Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"Command Ops Battles from the Bulge": New Feature Helps to Coordinate Your Attacks
Time, the primary dimension of warfare ...
This entry is about a new feature in the upcoming war game by Panther Games that will be published by Matrix. Images are from a beta version and don't reflect the final state of the product.
That's what Robert Leonhard said in "Fighting by Minutes", one of the best books about the nature of warfare. Col. Leonhard argues that if you plan your battles with a primary focus on time (rather than physical space), you will have an advantage over traditionally-minded enemy commanders. This book is off course deeper than what I wrote above, and I invite you to read it because it will change the way you see the ebb and flow of battle.
No other war games throw Leonhard's ideas at your face like the ones from Panther Games. These war games feature the so-called "order delays", which result in a certain period of time between your issued order and its execution.
Now if you think about it, it takes a lot of thinking to plan a coordinated offensive in these games. You will have to add time considerations to the already complex equation of mission, enemy forces, terrain and so on. If I had a nickel for every time I waited for subordinate commanders to put their reserve battalions together and bring their sorry asses up to the front in time to exploit our hardly-won breach in the enemy defensive line ...
You wanted to know both the glories and miseries of commanding a brigade during WWII? There they are!
There was a little quirk in these games, though: you couldn't issue an order to attack at a specific time. All attack orders were sorta "effective immediately", and the subordinate unit would start rolling after the order was transmitted, processed and planned for (order delays).
In the scenario shown above (actually the introduction/tutorial scenario), the player has to take St. Vith (some 9 Km northwest of the forward line of own troops, FLOT). An order to attack has been issued to an armored infantry Bn. In the screenshot below, you can see the options now available to the player. Among others, "start", the time at which you ask your guys to start the attack. This opens the game play to a lot of possibilities. Just imagine the havoc you can spread by ordering a coordinated assault at many important points of the area of operations. The enemy AI will go nuts trying to put out the simultaneous fires everywhere.
P/S: Panther Games' orders delay are also unique in the way they actually can show you what "observation, orientation, decision & action cycles" (OODA cycles) really are. More details in a future entry about maneuver warfare.