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Nature of Military Operations: Multiplayer ATG

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Nature of Military Operations: Multiplayer ATG - 11/9/2013 12:17:42 AM   

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The following was constructed from some clips from a couple of U.S. Army Field Manuals and then massaged a little for the ATG player. I hope those who engage in multiplayer games find it at least somewhat enlightening. Perhaps others can contribute their thoughts, plus add some details on the more tactical aspects of game play.

Nature of Military Operations

Plan, Prepare then Execute, Assess, Adjust--Repeat
Chaos, chance, and friction dominate military operations, as much in ATG as in real war. Multi-player games are human endeavors characterized by the continuous, mutual adaptation of give and take, moves, and counter-moves among all players. The enemy is not an inanimate object to be acted upon. It has its own objectives. While friendly forces try to impose their will on the enemy, the enemy resists and seeks to impose its will on friendly forces. Thus, military operations defy orderly, efficient, and precise control. As one side takes action, the other reacts, learns, and adapts. Appreciating these relationships among opposing human wills is essential to understanding the fundamental nature of operations. Appreciating the difficulty of clear and effective communication in a multi-player game is essential to reducing the effects of friction.

Uncertainty—what is not known about a given situation or how a situation may evolve—is an enduring characteristic of military operations. Uncertainty pervades operations in the form of unknowns about the opposing players, their individual capabilities and their plans. Even the behavior of allied players is often uncertain because of the effects of stress, mistakes, misunderstandings, chance, or friction. The combinations of countless factors that impinge on the conduct of multi-player games, from mis-communication and conflict between players, personal life issues, not understanding game mechanics, to complicated plans that confuse players, are all examples of friction. The insight of Carl Von Clausewitz applies to ATG military operations:

War remains “. . . the realm of uncertainty; three-quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty.” …Carl Von Clausewitz, On War

Predictability in operations is rare, making centralized decision-making often ineffective and orderly processes difficult. Commanders make decisions; develop plans, and direct actions under varying degrees of uncertainty. They understand the need for operational adaptability. Successful commanders exercise mission command because it emphasizes flexibility and decentralized execution. Mission command is giving your allies a well thought out plan and the latitude to carry it out in a disciplined way without micro-management. Attempted micro-management of other players often leads to increased friction.

Moltke's notable statement that "No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy" is a classic reflection of Clausewitz's insistence on the roles of chance, friction, "fog", uncertainty, and interactivity in war. Be adaptable! As the situation changes, be willing to change or modify plans. Players cannot expect good results by stubbornly adhering to a rigid plan without regard to enemy operations elsewhere.

Basics of Offensive Actions
Offensive actions are combat operations conducted to defeat and destroy enemy forces and seize terrain, resources, and population centers. They impose the commander’s will on the enemy. A commander may also conduct offensive actions to deprive the enemy of resources, seize decisive terrain, deceive or divert the enemy, develop intelligence, or hold an enemy in position.

The commander seizes, retains, and exploits the initiative when conducting offensive tasks. Specific operations may orient on a specific enemy force or terrain feature as a means of affecting the enemy. Even when conducting primarily defensive tasks, wresting the initiative from the enemy requires the conduct of offensive actions.

Characteristics of Offensive Operations
Offensive tasks are characterized by surprise, concentration, tempo, and audacity. Effective offensive action capitalizes on accurate and timely intelligence and other relevant information regarding enemy forces, weather, and terrain. The commander maneuvers forces to advantageous positions before contact.

Create Shared Understanding
In an ATG multi-player game, a defining challenge for players is creating shared understanding of the operational environment (primarily the map), the operation’s purpose, problems, and approaches to solving them. Shared understanding and purpose form the basis for unity of effort and trust. Players build and maintain shared understanding within the game throughout the operations process (planning, preparation, execution, and assessment). To support this, players must work together throughout this process and do so continuously. They collaboratively frame the operational environment, frame problems, and visualize approaches to solving them.

Creating a shared understanding of the issues, concerns, and abilities of players is not easy. Through collaboration and dialogue, players share information and perspectives, question assumptions, and exchange ideas to help create and maintain shared understanding. Shared understanding takes time to establish. Successful CiCs, and usually a multi-player game will have either a formal or informal player driving the overall effort, invests the time and effort to understand the other players issues and concerns. Through such interactions all players gain insight into each other’s play style and the issues and concerns of each player.

Note: If one side has a CiC directing the overall effort and sub-commanders willing to accept that direction and the other side does not, the side with that leadership can gain some advantage over the opposing team.


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RE: Nature of Military Operations: Multiplayer ATG - 11/24/2013 8:03:41 PM   

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Anyone with other more tactical or operational techniques to share, against the AI or multi-player?

< Message edited by Webizen -- 11/24/2013 9:04:15 PM >



(in reply to Webizen)
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RE: Nature of Military Operations: Multiplayer ATG - 11/29/2013 2:27:45 PM   


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Commanders should evaluate a theatre in terms of space and the time necessary to defeat the enemy force and accomplish the assigned objective. The factors and of space and time form another framework within which the commander directs the movements of his forces.” Von Moltke Sr.

@Webizen I read your post with interest, it’s an interesting way to look at thing certainly. I’ve hesitated to put my comments in as it’s a BIG topic, but what the heck – shoot me down guys.

