Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Table Top Tactical Thoughts

Alliteration ally aside, I have been given some thoughts to the general nature of table top tactics. I have also considered how the table top tactic is different from actual battlefield tactics. The biggest difference is that with table tops, you get to choose your force whereas in real life, you must fight with what is available. This difference is what really sets wargames from real life (other than the whole death and destruction thing) so as gamers we have a unique opportunity to select our forces. What should go into the selection is contingent on what we must accomplish on the table top and here, the differences between real life and games do not differ that much. There are two essential goals in tactics centering on force neutralizing ability and force maneuverability.

Force neutralizing typically means either inflicting unacceptable losses to the enemy while limiting your own losses, or limit the enemy ability to inflict losses on your own forces as they strive to achieve and gain the objective. Typically there are two kinds of forces: melee and ranged. Melee does not necessarily means hand-to-hand but close eye to eye combat. Ranged forces is just as it appears, with missile weapons of some sort. While there are two kinds of forces, there are actually three ways to utilizing and neutralizing forces: take the fight to the enemy to destroy them with pure close up power (strong melee vs weak melee), stand and barrage the enemy into oblivion (ranged strong vs ranged weak), and deny the fight confrontation avoidance (weak vs strong). Most units are not capable of being strong melee and ranged strong, and if that does happen, they can potentially be neutralized by fight confrontation. In addition, we want to avoid similar match up of strong vs strong or even weak vs weak because this increases the chances of an uncertain outcome. We want to increase the odds toward victory, not leave things to chance alone, though chance is always a player.

Force maneuverability means either out maneuvering your enemy to achieve and gain the objective, or limit the ability of the enemy to maneuver to achieve their own objective. Being maneuverable doesn't just mean moving further, faster, or even ignoring the effect of terrain. Being maneuverable means being able to move further, faster, and more effectively than your opponent. Always bear in mind that all movement has destinations, and the destination should be to acquire favorable terrain, achieve the objective, or limit your enemy maneuver. There are two ways to limit the ability of the enemy to maneuver. Firstly, use terrain defensively to channel the enemy to move down unfavorable pathways or slow them down from arriving at favorable destination. However, using the terrain favorably can be difficult as both sides will try to get the best terrain layout, and there is little control over the layout of terrain in general. A slow army can out maneuver the enemy by limiting a faster army effective movement.

For future posts, I will explore how the above principles and thoughts apply to Battlefleet Gothic, 40k, Fantasy Battle, and LotR.

No comments: