The Hunt for Red October – Arctic Patrol

The first scenario from The Hunt for Red October pits two NATO submarines against three Soviet subs. In this tense battle beneath the waves during the early days of World War III, which side will come out ahead?

The objective is to sink as many enemy subs as possible and also to get your subs within five spaces of the enemy base.  In this case, the NATO base is Iceland while the Soviet base is Kola. To flesh things out a bit, both sides get ASW aircraft. NATO has a P-3 stationed in Iceland while the Russkies get two IL-38s in Kola.

Soviet ASW planes stationed in Kola

The Soviets are first to set up their subs within three spaces of Kola.  NATO then places their own subs within three spaces of Iceland. The Soviets can place up to 2 subs in one space. NATO can place only one in each space.

Despite the two subs per space allowance, the Russians place their subs alone in the deep water spaces just off the coast of Norway in the Norwegian Sea. NATO opts for coverage and places each sub three spaces apart just to the north of Iceland.

Soviet and NATO player set up. Soviet subs are to the right. NATO subs are on the left.

The classes of the three Soviet subs are: Alfa, Victor, and Tango. The two NATO subs are a US Navy Los Angeles-class attack sub and a British Trafalgar-class SSN.

Los Angeles class attack sub reporting for duty. Detection rating 6. Attack rating 4.

We start off with 2 detection markers for each side. The Soviets roll a d6 to determine additional DMs while the NATO player gets to roll a d10. We get a 6 for the Russians (total of 8 DMs) and a 9 for NATO (a whopping 11 DMs). This gives NATO the initiative.  The NATO player lets the Soviets move first.

The Soviets move their subs cautiously towards Iceland, avoiding areas with NATO subs.

Soviet subs move towards Iceland.

The NATO player decides to move both of his submarines into the nearest space with a Soviet sub. The Soviet player gets to choose whether or not to play a detection marker and declines. By doing this, he is hoping to stay hidden until the Battle step when he can bring in his ASW aircraft to help out. In the Aircraft Movement Phase, both players bring their ASW aircraft into the same spot.

Aircraft Movement Phase – Turn 1

Both sides play 3 detection markers since each unit in the space is allowed to play one detection marker.

NATO and Soviets both play 3 detection markers.

The Tango sub is detected while both NATO subs are undetected. All units move to the Battle Board to resolve combat.

All units are placed on the Battle Board
Because both NATO subs are undetected, they roll a d6 instead of d10 for their attack die. At the end of the step, the subs will become detected and whoever is in the Attack Second box can attack. I’m still learning the system a bit and make a bad decision by putting the Tango in the Attack First box. Oh well.
It doesn’t matter anyways. The Tango will not survive the firt round of attacks. Both NATO subs roll equal to or under their attack ratings of 4 and the Tango is sunk. Submarines are sunk after only one hit in this game.
NATO subs score hits on the Tango submarine

Turn 2:

All unused detection markers for both sides are tossed out and 2 new ones are assigned to both sides. We reroll again for initiative and NATO gets 9 DMs while the Soviets get 3. If there were more units in this scenario, this would probably be a really big deal as one side would have to think carefully about when to play these markers. However, it’s not enough to really change much in this scenario.
Rolls and DMs for both sides. NATO – blue, Russians – red.

