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[Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

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  • [AAR] [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

    For those who weren't party to the events, here's the basic rundown:

    1) During an amp station alert, we started to break out of the warpgate towards Sungrey Amp Station along undefended lines. As we started flipping the last base before the AMP station, we decided to attempt a fast break to hit the AMP station.
    2) We only were ready to attempt the break just after the base we were on flipped. At this point, the TR had mustered a defense and Blue squads/platoons had already converged on the AMP station.
    3) As we made our approach, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. A Galaxy crashed into the gate and blocked it with debris at the worse moment, and someone from another squad flipped their harasser in front of the lead Sunderer just as the shield diffusers went off, causing a traffic jam that got both sunderers caught in the open in a courtyard full of TR infantry. Needless to say, we didn't last very long.

    Here's some of the things that went wrong, from my point of view:
    1) Comms were a disaster. People were talking over each other, the whole thing became an infuriating, useless mess, and it took far too long to figure out who was doing what and what was available to whom. There was also issues with prox and platoon chat interfering.
    2) Due to the number of roles and specific equipment the plan calls for, the break attempt was not ready before the AMP station became available despite over 5 minutes of lead time.
    3) Resources were an issue that took time to resolve. We had the resources we needed, but due to previous expenditures figuring out who had the kit AND the resources took too much time.
    4) The raging battle provided an abundance of issues for us and threw a wrench into everything.

    My thoughts on this are that there was a gap between our ability to implement the technique in the timespan given and the requirements of the tactic. Specifically: with that level of comm discipline under those time constraints with that particular group of people as they stood, we could not execute the precise requirements of the tactic effectively.

    There are two ways to address this: improve the comms/training of the implementers, or apply the KISS principle to the tactic and make it easier to communicate and less brittle in the setup phase. I think both should be given serious consideration. In particular, that mess of comms should NEVER happen in TG... quite honestly, it was enough to make me want to rage-quit out of frustration before we'd even gotten on the road.

    For the comms side of the equation, any time we try a fast break or any similarly complex operation in the future, we need to adopt a strict comm procedure. Platoon chat is suspended (this would be a good use for "Mute Platoon Chat" in the UI) and the squad members in the fast break do NOT volunteer information or make comments except when the squad leader explicitly tells them to. The squad leader is essentially ASSIGNING kits instead of asking for volunteers or asking for people to sort themselves out, because that's ASKING for insanity. It's up to the squad leader to figure out who uses what kit, and if that ends up with someone using a less favoured/certed kit, oh well. Asking for volunteers causes everyone to step over each other and get confused, and also leads to the wonderful bystander effect issues that plague us when getting squad and platoon leaders. The squad lead should be directly asking certain people to take a specific role, and possibly querying them about their kit to see if they're up to it.

    An alternative to not asking for volunteers is to restrain SMs to text chat when the SL calls for things like "everyone who has the correctly outfitted sunderer type 1 into squad chat". The critical thing is to make sure to phrase it so that nobody thinks that "oh, someone else will do it". If you ask for someone who has the kit to step up, you'll have people waffling. If you ask for everyone who has the kit to type 1 into chat, it's a simple query that directly applies to them no matter who else also answers.

    The training side is a good one to work on as well, but frankly I don't think it's a very promising solution to the overall problem. While drilling the tactic would, in theory, get us able to perform it in a moments notice, that will only happen with a consistent crew and a mandatory training schedule. We need to be able to adapt to haphazard training if we want to see this tactic used more often.

    Simplifying the tactic down to the critical elements would also reduce the amount of setup time and make it more suitable to less trained troops. In my mind, the critical elements are to have the two Sunderers with their precise armament (the most finicky piece of the equation) a certed up infiltrator for recon, and a good mix of medics and engineers on the catwalks. The harasser, the specific loadouts of the Sunderer gunners, and the precise kit distribution on the catwalk are, in my mind, less critical and can be abandoned in a rush if they're not viable. Even without the ideal setup that's been devised, the tactic still holds water as long as the critical elements I've mentioned are there.

    We may also want to make another addendum, based on the utter chaos at the front gate that we experienced: always circle around to the least contested entrance of the amp station for the break, if at all possible. The chances of the front gate having something blocking the path are substantially higher.

  • #2
    Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

    I think drilling is still important, even if it means only certain people will get better at it. With any technique practice makes perfect. Inexperience can make any operation fail. We should make an effort to schedule a time to try this specific maneuver in a semi-controlled environment. We can move to the least active continent, and pick a lane that leads to an amp station. If we schedule it in advance that means we are sure to get the preparations right so we can focus on the execution. The less variables the better.


