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Friday, March 05, 2010

Learning About Reserves

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

One of the more difficult aspects of military operations to learn from games is the concept of the reserve. This is because most games (whether boardgames or computer games) are set up to put a premium on massing your forces to attack, or simply pick a good defensive line. In both cases the strategy is "all in". There is rarely an inherent advantage to having "uncommitted troops". Players rarely have to worry about things like exhaustion, or morale recovery after a bad defeat. In most games a battle starts and is decided before any "uncommitted" troops could be moved up, so holding out troops is a waste. The result is that by the time many players are adults, they tend to not think about reserves (although some do learn something of the concept from Sports where teams do have "reserves" to feed into the game).

Federation & Empire employs both a strategic reserve, and a tactical reserve, concept. When establishing defenses, players can look for opportunities to use "reaction movement" to bring unengaged forces to nearby battles (Tactical Reserves in effect). But the players are also allowed a limited number of "reserve counters" which they can use to designate "strategic reserves". This is a good example of teaching players to think about possible future enemy moves (one of the reasons to have reserves), and to use their reserves to try trap the enemy (reinforce that weak spot the enemy thought they would break through).