Captain sonar is a two-eight-player board game designed by Roberta Fraga and Yohan Lemonnier. It is real battleship warfare where you have to destroy the other team’s submarine. It’s recommended you play with eight players because there are four roles in the game: the captain, radio operator, first mate, and engineer.
The game is set in an age of economic war where there is a battle for the control of the ocean’s depth.
In this fun chaotic game, you get to battle each other using various tactics given to various positions in the game. It is a great reminder of battleship if you have ever played it before.
If you want to have fun at parties and game nights, here is a comprehensive guide on how to play Captain Sonar. Let’s dive in.
- 2 sets of 12 role sheets
- (1 for each team, yellow and blue)
- Each sheet is two-sided: the light side is used
- for turn-by-turn mode, while the dark side is
- used for real-time mode.
- For each team:
- 1 First Mate sheet
- 1 Engineer sheet
- 5 Captain sheets (1 for each scenario)
- 5 Radio Operator sheets (1 for each scenario)
- 2 transparent sheets for the Radio Operators
- 8 erasable marker pens
- 2 screens
Objective of the Game
The main aim of each team is to oppose and defeat each other by destroying their submarines. The first team who sustains four damages to their submarine loses the game.
Setting up the game will take four simple steps.
- From the image above, place the screens in between the players at the center of the table end-to-end.
- Next, choose a scenario that will be located on page 8 of your rule book. Also, each captain and radio operator will choose their respective sheets accordingly. If playing in real-time mode, the dark side of the sheet will be used. But if it’s in turn-by-turn mode, use the other side.
- Then, each team will at opposite sides of each other.
- Meanwhile, each first mate and engineer will also take their corresponding sheets.
- The Radio operator also takes a transparent sheet.
- And lastly, all players will take an erasable marker pen.
As said earlier, it’s advisable to have up to eight players for the game. However, if less, the captain can take on additional roles. For instance, if only a team of two, the captain has to play in addition the roles of first mate, radio operator, and engineer which is very taxing. And if three players, one of the players has to play both the role of captain and first mate.
Roles in the Game
The captain is the overall box responsible for controlling the affairs and the other players on the team.
At the start of the game, the captain draws an “X”, showing where his starting position will be, and also hidden from the view of the enemy team.
After that, the captains of both teams will shout “Dive”, signaling the start of the game. They will both announce the course of their submarines and draw a route on their maps. This is illustrated in the Alpha Map below.
Announcing a course
Each captain has four directions to move; north, south, east, and west. He has to explicitly make this announcement to the hearing of all players.
He should announce it loudly using phrases like “HEAD EAST/WEST/NORTH/or SOUTH.
Depending on the mode being played, the announcement is done differently. If it’s in real-time mode, the captain announces his course at his own pace. If turn by turn, they will alternate making announcements.
Other important points to the captain
- Just like the snake game, a captain cannot go or move across his previous route.
- A submarine cannot move into an island.
- He can only erase his route by coming to the surface.
When a captain is obstructed by islands, mines, or his own route, he has to immediately surface.
The radio operator, just like the name sounds, see and ears on behalf of the entire team. He tracks the position of enemy submarines by listening to their announcements and reporting it back to the captain.
When he hears the announcements, he takes out his transparent sheet and tries to locate where the enemy is.
Using his transparent sheet, he slides over his map with the intention of determining where the enemy’s route and position are, constantly updating the captain with the information as often as possible.
The Radio operator uses the sonar and drone systems to carry out his duty, constantly narrowing down the enemy’s location, until he is able precisely to pinpoint it. And these tools are activated by the First Mate or the Captain.
His job is to ensure the submarine’s systems are online by advancing the gauges.
Managing the Gauges
He marks empty spaces on the gauge in accordance with the announcements of the captain. He charges up the weapons each time he marks an empty space.
If all empty spaces are marked, he will announce it to the hearing of all. For instance, if he says “Drone Ready”, the captain gets to know he has a drone if he needs one.
