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Tactics Skill
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Naaman
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure:

I believe that tactics should provide a bonus to some other rolls. As for specifics, I have not nailed it down. Here are what I think are some good ideas:

    A bonus proportionate to the skill roll total on initiative.

    A bonus to relevant skill rolls to execute the plan (if the plan relies on stealth, then bonuses to sneak, for example) for each team member who does not deviate from the tactic being employed.

    As a replacement for the search skill when assessing a battlefield to identify positions that an ambush or booby trap is likely to be placed (or as a bonus to the search roll if that would be more appropriate to the situation).

    As a prerequisite/corequisite to the use of the command skill in a combat scenario (a commander who is tactically inept may be able to get people to do what he says, but the resulting actions are ineffective, and so should not get a bonus). To be clear, I do not regard the command skill as a "motivating" skill. That would fall under Persuasion (or the specialization thereof: Oration). Command represents the commander giving general instructions to competent followers or specific instructions to incompetent followers in order to achieve cohesion. Command is like putting the cogs in the machine in the right place and oiling them. Tactics is like adjusting the timing of that machine depending on the task at hand.


But, if we are limited to the RAW (which, again, I think is a poor skill), for what its worth, I would allow tactics to be rolled in response to a new development. The degree of complication would determine the difficulty for a successful tactics roll.

With regard to planning for "what we don't know," I must not have articulated that very well. A smart man may know a lot, but a wise man knows what he does not know. In other words, a strong tactician knows what information is necessary in order to develop a winning formula. If there are still questions left unanswered, then he knows that he must account for the fact that information is missing when assessing the situation before him. Depending on how many information gaps there are (and the magnitude of those gaps), he may decide that coming up with a winning plan is impossible, or he may decide that with enough guns, even those unknowns are of little concern. Does that make more sense?

By way of example, if as the commander, I have a tank, a platoon of infantry, and air support, and the enemy has only a single infantryman to defend the objective, then, as the tactician, it is my responsibility to decide how to use my resources to achieve victory. Is it possible for a lone infantryman to defeat a tank? Sure. So if I want to use my tank, what do I need to do to protect it while still bringing it's gun to bear? This is an easy tactical problem to solve, but it illustrates what I'm getting at. You have what you have. A good tactician will dispose his forces in a way that maximizes their lethality while minimizing their vulnerability, even using the various resource in such a way that they achieve synergy (which segues into the command skill).
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Bren
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naaman wrote:
I believe that tactics should provide a bonus to some other rolls. As for specifics, I have not nailed it down.
That's fine. I don't think it needs to be nailed down. Guidelines are likely to be pretty useful though. Initiative, plan execution, and avoiding ambushes and traps can be reasonable uses.

Using tactics instead of another skill can be a problem as it runs the risk of making tactics an uber skill and making many other skills fairly irrelevant. I think that is uninteresting in a game and not in keeping with how Star Wars works in the films. (Which by and large has some atrocious tactics, but that's another issue.) It would also tend to make successful execution too much of a foregone conclusion.

In addition, any bonus should probably be based not on the tactics roll total, but the amount by which the tactics roll exceeds the difficulty of the situation. Similar to the way damage and damage resistance work. What matters is not just how much damage was done, but how much the damage done exceeds the roll for damage resistance. Similarly, different tactical problems shouldn't all have same degree of difficulty. Look at the example you give later of 1 tank, a platoon of infantry, and air support vs. a single enemy combatant.

Given the same objective for an attacker, difficulty for the tactics roll for the first commander when on the attack should be a lower degree of difficulty than it would be for just 1 combatant attacking vs. 1 tank + 1 platoon + air support.

Quote:
As a prerequisite/corequisite to the use of the command skill in a combat scenario (a commander who is tactically inept may be able to get people to do what he says, but the resulting actions are ineffective, and so should not get a bonus).
Not necessarily ineffective actions. A tactically inept commander may, through luck, hit on a series of effective actions though that isn't likely. But there is also a good chance that rather than just being ineffective the actions of the tactically inept are far worse than merely ineffective. History is full of examples of the inept snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and causing disaster for their side. (I suspect we don't disagree about this. I suspect you intended the word "ineffective" ironically, at least in part.)

Quote:
Command represents the commander giving general instructions to competent followers or specific instructions to incompetent followers in order to achieve cohesion.
What you say here does fit the D6 description and usage of the Command skill. Since a Perception based Command skill exists, I'm not all that comfortable using persuasion instead of command to influence the morale of troops in battle. Outside of battle, OK. Inside, not so much.

