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Rod Robertson

Just Jack:

Presumably it is your job to command the Soviet forces on the board. Therefore you are either a Soviet Army commander in charge of the army assets at your disposal or you’re a GRU commander running the Spetznaz SOF operation. The moment you take over both operations, you have defacto placed both groups under the same command as you are controlling the actions of both during the game. So the argument that they are both operating in parallel but separately in the same battle space is a bit inaccurate given that you, Jack, are making the decisions for both.

I would liken the situation to air strikes and artillery programmes. In games with these assets, the controlling player has little or no control over such assets if the game is set up to accurately reflect the battle space. The air strikes happen where the FAC orders them to happen and this may or may not coincide with the wants and needs of company and battalion commanders whom the air strikes are supporting. The airstrikes could attack any targets of opportunity, including your own forces if mistakes are made, or prearranged terrain/infrastructure targets at prearranged times. Likewise an artillery programme set up before the game begins, according to a schedule and using only a pre-registered target list would be largely out of a commander’s control during the battle/game even though the shells keep falling through out the game. The ground force commander might be able to call for the cancellation of a mission but not otherwise alter the predetermined programme. Only limited control of artillery directly under the command of a company or battalion commander, such as a battery of 120mm mortars, might be able to actively support an attack by allowing the controlling player some latitude in mission choice and then only if that battery was not moving or was not having its fire redirected to other targets by higher echelons of command.

So, like the air strikes or the artillery programme, the Spetznaz operation might be better handled in a  pre-programmed sense, with specific goals and timing as part of a predetermined plan made before the game and played out as the army units fight in support under the direct control of the player. The plan could be modified as events on the ground unfold but that modification should not be completely up to the controlling player. It could be controlled by a pre-game contingency plan, or less satisfactorily by random events rolls to see how it progresses. That is to say that the SOF operation should be able to be influenced by the actions of the player but not directly controlled by the player. The other alternative is to reverse the roles and have the player control the Spetznaz operation and have the ground forces in support played out automatically.

The best solution is to have two separate players control these separate but supporting elements so it’s time to abandon the whole solo thing. So, either dragoon the wife into playing along side of you  or cancel the kids’ baseball and conscript them into Just Jack’s Pendelton Street Military Academy for very junior officers in order to begin a very rigorous and accelerated training programme in air-land battle operations and special forces training. Or, and I say this with full knowledge of the likelihood of dismal failure, you could take the radical and revolutionary step to make some new ‘friends’ and invite another person or two into Jack’s world! Hee-hee-hee! Gotcha!

Cheers and good gaming.

Rod Robertson.