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Subject: How does the Hull Breach mechanic work? rss

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Bo Ejdesgaard
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Dear designers

First of all: I wish you all the best of luck with this project! It's very ambitious and like many others I hope you succeed in making a good board game. I've played lots of hours in Silent Hunter III (with Grey Wolves mod) and my grandfather survived the war as a submariner for the Kriegsmarine (my mother was born in 1946). So my interest in your game is great and if I could I would really love to playtest your game to make it as great as possible.

But anyway, I'm a bit curious about the Hull Breach puzzle mechanic. It's briefly shown in the Chief Engineer video. I'm just wondering about the long term replayability of the 16 pieces included in the game.
Could you tell a little bit more about this feature?

Best regards
Bo

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Artur Salwarowski
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Sure!

The hull breach puzzle is made up of 16 pieces showing the technical view of the VIIC. Each section is made up of 2 pieces, and the submarine is divided into a total of 8 sections for the purpose of the puzzle (including the watertight sections at the very extremities of bow and aft that sailors don't go to).

The puzzle pieces are to be flipped face down and shuffled at the beginning of the game. When the U-boat sustains critical damage, then you have one minute twenty seconds to complete three sections of the puzzle (the section where the hull breach occured, and its two neighboring sections). Sealing the breach requires five sailors and is handled using the repair order. What is more, time and game action DOES NOT stop for the duration of the hull breach.

If the puzzle is completed in time, the First Officer can tell the app that the breach has been sealed. If the players see that they will not be able to seal the breach in time, then they must evacuate and seal the section with watertight bulkheads (all sailors remaining in that section are KIA).

A second flooded section means game over (hull damage beyond repair, submarine taking on water and going to the bottom).

Therefore, whenever a hull breach occurs, you must first evade further attacks, if possible (dive if you were being shot at on the surface, or try sneaking out of the killzone if attacked with depth charges). Once your evasive maneuver is in progress, you must quickly muster 5 men to start sealing the breach (this is the responsibility of the Chief Engineer).

Once sealing has started, you must use the remaining time to complete the puzzle (all players help the Chief Engineer, it is a group effort!).

Last, but not least, each hull breach will give you less time to complete the puzzle. So if you keep playing recklessly, then it will become harder and harder, so even if you puzzle skills are phenomenal, you will end up with just a few seconds for it, and then - good luck laugh
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Bo Ejdesgaard
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Thx for the reply

Maybe I just need to see a video, but I just think that after x numbers of plays that the puzzle will get easier? I can imagine that the time factor will have a big impact though, but experience in solving the puzzle will make it easier over time right?

Anyways, looking forward to your kickstarter campaign
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DrMercy wrote:
Thx for the reply

Maybe I just need to see a video, but I just think that after x numbers of plays that the puzzle will get easier? I can imagine that the time factor will have a big impact though, but experience in solving the puzzle will make it easier over time right?

Anyways, looking forward to your kickstarter campaign

Indeed, I'm afraid the challenging of this puzzle will decrease rapidly.

Compared to the puzzles proposed into Mansion of Madness, which are always random drawing of tiles to correctly assembled them, the puzzle in UBOOT implies than any tiles always connect to same tiles among all plays.

So, the only challenge seems to quickly identify the tiles once face up then to rapidly connect them.

Maybe a bit weak challenge as soon as the second play ?
 
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Chris Sauer
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I agree. I think the puzzle is an interesting and very interactive way to handle the hull breach, but I also wish that it is design somehow so that it keeps puzzling throughout the life of the game.

The easy way would be to add it to the app....always randomised etc. But not really as interactive or as fitting for a board game.
Another way could be to at least have maybe a few less pieces but double sided (one side with similar but bogus information) and maybe 2 sets of puzzles (A & B) so that you never get used to a particular set...that way it will be much more confusing and yet not impossible.
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Wolf
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Not a fan of this mechanic. It seems completly pointless, its neither thematic nor adds anything interesting from gameplay perspective. Its just a filler to simulate that you have to waste some time. It will most probably get tedious after couple of plays and it doesnt even offer anything interesting to begin with. Poor choice imo but its not gonna matter all that much anyway since I assume you shouldn't be getting hull breaches often.

