As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to share another small article on gaming. Strategy is an important part to any good wargame, but a lot of people don't really understand what Strategy actually is, or how to apply it. Hopefully you will learn both by the end of this article:
Strategy is simply a plan. First and foremost, you need one Goal. Defining your goal is the most important part of the strategy, as it shapes everything else, so it's really important to define the best goal. The goal is simply a desired end state you wish to achieve; an achievement. Once you have one Goal, a focus, you can refine your plan with Objectives.
Objectives tell you how to achieve your Goal. They are very specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely: SMART. Goals are not Objectives, but people often conflate the two. Goals generally are not specific or timely; they may not even seem attainable.
For example, a video game may have two Achievements:
- Beat level 1 on Hard difficulty without dying
- Kill 100 enemies with a specific weapon
The first Achievement is a Goal, as it does not inform you in anyway on what to do or how to do it. Each player will probably develop their own way to achieve this goal.
The second Achievement is an Objective. It is specific (use a certain weapon), it is measurable (kill 100 enemies), and it is attainable (every player should think they can do it). However, it isn't exactly timely, as there is no time limit; it is merely up to the player to determine when they wish to do it. It also isn't relevant to anything by itself, because it is not supporting a given goal; again, it is up to the player to create this Goal. If the player has the Goal to actively complete the Achievements in the game, then it becomes relevant. If the player doesn't have this goal, then this Achievement does not align with their goal, and they will not actively pursue it.
In many FSA games, most players only have the goal to kill their opponent; this is pretty much the worst goal you could have, as it t does not help you with the second part of strategy: developing your game plan. Here is a broad Strategy for when the scenario only calls for you to kill your opponent:
Maximize game points while minimizing losses to obtain a winning condition
1. Destroy enemy units to gain points
2. Prevent opponent from gaining points by protecting units
3. Control game tempo by baiting/forcing your opponent to make certain moves
Our Objectives are in priority order as well. The primary Objective is to kill units, because that is how you get points, which is what you need to win. The secondary Objective is to deny your opponent opportunities to gain points; this is how you keep from losing. It also gives you future opportunities to do damage and score points later.
The last Objective is about Tempo. If you can't realistically cause damage with your next Activation, and you can't do anything to protect your fleet, what should you do? This is the answer. Books could be written about game tempo, so I'll give one example. If you ever find yourself predicting how your opponent will react to your Activation choice (Unit A or Unit B) you're thinking about Tempo. It's about defining your opponent's choices, and is a large but subtle part of gameplay. Generally, if you can dictate the flow of the game by acting instead of reacting, you should be in a better position to inflict damage while minimizing losses.
With three prioritized Objectives supporting one Goal, we now have a good Strategy for playing Firestorm Armada.
Everything else within the game, from Deployment to your final Activation is Tactics. List-building is technically Grand Strategy and Logistics, as it happens before you start playing the game. I’ll try to address both to some degree in the future.
Started playing Firestorm Armada December 2014