    • #3
      Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

      I agree with your points Star. I do think Emrys is also right, Training is important, at the very least for the SL's who are usually the same group over and over again. This will put it into their muscle memory and make it quicker for them to assign kits.

      As to the sloppy comms. I have been guilty of this lately too and I will stop! I find I get complacent after playing with the same group for awhile and relax my usual discipline. TG squads and Platoons should not have comm issues EVER! Especially when it is mostly TG personnel and with Admins and NCO's present!!!!!!
      If we have sloppy comms we are the same as the rest of the cannon fodder outfits. Tight comms are one of the things that set us apart from the unwashed masses.

      I am really sorry I missed this and promise in the future to tighten up my comms discipline.



      • #4
        Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

        From Star - "Here's some of the things that went wrong, from my point of view:
        1) Comms were a disaster. People were talking over each other, the whole thing became an infuriating, useless mess, and it took far too long to figure out who was doing what and what was available to whom. There was also issues with prox and platoon chat interfering.
        2) Due to the number of roles and specific equipment the plan calls for, the break attempt was not ready before the AMP station became available despite over 5 minutes of lead time.
        3) Resources were an issue that took time to resolve. We had the resources we needed, but due to previous expenditures figuring out who had the kit AND the resources took too much time.
        4) The raging battle provided an abundance of issues for us and threw a wrench into everything."

        I would add human error during execution and game bugs to the list as well. For instance, I was driving the rear sundy and as we approached the first shield I hit E instead of F and fell out of the bus. It didn't roll far but we lost a good 5-6 seconds of travel plus all our momentum before I could get back in. We were able to activate the diffuser and get through the first shield. The delay kept us out of the worst of the mess at the second shield. I was able to maneuver around the various wreckage and get a clear shot but it bugged out and we bounced off of it. Apologies to whoever I ran over during the subsequent and very short lived escape attempt.

        Part of the setup issue was the base we were staging from did not have any hackable weps terminals prior to it flipping. It took a while to establish a local AMS sundy so folks could swap kits. That cost a lot of time and was not helped by the comms issues you describe.

        In the future, I would suggest that the FB squad drop from the main platoon. That will cut out all the non squad, non essential comms that are a major distraction. You could then, if you wished, organize the FB squad into a platoon with squads/fireteams. You then have 2-4 SL/FTLs that will help you organize vehicles, kits and assignments. Benefits are streamlined comms and broader command bandwidth. Cons are loss of game provided positional info between the original platoon and the FB. I don't see why that would be a deal breaker though. We're mostly blind, game wise, as to where coalition units are but we manage to coordinate with NCC platoons just the same. Our peeps do need to be on Teamspeak though, at least the command elements anyway, to make multi platoon ops work.

        * *


        • #5
          Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

          I have a bit to add to the scenario... After a push on a different base had ended I had to go AFK to put my son to bed, when I come back, my squad lead was gone and the one we had left as soon as i got my headphones on leaving me squad lead which I had no problem being except that it did not happen in a controlled orderly fashion enabling positive control of the squad to be maintained. This occurred during Delta's prep for the fast break. I had issues getting my squad in order due to my comms being interrupted, mostly by the platoon leader. Due to this I was unable to prevent members of my squad from being the harasser in the front of the fast break column to flip blocking the column in the courtyard to be destroyed.

          In this sub-scenario I found the following to be significant issues:

          1. Disorderly Charlie squad lead transition - I cant say much about what happened here since I was only present for the last five seconds that put me in lead. Regardless what control there was when I stepped away was lost by the time I got back (about 10 min). And by then air vehicles had been pulled as well as harassers and everyone was doing their own thing and was only barely at the same base let alone organized.
          -- Possible solution: PL's take responsibility over orderly SL transition when they are aware a transition is to take place. Squad members raise the issue to the PL whenever the detect a transition that is not occuring in an orderly fashion.