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Artur Salwarowski
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The hull breach puzzle mechanic is relatively young and, as all other things that the community doesn't like, it can still be tailored in accordance with the proposed changes.

I am not saying that it is the perfect solution, but it achieves two things:

-it presents the Chief Engineer with a stressful challenge whenever a critical hit is sustained
-it requires good knowledge of the U-boat arrangement

When evaluating the difficulty of the puzzle, please bear in mind that it requires 5 repair crew. This is A LOT. Heck, this is more than a single player's whole crew. So, no only do you need to muster them quickly in the appropriate section, but you also need to hide from the danger that caused the hull breach in the first place!

Furthermore, the guys working on the hull breach are carrying out a repair order, and only the Chief Engineer's guys have that skill icon. It means that any other player's sailor that participates in sealing the breach will have two of their action slots used up. Therefore, sealing a breach may exhaust the crew quite considerably, and it is quite probable that they were already tired in the first place...

All in all, please remember that there are very many different factors contributing to the situation in UBOOT. A hull breach happens when the U-boat is under attack, and there might already be different crises in effect due to previous hits sustained within a single attack run.

The hull breach puzzle seems easy, sure. But it is not so anymore when you first have to dive to avoid more damage, check for wounds because of an attack that occured just before the breach, mobilize enough repair crew to the breached section, and THEN complete the puzzle which is not easy to solve if you don't know what's in what section. Tauchzelle 3?That's under the control room. Akkuraum 2? That's goes into the officer's quarters. But if you don't know that, most of the puzzle pieces look WAY too similar

But sure, we will gladly add more difficulty / random elements to this game mechanic anyway. Actually, I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic to improve the game and make it even more enjoyable

One thing we thought about would be to distribute the puzzle pieces among all players and they would have to pass them to the Chief Engineer, making the whole process even more difficult.
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James Moore
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hatedriven wrote:
Not a fan of this mechanic. It seems completly pointless, its neither thematic nor adds anything interesting from gameplay perspective. Its just a filler to simulate that you have to waste some time. It will most probably get tedious after couple of plays and it doesnt even offer anything interesting to begin with. Poor choice imo but its not gonna matter all that much anyway since I assume you shouldn't be getting hull breaches often.



And some who get frustrated with the jigsaw puzzle may just be tempted to click "repair completed" and be done with it. Perhaps some kind of card system instead?
A deck of engineer cards with a limited number of repairs. Once used, the card would no longer be available (to simulate limited amount of repair materials onboard; clamps, banding etc).
Cardboard counter repair tools would be needed as well, with again a limited number (which repair do you dedicate them to, if there is multiple damage). Just some thoughts..

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Jim Johnson
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capn_tucker wrote:
hatedriven wrote:
Not a fan of this mechanic. It seems completly pointless, its neither thematic nor adds anything interesting from gameplay perspective. Its just a filler to simulate that you have to waste some time. It will most probably get tedious after couple of plays and it doesnt even offer anything interesting to begin with. Poor choice imo but its not gonna matter all that much anyway since I assume you shouldn't be getting hull breaches often.



And some who get frustrated with the jigsaw puzzle may just be tempted to click "repair completed" and be done with it. Perhaps some kind of card system instead?
A deck of engineer cards with a limited number of repairs. Once used, the card would no longer be available (to simulate limited amount of repair materials onboard; clamps, banding etc).
Cardboard counter repair tools would be needed as well, with again a limited number (which repair do you dedicate them to, if there is multiple damage). Just some thoughts..



Interesting mechanic. The first officer could input the number of repair counters used into the app. Perhaps there could be an algorithm built in that would increase the chance of additional damage that is sustained if that same section is damaged again.

