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Subject: MMPs OCS, SCS & GTS rss

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Anthonii
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So I will be making a dive into these various series in the coming future. Just wondering how much they borrow from each other.

I appreciate there is a significant differences, hence the name change. However I'm interested in where there are similarities?

Thanks
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David Douglas
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Other than the common themes you'll find in all hex and counter games, they are 100% independent game lines with rules aimed at modeling vastly different things.

SCS: this is your entry level series. It has all the basic stuff from hex and counter games--CRTs, ZoCs, trace supply, etc--but keeps it as entry level and simple as possible. They are good games that provide some insight into the situations they cover but in no way are heavy simulations. Scales range from company level elements in the newer titles all the way up.

Pros: easy and quick to pick up. Easy to teach. Tons of topics covered, many of which are playable in an evening. Fun if you can accept a series whose game to simulation spectrum is firmly in the game region.

Cons: Not much meat on the bones for people who like heavier games.

OCS: This system was created by Dean in what I imagine was a eureka moment. He probably read the classic quote about professionals talking about logistics, drank half a bottle of bourbon, and wrote lung into the night. The next day he woke up with a killer headache, a mysterious I <3 Panzers tattoo, and the Genesis of OCS.

It covers operations ranging from relatively small affairs like Reluctant Enemies in Syria-Lebanon all the way to soul crushing huge mega linked Case Blue + Guderians Blitzkrieg. It focuses on planning an offensive, preparing your supplies, managing your exploiting columns, and getting amazing at calculating optimal table layout and gameroom square footage.

Pros: generally considered a masterclass of wargame design, covers aspects of modern combat in a way that most designs don't have the cajones to do, gives an excellent feel for operational command, wide variety of topics from DAK to Burma and back.

Cons: while intuitive for the most part there are a lot of rules. Games are big and complex. It can be tough finding other people crazy enough to sacrifice a virgin with you to harness Dean's evil voodoo. Some legitimate concerns that supply as modeled results in ahistorical use of artillery, non-exploit units, etc. Can be expensive.

GTS: If baby Jesus had been born in a wargame box instead of a manger he would have been born in a GTS box and Adam Starkweather would have been all three of the wise men. At the same time.

GTS models tactical combat at the company element scale. It focuses on the importance of troop quality, suppression before elimination, artillery... The rules are among the easiest to read that I've ever seen. Adam ensured that as little gaminess entered the system as possible while maintaining a relatively unburdened rule set. Adams philosophy is perfectly summed up in one of his game review comments in his collection: fix your system, don't fictionalize the world.

Pros: gives you amazing insight into WW2 combat/tactics if you think the mechanics through. It's the single best designed system I've ever encountered from a rules weight to simulation perspective. The games come with loads of scenarios of various size.

Cons: Big and expensive. The smallest, nominally intro title isn't a very good representation of the system.

Maybe the better question would be: what are you hoping to find?
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M St
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ddavidc wrote:

OCS: This system was created by Dean in what I imagine was a eureka moment. He probably read the classic quote about professionals talking about logistics,

Actually, he has commented multiple times that the origin of OCS lay in his frustration with the exaggerated detail of The Campaign for North Africa, and his goal was to make a playable counterpart to that game. (North Africa was the original testing ground for OCS.)
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David Douglas
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Your version is plausible too.
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Martin Gallo
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I think Mr. Douglass hit most of the salient points. What I think he might have missed is that all of these series scratch different itches. Rather than only on flavor of ice cream in the world we have a variety of different flavors and textures.

OCS focuses on strategic thinking - factors like supply lines and states, reserves and replacements are just as important as direct combat.

SCS focuses on simple strategy elements. It is a lighter version of OCS. You get to focus on movement and fighting (and some supply issues). The games take roughly 1/10th the time to play, but have about 1/3 of the meat and majesty of an OCS title. This system hearkens back to the "classic era" of wargaming where you could set up the game and play in an afternoon and most of the games fit on a small kitchen table.

GTS focuses on the "nuts and bolts" of tactical combat. Maneuver by company, terrain advantages, assault and fire lanes. A completely different animal than the SCS or OCS stuff.

