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-   -   [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=147257)

johndallman 12-02-2016 10:51 AM

[Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Strategy is the IQ/H skill of planning military operations and predicting the enemy's plans. The defaults are IQ-6, Intelligence Analysis-6 or Tactics-6; both those skills have defaults to Strategy. Specialisation in a broad kind of conflict is required, such as (Land), (Naval) or (Space), and these specialisations default to each other at -4. The specific types of forces are less important: another nation, or even a different TL, would only give -1 or -2, provided you understood their capabilities properly.

With a successful Strategy roll, you can deduce the military plans of an enemy whose leader lacks Strategy. If they have a strategist as leader, you need to win a quick contest of Strategy to deduce their plans. If you fail an uncontested roll, or lose the contest, you get bad information. Of course, knowing the enemy plan is only any use if you can do something about it. Much of the Mass Combat rules are about contests of Strategy, and the many things that can modify them in a large conflict.

Tactics is the IQ/H skill of organising and winning fights on the scale from small infantry units to personal combat. The defaults are IQ-6 or Strategy-6, and Strategy is the only skill with a default from Tactics.

Tactics has several uses in combat that are often neglected in the games I've played.
  • You roll against the best of Perception or Tactics to spot ambushes and surprise attacks, and in cases of Partial Surprise knowing the skill gives your leader at least +1 to initiative rolls.
  • If you had any time to prepare for a fight, you can make a Tactics roll to start in an advantageous position (behind cover, higher ground, etc., based on margin of success). If you fail, don't try to use Tactics, or don't know the skill (a default is no use here), you start somewhere determined by the GM.
  • If you're in command of a group small enough that you can give all of them orders directly, or through one layer of subordinates, then you can use uncontested Tactics to deploy them correctly for an ambush, post sentries effectively, and possibly get clues as to what the enemy are trying to do. To out-manoeuvre the enemy, gaining some advantage for your command over them, you need to win a contest of Tactics with the enemy leader.
Martial Arts has two optional rules for Tactics that can replace the group rule above. Both involve a quick contest of Tactics between the leaders of each side. In abstract combat, the winner gets re-rolls (like uses of Luck) which he can grant to his allies, if he can describe how tactical factors like formation and cover help. In mapped tactical combat, the winner decides who sets up first on the map, and once all fighters are placed, gets to move them around to improve his side's situation.

Both these skills appeared at GURPS 1e. Basic says that they're usually only taught by the military, but there are exceptions to that in the modern world. Riot-trained police learn something like Tactics for tackling demonstrations, and the War Colleges that train military officers in Strategy and related skills also admit senior civil servants and occasional businessmen, at least in some countries. Expert Skill (Military Science) will provide information about strategy and tactics, but won't substitute for them in action.

These skills are options on most templates for characters with military backgrounds, but few demand high skill levels. Action uses Tactics for adopting the right procedures, planning fights, spotting enemies or avoiding being spotted, bodyguarding and assessing enemy plans; Strategy can be used for planning the actions of an NPC force. DF makes Tactics compulsory on several templates, lets you use Tactics as a complementary skill to a friend's active defences and as part of Shield Mastery. Fantasy discusses several ways of running large battles, and Roman leaders offering their own lives to the gods for victory, gaining bonuses to Strategy, Tactics and Leadership, plus weapon (but not Shield) skills; Fantasy-Tech uses a leader's Tactics-6 as the "weapon skill" for reflective shields. Infinite Worlds has Tactics software that gives +2 to a group, and LTC3 uses Tactics for large-scale hunting. Magic has an elixir that boosts both skills, and several schools of Dungeon Magic study them.

