It's rated 7.83 on the geek as of this posting.
When I opened it up today, I was a bit disappointed to see no map. I just assumed there would be a map of the Atlantic, but no. The game appeared abstract.
The Hunters is chart heavy, with 8 pages of charts to consult and the usual flipping several charts all the time. It reminded me of the Avalon Hill wargames I played as a kid in the 80s. However, the game itself is pretty easy. I'd give it the old 4/10 complexity using the old Avalon Hill classification.
It's a solitaire game, with lots of rolling on charts to determine where you're going, what targets, and even if it's day or night. All at the abstract level as you pick the range and it doesn't really matter where the ship is compaired to your u-boat. You pick the time period to start, which determines encounters and such, but the campaign ends in 1943, presumably as the war turned against Doenitz and his crews historically.
So, I created my captain, and rolled his starting rank (Leutnant zur See). I picked the workhorse of the uboat fleet, the type VIIC and picked October 1940. I only have 3 years to survive the war in this campaign. I picked a number off the top of my head, the U-303, as my boat.
My first patrol was rolled and it was to the British Isles. Surprisingly, there is not much pickings around Britain, with just one roll for a convoy.
You move your U-boat by location to location, so I start off in the Bay of Biscay, then a transit place, then some British Isles locales, and then head home. On my first patrol in the Bay of Biscay and in the transit box, I spotted nothing. Zilch.
Then in the British Isles, I got a lone ship, a large freighter, the Thursobank, 5,600 tons (roll 98). My first catch of the day.
I decided that since the ship is unescorted and all alone, I would do a surface attack during the day, close range and use 2 points of deck gun ammo. I hit successfully, and gave it 3 points of damage, and sank her. My first kill of my career.
All too easy. So far so good.
The next British Isle attack was an aircraft attack against me, but I successfully crash dived. The last two boxes home were uneventful.
So, there you have it. My first patrol was 1 ship only spotted and sunk. Did not see anything else. Truly, the war for the Uboat arm must have been easy in 1940.
Since I did not get a scratch, no extra time was added to my ship refit, so I only get one month of refit for November 1940. My next patrol was December 1940. The boys will have to spend Christmas out a sea.
My rolled (assigned patrol) for December 1940 was again the British Isles. The Bay of Biscay and the Transit box were uneventful, but when I got to the British Isles, I rolled and got a small frieghter, the Sliedrecht, 5,000 tons.
Again, I decided that since the ship is unescorted and all alone, I would do a surface attack, close range and use 2 points of deck gun ammo. My first shot missed, but the second shot was a hit, inflicting 2 damage, enough to send the Sliedrecht to the bottom.
The next two locales, I spotted nothing, but in the third, I got another ship, also a small freighter, the Annavore, 3,300 tons.
I decided again that since the ship is unescorted and all alone, I would do a surface attack, close range and use 2 points of deck gun ammo. The first salvo hit but only 1 damage inflicted and the 2nd resulted in 2 points of damage, sinking her. The rest of the patrol, I spotted nothing again and made it home to port safely.
Minimum 1 month of refit and off to my 3rd patrol, in February 1941, again assigned to the British Isles. It's too bad I have not gotten the target rich areas like the mid Atlantic, but orders are orders. Again, the Bay of Biscay and Transit locales were uneventful. In the British Isles, I spotted a tanker, the E.P. Brown, 10,500 tons all alone with no escorts.
It was a night attack encounter. This time, I decided to use 2 torpedoes. Early in the war though, I risk firing duds even if I hit, but 10,500 tons requires 4 points of damage to sink, so torpedoes it is. I decided to use Tube 1 and 2, which had G7a steam torpedoes. Per the rules, steam torpedoes left a trail of bubbles and were easier for escorts to detect, but since there are no escorts in this enounter, it wasn't a problem here. First torpedo hit, and I thankfully rolled not a dud, but only inflicted 1 damage. Second torpoedo hit, also not a dud, with 4 damage. Enough to send this fat tanker to the bottom.
The next locale also in the British Isles was again, no convoy, but a lone unescorted ship, the Traveller, 4,000 tons.
I used my 2 ammo units of my deck guns, and they both hit, with 1 damage each, enough to sink her. The next locale saw nothing, but my last locale crossing in the British Isles had me crossing paths with the Bronte, a large freighter of 5,300 tons. I decided to use tubes 1 and 3, 1 steam torpedo (a G7a) and 1 electric (G7e).
Tubes 1 and 3........los!
|1 G7a and G7e torpedo allocated to this target.|
They both hit, and neither was a dud. One torpedo only inflicted 1 point of damage, and the other 2, enough to sink her.
I made it back to port without further incident. Since this was my 3rd patrol, I rolled for crew experience, and found out my crew going forward is "veteran", not simply "trained." My Leutnant zur See is only eligible for promotion every 12 months, so no roll yet.
You write down all ships enountered by patrol and circle those you sank. S=small freighter, L=Large Freighter, T=Tanker. R=Refit month. Patrol 1 sank 5,600 tons. Patrol 2, 8,300 tons and Patrol 3, 19,800 tons. I'm bucking to get 100,000 tons to get the coveted Knight's Cross in the game (there are counters for it too!).
And there you have it. 3 patrols that were played fairly quickly. So far, the game has not been tense and I've yet to see a single escort, let alone be depth charged and take damage and flooding.
Will Leutnant zur See Byteknight live to 1943? We shall see! Next patrol is April 1941.
Please see part 2.