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Tactics Skill
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like metagaming, but in reverse, as the lack of knowledge on the part of the GM and the players is what holds the characters back, not the character's own in-universe knowledge.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Sounds like metagaming, but in reverse, as the lack of knowledge on the part of the GM and the players is what holds the characters back, not the character's own in-universe knowledge.


That's what GM's do. They meta-game.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
That's what GM's do. They meta-game.

sigh. This whole conversation basically boils down to "I'm content with the Rules As Written; I can't see why you silly people don't agree."

I'm out.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
That's what GM's do. They meta-game.

sigh. This whole conversation basically boils down to "I'm content with the Rules As Written; I can't see why you silly people don't agree."


Not true (about the second part). I see both sides of the argument.

I'm the Devil's Advocate.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought that was my job! Razz
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wajeb Deb Kaadeb wrote:
I believe the skill should be played as intended. I pulled out R&E and read the skill (besides the obscure skill that Whil mentions is in Tatooine Manhunt, it seems that R&E is the only official place where the skill appears).

First, the skill is a Knowledge skill, so successful skill rolls should reward the character with information that he did not have. This is in line with the examples given in the R&E skill description.

Take this a step further, the Tactics skills is a great way for the GM to voice tactical options to the player. Normally, a GM should keep his trap shut and allow the players to come with the plan. Rolling on Tactics is a way to gain, legitimately, information about the encounter from the GM. This is akin to a D&D character casting a spell to gain insight from his god.

For example, let's say that the character is piloting the Falcon, being chased by TIE fighters, with an entire Imperial Fleet not too far behind the TIEs.

The hyperdrive is out. So, the players decide to dive into the Anoat asteroid field. But, everyone knows that this is a temporary situation. The Empire has seen the Falcon dive into the asteroid field, and Darth Vader himself has ordered the entire fleet into the field to follow the Falcon.

Odds are, the Falcon will be found and captured, eventually.



Tactics Roll.

Han rolls a Tactics roll and is successful. This is where the GM is allowed to tell the player that the asteroids have caves. The GM suggests that maybe the players can evade the Imperials for a greater amount of time by hiding the ship in one of the caves.



Directions The Players Had Not Considered.

So, the GM can use successful Tactics skill rolls to suggest actions that the characters can take. The players above were not thinking at all about caves on the asteroids. The GM uses the successful Tactics roll to provide the players with an idea on how to get away from the Imperials.

The players don't have to follow the advice. And, the advice gained by the Tactics roll does not have to be 100% beneficial. The players do find a cave, and it does allow them to evade the Imperials for longer than the players originally though possible, but the cave ends up being the gullet of a giant space slug--another obstacle that the players must overcome.




Military.

The Tactics skill, according to its description, is usually associated with military knowledge.

The skill also says, "difficulties should be based on various factors of complexity within a battle: how many units are involved, the setting (open space or asteroid field, plains or jungle terrain), and the difference in training and equipment between units (Star Destroyers against starfighters, stormtroopers against Ewoks, Imperial Army troopers against crack Rebel commandos).

So, if the players have befriended a tribe of Ewoks on Endor but are struggling to figure how best to use the Ewoks in the situation, a character could roll on Tactics. with a successful roll, the GM could suggest that the Ewoks be deployed to set up a lot of traps for the Scout Troopers and the AT-STs.




In Summary.

The Tactics skill is a Knowledge skill and therefore successful rolls should result in the GM providing advice on the tactical situation for the players to consider.


The problem I have with the tactics skill "as written" is that it doesn't do anything that a player cannot come up with on his own. For example, if you have a creative/clever player who is good at solving problems, then he need never make the investment of CPs into the tactics skill.

Similarly, tactics "in real life" (for whatever that is worth to us in D6), CAN be very much a standard approach kind of thing (like battle drills). Many of the battlefield tactics used by troops are worked out and trained during peace time, and then applied during combat.

