ON THE TABLE: Silent Victory… to the Death!

Wednesday , 6, September 2017 Leave a comment

Why is the solitaire war game Silent Victory way better with two players? Because context is everything.

Oh sure, it does keep you honest. A player is liable to forget bonus and rolls that aren’t in his favor. Having two people on board makes for a much tighter ship. But having two players going through their missions concurrently means there’s twice as much information being fed into the overall situation.

For instance, when I blew my chance to take down a capital ship by being detected on my way into close range, that changes things for when my opponent gets a similar opportunity. Close range doesn’t look like such a good deal. But things are different now that his torpedoes are duds only half the time instead of two thirds of the time. Is going for a night surface attack worth the risk…?

My opponent judged no even though the Japanese depth charges were still pretty toothless. When he scored only three of the five hits he needed, that looked like a really bad move! I’ll tell you one thing. The stakes on what someone decides to do on the next encounter with a Capital ship? They just got ratcheted up another notch!

There’s a first time for everything in this game. First person to get a special event…? It was my opponent. (Somebody got an appendicitis on his boat and his medic graduated to expert level for successfully tending to it.)

Maybe that’s not such a big deal, sure. But the first guy to get an unsuccessful mission? That’s gonna be hard to live down! It happened to my opponent when he encountered a Japanese destroyer in his first patrol box. It looked like too much risk for too little tonnage, so he passed… and then failed to encounter anything else for the rest of the voyage!

That was my big chance to catch up. Hoo boy! Every single die roll started to matter in a way it wouldn’t have if I was playing alone. I got assigned to pick up pilots in the Marshall’s. That gave me a more or less free “success”, though I would be really embarrassed to have those guys get hit by a depth charge. (Of course, I was patrolling during the exact month where the Japanese depth charges were more effective while my torpedoes were still duds half the time. Doh!)

I get to the last patrol box and run into a convoy. My big chance to rack up! I execute a night time surface attack and spread my torpedoes evenly among the four fat targets, all in the 4000 to 6000 ton range. I score two hits on one freighter and one hit on another, failing to sink any of them. I had hoped maybe to chase down these guys for another round, but it was not to be: the escort sighted me and I took a beating.

We are neck and neck in this game with my opponent ahead just one good sized freighter and everything is about to change. The Japanese are noticeably more dangerous now… and our torpedoes are about to get better. Also, were about to get some electrics to go with our steam torpedoes.

It’s so close, it maybe comes down to who ends up getting the wrong set of die rolls on a detection cycle. On the other hand, we’re both faced with hard decisions every patrol. do we risk switching to night and letting the convoy get away? Who do we engage and what kind of spread should we fire? The answer to these questions is always obvious just after something goes wrong.

And it matters just that much more when someones there standing by to gloat about it when they do!

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