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[GZG] Orders Writing and Thresholds, and Game Plans....

From: Tom B <kaladorn@g...>
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 02:19:07 -0500
Subject: [GZG] Orders Writing and Thresholds, and Game Plans....


Can you explain your colour coded dice idea? The 'six year old'
explanation please. Sounds intriguing, but my brain is running an old
80186 and ain't keeping up with the new fangled ideas....

On Orders Writing:

One thing that lengthens a game is managing squadrons once parts of
your squadron take damage... some of your ships will be manouvering at
full potential, others will be limping along, not able to match
thrusts or turns.

In the games we play, template weapons are visual eyeball, quick
laydown weapons. Coordinating them with fighters usually means piling
up the fighters somewhere about 10" out so they can do a secondary
move into contact. None of this seems to take that long, but we don't
allow a lot of screwing about.

Part of it is some people cannot eyeball distance. I find that a skill
you develop by practice. Other than ocular issues, you should be able
to develop it. I can usually come within 20% on a range or radius
estimate by eyeball. Some people I know can do 6", 9" or 1' very
accurately by eye or by quick finger lay. Good enough for government
work, if you take my drift.

Part of the delay is some people honestly don't play that often
(sometimes once a year) and they tend to be less decisive as a result
of unfamiliarity and trepidation. That's just the reality of
tournaments. And my observation is it isn't 1 in 8 people at the
table, but 3-4 in 8.

Damond: The 'Morale Penalty' I was talking about was sarcasm from Jim,
Tom and JP. That's worse than having your ship drift for a round. Of
course, I kind of like 'striking the colours' for ships although we
rarely do this. If you made this easier if the Captain was 'asleep at
the wheel', that would encourage people to be tuned in. The drift is
an easy answer though.

In SG games, I try to push people along. If a player has an option to
activate and dithers, someone else gets the nod. I like to have a
leader who can at least point to a player and say 'activate a unit
now'. Of course, having a side make a battle plan and try to stick to
it means people usually know what they should be doing. Without a
plan, there is usually much more dithering. Stuart Murray was good to
have in games because he does form a plan and then tries to see the
plan through, as team leader or player (or as a GM he encourages this
for players).

This seems appropriate to me and works in most sorts of games (if they
aren't too unpredictable, like things with Sheep, Cthulhu,
Nyarlathotep, MIB, Zombie Pirates, or anything in the B5 universe that
Aaron runs where counterthink is the order of the day!). The real
military takes an intel assessment, forms a battle plan, forms some
'actions on' (contingencies) and 'fall back points' and so on, as well
as having a chain of command and delegates. Then they try to make the
plan manifest. Yes, they sometimes have to modify on the fly, but in
the form of FRAGOs (Fragmentary Orders) that act as limited modifiers
to the OPORD (Operations Order) for the mission.

If you spend 10-15 minutes at the beginning of a scenario lining up a
battle plan and delineating areas of responsibility ("Damond, your
squads move up the left flank, draw fire, and try to push through into
the woods to draw the enemies response forces. Steve, your guys in the
center advance to contact then dig in and put heavy fire onto forces
moving on Damond - concentrate on breaking individual squads. Stuart -
your forces are mobile reserve, either to move to assist Damond if his
push meets weak resistance or to counter enemy movements as directed
by Platoon Commander"). With something like this, you've got a basic
battle plan. You can look at what you could do if you were the enemy
(assuming you know likely enemy forces and objectives) and how you
would fight their side of the battle and anticipate their actions,
allowing for them in your plan. You can put in contingencies ("If
Damond hits stiff resistance, Stuart moves in support. If Damond is
driven back, Stuart forms a second line contingous with Steve and digs
in, giving Damond a fall back point.").

Once you've sketched out the basic detail of a plan, people should be
focused on doing their part with the tools they have.

Without a plan, you have troops being under-utilized, under-supported,
treading on each others toes and fire lanes, and just generally
performing less than optimally. And players, without a plan, will take
forever often times to decide on what to do, because nobody else looks
like they know what they are doing.

For those who may recall the first Traveller scenario where the Mercs
had trouble with the TFL and their Sword Worlds advisors, this was
because the Mercs had a vague plan, but it didn't emphasize going
after their principal target - the Sword World advisors and TFL
leaders. They bogged down fighting militia and bar locals and the
enemy leadership got away after getting all local assets in
butt-kicking mode.

In the follow on where the where Imperial Mercs had to hold the
Starport, Stuart and I assessed our objective and forces and realized
that fast, offensive deployment would constrain defender movement and
let us break through. It too was rather unpleasant for the Mercs. We
had good assets for the task, but the Mercs defended rather passively
and were probably expecting a creeping, probing phase to let them
leverage tech advantages. Stuart and I denied them this 'slow cooker'
start and just went hammer and tongs from the jump off.

You can lose a game do to not knowing things you needed to know when
you made your plan, because the fates went against you in a few key
assaults (usually dice!), or because you had a good plan and the enemy
had a better one. But if you dont have a plan, you're not only more
likely to get your butt handed to you, but you'll take forever to

Make the plan, fight the plan. And try not to roll the dice on the
floor, spill tea on the grassmats, etc.

Tom B

"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy
from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a
precedent that will reach to himself." -- Thomas Paine

"When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of
liberty quits the horizon." -- Thomas Paine
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