almost an Atlantic Approaches simulation – ( not a review of Atlantic chase )

Atlantic Chase is not even remotely one of the games I often pull from the shelves as it does not fall into my favourites list but…

… I will admit I was sold into getting it due to the design idea – which fell slightly short of my expectations but nonetheless delivers an amazing experience.

( remember that a second print run is planned )

Why did it fell short ? I miss the operational planning, the setup of the necessary phases, combined force application and crescendo of intel gathered until an interception attempt is possible.

Why is it amazing ? Because it delivered the operational point of contact and abstracts the cloud of intelligence gathering into a seamless system, void of turn overs but dynamic as per opponent taking chances. I like the fact that losing the Initiative is really a dreadful prospect. This may be annoying to some players, note.

The visual transposition of the Atlantic Western Approaches war room to the table via the Atlantic Chase game is enticing and undeniably one of the most strong suits for any wargamer with interest in the naval theatre operations during, which definitely boosted the popularity to the point of “sold out” status.

It rests to be said that the game box clearly states as the sub sub sub sub title – “intercept” – “volume one”.

This speaks volumes – literally.

When reaching for the game I always feel discomfort. I know this game volume will focus solely on the surface ships actions.

At the same level I feel that warm embrace of telling the less known history of many of the lesser known hunts and not everything be about the “sink the Bismarck”.

I still feel that there’s a lot of history to be told about that hunt, especially regarding the special operations by the RN to board and take by assault and commandeer dozen enemy vessels that served as support to the big bad wolf and which ultimately served its final plate – blind, deaf and above all, non supplied.

Not often this hits the table but gladly the rules are solid so it is easy to remember all the most used ones.

While showcasing the game, last weekend, one of the most positive aspects pointed out was the interactivity of the entire exercise and the projection of the planned segments giving a sense of immediate accomplishment.

On the reverse side of the experience, the negative points marked were the counters, even if understood necessary, and the confusing mix up of unending Initiative with the action/reaction cycle like checkers.

One interesting feedback was that, and I’m not quoting the exact words – Maybe the game would become more interesting if both sides lay out their plans with phases rules by timetables and then the game would revolve around adjusting the plans as the situation would become more clear. I found this quite an interesting insight, especially coming from a naval officer ( logistics ) but also know that the game would not be the same. Nonetheless is an interesting point that I took note of, and I’ll try to workout in a project of mine ( naval but not modern ).

Smashed buttons in the image software and this came out. To my eyes feels like a still from an old BBC documentary.

Atlantic Chase is such a well put together game production that I feel it sets the future standards for many aspiring designers that really want to help any potential players to get into the rules and complex planning needed.

That is not saying it is perfect, it is not, but it shows a methodology and cements the baseline which a lot can be improved for future projects.

It presents the players with an “absurd” amount of scenarios spread across three rather thick booklets – the tutorials, the multiplayer and the solitaire – which may and MUST be played ignoring the limitations imposed.

Seriously, just grab the initial setup and then play the game with ALL the rules right from the start. Consult any rules needed but do yourself a favour and go for the full package right away as the understanding of what the game is really about is when all the joint efforts for the chase and evasion and eventual battle resolution all are in place.

I personally find step-by-step procedural tutorials counter-intuitive as they program the aspects of the game and do not allow the “what if I do this” because the particular chapter does not allow that action to be done because is only covered in another tutorial chapter with a totally different setup…

I will use the scenario setup and play all rules and disobey the “tutorial ikea assembly manual”, no matter the rules book flipping.

Initiative plays a big part in the operations. It may simulate the speed which the information is received and relayed but at times, with an intelligent use of the game limitations and rules, is fairly easy to breathe all the air in the room while the opponent just stands there watching and maybe trying to make Interruption attempts. This is not always the case but it may well happen.

For certain type of players – especially those used to “duels” games – it becomes a stale experience of waiting for something to happen to become their turn again to do something worthwhile.

While the trajectories are the most visual game element, the core of the exercise is actually to remove them and reduce the extension in which the enemy ships might be in and bringing them to Contact and thus be able to rain fire on them, forcing an engagement. Obviously escaping is a tactic and should be expeditiously used – the scenarios are built a lot around the naval tradition of hunter and prey – as it allows an extension of sea to cover and steals the opponent of opportunity and chances of initiative being lost.

Atlantic Chase is a very easy game to demonstrate and one of the tutorial scenarios, if we ignore the rules limitations as written before, is perfect for that. It uses the North Sea little map and includes all elements that the game has in a condensed format that can be played fast while demonstrating the possibilities while having a spectacular visual impact. It won’t get you a free lunch ( probably! ) but surely will get your guests interested in the game, and who knows, maybe they keep playing it, get their own copy, or even better, ask you about all the other games you have on display in the shelves.

Want to show the game ? Find this scenario in the Tutorials and set it up.

Atlantic Chase is not close to being my favourite game nor WW2 a conflict I’m very keen on but is a fantastic exercise on naval operational engagements, and that is something that in itself is worth the box weight in gold.

Thank your for reading. Have a good week.

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