Maybe the repair counters could be of different types (maybe 3-4) types. The captain decides how many of each type are taken before leaving on patrol. And, the app could determine how many of each type will be needed to repair the hull breach. If you don’t have enough counters of the appropriate type, then the section is not repaired properly. Possible outcomes of that situation could be reduced effectiveness of the equipment in that section, reoccurrence of the leak, etc.

Just some thoughts.
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The explanations from Artur are satisfying even if not completely solving this "issue".
The point is that you will not have to resolve a hull breach every 5 minutes !

But I'm sure that picking up miscellaneous ideas from players here, it would be possible to enhance this puzzle mechanism. meeple
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Artur Salwarowski
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Mind you, there were literally TONS of other solutions along the way that we had to drop due to time constraints (either imposed on us or the IT team). I'm listing just a few below to give you an idea, please let me know what you think:

-When a breach occurs, the Chief Engineer has to play a puzzle game in the app. There is a labirynth of pipes and water is flooding everything. He has to work out which valves to turn and where to patch up the holes in the pipes to make the water stop flooding. The pipes could be modeled after the actual hydraulics installation on the VIIC.

-The Chief Engineer has to answer a series of multiple choice questions in the app that are related to the breached section. For example: 'What was the maximum depth for using the toilet?' or 'how many compressors were there in the aft section?'. If he clicks the wrong answers, then the section is flooded.

-The Chief Engineer has a paper component that we used to call 'the service book'. There are all sorts of puzzles, schematics, and questions related to the sub. The app gives him a clue where to start, and by selecting the right answers, the Chief engineer will eventually reach the answer that, when tapped into the app, will seal the breach. If he gets it wrong, then you know what happens

All of these would still include mustering the repair crew

And yes, I wanted to have limited parts from the very beginning (just as the First Officer has meds), but I couldn't convince my co-designer to go for this option.
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Wolf
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To be honest they are probably even worse than the puzzle . I am just completly against the idea of puzzle / quiz / arcade mini-game for this. What I am looking for are either making though choices under pressure or/and making some choices that will have long term consequences.

So something along the lines of what James has proposed, limited parts or something like that would make a lot more sense to me. Maybe you could use more parts to seal it quicker but then you are risking running out of parts later on.
 
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hatedriven wrote:
To be honest they are probably even worse than the puzzle . I am just completly against the idea of puzzle / quiz / arcade mini-game for this. What I am looking for are either making though choices under pressure or/and making some choices that will have long term consequences.

So something along the lines of what James has proposed, limited parts or something like that would make a lot more sense to me. Maybe you could use more parts to seal it quicker but then you are risking running out of parts later on.

What James proposed seems not really challenging : draw a card then discard it for actual repair. How this mechanism could in any way simulate the pressure of such a dangerous situation as a hull breach into a submarine ?
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Muttah wrote:

-The Chief Engineer has a paper component that we used to call 'the service book'. There are all sorts of puzzles, schematics, and questions related to the sub. The app gives him a clue where to start, and by selecting the right answers, the Chief engineer will eventually reach the answer that, when tapped into the app, will seal the breach. If he gets it wrong, then you know what happens

This sounds to me like the Trouble Procedure Guide provided to aircraft crew : I'm fine aware of aeronautic compared to submarine.

When a failure occurs aboard when on-flight, the Captain and his pilot look for the step-by-step proper procedure to follow within this guide in order to solve the issue or, at last, to prevent any stronger default and stalibize the situation.

I don't know if this has any sense for submarine situations but it could indeed be a way to solve hull breach : the app give you a specific hull breach characteristic, this characteristic leads you to the correct section of the Service Book, this section detailed a step-by-step guideline which the player should follow to repair the breach.

