14 March 2011

Designing Out Loud - Missions / Execution

So I've been thinking about the way missions and operations would get allocated, both friendly and enemy.

Each player will pick a operations card, from a set of matched cards.
Player 1 chooses a card that could match up with Operations Profile A, C, D, or F
Player 2 has to choose a operations card that matches up with one or more of those.
One of the key constraints here will be map layout.

Each operations card will have 2 sides, one that faces the player and one that faces the opponent.

The side facing the player will specify the available forces, commander options, maneuver options and constraints (can't leave a gap in the lines, must deploy scouts/recon in "x" direction, etc) that replicate things such as doctrinal constraints and the mission/instructions from higher HQ. This side of the operations card will also specify VPs for hitting certain objectives, such as recon objectives, or terrain/enemy-focused objectives. It will also specify the starting command point allotment, and may even specify certain command point costs for particular missions/tasks.

The side facing the opponent will offer some general facts about the unit, such as general profile of what your battalion would normally have per MTOE, and some basic known doctrinal expectations. This allows your opponent to put his recon/intel focus to use by having a doctrinal template against which to plan.
This is a normal practice in the military, but almost never replicated in tabletop gaming because there are almost never doctrinal constraints put on the player to behave in accordance with the way commanders in those armies are trained. Although these forces are loosely based on real unit types, they are *not* attempts at full doctrinal accuracy.

So, during Phase I, you may have specific constraints on the numbers of units that can move, or where they can move, while your recon gathers info to complete your preparations.
During Phase II you may have some requirements to execute, such as taking a piece of terrain, or a killing a particular combination of units. You can adjust your planned tasks/missions based on the info you developed during Phase I and move forward from there.


By: Brant


Zachary said...

This sounds very cool.

Were you thinking this would be used to train professional military personnel, or as a game for the consim hobbyist community? (Or perhaps both?)

For the professional military, this seems like a great way to reinforce how their forces are meant to operate as well as educate them about their potential opponents.

I can only speak from the hobbyist point of view, but I would be very interested in playing a game that limited me to following only the "doctrinal constraints" of the army I was commanding. Normally, when I play a game, I'm either working to accomplish the objective, or busy reacting to my opponent and I doubt any of my actions would match the doctrine of the army I was commanding.

Is this idea meant to be flexible to cover many time periods, or mainly modern warfare? I guess by 'modern' I mean from World War I to present day.

When I first read your description I pictured an abstract game, where the forces at your disposal where represented by general units, (infantry, armor, artillery, etc…), that might be on an abstracted map of a specific battle or geographic location, much like a game of Risk or Axis and Allies. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if would work for more realistic and detailed games like ASL.

What level of command do you see the game system being used for? I read “operational” and immediately thought "operational level", but it seems it should be scalable to focus in on skirmish or squad level, or expand out to an army level, right?

It definitely seems this system would be a great way to educate players about how the military units they are commanding are meant to operate, (or how they operated) in comparison to how the player thinks his units should operate. I know many games are designed to either force, or encourage, the players to act as their force should doctrinally act, but they seem either clumsy or ineffective. Your suggestion sounds elegant and seems like it could be applied to many different formats, such as board, miniatures or digital games.

Brant said...

Short answers for now, more detail later :)

a. target audience is hobbyists, not professional military; too many things abstracted for it to be a good training tool for the military in its current form

b. echelon designed to be high-tactical / low-operational, but sort of scalable (would require a rebuild of cards/counters but basic concepts should be scalable)

c. focusing on modern warfare, in large part b/c that's when the types of doctrinal concepts we're modeling have really been implemented

Zachary said...

OK, I've been poking around GrogNews and I now understand this post relates to the Modern Ops Card Game. I'm going to read your posts about the card game again and if I have more to add to your ideas about "missions/execution", I'll post my comments here.

I'm sorry I didn't appreciate this sooner. :-)

Brant said...

You can click on the labels at the bottom to see the other posts w/ those same labels. Helps you find all the related posts much easier...

Zachary said...

Yeah, I should have clicked on those tabs earlier, but I didn't until yesterday and that's when I realized the "Designing Out Load" title is for a series of post, not just a one-off title.

Now that I understand the context of your idea, it makes even more sense than it did when I first read it.

Your proposed system seems like a great way to have different armies act as their doctrine indicates they would and not as the player wants/belives their army should act.

I can also imagine all sorts of interesting discussions in the future about how the game either does or does not accurately reflect a specific army's doctrine, but that's a matter for a different post, eh?

insaenpleasures said...

Would there be penalties for acting against orders? Perhaps some kind of Victory Point hit or restriction of off-map support?

Brant said...

probably, but it's still a bit early in the design process for that

I'm hoping to mock up some pieces and give it a try on the table next weekend (family in town right now), and I'll try to get photos when we do that we can share

Zachary said...

Reading insaenpleasures comment reminded me of a game mechanic from Sam Mustafa's Grande Armée that might be interesting for your game. Unit commanders did not always perform the orders you allotted to them. I clearly remember that leaders might charge into combat when you want them to say put, as well as possibly not move at all when you really want to move them.

I've always been partial to games that build in this sort of unpredictability into them.

I'm not sure if it would work for your game, (say when a FRAGO card is played?), but it certainly would make situations interesting.