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Old 10-08-2018, 04:34 PM   #31
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
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.
In my old, long-running GURPS fantasy campaign, we rarely used tactics. Battle tactics were largely based on player tactical knowledge. We figured that it was ok because I didn't have any special tactical knowledge either and none of the PCs took the skill. So the ambushing orcs were behind some bushes, the party walked in a marching order, fighting occurred, and everybody had fun.

There was one time when a player wanted to play an expert warrior but had no interest in the details of GURPS tactical combat. In that case, we used Tactics as something akin to Common Sense or Intuition. For quick battles, we'd roll once at the beginning and then I or other players would give her advice on apt maneuvers. For longer boss fights, we'd roll multiple times. This never really changed the overall disposition of the rest of the group, but it allowed her character to be appropriately effective in melee.

Now I'm mostly playing DFRPG, where Tactics has some specific uses that seem to work well enough. I still need to do better at internalizing it as part of my standard battle routine.

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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.
I like this idea. Might add it as a recommended skill for scouts.
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:31 PM   #32
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by Bengt View Post
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). :)
That's how I do it. Or I allow for an enemy or two to be "out of position", or Stunned despite the results of the rolls, etc. Depends on the rolls and situation.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:06 PM   #33
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

A Master Tactician can make those ridiculous rolls that make the impossible possible. They can roll with a TL Penalty for being 3-4 TL's different than their opponent with likely cultural penalties for not being able to understand the modern ethos of their enemy and still make a roll by 10 or more somewhat realistically.

Granted that amazing roll doesn't necessarily allow you to devise a solution that would suit a Samurai, it would virtually require using deception to lower the guard of your enemy and attack them unaware. It would likely also still be a costly attack and a critical success wouldn't guarantee you victory, you'd still be fighting against terrible odds. It would just allow you to do things like find a way to bypass the forward line of your enemy or to believe that they had won a battle that you were still prepared to fight.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:16 PM   #34
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

"-10 – Impossible. No sane person
would attempt such a task. The
GM may wish to forbid such
attempts altogether."
(p. B346)

At my table, not even Surgery-30 will allow a surgeon to resuscitate a rotting corpse.

Yes, it may happen that one swordsman or two manage to find themselves in a position where they can take a TL5+ rifleman by surprise and at sword range. That happens in the right terrain, as others mentioned, and mainly because of those one or two swordsmen's Stealth, not because of their leader's Tactics. Even when it happens, it will usually be the end of the swordsman, as the first soldier's buddies react as predictable.

This happening in tactically significant numbers? 30 or more swordsmen accomplishing this simultaneously and wiping out a platoon? Simply, I may wish to forbid such an attempt altogether.

Sure, a good tactician - but it doesn't take Tactics-24 for this - will realize that very cluttered terrain, such as a dense jungle, is the best deployment choice for his men, and will deploy them in an ideal position to maximize the success chances of their ambush. That's the meaning of "advantageous position".
But somehow having a swordsman undetected one yard behind each rifleman in a platoon thanks to their commander's Tactics? No. That doesn't happen under a normal definition of tactics, it's magic or psionics.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:07 PM   #35
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
Sure, a good tactician - but it doesn't take Tactics-24 for this - will realize that very cluttered terrain, such as a dense jungle, is the best deployment choice for his men, and will deploy them in an ideal position to maximize the success chances of their ambush. That's the meaning of "advantageous position".
But somehow having a swordsman undetected one yard behind each rifleman in a platoon thanks to their commander's Tactics? No. That doesn't happen under a normal definition of tactics, it's magic or psionics.
They don't need to be 1-yard away. Five yards off to one side will do. Most regular soldiers don't have combat reflexes, and if the ambush isn't detected until it's triggered most of the patrol will be surprised, and by the time they aren't, the swordsmen will be up in their faces, and they'll be losing arms. Now, I fully expect that the samurai would take solid casualties unless things go perfectly, and after the first couple of ambushes like that patrols in heavy bush would change their marching spacing, etc., and response drills to counter, but initially it'd be pretty nasty for the riflemen. Of course, once they change, the Master Tactician will change in turn - start hitting the patrols in some other way (samurai traditionally also used bows, so hit and run with those for a while, for example).

