From the release:
Game designer Peter Schweighofer recently released Operation Drumbeat: A Solitaire Wargame of U-Boats Prowling America’s Shores, currently available through the Griffon Publishing Studio e-storefront at WargamesVault.com. The table-driven wargame puts players in the roles of German u-boat commanders in the opening months of 1942 when America seemed unprepared for war and German long-range Type IX u-boats preyed on American shipping along the East Coast.
“I was inspired by my love of Avalon Hill’s classic solitaire game B-17, Queen of the Skies,” Schweighofer said. The game used tables and a flight log to chart a bomber’s progress against targets by mission and campaign. “After reading a magazine article about Operation Drumbeat and undertaking some research into u-boat operations, grid maps, and war logbooks, I discovered I had the elements of a similar solitaire wargame illustrating the perils of u-boat patrols.” He chose Operation Drumbeat for its higher survivability rate for u-boat crews and thus a better chance for success and a more fulfilling play experience than the more dangerous wolfpack actions against convoys in the open Atlantic. Each turn players determine their patrol actions, plot their course using grid maps similar to those actually used by u-boat captains, evade patrols, and engage targets, hoping to sink them before reinforcements arrive. Players document the submarine’s activity in a journal modeled on the actual logbooks u-boat captains used to record their patrols.
The game incorporates several elements to evoke the feeling and tension of the period, the last time German u-boats preyed on American shipping with such a high degree of success. Players learn to read and plot their course on a map of the operational area with a superimposed grid system used to designate the submarine’s location. Hunting close to shore increases the chance of encountering targets, but also raises the likelihood of running into American patrols. Although random die rolls determine results on tables for events such as weather, patrols, and targets -- all of which increase in difficulty as time passes to reflect America’s more competent military strategies -- the player determines whether to engage targets in a continuous push-your-luck game; can they continue attacks on a target for one more turn before reinforcements arrive?
Each turn the player records u-boat activities in a war logbook modeled on the actual Kriegstagebuch captains used to note weather and location, patrols encountered, and targets engaged. “I also found inspiration from John Fiore’s Solo Nexus website (http://solonexus.blogspot.com), which challenged me to more deeply examine solitaire gaming and what players walk away with from such play experiences,” Schweighofer said. “Using the war logbook seemed not only a way to incorporate a historical document into the game, but to enable players to record their own experiences within the context and format of historical documents actually used by u-boat captains.” (Fiore also served as one of the playtesters for Operation Drumbeat.)
Peter Schweighofer is a writer, editor, and game developer with more than 20 years’ experience in the publishing field, including time working for many companies in the adventure gaming hobby. While best-known for his contributions to various iterations of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, he’s also the author of period sourcebooks Pulp Egypt and Heroes of Rura-Tonga, the free dungeon-delving Creatures & Caverns, 2nd Edition, as well as numerous other works for various roleplaying games. He pursues his game-publishing activities through Griffon Publishing Studio.