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Old 10-07-2018, 03:27 AM   #21
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Knowing when not to fight is as important a part of tactics as any.
There’s a Terry Pratchett scene in which Sam Vimes consults the best tactical manual on the Disc about “What to do when a smaller force is completely surrounded and cut off by a much larger force.” He stops reading after the first line; “Be the one on the outside...”
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Old 10-07-2018, 06:55 AM   #22
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
Interestingly, the Strategy skill gives no guidance as to the scale at which it applies instead of tactics.
It would seem to be "Everything larger-scale than the limit for Tactics."

Mass Combat has you use Tactics for command of 5 or fewer elements, Strategy for larger forces.
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:25 AM   #23
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That reflects a bias towards NATO units. If you look at a Roman Legion, each centurion commanded 100 individuals divided into ten contubernium. Each of the contubernia was led by a decanus, one of which was his optio, with his tesserarius handlong things during the night watch. The centurion would give orders directly to the decanus as well as to his own contubernium. In essence, a TL2 military organization was capable of handling 100 individuals through only one level of intermediaries, which would suggest that the modern infantry unit designs are not the most efficient (even in NATO units, there are platoons that reach over 100 personnel).

The reason for the structure of NATO units is tradition. The modern NATO evolved from the lessons learned in WW I and WW II and, since there has not been a global war since then, there has not been any major evolutions in military design. The design was based off the aristocratic traditions of Europe though, and were designed more to reinforce existing social structures than to facilitate military objectives. In addition, NATO forces tend to be brass heavy, so there is a major incentive to put officers everywhere to assure that they receive the necessary experience for advancement, so there has been no real incentive for reform.
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Old 10-07-2018, 09:34 AM   #24
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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That reflects a bias towards NATO units. If you look at a Roman Legion, each centurion commanded 100 individuals divided into ten contubernium. Each of the contubernia was led by a decanus, one of which was his optio, with his tesserarius handlong things during the night watch. The centurion would give orders directly to the decanus as well as to his own contubernium. In essence, a TL2 military organization was capable of handling 100 individuals through only one level of intermediaries, which would suggest that the modern infantry unit designs are not the most efficient (even in NATO units, there are platoons that reach over 100 personnel).
Funny, from what I can find each contubernium consisted of eight individuals and ten of those were a century.
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Old 10-07-2018, 10:23 AM   #25
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

Two support personnel were attached to each contubernia, increasing the size of a century to 100.
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Old 10-07-2018, 12:21 PM   #26
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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That reflects a bias towards NATO units. If you look at a Roman Legion, each centurion commanded 100 individuals divided into ten contubernium. Each of the contubernia was led by a decanus, one of which was his optio, with his tesserarius handlong things during the night watch. The centurion would give orders directly to the decanus as well as to his own contubernium. In essence, a TL2 military organization was capable of handling 100 individuals through only one level of intermediaries, which would suggest that the modern infantry unit designs are not the most efficient (even in NATO units, there are platoons that reach over 100 personnel).

The reason for the structure of NATO units is tradition. The modern NATO evolved from the lessons learned in WW I and WW II and, since there has not been a global war since then, there has not been any major evolutions in military design. The design was based off the aristocratic traditions of Europe though, and were designed more to reinforce existing social structures than to facilitate military objectives. In addition, NATO forces tend to be brass heavy, so there is a major incentive to put officers everywhere to assure that they receive the necessary experience for advancement, so there has been no real incentive for reform.
That's why I said that in a 'modern' army the limit was a platoon.

I do not believe it's merely because of tradition. Tradition is what gives us the officer/NCO split. What limits the modern commander is dispersion. A Roman century or maniple was a fairly compact unit, as were just about all units of the time (and indeed, all the way to around the US Civil War). A modern infantry platoon on foot will only be compact enough for everyone to be in direct command and control range of a platoon commander if they're dug into a defensive position, and possibly not even then. When moving they'll be spread out over hundreds of metres, and odds are that a platoon commander will not know exactly where everyone is.

Now, this is something that may change in the future, with everyone being hooked into a platoon or company wide wireless data and voice net, their position and status being constantly updated on their commanders' map units, etc. However, as each fireteam is a discrete manoeuvre unit this will still strain a company commander's ability to control them effectively directly, making the platoon commander a necessary step, and thus the top level for tactics (because the fireteams have their team leaders). Even then we're having platoon commanders controlling 6-7 manoeuvre units and that's going to strain them.

There's a reason armies today tend to have 3-5 actual combat components at each level, tending strongly to three standard units plus a support unit of smaller size and a logistics unit, and that's because it's the most that most commanders can manage effectively in battle. It's true that larger units tend to deviate from this (brigades, divisions, and upwards). However, these are at a level where the commander has a decent staff, and also where they don't have to make decisions so rapidly - we're well into the land of Strategy here.

Compare this to a pre-modern army, where most of the time in the field the smallest manoeuvre unit was about company or century/maniple sized. Except in cases where such a unit was too large for a mission. Command could be 'flatter' because the smallest manoeuvre unit was larger.
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Old 10-07-2018, 12:44 PM   #27
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Compare this to a pre-modern army, where most of the time in the field the smallest manoeuvre unit was about company or century/maniple sized. Except in cases where such a unit was too large for a mission. Command could be 'flatter' because the smallest manoeuvre unit was larger.
I've heard it said that the force size was "how many folks can you scream at and be heard by." :-)
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Old 10-08-2018, 07:06 AM   #28
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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I've heard it said that the force size was "how many folks can you scream at and be heard by." :-)
Pretty much, and then you add whistles, horns, flutes, and drums for more reach and bigger units.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:12 AM   #29
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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My problem with the mechanics of Tactics in Characters is that is seems to assume a very abstracted start of encounters. My encounters typically have the opposition set up in advance (using roll20) and the players location determined by how they approach the area. I'm going to look into the re-roll mechanics for future campaigns.

It should be noted that this is using the PLAYER'S tactics skill (or game(RPG tactics), but whatever) rather than the character's. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and some of us play largely to practice/enjoy this tactics skill. But be aware when you do that, you worsen the classic tactics skill. Just like how if you insist that the player actually tell convincing lies you worsen fast-talk or if you play a LARP game you worsen weapon skill.

I recently ran a stand-alone combat where tactics came up a couple of times. This is when it came up:

Tactics gives a bonus to initiative. The Master Tactician would give his team +2 vs. partial surprise, which on a 1d6, is a massive advantage.

A tactics roll to find a good location to shoot at oncoming enemies in wilderness terrain

A second tactics roll to see if the location also included cover from a second set of flanking and previous enemies. This roll was a quick contest, and its failure probably decided that fight.

The rolls were especially useful when the fight was in an abstract but cover-rich environment, when ranged combat was involved, and at defending (retroactively accounting for) from enemy strategies.


Tactics is probably at its best when its used as a complementary roll to camouflage and stealth, or when its used to setup or defend against an ambush/trap.
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:30 PM   #30
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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It should be noted that this is using the PLAYER'S tactics skill (or game(RPG tactics), but whatever) rather than the character's. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and some of us play largely to practice/enjoy this tactics skill. But be aware when you do that, you worsen the classic tactics skill. Just like how if you insist that the player actually tell convincing lies you worsen fast-talk or if you play a LARP game you worsen weapon skill.
I realise that but don't really know how to change it without it feeling weird as the run up to encounters are typically played out. I guess in some situations one could do the Tactics QC and let the winning side redeploy a bit. I mean I do want Tactics to do something useful (that also fits with our play style). :)

For fast talk and similar skills I do expect the player to do a spiel, but delivery does not modify the roll. The topic might, but I'd let the player change it if their character would reasonably know that the topic was unsuitable.
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