(Copied from my review at BGG.com)
I am a big fan of Zed Deck. Chris Fee managed to combine several things that I enjoy in a game--compactness, the ability to play solitaire (often while I'm at work, but don't tell anyone), an interesting theme, an enjoyable push-your-luck mechanic, and some good replayability in attempting to beat my own high score. (I have yet to crack 18 supplies, after a long stretch of thinking that I would never beat 16.)
For fans of Zed Deck and its ilk, such as the more recent Lord of the Rings: The Adventure Deck Game by Michele Esmanech, there is a new kid on the block. Like the afore-mentioned games, Target! Bearing 093 degrees! is a print-and-play card-based solitaire game with a fun push-your-luck mechanic. It isn't free, but is available very inexpensively. (Currently, the price is $2.37 at WarGameVault.com.)
Target! is deliberately non-specific about which faction you are fighting for (or against), but it is set in World War II and puts you in command of an attack sub trying to bring down as much tonnage of enemy cargo ships as possible. You hunt for targets, determine the strength of their escort, and decide whether or not to attack. This game is set apart from similar games that I have played in that there is a significant amount of resource management integrated into the push-your-luck system.
The game uses 54 black-and-white low-ink cards, a single-page play board, and an "optional" resource tracker. I found the tracker essential, as there are multiple resources that need managing, more than I can juggle in my head, and the resource tracker made that task very simple. The rulebook is well-written and clear; I was able to play the game after reading through it only once, and I only had to reference it to make sure that I was starting the game with the correct number of torpedoes. (I wasn't, so I'm glad I checked.)
I printed the cards on plain copy paper, cut them out, and placed them into card sleeves with unused Magic: The Gathering land cards for rigidity. Two of the cards are resupply cards and are not supposed to be shuffled into the deck with the other 52 cards, although doing so might make for an interesting variant.
The game is played by shuffling the 52-card deck and selecting one of the two resupply cards. At any point in the game, a resupply submarine will deliver the goods you request with your resupply card. One of the cards allows you to gain back 10 fuel and an additional torpedo, while the other grants you only 5 fuel but 3 torpedoes. You begin the game with 70 fuel, 15 torpedoes, and sufficient ammunition for your deck guns to sink 5 ships.
Each turn, you pay 1 fuel and reveal the top card of the deck. The top of the card shows the tonnage of the target ship. Tonnage varies from 7,000 tons (or tonnes, I suppose, since the game designer, Felbrigg Herriot, is British) to 40,000 tons. If the target looks juicy enough, you pay 1 fuel (to move in closer and) to reveal the next card in the deck to determine the ship's escort. Otherwise, you discard the revealed target and move on.
If you decide to move in closer and see how dangers the escort is, you ignore the top of the card. The next lowest section of the card shows the escort--either Small, Medium, or Large. Large ships are the most dangers; Small, the least. (Although the two times I have been sunk, a Medium-sized escort dealt the final blow.) Once the escort has been determined, you may either attack, or discard both target and escort and continue hunting.
If you attack, you have three options. Option One, you can move in just a little closer and fire a spread (3 torpedoes) to try to sink the target. This has the least likelihood of destroying the target, but conserves fuel and helps keep you out of danger from the escort. Option Two, you can move in even closer and fire a single, aimed torpedo at the target. This has a higher chance of sinking the target, but also requires more fuel and increases your risk of being damaged by the escort. Option the Third, you can move into gun range and blast the bejeezus out of your target with your deck guns. This requires the most fuel, and brings you into uncomfortably close proximity with the escort, but you don't have to use up your torpedoes, and it has the highest likelihood of sinking the target.
Once you have chosen your method of attack, you reveal the next card in the deck, this time looking at the third section. This will show Spread, Single, and Guns, and whether or not each attack type was a Hit! or Miss. Hopefully, you'll get a Hit!, and can add the target's tonnage to your total.
Finally, you have to make your escape. To do this, you reveal a fourth card. The lowest section has a small chart. Referencing both the size of the escort and the type of attack, you determine how much fuel is required to escape. Occasionally, you'll receive a bit of damage, as well. Four points of damage, and your sub is sunk, so play carefully!
Target! is a fun and compact solitaire game. It has tense, hold-your-breath moments as you hope that your torpedo hits. There is plenty of replayability as you try to beat your high score. (I have yet to best the 104,000 tons I sunk my first game.) I particularly enjoy the addition of resource management to a push-your-luck mechanic that I have already enjoyed immensely in other games. The theme is one that I personally love--naval combat!
The only complaint I can level against the game is a minor one. The iconography of the target ships seems to be inconsistent. I can't tell just by looking at the silhouette of the ship how big it is; I have to look at the actual number to determine the tonnage. This doesn't affect gameplay in the slightest, I'm just surprised that the tonnage doesn't seem to be matched with the ship icon more closely.
All in all, I would highly recommend the game, especially for those who have already enjoyed such games as Zed Deck and the Lord of the Rings Adventure Deck Game. To me, Target! is an evolution of those games, taking their wonderful push-your-luck mechanisms and integrating them into a new and fun setting. I, for one, enjoy imagining myself as a WWII submarine captain, on the prowl for large, meagerly-protected targets. The experience is well worth the measly $2.37.