Close country is awful for conventional forces, because irregulars can get close and negate much of the firepower advantage than conventional forces have. Avoiding this means ceding the dense country to the irregulars or turning it into desert, which tends to alienate the local populace.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:31 PM   #36
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

It should be remembered that tactics isn't about coming up with a single tactic that works for all cases. Its about manipulating the enemy, generally into attacking or not attacking when and where you want. If you look at tactics without considering the mind game you're playing with the enemy commander, you're not using its full scope.



A superior tactician should be able to do things like fool the infantry platoon into shooting at an empty or mostly empty position while the bulk of his force slips around the enemy or away from the enemy. He should be able to trigger a charge, advance, or occupation when he wants it, and deter it when he can't.



A tactician needs tools to work with. On infinite featureless plains and with soldiers without supporting skills, he has no tools. When his soldiers have stealth, and disguise, when the battle takes place in a village, forest or swamp with hills and rises, and as things get more complicated, the tactician gets more and more to work with.


He also needs to have different people do different things. having one guy run up the side of his foes while the others draw fire.


Yes, a lot of these things I mention feel like dirty tricks other skills actually pulled off. They're not. The trick gives material for the tactics roll, but when determining whether the enemy was fooled, tactics is probably the best skill.



Finally, technology does improve tactics, and I'd happily slap a massive (-5 or higher) penalty to all tactics rolls when a pre-wwi guy tries to deal with the tactics and tech that resulted from the war.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:47 PM   #37
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
It should be remembered that tactics isn't about coming up with a single tactic that works for all cases. Its about manipulating the enemy, generally into attacking or not attacking when and where you want.
I put that under Strategy.

My break down? Strategy is what happens leading up the fight on the ground and is happening at base camp while the battle rages.

Tactics is the arrangement immediately preceding the fight, maneuvers and strategies made while enmeshed within the fight, and actions taken immediately following the fight.



Pretty much everything else you said I agree with.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:20 PM   #38
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
This happening in tactically significant numbers? 30 or more swordsmen accomplishing this simultaneously and wiping out a platoon? Simply, I may wish to forbid such an attempt altogether.
Fighting a platoon would arguably be a Strategy roll but the default from Tactics-25 is pretty generous. Getting swordsmen within a hex of riflemen doesn't take magic, it takes camouflage and a relatively compelling distraction. Moreso getting riflemen to turn their back to a terrain feature that could conceal 30 swordsmen isn't that much of a feat. Or even getting two separate groups of riflemen to open fire on one another in a panic, or to run into a waist-deep pool of kerosene. I mean at the point where you're rolling Tactics or Strategy by 10 you are virtually moving mountains on the battlefield. By comparison magic or psionics is pretty tame.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:28 AM   #39
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by Black Leviathan View Post
Fighting a platoon would arguably be a Strategy roll but the default from Tactics-25 is pretty generous. Getting swordsmen within a hex of riflemen doesn't take magic, it takes camouflage and a relatively compelling distraction.
Yes, sure, as I mentioned. It might happen that one or two swordsmen manage to get within a hex of one or two isolated riflemen.

But if we're talking about a platoon, in a platoon in any sensible formation many riflemen will have another riflemen behind them. In some cases (#1 in a LMG or SAW team and his #2, the officer and the radioman, etc.) literally within a couple of steps. Yes, there will be a few soldiers, at the tail, who have no friendly behind them. These are known as the rearguard, and the word itself tells us that this security detachment will be doubly aware of what happens behind them. It's geometrically impossible that each and every rifleman in a 30-man platoon moving in a sensible formation gets an enemy behind him, and not because it is that rifleman who spots the enemy - it's because another rifleman will spot that enemy. It's the reason of teamwork and the reason why a platoon can be called a unit.

