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Captain Sonar is a submarine duel pitting two teams of up to four players against one another in fast-paced, real-time gameplay. Separated by cardboard screens, each team divides their submarine’s responsibilities into four unique roles: captain, first mate, engineering and radio operator. Each role is tremendously important, and teamwork is required to successfully discover the opposing submarine and destroy it before the game is through.
Think of every position as its own real-time mini-game, with each completely crucial to the team’s survivability.
"As you can expect, it makes for a very chaotic, very exciting and very fun experience as you’re trying to keep track of your job while listening to what the enemy is doing," Bates said. "You hope they don’t catch you when you’re surfacing to repair, or run into one of their mines or anything like that."
The captain is responsible for setting the submarine’s course as well as dictating which of the vessel’s various weapons and surveillance equipment to deploy. They will shout commands and then use a dry erase marker to plot out their course on the map.
After their command is issued, the first mate responds to their charging one of the submarine’s systems each time the ship moves. Mines and torpedos are used to sink the enemy sub, while probes and sonar are useful in pinpointing where your opponent is lurking. The first mate may also choose to engage the stealth drive, allowing her team to make a quick escape when the opposing team has a lock on their location.
But every system adds strain to the submarine, and engineers ensure that it doesn’t sustain critical damage. Certain systems need to be disabled to reduce heat so that others can remain active, and communication between the engineer and the captain is vital to ensure that plans are successfully carried out to completion.
And finally, there’s the radio operator, which might be my favorite role in the game. They are responsible for tracking the enemy team’s movements by listening to their table talk. Using a clear plastic sheet and a marker, they try to plot possible locations and avenues for attack. Their contributions to the team are perhaps the most important, as locating the other team’s sub and destroying it is the only way to win.