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Subject: A Submariner's take on U-Boat Leader rss

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Todd Peters
United States
Saint Augustine
Florida
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I am a career Naval Officer with 22 years of service (10 as an Enlisted Submariner and 12 as a Surface Warfare Officer) and I am obsessed with every aspect of naval warfare and history. World War II is one of several periods of particular interest to me due to its wealth of technological, strategic and tactical innovations. Germany’s U-Boat Force was a powerhouse which made phenomenal contributions to their overall war effort. The Kriegsmarine fielded 1,153 submarines throughout the course of the war, of which 759 were sunk, lost or destroyed (65%) with personnel losses in excess of 70%. Germany’s U-Boat Sailors suffered the highest losses of any service in any nation involved in the war.

I recently discovered Dan Verssen Game’s U-Boat Leader and I wanted to share my thoughts after playing my first campaign: a medium length version of The Battle Begins. With 32 Special Operations points to spend, I dedicated 28 to purchasing U-Boats (U-20, trained, 3 points; U-27, veteran, 7 points; U-47, veteran, 12 points; U-51, trained, 6 points) and held 4 points in reserve. I used 1 SO point on my first patrol to provide Air Search in the North Sea, where I dispatched U-20 and U-27 while sending U-47 and U-51 to the British Isles. U-20 established contact first and, upon revealing a convoy with escorts, successfully formed a wolf-pack with U-27 which proceeded to sink everything they encountered. U-47 and U-51 met with similar results in their area and I managed to rack up 34 Victory Points and 24 Experience Points during my first round of patrols.

After refitting and returning to sea (U-51 remained at sea a bit longer than my other boats in order to avoid the -2VP penalty for a turn without any boats at sea and I spent 2 SO points on Priority R&R), my four boats proceeded back to their previous assigned areas. My second patrols racked up 17 more Victory Points and 12 additional Experience Points, with U-27 achieving Ace status. Overall my boats accumulated 51 VP for a final evaluation of “Good.” Not too shabby for my first play.

Overall, I think this game models the Battle of the Atlantic very well on a strategic level and fairly well on the tactical level. I don’t intend for this to be negative, I think it models everything as accurately and realistically as is possible in a solitaire game and I am very happy with the overall experience. I read through the rules twice from start to finish and did a ton of reading here on BGG prior to playing, all of which was very beneficial. Even still, I had to reference the rules many times in order to ensure I was getting everything right (I think everything flows logically and it got easier the farther into the campaign I got; however, this game is rich in detail and my brain is simply not capable of juggling everything on its own). I am going to generate a cheat-sheet to assist in my next game and I definitely need to get a tray to assist in managing all of the counters.

I like U-Boat Leader very much and I am look forward to future plays. Thank you DVG for an awesome experience!
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Dundy O
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
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"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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Thank you for your service, Mr. Peters. God bless you.


I love listening to or reading people that have a passion for something. Your passion shows through in this post. thumbsupthumbsup

As someone who really wants to love this game, I appreciate your last paragraph. This game isn't clicking with me for some reason. I've read the instruction manual fully twice and parts of it numerous times. I still don't know how to play! it's frustrating and I feel foolish. Have you any tips to help me so the game finally clicks?

Great post. Thank you for sharing.
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Dan Verssen
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Glendora
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Thank you Todd for a great overview!

Thank you especially for your service to our country!
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Todd Peters
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Thank you everyone. I feel somewhat embarrassed as I referenced my career in order to establish my credentials as opposed to drawing attention to it specifically. Service is my pleasure and an honor; the Navy is my true calling and I cannot imagine working in any other profession. In fact, I find myself growing more nervous by the day as I realize, eventually, I will have to retire and find something else to do. I hope to be able to stay on this horse for at least another 10 years or so, but eventually everything has to end.
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Todd Peters
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Wister wrote:
Thank you for your service, Mr. Peters. God bless you.


I love listening to or reading people that have a passion for something. Your passion shows through in this post. thumbsupthumbsup

As someone who really wants to love this game, I appreciate your last paragraph. This game isn't clicking with me for some reason. I've read the instruction manual fully twice and parts of it numerous times. I still don't know how to play! it's frustrating and I feel foolish. Have you any tips to help me so the game finally clicks?

