Developing Skills

Once we all got rolling along with the Kapteyn Universe (KU) and with the Successor Lords (SL) rules, the difference in skills and perceptions of the various players quickly began to show itself.  One of the main issues was that certain players had found how to best use the rules, so had a marked advantage over other players.  This was something that needed a little balancing.In order for the situation to be fair, I needed to find a way to help those struggling with the application of the rules, without great detriment to the more successful players.  We needed a game and story where everyone could win and loose, based on an equal understanding of the SL system and the KU.  Towards the end of our first in game year, I hit on an idea – In universe treatises.  By using in universe and in character material, players were provided with more depth to the universe, but also with simple and easy to apply principles for use within the game and story.  Additionally, all the examples come from moves and actions undertaken by players, showing what has actually worked and what has not.

So below, you will see the fruits of my first efforts to assist players with getting the most out of their efforts.  Expanding upon General Kerensky’s 12 Principles of Command, Precentor Martial Angus Hamilton presents this discussion paper to the cadets of Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, for their graduation debate.  Enjoy.

A Short Addendum to

General Kerensky’s Primer on Strategy and Tactics

Precentor Martial Angus Hamilton, ComGuards


General Kerensky’s excellent Primer on strategy and tactics, or more specifically, his 12 Principles of Command, will be used as the basis for this short discussion piece.  This piece has been written for the annual graduation open discussion at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy for 3024.

1          Objective

Always keep a clear goal in mind. Without it, the lives you lose are meaningless.

This is especially critical considering the nature of Interstellar warfare.  The desire to react to what is happening in the now can often obscure both your own and your opponent’s long term goals.  Always ensure that your current reaction to events, is guided by your current understanding of the mid to long term goals of both your opponent and your self.

EXAMPLE: The Oberon Chainlaine War.  The Oberon forces were focused on a single objective and did not stray from their original plan outlines, allowing a complete victory in less time than anticipated.

2          Offensive

When given the chance, attack and remain on the offensive for as long as possible. Then enemy is weakest when backing up, and so are you.

With regards to this point in interstellar warfare, several additional points must be made.

a)       When attacking, ensure that you have sufficient air cover and naval support.  The in run of any attack is where the defender can get the most return on his investment.  Without a heavy air advantage (at least 2:1 in numbers and force strength), you must assume that you will loose at least 10-20% of your ground force;

b)       In order to remain on the offensive, you need to ensure sufficient conventional forces are available to garrison taken worlds;

c)        Successive waves of forces, or a strong reserve, are needed to ensure flexibility in the attack and to ensure your opponents counter-attacks can be stopped before developing;

EXAMPLE: The CCAF assault on Kittery in August, was an excellent example of force, air cover and a follow up forces exploiting the initial advantage..

3          Unity of Command

Always know who is above and below you in the chain of command and what they are doing. It will not only help you in times of trouble, but it will also give you a better sense of how your mission fits into the overall picture.

This factor is critical when undertaking joint operations between states.  Information exchange and clear assignment of roles and targets is critical to overall success.

EXAMPLE: The ORCA forces defence of Logan Prime exemplified effective, unified command, which successfully defeated a much more powerful force..

4          Strength

Never willingly enter battle at a numerical disadvantage. Even the sloppiest army can defeat you if it is bigger.

Several additional factors play into this;

a)       Numbers are critical, but not the be all and end all;

b)       Experienced troops make the most difference.  An elite formation is many times more effective than a green formation;

c)        Agile forces (light and medium) are just as effective as heavier units.  Their ability to outflank heavier units allows them to meet these units on an even footing over larger campaigns;

d)       Technology is your friend.  If you can, equip as many units as possible with new technology;

e)       Overwhelming force, both in numbers and force strength, will crush any opponent quickly, nine times out of ten.

EXAMPLE: The AFFS and LCAF strikes on isolated DCMS garrisons.  RCT’s made short work of single commands, which had no reserve reaction system in place, such as the one used by the AFFS to hunt Redfield’s Renegades. However, when AFFS forces over extended themselves (5th Deneb Light Cavalry) losses were heavy.

5          Economy of Force

Do not waste your effort and supplies. Use just enough of your force to inflict the maximum amount of havoc on the enemy in the minimum amount of time. Save the rest of your strength to exploit your gains or protect yourself from counterattack.

This reflects on the reserve system.  Choose targets that can be crushed quickly and easily in your first assaults, gaining an immediate advantage, whilst husbanding forces for follow up attacks or to stop enemy counter-strikes.

