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Charles Ting
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Is Gato/U-Boat Leader simply not as good as The Hunters/Silent Victory that everyone prefers the latter, and until now these forums are still rather quiet with no reviews, videos, etc? I'm choosing between the two theaters (and Tiger Leader).
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Ernie Olsen
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I'm dying to review U-Boat Leader 2nd edition but, alas, I'm still waiting for my copy from the Kickstarter Promo up here in Canada.
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Ryan
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I would give it some time as the game only recently came out. That and many copies (mine included) were delivered to the wrong address, necessitating a second copy to be shipped along with an associated delay.

Am mostly through the rules with the components sorted. Just waiting for some time to finally play. My first impression after reading the rulebook is that this will offer a different experience than The Hunters/Silent Victory and probably shouldn't be an apples to apples comparison - though it will be valuable to discuss their similarities/differences.

Though anyone who's played a Leader game know they are more "arcade" games than simulation wargames, I have been impressed to read all the little period elements that DVG added to the game play to make the experience more authentic of the period/setting. It's obviously not a simulation as Silent Victory is, but there are lots of elements included that should increase the immersion factor.

If I can dedicate some time to play soon, I will be happy to share my thoughts here.
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Joseph Propati
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Ryanmobile wrote:
I would give it some time as the game only recently came out. That and many copies (mine included) were delivered to the wrong address, necessitating a second copy to be shipped along with an associated delay.

Am mostly through the rules with the components sorted. Just waiting for some time to finally play. My first impression after reading the rulebook is that this will offer a different experience than The Hunters/Silent Victory and probably shouldn't be an apples to apples comparison - though it will be valuable to discuss their similarities/differences.

Though anyone who's played a Leader game know they are more "arcade" games than simulation wargames, I have been impressed to read all the little period elements that DVG added to the game play to make the experience more authentic of the period/setting. It's obviously not a simulation as Silent Victory is, but there are lots of elements included that should increase the immersion factor.

If I can dedicate some time to play soon, I will be happy to share my thoughts here.


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Charles Ting
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I'm not a history guy and I don't know much about WW2 submarine war. So out of curiosity I wonder why it seems one can always find documentaries/read books on the Atlantic U- boat war whereas the Pacific War mostly emphasizes on the general naval/entire war?
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Jeff Fike
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I would venture a guess that uboats almost collapsed an entire nation, while on the pacific side, subs were not as prolific due to a huge Pacific Ocean and they did get prizes but were nowhere as impactful as carriers, who get all the attention.
 
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Paul Dodds
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I've posted a couple of entries in the Soliatiare Games on Your Table Geeklist for this game. I've copied my thoughts here in the hope that they might help. It's definitely not a review!

It's a very different type of game from Hunters/Silent Victory really only sharing a theme. So as Ryan pointed out it is tricky to make any comparisons.

My First Entry after a couple of missions
I enjoyed my game of Gato Leader. Like all the DVG Leader series games I've played I don't think you should approach these games expecting a detailed or highly realistic simulation - there are plenty of other war games that do that - but think of them more as popcorn munching big budget action films! They don't demand too much of your time to play or too much effort to learn the rules, but are generally really good fun, in a whoosh/kaboom/eat lead! kind of way.

The game uses a nebulous concept of time in that you keep moving and dealing with contacts until you decide to send a sub to port which then ends the patrol, and you get a certain number of patrols depending on scenario and desired game length. As a result the temptation is to cherry pick your contacts, which would be a little too gamey. However, as I quickly found out, the Event deck is nicely constructed to prevent this type of play. While a sub is at sea you have to draw a number of Event cards as specified by the sea area it locates, and the number of cards very depending on where the sub is located. Most of these cards represent the pressures of being at sea for long periods of time so if you sit around too long waiting for the tastiest targets you'll have so much Stress that the sub will be unusable. Once the crew becomes Unfit you can't even search for contacts anymore! It's obviously very difficult to reduce stress in a tin can in the middle of the vastness of the Pacific Ocean so one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game was trying to maximise a sub's performance while doing what I could to control the stress of the crew.

