Andrew P
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Finally got this to the table. I really like Hornet Leader and Thunderbolt Apache Leader, but I've never tried U-Boat Leader, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

You can feel the influence (and some of the mechanisms) of its forebears, but Gato Leader definitely stands on its own. Taking out each boat for a patrol can encompass any number of events, broken up by attacking different types of convoys.

One of the changes from previous games that I really like is that there's only four experience levels (Green, Trained, Veteran, Ace), instead of the usual six. There's a good mix of different sub classes and the mechanisms representing how unreliable torpedoes could be back then are frustratingly spot on. There's nothing quite like unleashing multi-torpedo salvo, only to discover that not only none of them hit your target, but one of your fish has actually looped back and its time to brace for impact.

My biggest complaint would be with the rulebook, which feels incomplete in places, as well as the lack of a good reference sheet. Yes, one of the boards has a bunch of reference stuff on it, but most of what I kept needing to reference wasn't on it, leading my to flip back and forth through the rulebook way too much while playing. The game feels like it immerses you in the subject, which is both good and bad. It's good due to the narrative the events and battles create, making you really feel like you're a part of the story. It's bad because of how brutal the difficulty can be, thanks to the realities of sub warfare. The event cards are almost all nasty and you can find that by the time your sub reaches it's patrol area, it'll have accrued enough Stress to be considered Unfit and have to head right back to port, without ever once having encountering a convoy. I get the realism thing, but it's frustrating when you're toughest sub leave port in pristine shape, only to be sunk by a nasty event card and unlucky die roll right out of the gate.

It's definitely more difficult than the other Leader Series games I've played (though not nearly as harsh as a game like Ghost Stories), yet it just makes the triumphs that much sweeter. In order to do well in this game, you really need to respect the rules of sub warfare: respect the odds stacked against you and don't get greedy.

Overall it's a fun game, that does a great job of immersing you in the experience of commanding a sub fleet during WWII. As beat down as I was by the game, I went to bead thinking about what I'd do different next time, always a really good sign that a game has gotten under your skin.


An overview of COMSUBPAC.


The wolf among the sheep.
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Jason
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Thanks for your thoughts - and a few pics. I'm intrigued by this, although I find U-Boat Leader more of a draw, for some reason. I'm hopping they're different enough to warrant owning both.
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Andrew P
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I'm not sure why, but this one was more of a draw for me than U-Boat Leader. Maybe it's because you generally don't hear much about any WWII subs that aren't German...? I would like to see somebody do a comparison of the two games because I'm not sure if there as different from each other as Hornet Leader and Phantom Leader are.

The only difference that I've found out so far is that Wolf Packs are treated differently in each game. In U-Boat Leader, you find a convoy, put out a call for other subs to come aid you, and then attack the convoy and hope that another sub(s) will join you in battle. In Gato Leader, Wolf Packs are formed in port and you go out hunting together. I know that the difference in mechanism is due to historical accuracy, but the Wolf Packs in U-Boat leader sound like a frustrating crap shoot.

I will admit that Gato Leader now has me wondering if I would like Silent War.
 
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Barry Miller
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Octarine8 wrote:
I will admit that Gato Leader now has me wondering if I would like Silent War.

Depending on your budget, there's definitely room for both! Silent War is more of a strategic game than Gato Leader. In SW, you're commanding the entire Pacific submarine fleet - not only a squadron as you do in GL. Silent War is also scenario based, with each scenario having its own victory conditions - usually based on tonnage sunk, but also some other goals may be included in addition to tonnage sunk.

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Squidley Inkjet
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Octarine8 wrote:
I'm not sure why, but this one was more of a draw for me than U-Boat Leader. Maybe it's because you generally don't hear much about any WWII subs that aren't German...?


I sure did when I was a kid.

You may enjoy reading the books




or perhaps the movie,




If you enjoy the supernatural, I also recommend the book



and the unrelated movie

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Dan Beckler
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I think you are spot-on with your review. Exact same experiences with the rulebook & reference sheets, as well as the same feeling of difficulty compared to TAL and HL.

If you don't mind me elaborating a bit on your points:

Games of this type have to find a balance between "realism" and "gameplay/fun", and it seems that GL edges closer to realism - this manifests as random sub loses & rapid stress accumulation.

It's certainly not fun when you lose a sub to an event card / bad die roll, but that kinda thing happened - many subs left port and didn't arrive in their patrol zone - causes unknown.

Also, you're right in that the stress buildup is real and daunting, and is brutal upon lower-experience subs & crews. You're not able to protect your Greenies like you can with TAL, but such a sub won't stay Green for long if it makes it home from the first patrol.

Neither of those are thins are necessarily a negative for me, but I admit I had to adjust my expectations a bit from HL & TAL.

One further remark...

I love that the game gives you a number of meaningful choices, both at the strategic / operational deployment level, as well as at the tactical level. This is where some of the "gameplay / fun" elements gets their due over "realism".

Great review!


Edit - typos
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Andrew P
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wedgeantilles1971 wrote:
I think you are spot-on with your review. Exact same experiences with the rulebook & reference sheets, as well as the same feeling of difficulty compared to TAL and HL.

If you don't mind me elaborating a bit on your points:

Games of this type have to find a balance between "realism" and "gameplay/fun", and it seems that GL edges closer to realism - this manifests as random sub loses & rapid stress accumulation.

It's certainly not fun when you lose a sub to an event card / bad die roll, but that kinda thing happened - many subs left port and didn't arrive in their patrol zone - causes unknown.

Also, you're right in that the stress buildup is real and daunting, and is brutal upon lower-experience subs & crews. You're not able to protect your Greenies like you can with TAL, but such a sub won't stay Green for long if it makes it home from the first patrol.

Neither of those are thins are necessarily a negative for me, but I admit I had to adjust my expectations a bit from HL & TAL.

One further remark...

I love that the game gives you a number of meaningful choices, both at the strategic / operational deployment level, as well as at the tactical level. This is where some of the "gameplay / fun" elements gets their due over "realism".

Great review!


Edit - typos



Thanks! I totally agree with your elaboration. cool
 
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Florent Leguern
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Fun and realism are hard concepts to balance, and I think that your review of Gato Leader made me consider getting it laugh I can also add that I love how DVG managed to balance the balance of simulation in this game : you still have meaningful decisions to make, unlike (I gathered) in Silent Victory: U.S. Submarines in the Pacific, 1941-45 for example.

It's a good game to satisfy a desire for fun and for realism. Thanks for your review cool
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