It got me thinking about the approaches I take to planning – essentially I suspect we all follow (whether consciously or not) old Helmuth’s approach of evaluating operations within the envelope of the 3 factors; Space, Time and Force, where Space and Time are outside of our control.*In an operational sense the 2 are linked, with space not simply being the number of miles/hexes being evaluated - difficult terrain requires more time to cross, weather can reduce mobility and change the nature of the battle space (to use a somewhat anachronistic Air-Land-Battle theory term).

Within “Force” sit the operational “controllables” of Force: men, materiel, mobility, morale (I can’t remember where I found these four sub factors - I think it was Erich Von Manstein’s memoirs and they struck me as a useful way to look at things).

If the Space-Time parameters are dictated to us by circumstance (or the random map editor), then Force is within our control and can to a certain extent mitigate but not change the first. That is the challenge I think we saw in Skyfall 2 where Ironduke1955 thought that his task was impossible as the Space& Time to Force ratio was simply too high for him to effectively employ his skills within the force factors. (Hey, I’m not taking sides here, but I thought the ratios he calculated were interesting in this sense.)

I’d like to do a much longer post on this if time allows (and I do want to see through my AAR also), essentially pulling in some of the other major operational doctrines and how they apply in ATG. Schwerpunkt/blitzkrieg (Germans) and deep battle (Soviet). The allies didn’t really develop such formalised operational doctrines to my knowledge, but I would argue they were largely based around firepower and attrition through superior application of that firepower (esp. air power).

You also start considering whether you are following a Clausewitzian approach to your war (defeat the enemies armies in the field) or a territorial based approach (grab cities and mines) which will inform your operational choices to a certain extent. Whilst the victory conditions in ATG random games are always based around seizing cities, it may not always be your priority, especially as enemy cities do not yield production advantages. Is it more important to grab that city, or encircle and destroy an enemy corps?

A much longer post will hopefully follow on this…

Finally I would leave you with some further, very famous, and often paraphrased, words of Von Moltke Sr.

“No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force”

He knew his stuff he did.

* Well sort of - we can determine “Space” to a certain extent via the map editor and the random games are not timed, although in scenarios and DC games these restrictions are definitely in place.


Omnia Videmus

(in reply to Webizen)
Post #: 3
RE: Nature of Military Operations: Multiplayer ATG - 3/18/2014 2:12:58 AM   


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Interesting subject, for sure.

I think I personally follow at least two different doctrines, when it comes to land and naval mission planning. On land I am reminded by the words of Guderian (I believe, google was not helpful): "You don´t strike with an open hand, you strike with a fist". Meaning i concentrate my power into precise and surgical strikes. I am perhaps on the careful side of offensives, risking little, and using overwhelming power, when I strike. I also find that having the initiative is very important. Often I will do the unexpected, when planning large scale offensives, and decieve politically if needed. Or sometimes vice versa. That is letting people believe that there is a friction somewhere where there really isn´t one. Misinformation, in the form of propaganda, and keeping ones spirit up, even when things seem bleak also play a large role, I believe. If you get the enemy to believe your propaganda as reality, you have already half won.

As for naval operations, i find that it is more a game of spreading out, and being places that you wouldn´t expect forces to be. At least when it comes to sub warfare. In some sense this does too count for naval operations in general. Luring enemy units into positions where they can be surrounded by smaller forces, and having a "hammer" to hit the stack you are trying to sink, is also a very common tactic. In a sense naval operations are more strategic, than tactical, and my approach to ground warfare is alot more tactical.

As for air tactics. I am perhaps one of the few people who still doesn´t use fighter megastacks. I tend to let my fighters cover cities that are important, and help out with flak in those places. The idea being that even if intercept does not happen, then there will be fighters to intercept, at location. Bombers I on the other hand concentrate on the enemy when attacking, if I can.

Oh and I am always searching for that research edge. I believe that being ahead in research, or at least in the areas you are going to use, is a must. Also, don´t invest in something if you are not going to produce it immediately. Wait until you need to produce it.

Well, that was alot more tactical, than I meant it to be, but nevertheless those were the thoughts I had after reading the above.

(in reply to Kaldadarnes)
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RE: Nature of Military Operations: Multiplayer ATG - 3/18/2014 2:55:41 AM   

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Never give the higher AI settings time to organize resistance or offensives.

(in reply to ernieschwitz)
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RE: Nature of Military Operations: Multiplayer ATG - 3/18/2014 2:38:27 PM   


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It's because you searched for the english term and not in German probably;

Nicht Kleckern sondern Klotzen! (Boot'em, don't spatter'em!)

Totally agree with the posts above guys.
Don't invest in things you don't use, hit massive and fast. Personally I don't use massive fighterstacks as well, mainly because there are times when I can't use airpower at all because of too much Flak around and I refuse to slaughter my flyboys. Ofcourse I do use airpower when possible but I rely more on Flak, they are *always* near my frontlines.

High AI settings can become boring because it can become a slugfest, as in dozens of armoured cars and what have you per hex...boring. I would rather have the AI do some paradrops/amphibious assaults/etc on higher AI levels....but oh well who knows what Vic will come up with the next installment of AT.

(in reply to Twotribes)
Post #: 6
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