Martial Arts allows use of Tactics to counter Feints and Ruses, in some circumstances, and to control Flurries in tournament combat. Monster Hunters can use Tactics for estimating the time until the next attack, and for stealthy communication of battle plans. The Power-Ups series has talents, quirks and wildcards for these skills, and Powers and Psionic Powers have several ways to use them with powers. Social Engineering uses Strategy as a qualification skill for promotion within an army, and provides social means for hampering an opponent's Tactics, while Back To School uses Tactics as an example for child prodigies, and both skills can be aided by Assistance Rolls via Pulling Rank. Space suggests that Tactics may be a TL skill in science-fiction settings, and the Spaceships series has rules for both skills in space combat. Supers has advice on precognition, Tactics rolls at the start of a fight, and tactical computers. Tactical Shooting has far too many Tactics applications to list. Thaumatology has magic items that provide both skills, while Chinese Elemental Powers has earthquakes to boost Strategy, if you know they're coming. Ultra-Tech has TL9+ software tools for both skills, and cunning Tactics are advisable against hordes of Zombies.

In the more detailed treatment of military command in GURPS:WWII, Strategy was a TL skill with no specialisation, making it more like "Grand Strategy", which is the overall moves and objectives of an entire war, or of a nation, empire or alliance in peacetime. The new skill of Operations was inserted between Strategy and Tactics to handle what the military calls "Operational Art", putting together tactical-level actions and their supply and support to accomplish military objectives. In 4e, Grand Strategy and Operational Art are both clearly parts of Strategy. Grand Strategy could be an additional specialisation; Operational Art could plausibly be an optional specialisation of the conventional forms. Strategy is not a TL skill, but could plausibly require TL familiarity.

Likewise, in G:WWII, Tactics was a TL skill, and required specialisation in a type of combat, although the list of specialisations was rather long: (Infantry), (Armoured), (Artillery), (Air-to-Air), (Air-to-Ground), (Naval), (Submarine), (Guerrilla), and (Police). The 4e skill is not TL-dependent, although TL familiarity would be plausible, and handles small units, at the level of personal command, probably no larger than an infantry platoon, which the military call "Minor Tactics." It's a fairly common house rule in 4e games to add alternative specialisations for quite different kinds of combat, like (Air-to-Air) and (Submarine).

Strategy for submarine forces is part of (Naval), but the thing that navies took a few years to learn is that trying to operate submarines as part of a surface formation doesn't work. The submarines can't communicate readily, and the surface forces can't tell the difference between enemy and friendly submarines. Indeed, they tend to be doubtful about the whole concept of "friendly submarines," and the submariners are no help with this at all. Strategy for submarines consists of working out where to send them to find targets, individually, and keeping them at a safe distance from your other forces.

I've had these skills on a fair number of GURPS characters, but they haven't been used much. I've mostly used them as license for exploiting experience in playing RPGs. I've quite enjoyed exploiting holes in GMs' tactical schemes, and creating simple but unexpected moves in other systems, but that's been player-level rather than character-level stuff. In the Weird War II campaign I play, the scale is either personal combat, or grand strategy, with one intermediate-scale event resolved using a wargame in a decade of play.

What have you done with these skills?

evileeyore 12-02-2016 11:21 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johndallman (Post 2062281)
What have you done with these skills?

Too much to enumerate.

Honestly alongside Stealth, Observation, and Weapon skills; Strategy and Tactics are top go-tos for my Players.

johndallman 12-04-2016 10:43 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by evileeyore (Post 2062285)
Too much to enumerate.

Anecdote for us, then?

dripton 12-04-2016 01:56 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Tactics is a popular one. Uses include +1 to surprise rolls, generating rerolls in combat, and getting chosen leader of the group. I haven't seen it used to actually substitute for the player's tactical ability in combat, though.

I've seen Strategy on a few character sheets, but I don't think I've seen it used. It would be useful if you were running the kind of game where the PCs lead large military forces, but I think those are pretty rare.

fredtheobviouspseudonym 12-04-2016 01:56 PM

Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Part of the skill in S&T (yes, I used to subscribe decades ago) is knowing how to do things when you DON'T have enough information to be certain. This latter element is one missing from most civilian studies of strategy and operations.

The "fog of war" is quite real and not just a title for a documentary. Clausewitz did see action as a junior officer at Jena (IIRC) and was an observer at Borodino, one of the most costly battles in Western history. Any military commander of note has to make the right decisions when he (and nowadays, she) has not enough information to be certain about the whereabouts & strength and current activity of his/her own troops, much less the enemy's.

