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14.02.2017

DESIGNER DIARY Vol. 1

The U-boat – a steel coffin steadily plowing through the boundless depth, surrounded by the obscure darkness of the water pressing onto it from every direction. Inside it, a handful of people – cut off from the world in the claustrophobic environment where they have no-one to depend on but one another. With the boat fully submerged, they are as blind as a bat. The thick, steel walls of the hull separate them from the crushing force of the element, but at the same time deprive them of even the vaguest glimpse of the outside world. They have no choice but to entrust their lives in the hands of the first officer, who will operate the hydrophone to comb the outside world for contacts, hoping to detect enemies before they realize that the hunt has begun. Soon, the navigator will correct the course, and the chief engineer will prepare torpedoes for launch. Then, the final say rests with the captain. Once he gives the order, the first officer will swiftly unleash the torpedo, thus spelling doom upon the unwary prey. Yet, for now, it is the predator that has to sharpen its senses, lest it becomes prey itself...

UBOOT: The Board Game aims to faithfully reproduce the scope of information available to a submarine crew in any given combat situation. Its companion app serves as a window to the outside world, and without it, the crew will be unable to reveal what lies hidden beyond the cold, steel shell of the boat. Deprived of this knowledge, they will fail to keep track of contacts and fight, let alone determine the U-boat's actual position on the strategic map. All this precious knowledge is crucial to mission success, as well as the crew's survival. And it will come at a price, for only upon spending precious action points by the captain will the other officers be able to collect information from the outside world. And collect it they will, yet only with the assistance of the first officer, whose main responsibility will be to manage the flow of this information, and its precise nature. The periscope, the hydrophone, the sextant, the Enigma, and more – all the essential instruments on board of the U-boat will be at his disposal in the companion app. Yet, at the same time, the application will be confined solely to technical matters. Everything that relates to the crew – their location inside the boat, their health, morale, and fatigue – all of these are represented by cardboard and plastic, with worker placement, action point allowance, and different skillsets governing the sailor's discipline and combat efficiency. However, let us not forget that all the action taking place on board of the vessel will be ruthlessly regulated by the passage of time. Not only via the action point system, but primarily through the development of the situation in combat. And that situation is ever-changing, with many variables, threats, and opportunities.

Man and machine, the board and the app, the known and the unknown. These binary oppositions are all closely intertwined, as well as deeply rooted in all design aspects of UBOOT: The Board Game. Swift decision-making will mark the difference between life and death. Information will need to be acquired, processed, and recorded in real time to maintain a faithful picture of the situation in combat. Limited situation awareness coupled with time pressure have never been so disturbingly real. No board game has ever come so close to an authentic submarine warfare experience. All this and more in UBOOT: The Board Game. Coming soon to Kickstarter.

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