Note also that there is the TCS system, which is closer to GTS scale and scope than OCS or SCS but is, again, its own animal. TCS is all about GTS stuff, but operational planning becomes more important. It is about creating a tactical plan and making it work.

Which one works best for you depends on what you want to do and whom you are going to play with.
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Steven Mitchell
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martimer wrote:
I think Mr. Douglass hit most of the salient points. What I think he might have missed is that all of these series scratch different itches. Rather than only on flavor of ice cream in the world we have a variety of different flavors and textures.


I think that's a helpful way of putting it. If you know you don't like marshmallows, you're not going to like rocky road: not only does it contain marshmallows, but it's pretty much only made for people who like marshmallows.

So yeah, David's and Martin's posts give pretty good ideas of what ingredients each system contains. If you know what things you like in wargames — whether it be game-centered in what mechanisms or level of detail; or topic-centered in what elements of war — then find the system that includes what you like as an ingredient. And you should probably steer clear of the ones with ingredients you're 'allergic' to.
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Eric Walters
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Standard Combat Series (SCS) also has the widest range of titles, from World War I (DRIVE ON PARIS, OPERATION MICHAEL, and ROCK OF THE MARNE) to post World War II (YOM KIPPUR and HEIGHTS OF COURAGE). Even the Spanish Civil War gets a title (GUADALAJARA). I've found that SCS devotees have titles they love and titles they hate. This to me is the biggest difference between this and the other series mentioned; OCS fans like just about every OCS title out there. GTS is still pretty young--the only GTS title many series fans aren't crazy about is NO QUESTION OF SURRENDER, the smallest one of the bunch.

Some of those SCS games take a good long time to play, even some of the one-mappers. I could never get through a full session of STALINGRAD POCKET II in one sitting. It wasn't that the game system was all that hard, it was that the decisions were tough and the game was relatively a long one.

Of course, SCS has its monster-game sized titles, like IT NEVER SNOWS and DAY OF DAYS. Those will take you a while. I'm not that much of a fan of the former title and haven't played the latter yet, so I can't talk that much about them.

As has been mentioned, the scale varies considerably, depending on what is being covered. Games cover campaigns all the way down to battles, with different unit formation representations and time scales.

As far as the system goes, it tends to reward the notion that the best defense is a good offense; one sees this best in the attack factors versus defense factors in quite a few of the pieces, particularly armored units.

While there have been some clear-cut SCS winners, the remaining titles have been received with mixed reactions. Best to research the games and get differing opinions. It's far and away the most optimal if you can get someone else who has the game you are interested in to teach you/play against you so you get the feel of it and can decide on whether or not to purchse it.

While the Operational Combat Series (OCS) has been showing its age even in its latest v4.2 edition (as another poster has indicated, there are a few flaws in how it models its subject), there really isn't any other series in print that does justice to its subject as well as this does. Those that approach it (e.g., GMT's East Front Series and the old COA/John Schettler WINTER STORM Series) are focused on a handful of battles/campaigns on the WW II Eastern Front. OCS covers a great deal (but not all) of the Eastern Front but also the whole Western Desert Campaign in DAK2, combat in the Levant, Tunisia in 1943, Sicily in 1943, Burma in 1944, France: 1940, the Westwall campaigns of 1944m and even the first year of the Korean War in 1950-51. The system has evolved/improved over the years and enjoys not only a great deal of company support from MMP but a large player base interested in further refinements. I have hopes that the system will mitigate or even eliminate some of the quibbles/gripes a number of folks have with it.

The biggest challenge for the series as a whole is its size and expense. Fortunately, there are a few titles that are more inexpensive and physically not as daunting--RELUCTANT ENEMIES, TUNISIA II, and SICILY II. The latter game is part of a magazine, OPERATIONAL MATTERS, that serves as both a set of players notes for the various games in the series and also a teaser for those titles. It's probably the one to start with now, although RELUCTANT ENEMIES is arguably better given fewer units to maneuver (and supply) but suffers only from its obscure topic (the British offensive to take Vichy French Levant). After that, it's a toss-up between TUNISIA II and KOREA: THE FORGOTTEN WAR, the Korea game is larger (3 maps) but has a good bit of smaller scenarios. Both these games are significantly revised re-releases of earlier titles.

