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Subject: Do you ever prepare written operations plans for your wargame plays? rss

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Leo Zappa
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I have to say, I usually do not write a plan of attack (or defense) prior to playing a wargame. Typically, I just set up my units with a general sense of how I want to accomplish my victory objectives. However, I thought it might be interesting to write up at least a simple Op Plan for my latest solo play, Yom Kippur. I also thought that in addition to providing me a more immersive playing experience, putting my operations order into writing might actually help me play this game, my first SCS play experience.

I decided to use a simplified version of the Operations Order (OPORD) format used by the US Army. I simplified it mostly because while I wanted to engage in an immersive experience, I didn't want this to become like work! I was an Army staff officer years ago, and I have written an Op Plan or two, and they can be tedious exercises (especially when you are a quartermaster officer, not the most glamorous of assignments!) In any case, here is what I put together for my play of Yom Kippur, planning for the Egyptians, since they are on the offensive (at least initially). I am playing the "Historical Scenario":

Note: ID: Infantry Division, TD: Tank Division, MD: Mechanized Division

Operation Badr
Enemy Forces:
1. Bar Lev Line – 16 fortified positions on the east bank of the Suez Canal – each contains a reinforced infantry company
2. (4) infantry detachments
3. (1) infantry task force holding Churchill position
4. (1) infantry task force holding Hamutal position
5. (1) recon battalion holding Edra position
6. (1) armored brigade holding Tasa position
7. Other armor units believed to be within 50 miles of Canal (believed to consist of Adan and Sharon armored divisions)
Friendly Forces:
1. 2nd Army
a. 2nd ID
b. 16th ID
c. 18th ID
d. 21st TD (-)
e. 23rd MD (-)
f. Independent armor, mechanized, airborne, artillery, and engineer assets
2. 3rd Army
a. 4th TD (-)
b. 7th ID
c. 19th ID
d. Independent armor, mechanized, airborne, artillery, and engineer assets
3. Army Group assets
a. (4) Commando brigades
b. (3) Airborne brigades
c. (1) FROG missile brigade
d. (8) SAM batteries
e. (2) Artillery brigades
4. GHQ Reserves
a. 3rd MD
b. (3) Independent armor brigades
c. (1) Moroccan infantry brigade
5. Exploitation Reserves
a. 21st TD
b. 23rd MD
c. 4th TD
d. 6th MD

Commander’s Intent:
To secure a line twenty miles east of the Suez Canal and defend this line against all Israeli counterattacks long enough to force a ceasefire and hold a position of strength for post-war negotiations.

Maneuver Plan:
Movements of the Force:
The force shall be broadly divided into two halves a) the 2nd Army, operating from the Mediterranean (Port Said) to the northern end of Great Bitter Lake, and b) 3rd Army, operating from Great Bitter Lake to the Gulf of Suez.

Objectives:
2nd Army: To secure positions along the Lateral Road from south of the Northern District swamps to the town of Tasa. Units are to overcome Bar Lev fortresses as necessary to enable bridging operations to commence. Units are to use terrain to enhance their defensive posture once the objective line is attained. Initial crossing shall be made between El Firdan and Ismailia.

3rd Army: To secure positions along the Lateral Road from the dunes south of Tasa to the Yoreh Road. Units are to overcome Bar Lev fortresses as necessary to enable bridging operations to commence. Units are to use terrain to enhance their defensive posture once the objective line is attained. Initial crossing shall be made south of Great Bitter Lake and north of Suez City.

Army Group Assets: Airborne and commando brigades shall be air transported behind Bar Lev line to block potential Israeli movements to reinforce their positions.

Fire Support:
Artillery:
Initial artillery barrage will target select Bar Lev fortifications with the objective of destroying or weakening these positions to facilitate canal crossing.
Follow-on barrages will be called in to complete destruction of Bar Lev fortifications and support advance to objective lines.

Offensive Air Support:
(4) Fighter-bomber regiments will be available to support ground attacks as needed.

Engineer Support:
Bridging:
2nd Army will use (3) attached engineer brigades to bridge canal. 3rd Army will use (2) attached engineer brigades to bridge canal.

Air Defense:
SA-2/SA-6 batteries will be deployed along the length of the operational zones of the 2nd and 3rd Armies, along the West Bank of the Suez. Batteries shall overlap coverage and provide coverage up to 20 miles east of the Canal, covering all 2nd and 3rd Army units deployed on the East Bank.

_________________________________________________________

So, do any of the rest of you ever prepare a written plan of some kind, either to add to the immersive nature of the experience, or to actually aid your play? I could imagine that writing such a plan could come in especially helpful in multiplayer team formats. If you've done so, please post your master plans!
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M St
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Impressive.

I make them in games that ask me to do similar - in other words in the Tactical Combat Series. In a game like Yom Kippur, which rewards completely ahistorical play, it would seem to me more like lipstick on a pig... However, having such a framework in place might actually work to help it play out in remotely historical fashion.
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Damon Baume
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My one and only operations plan is:

To crush my enemies -- See them driven before me, and to hear the lamentations of their women!
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Leo Zappa
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sapper_D wrote:
My one and only operations plan is:

To crush my enemies -- See them driven before me, and to hear the lamentations of their women!