A good exploration of this is Andrew Gordon's The Rules of the Game about Jutland 100 years ago. British Admiral Jellicoe had to make his own decisions about where & how to deploy with utterly inadequate information about the locale & actions of his own fleet and worse info about the German battle squadrons. While he made some errors he did quite well considering.

Years after the war Jellicoe was lecturing at a British naval college and some questions came up about Jutland. There was a plan present showing the various fleets at a key moment. Jellicoe paused and then used his hands to cover most of the plan. "These were the ships I could see -- " some 20 out of the 250 total present. "I had to make my decisions based on this."

I expect any other commander could make similar statements.

There have been, however, amateurs who have done a good job in planning & sometimes operations with limited military experience. Geo. Washington was, IIRC, at only two battles (both losses -- Fort Necessity & Braddock's Defeat) before he became CinC of the Continental Army. Vo Nguyen Giap was a history professor before he became the planning chief of the NVA in the 1950s. Cromwell had, IIRC, never been on a battlefield before the English Civil War. Henry Knox was a Massachusetts bookseller who had an interest in military history before he became Washington's chief of artillery. (Perhaps all rolled a Critical Success in strategy or tactics' studies?)

jason taylor 12-04-2016 05:17 PM

Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym (Post 2062653)


Years after the war Jellicoe was lecturing at a British naval college and some questions came up about Jutland. There was a plan present showing the various fleets at a key moment. Jellicoe paused and then used his hands to cover most of the plan. "These were the ships I could see -- " some 20 out of the 250 total present. "I had to make my decisions based on this."

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.

Imbicatus 12-04-2016 05:54 PM

Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2062674)
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.


You're misunderstanding the story. The admiral did make his decisions based on ALL the information he had. That information was limited to the ships that were not covered on the chart. There is a difference between actionable intelligence available at the time of engagement versus what was available on a historical review decades later.

jason taylor 12-04-2016 08:55 PM

Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Imbicatus (Post 2062676)
You're misunderstanding the story. The admiral did make his decisions based on ALL the information he had. That information was limited to the ships that were not covered on the chart. There is a difference between actionable intelligence available at the time of engagement versus what was available on a historical review decades later.

And he did not know that there were in fact more ships in the German navy and that almost all of them were concentrated in the North Sea?

Phil Masters 12-05-2016 01:17 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
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.

Žorkell 12-05-2016 06:06 AM

Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2062686)
And he did not know that there were in fact more ships in the German navy and that almost all of them were concentrated in the North Sea?

The ships Jellicoe is referring to are his own.

WaterAndWindSpirit 12-05-2016 06:31 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phil Masters (Post 2062711)
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.

johndallman 12-05-2016 07:08 AM

Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2062674)
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.

Phil Masters 12-05-2016 12:27 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by WaterAndWindSpirit (Post 2062733)
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.

Mithlas 12-05-2016 02:24 PM

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.

fredtheobviouspseudonym 12-05-2016 04:29 PM

Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johndallman (Post 2062739)
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.

ericthered 12-06-2016 07:23 AM

Re: Strategy and Tactics different from Strategy (Art) or Military Science
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym (Post 2062872)
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.

jason taylor 12-06-2016 08:08 AM

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."

johndallman 12-22-2016 03:13 PM

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.

jason taylor 12-22-2016 06:54 PM

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.

Phil Masters 12-23-2016 04:21 AM

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.)

jason taylor 12-23-2016 09:57 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phil Masters (Post 2066274)
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.)

What I mean is Tribe A holds a hill on the right flank, tribe B holds one on the left. Tribe A's position is better but tribe B is negotiating for a defection. So Milord Snobbybrit attacks Tribe A's position even though looking at the Pathan army from a purely tactical perspective attacking Tribe B would be better. However Milord Snobbybrit knows from intelligence outside the battle that Tribe B is a future ally and wasting lives for the purpose of gutting it's supply of warriors is kind of silly in the long run.

Of course Milord Snobbybrit could believe that Tribe B is playing them for fools and they might as well hit them where it hurts most. That is also a strategic decision, just not the most subtle and so not the best example of how tactics and strategy diverge.

acrosome 06-17-2017 10:06 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
As a product of a military educational system, I'd support having specializations for Strategy such as (Grand) and (Operational). The latter probably needs to sub specialize by type (land, naval, etc.), though there is a lot of cross-training.

