A FORMER submarine commander’s naval strategy board game has resurfaced after almost 40 years in a cupboard... and has finally gone into production thanks to an Oxford publishing company.

Andy Benford’s invention – They Come Unseen – pitches Nato subs against the Soviet Union in a Cold War clash he says is all about skill – with no dice in sight.

Mr Benford created the game in 1974 when he was working on a real-life submarine, and four decades later it is on sale through Cumnor’s Osprey Publishing.

People in Oxford will get a chance to try the game tonight at an Osprey games expo being held at board games cafe Thirsty Meeples in Gloucester Green, Oxford, from 6pm.

Mr Benford, 65, who lives with his wife Sue in Little Coxwell near Faringdon, said he was delighted his game had finally reached the market.

He said: “I had always wanted to get it published. I just didn’t think I could do it.”

The father-of-two grew up in Solihull and joined the Royal Navy as soon as he left school.

He trained at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, for four years and by 1974 had become navigating officer on board HMS Grampus based out of Gosport.

He remembered: “I was watching TV one night and there was this chap talking about a board game getting published and I thought I could do that.

“Growing up in the 1950s I had always liked board games, and I thought if I was going to make one I should make it something I knew about, so I came up with submarines.”

One thing he was certain about was that his game would not have dice.

He said: “I had played too many games of risk where it is Lady Luck deciding your fate.”

The young navigating officer tested the game out on his friends and it proved popular.

Then it went into a cupboard and started gathering dust.

Mr Benford served in the Navy for 23 years, eventually getting his own command with an Australian conventional submarine – HMAS Oxley – which was operated by the British navy.

He later worked as practice manager at Eynsham Medical Group for 16 years before retiring in 2012.

Shortly after that, he was walking through Little Coxwell when he met a neighbour who was something of an inventor and had just had a gadget patented.

Mr Benford said: “I thought how nice it would be to have something you had invented on the market. Then I remembered I had this game in the cupboard.”

He got in touch with Osprey, who expressed an interest, and last year he sent them his 42-page rule book.

The company whittled the tome down to a stealthy 16 pages and last month They Come Unseen was finally published.

Osprey describes it as “an asymmetrical strategy game of bluff and deception”.

They Come Unseen is available for £39.99 from ospreypublishing.com