Also, tactical decisions made on the fly rely A LOT on what the tactician knows about the situation (battlefield environment, enemy's capabilities, friendly's capabilities, equipment available, and so on). So, unless we are willing to roll all those things into the tactics skill (for example, when a player asks, "what is the imperial protocol for a single civilian ship with a small laser cannon on it running a blockade?") instead of the GM requiring a Law Enforcement roll or some other imperial-specific roll, it would be reasonable that the tactics skill COULD be used to glean that information and formulate a plan. I'm basing this on the example you gave, above.

In that example, the tactics skill (not the planetary systems or scholar: astronomy, etc) yielded the information that the asteroids had caves (nothing to do with tactics).

Whereas if a player happens to know that asteroids have caves, he says in character: "R2, scan these asteroids for caves or canyons or anything that will help us hide." And not a single CP needed to be spent on raising skills in order to get the same result (or he could just run the scan himself, or else just look for a big enough asteroid with enough craters/holes in it and target that one, etc, etc).

In other words, the tactics skill acts as a sort of penalty for players with no tactical savvy who are playing characters who do have tactical savvy (when compared to other players who have tactical savvy).

The only way that I would approve of the tactics skill as written is if a successful roll (however difficult the GM thinks it should be) were to all but guarantee victory pending enough successful skill execution rolls (i.e. blaster/starship piloting/gunnery, etc). In other words, if the tactics roll is successful, then the NPCs cannot win no matter what (even if they faced the ENTIRE imperial military at once) unless the PCs fail a bunch of the rolls necessary to carry out the plan.

(Yes, I'm serious: in the case of the entire imperial military, they would have to make a tedious succession of dodge rolls against some epic combined fire [basically impossible], but if successful, then the tactics [skill roll of 10,000+ after 1500 wild die explosions, etc] wins the day).

With regard to tactics being a knowledge skill, again I have a bit of a problem: tactics is applied knowledge. Mechanically speaking (as opposed to conceptually speaking), tactics is more like a Technical skill in that it represents knowledge that is put into action to achieve a result (much like droid programming, for example). A character could have Scholar: droid engineering, but without the technical skill, he can't fix a droid. This is one of those "things" about D6 where we simply have to accept it as a quirk of the system, but the concept of tactics as a D6 skill is much more in line with skills that fall into the Technical attribute.

No matter how much scholar: physiology a doctor has, he can't cure a patient without the (A) medicine skill. Conversely, with the (A) medicine skill, the doctor doesn't even need scholar: physiology.

Now, let's substitute scholar: physiology with scholar: military history. Such a scholar would no doubt have "knowledge" of tactics used in battle, but is in no position to apply them without military training and battlefield experience.

Tactics represents knowledge put into action. In this way, using the tactics in battle is the "hands on" application of the skill (like droid programming or (A) medicine, etc.) This is why I feel it is "more" than just a knowledge skill. YMMV.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The only way that I would approve of the tactics skill as written is if a successful roll (however difficult the GM thinks it should be) were to all but guarantee victory pending enough successful skill execution rolls (i.e. blaster/starship piloting/gunnery, etc). In other words, if the tactics roll is successful, then the NPCs cannot win no matter what (even if they faced the ENTIRE imperial military at once) unless the PCs fail a bunch of the rolls necessary to carry out the plan.


Come again? So IYO if the tactics skill as wrote was to be kept, it would have to guarantee victory to what ever side 'won' the tactics roll, BUT ONLY as long as all the other die rolls went their way?
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naaman wrote:
In other words, the tactics skill acts as a sort of penalty for players with no tactical savvy who are playing characters who do have tactical savvy (when compared to other players who have tactical savvy).
I'd put it slightly differently. A tactics skill that can substitute for player skill allows a player to play a character with tactical ability beyond that of the player. But to do that, the player must expend resources (starting skill dice and/or character points) to build up their PC's tactical skill.