The real problem, as always, is in figuring out when you need to use Tactics and when you need to use Strategy (Operational). A fair rule of thumb for game purposes is probably something like "If you have to worry about logistics, it's Strategy."

WaterAndWindSpirit 06-17-2017 10:44 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by acrosome (Post 2105525)
The real problem, as always, is in figuring out when you need to use Tactics and when you need to use Strategy (Operational). A fair rule of thumb for game purposes is probably something like "If you have to worry about logistics, it's Strategy."

As far as Mass Combat goes, Tactics is for combat when you command 5 elements or less (an element being either a vehicle or a fire team or the local equivalent in your universe (say 10 spear(wo)men in a medieval era)), and Strategy for more, though I'd allow some leeway for Hero elements (One soldier with enough firepower to rival an entire fire team (a single superhero for instance)) in the final headcount and probably not count them unless there were *a lot* of hero elements.).

jason taylor 06-17-2017 12:32 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by acrosome (Post 2105525)
As a product of a military educational system, I'd support having specializations for Strategy such as (Grand) and (Operational). The latter probably needs to sub specialize by type (land, naval, etc.), though there is a lot of cross-training.

The real problem, as always, is in figuring out when you need to use Tactics and when you need to use Strategy (Operational). A fair rule of thumb for game purposes is probably something like "If you have to worry about logistics, it's Strategy."

Most of the stuff they have now spews out ordinance at such a rate that even sergeants have to worry about logistics. Of course that is not telling as in a counterinsurgency even subalterns and non-coms have to worry about diplomacy too and diplomatic considerations are more likely with strategy then tactics. That is what is meant by the saying "strategic corporal". But the point is made. Nobody is immune to logistic considerations.

There are a number of tactical decisions that have to do with logistics. Getting ammo forward for instance. Or conserving it. Stopping to rest, or eat, or relieve waste(the last is never mentioned but must in fact be a critical decision at times). These are all decisions that would probably go under the heading of logistics but they are also taken at the tactical level.

evileeyore 06-17-2017 12:57 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
The way I run the skills is such:

Strategy is what you use before the battle. Tactics is what you use during the battle (in small skirmishes).

I don't run large scale battles... but if I did I'd probably use Strategy rolls (have to check Mass Combat rules, it's been a long time since I read them).

Kelly Pedersen 06-17-2017 01:38 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by evileeyore (Post 2105539)
I don't run large scale battles... but if I did I'd probably use Strategy rolls (have to check Mass Combat rules, it's been a long time since I read them).

As WaterAndWindSpirit said, Mass Combat only uses Tactics on fairly small scales - less than 50 people to a side, more or less. Above that, it uses Strategy. I tend to think that that's not really how the skills tend to break down in real life, but that is the way GURPS currently does them.

Personally, I'd like to see a split between Tactics (Small Unit) and Tactics (Large Engagement), and use the latter for most things Mass Combat currently uses Strategy for, and save actual Strategy for an even larger-scale "Mass Combat - Winning The War" ruleset.

acrosome 06-17-2017 06:44 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2105533)
Most of the stuff they have now spews out ordinance at such a rate that even sergeants have to worry about logistics.

Did you see the part about my being a product of a military education system? :) I'm not talking about feeding your squad and their weapons. I'm talking about worrying about adequate sealift and railheads and contractors for the chow hall and whether or not the runway is long enough for a C-5 and how much tonnage the airhead can handle, etc. That starts at maybe battalion level?

5 elements sounds like a platoon. 5 squads, right? I'd argue it should be Tactics up to company level in modern warfare. Say, 16 elements. (I'm just sort of bloviating, here, though.)

jason taylor 06-18-2017 12:53 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by acrosome (Post 2105564)
Did you see the part about my being a product of a military education system? :) I'm not talking about feeding your squad and their weapons. I'm talking about worrying about adequate sealift and railheads and contractors for the chow hall and whether or not the runway is long enough for a C-5 and how much tonnage the airhead can handle, etc. That starts at maybe battalion level?