The drafting process is a little more straightforward as there as no Leaders only subs to select, which is a bit of a shame as I do enjoy that aspect in Leader games. Nevertheless there are plenty of tactical decisions to be made when attacking convoys. As the rule book nicely summarises: "Gato Leader is different from the Air Leader games. In the Air Leader games, you get a target, then carefully arm your aircraft with the best choice of weapons needed to destroy that target. In Gato Leader, you get weapons, then select the best choice of targets to attack with those weapons." I enjoyed that difference.

So I had fun with it and will definitely play it some more. It's already clear that it won't knock Thunderbolt Apache off the top spot as my favourite Leader game, but it all comes together in a much more coherent way than Tiger Leader did for me.

My second entry after playing the linked campaigns
I've been having fun with Gato Leader and do I find the battles on the tactical map to be quite tense affairs. Playing a linked campaign did however throw a few niggles for me. The first is that once your crews become skilled the best tactic available is to sink the Escorts first, which is not difficult with a good sub or two, and then because you can maintain speed with the convoy and can keep reloading with no Escorts to worry about, then just pick everything off. Sinking entire convoys becomes the norm surprisingly quickly in the linked campaign game. This is actually vital in the later scenarios that require some big VP totals for victory but over a course of a linked campaign it becomes very samey.

Some subs seem to get promoted very quickly. For example I started with Silversides at Green. It needs 2XP for Trained, 5 for Veteran and 5 for Ace. That's 12XP and with most merchant ships offering 2-3XP it doesn't take long to reach Ace. Over a linked campaign that becomes an issue because maintaining 4 Aces subs each campaign, as I was, doesn't leave you any SO points for anything else. Not being able to purchase a Forward Operating Base in the Setting Sun scenario makes it very difficult.

DVG are well known for not putting much thought into linked campaign games. At least Gato Leader offers a little more than just "play the scenarios in chronological order" of some of their other titles, but some kind of overall assessment for the end of the campaign would have been nice. What does my two Great, one Good and one Average actually mean?

All of which ends up with me not really enjoying the linked campaign game and I wouldn't recommend it. Playing the campaigns individually is a much more enjoyable way of playing Gato Leader in my opinion. I think I've played enough to know that this game is a keeper as I can certainly see me wanting to crack it out from time-to-time but I shall definitely just be playing one campaign when I do.
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Jim Ransom
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Quote:
I'm not a history guy and I don't know much about WW2 submarine war. So out of curiosity I wonder why it seems one can always find documentaries/read books on the Atlantic U- boat war whereas the Pacific War mostly emphasizes on the general naval/entire war?


Ahem...
Attention on Deck!

Best complete histories of the submarine war in the Pacific...
Silent Victory by Clay Blair
US Submarine Operations in World War II By Theodore Roscoe

Excellent first person accounts by US WW2 Submariners...
Clear the Bridge by Richard H. O'Kane
Wahoo by Richard H. O'Kane
Thunder Below! by Eugene Fluckey
Submarine! by Edward Beach
Salt and Steel by Edward Beach
Through Hell and Deep Water by Charles Lockwood
Sink 'em All by Charles Lockwood
Silent Running by James Calvert
Wake of the Wahoo by Forrest Sterling
We Were Pirates: A Torpedoman's Pacific War by Robert Schultz
War in the Boats by William Ruhe
Pigboat 39 by Bobbette Gugliotta
Submarine Commander by Paul Schratz
Take Her Deep by I. J. Galantin
Submarine Diary by Corwin Mendenhall
Clean Sweep by Roy Davenport
Luck of the Draw by Kenneth Ruiz
Shinano! by Joseph Enright
Nothing Friendly in the Vicinity by Claude Conner

