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Working Down Below

The Engineer’s Role in Captain Sonar

15 July 2016 | Captain Sonar


Over the course of our two past previews for Captain Sonar, we’ve given you the chance to peer beneath the choppy ocean surface and get a closer look at the silent, undersea battles that take place throughout the game. In brief, you and three other players take on the roles of officers aboard a high-tech submarine, defending your corporation’s underwater mining operations against another submarine, commanded by another four-player team.

Whether you play simultaneously or turn-by-turn, your goal remains the same—find and destroy the enemy sub before they can do the same to you. It may sound easy, but even locating the enemy submarine can be difficult when all you have to go on is your radio operator’s intuition. Everyone on your team has a unique role to play, as we revealed in the Captain’s preview and the First Mate’s preview, and communication is essential if you’re going to claim victory.

Today, we add another layer to your games of Captain Sonar with a look at the Engineer and the systems you'll maintain over the course of the game!

Grease Monkeys

Ah, there you are! I figured if we had a quality Engineer, you’d be down here among the moving parts of the Canterbury. Here’s where you’ll spend most of your time: watching the engine, repairing any systems that break, and ensuring that massive nuclear reactor doesn’t overload and kill us all with radiation. If you’re the person I think you are, I’m sure you wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’ll tell you a secret. This was where I started. Yes, the decorated Captain Eli Edwards got his start twisting wrenches in the engine room of a tiny sub called the Pequod. There’s room for advancement from here, but you’ll have your work cut out for you along the way, especially since—and I’ll tell you another secret—this submarine is in no way fit for active service.

You seem shocked! And I’ll admit, the Canterbury puts on a good show. I talk it up for the upper deck officers, but down here, grease monkeys like us can’t keep secrets from each other. These massive engines, powerful torpedo tubes, and all the surveillance equipment simply haven’t been tested well enough to keep them from breaking down with depressing predictability. In fact, I can personally guarantee that for every league the Canterbury moves, you’ll have something break down here. Fortunately, you do have some control over what breaks and when. 

As you can see from your console above, the engine of the Canterbury is divided into four major parts, each corresponding to a different cardinal direction: west, north, south, and east. Whenever the Captain calls out a direction, you’ll need to mark a breakdown in the corresponding sector. For instance, if your Captain calls out that the Canterbury is moving north, you’ll need to mark a breakdown in the north sector.

The Canterbury moves one league to the west, and the Engineer marks a breakdown in the West sector of the engine.

For each breakdown, you’ll cross out a single light. Unfortunately, every one of those lights is crucial to keeping the Canterbury’s systems running. For instance, if even a single light corresponding to the mines and torpedoes is broken, the Canterbury can’t use its weapons at all until the light has been repaired! The same goes for the surveillance systems and the Canterbury’s stealth drive. You’ll need to communicate with the First Mate and the Captain to let them know which systems are currently inoperable.

From left to right, the four lights on the Engineer console correspond to: weapons systems, surveillance systems, stealth drive, and radiation.

You may have noticed that not every light on your console corresponds to a system—some of them just have the radiation symbol. You can mark those lights off without any negative consequences for your least until all five radiation lights have broken down. If that ever happens, your reactor overloads and the submarine immediately takes a damage! The shockwave thankfully repairs all breakdowns from the submarine, but that’s small comfort when you’ve just single-handedly taken away 25% of the Canterbury’s health. 

That’s not the only way you can damage the Canterbury either. Not even close. If you ever mark off every light in a single sector of the engine (west, north, south, or east), the submarine also takes a damage. So you can see that in some ways, you have more control over the Canterbury’s route than the Captain himself! You’ll need to constantly let him know if the Canterbury can’t withstand continuing to move in a certain direction, and he’ll need to adjust course or suffer the consequences.

Here, the Engineer has to make a choice when the Canterbury moves west. He can't break the last reactor light, or the submarine will take a damage, so he must disable either the weapons or the surveillance equipment!

Keep the Sub Moving

You start to see what I mean about this vessel being utterly unseaworthy. We don’t have any choice about taking our submarine out, however. Orders have come down from the executive board, and this submarine is going out, with or without us. I’m just hoping I can give you the skills to keep your entire team alive out there. After all, there are some ways we can mitigate the self-inflicted damage from this ramshackle chunk of metal.

First, the Canterbury does have some self-repair capabilities. You’ll notice that several of the lights are connected by orange, yellow, or grey lines. If you can align the breakdowns so that all four lights along a circuit are broken, the Canterbury will finally realize that something is going wrong and stir itself to fix the problem, allowing you to immediately repair all lights along the circuit. Of course, if you only need to cross out one more light to start a self-repair circuit, you’re free to request a certain direction of movement from the Captain. If he knows what’s good for him and his crew, he’ll follow your directions posthaste!

In the example above, if the Captain orders the submarine to move north, you can break the last light on the orange circuit and trigger the self-repair to fix these breakdowns.

Of course, not every light is connected to a circuit, and by far the most thorough way to repair the Canterbury is to take the time to surface. When surfacing, your Captain must raise a fist and call out that the Canterbury is surfacing. More dangerously, the Captain is bound by naval law to radio the enemy submarine and tell them which sector your submarine is surfacing in—often allowing your opponent to draw a bead on your position. 

To complete the repairs, you’ll need every member on your team. Each member of the submarine must completely trace a line around one of the four submarine sections shown in the upper half of your console. The lines you draw around the sections must also stay within the borders—once your team has completed encircling the sections, you’ll need to send your work over to the enemy Engineer and have him confirm that you’ve stayed within your borders. If you’ve been successful, you can repair all breakdowns from the Canterbury, dive back beneath the surface, and resume your prowl.

To complete repairs while surfacing, each member of the crew must draw a line around one of the four sectors of the submarine.

The whole time you’re repairing the Canterbury, your team is prevented from moving. After all, you’re helpless on the ocean surface. Your enemies are under no such restrictions, however. You can be sure that as soon as they know which sector you’re in, they’ll be racing towards you with all speed, ready to fire a torpedo straight at your helpless, immobile engine. Speed is essential, but precision is just as important if you’re going to survive your repairs and return to the hunt. 

Now, then, I think you know all you need to know to keep the Canterbury out of harm’s way—at least harm from within. Stiff upper lip, here—can’t let the other officers know the danger that’s brewing just under their feet.

Reactor Overload!

Join us next time for our final preview of Captain Sonar and a look at the Radio Operator’s role!