5 elements sounds like a platoon. 5 squads, right? I'd argue it should be Tactics up to company level in modern warfare. Say, 16 elements. (I'm just sort of bloviating, here, though.)

The purpose of sealift and railheads and contractors for the chow hall and whether or not the runway is long enough for a C-5 and how much tonnage the airhead can handle, etc is ultimately feeding the squads and their weapons.

fredtheobviouspseudonym 06-18-2017 02:37 PM

Strategy and Tactics -- and Operations
 
Multiple layers of decision making.

Policy -- what's important to this nation (or group of nations.) How do we get it? Can we do so without fighting? Do we fight alone -- or with allies? What will we give up to get the support of allies? (& much more.)

Strategy -- since we've (presumably) decided to fight, how do we use fighting to attain our national goals? Which theater of operations do we choose (or are forced into by our opponents?) Do we go for seizing resources (oil fields, say) or destroy the enemy's forces or maneuver him out of the area without fighting? If we go after the enemy's military strength, which part do we go after first? What's important in this theater of operations, and how do we get it?

Operations -- the use of battle and maneuver within a theater of operations to gain the objectives decided on at the strategy level.

Tactics -- the use of firepower, maneuver, and shock on the battlefield to destroy enemy forces, capture key points (terrain) or otherwise win battles.

Examples -- early 1863, the Confederates, in Virginia.

Policy -- defend slavery by maintaining an independent Confederacy.

Strategy -- stand on the strategic defensive. Put the onus of continuing the war on the d--n Yankees. Make their army come to yours. Defend Richmond for its economic & political importance.

Operations -- if the Yankees can choose when & where to fight their firepower & numbers will swamp the Army of Northern Virginia. Therefore, don't give them that time -- let 'em get to a battlefield, let 'em prepare to attack -- then strike at them. Find isolated detachments and hit them by surprise & with superior numbers.

At Chancellorsville, send Stonewall Jackson around the Union right to bushwhack an isolated Union corps.

Tactics -- Get on their flank. Maintain surprise. Hit 'em with everything you've got like an avalanche.

Voila.

jason taylor 06-18-2017 06:40 PM

Re: Strategy and Tactics -- and Operations
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym (Post 2105643)
Multiple layers of decision making.

Policy -- what's important to this nation (or group of nations.) How do we get it? Can we do so without fighting? Do we fight alone -- or with allies? What will we give up to get the support of allies? (& much more.)

Strategy -- since we've (presumably) decided to fight, how do we use fighting to attain our national goals? Which theater of operations do we choose (or are forced into by our opponents?) Do we go for seizing resources (oil fields, say) or destroy the enemy's forces or maneuver him out of the area without fighting? If we go after the enemy's military strength, which part do we go after first? What's important in this theater of operations, and how do we get it?

Operations -- the use of battle and maneuver within a theater of operations to gain the objectives decided on at the strategy level.

Tactics -- the use of firepower, maneuver, and shock on the battlefield to destroy enemy forces, capture key points (terrain) or otherwise win battles.

Examples -- early 1863, the Confederates, in Virginia.

Policy -- defend slavery by maintaining an independent Confederacy.

Strategy -- stand on the strategic defensive. Put the onus of continuing the war on the d--n Yankees. Make their army come to yours. Defend Richmond for its economic & political importance.

Operations -- if the Yankees can choose when & where to fight their firepower & numbers will swamp the Army of Northern Virginia. Therefore, don't give them that time -- let 'em get to a battlefield, let 'em prepare to attack -- then strike at them. Find isolated detachments and hit them by surprise & with superior numbers.

At Chancellorsville, send Stonewall Jackson around the Union right to bushwhack an isolated Union corps.

Tactics -- Get on their flank. Maintain surprise. Hit 'em with everything you've got like an avalanche.

Voila.

Policy: Contain and preferably eliminate expansionist ambitions of Axis powers.

Strategy: Prioritize European Theater conduct holding action followed by counteroffensive in Pacific. Seize necessary airstops to bring Japan within bombing distance, bypass islands that do not suit this priority.

Operations: Spruance orders Mitscher to accept temporary naval defensive to protect assault on Saipan, conduct limited counteroffensive and pursuit with Saipan remaining as priority.