          2. Jammed comms - I have a few thoughts on this:
          2.1 I believe it started to breakdown due to there essentially being two PL's trying to communicate in PL chat where one PL knew the plan and the other was less familiar and didn't sound to of sure what to do. This caused a lot of confusion through the rest of the platoon not directly involved in the fast break. In my squad which was not under positive control, this encouraged players who wanted to support the fast break to take their own initiative.
          -- Possible solution: There should only be one PL. Meaning, do a full PL transition until the completion of the mission the temp PL is to command. Or, the squad doing a special mission relays requests to PL as would occur normally (in a complicated event like the fast break this may not be best choice as this would clutter comms)

          2.2 Inexperienced Platoon leaders - I felt this had a role in last nights scenario but is also an issue I am seeing more as TG grows. I have noticed in many "new" TG members stepping up to platoon lead, a need for some mentor-ship on the comm standards and even lead practices. Specifically: they are often flustered with chores of command (understandably) and to compensate they flood the PL voice comms with commands (I term this as "command babble"). This significantly interrupts any squad level comms as PL has the priority. When this happens Squad leaders both new and experienced both I have witnessed/experienced have trouble keeping squad cohesion.
          -- Possible solution: My thoughts on this are strictly opinion but I feel that when new TG members actively want to platoon lead they should be taken aside and mentored by the more experienced after a day they have lead. This will produce more consistent platoons within TG which helps to preserve an image amongst the public NC and within TG the favoritism towards certain leaders each individual member has will be much less severe. This also will grow leaders faster and to higher standards. I would not condone PL's be mentored publicly in front of a platoon they are actively leading however, as this undermines their command. Nor do I believe this should be done by a murder board of the experienced but just one. Player apparent age should also be considered. A 20 yr real world military vet (new TG member or not) should not likely be mentored down to by a teenager in high school for example else other problems would likely ensue even if they have been in TG for years (I have witnessed this within TG, though it is rare).

          2.3 Back seat leading - This has many forms both direct and indirect. Mostly during the prep for the fast break I witnessed the less talked about version: the "indirect" version via the proximity chat and sometimes the PL chat. For the most part this was players with a legit concern for the time it was taking to prep, they would chime in briefly to advertise a concern whether it be that prep is taking too long, rushing people to hurry, or announcing that something is happening that may affect the plan. I don't believe raising these concerns is wrong however using PL comms or Proximity comms when the whole platoon is in proximity is wrong.
          -- Possible solution: There is a proper chain of communications for this and it should be followed. I had noticed that the chain of comms was also not being enforced strictly enough at the time as well.

          3. Charlie squad lead chaos - Coming back to my desk to find myself the squad lead I was neither expecting or prepared for. I had not prepared myself mentally so to speak to lead. Picking up the pieces difficult after the squad leadership breakdown and the squad manning was squandered to fill an elite delta squad. Charlie squad was left with few TG members and many Pug members that would require extra level of leadership focus in order to bring in line. Next when I came in the only standing order (despite the constant babble of orders) given my squad was to prepare to defend the present base which was overly defended as is. I found myself, like many, preferring to go assist in the fast break mission, logic at the time being the 12 men we had would not be enough to combat the quickly growing TR population at the AMP station. This was in fact wrong of me as it distracted me from regaining squad cohesion and should have focused on what i was ordered to do.
          -- Possible solution: Self evaluation. So essentially i was strategising when I should have been focusing on the tactical level of the order I was given. Also, I should practice leading more so its more comfortable for me to jump into like I had to do in this case regardless of the Pug to TG ratio. Though for situational awareness, I do have a family and it tends not to care if im leading a hand full of people in a video game, so i refrain from doing this during hours that my son is awake. If you have ever talked to me in game and i didnt respond, now you know why 9 times out of 10.

          4 Other thoughts:
          4.1 I believe Tactics, Techniques, Procedures (TTPs) as comlex and inflexible as the fast break need to be actively drilled/trained/practiced much more often in scenarios less demanding in order to bring our measures of performance (MOPs) and measures of effectiveness (MOEs) to expectation levels. Please forgive my military speak. As they say: Train train train, and when your done, train some more. Since this is a game, I think we can take out the train some more part. heh :)

          There are more but for the most part these are my lessons learned for me in addition to those already stated by the OP. Please forgive the wall of text. It ended up being considerably longer then I had planned.


          • #6
            Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

            Vlad brings up a very important point that I missed in my first post: we were in complete disarray due to the ad hoc reorganization that was done to get people who were familiar with the fast break technique into delta squad to pull it off. Unfortunately that included most if not all of the squad leaders, which I think was a huge mistake. Any alterations of the platoon structure need to be done with care.

            This is another reason I think a stripped down version of the technique that can be executed by a largely untrained or partially trained squad is important. Getting the "A-Team" together in a time crunch is difficult and disruptive, and while I acknowledge that additional training and drilling will improve the situation, I think the amount of training required to do the full version of the technique on a dime is probably beyond what we're willing to commit to.


