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Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

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  • Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

    A common thread with me is trying to find ways to punch above our weight, to succeed despite a disadvantage in numbers. I despise when it feels like the only way a fight can be won is with superior numbers, because it means that good play isn't making the difference. We've certainly seen situations where it CAN, where the smaller force was able to trip up or even destroy the larger force, but they seem rare, and even when it does happen sometimes it feels like the advantages are measured in single percents, instead of something outright decisive. I'd like to figure out what force multipliers are available to us, how prevalent their use is (both among us and among the enemy) and finally how much of an advantage that thing actually confers.

    In my ideal world, I'd love to be able to reach a quality of play where our squads can take on a force twice our size and either eke out a stalemate or win. That's a tall order, obviously, but a good one to shoot for.

    So, without further ado, I'm just going to list off some common force multipliers and my thoughts on them:

    Concentration of force - The biggest advantage of squad cohesion is that we're getting the ENTIRE squad on target instead of piecemeal responses. This is something the zerg rarely does well, that we typically do pretty well, and that other well organized outfits also are prone to do well. It's a massive force multiplier, and we've seen how effective it is against zerging forces that stream in one by one instead of in one big group. However, it's also an advantage we don't often get to enjoy to its fullest, because even partially cohesive enemy units will do a lot to even the odds, and any organized opposition is probably going to be on an even playing field in this respect. It also doesn't help that a large enough zerg will start to gain the concentration of force advantages of a cohesive squad, albiet without the coordination and responsiveness.

    Superior skill - This counts for a lot, just look at the chaos that occurs when Dasanfal drops in on a fight. I don't think this is an advantage we often get to employ very often, unfortunately. Yes, we've got a lot of individually skillful members, but we've also got a lot of newer or average players, because we're just not that kind of outfit. And, of course, we often run public platoons! As a result, I think our squads tend to average out to be about on par with your average blue squad, in terms of individual player skill. Additionally, the advantages of individual player skill are partially nullified by the requirements of maintaining squad cohesion; an extremely skillful solo player will be more effective than an individual member of a cohesive team because they are going to be fluid, responsive, and wildly unpredictable. They lose the advantages of coordination and communication, though, which scale up much better than individual skill.

    Vehicles - Seems like a roll of the dice, at times. In the right situations, your armour or air units will utterly demolish an enemy force and destroy/suppress many times their number without really being at risk themselves. At other times, especially as the enemy adapts to the presence of your vehicles, they can nullify your effectiveness, take terrain where you can't really contribute to the fight, or even gain disproportionate advantages over you. A tank column can be badly outmatched by a dedicated AT infantry unit in many situations, after all. So, super situational.

    Equipment - Obviously, equipping your squad for the task at hand is important, critically so in certain situations like anti vehicle roles. I'm not super convinced that it's a big influence in the majority of situations, though... the wrong weapon can be perfectly effective outside its designed range and situation (I'm known to fight in close quarters with a Warden, for instance) and your typical squad can cover most eventualities without specialization. Especially in an infantry fight there's rarely a big influence from equipment choice beyond ensuring a reasonable balance of support and assault classes, IMO.

    Logistics - Spawn logistics are critical for a zerg, but unnecessary or even detrimental to a cohesive squad in most situations. Except when under extreme pressure (IE, enough to wipe the squad without a chance of revive) it's something that can usually be managed without. Your typical zerg, though, is totally dependent upon spawn logistics, so this is a good place to look for a knock-out blow against a superior force.

    Good Cover/high ground - Positions that give good visibility, protection, and influence over important sectors are big multipliers, but not decisive because the enemy usually has the same. They're also temporary. As the enemy maneuvers, their vulnerability to your position will decrease and their ability to threaten your position will decrease. Good use of the terrain is a nice temporary advantage, though, and can give the sort of big multiplier I'm looking for.