Let's imagine a dedicated "Repair board" with several tracks (a Hatch number track, a Floodgate number, Repair Crew #1 position number, Repair Crew #2 position...). The section dedicated to the current hull breach will say, for example :
1. Close Hatch #3 and #5.
2. Close Floodgate #1, #6 and #8.
3. Affect repair Crew #1 to repair position #5.
4. Affect repair Crew #2 to repair position #1.
...

And so the role/player in charge of repair should place cubes on correct position(s) on each corresponding tracks of the Repair board to complete the hull breach reparation.

Once all cubes are correctly placed - and within the timer - the repair is completed.

Instead of a Repair board with tracks, it could be the VIIC detailed blueprint with locations to place the matching cubes.
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Frederik
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The 'limited parts' solution is realistic, but in the end is just a matter of counting; it's not a stressful mechanic by itself. The puzzle is actually complementary, in that this recreates the hectic conditions when the hull breach occurs.

I'm fine with the puzzle!
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Dan Kudirka
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I would be against an app driven mechanic for a couple reasons.

1. To keep the board game aspect of this game, as much as possible should be completed on the table.

2. If the device is plugged in, especially for a laptop, passing it across the table to perform a time critical task might be a bit messy.


Muttah wrote:

-it presents the Chief Engineer with a stressful challenge whenever a critical hit is sustained
-it requires good knowledge of the U-boat arrangement


I like the puzzle for these reasons, but maybe it can be made more difficult to master.

Just thinking outloud:

What about doubling the number of puzzle pieces to around 32? You can make them hexes, or if that is too difficult based on UBoat schematic geometry, squares. One gets to pick five at a time out of a bowl/bag/cup and sets the pieces down they need and discard the rest. Then draw another five etc until the compartment (and adjacent) is completed.

I do like the idea about repair kits. A finite amount of supplies that would help you seal the breach. How about a few kits the Chief Engineer has on hand to help with the puzzle. These could be a simple as “wild card” pieces to be used if you can’t find the set piece you’re looking for. They are not required, and if you run out you can still save the boat. They are helpful however, especially if the Engineer is lousy at puzzles. (Maybe a nice skill to have in a Chief Engineer player).

I like the randomness of blind tile draw. You might know the boat backwards and forwards, but if you don’t get the pieces you need it can still be frantic.

Just brainstorming...
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James Moore
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Mickski wrote:
hatedriven wrote:
To be honest they are probably even worse than the puzzle . I am just completly against the idea of puzzle / quiz / arcade mini-game for this. What I am looking for are either making though choices under pressure or/and making some choices that will have long term consequences.

So something along the lines of what James has proposed, limited parts or something like that would make a lot more sense to me. Maybe you could use more parts to seal it quicker but then you are risking running out of parts later on.

What James proposed seems not really challenging : draw a card then discard it for actual repair. How this mechanism could in any way simulate the pressure of such a dangerous situation as a hull breach into a submarine ?


Was just throwing some ideas out there. The idea of solving a jigsaw puzzle within a time limit just doesn't sound good. If anything it sounds like it would be frustrating at first, and then just annoying.
The repair system The Hunters uses with dice, tables and the skill level of the engineer I thought worked very well. I know a lot of people are dice haters, but I would not have a problem with that..

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Chris Sauer
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Nah I thought some people with wargaming experience would go for dice, but for me this would completely go against the tension that the producers are trying to create.
Rolling and comparing to tables sounds wargamey, but not thematic at all.

I like the limited parts thing. It delays the tension and makes it more of a resource management minigame. But if you take too many hits and hull breaches occur too often, then you again feel the tension of how best to solve this and keep the boat going.
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Jim Johnson
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There is a mechanic in Space Cadets that might work with Uboot. The engineer draws a certain number of tiles, each side containing a colored half circle. The engineer has 30 seconds to arrange the tiles so that as many of the sides match colors as possible. At the end of the time, the number of completed circles is counted, and each other section (which is color coded to the colors on the tiles) gets a number of power points equal to the completed circles of its color.