Ensure you are striking targets that will gain you the most benefit, not just targets that look good on a map.

Additionally, make sure any attack has sufficient supplies to undertake operations for six months, where losses will be at least 30%.

GAME EXAMPLE: The FWLM over committed to their assault on Wyatt with numbers, but under committed with over all force strength.  This was rectified during the strikes on Cavanaugh and the surrounding systems, where a more balanced and effective series of attacks embarrassed the LCAF.

6          Manoeuvre

Learn the value of manoeuvrability. Being able to speed across the battlefield in a coordinated wave of force can overwhelm the toughest opponent with a minimum of bloodshed.

Light forces are critical to any force, especially so when raiding will be required.  Small, fast and experienced units have no peer when it comes to creating havoc in an enemies back yard.

EXAMPLE: The 20th Arcturan Guards on Port Moesby have, so far, managed to meet and damage the heavier 2nd Sword of Light, through their superior manoeuvrability.

7          Surprise

The element of surprise effectively doubles your force.

Strike your foes where they least expect it.  Striking deep and hard will force and enemy to turn, exposing their back.  Of centre and flank strikes will also upset the balance of your opponent, as will coordinated strike on multiple centres of gravity.

EXAMPLE: The Oberon assault on Butte Hold, Star’s End and Gotterdammerung was so unexpected, that the defenders where overwhelmed in a matter of a few short months.

8          Intelligence

Information is like eggs, the fresher the better. A good guess might win a battle, but a bad one can eventually lose a campaign.

An accurate picture is critical to ensuring you hit the right targets with the right force.  Without this information, you can consider half your force wasted.  Just as important as knowing where your opponent’s front line forces are, is knowing where their reserves are as well.

EXAMPLE: The AFFS was expecting a single Conventional Brigade on Paris, but faced the experienced 9th Dieron Regulars, as they did not plan for their arrival.  The AFFS force was driven off with moderate losses.

9          Simplicity

If a plan looks messy on paper or in a computer simulation, it is too complicated to succeed. The best plans often turn out to be ones drawn in the dirt and explained with a few hand gestures. A good solution applied with vigour immediately is better than a perfect solution ten minutes later.

Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS).  If your battle plan looks like someone dropped spaghetti on the map, scratch it.  Neat and simple plans, with clear objectives and clear contingencies are critical to success.  Ensure you have plans for what the enemy might do and how you will react to this.

EXAMPLE: The Marian strike on the Lothians was simple – crush all forces on Logan Prime and the League and Palatinate would be wide open.  A simple plan that failed only on the twist of a single fate.  Had fate gone otherwise, the Marians would control both Lothia and Illyria and now be threatening the Circinus Federation.

10        Maintenance of Morale

Instill pride and sense of duty, worthiness, and loyalty into your soldiers. Keep them informed, rested, and happy. Officers should visit the front often, not to meddle but for personal contact with the troops.

Ensure that units have sufficient supplies in battle to ensure that they do not break and run.  Once units are reduced below 60% of the establishment, they are prone to break.

EXAMPLE: The battle of Logan Prime.  Both forces were able to drive off enemy formations when supplies ran low, causing the anticipated outcome to swing both ways.  The influx of supplies from the FWLM, coupled with that one freakish event, saved the ORCA forces.  Without those supplies, the Marians would have still won the day, albeit in a state that would have precluded their rapid absorption of their opponent’s worlds.

11        Administration

This is the dullest, most mind-numbing of chores, but doing it properly is infinitely better than facing the enemy without ammunition.

Don’t shirk the input of data, for within this lies the key to understanding both your opponents and your own strength and weaknesses.

EXAMPLE: Commanders that are able to arrange their data in their own way to suit their needs are rapidly coming to become those who see the most success.  It’s all mathematics.

12        Mercy

Be firm and win the day, but once the fighting is over, treat your prisoners with respect and courtesy. Not only is it the correct and moral thing for a soldier of the Star League to do, but once enemy soldiers hear of your merciful treatment, they might also be more willing to surrender.

Choose the path of mercy should you wish to be treated with it yourself.  However, should you stray from this path, do so completely, as walking both paths does not work.

EXAMPLE: Good – The Lyrans with Circinus, allowing for future reconciliation, based on the desires of the people of Andrion.  Bad – The initial FWL negotiations with the Marians, through dictatorial methods, which eventually even saw FWL Periphery allies support the Marians.

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