    Looking over everything I've written, I've noticed a common theme: most of the multipliers we have access to (that aren't immediately nullified by the enemy having similar access to them) are situational, temporary, and opportunistic. Maybe obvious in retrospect, but it suggests that fluidity and the ability to react and maneuver are the most critical features. Cohesion is a necessary foundation for that; aside from a cohesive squad's obvious improvement in effectiveness, they're also just far faster to respond and move, as well as quicker to exploit these temporary advantages.

    As a platoon leader, it implies that I need to avoid the idea of static defense positions and become more reactionary, saving one or two squads for more aggressive and fluid manuevering. As a squad leader, it implies to me that I need to stop holding on to a promising defensive location long past its actual usefulness and instead be more willing to cede territory and maneuver when under pressure.

    I think I'm rambling. What are your guy's thoughts?




  • #2
    Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

    I think you are spot on. My 2 cents would be to be adaptable to the situation as it changes and able to react quickly.<-- Very often hard to do with public squads.
    The only thing I have been able to think of in terms of using our usually smaller Platoon is to deny the enemy their spawn points. Peck around their flanks and retreat before they can bring their entire force to bear on us. Maybe we should practice harassing and then retreating into an ambush we have set up?
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    • #3
      Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

      Hmm. That's a thought. Don't always have the luxury, but...

      Some scattered ideas:
      • Engage a large force with a squad at close enough range that they might be baited into a charge. Have a preplanned retreat path, and put down anti infantry mines in between there and your forward firing position. When they charge through and trip them, you'll be at the new firing position and be able to catch them in the open as the mines hit them.
      • Leapfrog a retreat with two squads in a retreat. You'll be moving at 1/2 speed and with 1/2 firepower, but will be able to disengage under fire and draw the enemy far away from their intended attack vector. Might be very nice in conjunction with a zerg fight, draw a portion of the enemy force in the wrong direction. Once they're far enough away (and spread out) you can wheel both squads in to destroy them.
      • Bait an enemy into a killzone. Say there's an armour column ahead: put one squad on point with enough AT to be a threat, and two others further back such that if the enemy attempts to close and surround the first squad (the most effective way for tanks to overwhelm and destroy an AT nest), they'll come into the sightlines of the other squads and get more than they bargained for.
      • Similarily, put a squad on a prominent defensive position that will gain the enemies attention, and then put another squad such that they explicitly cover the most obvious route to flanking or unrooting that squad without overly exposing themselves.


      Pretty much all of those are traps and ambushes, though, which, while fun and effective in a narrow scope, won't affect the flow of the fight too badly. Losing a squad or two of soldiers to a well-timed ambush is an inconvenience, not a decisive blow.

      Thinking about it a bit more, here are a few ways a smaller force can route or stymie a larger one in PS2:
      • Destroy their spawn options and make them vulnerable to attrition
      • Force them into a fight where their numbers are nullified by things like good terrain or chokepoints
      • Hit them with something they're not ready for, like a hit-and-run liberator squadron when local AA is light
      • Draw them off-position so that their numbers are being used unproductively
      • Rapidly manuever and strike targets or bases that the larger force has trouble responding to in any kind of proportionate or timely way



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      • #4
        Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

        Being able to redeploy a full squad into a specialized role quickly and effectively while the rest of the platoon stays engaged seems like a good overall force multiplier. Whether it's fast response AA or a quick infantry drop.

        I think we need to make better and more frequent use of missile toning squads. Enemy zergs with a strong armor component can sometimes be blunted if you can get into position fast enough and have everyone on the same target. Quartz Ridge -> Hvar and other canyons on Indar are particularly vulnerable to this tactic. But you have to have an SL clearly calling targets and tone.

        Broadly, any kind of infantry flying company will benefit from having a Galaxy on hand ready to handle the re-deployment. That fits in with star's assessment of these tactics being situational and opportunistic.
        In game handle: Steel Scion
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        • #5
          Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

          The new ability to redeploy to a Galaxy fits into that as well. Within 30 seconds, you could have your squad on a hill 500m away, assuming you don't have MAX units to lug around.