The captain is responsible for activating all the systems. However, the First Mate can also activate the Sonar and drone systems if he wants to.
In addition to managing gauges, he also checking checks for damages and keep tabs on them as well. At the top of his sheet are four spaces, each representing damages done to the ship. If the submarine takes a hit, he crosses out one of the empty spaces until there is no space left. If that happens the submarine is destroyed and the team loses the game.
The engineer checks for breakdowns occurring on the submarine at each announcement by the captain. Some of the breakdowns will either completely destroy or damage the submarine.
Just like the First Mate, the engineer also marks out symbols on his sheet, each showing the damage caused. The damages can either be in the reactor or the general circuits.
Whenever the captain announces a move, check one of the directional symbols on the visual, and say to the captain okay.
If you take even one damage on any of the above systems, the corresponding systems cannot be activated.
If you take any damage of any kind, you must announce it. Damages taken cannot be fixed, but some of the systems are self-repairing.
The directional systems can self-repair, however, other systems can only be fixed by surfacing.
Other Abilities of the Captain
Circuits linked together can self-repair when all the corresponding symbols are crossed out. Then the engineer will erase all the breakdown marks on the sheet.
As we said earlier, certain damages can also only be repaired by surfacing. Particularly, damages that affect the reactors.
To activate surfacing, the captain announces “SURFACE” which leaves you vulnerable for some time because the enemy gets to know which sector, you’re in.
Depending on which mode you’re playing, surfacing works a little bit differently.
If in turn-by-turn mode, after you have taken your turn, the other team gets to take three turns in a row before you can.
However, in real-time mode, it works quite differently. In order to repair your systems, take a look at the blueprint on the engineer’s sheet. Each player will take turns drawing the line of each section. After that, your engineer will hand over the board to the enemy engineer for inspection. If properly done, your engineer can erase all the damages to the systems. Then the captain announces “READY TO DIVE”, and then he will trace the old route to begin at the current surface point. He will also keep the current positions of his mines.
If in case the enemy engineer finds something wrong with the outlining, the responsible player will have to fix it.
Now let’s move on to Systems.
To activate a system, first, check with the engineer whether there are any breakdowns in any of the systems. If there is any breakdown, you cannot activate any system. If not, you can start activating a system. And you can only activate one system at a time.
The systems can be broken down into two; offensive and defensive.
The offensive systems contain the mine and the torpedo system.
In case, if all is clear and no system has a breakdown, all teams must place their markers down for you to announce your intention.
If you intend to drop a mine, using the marker, go to a point adjacent to your current location and write an M on the map. After this, you can detonate the mine. Then you will announce the mine’s location and if your enemy’s submarine is exactly at the position, they take two damages. And if they’re adjacent to that space, whether diagonally or orthogonally, they will only take one damage.
Torpedoes on the other hand are more immediate. When you launch a torpedo, you need to announce a point between 1-4 spaces away from you. You also need to draw a path through the point without hitting an island. In regards to the enemy’s position, it can also cause one or two damages. Torpedoes can also destroy you or your mines.
After there has been a torpedo detonation, the enemy captain will announce or say all clear if they were not damaged, indirect if he took one damage, and direct if he took two damage.
Now, let’s consider the defense systems; Drones, Sonar, Silence, and Scenario.
If you activate the drone system, you will choose a sector, and ask the enemy sector if he is stationed there. He is obligated to tell you the truth. Yes, if he is there, and No if he is not.
For the sonar system, the enemy captain will have to give you two pieces of information. They will have to give their location; the sector and the row. However, they have to truthfully provide you with the correct sector but lie about the row they’re in.
The next defensive system is silence. With this system, you can move four spaces without announcing it to the hearing of the other team. You can make it known to your team members by either showing them the map or giving them directions. When this is done, the engineer and the first mate can cross out the symbols on their sheets: the first to repair any breakdowns, and the second to charge the systems.
Coming next is the scenario system. Not all maps have this system, and like the other systems, it follows all system rules.