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Subject: Full Review of U-Boat Leader rss

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James Dalley
United States
Plano
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This is my first time to do one of these so please inform me on how I can improve.

The Components

The Counters
The counters are a key part to any leader game, and I have to say that I was disappointed with them. I own both phantom and hornet leader and I expected counters as good as PL. The counters for U-Boat Leader were way below the quality of counters in PL, or in any other counter game I own. For example, I own a lot of counter games and have a lot of experience punching counters out carefully, however three of the counters from u-boat leader got seriously damaged when I was punching them out.
My rating 3 of 10

The Cards

The cards in any leader game are the main aspect of the game. Once again I was disappointed. The cards are still usable, but as mentioned in a previous post the cards appear to have been put through a dull cutting machine and many have white and rough edges. However they are in no danger of pealing apart and are perfectly usable just not up to previous leader series standards.
My rating 6

The Maps, Help Sheet, and Tactical Display

These are all the same wonderful quality of the campaign sheets in HL so I was very happy with them. The tactical display is not mounted just as in PL but that does not detract from the game.
My rating 10

U-Boat Cards

The U-Boat cards have the same feel as the aircraft cards for HL and PL. The cards has the u-boat number, the captain's name, the u-boat class, the years of service, gun skill, torp skill, stress levels, speed, and special skills. The main difference is that there are only four levels and not six, you have green, trained, veteran, and ace.
My rating 10

Game Play

Play Time
U-Boat Leader takes between 5 minutes to 45 minutes to play a battle. A short campaign takes about an hour or two, while a medium length takes two to three, and I haven't played a long yet. Compared to HL and PL though I would say that it takes longer because there is more to U-Boat Leader then patrolling.

Strategic Segment
U-Boat Leader is split into four segments this is the first one.
The Strategic segment is when you expand SOs and assign special missions.

Operations Segment
This segment involves the movement of u-boats between the different sectors on the campaign map. Unlike PL and HL in U-Boat Leader you actually use the campaign map as a board and not just a reference sheet. You place your u-boats and maneuver them while drawing event cards as you move them around.

Tactical Segment

Here is where the actual battles take place. For a detailed description read the rules.
The Battles in U-Boat Leader are similar to HL and PL but there is no time limit. Your u-boat can swerve in and out of the other ships attacking and pillaging for as long as it's ammo holds out. The biggest factor in battles is enemy movement. In HL and PL the enemies don't move very much but here they move all the time. You have to roll for the escorts movements and whether or not they detect you. This part of the battle can sometimes bog the battle down, but it feels real while not being as complicated as other games.

Refit Segment

This is the wrap up for the turn. You reload any torps, you restock your ships at port, etc.

Game play rating 10

Overall

This game obviously deserves a place next to HL and PL, this is definitely a leader game and a worthy addition to the series. U-Boat Leader is realistic but not to long, like Silent War. U-Boat Leader is a lot of fun and I am very glad I bought it but the components really do hurt the game.
I often say that good graphics doesn't equal computer games, and the same holds true for board games. However, bad components can make great board games go down a notch.
My hope is that Dan will later release a deluxe version of U-Boat Leader with better counters and cards, and a mounted tactical display.

My overall rating 9
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No No No Sheep
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could you add component photos ?
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Gustav Åkerfelt
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Thanks for the writeup.
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Christopher Schall
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Thanks for the review. I am very disappointed to hear that the components are not up to snuff. HL:CAO counters and cards are very sturdy and I was really expecting this one to be the same.

Edit: Just received the game today. I must disagree with the original poster. I find the counters and cards just fine.
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Eric Lai
Hong Kong
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I am surprised at your assessment of the components, I haven't got this game yet, but given the EXTREMELY good components of DVG's last outing Field Commander: Napoleon, its amazing they got this one wrong.

Love to see some photos of what you mean.
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James Dalley
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I tried to upload photos but apparently they were too blurry, so I'll burrow a friends camera and then upload better photos.
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Dan Verssen
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Glendora
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Hello James,

Thank you for the review!

