Sensuikan: Japanese Fleet Submarines, 1941-45 is a solitaire, tactical level game that places you in command of a Japanese Fleet submarine from Pearl Harbor until the end of the war in 1945. After choosing a class, your mission is to conduct special missions as assigned by the Combined Fleet. The player will take his submarine on assigned missions with the objective to complete said missions, as opposed to necessarily sinking merchant vessels (although that is sometimes an objective). You will be advancing your crew quality and increasing your commander’s rank and awards—all while remembering you have to make it home amidst diminishing odds of survival as the war progresses.
Players will find it extremely challenging to survive an entire tour from 1941 to 1945, at which time, if still alive, you will surrender at port, having done your part on the front lines.
A fascinating historical addition to Sensuikan is three new modules: the Aircraft Module, the Midget Sub Module, and the Kaiten (suicide torpedo) Module. These modules facilitate play if a player is assigned to a submarine that is equipped with one of these special capabilities.
The system is packed with rich technical detail based on the various submarine classes used by Japan. There are no less than 17 classes of submarine to choose from. These include:
- Types A, B, C
- Junsen (3 classes)
- Kirai-Sen Class
- Kaidai (5 classes)
- Type B. 3 and Type C. 3
- Sen-Toku and Sen-Taka Classes
- Type A (Modified)
The different classes have historical equipment, sometimes including aircraft in watertight hangars, midget submarines, and later in the war, suicide torpedoes. You may be assigned to special missions based on your class’s capabilities – perhaps a midget submarine attack on Pearl Harbor or Australia, the bombing of the U.S. west coast, or possibly even an attack on the Panama Canal.
Besides the focus on hardware, the human aspect of the war is captured as the submarine Commander (the player) and his crew can improve over time via skills acquisition. In addition to having combat modules to facilitate ease of play, the game includes a major change by including the “Major Event” markers that track the war’s progress and possibly involve the player in supporting the Major Events as they occur.
Gameplay moves quickly, following a set sequence of events that are repeated until the end of the game. Once you have your initial assignment, your submarine goes on patrol, randomly rolling for events and encounters. Special emphasis is placed on successfully conducting any operations assigned to you by Higher Command, as implemented by the “Major Event” marker system. Although sinking enemy shipping is always encouraged, the game’s primary goal is to conduct operations as assigned to support the Main Force Fleet or other ongoing significant military operations.
This game should be highly accessible to those familiar with the “The Hunters” or “Silent Victory” game systems and is meant to be a historical yet highly playable and exciting solitaire game covering Japanese fleet boat operations in World War II.
- Complexity: 4 out of 10
- Solitaire Suitability: 10 out of 10 (solitaire game design)
- Time Scale: Monthly (or longer) patrols
- Map Scale: Abstract
- Unit Scale: Individual submarines aircraft, weapon systems, specific crew members, torpedoes and ammo rounds
- Players: One (with option for two or more)
- Playing Time: 15 to 20 minutes per patrol, 5+ hours per career
- Three Counter Sheets of unit counters/markers
- Nine Submarine Display Mats (double sided, for 17 submarine classes and 1 midget sub, total)
- Eight Player Aid Cards (double-sided)
- Two Player Aid Cards (single-sided)
- Four Tactical Combat Display Maps (double-sided, with 10 maps total)
- One Captain and Crew Status Display Mat
- One Operations Map
- Rules Booklet
- One Submarine Patrol Logsheet
- Two 6-sided, and two 10-sided die
- Box and Lid
- Designers: Gregory M. Smith and Brett Grimmond
- Artist: Nadir Elfarra, Brien Miller
- Project Director: John Kranz