The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 - Board Game Box Shot

The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43

| Published: 2013
3
The Hunters header

"Hostilities with England effective immediately."
the time is: 1256 hours, 3 September 1939

The Hunters is a solitaire tactical level game placing you in command of a German U-boat during WWII. Your mission is to destroy as much Allied Shipping and as many Capital ships as possible while advancing your crew quality and increasing your commander rank culminating in special decoration ‒ all while remembering you have to make it home.

The Hunters is purposely designed to deliver a brisk yet intensive gaming experience that forces many decisions upon you as you will take command among the major German U-boat models in service during WWII, and try to complete an entire tour. If you ultimately survive all patrols from 1939 to 1943, you will be transferred to the U-boat Training Command for the remainder of the war, having successfully carried out your service for the Fatherland.

Those familiar with the classic Avalon Hill game title, B-17: Queen of the Skies, will come to enjoy the same type of gaming experience of the German U-boat War. All major U-boat models are accounted for with every level of detail including period of service, armaments, crew make-up, damage capacity, and more.

As U-Boat commander, you will be confronting many decisions during your patrol. To begin with, eight German U-Boat models are profiled and available for you to choose from. Patrol zones reflect the time period during the war at sea and will shift as the war progresses. All stages of the U-Boat campaign are represented as missions become increasingly more difficult as your adversary makes advances in anti-submarine warfare.

Conducting patrols is the heart of the system as you will be resolving encounters against individual ships, convoys, or even enemy aircraft. Situations you face and decisions you make suddenly come in quick succession:

  • How will you engage a convoy once spotted?
  • Do you close the initial target range at increased risk of detection for a more lethal attack?
  • If your engagement is at night, will you conduct a surface attack?
  • Do you launch one or two fire salvos, and how many torpedoes do you fire?
  • Will you try to follow a convoy or ship to engage in additional rounds of combat?
  • How will you slip away from escorts to avoid or minimize damage?
  • What evasive maneuvers do you undertake?

The Hunters counters
images © Consim Press

The major German U-Boat models are represented and accurately profiled for the patrols you will undertake:

  • Type VII A
  • Type VII B
  • Type VII C
  • Type VII D
  • Type VII FlaK
  • Type IX A
  • Type IX B
  • Type IX C

Patrol Assignments include:

  • Atlantic
  • British Isles
  • Spanish Coast
  • Mediterranean
  • Norway
  • West African Coast
  • North America
  • Arctic
  • Caribbean

The game delivers an historical narrative as 350+ ship targets are uniquely identified (including tonnage) with their historical counterparts that were sunk during the war, including freighters, tankers, and American ships.

Game System Highlights:

  • 8 German U-Boat types represented
  • 9 Patrol Assignments
  • 350+ named shipping targets
  • Special Missions for Abwehr Agent Delivery and Minelaying
  • Combat encounters with individual ships, ships with escort, convoys, and aircraft
  • Daytime and Night Engagement including wolfpack patrols
  • U-Boat Damage includes flooding, hull, torpedo doors, periscope, fuel tanks, crew injury (by crew type), engines, hydrophones, flak gun(s), deck gun, batteries, radio
  • Crew Advancement, Commander Promotion including special decoration up to The Knight's Cross
  • Multi-player and Tournament Rule options (including Wolfpack Tournament)
  • Evasive Maneuvers, Patrol Abort, Variable Escort Quality, Resupply at Sea, Gibraltar Passage, Reassignment to Newer U-Boat, Torpedo Duds, Random "Historical" Events, and much, much more!

You are the Hunter -- but also the Hunted. Will you successfully carry out your patrols, advance your crew status, and ultimately be promoted and retire following a successful tour of duty?

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10
7 of 7 gamers found this helpful
“A Fantastic Gaming Experience!”

The Hunters is an extremely immersive solitaire game from Consim Press and GMT Games. It simulates the missions of German U-Boat commanders from 1939 to 1943.

Upon opening the box, the player will find a rule book, U-Boat log sheets, nice looking full color and die cut counters, three six sided and two ten sided die and card stock mats. There is a mat for each U Boat type used in the game. Mats are also included for Combat during missions, Patrol Assignments and Encounters (merchant ships, capital ships and aircrafts), ship target rosters, random events and torpedo and deck gun to hit and damage charts and U Boat damage and repair charts.

