Bernard Von Unfal, Patrol 01

Penang, Malaysia: Having Helmut Grimm (one of the best ever Captain names) transferred to training duties in Kiel thus ending his promising career in Silent Hunter III, I decided to move into the Mediterranean in Silent Hunter IV with the Wolves of the Pacific expansion pack.

Not having a JoneSoft SH4 Commander utility available, I was forced to take what the game gave me, which is one of the lamest Captain names ever - Bernard Von Unfal (might as well have been Baron Von Barkey Von Snowzer), and the Type IX-D2 boat. I was able to select the Campaign (1 of 2 choices) and the base (Penang).

The starting renown was 2,500 and the difficulty level was set to normal. The mission presented me with an objective of taking my boat, the U-195 from Penang and transporting 10 tons of "vital supplies" to friendly troops stationed in Taipei. Not having gone through the training academy, I had no idea how this was going to functionally work. Thankfully the game told me what to do when the time came.

I chose to start the patrol outside of the harbor instead of inside the harbor docked at the tender (not sure if this would cost me renown, I will have to research any remaining wiki's for the game) and set a course that would take me down around Singapore and up past Saigon through the South China Sea on my way to through the Luzon Straight and into Taipei.

The objective is well marked and once you are within range (right on top of it); the game gives you a pop-up with the following options: Launch boat or Postpone. Why on earth you would want to postpone completing the objective after all you went through to get right on top of it is beyond me. Perhaps the developers had something else in mind or there may be something later on in the game that utilizes this that I may not be aware of just yet.

Funny thing happened, I still had some course laid out into the objective icon when the popup occurred, so when I clicked it to the launch the boat my vessel promptly ran over the boat and I heard a hideous screeching noise outside. I ran out topside to catch a glimpse of the boat disappearing under the front of my ship. Not sure if this is how the boat launch actually works, or if I was supposed to visually see it make its way across to the tender.

At any rate, in real life I would have killed everyone onboard that boat, but the game gave me credit for completing the objective. I sent out a contact report while still on scene and received a response that I could patrol another area of my choice or return to base. Given the hideous nature of the time compression having been constantly interrupted for sonar contacts (see post mortem below); I had no desire to patrol anywhere.

Later on I send another status update and then received a response instructing me to go patrol grid quadrant SZ 72 and sink 5,000 tons of merchant shipping (interestingly enough to note that the patrol grid for 24 hours from SH3 is gone and now you just have tonnage to complete).

I was already sitting outside of Penang and ready to dock when I sent the message and received the response, so I do not know if their revised orders were sent at some point when I was button mashing to get through the time compression/sonar update nightmare, or if it was only just generated then when I sent the status report.

It didn't matter to me at that point as I was pretty frustrated with the situation and docked to end the mission. My renown increased to 3,250, however I received no medals or anything to hand out to the crew or myself. In SH3 you at least almost always had medals for the crew to pass out. All told, the patrol lasted almost 26 days and was ripe with frustration given how your time compression decreases for sonar updates.

I know that I could very well bypass enemy shipping, however the nearest enemy base seemed to be Dutch Harbor Alaska, and I wasn't about to go sink the Northwestern and Sig!! There should at least be an option to ignore sonar contact updates since you cannot remove the kid that is manning the station (if you take it over yourself, the max time compression available is only X32).

Having been my first completed mission for the German side in Silent Hunter IV, here are my overall impressions of the game:

The Great

Time compression settings that SH3 could not even hope to obtain.
Dynamic layer that allows either "patrol as you wish" or specifically assigned grids.
The graphics are significantly improved over SH3, more so than I would have expected from an UbiSoft game advancing only one iteration.

The Good

Objectives that when achieved can provided you renown.
Ability to dock at other bases during the mission to refit and proceed on the same patrol.
Slick interface with many options and improvements that does make some effort to retain as many default controls as existed in SH3.

The Bad

Apparently there is no way to adjust the difficulty setting once a career is started (you could in SH3, such as making it progressively more realistic as you learned the game and improved).
Apparently there is no way to change out torpedoes before the mission starts (you could in SH3).
Apparently there is no way to send a crewman to rest and leave a compartment vacated (why would I want to do that? Read on...)

The Ugly

Sonar updates constantly impeding your time compression and no apparent way to remove the sonar operator from the station. In the rapid key mashing to try to regain a sane amount of time compression, it is probably possible to miss an incoming radio message changing you from "patrol as you wish" to a specific grid assignment.

Note: Because I later picked up a specific grid assignment when sending a status report, and ignored it by returning to base thus having it marked as "incomplete" in the objectives summary post mission, I am not sure if this deducted any renown from me.

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