Depths of Courage is a new series of solitaire simulations from High Flying Dice Games, designed by Paul Rohrbaugh. Paul was gracious enough to answer some questions about the design of the game and the process behind it here. Technically, this is actually Volume 8 in the series, although there are only three games available in the series at this time (Volume 1, The H.L. Hunley’s Attack, February 17, 1864 published by Against the Odds, Volume 7, The Attack on Gibraltar Harbor, December, 1941 and Volume 8). As such, there’s at least 5 other volumes in the works that you can look forward to.
Depths Of Courage Volume 8
Who doesn’t want more solo wargames? Seriously. This is a hobby where finding consistent live opponents seems to get harder every day. Depths of Courage as a series are small scale, small footprint, solitaire games focusing on different submarine attacks during WWII and potentially other time frames. This volume covers the attacks from small two man Maiale class “Pig” submarines that the Italians used to place limpet mines on British ships in the Bay of Gibraltar.
You command three or four subs and will move them between six enemy sea areas within the Bay of Gibraltar trying to stealthily get into position to inflict maximum damage and escape to tell the tale. The map is the size of two sheets of letter paper and that’s pretty much all the space you’ll need to play. This makes it a great ‘lunch time war game’ to play at work. To play a game from start to finish won’t take you more than 15-20 minutes, as there’s only 5 turns in a game and only a max of four subs to command. There’s a campaign option where you play the optional ‘what if scenario’ with some larger Royal Navy vessels in port and then two regulars games totaling the VP’s accrued as an aggregate score. It’s a neat way to have your clandestine submariners have a tour of duty and keeps you a little more invested in their survival.
The rules are two pages long, so there’s nothing over bearing in this game. I highly recommend it for new wargamers as a neat little game that reveals an interesting part of the war that you don’t often hear about. There’s two randomizers used in Depths of Courage, the first is a d6 used to place new ships and adjust the British Alert Level in the first phase of the game. After that a custom deck of cards is used in order to determine if your subs are detected, if new Royal Navy patrol ships enter the map, and even to resolve your attacks on the fleet. Again, very simple, and very accessible. The game plays quickly as a result and you can bash out a few games over a short period without problem.
Now. Just understand that when you pay $7.95 for a war game, you get that much of a war game. For me, I don’t have a problem with some DIY in my games, but I’d prefer not to where avoidable. The game comes with a customer deck of cards printed on thick card stock that you can cut out and sleeve if you wish. The custom artwork on the different suits are really nice. I was very impressed at their graphical design. I’m just too lazy to cut them out so I used a regular Poker deck of cards and removed the unnecessary cards.
The counters are printed on regular paper, and you’ll need to cut out two sheets, glue them together and then cut the individual counters. It’s not ideal, but again for ~$8 you aren’t getting wooden blocks. I used some Pritt Stick (glue stick for Americans?) to glue the two sheets together and then cut them out with a pair of scissors. My artistic skills are basically limited to painting miniatures so the cutting and sticking turned out OK but could have been better.
I was really happy with the look of the game board, however. The print quality is excellent and the graphic design is just really pleasing to me, from the typeface, to the colour palette used. Once again, with a little elbow grease this game is a steal for ~$8.
I’m recommending this one for almost everyone! It’s so quick and easy to learn that anyone can play it. Is the game going to give you 20 years of replay value? No. Is it going to give you a fun little exercise to do when you have a spare 10 minutes? Yes. Did I learn something about the war that I did not know prior to playing this game? Yes. And that’s what I want from a little solo game like this. It’s quick, interesting, educational and has some fun tension when you try to push your luck deeper into the harbour for those juicy warships!
You can pick the game up here: http://www.hfdgames.com/algeciras.html for literally $7.95 at the time of writing.