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Strategy 101

Introduction

The following guide is a short introduction to military strategy, especially aimed towards MMO games.

The information given only represents my own opinion and some people will probably disagree at some point. but I share anyway in the hope that it will be useful.

I also want to point out that I requested the help of Aquasta for some tricky English expressions. Big thanks to him.

I divided the guide into two parts:

General strategy

A good strategy relies on 3 axes :

Objectives

Achievable and clear objectives are important to define and prioritize because they define what is important and how/when to choose between different options.

Clear objectives are based on who you are as an entity and what defines your gameplay.

Stick to your objectives or you will lose people and need to radically change your plans.

You are a PvP centric group with a bit of PvE and industrial activities as support.

Knowledge

Knowledge is a key factor in all decisions. The more you have the better.

About your neighbors, here are a few keys questions:

You also need to have a clear view of your key/strategic points:

... but also: what is NOT important !

Because you can - and should - use assets that are not important. They are disposable, so you are not risking anything.

Don't forget human resources ! You can't do all alone:

Do not hesitate to write things down, build tables and graphics. You need a clear view: easy to remember, easy to read, easy to share.

When that's done, you should be able to predict how a situation is going to evolve, or at least what are the probable scenarios.

You take the time to make a clear map of the area, highlighting the home of the different groups living around. There are a few small groups of about 50 persons each. They are not really allies, but they do unite and fight together when needed. They are good PvPers and especially in small gangs.
In the south, there is also a big "power-block" which is able to field hundreds of soldiers. Individually, they are quite bad and they prefer PvE content, but their numbers make them dangerous.
All of these groups are more or less neutral with you. They happen to poke around, but so do you and in the end, nobody is threatening the others.

Now, investigating your own strengths and weaknesses, you quickly decide that your organization and IT backup are good, but, in the other hand, most members are clearly not autonomous (mostly newbies) and need constant directives and management. Investigating further, you find without too much surprise that budget is a problem for a lot of people and so ships used are usually cheap. An average of low skill level players will also push into this decision.
You are still a large group compared to the others, with availability on all time zones, and that's a major strength. There is nearly no leadership on during US time zone, however.
You take the time to write a quick note into your todo-list: "Make sure to schedule regular training and Q&A sessions". This should help a lot getting people involved and autonomous.

After that, you set up a meeting with a few guys for discussing strategic positions. After a long debate, you finally agree by defining 3 "rings" of geographic positions:

You ask people to make sure home and strategic systems are well defended and add the information to your map. You also ask them to think about reaction delays and how to improve them because your territory is quite large.
When they are out, you also consider delegating some more tasks to those who had the best ideas and vision. You carefully select two of them who are trustable and smart, but you decide to hold your decision for now as there is no emergency.

Anticipation

Now, the trickiest part. You know what you want and you have good information, so you can make good decisions... or make bad ones too.

You will take bad decisions from time to time. Everyone does, especially when under time constraints.

What can we do to improve that ? Anticipate.

Think about a few probable scenarios as far in time as you can.

Also ask a few people for their opinion and communicate in case you would not be around when events happen.

Looking at your work so far, you decide to put some energy in maintaining good relations with smaller groups and organise some common events. This will serve your content objective well and help improve skills overall. In case of invasion, they may also you more than an unknown third-party.

But you are still worried about "blitzkrieg" warfare as your reaction delays are huge and members don't know how to react if leadership is not available. So you decide to try something new:

But before that, you pick up the winning team captain and ask him to create a secret intelligence service with two objectives:

He happily accepts the mission and soon, you begin to gather even more information.
You also ask another group of veterans and newbies to think about 3 probable attack scenarios (who, when, where, etc.) and to regularly review them with suggestions for improvement.

Later, your new intelligence department reports that a big alliance may be coming to take over the area. You immediately send a few spies and host a military meeting, not in emergency, but without losing time either. You discuss two important things:

Military tactics

Now, the military side.

Before going deeper in the subject, I need to introduce a few notions:

Supply lines

In order to fight against other people, you need at least two things: weapons and people to use them. So you will need to build or import weapons on day or another.