Since reading it, I've looked through a few copies of the game. I haven't seen the problems with the cards and counters you mentioned.

Has anyone else seen these issues?
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James Dalley
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Here is a quote from a previous post.

"Just opened the box and I'm about to sit down for my first game. I'm interested to hear people's reactions to the components.

So far the game looks very different from other leader games. The tactical display and help sheet are beautiful. The art in sub games tends to be focused on cold steel and compact cluttered space so I was happy to see such a warm glowing open art style. The rich browns with rust , bolts, and gauges gives it almost a steam punk vibe.

My initial reaction to the counters was negative. The color choices seemed odd and uncomfortable but once placed on the tactical board they look good.

My only real complaint would be the cards. The card art is great and the card quality looks to be the same as other games in the series BUT they have not been cut well. The cuts all appear to be accurate but it looks like the machine was a bit dull. They are black cards and have very noticeable white jagged edges. All in all not a major complaint, normal use will dull and smooth out the white edges, but I did find this odd because I've never seen this before with DVG cards.

Ok, back to the game... "
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James Dalley
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Dan,

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about the quality of the pieces. I highly recommend this game. This game is tied for first with Hornet Leader Carrier Air Operations. I love u-boat leader. It is awesome. I was just trying to state my disappointment. I truly hope that I just got a fluke version and that the other copies are in better condition.

Thank you once again for another amazing addition to the leader series. I am eagerly awaiting TAL. Keep up the great work.

Thanks,
James Dalley
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Luke Hughes

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COMPONENTS: I'm not seeing the card edge issue in my copy. I would like to have seen the counter colors more aligned to the color scheme of the rest of the components, but otherwise I think the art style is beautiful.

Thanks for review.
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Andreas Ludwig
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Is it possible to play this one in coop with another player?
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Todd R
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Nice review James. Ok, so based on the reviews of U-Boat Leader and Hornet Leader, I am sold on buying one of these. Here is the real decider for me. What I need game that I can break out, play a mission or two in 60 to 90 minutes and then be able to put the whole thing back in the box with the campaign happening in short sessions over the course of weeks. B-17 Queen of the Skies fits the bill, but I am looking for something new. I am leaning towards UBL but I am concerned that I am not going to be able to put it away mid-campaign.
So, Hornet Leader, U-Boat Leader, or something else?
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Ron Meier
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Dan,

My cards are fine, but some of the counters after punching them came apart (delaminated) on the corners - they seem to be a bit thicker than others. A little glue and pressure solved it. Also the die cut is off just enough. Some of my counters caught the red of the counter next to it.

Everything else is top notch.
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Daniel Schulz
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I just received my copy, and 16 of the cards had scuff marks, varying from slight to significant. 6 of the event cards had scuff marks on the unrevealed side, which makes them unusable. One of the event cards had crease damage similar to the damage a piece of paper received if you pulled it out of a jammed printer. Many (most?) of the cards had minor dings on the edges. My cards also looked like they had been cut with dull blades, showing slight fraying in specific, repeating areas.
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Matthias Desbois
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oh man, i beginning to be afraid to recieve my pre order...

did you contact DVG?
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Vance Strickland
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Nepean
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Recieved my order Wed. and starting playing last night.

All of the cards in my copy are fine. All decks wrapped tight in plastic. No rough edges, scuffs, bends etc.

In fact all of the components are of fantasic quality. The counters came away from the sprues very easily. Maps are perfect. Rule book complete and un-creased or marked.

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Richard Dewsbery
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I'm almost wondering if they printed two different versions of UBL, or whether it's that owners of PL/HL had higher expectations.

My cards are the same as the OP's - a sort of ragged feeling to the edge, that shows as an uneven white feathering, most likely because they were cut with slightly dull knives. It probably wouldn't be noticeable but for the black edging of the cards. Hornet Leader's cards are crisp and black right to the dead straight edges.

