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Subject: Short review based on 5(?) plays back to back with friends. rss

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Ashish Nair
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So I just played Captain Sonar yesterday at both 3 players (trial, turn-based game after we learned the rules well), and 8 players (4 games back to back).

I have to say, for me, the game lived up to the hype. It was engaging, fast-paced, and tense throughout. No role seemed really less involved than the others, and they all felt quite different with regards to what they required of the players. The game led rise to many great 'combo plays', a great example being when the radio operator was sure of where the opposing team was, and the captain sees a clear set of moves forward, orchestrating with the first mate and engineer to torpedo the enemy before they move to far away - just fantastic moments like this.

Real-time is TENSE (and I love it for that, but for others it was a bit draining after a few plays), and communication is most certainly the name of the game. I think the First Mate is potentially the hardest role to really come to grips with because of how easy it is to not communicate well with the Engineer and Captain, leading to a stressed Captain trying to talk to the engineer directly, leaving the First Mate feeling like they don't have much to do. For that reason, I feel six players could be just as good as eight, with the Captain also playing the First Mate. Ideally, a great First Mate really makes the Captain's role easier, but also should be proactive in using Drone and Sonar so as to aid the Radio Operator frequently.

Turn-based play was surprisingly good, and I would happily play and recommend it, even with lower player counts. Tension is still there, and it feels like a much more interesting and involved game of Battleship (I do just like real-time more though). Since I taught the game and played the Captain a few times, I felt that 2v2 would work just as well in real-time if you knew the roles well, though it would much more a battle of wits than a game that emphasises communication.

I feel like I've just scratched the surface given the different strategies I haven't tried, the maps, different player counts, etc., but honestly I think this game is great, deserving of the praise it's getting, and from what I experienced will work well at a range of player counts and thus could get to the table a lot more often than I originally thought. Having turn-based play allows for a less draining experience, and thus adds to the flexibility of the game and to the types of people that can enjoy it. Really glad I got it and looking forward to more plays.

(Edited for clarity).
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