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U-boat Leader: The Battle for the North Atlantic from Dan Verssen Games

By Aaron Skinner
Published: September 14, 2012

Product: In the early years of World War II, Germany’s U-boats proved deadly to Allied shipping in the North Atlantic and threatened to cut Europe off from America and its men and materiel. Advances in detection and weapons gave the Allies the upper hand, and the balance shifted.

A solitaire game, U-boat Leader puts the player in command of a group of German subs on the prowl for merchant ships while avoiding contact with warships.

Delivered in a sturdy, colorful box, the game’s components include 165 cards, 264 counters, four campaign sheets, a tactical display map, a player-aid sheet and a 28-page instruction book. The well-printed cards, maps and counters are sturdy and should hold up to lots of play.

Like the other games in DVG’s Leader series, U-boat Leader is a tactical combat game with resource management at its heart.

The player starts by choosing one of four campaigns that cover the Battle for the North Atlantic: The Battle Begins – September 1939 to May 1940; the Happy Time – June 1940 to May 1941; Operation Drumbeat – February to June 1942; and the Hunted – July 1942 to June 1943. Each campaign can be played separately or linked together in chronological order. The choice of campaign offers different U-boat types, new weapons and better Allied warships.

Next the player sends submarines into different areas on the map to look for convoys. The mechanics allow for air support to help find targets and resupply the subs. Submarines can rotate to keep up the pressure.

If contact is made, the number and type of ships encountered is determined by randomly drawing cards, then placing counters on the tactical display. Combat outcomes are determined by the quality of the foes, the weapons used and die rolls.

U-boat crews gain experience and stress through missions and combat.

The learning curve is a bit steep, but the well-written rules make it easy to pickup and keep playing. 

Marketing: U-boat Leader is perfect for fans of submarines, war games or resource management simulations. There’s lots of replayability built in, because no two missions or games are ever the same. 

There’s not a lot here to terrify newcomers, and the depth of the experience and randomness make the game worth keeping around for slow nights or quiet weekends. I’ve played, and still play both Phantom Leader and Hornet Leader from DVG.

Emphasize the game’s World War II setting. If you sell models as well as games, display submarine kits near the box, or keep a copy near the register so customers notice it.

Kudos to DVG for continuing to produce high-quality solitaire games like U-boat Leader.

Product: U-boat Leader: The Battle for the North Atlantic
Maker: Dan Verssen Games
Stock number: pn-32059
MSRP: $55.99

• Solitaire gameplay
• Variety keeps it interesting
• Sharp manufacturing