            • #7
              Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

              This was my perspective on the break:
              1) Shunted into Delta for the fast break, I'm okay with that.
              2) Another TG member requests place in Delta for fast break. I offer to swap and run my harrasser in Charlie as an escort.
              3) Timer runs down on my harasser and it occurs to me that I can dump certs for Gatecrasher and provide extra firepower. So I do.
              4) We leave for the amp station, I take point with another (2 other?) harassers.
              5) Gal crashes in front of us. I duck left and get through the shield. I run broadside into an enemy Lightning parked just inside the shield. Something hits me from behind. Chaos reins.
              6) I get clear and rampage through the courtyard, am unable to recharge and get in through the second set of shields.

              From my perspective here's what went wrong.

              1) Comms. I'm not sure what went wrong, the orders given were crystal clear to me, I can only assume that it was a lack of general knowledge of what a "fast break" is from some who don't frequent the forums. Even so, "LOAD UP IN THESE TWO SUNDIES" is pretty clear, and should not have taken that long to happen.
              2) We launched too late. This stems a lot from #1, but in that situation I don't think we should have been waiting for the previous base to flip. We should be aiming to be on the next point as the last base flips, or even before it flips.
              3) We hit a contested entrance. Again, this cascades from #2, because the enemy had already begun to organize their defense. As we saw, it only takes one unfortunately placed enemy vehicle to cause chaos. What with the long recharge time on gatecrashers it doesn't take much to throw a wrench in the works. It could have been worse. Their could have been more armor, or mines, or the turrets might have been manned. I was sort of expecting us to loop around to the rear entrance when we were approaching.

              Overall? I think it was the right course of action to take, and it was the right choice to opt for multiple sundies and harassers rather than just one squad. Yes, we fell apart on execution, and I think we should do some semi-dry practice runs on lightly contested facilities when we get the chance. We should not give up on this just because of one unfortunate incident though. That amp station would have been a game changer.
              Teamwork and Tactics are OP

              Strait /strāt/ (Noun) A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two large areas of water: "the Northumberland Strait".


              • #8
                Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

                Perhaps remove the specific loadout requirements?

                We're essentially throwing ourselves into the fray to provide a distraction so the blueberries can arrive and not face a coordinated defense. We're ALL expendable, the only important part of this drill is to last as long as possible.

                From reading the Fast Break drill, three things seem to be required: two sunderers with gatecrashers, and a harasser with gatecrasher.

                Correct me if I'm wrong, but why have the engineer and medic sticking with the sunderers? I know the intent of having them at the sunderers, but you can't respawn at them, so just have two squad members man the turrets until the sunderers get destroyed, bailing out at the last possible second if possible. Example of something going wrong: the engineer exits the vehicle to repair, but since you can't choose to exit on the side away from enemy fire, the engineer jumps out in between the sunderer and enemy forces and gets slaughtered. So now the medic has to stop providing suppressive fire, jump out, and somehow revive the engineer so that the engineer can begin repairing the sunderer... That's a tall order for someone to handle. While the medic is messing around trying to revive the engineer, the sunderer may have already been destroyed, or the medic may have been killed.

                Having any non-specific SMs sit in the turrets: they fulfill the role of slowing down any forces coming from the base generator below the catwalk. The sunderers will eventually be destroyed, though: enemies coming through that area only have a few meters to run before they have defilade on the turrets, as the sunderer turrets can't lower their firing arc enough with the new design of the stations. Heavies don't have to completely exit the generator shield anyway. Pop out, fire the dumbfire rocket, slide back behind the shield. You can have that happening from outside the vehicle bays as well. The Sunderers have almost a 270 degree arc they must surpress: they're going to eventually be destroyed by massed fire with a single engineer having no chance to offset the damage.

                Have the harasser haul ass up to the catwalk with a swarm of squad members to start setting up an ad hoc defense to distract the enemy forces.

                Specific loadout requirements and positions over-complicate things. The more complicated the plan, the more likely everything will go to crap when something goes wrong. If SM#1 is supposed to take a very specific position on the catwalk, what happens when that SM dies? Just have everyone set up in the position they think is best, so long as it is on/near the catwalk.

                It's like any battle drill from the military: you have an overall goal, it's up to the leaders to satisfy the details on the fly. Take the Army's battle drill 1A (fix and flank). One team suppresses. The other team flanks. When the second team begins the flank attack, the other team shifts fire. That's it. Simple and adaptable.

                This post is a long-winded way of critiquing the drill. My solution would be to have SMs pull two Sunderers with gatecrashers, a Harasser with a gatecrasher, and have everyone else pile in. The driver and #1 gun stay with the Sunderers, everyone else bails to the catwalk. Harasser heads up to the catwalk. That's it.


