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Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Team

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  • Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Team

    Introduction

    There's been a lot of discussion around tweaks to the server and how to shape it. Those are important things to nail down in the opening month, but I think we also need to spend some time talking about how we can make the game itself better as individual players, particularly at the SL level. At the Squad Member level, this is about expecting good things from your Squad Leader and other members. Raising our expectations for each other will lead to a better overall experience. So here's my point:

    You should always play with objectives in mind with the goal of overall victory. If your actions aren't designed, within the framework of TG, to achieve overall victory, you are hindering your team. This is important because while the game is a squad based game, each squad depends on each other squad.

    So ask yourself with everything you do:
    Will this action help my team?

    There are a lot of ways to do this, and there can be many differences in opinion on how to do it, but what we don't want is for squads to do things just because those are the comfortable options for them.

    Sample Thought Processes To Illustrate

    To help illustrate how this line of reasoning might go to get to the "will my action help my team" follow me through several sample thought processes:

    1. My team holds the majority of the flags, so we have bleed on the enemy. My position defending this flag is secure, and it seems like all the other squads also have secure flags. We have enough time for the bleed we currently have to win us the game, so we don't need heavier bleed. Therefore, my squad should stay and defend this flag.

    2. My team holds the majority of flags, and I'm at a back flag that is unlikely to be taken quickly by the other team. But my team's other squads are under a ton of pressure in the middle of the map. I should either (a) go and help defend those flags or (b) take one of the enemy's back flags to remove pressure from the central squads.

    3. My team only holds 2 of 5 flags, so my team is under bleed. My squad is full of people who excel at defending from set positions, so pushing on a flag isn't in my squads wheelhouse, but I know that Crux's squad always loves to push flags. Therefore, I should defend even though my team is under bleed.

    4. My team only holds 2 of 5 flags and my team only has 150 tickets to my opponents' 300. Something needs to be done and it doesn't appear the other squads are able or willing to do it. My squad needs to attack a flag.

    Obviously these are simplified thought processes and there are hundreds of other things that could be going on. But my point is that a squad leader should be thinking about this type of thing and not mindlessly deciding whether to attack or defend based on what "feels" right or is comfortable.

    A Quick Note About COs
    This post is focused on Squad leaders, but very similar things can be said about COs. They have the time and vision that is hard to replicate as a SL, so they are in a great position to think these things through. SLs should follow CO orders because of this (and because it's the rule: don't want to get court marshaled!). But most squads are in positions where they need to make autonomous decisions quickly and decisively.

    Rooftops As An Illustration
    Let me illustrate in a different more specific way. BF4 is often a very vertical game. In any given map there might be 5 different “layers” of the map that you have to worry about. One thing that happens sometimes is that a squad will spawn on top of a building, brought there by chopper or elevator or whatever. This type of position is often phenomenal for getting kills and not being killed. Sometimes it can help your team win a map. Sometimes its effect is to remove a squad from protecting or attacking flags without helping other squads take a flag.

    Two examples:

    Flood Zone


    From here, you can provide a lot of support to ground level squads on not just one but TWO flags. You aren't directly on a flag, so if a squad sneaks in, you're still in trouble, but especially as the game progresses and all those hiding shelters go boom, air burst rifles and the like completely own the top, allowing a ground level squad to dominate. It also can control the roofs that approach from Echo, which is a great approach angle for squads trying to take B or C. There will be instances where a squad on the roof will need to get down and fight, but overall this position is a strong one. It's really annoying for players on the ground too, but with an overall point of helping the TEAM win, even as it gives gaudy Kill/Death scores.*


    *No, I'm not suggesting this is great goal, but let's face it. It feels better to kill more than die, and ignoring that motivating factor only hurts our ability to provide incentive to have good behavior, which is about achieving objectives.

    Hainan Resort


    Here's an example that I think is actually more typical. This roof is accessible by chopper or elevator. It's a pretty good spot for getting kills, but what it's NOT great at is controlling the map. C, which is right under you, can easily be captured from under you by a squad in a building or even armor rolling in. You don't have many angles to stop that. You can parachute down, but that's a quick way to die. Likewise, your reach into other flags is not nearly enough to provide true support for an attacking or defending squad. It's a nice place that's protected, but it's not a place that helps the team a lot for a full squad to remain on. It does have some tactical uses: it's a great place for a recon to laser spot armor and aircraft, and it's a great spot for an engineer with a stinger to help his team achieve air supperiority. But it's a situational place that doesn't lend itself to a full squad hanging out for a long time. And even though it's a cool place to snipe from, I don't think you're doing a lot of good up there. Maybe Lancer can shed some light on that.

    Lots of roofs in BF4 are like this one too. You get up high, but the angles just aren't there to actually help other flags. It's not a bad place to move through, but you need to think about it: Is this helping my team win?

    There are many other types of roofs too. For example, in Zavod, both C and D have roofs above them. But I think most understand these roofs are more situational because it's not easy to camp up there for long periods of time, and there's a series of underground tunnels that prevent the roofs from doing a lot of good.