Alternatively, if the CO is a madman and the NCO is either incompetent or dead, and if no private has the sense to quietly disregard the order, the platoon might be ordered to advance in single line. Now no soldier has a friendly behind him.
Well, in that case, apart from any Tactics skill, it still takes one initial Stealth roll (probably done against the skill of the swordsmen's commander) to deploy the swordsmen to the starting area. Then each and every one of the swordsmen must make a Stealth roll when he's at, say, 10 yards behind his target. Then another Stealth roll at -5 when he's at 5 yards. You can do the calculations of how likely it is that, even with Stealth-18, with some 60 skill rolls, somebody rolls a critical failure.
Now let's say no failure, critical or otherwise, happens. What about timing? Soldier A is an IQ-9 replacement and is walking noisily and with no thought about what's happening behind him. Soldier Z is a veteran and hates the situation, walks very quietly and constantly looks back. So swordsman A is already in a position to strike, but swordsman Z is 15 yards behind soldier Z and feels he might never get a chance. And these two swordsmen at the ends of the line have no way to know anything about this difference. How will they, and their B-Y colleagues, decide when to strike? If they don't act all at once, the first two or three attacks might succeed - and give away the game for the other 27.

The other situations you describe are to varying degrees normal tactical measures, in which a good tactician may push the enemy around.
Unlike this sword-platoon-vs-rifle-platoon unreal situation.
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:00 AM   #40
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Default Re: Utility of a Master Tactician

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
They don't need to be 1-yard away. Five yards off to one side will do. Most regular soldiers don't have combat reflexes, and if the ambush isn't detected until it's triggered most of the patrol will be surprised, and by the time they aren't, the swordsmen will be up in their faces, and they'll be losing arms. Now, I fully expect that the samurai would take solid casualties unless things go perfectly, and after the first couple of ambushes like that patrols in heavy bush would change their marching spacing, etc., and response drills to counter, but initially it'd be pretty nasty for the riflemen. Of course, once they change, the Master Tactician will change in turn - start hitting the patrols in some other way (samurai traditionally also used bows, so hit and run with those for a while, for example).
Please also see my other reply. Yes, if we move this down to the level of a less-than-a-skirmish patrol encounter, and we go for the 5-yards yardstick, this might occasionally succeed. At this point, the swordsmen's side is using a world-class skill level (Tactics-24) to try and win a 5 vs. 5 combat. The master is one man, can't be present at every patrol combat in the country at the same time. I'd call it a waste of skill.

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Close country is awful for conventional forces, because irregulars can get close and negate much of the firepower advantage than conventional forces have. Avoiding this means ceding the dense country to the irregulars or turning it into desert, which tends to alienate the local populace.
Well, the point with dense forests, marshlands and jungles is that they are very sparsely populated, improductive and largely useless marginal lands. That is probably also why in history conventional forces seldom made that great an effort to develop tactics suitable for them. They preferred and prefer fighting on plains not just because it's more comfortable for horses, long-ranged firepower and tanks, but because that's where the interests lie.
Consequently, there will be cases when ceding the Pripyat Marshes to the irregulars won't be that big a loss, save if one is considering political issues.
In other cases, the jungle will only be worth the effort as a place to be traversed to reach a real objective - in that case, the conventional forces may well accept the temporary pinprick losses as they pass through.
In other cases, the jungle does have something valuable: mining, logging or conversion into farmlands. In that case, heavy landscaping can and does take place, but it's not necessarily into a desert, and it's not a given that the locals disagree (also depending on how one defines the "local populace").
Finally, there might be cases in which the forest or jungle has something valuable but only if it is not landscaped: say furs or spices. In these cases, penetration will be slower and rely on either befriending some of the locals (at the expense of others) or on "going native" so that one will have his own irregulars accustomed to work and fight in the place, and able to face the hostile irregulars.

All of that without forgetting that guerrillas, as a general rule, only have a chance to succeed if they also have a non-jungle, industrialized, powerful patron, that the conventional forces trying to eradicate the guerrillas cannot touch. Coming back to our case, the samurai will only have a chance to win the war if they find some power who will supply them with automatic guns and the training to use them, and the riflemen's state can't deal with that power directly.
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