Both sides have 2 subs left each so the odds are evened up a bit. NATO lets the Soviets go again. The Soviets move into the Los Angeles’ hex. The NATO player declines to play a detection marker and play passes over to NATO. The NATO player brings the Trafalgar into the same space. The Soviets decline to play a DM and again the ASW aircraft are brought to bear. The Soviets have more units in the space (2 ASW aircraft and 2 subs) so they get to play 4 detection markers. NATO has only three units there (the P3 Orion and the two NATO subs) so they play their maximum three DMs.
Both Soviet subs are detected. The NATO player has a bit of an advantage because the Soviets get a -2 detection rating when trying to detect NATO subs so they need to roll a 2 or less to detect. One of the IL38s manages a roll of 2 and the Trafalgar is detected. 
Sub battle brewing – Soviets play 4 detection markers and NATO plays 3.
On the Battle Board, I decide that the Soviets will just go for a shot at the Trafalgar instead of hoping to survive past the first attack round and shooting at the Los Angeles so I place the Soviet units in the Attack First box again.
The NATO subs attack first. The Trafalgar rolls on a d10 since it is detected but the Los Angeles rolls a d6 since it is undetected. The Trafalgar goes for the Alfa and misses but the Los Angeles hits the Victor.
Trafalgar rolls over its attack rating while Los Angeles scores a hit.
The Victor is sunk but it still gets to attack before it goes down. Both Soviet subs roll a d10 to hit the Trafalgar.  The Alfa rolls a 4 and the Victor rolls a 2. Both shots hit and the Trafalgar is sunk. The second hit is overkill but that’s okay with me.
Both detected Soviet subs manage a hit on the Trafalgar.
Now the surviving boats are placed back on the board and we go to Turn 3.
Tense! The end of Turn 2.
Turn 3:
Both sides roll for DMs as usual and roll ‘1’s. Both sides have 3 DMs for the turn. Since the DM numbers are equal, the Soviets have initiative. No one moves or plays detection markers. We go straight to Aircraft Movement. The same old thing happens this turn – the ASW aircraft move into the space. This turn, NATO can play 2 DMs while the Soviets place 3 DMs.
The P3 detects the Soviet Alfa class submarine and the Soviets fail to detect the American sub at all. We move to the Battle Board. The NATO player places his sub on the Attack First space while the Soviet player, hoping for the best, puts the Alfa in the Attack Second space. The NATO player need only roll a 4 or less on either of two dice to sink the Alfa and win the game.
Nope! The NATO player rolls a ‘7’ (on a d10)  for the P3 Orion and a ‘6’ (on a d6) for the Los Angeles submarine. The Alfa survives the initial heat and fires back at the now detected American submarine.
We roll a ‘1’ and the Los Angeles class sub is sunk!
Soviet Alfa-class sub fires back at Los Angeles class submarine
At the end of the turn, the Soviets had the only submarine on the board and were declared the winner with 7 VPs (2 enemy subs sunk x 2 VP + 3 VP for sub within 5 spaces of enemy airbase) while NATO had 4 VPs (2 enemy subs sunk x 2 VP).
The Alfa class submarine slips away under the cold waves of the Norwegian Sea.
This was a really fun first scenario and well-aimed at teaching the basics of movement, detection, and combat. As I mentioned in my first impressions, this is really a game of knowing when to play your detection markers. It is extremely light but has a very solid theme and enough uncertainty built into the system that you’re always guessing and hoping for the best. It ain’t exactly 2nd Fleet by a longshot but if you are looking for a nice beer and pretzels game or a dad and son/daughter game, this might do the trick.


  1. Hello Brad,
    Bought the game a few weeks ago, after your first piece on it. Saw it for just € 10,– offered by a guy not 10 kilometers from me.
    Played it with my son (15) last week twice (changing sides the second time), and really enjoyed it.
    Am now trying to find Red Storm Rising, as you can apparently play them together, for that WWIII feeling.
    According to my scenario book for HFRO though, the forces in the first scenario are greater then you show them above… Although the reduction does make for clearer pictures and explaination.
    My son and I plan to play scenario 3 next, to see if the convoy gets through. Thanks for bringin this game to my attention, and then table, by giving it a good review!



  2. Hey Louis,

    Good to hear back from you! I'm glad you and your son liked the game. That is terrific news and bodes well for my intention to play this with my own son. Thanks for mentioning the change in forces for scenario 1. I played scenario 3 just the other day and I have an AAR coming up in two weeks to recount my own play. Please let me know how your game of scenario 3 goes. Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to Top