Tactics: Intercept incoming strikes with fighters and shipborne antiaircraft fire, guided by improved sensory and communications technology. Then execute long range airstrike against enemy carriers.

Logistics: Prepare full scale airstrip on Saipan with mass engineering as soon as enemy are cleared.

Propaganda: Vulgarly nickname battle after an Appalachian blood sport.

fredtheobviouspseudonym 06-19-2017 03:48 PM

Excellent --
 
As they say, amateurs talk tactics, dilettantes talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.

jason taylor 06-19-2017 04:34 PM

Re: Excellent --
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym (Post 2105818)
As they say, amateurs talk tactics, dilettantes talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.

I'd say professionals talk strategy, tactics, and logistics prioritizing their conversation according to circumstance(with perhaps a decided emphasis on logistics). Educated amateurs talk strategy, tactics, and logistics with less quality but sometimes have something worthwhile to say and shouldn't always be underestimated. Just plain amateurs talk propaganda and should be tolerated indulgently as long as they are not doing any real harm.

acrosome 06-19-2017 07:47 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2105627)
The purpose of sealift and railheads and contractors for the chow hall and whether or not the runway is long enough for a C-5 and how much tonnage the airhead can handle, etc is ultimately feeding the squads and their weapons.

And sergeants don't manage any of it. When this stuff is your primary concern, it's strategy. Again, as a rule of thumb.

A company is really the largest unit where you can expect to know everyone well. So, when you are worried about feeding your army, rather than feeding your buddies... that's sort of what I'm saying.

Icelander 02-10-2020 04:17 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phil Masters (Post 2062811)
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.

I've often given supernatural predators an effective Tactics equal to their IQ or Per (depending on how animalistic they are), specifically for personal combat where they have to make Quick Contests against someone using Tactics.

In point cost terms, it's One Task Wonder and it means they can't lead a military unit or come up with a tactical plan that gives them re-rolls, but they aren't completely hosed when facing anyone with even a modicum of professional training.

Pursuivant 02-12-2020 01:12 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Something that I've found confusing about Strategy and Tactic skills is their scale.

At a personal level, tactics is largely subsumed into weapon/unarmed combat skill, at least when using melee weapons or making unarmed attacks.

On the tactical combat map, some of what a real fighter would know via combat or Tactics skills is actually dependent on player skill in knowing which maneuvers or techniques to use and how to move their characters in order to take advantage of things like weapon Reach, Cover, and enemy side or rear hexes.

What I think of as Tactics is small unit tactics, limited to people or units you can actually see or directly communicate with, and limited only to immediately likely or current combat situations. Think squadron leader or platoon/company commander level.

Realistically, the nuts and bolts of moving troops or vehicles in combat is covered by skills like Leadership, Shiphandling, or Soldier. Vehicle skills should seriously influence your ability to engage in any sort of vehicular maneuver combat.

What I think of as Strategy is grand strategy - moving military units composed of multiple smaller units across a map in order to achieve some overarching geopolitical objective or deploying the resources of a country to order to defeat a rival or to achieve some other long-term objective. Think Grand Admiral/Field Marshall level.

In between, there are Logistics and Operations.

GURPS 3E World War II made an attempt to define Tactics and Strategy as I think of them and introduce Operations skill as a mid-level skill between Strategy and Tactics. Military Logistics, critical to anything other than small unit tactics, is presumably defined as some combination of Admin, Soldier, and Strategy skills.

There should be optional specializations of Tactics for various sorts of tactics, e.g., Aerial, Armored, Ground, Police, etc. Like other optional specializations, these would be Average skills. Such specializations are highly appropriate for narrowly-trained combatants, such as vehicle or small unit commanders.

Players who aren't familiar with Tactical Combat, or GURP combat in general, should be allowed to make IQ-based unarmed combat/weapon skills in order to get GM assistance with effective personal combat tactics. A successful roll gives you the benefits of the "Common Sense" advantage for that combat round - like doing AoD when you're injured.

Strategy could allow optional specializations in Operations or Logistics. Operations gives you the ability to achieve short-term strategic objectives using a limited number of units, including combined arms ops. Logistics focuses on supplying any sort of military force under combat conditions for the purpose of achieving a larger strategic objective. Staff officers are likely to have this specialization.

Strategy should take familiarity penalties if you are working with unfamiliar units, staff, command and control systems, or objectives.

Many skills might be complementary to Strategy skill, notably Administration, Area Knowledge, Geography, Intelligence Analysis, Leadership, Politics, and Propaganda, but even skills such as Cartography, Geology, Mathematics (Surveying), Meteorology, or Psychology.

Pursuivant 02-12-2020 01:33 AM

Re: Strategy and Tactics -- and Operations
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2105672)
Tactics: Intercept incoming strikes with fighters and shipborne antiaircraft fire, guided by improved sensory and communications technology. Then execute long range airstrike against enemy carriers.

Below this level, you've got the small unit tactics used by individual units, like shipboard allocation of anti-aircraft fire vs. given sorts of targets and the choice to use AAA to defend one's own ship vs. defending vital elements of the task force. Or, for the air battle, the ability to line up planes in your squadron/group to best achieve their objective while not getting damaged by the enemy.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2105672)
Logistics: Prepare full scale airstrip on Saipan with mass engineering as soon as enemy are cleared.

Or, more broadly, get sufficient fuel, ammo, food, replacements, etc. to the task forces in time for them to launch their operations and keep the supplies coming at a sufficient level to sustain the desired tempo of operations. As a smaller objective, have sufficient personnel, equipment, and supplies available to quickly construct and supply multiple airfields on Saipan sufficient to allow USMC and USAAF units to conduct ongoing operations.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 2105672)
Propaganda: Vulgarly nickname battle after an Appalachian blood sport.

That was more the spontaneous reaction of USN fighter pilots who expected a hard fight and were amazed and delighted that the enemy mostly turned out to be hapless targets.
Propaganda is newsreels, training films, and newspaper articles which trumpet the victory, designed to make U.S. civilians buy War Bonds and to make green U.S. troops feel invincible.

Eric Funk 02-05-2022 11:07 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2308591)
I've often given supernatural predators an effective Tactics equal to their IQ or Per (depending on how animalistic they are), specifically for personal combat where they have to make Quick Contests against someone using Tactics.

In point cost terms, it's One Task Wonder and it means they can't lead a military unit or come up with a tactical plan that gives them re-rolls, but they aren't completely hosed when facing anyone with even a modicum of professional training.

I am facing this dilemma with my party as well. In the typical Dungeon* crawl, only the PCs will have Tactics. In this case it is the wizard with high IQ and the Born War Leader Talent.

I'm reading Tactics for this 6-10 member group will mean they are fighting as a unit rather than a bunch of "murder hoboes" (as one player puts it) who kill all monsters they see as fast as they can and then loot whatever is shiny or magical.


Example Case:
Wild Boars: IQ 5, Tactics Default: roll vs IQ -1 ! . Typical roll of 10 means fail by 11 !
Wizard: Tactics 14, average roll of 10*** means pass by 4, so margin of success: 15


So i'm going to try it just a basic roll against wild creatures (the barrier of "Animal" vs "Mind" spells M29).



* Here GURPS Dungeon Fantasy.
** With allies, familiars, mounts, hirelings, etc.
*** (And that's not taking into consideration using Luck to reroll...

Jareth Valar 02-06-2022 01:24 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 2308591)
I've often given supernatural predators an effective Tactics equal to their IQ or Per (depending on how animalistic they are), specifically for personal combat where they have to make Quick Contests against someone using Tactics.

In point cost terms, it's One Task Wonder and it means they can't lead a military unit or come up with a tactical plan that gives them re-rolls, but they aren't completely hosed when facing anyone with even a modicum of professional training.

Nice idea. Clean and simple. Will probably start using this from time to time. Thank you.

LOL, this just struck a cord...image of where the animal has better tactical skill than a PC are the Doberman Pincers in the Remo Williams movie. 😂

Eric Funk 02-06-2022 08:17 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jareth Valar (Post 2415241)
Nice idea. Clean and simple. Will probably start using this from time to time. Thank you.