These are nothing like their SCS brethren, although some have quipped that SCS AFRIKA II is "DAK2-lite" and SCS STALINGRAD POCKET II is like "ENEMY AT THE GATES (older, out of print OCS title that was replaced by CASE BLUE)" It's not really true, so don't be fooled. OCS can take a good bit of time to get used to given some of its unique design aspects that--once you get used to them--indeed are more intuitive to use. But the Air and Logistics/Supply side of the system is significantly more detailed than SCS, and the "fog and friction" involved is also a large part of the tension in playing--you won't get the same effect in SCS, even though it can be just as exciting.

The Grand Tactical Series (GTS) might sound like it has something in common with SCS since some of the games share roughly the same unit scale--DAY OF DAYS covers all of D-Day at company/battery-level and THE GREATEST DAY: SWORD, JUNO, AND GOLD BEACHES does, too. IT NEVER SNOWS and both THE DEVIL'S CAULDRON and WHERE EAGLES DARE set of Operation Market-Garden games do, too. But that is where any similarity ends, even though all are monster-sized games.

The relative expense and time/ground scales are perhaps the biggest difference at first glance. Upon opening the boxes, the sheer physical size and quality of physical production separates the GTS "big box" titles from their smaller SCS counterparts. If you like the GTS tactical system, there's a lot of play value in the boxes are there are not only scenarios that come with the game, but the player community has generated even more scenarios and published them in the BGG files section. You can get quite a bit of play value per dollar spent with these titles; the system simply fascinates that much.

GTS as a system puts its design focus on two major aspects of ground combat: (1) the fluidity of action, creating a great deal of uncertainty through its formation chit-pull system, and (2) a crude but effective enough modeling of command and staff effectiveness at the division-level. The former should be clear enough--there are many games that use chit-pull systems--but the latter deserves some explanation. Basically, the game distinguishes between the command capability of division-level headquarters quality in terms of the staff's ability to generate dispatch points used to purchase formation chits (these activate regimental-sized units) to put in the chit-pull cup. You can purchase formation (regiments, brigades, kampfgruppen) chits for a more expensive cost in dispatch points if you need to activate them sooner, less cost if you purchase them for a turn further in the future. The game also characterized divisions by abstract "command points" which can be spent to empower subordinate formation commanders to cobble-together operations using only a few units within command range on top of what formation chits are used. Formation chits go into the cup when purchased, the command chit always does--a player just has to have them "in the bank" to use them when the command chit is drawn, and there's a "Division" chit used for more administrative movement/actions that always goes into the cup.

Part of the game is distracting your opponent in such a way that he overspends command and staff attention on peripheral matters and doesn't have any slack/spare capacity to react to your main effort when you mount it. Of course, the chit-pull mechanic puts enough uncertainty and friction that your brilliant plan to do this can't really be executed well unless you have multiple ways to flex your execution to achieve the same end.

There are some complaints about the games and the system; truth be told, the competitive command decision-cycle modeling works in aggregate overall but seems ill-fitting in execution (particularly the command points system coupled to a spread of regimental commanders who all are of exactly the same capability). While many consider the graphics to be amazing, it can be hard to distinguish midnight blue SS from black SS units in THE DEVIL'S CAULDRON (and the watermark division logos aren't that helpful given the clutter of stuff on the counter). Unit IDs are also in minisule print and older players must bring a magnifying glass!

But the biggest complaint revolves around the smallest game in the series, NO QUESTION OF SURRENDER, covering the Axis siege and assault on the Free French Brigade "box" of Bir Hacheim at the opening of Rommel's Gazala offensive in 1942. It seems like the Free French player has little to do compared to the Axis for much of the game (at least until the Free French can break out of their defensive box without being cut to pieces!). As a historical wargamer, I really appreciate this game for what it does, not for what it doesn't do--after all, there's not much else on this topic at the tactical scale (and those tend to be smaller-scaled scenarios in other tactical game systems, like TOBRUK or ASL).

