Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Table Top Tactical Thoughts: Mobility & Function

In my previous post on Table Top Tactical Thoughts, i expressed these considerations:

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.

My belief is that mobility is key to success on the table top regardless of unit types or function. Mobility allows strong units to engage their target of choice and allows weak unit to avoid being targeted.

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.

The permutations are as follow:
Strong Melee and Strong Ranged = Alphas
Weak Melee and Strong Ranged = Betas
Strong Melee and Weak Ranged = Deltas
Weak Melee and Weak Ranged = Gammas
I used semi-generic designation because i want to applies the terms accross different game systems. When considering what is strong and what is weak, it doesn't apply to just what your forces can field alone but must also be referenced against what your opponent can field.

What are their roles on the table top?
The alphas should target either the enemy's betas or the deltas depending on which is the bigger threat to your forces. The alphas should not target other alphas as the chances of success are less in this regard. While conceptually the alphas can inflict great losses against the gammas, the time limitations of each battle/encounter/game means that what losses inflicted is unlikely to be the winning factor. To be selective, they need to be mobile.
The betas should target firstly the enemy's alphas or deltas. Targeting the enemy alphas first make better sense because a weakened alpha can be finished of with your own deltas or even gammas. Many gamers have an over reliance on their own alphas so weakening his game plan can provide you with a psychological edge. However, if your own force is light on deltas, then targeting them and ignoring the enemy's alpha might be preferable. Mobility is necessary only in so much as moving to get that shot.
The deltas should move forward and engage whoever is closest. Against alphas they will likely lose, against betas and gammas they should win, and against other deltas it will be a toss up. As they main strength will be close combat/melee it ultimately won't matter too much. Mobility is essential.
The gammas have two functions. First is to occupy objectives/terrain and let others fight the battle. The second is to sacrifice themselves as mobile terrain, sort to speak. Thus for both functions they should be mobile. More on this later.

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