COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (Full Version)

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MarkShot -> COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 6:07:27 AM)

In the spirit of my two HTTR AAR and play guide threads, I'll be embarking on an AAR as one of the Fatherland's commanders in a life and death struggle to secure bridges across a river and prevent the escape of Allied forces.

Stay tuned!


HTTR Threads (still useful reading for those trying to get up to speed on COTA):

HTTR (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, tips!

HTTR (mini-guide): And even more tips!

The HTTR and COTA mini-guides are now available in offline format (PDF) for download.

I would like to thank Eddy Sterckx, fellow beta tester, for the time and effort he put in to reformating the HTML into MS Word to yield a PDF.

You may download them here:

HTTR download link

COTA download link

* Note that the HTTR guide does contain quite a bit of material that is still applicable to COTA.


Mark "MarkShot" Kratzer on 01/12/06

The COTA Battle Planning Checklist is now also available for download. HTTR players should also find it useful. The link for download is:

COTA Battle Planning Checklist


Mark "MarkShot" Kratzer on 02/25/06

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 6:27:22 AM)

This AAR will be drawn from Build 3.0.110 which is a release candidate. So, what you see here should be very close, if not, completely identical with the final game that is released to market.


Scenario Title


Tempe Gorge Crisis

Scenario General Briefing


17 April 1941, 12:00 hours, Tempe Gorge, Greece.

A reinforced German mountain division attempts to force a passage through an Allied infantry brigade. Historical scenario.

The surprise appearance of strong armoured elements on the eastern flank of Mount Olympus has been a rude shock to the Allied high command. Forcing the withdrawal of 21st NZ Inf Bn, the Germans are threatening to race through the Tempe Gorge and take Larissa - thus threatening the withdrawal of at least half the ANZAC forces. Reacting quickly, ANZAC Corps HQ sends 16th Au Inf Bde to bolster the defence in that area and it arrives to find 21st NZ Inf Bn in defence forward of Tempe village and regrouping after the successful withdrawal from the Platamon Tunnel. The Allied group, now renamed Allen Force after its the commander of 16th Au Inf Bde, must delay the Germans from passing through the Gorge for at least two days - until the larger forces to the Northwest can withdraw to the Thermopylae Line via Larissa. Allen Force must then disengage and withdraw itself with a minimum of loss to personnel and equipment.

Meanwhile, Generalmajor Ferdinand Schoerner's Geb Div 6, reinforced by a battalion of tanks from Pz Div 2, has been designated the main effort of XVIII Geb Korps and ordered to force Tempe Gorge and cut the Allies off at Larissa. If the Allies can hold the Germans at the Gorge, then an orderly withdrawal may be possible for the bulk of the ANZAC Corps, who are starting to pull back from the Portas and Servia passes. The Germans will be faced, again, with a tough pursuit over demolished roads and bridges and will have to crack an Allied line again in a few days. If the Germans do establish a strong blocking force in and around Larissa, the Allies will be forced to break up and head for the hills, and the battle for Greece will effectively be over - and the Allied war effort will be minus nearly two full divisions of troops who can ill be spared.

German Side Briefing


To: GenMaj Schoerner
From: XVIII Geb Korps HQ

The strength of the Allied positions in the Servia and Portas passes has upset our plans somewhat. As a result, the Korps main effort has been changed and your division will now carry the weight of our advance. Pz Div 2 has already been successful in clearing the Platamon Tunnel and you can have most of Pz Regt 3 to help you force Tempe Gorge.

You will probably find Gonnos to be a useful base for operations against Allied forces in the Gorge, especially since an attack south from the town will cut across their line of retreat. Force the Gorge as soon as possible, and try and get some intact bridges over the Peneios River as this will help future operations against Larissa and further south.

Once through the Gorge, you will be able to exit your men to Larissa and further orders will be issed at that point to establish a blocking position astride the line of retreat of the Allied Corps currently defending the Servia and Portas passes. A regiment of your mountain troops and the tanks from Pz Regt 3 should be enough for this purpose.


The scenario runs for 2 days and 0 hours. I will be playing it with the default settings. I will be playing at the highest level of order delays (painfully realistic).

SeaMonkey -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:33:32 AM)

Alright MarkShot,

It was this very thing that led me to buy HttR and I would like to extend a belated thank you for your dedication of time on elaborating the game mechanics.

For you gentlemen that are undecided about the AA game genre, pay particular attention to MarkShot's contribution and don't hesitate to ask questions for issues that are not clear to you.