Others...
Escape from the Deep by Alex Kershaw
No Ordinary Joes by Larry Colton
Unrestricted Warfare by James deRose
The Galloping Ghost: The Extraordinary Life of Submarine Legend Eugene Fluckey by Carl LaVO
Slade Cutter: Submarine Warrior by Carl LaVO
Find 'em, Chase 'em, Sink 'em: The Mysterious Loss of USS Gudgeon by Mike Ostlund
The Depths of Courage by Flint Whitlock
US Subs Down Under (Brisbane 1942-45) by David Jones
Spadefish by Stephen Moore
Wolfpack by Steven Smith
Death at a Distance: The Loss of the Legendary USS Harder by Michael Sturma
Cruisers for Breakfast by John Mansfield
Gallant Lady:The Story of USS Archerfish by Ken Henry and Don Keith
The Last Patrol by Henry Holmes
War Beneath the Waves by Don Keith
Fremantle's Submarines by Michael Sturma
The Bravest Man: The Story of Richard O'Kane by William Tuohy
Silversides by Robert Trumbull
Bowfin by Edwin Hoyt
Final Dive by Rick Kline
Batfish by Houghton Lowder
The USS Flier by Michael Sturma
Overdue and Presumed Lost: The Story of USS Bullhead by Martin Sheridan
Back from the Deep: The Strange Story of Sister Subs USS Squalus and USS Sculpin by Carl LaVO
Presumed Lost by Stephen Moore
Fresh Water Submarines (The Manitowoc Story) by William Nelson
A Tale of Two Subs by Jonathon McCullough
Red Scorpion: The War Patrols of USS Rasher by Peter Sasgen
United States Submarines by Robert Barnes
They Fought Under the Sea edited by Navy Times

And of course, for the fiction readers...
Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward Beach
Dust on the Sea by Edward Beach




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Dan
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I own all the submarine games: Hunters/Silent Victory and U-boat/Gato Leader. Its tough to compare them, they're all great games. I'll try to give a quick & dirty comparison.

Hunters/Silent Victory

scope: individual submarine
goal: survive

Best Part: Seeing your boat and crew improve over the war.

worst part: sometimes you feel 'along for the ride' with dice and charts determining the fate of your patrol.


U-boat/Gato Leader

scope: flotilla, about 3-6 submarines
goal: score

Best Part: The convoy cards often have unique conditions, making the battle interesting often forcing you change your strategy.

worst part: unlucky random events can really dampen your campaign.


If you really try to boil it down, U-Boat/Gato Leader is a resource management game. The resource being torpedoes and stress.

Hunters/Silent Victory is a risk management game. Selecting attack ranges and evasive reactions are risk mitigation techniques.
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Ryan
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schmoo34 wrote:
I would venture a guess that uboats almost collapsed an entire nation, while on the pacific side, subs were not as prolific due to a huge Pacific Ocean and they did get prizes but were nowhere as impactful as carriers, who get all the attention.

I think US/Allied submarine operations in the Pacific had far more impact than this. In fact, they probably accomplished far more than the US carriers did to reduce the air/sea/land combat capability of the Japanese. Their impact was more delayed than was hoped for, but after individual (mostly newer, wartime skippers) captains began changing their tactics and the torpedo problems were slowly improved upon they took an increasing and devastating toll on the Japanese merchant fleet.

But yeah, I think most hold the carriers to be more sexy, for whatever that is worth.
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Dan
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Actually, US Submarines sunk 7 Japanese Aircraft Carriers during the war. Not only were they priority targets for obvious reasons, but they were easier to take down than Battleships or cruisers because they were slower, less armored and were laden with bombs & aviation fuel.



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Barry Miller
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I own: Silent War, Silent Victory: U.S. Submarines in the Pacific, 1941-45, and now, Gato Leader

I like Gato Leader a lot! I also have Thunderbolt Apache Leader and after only one play of GL, I'd put it on par with TAL! Plus the rulebook for Gato Leader is much better than previous DVG games.

But back to the OP's question... it's hard to compare both Silent Victory and Gato Leader... it's like comparing apples and oranges. That's the real reason I have both ... they each scratch a different itch...

Gato Leader models submarine operations mostly at the Operational Level of war.
Silent Victory models submarine operations at the personal and Tactical Level of war.