The rule booklet and the mats and charts are well laid out and logically presented. The rule’s index is complete and adds greatly to ease of use.
The player can command either the most numerous type of U Boat produced during the war, the Type VII U Boat (including models A, B, C, D and the rare Type VII C Flak boat) or the longer ranged and heavier Type IX boats (including models A, B and C). The type of U Boat the player picks can influence the mission and patrol zone. For example, the greater range of the Type IX means that a Type IX commander may be assigned for missions to the West Coast of Africa, North America and the Caribbean. Type VII D commanders may have more missions involving mine laying owing to that model’s extra weapons storage spaces.

Each U Boat is rated for various features including how much flooding and hull damage it can sustain, status of internal and external systems such as the boat’s batteries, periscope, radio and engines, how many fore and aft torpedoes it can carry, number of torpedo tubes, torpedo load-out (either steam or electric), type of deck guns and anti-aircraft guns as well as the amount of gun ammo storage, crew and captain status, crew quality, awards and medals won and patrol range and usual type of missions.

In order to play the game, the player creates his U-Boat commander and crew and picks the type, model and designation number for the boat. The type and model number of boat that he picks dictates the month and year that the campaign game starts, in other words, the later the model of boat the player picks, the later in the campaign the mission start. What this means from a player perspective is the later the player starts the campaign, the more difficult the mission are for the boat as Allied anti-U-Boat technology and skill at hunting the subs increases. No missions are possible after June of 1943 owing to the sudden change in technology of the U Boat hunters but the designer has stated this will be left open for a sequel!

Before a mission, the player outfits their U-Boat mat with status markers which track the promotion level and medals of the commander, the skill of the crew, the number of steam and electric torpedoes and ammo for the deck guns. Next, the boat leaves its port and dice are rolled in order to pick the mission area for the patrol. Mission areas include the British Isles, Mediterranean, Spanish Coast, Caribbean, North America, the Atlantic, the West African Coast and even the Artic. Special missions such as mine laying or dropping off spies may be assigned to the player.

Once the player knows where they are shipping off to, the player then rolls for encounters every few days they spend on patrol. Encounters include finding a convoy, single merchant ships, capital ships or even deadly aircraft attacks on the boat. Once a surface contact is established, the player then rolls for the type of ships encountered the name and tonnage of the ship and whether the contact was during the day or at night. The time of day matters because if the encounter is at night against an un-escorted ship, a surface attack with torpedoes and the deck gun may be more productive than a submerged attack. But beware, if you are caught on the surface by an escort or an airplane, your hunt could go bad real fast.

If the sub is attacked by an aircraft, the player still has a chance if they can effectively use the U-Boat’s flak guns. If not, the only hope is to try a crash dive and pray.

If attacked by an escort destroyer, things get interesting quickly. The escort will attempt to use its depth charges to destroy the player or force his sub to the surface. The player is given the option of exceeding the test depth of the sub by diving deep but, if the player is unlucky, the sub’s hull could rupture like an egg shell killing everyone on board. Using the optional rules, some escorts are more aggressive than others and will keep pounding away until either the player’s sub, or the player’s nerves, break. Other escorts will drop a few depth charges and then speed off.

Damage to the U-Boat is tracked on the U-Boat mat and can include everything from minor damage to flooding, hull breaches, damage to the electric or diesel engines, damage to other boat systems and crew casualties. While damage control teams can attempt to repair the sub on patrol, other damage may force the player to abort the patrol and head back to base.

If the boat has a good solution on its targets, the choice of torpedo type (or use of deck guns) and range can also affect the attack. Dud torpedoes are always a frustrating problem but subside as the years progress from 1939 to 1943.

“Wolfpack” tactics are abstractly but effectively handled by the rules.
The success of the patrol is based upon total tonnage sunk. Random encounter charts list the type of ship, tonnage and name for hundreds of real life vessels.

A random event chart provides for surprises which can include from losing a man at sea to storms and even the arrival of friendly Luftwaffe recon airplanes which can help the player spot target locations.

Back at port, the player is evaluated and can win promotions, increases in crew skills and even a more advanced model of boat.

The role playing element of this game motivates the player to weigh each and every command decision. Does the sub make a dangerous close range attack or a more conservatively safer but difficult long range attack? Each and every decision may make or break the submarine’s crew.
Optional rules make the game more challenging and on-line support provides for additional rules including a handy U-Boat commander’s name generation table.

Historical briefings and designer’s notes round out an excellent package. A Pacific version is out now as well!

 

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