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Wolfpack by John Tiller Software  We as wargamers have had a number of boardgames released on the subject. However, ...

Wolfpack by John Tiller Software Wolfpack by John Tiller Software

Wolfpack by John Tiller Software

Wolfpack by John Tiller Software



John Tiller Software

 We as wargamers have had a number of boardgames released on the subject. However, the computer simulation player has had a good amount of games released on Uboats and other nations' submarines. There have also been a good number of games that are for the Cold War and beyond. These games are probably the easiest to start with for a computer gamer. Usually you are only handling one sub, and the gamer only has a handful of choices. It is still a cat and mouse game with some options. The gist of the game itself is to get close enough to the merchants, or capital ships, to fire a torpedo at it that has a chance of hitting said vessel. While doing this you have to avoid the escorts. Pretty simple on the scale of what do I do in this game scale. If a merchant is sailing alone it is usually a goner, unless it is a Q ship. Then you just surface and hit it a few times with your deck gun until it surrenders. The real test for you, as a submarine captain, is attacking a convoy with escorts. I also think that a sea battle with only twenty units all told is a lot easier to program the AI than a land battle with 100 to each side. I own, or used to, almost every single submarine game that was released for the PC. So, let us make sure the batteries are full and head underwater to take a look at this new John Tiller Software game/simulation. let us read about the features:

 "50 scenarios ranging from small single submarine actions to massed wolfpack attacks.
Scenarios also highlight the role of air power, both land and air based.
Two campaigns are included, one on the career of the legendary ace Gunther Prien, and the other highlighting the changes in the Battle of the Atlantic from 1940-45.
Wolfpack uses a real-time game engine that can be run from 1x to 10x real-time and has the ability to pause.
Players can play each scenario against the computer A/I or using network play.
The British player has access to the full ASW arsenal, including Depth Charges, Depth Charge Projectors and Hedgehogs, while the Germans have innovative equipment like Snorkels and Homing Torpedoes.
A powerful Scenario Editor and Order of Battle Editor are included so that players can design their own scenarios of historical or hypothetical situations.
Shore terrain is included for Scapa Flow, the Kola Inlet, Gibraltar, Aruba and the North Carolina Coast."

 The first thing you will notice is that the game comes with fifty scenarios. The second thing that will catch your eye is that you get to play either the hunter or the hunted. That is correct, in this game you also get to play the escorts. While submarine games have abounded, I can think of only one other game where you could take on the role of a submarine hunter. There are a few games where it is part of a larger naval war or battle, but not ones that are based on separate scenarios about it. You can also see that you get to simulate the entire war, not just the early war, in which it was much easier to survive as a Uboat. Then, in the middle of the war, being in a Uboat was pretty much a death trap.

 The first notion that you have to get in or out of your head is that this is not Red Storm Rising. This is the 1940s. While the Germans do have rudimentary homing torpedoes at the end of the war, most of your time is spent with mark one eyeball, and a lot of guesswork. Another thing to keep in mind is that torpedoes fail at an alarming rate and are slow to reload. This is actually quite factual and I believe the German torpedoes were not much better than the American ones in the early years of the war. A lot of the early success of the Uboats was because the convoy system was not started up again immediately after the war started. Seeing as how this defeated the Uboats in world War I, the absence of the convoy system was idiotic. Many times the Uboats were able to catch single merchant ships and use their deck guns to persuade them to abandon ship. Which leads us back to your torpedoes, treat them as golden fish. Use them only when you are guaranteed of a hit, if they would only work correctly. This is much more of a simulation than a game so all of the problems of reality are here. It is much safer to approach a convoy at night, however your ability to search for the enemy at periscope depth is heavily curtailed. The early anti-submarine efforts also work the same way. The earlier in the war it is, the harder it is for an escort to find a submarine and destroy it. For those of you who cannot sit still, please pick another game. You will have a lot of times where you are just searching for the enemy. I can only state, use the faster times of the game's speed with incredible caution. Many times you will only be aware of enemy vessels by the firing of their guns at you using the faster speeds.

