Saturday, April 28, 2007

Against the Odds Sneak Peek-Paukenschlag U-Boat 1942 Game

This sneek peek is based upon my original never released DTP game, Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat)covering the devastating attacks by U-boats off the US East Coast and in the Caribbean, 1942. This is the historical part. The "what if" and the more exciting part is it supposes the Germans had developed some Amerika Bombers and had modified (well within their capabilities)their already exisiting He 177 and FW 200 long range bombers.Further, it supposes that Hitler had decided to seize the Azores (he had seriously considered it in 1940-41)to be used as a launch pad for long range bombing on the US East Coast! It was not that far from reality and actually quite plausible had Hitler demanded it. The German wolfpacks were ravenous against the unprepared and nearly defenseless east coast of America. It was like Pearl Harbor. By May, over 400 transports had been sunk off the US east coast, some two million tons of supplies lost with 5000 lives.

The game is the most innovative and accurate, yet playable, sub-air game ever. Sea and submarine movement is actually based on how German U-boat commanders plotted and tracked surface ships. Very cool!

The game was never released as a DTP because ATO secured it right off the bat, seeking to diversify their gaming line. Sub games, by their nature, are difficult to make interesting and fun (computer sub games excepted). Most sub board games have almost always sunk in their popularity--so, hopefully, this game will change it when Issue 22 comes out.

The counters shown are from the DTP game. The final ATO game will no doubt be more artistic and polished. Each strategic square is 550-600 miles. Each operational square is 55-60 miles. Each tactical square is 6-7 miles. Each turn is three days. Each sub is one submarine. Each convoy is between 10-50 ships. Each US DD, ASW, Cutter naval unit is two ships. Air units are squadrons of 6-12 aircraft. Each US CV, BB is one ship. Each turn is a week.

Excerpts from the Movement Rules:Movement on the Operational or Tactical Grids only applies to those opposing naval units in the same Strategic Zone (on the game map). The rates are the same per square, either 1 or 2 squares. Some ships (DD 11, 12, BB, CV) may move 3 squares. Prior to moving a sub, the German must decide whether it is submerged or surface. A submerged sub moves one square, a surfaced sub-two squares on the OSL\TSL grids. Only the final zone where movement ends and the presence of enemy ships determines if the OSL or TSL grids will be used. If the ending zone has none, nothing more happens. If it does, the involved units are removed and placed in the OSL and each player determines their precise location and units alternate moving until either opposing ships end in the same square or not. If they do, the TSL is used and the same procedure occurs. When opposing naval units end movement in the same square on the OSL, movement continues on the TSL. If the convoy exits the OSL before any subs have intercepted and ended movement in the same box on the OSL, nothing more happens…the convoy has escaped for this turn only.

German long range bombers may also conduct missions against various industrial targets along the East coast.

Aircraft IssuesThe reality was that had the Germans acted upon their first Amerika plans in 1940, the Me 264 long range bomber could’ve been operational by 1942, historically, only a few were done by late 1942. The He 177 was operational in March 1942. While the FW 200 had been modified. All three faced the same problems with aircraft engines being unreliable over the long flight (2-4,000 miles to the East Coast from either island) weather, pilot fatigue, and target recognition were major issues!
The He 177 and FW 200 suffered a 50% chance rate that the engines would catch fire during flights. A rather humbling event.

Flight times would average 7-8 hrs, thus, pilot fatigue would be an issue. Target ID would’ve been almost none existent, as even the U-boats had inadequate maps and generally used tourist maps to sail by along the coast.

Historically, the Uboats totally missed the CV Hornet being escorted from Key West to Norfolk in January 1942. In the game, you can go for it, if you fail, the American player can use it to attack the Azores where the Luftwaffe is based! It could've easily happened. Historically, the Hornet was sent to Pearl Harbor after being prepped in Norfolk.

Hopefully this sneak peek will still your interest!

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