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UBOOT creators’ Purple Haze is a co-op board game set during the Vietnam War with a branching story campaign

Latest ‘immersive simulation’ from publisher behind World War II submarine game.

The studio behind app-powered submarine sim UBOOT has announced its next release, a co-op story-driven game set in the midst of the Vietnam War.

Purple Haze is described by publisher Phalanx as being its latest “immersive simulation” title, following its ambitious app-powered board game set aboard a German U-boat during World War II.

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UBOOT cast players as the crew of a submarine - represented by a multi-level 3D cardboard model on the table - as they completed a series of real-time missions, either as standalone scenarios or as part of a linked campaign.

Each player had a unique role, from captain and first officer to navigator and chief engineer, and needed to manage their team of sailors, issuing orders to move around the sub and perform maintenance or attacks, while dealing with wounds, fatigue and morale.

Image: Phalanx (prototype artwork subject to change)

The game’s companion app controlled the dynamic behaviour of computer enemies in real time, as well as allowing the first officer to use the mobile and PC app as a periscope to view the game’s virtual theatre of war in 3D to aid with navigation and combat.

Purple Haze swaps the open waters of Europe for the jungles and villages of Vietnam in 1967. Players control a squad of US Marines, with the option to play with up to six players controlling one or more marines or in a single-player mode.

Image: Phalanx (prototype artwork subject to change)

Phalanx described the upcoming board game as a “cooperative story-creation game”, highlighting a branching narrative campaign with a number of potential story paths depending on players’ decisions. The base campaign will be made up of eight individual scenarios, including smaller escort and patrol missions as well as larger-scale operations, each lasting from one to two-and-a-half hours. The campaign will culminate with the characters’ involvement in the real-life Tet Offensive in 1968. The campaign is billed as being highly replayable due to the number of separate story arcs possible.

Gameplay is said to combine tactical combat with narrative decisions, as player select their squad's equipment loadout before advancing across a map toward an objective, dealing with possible encounters along the way - including combat. Among players' tactical options will be different weapons, the ability to select different targets, acquire additional ammo and other equipment on the field, and call for additional help such as air support. Unlike UBOOT, Purple Haze will not play in real time.

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Scenarios will involve characters needing to make decisions and resolve tests by rolling for success based on various attributes - similar to a tabletop RPG - with specific decisions and the outcome of each session affecting future events in the campaign. The campaign will feature ongoing progression, with characters gaining experience in particular skills - such as a medic's ability to heal field wounds - but also risking lasting injuries and trauma. Individual marines can be killed, requiring them to be replaced in future missions.

Purple Haze's designer is Bernard Grzybowski, with UBOOT design team Iron Wolf Studio not contributing to the new game. Phalanx added that it had further developed the upcoming title using its internal team.

Purple Haze is due to launch on crowdfunding platform Gamefound in early 2022, with expansions confirmed to follow the base game. Release dates and prices are yet to be confirmed.

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Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis


After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.