Go MS.......[&o]

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 2:49:54 PM)

Here is what I would like to accomplish with this AAR.

In terms of generalities:

(1) Give a sense what it feels like to play the game.
(2) Point out some the new features/changes since HTTR.
(3) Cover some more tips and tactics.

I should point out to you that one of the most significant new features of the game will not really be touched upon in this AAR. That is supply. With a short two day scenario such as this, violence and force of arms applied directly will be our main focus as opposed to interdicting or protecting supply lines.

In terms of game play strategy:

(1) Combining macro/micro management in a single game.
(2) Hasty action in lieu of a methodically coordinated attacks.
(3) Using the speed of armor to cause and take advantage of enemy disruption.
(4) The use of support weapons at long range and mortar firebases.
(5) High rate of fire arty barrages under direct player control to accomplish key missions.
(6) Taking advantage of day and night phases for your movements.

For those who are interested, this scenario took me roughly about 4-5 hours to play. This includes thinking time, playing time, making some notes, making save games for later use, and chatting with other beta testers.

With #1 being the slowest and #3 being the fastest simulation speed: Most daytime action was played at #1 and #2. Night time action when out of contact with the enemy was often played at #3. Also, the way I play, I generally pause when issuing orders.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 3:04:26 PM)

A quick note about the screenshots. They will be at 1024x768. I won't be cropping anything so that folks can get more of an opportunity to look at the interface.

1024x768 is the minimum resolution supported. Custom resolutions are easily available by making a Window's shortcut with the appropriate command line specifying the resolution you want.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 3:15:18 PM)

There are a total of 8 objectives for the German side in this scenario. Rather than stepping through each individual objective here, I would prefer to summarize them and high light some key areas of interest on the map.

We have been tasked with accomplishing the following:

(1) Get across the river. In particular, secure the bridges at Tempe in order that we have use of a high capacity crossing. (The Allies have primed the Road Bridge and the Rail Bridge with explosive charges to make sure we don't succeed. They will blow them if they cannot hold us back.)

(2) Cutoff Allied forces from withdrawing through Larissa in the South. This includes both Allied forces that are actually on the map in the scenario and conceptual forces that could also pass through Larissa while the Allied forces on the map tie us up.

(3) Keep pressure on the Allies and not permit them to establish a new defensive line further to the South. Meaning to pass our own armor and motorized troops through Larissa so that we stay hot on the heals of the fleeing enemy.

(4) Neutralize Allied forces who are making a last ditch attempt to stop us at the river.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 3:38:12 PM)

I have numbered various locations.

(#1) This is a new COTA feature; a SEP (supply entry point). This is where we draw our supplies from off map. They move out to our supply bases to possible other sub-supply bases to our units.

(#2) This is where we, the German forces, are. I will refer to this in the discussion as being the West bank of the river even though it is really North-West. (call me lazy)

(#3) This is where the Allies are.

(#2-#3) Between these two locations, you see the river with various crossing points. Most crossing points are low capacity ferry or ford points. The key crossings are the two bridges which show as pink, since they have been primed to blow. It looks like there is a third crossing to the North-East, but it is just an artifact of zooming out. It does not span the river, but actually another small branch of the river on the East bank.

(#4) The city of Larissa. Aside from the bridges at Tempe, this is the other key prize for both sides. The Allies want to keep it open and withdraw their forces. We want to cut them off and pursue any forces who have already withdrawn before they can establish a new defensive line.

(#5) The objective list for the scenario. We see that the big points are awarded for holding the bridges, passing a portion of our forces through Larissa, and destroying the enemy. Along the river and route South to Larissa, there are scattered smaller objectives. All our locational objectives are of the occupation type; meaning they became active at a certain point during the scenario and we accumulate points gradually as we hold them. Larissa is actually an EXIT objective (our units will physically leave the map).


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 3:40:59 PM)

Zoom in to the North ...


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 3:41:44 PM)

Zoom in to the South ...


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 3:45:30 PM)

Here we see a very low level zoom in of Tempe and the bridges. I mainly did this to point out a new feature. COTA provides for separate terrain textures at different zoom levels. So, you will notice that both colors and terrain patterns changed from the high level zoom to the low level zoom.


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 4:07:38 PM)

Another new feature here. Right clicking on the map will give detailed information about the terrain under the cursor: movement rates (relative), elevation, slope, vulnerability to fire, ...


wodin -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 4:28:27 PM)


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 7:51:49 PM)

Okay, let's begin to dig a little deeper into the problem at hand.