In contrast, if a player with good tactical savvy can use their personal tactical knowledge and thus avoid having to make a tactics roll, that player gets a benefit since they don't have to spend resources to improve their tactics skill since they can rely on their own personal knowledge and abilities. Hence in comparison a tactically unsavvy player is penalized since they must expend resources to play a tactically savvy character.

And of course this is similar to how one handles some other skills like Con and Persuade, i.e. can a persuasive player avoid the need to even make a roll or have their persuasive words mitigate a very poor roll because the GM found what they said persuasive? Similarly can an unpersuasive player just say, "My guy tries to persuade Jabba to let us go. I roll a 47 on my Persuade skill."

Quote:
In other words, if the tactics roll is successful, then the NPCs cannot win no matter what (even if they faced the ENTIRE imperial military at once) unless the PCs fail a bunch of the rolls necessary to carry out the plan.
Here you lose me. Tactics is not an I win button. The only way for a really great tactician to avoid losing in some situations is to find some way not to have to fight in the first place. And that is just not always an option. But even if it is an option, not fighting just means you haven't lost yet. It does not mean you have won.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
Come again? So IYO if the tactics skill as wrote was to be kept, it would have to guarantee victory to what ever side 'won' the tactics roll, BUT ONLY as long as all the other die rolls went their way?

If I understand him correctly, this is less of an argument FOR Tactics as written than it is a statement of how high the bar is set for Naaman to accept Tactics as written to be accurate. It's not an endorsement of Tactics; it's a statement of how ridiculous RAW Tactics is.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is the old saying that "Amateurs discuss tactics, professionals discuss logistics."

IMO, when applied to space combat, this means that an amateur will discuss the best way to, say, defend a star system from attack.

A professional, on the other hand, will KNOW how to defend a star system because he is experienced enough to understand that there are only so many ways an enemy can come at the system, and will deploy his forces accordingly.

His problem, on the other hand, is one of having to work within the limitations of the forces he has available. If he needs 50 starships to establish a decent defensive perimeter, but only has 30, he has to decide how to allocate those forces based on relative value of defensible targets (logistics). A professional will usually be forced to base his tactics on too few resources (there is no such thing as too many resources, even if some of them are left sitting idle because they'd only get in the way).

The Honor Harrington universe does an excellent job of representing this in space combat. The pace of space travel is much slower in that universe (weeks or months to travel from planet to planet), which means forces deployed to a system can not depend on rapid relief or reinforcement in response to a raid or surprise attack. And while it can take several hours for a ship to travel from the hyper-limit to the system's primary planet, this usually just gives the defender enough time to count the numbers and realize he's screwed.

The professional tacticians in that universe are so well-schooled in space battle tactics that they know the available "menu" of moves by heart, and plan accordingly. The surprises, on the other hand, almost always take the form of 1) a commander who successfully uses EW and other assets to trick his opponent into misjudging his strength and/or capabilities, 2) unexpected changes in force structure (as in, a squadron of cruisers is transferred into the system subsequent to the latest intel update, and thus the attacker is faced with much stiffer defenses), or 3) some sort of new technological development that changes the rules.

On the ground, tactics takes a similar form, but with men and weapons instead of ships as assets. Give someone like Naaman an infantry squad with a few heavy weapon and tell him to defend a piece of ground, and he'll be able to pick a defensible spot, lay out his positions accordingly, and likely be able to hold off an attack in platoon-strength or greater (all while grumbling that he needs more troops if those f@#%ing officers wan the job done right).

Wink

Someone like me, on the other hand, who only knows of tactics what he read in a book, would likely make a hash of the whole thing because I'm still standing there trying to understand tactics as it applies in this situation. Because I'm an amateur, not a professional.

The key for a tactician is not in knowing what the right move is; it's knowing what the right move is based on the movable assets available.

