Raiders of the Deep – COMING ATTRACTIONS!

On Friday 20 November 2020, after much delay and procrastination, Leutnants zur See Dale Mickel, Michael Koznarsky and Mark Waddington traveled back to August 1914 and the U-boot flotte of the Imperial German Navy using Compass Games’ Raiders of the Deep by Ian B. Cooper. Play of the game was supplemented by one of the group accessing the actual game charts and another using Vassal while on a Zoom conferencing call. The actual video gaming time took about 2.5 hours and got 6 months worth of game play in. We were pleased with the first run through as we had many questions about the nuances of the game.

Fortunately, both LzS Waddington and LzS Koznarsky had done trial runs on their own in September so they had some experience to help the group. The players decided to all start as Leutnants zur See in the U-19, prowling the British Isles for prey. As trial runs go, the team seemed to hit everything possible in the game with two! trips to the Random Events table, two mine hits, getting caught in a submarine net, attacking a convoy of capital ships and even a British submarine! We decided that every player could target the same ships even if another person had sunk that ship and quickly determined which house rules we would use based on experience and from reading feedback from the forum available on the BoardGameGeek website.

Things started out poorly in August 1914 for LzS Mickel as he hit a mine and then was snared in a submarine net but, fortunately, escaped without any damage. He did struggle to get hits on the capital ships he was targeting. He took a lot of damage that, in game terms, would have put his sub out of action for an additional month, however, as we were playtesting the game, he played the next turn with LzS Waddington and LzS Koznarsky. LzS Waddington rolled a 12 and got a Random Encounter and Encounter Multiplier – spare parts from a sister ship were not helpful this turn. The latter both “got rocks” and failed to make any contacts. LzS Waddington’s attack on the 700 ton submarine E-3 did not provide any result and it, too, escaped. Three unsuccessful missions.

After a month’s refit the trio took to the sea again. LzS Waddington rolled another 12 for a second Random Encounter and Encounter Multiplier – this time he rolled a “Hals und Beinbruch”: “neck and leg break”, slang for “good luck”. Nice! The three U-boat commanders rolled goose eggs for encounters and returned to port empty handed. Again.

By Christmas 1914 the crews were getting anxious. Three unsuccessful sorties in a row would cause the crews to become “Green” with reduced effectiveness. The commanders were getting quite anxious to get their first kills of the evening. In the first encounter box both LzS Mickel and LzS Koznarsky rolled “Single ship”; LzS Waddington used his Hals und Beinbruch and still failed to find a ship. LzS Mickel easily pounded the merchantman and placed a prize crew (prize crews can only be placed on small ships and count double the tonnage for game purposes) on the ship for a 2800 ton victory! LzS Koznarsky took two rounds to bring his quarry down, put a prize crew aboard to claim an 1800 ton ship. Two encounter boxes later all three Leutnants caught ships – nice! LzS Mickel and LzS Koznarsky caught the 12000 ton HMS Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue in convoy, however, LzS Koznarsky’s ship was spotted and forced to dive before any damage had been caused on a capital ship – the enemy got away. LzS Mickel was able to press home his attack from close range and survive several ramming attacks as he continued his attack and sank the Aboukir! LzS Waddington encountered the 2900 ton HMS Pathfinder and 800 ton HMS Niger. Risking all, he took shots from both his bow and aft tubes – the former caused minor damage to the Pathfinder and the aft tubes were either misses or duds (quite common in WWI: the poorer torpedoes area duds 50% of the time and the “better” torpedoes are duds 33%!) Stalking the HMS Pathfinder, LzS Waddington deftly placed two torps into her side with a resulting 10! (1 on a D6) damage, blowing the ship to smithereens! Finally, three successful patrols! All three sailors had the honor of receiving the Iron Cross, 2nd class for their first successful mission.

We really enjoyed ourselves for many reasons – it was nice to finally “go to sea” with this game after discussing it for months. It was just as nice to be able to get together, even if via Zoom, to see each other, play a game, laugh and have fun. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We anticipate that our Night Fighter Ace game will carry through the end of this year and the start of a Raiders campaign will begin in January 2021. The tallies for the evening:­

LzS Mickel: 2 ships, 16800 tons, IC 2nd class

LzS Waddington: 1 ship, 2900 tons, IC 2nd class

LzS Koznarsky: 1 ship, 1800 tons, IC 2nd class

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