First, what is the situation of the enemy?

I have two sources of information: the briefing and initial intel reports.

My analysis of the situation is this: the Allies are scrambling, have limited manpower, and are for the most part on foot. (This will be the key insight which more than anything else will set the tempo of our actions and determine victory or defeat.)

The initial intel shows possible up to 1,000 troops on the move along the river by foot.

To just display the Allied troops and remove my own from this screen shot, I selected a filter that would match nothing my force of units. Then, I used a mouse drag to select all of them to get a quick head count and an estimate of their fatigue. Finally, I've select the deployment unit info box showing that they are on the move as opposed to dug in and waiting.

Of course, the initial intel could be absolutely wrong, but I am inclined to accept it.


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 7:54:19 PM)

One important reminder ... they may be weak on the ground, but they got those bridges rigged to blow and it is not going to take much to make that happen!

elmo3 -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:15:55 PM)

Come on Mark, keep it coming. [:D]

Would you prefer a different thread for somments and questions or do you want them here?

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:20:06 PM)

You can put your comments and questions in here. However, so as not to get side tracked, I may ignore them for a while. But I'll get to them eventually.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:22:19 PM)

Okay, let's look at how I am entering this action.

I am the Divisional Commander.

To the North-West, I have two regiments of infantry, the 141st. and 143rd. Along with them, I have associated support units (anti-tank guns, field guns, artillery, mortar platoons and AAA).

To the North-East, I have Regt 3 which is composed of armor, motorized infantry, and recon troops on foot. Once again, there are a few support units too.

You can look at the map to see where my forces are set.

Don't bother with the OOB. (I'll put a larger one in the next post.)


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:26:11 PM)

Here is a blow up of my top level OOB.

This is a new feature in COTA. You can expand and collapse tree branches. Single clicking on a unit will take you to it on the map. Double clicking take you to it and open its specific in the left panel. Having a unit selected on the map and pressing "O" will take you to it in the OOB. Well, you get the idea.


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:28:55 PM)

The OOB only shows the organic structure. It will not display the dynamic command structure. (this is on the wish list for the future) Reinforcements are displayed after they have arrived.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:34:45 PM)

Another new feature I want to point out is the merging of various information items that were in HTTR on two separate tabs to a single tab in COTA. Additionally, force rollup data is available. This is the second column of numbers. The first being just for the selected unit.

As we can see, I have almost 11,000 troops under my command with 47 AFVs.


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:36:50 PM)

I won't show you the reinforcement tab; suffice it to say that I will have no reinforcements. It's a "come as you are" party for us.

elmo3 -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:39:48 PM)

Reinforcements?! Hell you have about 11 to 1 odds now. You better not lose this fight! [:'(]

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 8:46:24 PM)

Yep, but that is the intel picture. Of course, the guys who prepared that picture are not on the dusty trail marching down to the river with us. They are back in Berlin having schnapps right now.

Also, don't let this scenario fool you. If the right things are done, the Germans can get pretty tied up.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 9:07:25 PM)

Okay, it is time for a plan.

Remember I said that the key insight is that the enemy is weak, on foot, and trying to prepare a hasty defense?

So, what does that mean to us? It means that speed is everything. Speed in this situation will be more important than careful plans, organization, and structure.

For those of you who have read my HTTR guides, you know that I am very fond of time tables, recon, carefully planned attacks with multiple axises of advance, etc... Well, you'll see none of that here. :)

If we can move fast enough, we'll prevent the enemy from:

(1) The enemy will arrive where he is going --- With a river in front of us, there are clearly some very advantageous positions for the enemy to deploy if he is given that luxury.

(2) The enemy will deploy/dig in --- He will be much more vulnerable and lay down less fire if he is moving. Basically, we will be on an equal footing with him. However, we do outnumber him. If he gets dug-in, then first we will initially be taking fire and not even be able to identify its source. Then, when we his positions are known we will have a hard time dislodging him.

(3) The enemy will make the main encounter for the bridges take place at night --- If we can force the issue in daylight, we will be in a much better position to bring our superior fire power of numbers and support weapons to bare. Furthermore, we'll have a much better fix on the enemy's positions. This should help us greatly in frustrating his plans to blow the bridges.

So, in summary, we are in a hasty attack situation. It is my intention to push forward as hard and as fast as I can. If we stop to organize a proper attack what will be the consequences?

(1) All the negatives I listed above will come to pass.