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          • #6
            Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

            I had a rather lengthy response but the time out demon stole it from me. As a result I'll just mention that I really like this subject and think that there is much to discover about force multiplication in PS2, but that we need to talk about what we are looking to achieve before we should contemplate Force Multiplication.

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            • #7
              Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

              Originally posted by Ytman View Post
              I had a rather lengthy response but the time out demon stole it from me. As a result I'll just mention that I really like this subject and think that there is much to discover about force multiplication in PS2, but that we need to talk about what we are looking to achieve before we should contemplate Force Multiplication.
              This is why we always copy the body of a long post before attempting to submit it. :P

              Nobody's said the obvious yet so... MAX units. Their high firepower, high short-term endurance and good long-term endurance when properly supported allows a squad to punch well above its weight class. (assuming terrain permissive to MAX units)

              Recon darts. They're a good thing.
              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".

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              • #8
                Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                Re: MAX units, Agreed. We've certainly seen the Vanu employ them to good effect, and they're a more persistent, less situational multiplier too. I think the NC might be a little disadvantaged here in that we've got a highly specialized anti-infantry MAX that isn't really well suited to the open field (even with mattocks and slugs, I'm not totally convinced it's up to par with a Vanu or TR AI MAX), but especially in an anti-vehicle role they shine, and they're obviously the best non-vehicle AA available to a squad.
                [MENTION=37421]Ytman[/MENTION]: Speaking for myself, I want to be able to consistently win even fights and be able to hold our own against a numerical advantage. The best moments in this game for me have been when we've take a numerically inferior force and utterly thrashed a bigger group through better positioning, tactics, and coordination, or made a dent in a big fight despite being a relatively small force. I want more of those.



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                • #9
                  Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                  Underbarrel Smoke-grenade Launcher coupled with Ammo Pack is a good Force Multiplier (it weakens enemy's numbers.)
                  Applicable against everything.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                    Flanking! - Hitting the enemy from the side or behind with concentrated fire so that some targets die before they can even react. Once they do, they're forced to fight in multiple directions.

                    Concentration of fire - SLs should prioritize targets for the squad to focus fire to make sure they die quickly, possibly before they can react. Killing enemies 1 by 1 is the fastest way to reduce the number of guns that can shoot back at you.

                    When engaging infantry, always kill the enemy medics first. If the enemy have MAXes, kill the medics, then engies, then MAXes/other. I watched a bit of a PS2 scrim or "Community Clash" I think, where one team was set up in a building with MAXes and the other team did exactly this. At first look it seemed like they failed a couple pushes, but by the third attempt you could see the enemy Medics were dead, having used all their revive grenades. The other infantry were killed, leaving only MAXes to be whittled down / overwhelmed.

                    Maintaining multiple spawns (and hiding spawns) - When the enemy have only your spawn room to worry about they can focus their entire army on X doorways and your whole team gets stuck (essentially, a bad force multiplier). Why try to run through the explosives/bullets and only then do whatever you wanted, when you could use beacons/sunderers located elsewhere? Not maintaining separate spawns makes things unnecessarily difficult IMO. Infiltrator cloak -> lots of running or wraith flash -> beacon well away from the fight.

                    Engineer Anti-Infantry turrets - These can entrench a position as they're hard to take out or rush. Indoor use is better than outdoors else you're liable to be sniped.

                    Mines - Anti-tank mines can be quite effective, especially now that they're smaller. Anti-infantry mines are harder to use effectively as you don't want to blow up friendlies and they have a limited benefit.

                    Disruption Grenades - Concussions, flash-bangs and EMP to incapacitate or weaken the enemy before rushing their position (mostly breaching). We don't make enough use of this and I think we could do with some practice.

                    SL establishes who's carrying these type of grenades before the fight. SL orders "breaching tactics", adding that the squad should form up and wait for ID#'s grenade -> grenade thrower calls the grenade -> SL orders "breach/charge" (flash-bang takes a couple seconds to go off, so don't run in immediately for those).