We, as gamers playing in an unfamiliar universe, don't have the knowledge or experience needed to make realistic tactical decision based on the reality of the SWU. We deal in dice bonuses, Character Points and Force Points, because those are the measuring sticks by which we determine how good or bad our characters are at a given task, with Tactics being just one of many.

That's why I advocate a dice bonus based on a good Tactics roll; it's not about what I, the player, know; it's about what my character knows, and how he applies it within the context of the gaming universe.
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Naaman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
garhkal wrote:
Come again? So IYO if the tactics skill as wrote was to be kept, it would have to guarantee victory to what ever side 'won' the tactics roll, BUT ONLY as long as all the other die rolls went their way?

If I understand him correctly, this is less of an argument FOR Tactics as written than it is a statement of how high the bar is set for Naaman to accept Tactics as written to be accurate. It's not an endorsement of Tactics; it's a statement of how ridiculous RAW Tactics is.


This is correct.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
Naaman wrote:
In other words, the tactics skill acts as a sort of penalty for players with no tactical savvy who are playing characters who do have tactical savvy (when compared to other players who have tactical savvy).
I'd put it slightly differently. A tactics skill that can substitute for player skill allows a player to play a character with tactical ability beyond that of the player. But to do that, the player must expend resources (starting skill dice and/or character points) to build up their PC's tactical skill.

In contrast, if a player with good tactical savvy can use their personal tactical knowledge and thus avoid having to make a tactics roll, that player gets a benefit since they don't have to spend resources to improve their tactics skill since they can rely on their own personal knowledge and abilities. Hence in comparison a tactically unsavvy player is penalized since they must expend resources to play a tactically savvy character.

And of course this is similar to how one handles some other skills like Con and Persuade, i.e. can a persuasive player avoid the need to even make a roll or have their persuasive words mitigate a very poor roll because the GM found what they said persuasive? Similarly can an unpersuasive player just say, "My guy tries to persuade Jabba to let us go. I roll a 47 on my Persuade skill." .


Very true Bren. Do you let someone with the PLAYER know how of it, to just override what's on his character sheet, or do you have him play to the stats his character has?? Its a conundrum old as day.. and one we have many long heated discussions over all the time.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:


I'd put it slightly differently. A tactics skill that can substitute for player skill allows a player to play a character with tactical ability beyond that of the player. But to do that, the player must expend resources (starting skill dice and/or character points) to build up their PC's tactical skill.

In contrast, if a player with good tactical savvy can use their personal tactical knowledge and thus avoid having to make a tactics roll, that player gets a benefit since they don't have to spend resources to improve their tactics skill since they can rely on their own personal knowledge and abilities. Hence in comparison a tactically unsavvy player is penalized since they must expend resources to play a tactically savvy character.

And of course this is similar to how one handles some other skills like Con and Persuade, i.e. can a persuasive player avoid the need to even make a roll or have their persuasive words mitigate a very poor roll because the GM found what they said persuasive? Similarly can an unpersuasive player just say, "My guy tries to persuade Jabba to let us go. I roll a 47 on my Persuade skill."

Quote:
In other words, if the tactics roll is successful, then the NPCs cannot win no matter what (even if they faced the ENTIRE imperial military at once) unless the PCs fail a bunch of the rolls necessary to carry out the plan.
Here you lose me. Tactics is not an I win button. The only way for a really great tactician to avoid losing in some situations is to find some way not to have to fight in the first place. And that is just not always an option. But even if it is an option, not fighting just means you haven't lost yet. It does not mean you have won.


I completely understand what you mean. Normally, I would agree with you; however, if you read garhkal's post, above, you will see why I feel tactics in particular defies this approach.

It is like the analogy I gave: tactics is more science than art, while persuasion, intimidation, con, etc, are more art than science (we have tossed around the discussion that intimidation belongs over in perception and the reasons why it was moved with 2E, etc).