(2) Given the lack of cover and obstructed LOS all our actions will be completely visible to the enemy. There is no element of surprise to be had. No matter how we go about it, our intentions are going to be clearly telegraphed. At least, if we move swiftly, the knowledge of our plan may provide the enemy with little actionable information. (meaning he'll know what we are doing, but not be able move fast enough to interfere)

(3) We don't know what the enemy's arty/mortar situation is. Trying to get organized could end up being a much more protracted process than it appears on the surface.

(4) By delaying the initial contact, the enemy's second line positions will be prepared for action. Even if we break the first line, we'll still be forced to deal with them. If we move quickly enough, he will never recover and we will blow right through him.

(5) Time is tight and given how far the Pz Regt 3 has to go get down to Larissa across contested ground, we don't have anything to spare.

(6) Getting across the river is everything. Once we are across no matter how disorganized we are, it is pretty much over for the Allies. Delays on our part more than action on their part will decide whether they suceed or fail.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 9:14:15 PM)

(duplicate post deleted)

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 9:45:49 PM)

Here is the plan. Yes, I realize my artistic talents leave something to be desired.

We will cross the river at Kouphalades Ferry. In achieving that, we will cut off the enemy from withdrawing to Larissa and have that route for ourselves.

We will cross the river at the Tempe Bridges. This is one of our primary objectives. Achieving this will allow us to push the Allies away from the river.

My plan's legend:

Orange - Div HQ and engineers will deploy here waiting for word that Tempe is secure so that the engineers can be sent in to remove the charges.

Dark Blue - Our initial arty deployment. We'll be in reach of all the engagement areas along the river.

Light Green - Mortar positions. Our heaviest concentration of mortars will be Tempe. The next concentration with be a Kouphalades. We'll place a single platoon the North to cover the Pz Regt 3 as they make their way to Tempe.

Yellow - All our direct fire guns will be concentrated on hill over looking the Bridges and Tempe. They will break enemy positions near the bridges and prevent reinforcements. We'll also place a few guns to cover the Pz 3 Regt.

Purple - The 141st. Regt (infantry on foot) will push as fast as possible to cross at Kouphalades Ferry.

Red - The 143rd. Regt (infantry on foot) will push as fast as possible to cross at Tempe so that the bridges can be secured.

Light Blue - The Pz 3 Regt (minus recon units on foot; armor and motorized infantry) will race down and push on to Larissa. They will assist where they can and otherwise take advantage of the chaos push on towards Larissa.


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/29/2005 10:05:10 PM)

By the way, the grey gridlines on the map (if you didn't own a previous game) are 1km square boxes. Note, this is just for reference. There are no hexes or turns in this game.

I'll pick this thread up again in a day or so.

That should give my fellow beta testers Ray and Eddy a chance to snicker at my clumsy plan which relies on a sledge hammer to break eggs. And Bil to complain to Dave that I have debased yet another new game release by not using mil symbols on my counters in the screen shots.


MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/30/2005 5:20:25 PM)

Okay, before we get started with the battle, let me talk for a minute about how we'll look at the battle. Since I previous had explained this in my HTTR AAR/tutorial/tips thread, I'll just quote the relevant passages below.

Here is how I play and how I will present this battle:


Before actually formulating our plan and starting this particular game, let's talk a little bit about style of play. What I am going to describe here is my style of play and yours may well differ. Although HTTR is a realtime game, I do pause at times to analyze the situation and I always pause when issuing orders.

We could say that HTTR will take two forms of player inputs. There are query inputs. These will be key strokes or mouse actions that you will issue for the purpose of displaying information. There are command inputs. These will be key strokes or mouse actions that you will issue for the purpose of altering the outcome of the game. I generally find that while playing HTTR, you will be performing more query inputs than command inputs. In another thread, I had said that HTTR is a "true" strategy game. You will not be spending most of your interaction with the game handling miniscule details which only fractionally contribute to your overall strategy. In fact, when you issue command inputs, they will generally reflect your strategy in a clear succint manner and have a significant impact on the very outcome of the battle.

By the way, the thread I refer to is here: A Perspective: What Makes HTTR Truly Special

So, I tend to generally regard an HTTR game as having a number of order cycles. The cycle begins when I have a plan or sub plan and issue orders to carry it out. The cycle ends when the orders are either completed or I revise them. For example, the order cycle begins when I order an attack. The order cycle ends when the attack has succeeded and the battalion completes securing the objective and assumes a defensive posture.

