will reveal one of their cards and perform the actions in the following order:

Move -> Stab -> Special

Same action types happen in parallel meaning all moves happen at the same time, all stabs happen at the same time, and all specials happen at the same time. If damage is dealt due to an action, damage also occurs simultaneously which could result in two tanks destroying each other. 

Players will draw back up to 5 cards at the end of the round. Repeat these steps until one tank is destroyed or one tank reaches the opposite side of the table. 

Game Specifics

With all actions in this game, players may NOT measure distances before they decide which cards to use; you must mentally visualize how your actions will play out. Here are how each type of Action Card is resolved.

  • KnifeTank 2Move Actions
    • Most move actions will have the 2 Tread Icons on them along with an arrow that ends with the End Movement icon. Players will line up the Movement Card's Treads Icon with the Tread Icons on the tank card so they look like one pair of completed tread icons. Keep your finger on the movement card so it doesn't move while you pull the tank card from underneath it. You will then need place the tank on top of the movement card so the End Movement icons line up. Finally, carefully remove and discard the movement card. 
    • Some movement cards will have the Turret Icon on it. It works almost the same as the movement described above, but you can rotate the movement card in any direction allowing you to turn in place. 
    • Ram: If after movement cards are resolved there are tank cards overlapping each other, the tanks ram each other causing possible damage. Each player will take turns drawing the Hit Cards as shown on their tank and resolve the attack (more on that below). 
  •  KnifeTank 7Stab Actions
    • Similar to movement actions, you will line up the turret icon on the Stab Card and may freely rotate it to see if it hits other tanks. If it does, draw the Hit Cards as shown on the Stab card and resolve the attack. 
    • If the stab card has tread icons instead, line up the icons on the tank and stab card so it creates a single pair of tread icons and attack any other tank cards that the Stab Card can touch. Draw the necessary Hit Cards and resolve the attack. 
  • Special Actions
    • Special actions work similar to Stab Actions, but their delivery method is a little different and have nothing to do with the placement of your tank. There are 5 unique Special Action delivery methods. 
      • KnifeTank 6Drop: The player will hold the card at least 1 foot above the table and drop it. You don't want these cards to land on cards though; if the dropped card overlaps with atank, it is discarded without resolving its effect. These cards are mines or supply drops that require movement cards to be played causing tanks to overlap with these cards to resolve their effects (damage or health recovery). 
      • Spin: The player will hold the card at least 2 feet above the table and give it a spin as it is dropped. You want spin cards to end up on enemy tanks to deal damage and then is discarded. If it lands on empty space, it is discarded dealing no damage. 
      • Toss: The player will hold the card away from the table and toss it onto the table being sure not to have their hand go over the edge of the table (sort of like bowling and foul line). If the tossed card overlaps with a tank, resolve the attackand discard the card; otherwise, discard the card dealing no damage.
      • Flick: The player will place the card on the edge table with a little overhanging allowing you to flick the card. If the flicked card overlaps with a tank, resolve the attack and discard the card; otherwise, it is discarded dealing no damage. It is fine if other cards are pushed around as a result of this action; leave the cards where they land. 
      • Blow: This card is unique. The blow card is discarded, and the player is able to use one sudden blow to move the cards around. You must blow from the edge of the table. If tanks or special cards overlap as a result of this, resolve attacks as normal. The blow card itself does no damage. 

Resolving Attacks require the attacking player to draw the necessary Hit Cards (as shown on the cards), shuffling them, and having their opponent randomly draw the hit card to resolve the attack. The target will update their current health by rotating their health card so they can read their new health value. If the asterisk card is drawn, that player is "Stunned."

Stunned tanks may still perform move actions that were selected for the current round, but on the following round, they may not play Move Actions during the next round. Stab and Special Actions may be played as normal. 

Once per game, players may Resupply their hand by discarding any number of cards and drawing the same number from the deck.

If a tank falls off the table, they respawn on their side of the table like they did at the beginning of the game but remain at the health they had when they fell off. 

End Game

The game will end in one of two conditions:

  • A tank is destroyed resulting in the remaining player being declared the winner.
  • One tank reaches the opposite side of the table resulting in that player being declared the winner. 

2 vs 2 - Player

When playing with 4 players, players will actually play on teams. The rules are essentially the same with the following changes:

  • Each player selects only one action each round. 
  • Allied tanks can damage each other so watch out for friendly fire. 
  • The first team to destroy both enemy tanks wins; there is no victory condition for reaching the opposite side of the table. 

While not in the rules, I imagine if you had a perfectly square table, you could actually play a 4 way fight, but that is something for players to try out for themselves. 

Final Thoughts

I really like this style of game, but too often they require too much space and have too many rules. This game delivers a great solution that is reasonable in both of these aspects and is really fun. Amanda and I were able to sit down and figure out the game in about 5 minutes only needing to reference the rules 1-2 times during our first game. I don't imagine most players will have many issues, and if they do, the designer created a great video going over how the game is played. 

I love the artwork; the tanks and stab cards have awesome illustrations. The game is so compact it would be easy to justify taking this in our game bag to every event because it offers a lot of fun while taking up very little space. 

I would love to see some expansions release for this game with more special cards because the 6 included are fun, but only come up once during most games. I realize it is because they are balancing out the movement, stab, and special actions, but I would love to see more so we can play with the special cards more often. 

The only card I don't really like, and I imagine in some ways won't be used as much now a days is the blow card. One: spit, and more importantly, the blow card was able to give me a huge advantage in our first game. It was in my first hand of cards so I was able to move to the center of the table in one action basically winning the game. So I would probably recommend deciding if you really want to use this card in your own games. Everything else card wise is great, but that is the one I probably will remove for both reasons above. 

If you enjoy a game with a unique art style, fun placement style combat, and can be played in roughly 10-20 minutes, I highly recommend checking out KnifeTank: The Shüffling. 

Also, check out the fun music video they made for the game...you won't regret it. 

KnifeTank 4


KnifeTank: The Shüffling Board Game Geek Page

Publisher Product Page

KnifeTank How to Play Video 

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We received the product in order to write an honest review; all reviews reflect the honest opinions of the writer.