Supply line represent all the logistics required to either build or import military (and other necessary) goods.

If you cut supply lines, the fighting will eventually end. It is usually hard to cut logistics completely, but attacking supply lines is usually a good mean to put pressure on your enemy.

Force Projection

In a war, you usually want to fight outside of your home for obvious reasons. So do your opponents. It means that your forces will need to move to the battlefront which takes time and efforts.

Force projection is the abstract representation of the ability to move your strike power easily and quickly.

It is important because travel time decreases your ability to respond to events and also decreases the effective time you spend fighting.

Force projection depends mostly on your technological capabilities and the territory you try to control. Logistics and communication are also important for faster form-up.
Also keep in mind that it is easier to fight on known locations, and even more if it's homeland.

Asymmetric warfare

– So Kirk, what do we do to win this war ?

– Throw max people and big weapons into the enemy face.

– Yeah... maybe... But what if it doesn't work ?

– Throw more people and more weapons into the enemy face.

– ...

That's a good theory. But you will eventually end up facing opponents with more people and weapons than you...

Here comes asymmetric warfare into play. It is the art of leveraging damage to cost ratio.

Guidelines

Now, I can give you a few tips related to military tactics.

Don't be predictable

Do you remember the "Knowledge" and "Anticipation" chapters ?

Don't let your opponents plan ahead. If you become predictable, you will get countered.

Maximize damage to cost ratio

This is pretty obvious. But how do you do it ?

Use your strengths and abuse your enemy weaknesses.

Here, your ability to identify and use strengths and weaknesses must make the difference.

Strike where the enemy is weaker and where it hurts him the most (this will depend on each enemy).

Also, keep in mind that a lot of events will give you good opportunities. Don't miss them !

Keep your enemy busy

As long as your opponents are dealing with your attacks (or more generally, your actions), they are not attacking nor planning to attack you.

So try to keep them busy as often as possible. But be careful to not burn out your troops either.

Small guerrilla attacks are perfect for that and will slowly get rid of their nerves.

Choose your fights

You cannot win every time and you should not even try to do so.

There are fights that you want to win at all costs, but there also also some you can afford to lose.

In the latter case, you can either:

Keep morale up and transparent communication

Keeping a good morale is important. Without it, rigor will decrease, people will become less interested and overall, your effectiveness will greatly decrease.

Get people involved, keep them informed of what is happening, what are the impacts, what they can do to help, etc.

But never even try to lie to your troops (this would have disastrous consequences). You can give false intelligence to your enemies, that's fair game, but doing so toward members or allies will hurt you in the long term.

Turn every event to your advantage

Try to turn every event to your advantage or, at least, get as much positive returns as you can. Most events are not totally good or bad. Even if it is bad news, you can probably profit in one way or another.

A good strategist does not only react and counter, he must also shift situations to his advantage. Adjust your plans, thinks about consequences, for you, but also for your environment. How other entities will react ? Can you influence them to help you in a way or the other ?

For example, if an enemy is attacking your territory with overwhelming forces, it means that his territory is probably defenseless in the same time. Can you backstab him ?

Use intelligence and counter-intelligence services

Knowledge is the domain of intelligence services. That's literally their job.

Use them, like... a lot. They are the key in winning big wars and history demonstrated it several times (be it in real life or in games). Once again, the more you know about the enemy, the better you can anticipate and counter him.

These awesome guys can also give false intel to your enemies and trick them into under-estimating you (or over-estimating which can be as good depending on the situation). You can also plan traps if you are careful enough... But the best thing is, even if the opponent does not believe it, they will never know what is true and what is not... leading to a lack of information which is as bad... mission success sir !

Use the right tools for the right situation

"Bigger" does not always mean "better".

The good answer is to assess what you can encounter and choose the best available tool for the job. Have I said "available" ? Yeah, so that means you need to have it handy, right ? Of course, you made a reserve of a large variety of weapon, did you ?

Conclusion

We could discuss forever, but I think this is the more important.

I hope this guide was useful and that you will use the information wisely.

Ryanis