Thus, in my view, an HTTR game is made up of a series distinct junctures (order cycles) where you implement/revise a plan. Aside from formulating plans, the challenge to you, the commander, is to recognize out of the continuous flow of battle when a key juncture has been reached and a new order cycle is required. So, as you play, you will spend much of your time watching a dynamic situation and trying to evaluate the progress of your plan, the enemies intention, and the ebb and flow of battle. So, as I present this AAR, commanding may seem very simplistic and that is because without actually playing the game, it is not easy to see what a challenge it is identify these discrete points in a battle which for the most part is completely continuous. HTTR models this continuous nature of battle very well. Unlike other games, battle in HTTR can be quite messy and at any given point in time it is not easy to say with certainty what the true situation is. Individual units will advance and fall back. Battle lines will not be like lines drawn on paper. For you the reader, this AAR is going to look cleaner than battle really is, since you will be unable to watch the actual flow of the game.

Here is the key contents of the thread, "A Perspective: What Makes HTTR Truly Special". It is true of all the games in the series:


I wanted to take a few minutes out to discuss why I feel HTTR is a very special game.

Before going any further, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I am a Beta tester. (Dave O'Connor, the President of Panther Games, had asked that we make that clear if we post opinions on public forums.)

What I find most exciting about HTTR is the gaming engine (the technology) itself. Certainly, the Market Garden Campaign is historically interesting. However, as has been discussed in another thread, it has been done before. And, it will certainly be done again, too.

I get a feeling when playing HTTR that I have rarely gotten when playing other games. I have played other war and strategy games, but I am by no means a crazed fanatic with 20 years of war game experience going back to table top and board games. When playing HTTR, I feel that the crux of what I am doing is defining and monitoring a strategy I have drawn up for a battle.

In many so called "strategy" games, the player may formulate a strategy in pursuit of victory. However, when it comes to executing the strategy, it is largely incumbent on the player to execute each small detail in order to realize the strategy. So, the "strategy" is actually something the player imposes upon the gaming system, as opposed to the player actually interacting with the system at the strategic level. At worst, this leaves the player so mired with the details that the big picture is lost or at best, the player can track the big picture but finds much of their involvement happening at a lower level than the one for which they acquired the game for in the first place.

So, what is it that is different about Panther's engine that allows strategy to be both the main focus of the player and main interaction with the game?

(1) Panther has introduced a flexible multi-level chain of command structure into the game. The player may interact with units/sub-units at any level within the chain of command. Thus, it is very adaptable to individual style and needs. One can both micro/macro manage within even a single gaming session. A critical road block can be created by tasking individual companies while some place else an entire brigade can be given very open ended orders to make an attack.

Some games have a natural level at which the player should interact with the game. As long as scenarios and forces are constructed around that natural limit, they play very well. Panther's engine is much more open ended. The ability to command at any level makes the game highly scalable. In many games, if you double the forces, the complexity for the player will quadruple (exponential scaling). In Panther's engine, the scaling is more of a logarithmic function. So, doubling the forces may increase the complexity for the player by a factor of 1.2 or so.

(Okay, keep this scaling in mind as I will come back to it soon.)

(2) Along with this being able to take command at any level, Panther has provided a very powerful (or as they prefer to say "capable") AI. In most games, the AI is something that serves as your opponent. In the Combat Mission series, Battle Front identified two different AIs. First there is the Tactical AI, which resolved combat between individual elements (units) in the game system. Second, there is the Strategic AI which formulates a high-level plan for the battle against the player. If we look at Panther's engine, we will also find both of these AIs. However, in the Panther engine the Strategic AI also functions on behalf of the player to produce plans in the execution of orders given by the player. It is this which allows the player to command at any level. The player need not concern him or herself with a myriad of typical details like choosing the best route, coordinating the movement of many units with proper overwatch and security, developing a proper attack formation, deploying different type of assets to their maximum advantage, etc...


So, when we add the two above features together we get a highly scalable system that allows the player's main involvement to be with defining and monitoring strategy. In some games, you may be able to command large scale battles. However, this is often achieved by abstracting the forces involved in the battle. With Panther's engine, large scale doesn't mean highly abstracted. In fact, while playing HTTR you will find all the low level elemental units like infantry companies, anti-tank platoons, mortars platoons, ... individually represented and involved. So, even though you are directing a battle involving tens of thousands men and giving order to brigades, it is fought before your eyes at a much finer level of granularity. All the inherent messiness and give and take of battle is not abstracted away by some hidden numerical system. It is all there for your immersion and analysis despite your involvement at a much higher level.