LOL, this just struck a cord...image of where the animal has better tactical skill than a PC are the Doberman Pincers in the Remo Williams movie. 😂

A night's sleep reminded me that in 3e Bestiary they assign a number of templates "pack tactics" pp.76 & 94, Tactics under Naturally-learned Skills p. 118, and explicitly in the fleshed-out full "guard dog" template on p.104 with the skill Tactics-12.

tbone 02-06-2022 09:46 AM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johndallman (Post 2062281)
Strategy is the IQ/H skill of ...

A fine overview of these skills. They're rather all over the map in what they do, according to different books; it's a complex picture. (I wasn't even aware of Operations in WWII.)

I'd like to see the system settle on more standardized mechanics for each skill, but it's expected (and fine) that details differ somewhat by genre and setting.

Whatever the differences by book, Tactics has pretty clear uses that players can exploit. If nothing else, there's one use that's always obvious, simple, and fun: When players dither over actions, positioning, etc, in combat, roll Tactics; if successful, the GM makes a simple suggestion. That's not so useful for experienced players (who already know combat), but for newer players, advice via Tactics can really make a difference in fighting intelligently.

Strategy is a tougher skill to make meaningful at the typical PC level. Me, I'm increasingly taking it to be a range of broad "planning" skills, with the listed Strategy actually being Strategy (Military). Strategy (Business) would be another example of real-world skill for big-picture, high-level planning. Strategy (Politics) is another perfect example (but one we already have: it's the Politics skill).

Sticking with that focus on planning, I'm trying out a way to make Strategy more useful in DFRPG: Let it be the skill for mission planning & prep. That is, make a Strategy roll at the prep stage; on a success, the GM offers suggestions on gear, hirelings, etc. Again, this isn't so great for experienced players who know what they need. But for newer players, it can be a huge help. ("You're all weighed down; who's going to carry any treasure? Do you even have bags or containers for loot? Does everyone have a backup weapon?")

Eric Funk 02-06-2022 01:02 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tbone (Post 2415278)

Sticking with that focus on planning, I'm trying out a way to make Strategy more useful in DFRPG: Let it be the skill for mission planning & prep. That is, make a Strategy roll at the prep stage; on a success, the GM offers suggestions on gear, hirelings, etc. Again, this isn't so great for experienced players who know what they need. But for newer players, it can be a huge help. ("You're all weighed down; who's going to carry any treasure? Do you even have bags or containers for loot? Does everyone have a backup weapon?")

IMO Strategy (Land) in a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy (GDF?) would be part of Supply and partly combining topographical and zoological information on the area (A new Flying broom is only 4000$ (GDF8:Treasures p.39) to fly over). Given what is known about the obstacles you an predict roads in, what kinds of terrain/monsters/units/weather*...

Hmm, now I am really torn between definitions of Strategy and Intelligence Analysis:

http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=139946

Both IQ/Hard,
IA: Deduce enemy plans and capabilities, rate reliability of sources
Strategy: "Deduce, in advance, enemy plans" and "plan military actions"

Perhaps the comparison of Ecology and Naturalist where IA Is the theory and Strategy is the practical?

*and shop for ammo for. (Or a boat, Chain relay to pull treasure up out of a crevace, or winter gear, extra poison remedy, or most recently our wizard had a hard sell convincing the party to purchase a selfpowered Create Water item when the party was heading into a desert... but it meant they literally did not need to bring 10,000 lbs of water for their four mounts... B426)

Plane 02-06-2022 01:47 PM

Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Strategy and Tactics
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Eric Funk (Post 2415269)
A night's sleep reminded me that in 3e Bestiary they assign a number of templates "pack tactics" pp.76 & 94, Tactics under Naturally-learned Skills p. 118, and explicitly in the fleshed-out full "guard dog" template on p.104 with the skill Tactics-12.

This begs the question of how a leader gives orders (normally this takes a Concentrate maneuver) when you lack a common language.

Like would you use a Body Language roll for a guard dog alpha leader to give commands to it's pack? Not sure if maybe substituting a "Ready" for a "Concentrate" in that case might make sense.


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