Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Silent War - Updates

I haven't really updated my Silent War campaigns lately, so here's a brief update on the two campaigns I've started since the initial report.

First up was the 1942 Solomons game. This 5 month mini-mini only uses three OpAreas and around 15 subs total, and focuses on the period surrounding the invasion of Guadalcanal and the other islands in the Solomons chain in the South Pacific. A very quick game, I finished in a couple of evenings. Quite interesting is the fact that you start out with a bunch of old S-boats that get replaced with some of the early Gato subs. What a difference! A good second game after doing the Dutch fleet, as you can start sinking ships in earnest. Plus, you get bonuses for sinking capital ships of the IJN (heavy cruisers and up). I finished this one a couple of weeks early with a decisive victory, so I must be doing something right.

Next up was the year-long (52 turn) 1942 campaign that starts in July, just after the changeover to War Period 2. Unlike my earlier campaigns, this one uses the entire map and all of the US subs (in service, of course). There are typically something like 23-25 subs on patrol at any time, plus another 20 or so in dock or waiting to go out to sea. I've been playing for more than a week, including a weekend when my wife was out of town, so I've put in something like 12 hours (about an hour per week). At this rate, I'll finish by the end of the summer!

The big problem with a campaign this large and this long is, of course, that I desperately need a place to keep the game set up, and I don't have that kind of space in my house. I'm anxiously awaiting a cyberboard module (and a stable version of Boot Camp so I can run it on my MacBook Pro) so having the board set up won't be an issue. I'm seriously considering writing a Java app to handle the search/combat portion to speed things up, I figure I could finish a week in 15 minutes if I didn't constantly have to draw counters out of cups, not to mention reseeding the cups every month so that I no longer "know" that one of the meatballs in the C cup is a Diligent Escort, which can ruin your day really fast.

Anyway, the point of this particular campaign is to get to War Status 3 as quickly as possible. Getting there in 12/42 is very good, although you need to have sunk something like 225 ships (I'm at 150 in early October) and about 1,150 tons (I'm around 600). On the plus side, I'm pretty sure to pass the November 620 ton mark that allows me to continue. I have a long way to go, although I'm sure I'll have to gear myself up to set the game up again once I get in July and have the time to play again (vacations and family visits will prevent any play between now and then).

I'm not sure I'll set up another campaign game with the physical game, it simply takes too long. However, for the 3-6 month campaigns that only use a portion of the board, the game is quite enjoyable, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in the subject matter and enjoys solitaire wargames where the story is as important as whether or not you have meaningful decisions (you do, but combat is random enough to drive 18xx fans nuts).

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