Because of its focus on differentiating command and control effectiveness as an explicit simulation of commander/staff actions), GTS as a system has more in common with MMP's Tactical Combat Series (TCS) system than either SCS or OCS.

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gary guyton
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Does anyone care to comment on how these 3 play solitaire? Very useful information for some, I'm sure.
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David Douglas
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SCS and OCS play fine solitaire--as well as other games where you okay both sides OCS can be big though so there's that consideration. The last couple SCS titles have been really large also.

GTS used a random chit draw system to determine what actions can be taken in what order. That adds an added element of fog of war for a solitaire player.
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ddavidc wrote:


GTS: If baby Jesus had been born in a wargame box instead of a manger he would have been born in a GTS box and Adam Starkweather would have been all three of the wise men. At the same time.

GTS models tactical combat at the company element scale. It focuses on the importance of troop quality, suppression before elimination, artillery... The rules are among the easiest to read that I've ever seen. Adam ensured that as little gaminess entered the system as possible while maintaining a relatively unburdened rule set. Adams philosophy is perfectly summed up in one of his game review comments in his collection: fix your system, don't fictionalize the world.

Pros: gives you amazing insight into WW2 combat/tactics if you think the mechanics through. It's the single best designed system I've ever encountered from a rules weight to simulation perspective. The games come with loads of scenarios of various size.

Cons: Big and expensive. The smallest, nominally intro title isn't a very good representation of the system.



Another con: whenever a GTS fan talks about GTS, I get the urge to buy the whole system.

TGD, I'm coming for you!
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Kris2476 wrote:
ddavidc wrote:


GTS: If baby Jesus had been born in a wargame box instead of a manger he would have been born in a GTS box and Adam Starkweather would have been all three of the wise men. At the same time.

GTS models tactical combat at the company element scale. It focuses on the importance of troop quality, suppression before elimination, artillery... The rules are among the easiest to read that I've ever seen. Adam ensured that as little gaminess entered the system as possible while maintaining a relatively unburdened rule set. Adams philosophy is perfectly summed up in one of his game review comments in his collection: fix your system, don't fictionalize the world.

Pros: gives you amazing insight into WW2 combat/tactics if you think the mechanics through. It's the single best designed system I've ever encountered from a rules weight to simulation perspective. The games come with loads of scenarios of various size.

Cons: Big and expensive. The smallest, nominally intro title isn't a very good representation of the system.



Another con: whenever a GTS fan talks about GTS, I get the urge to buy the whole system.

TGD, I'm coming for you!


Quietly closes ebay

I don't know what you're talking about! whistle
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Adam D.
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Some really excellent commentary here. I have nothing intelligent to add, just my thanks.
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Anthonii
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Thank you Eric, Martin and David for your fantastic responses! With regards to what i want, I want to try it all! and will do in due time.

However i did want to highlight one quote that i greatly enjoyed. cool


ddavidc wrote:
It focuses on ... getting amazing at calculating optimal table layout and gameroom square footage.
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anthonii wrote:
Thank you Eric, Martin and David for your fantastic responses! With regards to what i want, I want to try it all! and will do in due time.

However i did want to highlight one quote that i greatly enjoyed. cool


ddavidc wrote:
It focuses on ... getting amazing at calculating optimal table layout and gameroom square footage.


I have some friends who had Case Blue + Guderians Blitzkrieg set up together in the back shed for a couple of years. It took acres of space!
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Eric Schaefer
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Big fan of OCS and SCS, and I pretty much agree with the statements that Mr. Douglas and others in the thread have made already. I do have to say, the relaunch of Sicily and Tunisia, (along with Reluctant Enemies) are probably the easiest to get in to in the OCS realm.

In order I would probably have to say start with RE, move to Tunisia II, and then Sicily II in order of new mechanics/rules (Sicily has Amphib Ops, Paradrops, Naval ships, etc.

I wish GTS wasn't so damn expensive. I would love to dive into those titles...sigh....
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Aussie550 wrote:

I have some friends who had Case Blue + Guderians Blitzkrieg set up together in the back shed for a couple of years. It took acres of space!


I have a hard time staying on top of my strategy for a few hours... However years? Wow!
 
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