Well, it worked for Conan, so it's got to be a good plan!
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William Barnett-Lewis
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Normally I don't do anything like that unless I am playing a TCS game (from the Gamers. More than SCS, less than OCS, requires OpPlans... ;) )

I have also done a bit of that with their BCS system in playtest. It's not as successful as TCS but more so than I feared. I really should get back at playtesting that combination... The constraints imposed by playing that way can give a player a far better understanding of why a historical commander acted the way he did, rather than saying "What a freaking Putz! It's obvious we should do "X"... "

It's interesting what you've done, thank you for sharing it.
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Enrico Viglino
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M St wrote:
Impressive.

I make them in games that ask me to do similar - in other words in the Tactical Combat Series.


I avoid doing so because I'm lazy, but when forced to,
I really like the results, just on the preplanning side
on top of the command control.
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Isaac Citrom
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sapper_D wrote:
My one and only operations plan is:

To crush my enemies -- See them driven before me, and to hear the lamentations of their women!


It's not so much a plan as it is the central tenet of his martial doctrine, as Conan would put it.
.
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Leo Zappa
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I do think that at least two turns into the current game, this approach is helping my Egyptian play, as I believe I'm being more disciplined in my approach as a result of my predetermined plan. Looking at the map after two turns, it would be tempting (without a plan) to be more aggressive with the Egyptians, as they have made great advances east of Suez. However, the plan was prepared on the basis of taking a particular line and then defending it at all costs, and not advancing beyond either supply range or SAM range (essentially, the historical Egyptian approach). By referring back to the plan, I dismiss those aggressive thoughts of driving further east or recklessly attacking those Israeli formations as they draw near.
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Michael Power
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desertfox2004 wrote:
So, do any of the rest of you ever prepare a written plan of some kind, either to add to the immersive nature of the experience, or to actually aid your play? I could imagine that writing such a plan could come in especially helpful in multiplayer team formats. If you've done so, please post your master plans!


Whenever I can. It does add to the "immersive nature of the experience" and aids my play. Granted, it doesn't always go exactly as planned. But if flexibility is built into the operation then it goes a long way in improving your chances. I submitted a similar topic in this forum in Aug 2012. See Operational Planning
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Adam Siler
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Nah just a bunch of brevity codes.
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Colin Raitt
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I find it very useful for the start of games. If possible I play solo before games night. Then I plan the best setup or 1st turn move hex by hex. Sometimes the plan goes wrong but I've usually got an inkling on how to modify it from the practice. My sons have banned me from using my cheat sheet for top trump dinosaurs.
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Freddy Dekker
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nah, there's no point.
I wouldn't be able to read my writing anyway.
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Pete Belli
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I think it was Clausewitz who said "No plan ever survives contact with the enemy's link to the rules errata for that wargame on BGG."
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Jim F
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I noticed my opponent did this for our recent three player game of The Blitzkrieg Legend: The Battle for France, 1940. I didn't peek at it but I'd be interested to know how much of it went to plan.

As I jocularly noted during play that that his high level of planning smacked of 'cheating'. I tend to take the 'hope everything turns out ok' approach but I might do better if I adopted his model.
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Leo Zappa
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Michael Power wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
So, do any of the rest of you ever prepare a written plan of some kind, either to add to the immersive nature of the experience, or to actually aid your play? I could imagine that writing such a plan could come in especially helpful in multiplayer team formats. If you've done so, please post your master plans!


Whenever I can. It does add to the "immersive nature of the experience" and aids my play. Granted, it doesn't always go exactly as planned. But if flexibility is built into the operation then it goes a long way in improving your chances. I submitted a similar topic in this forum in Aug 2012. See Operational Planning


Wow - nice article! I can't believe I missed it the first time around, considering how much time I spend on this forum (too much time, really). I need to take a closer look at what you put together and see if I can "pinch" any of it for my own use!!!
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E Butler
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Drive on Stalingrad by SPI/TSR - a flawed game but with several very innovative mechanics had something similar designed into the game. As I recall it has a event table called 'Hitler's Objectives' where Der Fuhrer would start meddling with the German Player's well laid plans.
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武士に二言無し
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No.
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Leo Zappa
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Filippo Chiari wrote:
No.


A very verbose answer, Filippo!

In truth, I rarely do either. I can recall a few other times ever when I did this - once before a game of PanzerArmee Afrika, which worked out well, as I won using my plan, another time in preparation for a game of Jutland, which didn't get used because we still haven't gotten around to playing it, and again prior to a play of Axis & Allies, which again worked great, leading to a smashing Axis victory. I also started writing up plans as the Iraqis in Arabian Nightmare: The Kuwait War, though I didn't finish them. I usually don't want to spend time doing detailed planning, but I do find that solitaire play does lend itself more to pre-planning, especially since the time spent planning does not detract from your opponent's play experience!
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Bill Eldard
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desertfox2004 wrote:
So, do any of the rest of you ever prepare a written plan of some kind, either to add to the immersive nature of the experience, or to actually aid your play?