                    C4 - Particularly C4 Light Assaults, "C4 fairies". These are highly effective at destroying armor, MAXes and groups of infantry. Use a beacon or Gal drop to get behind armor, then destroy it while it obliviously sits still and shells your team.

                    While C4 can wipe out whole portions of a defense, it should be combined with a breach/charge otherwise medics will undo all of your work. This is something I'd love to see coordinated.


                    Looking over all the ideas in this thread I realize that most of my game play - solo, SMing or SLing - involves hopping between whichever force multipliers can be employed in the current situation.



                    |TG-Irr| MrJengles - You know you want to say it out loud.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                      Originally posted by MrJengles
                      C4 - While C4 can wipe out whole portions of a defense, it should be combined with a breach/charge otherwise medics will undo all of your work. This is something I'd love to see coordinated.
                      I've witnessed this (and have been part of it, as a MAX, charging) once in a Biolab, going to defend the SCU Shield Gen. It has impressive effectiveness. I'd recommend we train to throw concussion & explosives while breaching.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                        Making your victories stick seems to be a recurring problem. Wiped out a MAX crash? Better be sure to counter-attack hard, or the medics will undo that. Wiped out an infantry charge across open terrain? You've got half a minute before another one comes out of the Sunderer behind the hill. Putting withering fire on a hill and knocking down the enemy every time their poke their head up? They're 100% combat effective the moment you stop shooting as long as their medics aren't incompetent. In many situations it's very difficult to achieve a decisive or lasting victory.

                        Getting those knockout punches seems critical, then. Take out an enemy squad, and then IMMEDIATELY take control of the terrain they're holding to prevent revives. Remove the enemy Sunderers, Galaxies, and beacons, THEN start sweeping the base to mop up the fight. Avoid engaging the enemy head on in a way that won't permanently knock them down, even if you've got the tactical advantages you need to win that fight, because if you're not gaining any ground for your trouble the enemy will come right back in a way that nullifies your temporary tactical advantage, and then it's just a numbers game again.

                        IE, force multipliers are temporary, so the best bang for your buck is to turn your temporary advantage into a permanent gain.



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                        • #13
                          Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                          Excellent topic. Many good points listed above. I agree most with concentrating our FORCE as a multiplier. I agree with others but not as totally.

                          ***Edit/Added: My opinion is that the core requirement of almost all of these is disciplined squad members. A squad leader cannot execute any of these without squad members able to follow detailed orders quickly, precisely, effectively, and without hesitation. (Examples -- starstriker's concentration of force, Todd's quick adaptation, Jengles Breach with grenades, starstrikers taking and holding terrain from the enemy) I think my real point is: disciplined troops can execute plans poorly disciplined troops cannot.

                          How to get disciplined troops, that's a whole different forum discussion.
                          Last edited by Garthra; 02-19-2014, 07:50 PM.
                          The question foremost in my mind is "what will bring the most tactical fun to the server?"

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                          • #14
                            Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                            Originally posted by starstriker1 View Post
                            [MENTION=37421]Ytman[/MENTION]: Speaking for myself, I want to be able to consistently win even fights and be able to hold our own against a numerical advantage. The best moments in this game for me have been when we've take a numerically inferior force and utterly thrashed a bigger group through better positioning, tactics, and coordination, or made a dent in a big fight despite being a relatively small force. I want more of those.
                            It seems prudent to then discuss things relevant only on a tactical level right now.

                            First and foremost is 'Intelligence'. Maybe an indirect force multiplier but still one non-the-less. I think much can be gained, when talking about impacting the larger battles, from a direct effort of 'reconnaissance'. An Aerial element would be the fastest means for this (I remember Big [s]Gaay[/s] Man Al talking about how interesting the Liberator's gunner seat was as an observation platform). But there can be other methods as well (Airborne ops would favor an initial fly-by before drop), a 'Recon-Pulling' mission would be another option, a 'Vanguard Squad(not tank squad but what vanguard literally means)' would allow both an onsite force and hopefully an assessment of the situation for a PL, moving to vantage points by terrain before arriving on battle, and finally communication with other groups already at the battle are all potential means to gain an 'Intelligence' force multiplier.