The other problem with tactics as written is that it puts the burden of understanding tactics on the GM. If he doesn't understand tactics, then he is at a loss as to how to "give the player a hint" about what might work.

In a campaign wherein a player has invested a lot in the skill-as-written, and actually wants to use it a lot, the GM will have the burden of developing intricate tactical scenarios as the players' skills increase. If tactics merely offered a skill bonus in situations where superior tactics are being simulated, it removes the burden of accumulating adequate tactical knowledge to make the baddies behave in a way sufficient for suspension of disbelief.

As to tactics being an "I win" button, what is the problem there? There is a reason why special operations forces are able to interact with vastly superior sized enemy elements and at the very least, survive, usually win, and often without a single casualty.

The remark earlier about tactics being used to avoid a fight is perfectly in line with the standard I suggested (the "I win" button). A successful tactics roll, followed by whatever other successful skill rolls are necessary to complete the plan, should have a zero percent chance of failure. Otherwise, the tactics roll should have failed in the first place (its up to the GM to decide whether to tell the players that the tactics roll was successful... an evil GM could have a field day with a roll of, say, 29 that was still a failure: the players see a high roll and decide that they are reasonably likely to succeed... etc, etc.). After a successful tactics roll (or, what the players believe is a successful roll), the players have to decide whether that plan is even doable with the skills and resources that they have. If they know that it will require dozens of heroic sneak rolls, hundreds of difficult dodge rolls (or face some soak rolls against 8D or 10D damage threats) and dozens of very difficult to heroic blaster rolls as well as a few melee/brawling rolls with 25 or more damage on the first roll to make that plan work, then, they have to decide whether its within their reach.

In any case, a reasonable tactical decision can be made by a player who is a veteran of games even when he is doing his best to play "honestly." For example, a veteran player knows that his character's knowledge is not the same as his own knowledge, so he must find some "in-character" way to accumulate the knowledge he wants. A very easy and honest way to get enough info to make a tactical decision can be as simple as asking, "what do I see?" The more tactics-oriented the player is, the more likely the answer to that question will produce some kind of tactical assessment that is beyond the inclination of the other players (which is just fine), but possibly even beyond the capability of one or more of the characters who has the tactics skill well developed (especially if the GM is not, himself, a tactician and cannot mentally out maneuver the player).

The simplest way to help tactics is to allow for it to provide a bonus to the command skill (perhaps by stacking the dice to expand the size of the force that the commander can command... which makes sense when you have one dude in command of 30+ guys, but "only" a command skill of 10D; or, you could scale it: the higher the difficulty threshold crossed, the higher the echelon of command, so at first, 1 guy per D can be commanded, and at higher levels, 10 or 20 guys per D can be commanded), or to allow it to improve the combined actions bonus based on the tactics skill or a tactics roll.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
There is the old saying that "Amateurs discuss tactics, professionals discuss logistics."

IMO, when applied to space combat, this means that an amateur will discuss the best way to, say, defend a star system from attack.

A professional, on the other hand, will KNOW how to defend a star system because he is experienced enough to understand that there are only so many ways an enemy can come at the system, and will deploy his forces accordingly.

His problem, on the other hand, is one of having to work within the limitations of the forces he has available. If he needs 50 starships to establish a decent defensive perimeter, but only has 30, he has to decide how to allocate those forces based on relative value of defensible targets (logistics). A professional will usually be forced to base his tactics on too few resources (there is no such thing as too many resources, even if some of them are left sitting idle because they'd only get in the way).

The Honor Harrington universe does an excellent job of representing this in space combat. The pace of space travel is much slower in that universe (weeks or months to travel from planet to planet), which means forces deployed to a system can not depend on rapid relief or reinforcement in response to a raid or surprise attack. And while it can take several hours for a ship to travel from the hyper-limit to the system's primary planet, this usually just gives the defender enough time to count the numbers and realize he's screwed.