So the two games present two very different experiences. While Gato Leader does present you with individual submarine combat, it's no where's near the level as presented by Silent Victory. And while Silent Victory presents you with the experience of commanding (only) a single submarine as its focus, it denies you the greater operational command decisions that Gato Leader provides. Then there's Silent War, which models the Strategic Level of submarine warfare!

Which is why I have all three games in my collection.

My one game of Gato Leader so far, was while traveling recently. Soon I hope to write some comments about it and provide some pictures!

Edit: I'll add as an afterthought that I'm not sure how much is gained by roping Gato Leader in with player's experiences of U-Boat Leader. U-Boat Leader was by a different designer.

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Andrew Wallwork
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Whatever you do don't waste your money on Tiger Leader. Not without first doing some serious research into the game anyway

charlesting wrote:
Is Gato/U-Boat Leader simply not as good as The Hunters/Silent Victory that everyone prefers the latter, and until now these forums are still rather quiet with no reviews, videos, etc? I'm choosing between the two theaters (and Tiger Leader).
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Mike Wall
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If you go to the site A Wargamer's Needful Things I have published a review of U-Boat Leader there.

Gato Leader apart from a few minor differences [slightly different Special Missions and, mainly, the Dud Torpedo Chart] has identical sequence of play and mechanics, so I don't intend to write a separate review. However, I hope to publish a detailed AAR of a short campaign in a few weeks.
 
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Ernie Olsen
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bgm1961 wrote:


Edit: I'll add as an afterthought that I'm not sure how much is gained by roping Gato Leader in with player's experiences of U-Boat Leader. U-Boat Leader was by a different designer.



The 2nd edition of U-Boat Leader is a lot different than the original in terms of the rules and counters.
 
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Barry Miller
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Mellonhead3013 wrote:
bgm1961 wrote:


Edit: I'll add as an afterthought that I'm not sure how much is gained by roping Gato Leader in with player's experiences of U-Boat Leader. U-Boat Leader was by a different designer.



The 2nd edition of U-Boat Leader is a lot different than the original in terms of the rules and counters.

Is the 2nd Edition of U-Boat Leader also designed by Dave Schueler, as was the 1st edition? If so, then the two games are still designed by two different designers. Although they share a common system, the fact that two different people designed each game should count for something, when comparing the two, right?

 
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Ernie Olsen
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bgm1961 wrote:
[q="Mellonhead3013"][q="bgm1961"]
Is the 2nd Edition of U-Boat Leader also designed by Dave Schueler?


Yes, U-Boat leader was designed by Dave Schueler too. One of the complaints about it (I admit I have never played it) was the simple you-get-stress-until-you-die damage model. Judging by the rules, the 2nd Edition has a more in-depth chit-pull system where damage is done to different parts of the sub. I could be wrong, but I believe this makes it almost identical to Gato Leader.
 
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Mike Wall
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As I've mentioned above, the 2nd edition U-Boat Leader rules and Gato Leader rules are identical, except for a very few differences that reflect history.

Most important is that the Gato rules have a table to roll on for Dud Torpedoes [in the earlier Campaigns [this is quite significant] and there is also a new rule that allows you to reload torpedoes on the Tactical Display. Instead of taking an action you reload [Trained 1 torp, Veteran 2 Torps and Ace 3 torps.] Other than one or two different Special Missions that's about it.

Oh and, of course, they have printed the backs of all the Ship cards correctly, which was the main mess up with U-Boat 2nd edition.

Also, the Tactical Display Board has sharper, clearer definition and the Help Sheet board has got the correct new sequence of Combat, not the misprinted old system from U-Boat 1st edition.
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Thom Walla
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vyrago wrote:
Actually, US Submarines sunk 7 Japanese Aircraft Carriers during the war. Not only were they priority targets for obvious reasons, but they were easier to take down than Battleships or cruisers because they were slower, less armored and were laden with bombs & aviation fuel.

Actually 8. One the Akitsu Maru sunk November 15, 1944 by Queenfish was an escort carrier operated by the Army. And true four were slower being escort carriers but the other four were fleet carriers that had the speed to keep up with the cruisers and battleships.
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