                            A very important note made previously by you (how do you mention?) is that Spawning Logistics is the crucial element for most battles here. Assuming that we are a defensive force (I.E. our territory is being attacked) our option is to eliminate our opponent's logistics force multipliers. Specific and precise method can be crafted to destroying a Sunderer and maybe we should look into this. Perfecting a method to quickly and suddenly destroy enemy Sunderers would be a huge advantage.

                            Now I would caution you about 'thrashing' a superior force with a numerically inferior force when on the offensive. There is a reason the 'Rule of 3' was favored for a very long time. Numerical advantage has always been a critical part of war and this simple fact can't be changed. To affect what you want, offensively, it might be better to focus on keeping Numerical Advantage in the immediate area at all times despite potentially being outnumbered in the greater area. This is the formerly mentioned Force Concentration principle.

                            When taking a Control Point we must have, at the point of action, more people than the enemy does. This is normally easy as most factions don't defend their territory. The rub is that when we take the Control Point we are now the defenders and are forced to be static. This allows the enemy ample time to amass a reserve that equals or surpasses your numbers while you have no ability to prevent this. They now have the initiative to dictate battle terms. This is why so many groups, when offensive, move off of the CPs once captured and proceed to 'blockade' (cough cough camp) the respective spawn rooms.

                            Ultimately, on a tactical level, I think Garthra hit a very important point: some of the best force multipliers can be gained from troop cohesion/discipline. I'm not sure if that should be discussed here but I think we can discuss what forms of cohesion/discipline/methods/tactics can help us out.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Force multipliers... what do we have, and how much do they matter?

                              I agree with regards to the importance of intelligence. However, this game moves REALLY fast, which complicates the issue. The best intelligence is real-time, eyes-on intel like what we've done in the past with air squads where a forward spotter picks out targets. That level of detail gave us everything we needed to pick apart the enemy at low risk and high reward. A liberator run can definitely provide a great set of eyes on the battlefield, but it'll be a limited snapshot (if the enemy is driving them away with any degree of efficiency) or pointless (if the liberator is allowed to loiter and thereby mop up the fight on its own). I like the idea of sending a squad ahead to provide a foothold into the battle with the intent of providing intel. Maybe an interesting variation on that might be revisiting the idea of Harasser squads with an eye towards battlefield recon instead of only enemy asset harassment.

                              In terms of Sunderer killing, I've seen a few things work really well:
                              • Securing the perimeter of a base with armour and mopping up everything on the outside
                              • Running a Reaver CAS squad with spotter in a separate platoon, and doing alpha strikes on the PL/Spotter's targets
                              • Dropping from Galaxies directly onto known Sunderer locations and wiping them out that way
                              • AT Infantry squads positioned to stop fresh Sunderers from having easy access


                              I don't think we run ANY of those often enough.

                              Agreed with regards to force concentration. I expect that if we've got 5 guns pointing at 5 of their guns, it's a complete toss up. The key always has to be bringing as much of our force to bear as possible while keeping contact with as small a portion of the enemy force as possible. I'm not sure what you mean about rule of 3, though: the only military related concepts a quick google search turns up are the rule of thirds (only half of your army is on deployment, the other two thirds are recuperating and preparing to deploy, respectively) and the idea of having each individual soldier only worry about three things, which is more of a C&C thing. Could you elaborate?

                              I think, given the nature of Planetside, it's going to be much easier to hold or defeat a larger force on the defensive, or in a clash on the open field, just because the defenders are more difficult to shut down logistically. You can still neutralize their hard spawns by containing them, but you can't kick them out of the fight entirely.

                              Cohesion is the single biggest predictor of squad effectiveness, IMO. It's definitely worthy of its own thread.



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