-edit- DEFINTELY dull knives IMO - one face of each card shows this problem, the reverse face does not; a sure sign of issues with the cutting.

-edit- U2511 - "Traned". First typo I've spotted, but boy did it leap out at me.

The tokens and chits are also noticeably inferior to those in HL, too. Instead of being thick, white card with a nice, plastic-feel to the coating that made HL stand out from the crowd, the UBL chits are printed on pretty thin cardboard, that when compared to other wargames companies' counters look and feel no better than the average game published 5 years ago.

The rule book is more cheaply printed as well (mine had an odd crease on the first couple of pages, exactly where *all* of my rule books crease after they've been thumbed through a couple o times - pre-read rules, perhaps?), printed on thinner paper with shinier ink, and the various displays don't have the nice coating of the HL campaign sheets.

I'd be very interested to know if Thunderbolt/Apache Leader will get the deluxe HL treatment, or the bog-standard UBL one, given that I have T/AL on pre-order expecting something of the quality of HL.

Any news on an updated rule book, BTW?
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James Dalley
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I just hope too that TAL has the HL CAO standard not UBL standard.

It is really weird though that half of us have bad cards and half have good cards......
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No No No Sheep
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this component issues really scaring me.. how do UBL component compares to older dvg games like FC rommel Or FC alexander
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Felipe Santamaría Iraolagoitia
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Usánsolo-Galdakao
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COUNTERS 1 (FRONT):



COUNTERS 2 (FRONT)


MAP #3:


TACTICAL DISPLAY:



MORE IMAGES:

http://www.mediafire.com/?7q072oyv2mztt

Felipe
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Richard Dewsbery
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Jdlly wrote:
The Components


The Box - usual quality, but why on earth GLUE the insert into place? It makes binning it much more traumatic.
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James Dalley
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I know! I was very frustrated that the insert was glued in! I'm this is a counter game and Dan knows that we like to put our counter trays in the box. How can we do that with a glued in insert??
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Christopher Schall
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I was surprised at this too. Mine, however, was only held in place with one small drop of glue so it came out without too much trouble.
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David Knepper
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DanVerssen wrote:
Hello James,

Thank you for the review!

Since reading it, I've looked through a few copies of the game. I haven't seen the problems with the cards and counters you mentioned.

Has anyone else seen these issues?


Dan, I have the three card decks still in the shrinkwrap. If you look down the side of the deck (from my view, that would be the 'right' side, but it is the side where the "T" from ESCORT & MERCHANT), you can see an a bad cut line down the entire side of the deck, in the exact same place on all three decks. Its about 3/4" down from the top of the deck and goes for about 5/8" along the side of the cards. It is also apparent that there is cutting damage to other cards in each deck, but it is more random damage.
 
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Thomas Lajeunesse
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Hihihi... Stop that, I'm ticklish !
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I also have these slightly ragged edged cards, therefore I put them immediately in sleeves. It really doesn't matter for game purposes, but it does generate a light disappointment in the overall satisfaction of the game.

As for the counter chits, mine were cut well enough and I had no problem with separating them, but the coating is not as smooth as in HL:CAL. The touch is a bit more rough as if there were an additional layer of... dried glu ? This doesn't bother me though, since they are good enough and will probably get this same smooth feeling while I play with them.

Help sheet and tactical display : I simply love them. Nothing to say there, they're as good as any I've used before, and I like the immersive artwork of them.

About the glued insert... Well since I put sleeves on the cards, they take more space, and I tried to take the insert off... Bad surprise when I ripped the cardboard off the bottom of the box. But... well.. it's only the box, and the inside of it at that. I don't have a hole in it, so I won't worry about it.

But the main thing is : I'm definitely happy I bought this game, preordered it even. It is very entertaining, and these little drawbacks were not enough to diminish in any way the pleasure I got while trying my first short campaign. I will speak highly of it to anyone who'd like an enjoyable easy-to-access solitaire submarine game.
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