In UB you could have maybe three or four different types of colors, say for types of malfunctions (electrical, hydraulic, plumbing, etc). When a hull breach occurs, the app will spit out a number of each type of malfunction. This represents the degree of difficulty in performing the repairs. The engineer draws a number of tiles, then has a set amount of time to arrange them to make full circles of each color equal to what the app specified. The timer could be part of the app.

Some breaches might be simple (electrical 1, hydraulic 2, plumbing 1). Others might be harder, with higher numbers, or with fewer tiles to use. This would keep a level of tension in the game, while staying a simple mechanic.
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Artur Salwarowski
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Thanks for all the input! It is certain that this mechanic will evolve, because, as previously mentioned, it is still a rather new addition to the system.

As for 'being tempted to skip the puzzle and move on', then I can say that there's a temptation to cheat with every full co-op game. I have seen countless times when (for example) upon rolling badly in Arkham Horror, players (including my wife) would say: 'okaaaay, let's just say we beat this guy'. I would then go like 'what the hell? You botched the roll, so you're going to hospital. Maybe let's just say we've won the whole game and save ourselves the time and effort'

For now, the difficulty of the puzzle relies primarily on the fact that you need to know what is where, and that with each hull breach there will be less and less time. There are different things we could do to bump up the difficulty, including the solutions that you proposed (more pieces per section, hex-shaped, double-sided with additional information, etc.).

I think that even very small adjustments could raise the difficulty level considerably. Let's say we make the tiles double-sided with the same schematic printed on them, but on different sized tiles than the particular sections should be (maybe you can't tell from the graphics we ahve shown, but there are bigger and smaller pieces in the puzzle). That would allow for situations where you find the 'right' section, but the piece does not fit in with the rest. So you would obviously need to find the same section but with the size fitting the rest. So, maybe you have already used that one and you have to disassemble what you've already got

All in all, this would force the Chief Engineer to make sure to use the 'right side' (or rather 'size') for each section. That would add another layer of necessary knowledge, such as 'no, this is not the real crew's quarters, it should be smaller than this!'.

In general, we can make it more messy in a variety of ways. What we don't want to do is to make it TOO difficult. There must be tension, but it has to be workable. All in all, it might make as a nice addition to the Chief Engineer's difficulty settings, don't you think?
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I personally don't see the problem with the puzzle itself (as originally designed). It might be getting easier with time but more and more mistakes would make it anyway critical and more time restrained.

As for people clicking on "breach repaired" because they get frustrated with puzzles as was mentioned in the thread... could be applied to the whole game. If you get frustrated to lose, you can cheat and pretend you crew members are at the right place at the right time... how would that change..

If the mechanics have to change for any reason... i really like the idea of the booklet with some puzzle to be replied in the app.

Basically something very much like "keep talking and nobody explodes" (which i love).

It would just make me wonder how would it work on lower player count (time increased..?)
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Elias Heydrich
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I like the idea but the execution is flawed, as others have pointed out. Simply put, this is going to get old very fast.

A mechanic as proposed by dakkadakka1 / Jim Johnson is the way to go. Whatever you aim for, you absolutely require the following 3 things:

* a "physical" mechanic, actions to be performed on the table with real components
* a puzzle-like nature, where there is always the possibility of success (aka absence of no-win scenario decided by chance) but the time required varies of course
* no "game mechanic degradation", aka the puzzle must not get significantly easier with player familiarty

My recommendation would be pipe- or wire-like puzzle tiles coming from a rather large deck (think Metro, Isle of Sky or even Carcassone to a degree). Basically, a connect-stuff type puzzle, with curves, turns, cut-offs, etc. The goal would be reach a certain connected length for several colored wires at once or some other well defined goal. The engineer may draw indefinite tiles but only draw one at a time before either placing it or discarding it.

A link to metro here on BGG: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/559/metro


Stressing again: Your idea is sound in principle but the puzzle, as it is now, fails hard in my humble opinion because of the degradation of this game mechanic over time. I strongly urge you to change it.

