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Subject: Still don't get how this game works for the players rss

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Eurojuegos Buenos Aires
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The app sounds amazing, doing all the fancy stuff, great. But I still wonder what I, as the player, will do in each position. Let me see if I'm getting it right. Take every sentence as if it ends with a question mark.

For what I've read so far, you have 4 cards in your player board that portray the part of the crew under your command. Each card has 3 stats, different for each individual character.

Each card has a geometric symbol matching the base of its miniature. These miniatures (in 4 colors for each player) go into the main board (the submarine). All information is open at all time for all players.

The Captain is in charge of ordering these minis to move from one part of the sub to another. I assume is not the Captain who is actually doing the moving of the minis, but ordering each player to contribute people to the task at hand? Who decides what minis move where? I sense this hand management / resources allocation may be a good part of each player's decision.

Doing so spends fatigue points (action-points allowance) that are tracked in the Fatigue Track by the First Officer. If the Captain moves crew around a lot, the fatigue track reaches the 8-10, 12-14 or 16-18 positions and may trigger low morale events (cards). The app tells you when/if you do that?

You move minis around to address events (cards). The events are cards with simple extra rules, no flavor text or images, and a couple of icons for the "trouble" tokens you must place in certain areas of the sub or over particular character cards. These are drawn at random points by the app? They are also drawn if the app tells you to during combat. So announcing this would be a Navigator's administrative task, but not his decision.

The navigator also has to look at the periscope view in the app and figure out the course of the contact and the vector for interception. More math than decision, but it's a challenge, that's what he does. The player also does the input in the app.

Once in a while, at the First Officer command, shift changes and everyone flips their cards, so the other characters become active. This resets the fatigue track in the FO player board back to 0? What is the cost of doing this? Time? Tasks in progress are reset? Figuring the best time to do this is one of the most important decisions (recommendation) this player has to make?

Finally, the engineer has to ready torpedoes for the navigator, assigning people to do this and fix other stuff broken by events.

Overall, it looks like everyone is handling administrative tasks but doesn't take many decisions. The challenge would be the coordination in real time, to figure out together what you HAVE to do. Much like puzzle solving by committee, and very prone to alfa player effect. Prioritizing the problem to address might be the key decision to take, so it looks more like a "group reaction to external input" dynamic than of planning or strategizing (sp?).

Comments? please
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Artur Salwarowski
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Hi!

You got it right to a certain degree, but a few things demand clarification:

Yes, it is the Captain who commands the crew, but each order has an officer (player) assigned to it, and it is that player who is responsible for making sure that appropriately skilled crew members assume the right positions in the shortest amount of time. These can be his own crew members, but other players' crew members as well. It is, of course, at each player's discretion whether they agree to allocate their men to the task, so you can imagine the table talk that ensues with limited time. The Captain, of course, may step in and resolve any disputes. Once the guys are in position, the First Officer may confirm that in the app, and only then is the order carried out in full.

Another thing is that the Captain (and not the First Officer) oversees the order track and pays the costs (both movement, but particular actions as well: using the periscope, changing the course, adjusting the throttle on the engines, etc.). He is the top part of the chain of command that we have in the game, but does not take away from the other players' initiative, or decision-making. The Captain might decide to turn westward north of the Orkneys, but it is the Navigator's duty to figure out the course, plot it out, and choose the right quadrant to make the turn at the right time. Same applies when the Captain says 'full ahead', and it is the Chief Engineer's duty to get the guys in position. He might have guys fixing stuff at the moment, so he has to decide whether to halt the repairs and get it done hiself, or talk to other players to help him out (his best position would be to have them on station and awaiting orders whenever possible, but he has other things to do). Of course, if the Captain is smart, then he will tell him to get ready in due time... But if the Captain gets caught with his pants down by an air patrol on the surface, then well... It's the Captain's fault

Therefore, apart from particular orders, the Captain can also order the crew to assume battle stations (the periscope, the Torpedo Data Computer and the torpedo tubes), or manoeuvering stations (the helm, all four engines and observers on deck if the sub is on the surface). These configurations allow him to have the crew react faster to sudden threats, and also to save him precious orders on the order track. This is because he pays one order for each crew mobilization (regardless of how many guys move), so if he thinks three moves ahead, then he can get all the guys in position with one order, and then just pay one order for each of their actions (instead of paying 2 orders per action - one to get the guys into position, and another one for the particular action).

This is all not so difficult to handle provided you have plenty of time, but this is where the app kicks in with its unexpected events. And these are much more than just the cards. The event cards are just a fraction of all the things than can occur during a mission. Most of the developing situation is handled by the app. So, whereas the cards contain less troublesome stuff (diseases, news from the front, or even good things like the Cap's birthday), then again the app has lots of far more dangerous stuff that it can throw at you at the least expected moment.

Beginning with routine maintenance tasks (disregard these, and things will start breaking down), through more serious failures, or even dangerous environmental effects (crucial parts breaking down, fire, water, gas, and electrical hazards), and finishing with hull breaches, when the submarine is faced with impending annihilation - these are all introdced by the app, and often result from the sub's interaction with enemy vessels (and yes, let's not forget about aircraft).

