Been playing Ubisoft’s Silent Hunter an undue amount the last few days, a superlative submarine simulator for WWII. I was hunting a small merchantman out of Dover, having happened across it on the way to my patrol zone off East Anglia, when the seas started getting stormy. We almost lost the ship in the storm, but when everything subsided and the crew took their slickers off, we were right on its tail. We quickly dived before it had a chance to notice us, and upped the periscope, locking it onto the target. (Funny how in even virtual war people start becoming objects.)

I ordered the knackered crew into the torpedo room (we only had three torpedoes left of the maximum five, and I needed the team working at maximum efficiency to avoid wasting them) and started working out on the notepad, the angle, gyro settings (these early torpedoes are full of clockwork, so you can put a curve on them, and make them explode at a set time and distance). Then I let one go, and fired the second one off a few seconds later. Just before they were due to impact, we started surfacing, and I tracked the bubbles with my binoculars and the UZO, as they surfaced closer and closer to the boat, which hadn’t noticed our rise from the depths. The first torpedo was a dud, but the second, the second erupted in a wave of wet metal and fire, right next to the ship. The boat listed, tried speeding up, and then started sinking stern first. Soon all there was left were cargo boxes floating on the waves.

Of course, with one torpedo left I wasn’t a match for the armed trawler that happened across the area a few hours later, so had to flee, underwater, then pegged it hell for leather all the way back to Wilhelmshaven.

At no point did I remember I was in a computer game.

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