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Artur Salwarowski
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I hear ya It is clear that the hull breach mechanic needs some more work and, as always, we are open to all input.

As for the pipe / wire puzzles, then we have already been through these Not so long ago, there was a beta-version service book for the Chief Engineer with puzzles and questions for each and every repair in the game (with varying levels of complexity, multiple stages, and so on). So, let's say you wanted to repair broken wiring: the app would then point you to a page and task number in the service book. Once the repair finished, it would ask you for the answer. If it was ok, you succeeded with the repair. If not, it either took longer (easy difficulty for the CE), required one more repair action (medium), or turned into a +1 level worse failure (difficult).

And there were all sorts of things: from turning valves the right number of degrees, through finding broken cables in a messed up installation, cog and conveyor puzzles, labyrinths of pipes with valves to turn, and finishing with all sorts of technical questions about the sub (for example: which company produced the TDCs used by the U-bootwaffe: Siemens, AEG, or Zeiss?).

We still have a copy of the book somewhere at the office, so perhaps we can use some of those ideas... I will post some photos once I find it

However, we had to drop the idea due to insufficient time... It wasn't ready for Essen and after that there was even less time for not-so-business-critical tasks

Honestly? I'm really waiting for when the campaign is over and I can get back to designing the game instead of promoting, answering questions, writing the rules, working on the KS trailer, and so many other different things. It's not that I dislike these, quite the contrary, but there is actually no time to improve game mechanics when the campaign is just 2 weeks away.

However, let us finish the campaign and we will be back to the drawing board with all the things that (hopefully) get funded... There are just so many cool app functionalities as stretch goals, as well as other goodies devil

However, regardless of how good (or bad) the campaign goes, the Hull Breach puzzle and the Morale Track are going to receive a lot of love, that's for sure
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Ignatius Austriacus
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DrMercy wrote:

Maybe I just need to see a video, but I just think that after x numbers of plays that the puzzle will get easier? I can imagine that the time factor will have a big impact though, but experience in solving the puzzle will make it easier over time right?


I don't understand the concern? Isn't that the whole point? It's supposed to get easier with practice just as every other aspect of the game! That's why you have introductory and advanced missions and three difficulty levels on top of that. I for one would be very frustrated if any gained experience in mastering this situation would count for nothing in future games. Having a veteran crew should make a difference.

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Why is it neccesary to have exactly 5 people to stop breaches? It was by regulations? 4 people have no slightest chance to stop the breach?
I understand that too many could not work on the breach.


What if Chief Engineer decide how many people he is directing to stopping breaches and basing on the number he has more/less time/probability/rate of success.

Oh, and I would prefer to somehow diversify those puzzle pieces. Those solutions seems good:

Quote:
Let's say we make the tiles double-sided with the same schematic printed on them, but on different sized tiles than the particular sections should be (maybe you can't tell from the graphics we ahve shown, but there are bigger and smaller pieces in the puzzle). That would allow for situations where you find the 'right' section, but the piece does not fit in with the rest. So you would obviously need to find the same section but with the size fitting the rest. So, maybe you have already used that one and you have to disassemble what you've already got



Quote:
What about doubling the number of puzzle pieces to around 32? You can make them hexes, or if that is too difficult based on UBoat schematic geometry, squares. One gets to pick five at a time out of a bowl/bag/cup and sets the pieces down they need and discard the rest. Then draw another five etc until the compartment (and adjacent) is completed.

I do like the idea about repair kits. A finite amount of supplies that would help you seal the breach. How about a few kits the Chief Engineer has on hand to help with the puzzle. These could be a simple as “wild card” pieces to be used if you can’t find the set piece you’re looking for. They are not required, and if you run out you can still save the boat. They are helpful however, especially if the Engineer is lousy at puzzles. (Maybe a nice skill to have in a Chief Engineer player).
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