Gato Leader :
Includes some differing Special Missions, such as Mine and Recon/Rescue.
Wolfpacks are handled differently. In fact, I would personally have called them something else, as I don't think that the Americans used this term. Essentially, you chose whether or not a number of submarines begin as a group together in the same port. So, no seeing whether a Convoy turns out to be a valuable target and then trying to call in other subs.
Takes us up to 1945, whereas U-Boat only goes as far as 1943, so there is more possibility of using radar.
Provides Forward Operating Bases [that can be purchased with Special Ops points]which allow for removing Stress points and reloading torpedoes.
Takes account of the inferior quality of torpedoes by having a set of rules for dud torpedoes and a chart to roll on. At its worst , none of your torpedoes may hit and in plenty of cases at least half will be duds! [Technically, this is not a totally new rule addition as U-Boat Leader 2nd edition has an optional rule for dud torpedoes.]
Allows for reloading torpedoes while on the Tactical Display.
So, with that said, on to ...
Silversides [Veteran + Torpedo Modifier]
A closer look at Guardfish, loaded up with 10 torpedoes Ready and another 14 Stored on board.
It has markers showing its 6 gunnery factors and the Torp modifier.
Lone Merchant - expend 1 torpedo and score 1 VP
Nimitz Takes Notice - gain 2 SOs if you score equal or more than 10 VPs this turn.
The unfortunate Silversides which has picked up 5 Stress pts
just by sailing in to the South China Sea
Convoy card 043 showing where the relevant unknown ship markers should be placed
*[At this point, with two Escorts at range zero, panic set in and I forgot that Tautog had the Aggressive quality and could have fired at the Escorts before they could fire at him.]
Instead, not too surprisingly, the sub opts to Deep Dive to attempt to avoid the imminent attacks, first it takes 2 Stress points as a result of making the Deep Dive. Though avoiding drawing damage tokens for attacks from the three Escorts, the sub still has to roll against its evasion rating and is successful for two of the three attacks, but fails against the other and so takes a temporary Flooding marker. Not good, but could have been much, much worse if the Escorts' attacks had gone in.
[Crash Dive, which is what you do if you are attacked while on the surface, states quite clearly that an Evasion roll is made for each Escort attacking you. With a Deep Dive, the rules are not 100% clear as to whether you make an Evasion roll for each separate Escort, as I did, or whether it's a single die roll.]
[Again, a point worth raising. In both Gato and U-Boat Leader, there are no restrictions on Escorts sailing into and through Convoy Sectors. In my review of U-Boat Leader, I queried the historical validity of this total freedom. Still not sure how appropriate this is.]
[In the image above, Tautog has just successfully rolled for Silent Running and its speed drops to zero. Consequently, in the Lag Movement phase, the sub will move two Sectors due south, towards the Convoy's wake.]
* [I realised much later, I had made a mistake here. The attack by Silversides would have placed an Alert counter on the Tactical Display which would have increased the Escorts' detection range by one and put Silversides in potential detection range of the Escorts.]
Silversides records his 10 VPs and 7 Experience Points on the Campaign Log.
Each sub gains 1 Stress at this stage.
Silversides moves to 9 Stress, and so I decide to place the sub back onto the Campaign Map in the Area's Searched Box.
Tautog decides to fire off 5 torpedoes at each Merchant ship [this causes them to be revealed as the Anyo Maru and the Tatuwa Maru].
Tautog also records 4 VPs and 3 Experience points.
Some time later...
Once all your subs have been activated and gone through the processes that I've detailed, you move to the last Segment Refit.]
First of all, this was a hugely enjoyable experience, though it took 10 A-4 pages of careful record keeping just to cover the details that covered half of the Campaign and several sessions that tallied about nine hours in total. To play the game, without all the written record keeping to produce this AAR, is [I can assure you] a whole lot quicker!
I'd like to thank DVG, who very kindly sent with the game the Expansion Ship Miniatures and Battle Board which provides a mounted Tactical Display board twice the size of the smaller board in the game itself. But, as mentioned in my review of U-Boat Leader, the latter is rather small for the number of counters and markers likely to be placed on it.
I love the expansion, but it does add another £22.99 to the cost of the overall package.
Both U-Boat Leader 2nd Edition and Gato Leader are for me excellent additions to my solitaire experience. I imagine that the UK gamer may well settle for the former and the US gamer for the latter. Both give equally satisfying and rewarding experiences.