The professional tacticians in that universe are so well-schooled in space battle tactics that they know the available "menu" of moves by heart, and plan accordingly. The surprises, on the other hand, almost always take the form of 1) a commander who successfully uses EW and other assets to trick his opponent into misjudging his strength and/or capabilities, 2) unexpected changes in force structure (as in, a squadron of cruisers is transferred into the system subsequent to the latest intel update, and thus the attacker is faced with much stiffer defenses), or 3) some sort of new technological development that changes the rules.

On the ground, tactics takes a similar form, but with men and weapons instead of ships as assets. Give someone like Naaman an infantry squad with a few heavy weapon and tell him to defend a piece of ground, and he'll be able to pick a defensible spot, lay out his positions accordingly, and likely be able to hold off an attack in platoon-strength or greater (all while grumbling that he needs more troops if those f@#%ing officers wan the job done right).

Wink

Someone like me, on the other hand, who only knows of tactics what he read in a book, would likely make a hash of the whole thing because I'm still standing there trying to understand tactics as it applies in this situation. Because I'm an amateur, not a professional.

The key for a tactician is not in knowing what the right move is; it's knowing what the right move is based on the movable assets available.

We, as gamers playing in an unfamiliar universe, don't have the knowledge or experience needed to make realistic tactical decision based on the reality of the SWU. We deal in dice bonuses, Character Points and Force Points, because those are the measuring sticks by which we determine how good or bad our characters are at a given task, with Tactics being just one of many.

That's why I advocate a dice bonus based on a good Tactics roll; it's not about what I, the player, know; it's about what my character knows, and how he applies it within the context of the gaming universe.


Very well articulated. I wish my post had been as succinct.

I appreciate the assessment, although, I can't speak to it's accuracy. Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed Razz
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naaman wrote:
The other problem with tactics as written is that it puts the burden of understanding tactics on the GM. If he doesn't understand tactics, then he is at a loss as to how to "give the player a hint" about what might work.
That's a fair point and a problem I've seen in play. (My co-GM for the old campaign admittedly struggled with tactics.)

Quote:
If tactics merely offered a skill bonus in situations where superior tactics are being simulated, it removes the burden of accumulating adequate tactical knowledge to make the baddies behave in a way sufficient for suspension of disbelief.
I'm OK with tactics providing a bonus. But I'd prefer the flexibility to have it provide something else instead if that makes more sense and if the respective real world skills of GM and player allow it.

Quote:
As to tactics being an "I win" button, what is the problem there?
That tactics in the real world is not.

Quote:
There is a reason why special operations forces are able to interact with vastly superior sized enemy elements and at the very least, survive, usually win, and often without a single casualty.
Asymmetric operations have very limited objectives and special forces often fail (or only partially succeed) at those objectives and they take casualties. In addition, a lot of actual RPG play for Rebels in Star Wars is asymmetric operations. It's boring if a good roll on tactics means the players win the scenario by achieving their objective while taking no casualties and a bad roll means they lose.

Quote:
For example, a veteran player knows that his character's knowledge is not the same as his own knowledge, so he must find some "in-character" way to accumulate the knowledge he wants. A very easy and honest way to get enough info to make a tactical decision can be as simple as asking, "what do I see?" The more tactics-oriented the player is, the more likely the answer to that question will produce some kind of tactical assessment that is beyond the inclination of the other players (which is just fine), but possibly even beyond the capability of one or more of the characters who has the tactics skill well developed (especially if the GM is not, himself, a tactician and cannot mentally out maneuver the player).
I completely agree. This is just like skills like willpower, persuasion, con, bargain, investigate.

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The simplest way to help tactics is to allow for it to provide a bonus to the command skill (perhaps by stacking the dice to expand the size of the force that the commander can command
That's a way. And it seems like a good way in some situations. I'm not sure it's the best way. I certainly wouldn't want it to be the only way that tactics is used.

As a side note: I don't like the way command works as far as the number controlled.
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