Battle Lab #2: Sequencing the Fight

By Brant Guillory 04 Sep 2006 0

What is Sequencing?

Sequencing is the process of arranging units on the battlefield such that a commander (or gamer) creates favorable matchups for his forces at the critical points on the battlefield. While this sounds simple enough in theory, the truth is that it can be difficult in practice for a variety of reasons.

First, a player has to determine where the decisive point on the battlefield likely will be. In some cases, that decisive point is in the instructions: "Seize the city of Bugtussle from the enemy." In other cases, it requires some predictive analysis (see the previous article in intelligence on the battlefield for details on predictive analysis) to know where the enemy is headed, especially if the mission is kill bad guys.

In some cases, sequencing is easy, especially in games where the player can control what units set up in specific locations. In other cases, it can be difficult, especially if some of the sequencing is designated for the player, such as reinforcements that are mandated to appear on certain turns.

As always, the examples discussed below follow some general US doctrinal principles, but are not bound by US doctrinal terms. Also, although these principles apply to other types of games (naval, air, etc) the examples focus on ground combat, since that's what I know best.

Ok, so what?

Hell, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

Players planning their future moves need to consider a variety of issues. Where is the enemy going? Why is the enemy going there? How can I stop them? Based on the best killing systems available, players should look to create the most favorable matchups for identifying the enemy, and then killing them. 

Sequencing is especially important in 'double-blind' games, such as Columbia's 'block' games or Avalanche Press' naval games. In these games, not unlike real life, fast units cover a lot of map looking for the bad guys. Once the enemy is located, moving units forward to engage in combat should focus on creating overmatches the enemy cannot easily contend with. 

Given the back-and-forth nature of modern combat, especially when mobile units are involved (i.e., not guerillas and light infantry, but tanks and APCs) there is an even greater need to plan for the sequencing of units. In this case, the matchups a player is looking to create are not merely the immediate ones needed to seize an objective, but also the anticipated ones in defending an objective. In these cases, a player needs to establish the desired end-state of units, and then plan backwards from there to organize them into the proper formations to reach their objectives in the order needed (see scenario 2, next page).

Scenario 1

In this scenario, the Soviet units have sequenced themselves such that they are making initial contact with a relatively weak unit. That unit can head for either OBJ A or B. Once the German units are located and identified, the Soviet player can bring forward his two high-attack-value tank units.

The German player has not successfully sequenced his units. He has his high-value units up front, minimizing the flexibility to redeploy them to meet new threats on the battlefield. His reserve is too weak to affect much damage on the battlefield.

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