Thursday, 29 December 2011

U-Boat Leader

I was lucky enough to receive a few games this Christmas, amongst these was my first solo boardgame from Dan Verssen Games - U-Boat Leader.  Having long been fascinated by WW2 submarine warfare and Das Boot this was an excellent choice.

The game  includes four campaigns covering different stages of the Battle of the Atlantic:

  • The Battle Begins: covering operations at the start of World War II to about mid-1940.
  • The Happy Time: covering the period from mid-1940 to mid-1941 when the U-boats and wolfpacks dominated the seas.
  • Operation Drumbeat: covering operations off the American coast and in the Caribbean in early 1942.
  • The Hunted: covering the time period when the tide starts to turn against the U-boats in mid 1942.
Each of these can be played as a short, medium of long game depending on the number of patrols you wish to play.  It also includes the following U-Boats:

  • Type IIB/C coastal submarines
  • Type VII A/B/C Atlantic submarines
  • Type IX A/B/C long-range submarines
  • Type XXI Elektro-boat
Each of which can be selected from (or developed through) various experience levels (Green, Trained, Veteran and Ace).
The game is split between the campaign map, where you direct several U-Boats:
and the Tactical Display where the actual combat occurs:
Each campaign provides you with a pool of Special Option points which you can spend on your U-Boat flotilla and other special missions and actions.  Movement across the campaign map triggers events (which can include contacts) and when the U-Boat reaches its patrol area it can check for contacts.  If a contact is made then things transfer to the Tactical Display with the target vessels represented by generic counters until they are identified (which is managed through a card deck) - sometimes revealing some nasty surprises!

A U-Boat can try to form a Wolfpack by contacting other boats in the same patrol area but with the chance of alerting the target.  The combat consists of relative movement, detection and combat phases with the U-Boat finally having to exit the display - which can be tricky if you have been detected.

I have only played the game once so far but really enjoyed the experience.  I am sure this is not a game for everyone but I will be breaking this out plenty more times in the future.