From: "David S. Bieksza"
Subject: Review: AH U-Boat
It recently occurred to me that many CONSIMers may be unfamiliar with
this very early AH title (one of the initial wave of six published by
AH, with a copyright of 1959). So, taking advantage of the US holiday,
here's a quick review of _U-Boat_.
The standard size board is divided into 1-1/2" squares. One edge is
designated the "convoy zone" with starting positions alongside for up to
three ships (Destroyer Escorts). At the opposite edge of the board are
starting positions for up to three submarines (U-Boats). My version of
the game uses metal waterline miniatures of surface ships and subs,
though not to a specific scale or to a historical class of vessel. I
have a dim memory that subsequently the miniatures were replaced with die
cut counters.
The basic game involves one DE vs. one UB. The UB wins by sinking the DE
or moving off the convoy zone edge of the board, submerged, with at least
three torpedos remaining. The DE wins by sinking the UB, or preventing
its exit into the convoy zone as stipulated. Before the game both sides
secretly roll a D6 three times to determine how many torpedos/depth charge
patterns are available to their vessel.
The DE moves 1-4 squares per turn and can change course up to 45 degrees
per square. The UB moves 1-2 squares per turn on the surface and can
change course up to 90 degrees per square. Submerged, it can operate at
depths of 100, 200, 300, or 400 feet but can only move 1 square per turn
(but 2 squares under emergency speed).
The DE's position and heading are always known to the UB. The UB's
position and heading are known when on the surface, and depth as well
when submerged. However, these are secretly recorded whenever the UB is
in the same or adjacent square as the DE, or when the UB is under depth
charge attack.
After the DE moves it can anounce a depth charge attack. The UB may use
emergency speed and records its location, heading, and depth. The DE
moves through the grid announcing the squares and depths where it is
dropping depth charge patterns (up to 2 per square). A pattern in the
same square and at the same depth destroys the UB. A pattern in the same
square 100 feet away in depth damages the UB. (Twice-damaged, the UB must
surface permanently.) Otherwise the UB is unaffected.
The UB can fire up to 4 torpedos at the end of its move, but it must be
surfaced or at 100 feet (!) and the DE must be 2 or 3 squares distant at
the time. The target square(s) may be anywhere on the board except the
square into which the DE must first move. If the DE then moves into a
square containing torpedos a die is rolled for each. If the target hex is
2 or 3 squares away from the UB, there is a 1/2 probability of a hit (and
one hit sinks the DE), otherwise there is a 1/3 probability. The UB may
fire torpedos when under depth charge attack, but only its heading is kept
secret in this case.
If forced to the surface the UB and DE engage in a gun battle. The
maximum range is 6 squares. On the turn of surfacing the DE gets an
initial salvo (1/6 chance of a hit). Thereafter both sides move and then
either side rolls a die for the outcome of the gun battle, with an equal
chance of either side sinking the other. However, if the UB ends up
adjacent to the DE it gets a free shot (1/6 chance of a hit). Again, a
single hit sinks the target. The DE can also sink the UB by ramming it
(entering the same square at a 90-degree angle).
The "advanced" game simply accomodates more players by adding more DE's
and UB's. An equal number of both are allowed as long as no player
commands more than one UB. The most important change is that gun
battles are resolved slightly differently since there may be two or three
attackers vs. a given target.
Bottom line: the game is so abstract and generic as to be completely
flavorless. This may well have been the weakest title in AH's initial
lineup.
-------
Dave Bieksza bieksza@aplcomm.jhuapl.edu
-------
Where monsters rampage, I'm there to take them down ...
Where treasure glitters, I'm there to claim it ...
Where an enemy rises to face me, victory will be mine!
- Lina Inverse, "Slayers"
From: "Louis R. Coatney"
Subject: Re: Review: AH U-Boat
On Mon, 25 May 1998, David S. Bieksza wrote:
> It recently occurred to me that many CONSIMers may be unfamiliar with
> this very early AH title (one of the initial wave of six published by
> AH, with a copyright of 1959). So, taking advantage of the US holiday,
> here's a quick review of _U-Boat_.
>
> The standard size board is divided into 1-1/2" squares. One edge is
[SNIP!]
> Bottom line: the game is so abstract and generic as to be completely
> flavorless. This may well have been the weakest title in AH's initial
> lineup.
I was enjoying the review until this "bottom line" atrocity. U-BOAT
is a GREAT game ... a CLASSIC ... precisely because it *is* so abstract,
concentrating only on the most important variables of ... 1941? ... ASW
maneuver and firing.
It gets anyone into ASW gaming. If they want complexity and high-tech,
it gives them the basis to advance(?) from.
I urge you to re-edit your bottom line, Dave ... and take the
perspective of a generalist gameplayer with military/naval
inclinations ... which Avalon Hill and its U-BOAT classic wisely
targetted ... rather than that of a complexity-oriented wargamer-
detailist. Otherwise, it is a *poor* review ... and a disservice
to the hobby.
Grognard Emeritus George Phillies, your opinion?
Lou Coatney, ElCoat@Hotmail.com
> Dave Bieksza bieksza@aplcomm.jhuapl.edu
John Hopkins Univ/Annapolis?
From: "David Carroll"
Subject: Re: Review: AH U-Boat
> I urge you to re-edit your bottom line, Dave ... and take the
> perspective of a generalist gameplayer with military/naval
> inclinations ... which Avalon Hill and its U-BOAT classic wisely
> targetted ... rather than that of a complexity-oriented wargamer-
> detailist. Otherwise, it is a *poor* review ... and a disservice
> to the hobby.
>
I played U-boat many, many times as a boy in the early 60s. I loved
it. As a game, it was great. IMHO, a game should be a game first
and a simulation second. U-Boat was a great game.
David Wm. T. Carroll
dcarroll@netwalk.com
The Columbus Area Boardgaming Society web site:
http://web.jadeinc.com/spqr