So, as I've mentioned, the event cards are just a small portion of the mix. And to answer your question - the app has nothing to do with the order / morale track. This is a totally cardboard feature, as we intended from the start to have all mechanical and external subjects in the app, while all the crew and morale-related stuff in traditional boadgame format. Of course, one cannot function without the other, hence the close interrelation between the board and the app.

And yes, the 'trouble' tokens are generated by the app. Some of them randomly, but most because of sustained damage or neglected maintenance. So it is the First Officer's duty to inform the Chief Engineer what happened and where, and it is the Chief Engineer's task to keep track of them, lest they become more and more dangerous.

Next, it is the First Officer that does the input in the app and it is he, who informs the navigator about the contacts. The contacts are then recorded by the Navigator, and have to be tracked (their position changes in real time, so updates should be made regularly). The navigator then calculates the intercept vector - this is done by rotating the map disc so that the course of the sub converges on the course of the target, ideally at 90 degrees (the perfect broadside). That is, if the Captain decides to attack Yet, there are many variables for the navigator to scrutinize. The distance, the angle between the two courses, the speed of the sub and the target... So, there might be situations where the Cap thinks it is a great idea to attack, and then the navigator might tell him that it will be way to difficult, or that the situation might take us too close to enemy coast, etc.

Next: as far as changing the shifts is concerned, then each sailor has three different skills and each of them can perform two or three actions (unless they are sick or wounded). When they go to rest, each sailor discards one fatigue token. So, you change the shifts to let the guys have some rest, and pushing them to their limit will cause them to be tired when they wake up the next time around. Be a good officer, treat your guys well, and they will wake up fresh and funky

This also intertwines with the order and morale track. The shift changes every six hours, and the order track (the top part) resets every twelve hours. The morale track never resets, but it can go back a notch or two: some positive events, captain's special cards, or food (the Navigator's responsibility) can cause it to improve if things start looking bad. Sinking ships also has a good effect on morale, as you might have guessed. And, as far as tasks in progress are concerned in relation to watch changes, then they are taken over by the guys starting the new watch (you update the skill levels in the app, if necessary).

Therefore, it is not the First Officer's decision to change the shift or reset the order track - that happens regularly and is triggered by the app. Consequently, the Captain has to keep track of how the crew is doing, and perhaps let them catch some breath before committing to an attack. If the crew is exhausted, then the Captain may as well stalk the target a little bit longer, and let the guys rest in the meantime. Once the new shift assumes ther posts, he is ready to rock with a (hopefully) fresh and well-rested crew.

You also mentioned the Chief Engineer: his most iportant function is not only to fix stuff, but also have his guys operate the engines when the sub is manoeuvering. The thing is that not only his guys handle the repairs, but he has to ask other players to help him as well! And the repairs make a lot of mess with crew positioning - especially when you've got a few different things to fix and you need to drag some really crucial crew members away from their optimal positions.

Thus, to answer your final question: Yes, the decision-making is centralized on the strategic level. It is the Captain who has to plan and issue orders. It is at his discretion whether he consults these with the remaining players, but a good Captain always lends an ear to constructive critisim . Then, once an order is issued, the Captain no longer has any control over how it is carried out (other than resolving disuptes). At this point, the officer who is responsible for that particular order is tasked with figuring out how to go about it (which often involves communicating with other players, or problem solving (getting the intercept vector right, deciding who to heal, choosing what to fix, how to get the most out of each crew positioning, etc.).

To give you a more detailed breakdown, I would say that each and every player has a good deal of planning and strategizing to handle, albeit on different levels. The Captain works a lot on the strategic level (how to complete the mission and obtain the best score while staying alive), but he commands at the tactical level when combat ensues (and at the operational level to get his guys around, like everybody else

The Navigator and the First Officer have a lot to do on the tactical level (observation, positioning, approach angles), but they have to think on the strategic level too (they manage food and medical supplies, which are non-replenishable).

Last, but not least, is the Chief Engineer, who works primarily on the operational level: what to fix, when is it really necessary etc., but as the situation unfolds, he has to see the big picture as well (damage situations escalating over time make long-term planning a must).

Plus, remember that every player has to make decisions on the operational level when managing their crew members.

Well, that hopefully clears things up. And if you worry about the alpha male issue, then that's why we came up with the chain of command in the first place. Just let your alpha male play as the Captain - he will be more than happy giving orders, and feeling in control. However, he won't be able to tell you how to do your stuff. First, because there simply isn't enough time to do that, and second - he has to think three moves ahead and be ready for any threats that might spring up almost any time.

And there you have it We will be finally making some gameplay videos and tutorials soon, so I do sincerely hope they will shed more light on how the game plays. Our intention is: easy gameplay system with demanding problems to solve over limited time. Maybe you can visit us in Essen to give it a try? It'd be great if you could!
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Eurojuegos Buenos Aires
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Thank you Artur for putting up that extensive reply. It's unlikely that I'll be able to make it to Essen, but I'll be anxiously waiting for those gameplay videos.
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Kris Ardianto
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No rulebook available to download?
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Artur Salwarowski
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The rulebook is ready (at least for this stage of game development). It will be published for everyone to see on campaign launch.
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