Scapa Flow

 The game graphics are those needed for a simulation of submarine warfare in World War II. There is no glitz or 3D to be found here. This is not to knock the game, it is just to let you know what you are buying into. The absence of anything on the map at most times means that this game does not even approach the visuals of John Tiller Software land simulations. You are not going to be aware of, let alone worried about, the thermal layer; see above. It is a slightly more in depth version of a cat and mouse game. The only difference here is that at any moment you can go from being the cat to the mouse. The audio of the simulation is superb. It is just as good as any other submarine game. The upswing of this is that it becomes one of your biggest assets that the game gives you. With repeated play, you can actually tell by listening how close the other ships are. It will also tell your speed and whether your periscope is up or down without even needing to look at the game buttons. One more thing to be aware of is that this is a planning game. Torpedoes have an effective distance of about how far you can throw a rock. You need to be precisely where that enemy ship is to even think about firing a torpedo at it. The good, or bad, thing about the game is that it follows history to a tee. In the beginning years both sides have many disadvantages. In the middle years of the war the Allied escorts have it mostly their way. Then at the end of the war the German advances in torpedoes and snorkels etc., swing the pendulum back again.

 This is a write up from the 'Getting Started' help file:

"As soon as the enemy is spotted, dive to periscope depth, and continue your approach. As the convoy zig zags you may need to adjust your course. Notice that you get different background sounds when you are submerged. This helps remind you if you are currently surfaced or underwater.While you are submerged, the pale green lines represent sound bearings to enemy ships, while the
bright green ones represent the enemy active sonar. From here, you'll want to maneuver your submarine to get into position to get a good shot at the enemy convoy. The closer the better... however, the escorts are looking for you! Take your shots and see if you can destroy the cargo ships and maybe an escort to boot...and then dive deep and run for safety. But how do I shoot? With your u-boat selected press and hold the Ctrl key and then right click where
you want your torpedo to go. A “fish” will launch and begin it’s course. Remember, your target is moving, so you don’t want to shoot where it is now, but rather where you believe it will be.
In my action I got very lucky with my first torpedo salvo and sunk the K class Corvette and started flooding on one of the merchant ships. From there I was able to sink two more merchants and then
square off with the remaining Frigate escort. I ended by hunting down the lame merchant ship and sinking her with my deck gun. A very successful ambush, but I exhausted my torpedo supply, which

would then force me to seek re-supply. If this had been a larger convoy I could be in real trouble now.."

 In the above picture my Uboat is at the upper right of the map, in the middle of the white circle. The white circle shows how far I can see. This is at night and I am at periscope depth. The large blue arc at the bottom of the Uboat is the range of the deck gun. The small arc not far at all from the Uboat is the range of the torpedoes. Yes, you read that correctly. How any submariners survived the war is beyond me. The 'K' on the screen is an escort. The 'AK' are merchantmen. This is early in the war so the escort would have to be parked on top of me to find me in the dark. 

 Thank you John Tiller Software for allowing me to review this great, but sometimes maddening game (in a good way). I do not know how many times I have redone the same scenario to try something different this time. The feeling you get when your plan comes to fruition and your attack works to a tee is something to be savored.

Wolfpack by John Tiller Software:

Please take a look at their Midway and Jutland simulations:



  1. Interesting, the look in these Tiller games could be look as old fashioned, but in this case it's perfect, as you are looking like the captain would be looking at its map.

  2. The lead to this story reads like some copy was cut out of it. Yes, the game being reviewed is relatively complex, but still, the review is disjointed, and pasting in some parts of the manual - well, the entire user and getting started file are available for all on the JTS site. Tell us something we don't already know.

    Also, no mention is made of the game editor or the options to play without fog of war in order to get accustomed to the sim. If I were to read this review alone, I'd stay away from the game like the plague (or the virus), but fortunately, there are better sources for prospective buyers to read.

    I need to dig deeper to see the quality of the other reviews on this site, which might be quite high. But this one is lacking in all the most important areas. Not to be cruel, but I would delete it and start over with someone who is willing to put some time into their articles.