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25.06.2017

DESIGNER DIARY Vol. 3

The sky has been overcast for three days now, and that was beginning to give Dieter a serious headache. He sat again at the navigator’s table, fiddling with his temporarily useless sextant while attempting to determine the submarine's current position. ‘Alright', he thought to himself. 'So we left from Wilhelmshaven 3 days ago, following course 341 at half speed. We then continued for two days until that bloody destroyer sprang out of nowhere. Good thing we are still in one piece... But anyway, we made quite a few turns here and there, and then we got back on course after we got rid of the bastard'. Dieter scratched his head as the notes from that day were a little bit on the hectic side. 'Well, that’s rather vague...', he thought 'but it seems that we ended up around here. Right... And then we took course 350 for another day at half speed, so that should leave us more or less here...’.

Just as he was about to mark the submarine’s approximate location, the captain laid a heavy hand on his shoulder. ‘So, Dieter.’ – He sighed – ‘Do you have any idea of where we are?’ The navigator shrugged. ‘Well, that's what I've been working on, Captain. That bloody weather... Anyway, according to my calculations...’

UBOOT: The Board Game is the very first tabletop game to feature elements of authentic, true to life maritime navigation. As the Navigator, you will be entrusted with setting the course in accordance with the Captain’s orders. To that end, you will be using an authentic 'MarineQuadratKarte' map (a faithful reproduction of the map actually used by Kriegsmarine during WW2!), a protractor, a ruler, and a compass. As daunting as it might initially seem, it is actually a quick affair in three easy steps:

  • Determine your current position (more on which below);
  • Draw a line between your position and the chosen destination;
  • Read the angle using a handy 360 degree protractor.

And there you have it! Once the course is set, your job will be to keep track of how the route is followed, and to be able to determine the ship’s location along the way. The primary way of doing it is using the aforementioned sextant. It is a triangular device which was used by navigators long before the invention of the GPS. It works by measuring the angle between the horizon and a celestial object, consequently allowing the navigator to calculate his approximate location with the use of special navigation tables. Using the sextant in the game will be more or less simplified (in accordance with the difficulty level selected for the Navigator), yet regardless of that, the sextant will become useless if the clouds obscure the sun, the moon, or the stars.

Therefore, it is a good idea to mark each and every course change that takes place, so that you always have a point of reference to answer the all-important question that the Captain asked Dieter, i.e. 'Where are we?' And while answering it will not always be easy, then a skilful and focused navigator can always rely on his spatial orientation, as well as close observation of how the game unfolds. And yes, let's not forget about notes...

The Captain nodded once Dieter finished explaining his scribbles. It seemed like the calculations were correct: while evading the destroyer, they got off their optimal course and got too close to the British coast. That meant a couple of potential threats, including more frequent air patrols, hunter-killer groups, shallow waters, perhaps mines... And the Captain wasn't too eager to let any of these get in their way. Therefore, although choosing a route more to the east could cost them some extra fuel, then again it was a price that the Captain was more than willing to pay.

'Well done, Dieter', finally said the Captain. 'I guess it goes without saying that we need to get away from the coast before we run into any more trouble. So what I want you to do is to get us back en route to the objective, but let's keep away from the coast this time, right? I don't want to waste another 2 days dodging escorts...

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