                • #9
                  Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

                  I'm posting because the 'fast break' was my design.

                  I was there last night during the alert and the attempted fast break...........the fast break was never design to be utilized in the fashion it was used. The decision to use it was ill-timed. It was not designed to be used with a platoon sitting in the base under attack. The technique was not designed to utilize 2 harrassers which would clutter up the inside of the AMP station even more. The loadouts were designed specifically so that the base could be well covered and flipped in under 3 minutes. I think my thoughts on training are already well known.


                  • #10
                    Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

                    When the fast break was called out, it was perfect. I think what we did not realize is that blueberries would notice our push and move in. If it would have been TG only, I think things would have gone well. We hit North Grove, all perfect. We hit The NC Arsenal, very good. As we were capping NC Arsenal, blueberries passed through towards Sungrey. I looked at the map and saw a platoon of friendlies and > platoon of foes. The call-out was perfect. The resulting situation was not. Comms were poor, yes. Also, I am pretty sure several of our games crashed just as we were getting going towards the Amp Station. I called it out in TS, I heard at least 3 others. That sure did not help.


                    • #11
                      Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

                      What Rage said...

                      The fact of the matter is that the time for using the fast break had long gone. All of the mess which was encountered was a result of trying to rush the technique through.
                      When it was decided to spawn at the warpgate and head towards Sungrey AMP, that was the time to start organising fast break. The TR controlled two territories before the AMP, both completely undefended. The Fast Break squad should have been going through the AMP station shields when the rest of the platoon was starting the cap on the first base, with one of the squads leapfrogging the first base to be prepared to start the cap on the second.

                      I've always said that one of the most important aspects of the fast break is timing, now you see why I say that.

                      One more thing... why do I still see people asking what the sundy needs to be loaded out with or what rockets their HA should carry etc? I thought all of this was covered already.
                      It matters not what letters or numbers come before my name, I'll always be 1stMIP.


                      "It is all about being a teamplayer. Give a kitchen sink to a teamplayer and he'll find a way to support his squad with it."
                      - John_CANavar (Marshall & Founder of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Platoon)


                      • #12
                        Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

                        Just because the enemy was partially in position though doesn't mean it can't still be a useful tactic.

                        Hell, I've seen the Vanu break a fully locked-down amp station with 5-6 gatecrashing sundies. Granted, I've only seen it done once, but it was scary effective when we thought we had an unassailable position.

                        With enough people you can still fully lock down the point. Even if you're unsuccessful at holding the point until cap, you've been a huge disruption to the enemy's effort, forcing him to pull units off the walls and preventing them from pulling vehicle assets. It can break the stalemate at the walls and I don't think we should necessarily discard it just because the enemy has a significant presence.

                        Let's try it a few more times under fire before we write it off as an assault move.
                        Teamwork and Tactics are OP

                        Strait /strāt/ (Noun) A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two large areas of water: "the Northumberland Strait".


                        • #13
                          Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

                          My argument is the dismissal of soldier loadout requirements. I think that's an added bit of complexity that significantly slows down the implementation of the maneuver with small benefit later on while inside the amp station point room.


                          • #14
                            Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt

                            KISS is a sound principle to run by.


                            • #15
                              Re: [Oct 4th 2013] Failed Fast Break Attempt


                              I disagree that the specific kit loadouts and roles are not important. In fact, I think they are crucial to the strategy.


                              Other than that point, I agree with pretty much everything else that has already been said here. I was going to post several of those points myself, but you guys beat me to it. Thanks SS for posting this, constructive criticism and AAR analysis and discussion are how we improve!

                              One point I would like to add, is that I still don't think the upper Engineers have been repairing the Sundies. I say this repeatedly while executing the strat, but it appears to fall on deaf ears most of the time. This is a critical part of the strategy. If the Engis in the Sunderers need to exit the vehicle to repair, that's one less gun shooting and then he is also at more risk of getting killed while he is out of the vehicle.

                              Another problem I see is that there appear to be several people in game who still have not read the strat. Therefore, in order to increase the numbers of people in our outfit that know it (and potentially may cert into the required vehicles / kits) I am thinking about making a brief video explaining the equipment, kits, and roles as well as a few additional notes regarding the proper timing as well as when it may be appropriate to execute the strategy with more than 1 squad. I will make a separate post asking for volunteers for the filming part of the project, in that thread we can also hash out a time for filming that might work for everybody.
                              "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw




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