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Old 12-05-2016, 06:31 AM   #11
WaterAndWindSpirit
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics

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Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
I've used the Martial Arts "re-rolls" rule in a fight scene in a Banestorm demo game, but as this involved a PC team leader with Tactics and an opponent rolling on default, it turned out to be too generous - it could easily give the PCs half-a-dozen re-rolls in a rather small fight. I might use it but tone it down a bit in other games. Giving the side with superior tactical thinking one or two re-rolls in an abstracted non-mapped fight scene should be a fully adequate way of representing that advantage.
Out of curiosity... Were they fighting a street gang? A raider gang? The ADVENT Administration? Even cops serving arrest warrants against somewhat dangerous suspects should have a field commander with at *least* 12 in Tactics (ADVENT are a special case), SWAT should push it to at *least* 14. Of course, if you have trained PCs fighting untrained opponents, by all rights it *should* result in a complete slaughter, unless fighting untrained but superhuman opponents with a group of normal humans PCs.
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:08 AM   #12
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Default Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science

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That is a bad excuse for a professional officer. Even I know that you make your decisions based on ALL the information you have and you better have a good reason for filtering intelligence.
It happened like this:

The British and German battlecruiser forces, scouting ahead of their respective main battlefleets, had encountered each other, which was a surprise, because the (incorrect) SIGINT reports from the Admiralty had been that the Germans were staying home that day. The two battlecruiser forces did some fairly substantial fighting. Jellicoe had had reports about that, and about the British battlecruisers' sighting of the German battlefleet. The fighting had then been moving back towards Jellicoe and the British battlefleet, but there had been a remarkable lack of ongoing reports, and those that were coming in had significantly incorrect positions. Some of that was detectable when the positions were plotted, but some was not. Radio direction-finding was in its infancy in 1916, and ships weren't equipped for it, so it could not help.

The British tactical communications systems of the time had been optimised for a very top-down command style, which assumed that the commander on the scene would have complete information. Jellicoe's problem was that he needed to deploy his battlefleet from cruising order, which was a block of short columns steaming side-by-side, difficult for submarines to attack, to a single long line, so that all the battleships could fire broadsides without getting in each other's way. Because that long line took time to manoeuvre, he needed to get it into about the right place to start with.

It was a misty day, as is commonly the case in the North Sea, and the smoke of a lot of large coal-fired ships was not helping. It abruptly became clear from the sound of heavy gunfire that Jellicoe was going to encounter the German battlefleet sooner than the reports had led him to expect but there were no clear reports of just where it was relative to him, and the only ships visible through the mist were his own. He was forced to make the decision on inadequate information, and was fortunate to get the best choice available.

Edit: The Rules of the Game, referenced above, is an excellent book on how things got to be this way, and what that implies for military organisations in general.
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Old 12-05-2016, 12:27 PM   #13
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics

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Originally Posted by WaterAndWindSpirit View Post
Out of curiosity... Were they fighting a street gang? A raider gang? The ADVENT Administration? Even cops serving arrest warrants against somewhat dangerous suspects should have a field commander with at *least* 12 in Tactics (ADVENT are a special case), SWAT should push it to at *least* 14. Of course, if you have trained PCs fighting untrained opponents, by all rights it *should* result in a complete slaughter, unless fighting untrained but superhuman opponents with a group of normal humans PCs.
It was a small band of Ytarrian adventurers, whose leader had Tactics, fighting a couple of Bilit Island priests and the demons that they were riding - keen on blood and guts, less keen on organised warfare.

Really, it was probably too small a confrontation for Tactics skill to make much difference.
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Old 12-05-2016, 02:24 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics

I think the discussions here are forgetting one important thing: what kind of game can (or should?) these skills be used in. For almost any dungeon fantasy, martial arts action, or other small-scale adventure, you're dealing with "what am I doing right here and now" and neither skill is something you'll want to deal with. If you roll poorly you cut off the player's options and that doesn't make for fun gaming, if you roll well you may get a bonus that skews the scene in a way that may not make sense. There's a reason why video games don't simulate the latency between a general making a decision and that tank in your strategy moving up to shoot the bad guy, it makes for less fun.

Tactics and strategy can have a place, especially in a mass-combat game, but my preference is for smaller scale games and minimizing roll play so you can have fun with friends in role play. To that end, you could easily roll Tactics, Strategy, and maybe even History (Military) all into one hobby skill if your team leader needs to know it at all. If your team doesn't have a leader (many do not), that's one fewer things to slow you down.
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:29 PM   #15
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Default Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science

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It happened like this . . .
Excellent summary. Thank you.

