Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tactics II: Day of Defeat

The Greyhawk Grognard talks about a day of pushing cardboard and go into detail about a game of Tactics II. Tactics II and Blitzkrieg are two of my favorite hex and counter wargames. I am pretty good at Tactics and only ever been beaten once in the three dozen times I played the game. Therein lies a story.

For over a decade I was involved in NERO live-action roleplaying (a boffer LARP), I made some good friends there and from time to time we got together outside of NERO to play tabletop RPGs or other games.

Stuart was one of my friends and the smartest. He had a genius level IQ and was very difficult to beat in any boardgame or Magic the Gathering game we played. One game we didn't play a first was a hex and counter wargame. By the mid 90s the collapse of the wargaming hobby was all but complete and newer folks simply had no experience with them.

So one day dragged out my copy of Tactics II and got Stuart to play with me. I generally introduce novices to wargaming with Tactics as it is straightforward, easy to learn, and has the major elements of all subsequent wargames.

At first Stuart wasn't doing well, and was getting frustrated. A few turns in we had a discussion about what he was having difficulty with. He didn't know about tactics in a wargame sense so I started explaining the line of battle, and flanking. How it not just positioning that is important but also the time it takes to get to a location.

But where the lightbulb went off in his head was when I said in general you want to have 3 to 1 odds when you attack. The defender has powerful advantages and generally throughout modern warfare you need to 3 attackers for 1 defender to ensure the success of an attack. More is overkill less is not sufficient.

Well after that I was doomed. He ignored everything else I said and proceeded to move his forces to achieve 3 to 1 odds all over the board. Despite the advantages of terrain and position I developed to that point my forces were caught in a meat grinder and were chewed to bits. By reducing the issue of tactics to achieving 3 to 1 odds, Stuart was able to use his superior math analytical ability to figure out how to get more 3 to 1 combats then me.

A few turns after that I lost my first game of Tactics.


Greyhawk Grognard said...

Great story! You and I are going to have to get together some day and play a game or two.

Frank said...

I've not actually played much Tactics II, but it was the first wargame I bought. I was so young (like 8 or so), that the folks running the yardsale I bought it at asked my parents if it was ok.

My interest in game design soon followed. I started making alternate boards for Tactics, and also put together a Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington and Concord game (which was literally a "board" game - I used a piece of pine shelving for the board).

I still have a copy of Tactics II, though I think I finally retired my original copy - it was so beat up.