(3) I think there is one other aspect of Panther's engine that significantly contributes to the strategic nature of the game. This is order delays. Anyone who is serving or has served will tell you that no plans/orders are immediately executed. They require time to plan, communicate, organize, and execute. You will also be told that command and control delays during WWII were much greater than they are today. There were no GPS satellites, computers, integrated battle management, etc... Panther has implemented such command and control delays into the gaming engine. While playing, you are free to issue orders and reissue orders at any point in time. However, if you choose to play with order delays (this is optional, but is selected by most players), then you will not be issuing orders and revising them every simulated hour. You are going to analyze and then, formulate a plan. Then, you will issue orders. Then, you are going to, with as much patience as you can muster, sit back and let things run their course. Even when things are not going well, you will not immediately jump in and tweak this or that. You will make a commitment as the commander to stand by your decisions until a major overhaul is needed.

Believe me, this all feels very real life. The requirement to create the best plan on incomplete/inaccurate information and then sit back and let things just happen, adds a lot to the fact that this is about strategy. You will work out a strategy and then set it in motion. You are not going to keep nudging things in the right direction based on some tables published by players who have reverse engineered the gaming system. I have never served in the military, but I have managed large scale software projects and this game truely captures the feel and challenges of leadership/management.


Besides the three features cited above. HTTR has a clean and powerful interface for the player. Based at what I have told you above, you would certainly expect nothing less. I won't discuss the interface though, since I had really wanted to call your attention to why HTTR is a true strategy game. I am sure others will tell you more about the interface at a later date and there will be the usual previews and reviews in the trade press.

So, to restate the basic premise of this post. Panther's engine in very unique and special in the way it allows a strategy gamer to play HTTR and remain focused on strategy.


I have been playing (beta testing) a simulated 10 day scenario for the last few days, and I have been having a wonderful time. I thought I would taken a few minutes and share some of that feeling and the reasons why with other war/strategy gaming hobbyists. Well, I have to get back to testing; as both the Beta Team and Panther/Matrix are all working hard to keep this project on schedule.

Take care.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/30/2005 5:25:41 PM)

As stated above, I will present this battle as a number of discrete moments in time and highlight to you in particular why it was time to revise orders.

Since this battle was somewhat longer than the one which I used for my HTTR AAR, I will also give you a few situational updates (meaning no new orders were required) to follow the progress of previously issued orders.

Finally, in this battle, I made extensive use of manually issuing fire missions to my arty bty. (the other alternative is to simply leave your arty under AI control) This was required and did have a decisive impact. Given the frequency and fluid nature of such orders, we will not consider these to represent new "order cycles", but instead I will just describe this aspect of the battle in broad strokes.

MarkShot -> RE: COTA (mini-guide): Tutorial, AAR, and tips! (10/30/2005 5:40:27 PM)

As you can see here, my general approach to planning a battle is "top-down". Meaning I look at the big picture (objectives, terrain, forces, intel, ...) in order to formulate a plan in broad strokes.

However, my general approach to implementing a plan is "bottom-up". Meaning that I will start with the smallest elements of the plan and single units and lower echelon forces to actually construct the plan with the game interface. There are a number of advantages which accrue by doing it this way. The two big ones are:

(1) If you approach giving orders top-down, it is much easier to lose the smaller units which you want to micro-manage as they become hidden in an already assigned larger force. Going bottom-up it will be very easy check and double-check our plan implementation prior to starting the clock.

(2) When working out ATTACK or DEFEND footprints for a force, all included units are considered. If you later remove units implementing your plan top-down, then you will have been working with incorrect and misleading footprints.


Now, the most intensive time of using the interface is usually at game start and perhaps later if a great number of reinforcements arrive. This is simply due to the fact that you are starting with a clean slate. As the game progresses, changes to orders will tend to be incremental and most orders previously issued will be left to stand.

Finally, just a reminder: In general, order delays are waived for the first 59 minutes of the scenario and for the first 59 minutes after arrival for reinforcing units. When playing with order delays, there will be a time lag from when you give your commands to when they begin to be executed. Depending on circumstances and at what level you issue them, this could be anywhere from a half hour to a half day.

So, as you watch the order cycles I present, you will see that I will be issuing orders in advance based on what I anticipate is going to happen. I might anticipate a force making it across a river or I might anticipate that night fall will hide my movements ... You get the picture.

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