Great post. Thank you for sharing.


Although I am certainly still a novice in terms of this game, I think a cheat sheet, well organized counter tray and a short campaign would be the best way to move forward. I enjoyed playing a medium campaign, but I think the next few times I play I will keep it simple with short campaigns just to build my overall familiarity and flow. I also plan to limit myself to a maximum of three boats all of which I will keep together on patrol. Although this will limit my “exposure” to possible contacts, I think limiting the amount of different items I am trying to juggle will help me concentrate on ensuring I am following the rules and procedures correctly and to tweak my cheat sheet. Once I get it to where I am happy with it, I will post it and maybe it will help you too.
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Dundy O
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Thank you for the tips. This post has inspired me to pull the game out again and re-read the manual. gulp
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Luke Hughes

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Excellent to hear of your background. Some folks (myself included) felt that the tactical was a little to easy too "game". After that various rule tweaks (including from the original designer I believe) were offered up. Some are probably right on this game entry and otherwise at the consim forum for the game.
My question right now is what additional rules will emerge as preferred (if any do). To that end I would love to hear your thoughts if you decide to try any of the variants.
Anyone else settled on favorite variants to make the tactical play more challenging and possibly more realistic?
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Paul S
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Leeds
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I was interested to hear these views from someone with direct experience. Good post, thanks.
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Christopher Schall
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Evans City
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Luke and Paul, I am playing the tactical expansion from Grumpyoldgamer that I got from this site. It is very good and adds quite a bit to the game. The strategic and operational segments are basically unchanged but the tactical segment is very different. There are new convoy cards (you don't use the ones from the game) and mission cards that you draw for each boat. The tactical segment is played on 1 of 6 maps which have hexes instead of areas. There are 2 for open ocean encounters (including 2 identical but indicate night) and 1 for a naval attack mission and a port or minefield mission. Time of day, weather, escort stance and convoy SOP post attack are now taken into account. The rules for aircraft attack are much more detailed now, too.

What I really like, though, are the mats for the u-boats. You place your boat card on a mat that has squares for gun and torpedo loads-plus-fuel state, battery levels, depth (from surface to 600 feet!!). Yes, depth is now tracked and the depth charge rules are first rate and really cool. Detection rules are now updated and things such as IDing ships while at periscope depth are not guaranteed.

While it may seem daunting to print everything out, I put what I needed on a usb stick and went to my local Staples who had me going in no time. I had the 6 tactical maps as well as the 4 pages of charts and sequence of play laminated-these 4 pages (2 back to back) are referenced quite often. There are many new charts to consult but not on the level of B-17 or B-29. Oh yeah, I had 5 of the u-boat mats printed and laminated too. I went to a craft store (Michaels) and bought some colored beads (red for damage and stress and blue for boat systems) to use on the u-boat mats.

I have already played a couple of short campaigns to give it a go and really like how it flows. It adds some play time but also adds more realistic tactical options. Many of the missions may be played as a stand-alone game, too.

In summary, I am a fan of this new tactical system. I really liked the leader series taking to the seas but wasn't thrilled with the tactical system even with the new rules or options. Grumpys new tactical system is spot on! I doubt, now, that I could play without this add on.
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Paul S
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That sounds interesting - thanks for the HU, I'll take a look.
 
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Luke Hughes

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Well that is very interesting Christopher. Thank you for taking time to post. How long would you say a typical encounter takes in this new tactical system compared to the old?
 
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Christopher Schall
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Once the tactical expansion is learned, not much more time at all. I have been using the ship draws from cups, however, which also speeds things up.
 
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Dean Brown
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Thanks for the endorsement Chris!
 
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Barry Miller
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Saint Charles
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Todd,

Have you looked at 'Silent War'?
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17484/silent-war

Given your review of U-Boat Leader, I'd be interested to hear your comparison to Silent War.

Thx,
bgm1961
 
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Todd Peters
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I am aware of it, but have never seen it or played it. Perhaps I will pick it up once things at work settle down (crazy lately).
 
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