Jellicoe was suffering from two special problems. Bridge-to-bridge message time was about 20+ minutes. There was no voice radio, so all messages had to be drafted coded into Morse, re-coded into the naval cipher, sent, and the process had to be reversed. Also, he was ill-served by his subordinates who often did NOT send key information and often did not do very well when they tried.

Example: Jellicoe message out: "Where is the enemy battle fleet?" (A fairly key datum, I would think.)

Answer (from Adm. Evan-Thomas of the 5th Battle Squadron): "I am engaging the enemy." ["Which enemy? Are they the enemy battleships -- or all or none of them? Where are they? Heck, where are you?")

Repeat this dozens of times and you can gauge Jellicoe's problem.

So part of Operations & Tactics (Strategy if you are not using Operations skill) is figuring how to make the right decision when you're in the fog of war.
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:23 AM   #16
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Default Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science

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Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym View Post
Excellent summary. Thank you.

Jellicoe was suffering from two special problems. Bridge-to-bridge message time was about 20+ minutes. There was no voice radio, so all messages had to be drafted coded into Morse, re-coded into the naval cipher, sent, and the process had to be reversed. Also, he was ill-served by his subordinates who often did NOT send key information and often did not do very well when they tried.

Example: Jellicoe message out: "Where is the enemy battle fleet?" (A fairly key datum, I would think.)

Answer (from Adm. Evan-Thomas of the 5th Battle Squadron): "I am engaging the enemy." ["Which enemy? Are they the enemy battleships -- or all or none of them? Where are they? Heck, where are you?")

Repeat this dozens of times and you can gauge Jellicoe's problem.

So part of Operations & Tactics (Strategy if you are not using Operations skill) is figuring how to make the right decision when you're in the fog of war.
Now that's something I did not know. I wonder why they did it this way. I know radio was about a decade old, and that ships were one of its early adopters, and that news reports were received by commercial vessels during the war.

Some poking around reveals that the Germans used more radio than the British, but this also cost them as the British had means to decode the messages and often listened in. I've also read claims that the Germans were jamming the british that day.

But it would appear they were figuring out Electronic Warfare on the fly during that war.
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Old 12-06-2016, 08:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics

That makes more sense. If Jellicoe had received a report that the German main battle fleet was engaged he had more justification for writing off the possibility of more ships appearing then,"I didn't see them."
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Old 12-22-2016, 03:13 PM   #18
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics

I've been doing character sheets for a few WWII generals, which prompted me to think about the mechanics for a general's staff.

RogerBW pointed out there was some useful stuff in Spaceships, p18, "Specialized Rooms for Habitats", which has offices. If you just think about the people in those offices, 10-20 people give +1 to Strategy and 100-200 give +2. Going above that without some very effective communication system sounds hard.

The other usefulness of a staff is to do all the tasks that need to be done, but a general can't do by himself. These are Strategy, Administration, Intelligence Analysis, Research, Electronics Operation (Communications), etcetera., some of which will be complementary skills to the commander's Strategy, for his contest against the other side's commander.
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Old 12-22-2016, 06:54 PM   #19
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics

Strategy is more likely to intrude on politics. Tactics is how to fight and there are only so many ways to kill so many people. Strategy might tell you that it is in fact not a good idea to blast someone to bits even though tactically you can.

For instance General Milord Snobbybrit is leading an expedition into the Northwest Frontier to punish Pathan slave raiders led by Imam Whatever. Milord Snobbybrit when deciding the best way to bring the Pathan's to battle is engaged in tactics. If in fact he deliberately chooses suboptimal tactics in order to benefit his negotiations for the defection of Whatever Tribe, that is a strategic decision which shades into Diplomacy.
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Old 12-23-2016, 04:21 AM   #20
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics

I'm not sure that fighting sub-optimally is ever a good idea on the Northwest Frontier. It sounds like a good way to end up (a) dead and (b) regarded with contempt by the locals. But certainly, good Strategy is always going to factor in the thing about war being a continuation of politics by other means, in a way that Tactics won't.

(The quote in question being from a soldier, note, not a politician. A good strategist bears in mind that the conflict has a more or less "political" objective, then gets on with the job of achieving it.)
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