Monday 12 June 2023

The North Atlantic: 1939 to 1942

The front of the box….

….and the back.

The counters and the ‘track’ markers used to plot the trajectories and stations of the forces involved.

The five booklets that come with the game - this is not for the faint hearted but the tutorial is very helpful and there are some You Tube videos in support as well. As you can see it is very solitaire friendly and mention should also be made of the high quality of the game components  - top class from GMT.

My first ever foray into the North Atlantic in 1941 came about using 1:3000th models and the original General Quarters rules. I had carefully painted a selection of ships - the leading characters naturally - and fought a number of actions with the models in the cellar of Eric Knowles’s shop New Model Army Limited in Manor Park, East London that served as the clubhouse for the Newham Wargames Club. For the record I always enjoyed General Quarters part 1 and 2 and have used both extensively although I have not tried part 3.

Time marched and so a couple of decades later I built up a collection of ships from the Axis and Allies: War at Sea range and even managed to fight a mini version of the campaign at SEEMS (South East Essex Military Society) using them (scaled at 1:1800th) on a large offset square gridded sheet. It was enormous fun and the end result rather mirrored history although as I recall the Bismarck took more of the Royal Navy with her rather than just HMS Hood.

I have also played the Avalon Hill game of Bismarck (2nd edition) extensively although have yet to see the newer version recently produced by Vuca Simulations. 

It is fair to say then that I have a degree of history with gaming the naval war in the North Atlantic during the early years of the war and before the U Boats came to the fore. 

With all this in mind you will probably not be in the least bit surprised to see the latest acquisition to my collection, following on from a couple of disposals (my personal commitment to recycling…).

Atlantic Chase covers the Royal Navy struggle against the Kriegsmarine during the first half of the Second World War. Units or Task forces move along trajectories until found when they are in effect on station (or dialled in for attack if you prefer - in short the opposition has much more information about what is there) and then the action ensues. Essentially one has an idea of where a force is heading but not what or where it is along the trajectory. You have to find the enemy to take the appropriate action and the North Atlantic is a big place!

Given the lowish number of ships involved my thoughts have turned naturally to models for the tactical actions. I am thinking that revisiting 1:3000th scale may be a good idea but first I will need to grapple with the strategic side first of all.

So there you go, another side hustle to fill in the gaps between ironclads, aircraft, fantasy figures, Wofun, Samurai and a cast of thousands….

Ho hum…. :-)


Donnie McGibbon said...

Seriously good looking game David, it looks top notch in the production values stakes. You have pelnty to keep you occupied that's for sure!!

David Crook said...

Hi Donnie,

The production values are off the scale for this and the mounted map board is really impressive IMHO. The campaign is of interest because of the asymmetric nature of the combatants which makes for a challenging gaming environment. I like to think I will look to get some models at some point for it but it is not really essential at this stage The tactical combat system is elegant and I have read suggestions that it could be readily adapted for use with games like Avalon Hill’s Jutland.

Definitely a game worth investing some time in which sadly at the moment I do not have a lot of! I am delighted to have it in the collection though!

All the best,


Steve J. said...

It reminds me of a U-Boat board game we bought for the North Atlantic back in the late '70's or early '80's. Can't remember where we got it from, but we'd never played a board game before, so didn't know what to expect. In short it was way too complicated, took up too much room and I don't think we ever did anything other than try to comprehend the rules!

David Crook said...

Hi Steve J,

I have played two WW2 submarine games - Submarine by Avalon Hill (originally a Battleline game) and Up Scope by SPI. The former was great fun although I think at the time we were handling the ship evasion incorrectly - it was far too easy for an oil tanker to ‘comb the tracks’ of an approaching torpedo - and featured a lot of charts and tables and the latter as I recall felt rather bland by comparison.

I like the idea of submarine gaming and certainly using a grid makes sense for this but I cannot see myself tackling this anytime soon.

Never say never though and there some great solo games about covering the genre.

All the best,