With enough experience under my belt now I think I am becoming much better at judging when a game has more to offer than I manage to find on a first play. Whether I like the game or not is irrelevant at this stage, because it is much more important to ascertain whether it might be worth continuing to spend my time uncovering what might or might not be there.
Talk of what lies beneath the surface is particularly appropriate in this case because I spent yesterday evening taking my U-19 out for three more patrols in Raiders of the Deep: U-boats of the Great War, 1914-18, a game that I had been desperate to try but which had left me with a touch of 'meh' when first playing it. The rules are a little bit all over the place (I am still finding clauses and sub-clauses that should probably be more readily discoverable), and the initial experience is quite dry, but the vistas are starting to open up.
One of those hidden paragraphs led me to realise that I have already earned a medal for my exploits, though one that is only relevant 'for narrative purposes' rather than having an influence on the game, while my crew is gradually gaining experience as we add more tonnage to our total. We also managed to escape detection by an escort at one point, and a quick glance at the associated paragraphs means that I would definitely not like to be discovered.
What really grabbed me, though, was the way that the seas on my regular patrol around the British Isles went eerily quiet after the sinking of the Lusitania. Rather than leaving the small stuff and waiting for something large to float into the view of my periscope it was a case of going for something, anything.
All of a sudden I can feel why people say that the narrative in this game is so strong. I had no idea about Cruiser Rules, for example, but feel at last as if things are happening around the game over which I have no control and that I need to alter my outlook accordingly, and that has definitely given this submarine game new depths.
My crew and I develop, elsewhere the Lusitania is sunk...and the narrative springs to life.