Captain Sonar (2022)

Captain Sonar (2022)

RRP: $44.99
Now $50.76(SAVE 10%)
RRP $56.99
Expected Restock Date 30/06/2024
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Get on board a state-of-the-art submarine and team-up! Every role is important and the confrontation is merciless. Be organized and communicative! Because a Captain is nothing without his crew: the First Mate, the Radio Operator, and the Engineer! All the members of a team sit on one side of the table, and they each take a particular role on the submarine, with the division of labou…
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-MTGMATSONAR Availability Backorder
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Simple rules and quick setup
  • Each crew member has their own mini-game
  • Strong Teamwork

Might Not Like

  • The game is best with 6-8 players
  • Graphics of the boards could be improved
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Description

Get on board a state-of-the-art submarine and team-up! Every role is important and the confrontation is merciless. Be organized and communicative! Because a Captain is nothing without his crew: the First Mate, the Radio Operator, and the Engineer!

All the members of a team sit on one side of the table, and they each take a particular role on the submarine, with the division of labour for these roles being dependent on the number of players in the game: One player might be the captain, who is responsible for moving the submarine and announcing some details of this movement; another player is manning the sonar in order to listen to the opposing captain's orders and try to decipher where that sub might be in the water; a third player might be working in the munitions room to prepare torpedoes, mines and other devices that will allow for combat.

Captain Sonar can be played in two modes: turn-by-turn or simultaneous. In the latter set-up, all the members of a team take their actions simultaneously while trying to track what the opponents are doing, too. When a captain is ready to launch an attack, the action pauses for a moment to see whether a hit has been recorded - then play resumes with the target having snuck away while the attacker paused or with bits of metal now scattered across the ocean floor.

Captain Sonar is a board game about submarines released in 2016. I was already hooked up the moment I first read the word “submarine” on the game box as my (old) brain immediately brought me back to the exciting sequences of the movie Hunt for Red October. When I opened the box and read the rules I found the actual game was much better than I was hoping for as the developers added interesting features like real time action, hidden strategies, erasable boards and much more.

Captain Sonar can be played up to 8 players split into two teams, each comprised of four different roles. The Captain is in charge and decides where to move the submarine and when to attack. The Radio Operator tries to deduce where the enemy submarine is heading or hiding. The First Mate ensures that all submarine sub-systems and weapons are ready to be used. The Engineer monitors the submarine conditions and carries out routine maintenance. Working together, each team tries to be the first to locate the enemy submarine and destroy it.

Are you curious to learn more about the game and brave enough to challenge the dark depth of the ocean? If so, let’s dive into the box together.

Dive! Dive! Dive!

Captain Sonar is one of the best example of how great games don’t need always tons of components. In fact, in the box you will just find two foldable heavy cardboard boards, a good amount of small boards, a few re-writeable markers (with extra cleaning pads), two clear plastic boards and the rulebook. All components are quite easy to identify although I was a bit puzzled by a small tag alerting to “remove the plastic cover before playing the game”. It took me a few minutes to realize the clear boards where in fact covered by a protective layer that had to be removed.

The quality of all the components is quite good and perfectly fits the scope. I was quite happy to see that the game comes with a lot of additional pens and erasers and not just the bare minimum needed as I very often see in other games. The overall graphic of the boards is not super exciting but it has been well thought to allow a smooth gameplay. All boards are actually fully language independent and they list clearly all the info players need to remind during the game using a good set of icons.

Finally, I wanted to mention the rulebook as it is not frequent to find one with only 8 page. Together with being quite short, I found that Captain Sonar’s rulebook is actually also very well written with rules described nicely and with a lot of examples. As soon as you start reading, the gameplay unfolds itself quite quickly as you can find in the next paragraph.

To Your Battle Stations! Go! Go! Go!

As mentioned initially, all players need first to split into two teams. The games is designed to work better at higher player counts although it can work also with just 4 players. The experience of playing in 2 is just not very rewarding as this game relies a lot on player interaction to create the suspense and the fun.

Once the teams formed, they will need to sit on two different sides of the big cardboard divider and

then decide which role each player will take. Together with picking the roles, the teams will need to decide if they want to play real time on in turns. The first mode is the best way to experience the game but it is recommended only once the players understand the rules and which tasks they need to perform in their role. The turn base version of the game is still very enjoyable and should be the choice when playing for the first time or in a very noisy environment. Once the game mode and the roles decided each player takes the corresponding board. If you are playing an advanced map, you need also to read the rules of that scenario.

Once the game starts, all turns and action will be driven by the two captains. Every turn, the captain of each team will declare a direction and then move the submarine accordingly on their map by drawing a line. The first mate will tick a box for any of the submarine weapons or detection systems in order to charge them and the engineer will mark one system for maintenance as it will not be used till repaired. Both the first mate and the engineer take their own decisions but they need to communicate with the captain when a system is ready to be used or when the captain needs to change direction to allow systems to be repaired. Overall, is like each player has their own mini game to attend while coordinating together to develop a successful plan.

The radio operators have a slightly different job as they are in charge of locating the enemy submarine. Their main task is to listen to the commands made by the opposing Captain, and plot the enemy submarine possible course on a map of their own. The challenge is that the operator has no idea of the starting position of the enemy submarine but here is where Captain sonar came up with a clever solution. In fact the operator draws the enemy submarine course on a clear sheet that is placed over the map. After a few turns, the operator can deduct the most probable starting and current position by moving the sheet around as the submarine course can never cross an island or intersect itself.

Once the operator has discovered the position of the enemy they can communicate it to the captain and the hunt can start. The aim of the the captain is to damage the enemy submarine by detonating a previously placed mine or by firing a torpedo. The first mate and the engineer are key in this phase as there is nothing more annoying to find the enemy and to be unable to engage it as weapons are disabled or not loaded.

Have You Lost Another Submarine, Andrei?

As you may have picked picked-up by reading the gameplay, Captain Sonar is quite an interesting twist of the original Battleship board game where there is just one target but it keeps moving around. You then add some hints of a deduction game, a few mini-games and tons of player interaction to spice up a classic and the final result is a tense gameplay that provides loads of fun.

After playing this game a few times, I feel the real winning factor is the strong player to player interaction required in order to win. Every player is in fact both focused on doing “the right choice” on their own board while keeping an eye on what the rest of the crew is doing. The game therefore forces everyone to work together as efficiently as possible and to think as a team. Communication is not only the key to success but also the door to some good role-playing. After a few games, I promise the room will be filled with “AYE CAPTAIN”, “TORPEDO READY” and “EMERGENCY SURFACE” shouted across the table.

The volume and urgency of everyone’s commands usually grow exponentially during the game to reflect the tension of not knowing if your submarine is hunting or is been hunted. The tension and the emotional load of this game can be quite substantial but the satisfaction of accomplishing your goal here is immense. In most cases, you will find yourself in need to jump back again and play over and over again.

For me this is always a good sign and I think Captain Sonar is overall a very good game to play with your friends. The only aspect I would seriously consider before buying is the player count. Although the game still plays well with 4 players, it will really shine at 6-8 and if you feels it will be hard to get so many people together you need to be aware you may lose a bit of the excitement this game can provide.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Simple rules and quick setup
  • Each crew member has their own mini-game
  • Strong Teamwork

Might not like

  • The game is best with 6-8 players
  • Graphics of the boards could be improved