Quote:
With regard to planning for "what we don't know," I must not have articulated that very well.
I believe I understood what you said. I don't agree with what you said. My view is that tactics is more art than science and that the fog of war is a real thing that cannot ever be fully avoided or mitigated.

Quote:
In other words, a strong tactician knows what information is necessary in order to develop a winning formula. If there are still questions left unanswered, then he knows that he must account for the fact that information is missing when assessing the situation before him.
That presumes information (or intelligence) is either present and accurate or missing. Often (likely always) some of the information (or intelligence) that is present is wrong. While it can certainly mitigate, I don't think that tactical ability can make that problem go away.

Quote:
Depending on how many information gaps there are (and the magnitude of those gaps), he may decide that coming up with a winning plan is impossible
I agree with this. But how is this represented by a tactics roll in game. What kind of tactics roll corresponds to the outcome of "I decide it is impossible to create a winning plan."

Quote:
or he may decide that with enough guns, even those unknowns are of little concern. Does that make more sense?
Where I think we may not be in agreement is whether good, even great tactical ability (represented in D6 game terms by a good or a great tactics roll) can guarantee success at any given objective regardless of the forces in opposition. To put it in the terms of another Star X franchise, what does one think of the Kobyashi Maru, i.e. do unwinnable scenarios exist?

Quote:
Is it possible for a lone infantryman to defeat a tank? Sure. So if I want to use my tank, what do I need to do to protect it while still bringing it's gun to bear? This is an easy tactical problem to solve, but it illustrates what I'm getting at. You have what you have. A good tactician will dispose his forces in a way that maximizes their lethality while minimizing their vulnerability, even using the various resource in such a way that they achieve synergy (which segues into the command skill).
Yes. Where we seem to disagree (I think) is whether there exist problems where there is no winning tactical solution.
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Naaman
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent discussion, Bren. Smile

There are certainly things that I think I know about "intelligence" and the quality of it at various levels of command and/or operation. Higher priority elements generally have access to better quality intelligence, as I understand it.

In certain cases, the intelligence is so good that the RoE are affected by it.

Generally speaking, if we are dealing with a structured military force with full government resources, I'd estimate that information is likely to be quite reliable.

In terms of the "unwinnable" scenario, if such a thing does not exist, then it stands to reason that sufficient tactical acumen should be able to solve the problem.

In theory (where the tactician is imagining the scenario), he can come up with the solution using whatever combination of resources that could (as opposed to would) be available in reality. Think of the movie "Shooter." The movie starts with the premise that Bob needs to "plan" an assassination in order to prevent one. Bob comes up with the plan (all in theory) and explains how to do it, with one man against the entire presidential security detail.

He makes certain assumptions about the skill level of the assassin (blaster, sneak, hide, and other skills being at least a certain level). This is kind of what I mean when I say that a tactician can definitively explain how to win any battle. The question outstanding, then, is, are the resources available to do it?

But what about when resources are limited? In this case (again, the movie "Shooter" applies), we must have better quality when quantity is limited. In such a case, the tactician will say (for example), "with only twenty men instead of one hundred, they will all need to be able to do the following things reliably and exceptionally well...." If they successfully do those things, then the objective will be achieved (i.e. "victory").

I believe that the "fog of war" comes into effect in the playing out of the battle: a failed blaster roll, or an exploding wild die on an NPC's frag grenade, or a surprise that the intelligence failed to discover or report on, or a traitor in the ranks, or whatever else can still foil the plan.

Concerning my use of the word "ineffective," I appreciate your interpretation. In all honesty, I was using the word in the more casual sense to mean "useless," or possibly "detrimental," rather than "having no effect."

With regard to your interpretation of Command, I can agree with that as one DM discussing it with another. In my case, I'd probably choose not to include "motivation" to be within the scope of the command skill, but your reasoning makes perfect sense.

FWIW, I reference Persuasion: oration because that is a specialization that Palpatine has according to some sourcebook. I believe it is his highest non-Force skill, if memory serves.

With regard to missing or incorrect information, I won't say I disagree with you. What I can say from experience is that the ongoing "tactical mindset" accounts for "surprises." There is (or used to be) the argument in favor of gun registration that says police officers should know whether you have a gun in your house in case they have to go in there for an emergency. The flaw in that logic, though, is the assumption that police think like civilians. We know that a registered gun is a lawfully owned gun. We don't care about those. We know that the crooks won't register their guns in the first place; so a registration system would do nothing for officer safety: we go into every house "assuming" that there is a belt-fed machine gun stashed in every drawer and under every cushion. So, while the available information may indicate no guns in the house, we just prepare for it anyway. Does that make sense?
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