From: WV USA
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.