Nope. After having been involved with writing them off and on for 21 years, I wouldn't even consider it. But I have to admit, as my brain continues to age like a warm milk, I might find it useful just to keep myself on track from turn to turn. It wouldn't enhance the experience for me, though, mainly because the objective(s) and OBs are dictated by the rules, so it's not a matter of developing the strategy, assembling the units, and laying out the plan.

desertfox2004 wrote:
. . . I could imagine that writing such a plan could come in especially helpful in multiplayer team formats.


Could be good, particularly if the players are geographically separated and/or the game will take more than one sitting to play.

After you write it, do you then amend it as necessary during the course of game?
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Earl of
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Fascinating, I presume it could give an advantage over an oblivious opponent.
sapper_D wrote:
My one and only operations plan is:

To crush my enemies -- See them driven before me, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

BGG Rule 1: when you are completely out of your element, post lame jokes.
See above.
Eldard wrote:
I noticed my opponent did this for our recent three player game of The Blitzkrieg Legend: The Battle for France, 1940. I didn't peek at it but I'd be interested to know how much of it went to plan.

As I jocularly noted during play that that his high level of planning smacked of 'cheating'. I tend to take the 'hope everything turns out ok' approach but I might do better if I adopted his model.

"If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'"
And see above.
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Judd Vance
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pete belli wrote:
I think it was Clausewitz who said "No plan ever survives contact with the enemy's link to the rules errata for that wargame on BGG."


Likewise, I believe it was the great philosopher Mike Tyson who once said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
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Leo Zappa
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Eldard wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
So, do any of the rest of you ever prepare a written plan of some kind, either to add to the immersive nature of the experience, or to actually aid your play?


Nope. After having been involved with writing them off and on for 21 years, I wouldn't even consider it. But I have to admit, as my brain continues to age like a warm milk, I might find it useful just to keep myself on track from turn to turn. It wouldn't enhance the experience for me, though, mainly because the objective(s) and OBs are dictated by the rules, so it's not a matter of developing the strategy, assembling the units, and laying out the plan.

desertfox2004 wrote:
. . . I could imagine that writing such a plan could come in especially helpful in multiplayer team formats.


Could be good, particularly if the players are geographically separated and/or the game will take more than one sitting to play.

After you write it, do you then amend it as necessary during the course of game?


Hi Bill - to your last point, I certainly have never amended any written plan for a game once I start playing. However, I could see doing so for a game that was going to take multiple sessions to complete (any monster wargame, for example). I can also see doing it if part of the game play experience was imagining oneself as a real-life commander. This could take the wargaming experience more into the realm of roleplaying, rather than simply boardgaming. Combined with team play and perhaps a double-blind set-up, I could see this being pretty fun. I wonder if anyone else has ever done that?
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Roger Hobden
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Q : Do you ever prepare written operation plans (...) ?

A: Only for surgical strikes.
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Bill Eldard
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desertfox2004 wrote:
Eldard wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
So, do any of the rest of you ever prepare a written plan of some kind, either to add to the immersive nature of the experience, or to actually aid your play?


Nope. After having been involved with writing them off and on for 21 years, I wouldn't even consider it. But I have to admit, as my brain continues to age like a warm milk, I might find it useful just to keep myself on track from turn to turn. It wouldn't enhance the experience for me, though, mainly because the objective(s) and OBs are dictated by the rules, so it's not a matter of developing the strategy, assembling the units, and laying out the plan.

desertfox2004 wrote:
. . . I could imagine that writing such a plan could come in especially helpful in multiplayer team formats.


Could be good, particularly if the players are geographically separated and/or the game will take more than one sitting to play.

After you write it, do you then amend it as necessary during the course of game?


Hi Bill - to your last point, I certainly have never amended any written plan for a game once I start playing. However, I could see doing so for a game that was going to take multiple sessions to complete (any monster wargame, for example). I can also see doing it if part of the game play experience was imagining oneself as a real-life commander. This could take the wargaming experience more into the realm of roleplaying, rather than simply boardgaming. Combined with team play and perhaps a double-blind set-up, I could see this being pretty fun. I wonder if anyone else has ever done that?


Agreed.

In '76, a group of us attempted to play War In Europe, with two of us as the Allies/USSR, and four players as the Germans. The Axis team had one C-in-C and three subordinate generals, each commanding different theaters. He gave them guidance and managed the production while they operated. In the middle of the North Africa compaign, he fired the German general and assumed direct command himself, proceeding to kick butt and reverse the situation.

A written plan could be fun in that kind of a game, though back then (pre-computer age), typing up orders would've been laborious.
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I run an email, multiplayer, tactical, double blind game. The commander of each side has to organise his troops and inform them of his plan and what he wants each player to do. It is quite interesting to see how the commander approaches this new found task which has been forced upon him. I usually try to get them to get into the spirit of the game and "talk" like they are actually directing men. One player even said something along the lines of I kneel down on one knee and pick up a stick to draw a rough map in the dirt. It is usually better to have a simple plan rather than one with too many details. If it is too complicated it only takes the elimination of a unit to have everybody wondering what happens now.
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