    Conclusion

    My point isn't about roofs, though. That's just an illustration of how Squad Leaders need to start (to the extent they are not already) thinking about whether their actions are helping their team win. Just getting kills is not good enough.

    As a squad leader, expect to win the game through your actions. As a squad member, expect your squad leader to make choices that help your team win. As a CO, help your squads make decisions that help your team win.

    A quick note about winning. This isn't about winning at all costs. This isn't about not losing gracefully – losing is part of winning. This is about working toward a common goal with the rest of your team, and in the case of conquest, that is to make the other team lose their tickets faster than your team does.
    Last edited by Zoraster; 11-10-2013, 04:04 PM.
    .

  • #2
    Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

    Great stuff Zoraster, and have +1 for it!

    I completely agree, and having just come off my first afternoon of serious playing on TG server (as dsteel0), the SL thing was something that hit me pretty clearly. This game is fast paced, and the whole notion that an SL is a mobile spawn point seems to have been forgotten, but is critical. Pushing is not always the best options, an SL is far more valuable to their team if they are hanging back and playing a role which suits being an SL. Sniper is not such a role for example, though given the SOFLAM they carry, that's arguable.

    I don't SL often, so maybe that's easy for me to say - though I love helping an active SL achieve their goals, that's what I 'm there for, but I agree a little more thought could go into some decisions. I'd rather stay at a back flag and defend, without firing a single bullet if the situation demands it, if the good of the whole is achieved, as opposed to thinking we have to single-handedly attack every flag.

    However, I think it's unfair to say that you should "expect good things from your squad leader". Yes, if they're experienced, but similarly we should assist the SL in their goal and if they are inexperienced, perhaps suggest some movements which may benefit their decision-making.

    I think we also need to spend some time talking about how we can make the game itself better as individual players
    I also agree with this - if we don't there's no TG. You can put all the server rules in place that you want, but without each individual stepping up, there is no TG!
    Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim - Ovid

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    • #3
      Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

      Great post Zoraster. A skill that every SL needs and that takes time to develop is the ability to read the bigger picture of the game and understand the dynamics of it as a whole. Being able to do this allows you to predict where the enemy is likely to attack next, what their flow is. Then you can act accordingly and stymie them in the appropriate manner. If you want to be a good SL, then become a student of the battlefield. Get a feel for the push-pull. Realize when it is the right time to hold, when to push. Know that it isn't just the flags that are valuable, but the transitions between them. Always keep an eye out for terrain and use it to your advantage.
      TG-3rd Special Forces is Active and Currenly Recruiting!





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      • #4
        Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

        Floodzone rooftops are the bane of the map... just too good.

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        • #5
          Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

          Originally posted by Lyramion View Post
          Floodzone rooftops are the bane of the map... just too good.
          Wait a second there! I've been seeing a lot of enemies coming up the stairs to get to the roofs on that map lately! We can no longer assume that once you're on the roof it's clear to shoot down without having someone watch your back!

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          • #6
            Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

            The rooftop I was talking about is inaccessible by stairs.
            .

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            • #7
              Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

              As a disclaimer, I do not own BF4. I am still undecided. But I have considerable experience with BF42 all the way through BF3 including competing in the 21CW tournament.

              I disagree with pretty much with all of the scenarios in the original post. That is the old way of playing and it no longer works. We tried it in BF3 and got our @$$es handed to us. Literally went 0-18.

              Sitting back with a majority of flags allows the other side to dictate the location of the battle. The enemy will overload a single point and put your side on the bleed. You always want to dictate the location of battle. You want to fight over flags that *they need.* Not flags that you need.

              Here is what we did that worked very well...

              Scenario:
              • Map = Caspian Border Conquest Large
              • Side = US
              • Role = Line Company (grunts...not manning armor or air)
              • Primary Objective = Take and hold flag B (Checkpoint) from infantry
              • Secondary Objective = Take and hold flag D (Hilltop) from infantry
              • Tertiary Objective = Take and hold flag C (forest) from infantry
              • Squad = 4 players


              Once we had taken our primary objective (flag B) on round-start we defended for only about 30 seconds. Just enough time to set our passive defenses (anchor the radius with C4, etc.). Then, I (as squad leader) would immediately task the rest of the squad towards other flags.

              Only I, as SL, would stay back as a defender. The only defender. I would play as recon (with an SMG, MAV, and beacon). I would be behind the flag but set the beacon in front of the flag towards their next objectives.*** I would communicate enemy positions using the MAV while keeping an eye on the flag.

              My point is this...we were always attacking. We had a priority of flags. The squad would only come back if there was an active threat at Checkpoint. Otherwise, it's a waste of manpower to have a full squad at a cold flag.

              Setting 1 squad per flag and defending a ticket bleed is the old, attrition style of fighting. The most decisive advantage you can bring to bear is a manpower advantage. But you have the same number of players as the other side. So your only hope is to pursue transient (temporary) manpower advantages by stripping players from cold flags. Then you move-on leaving only a skeleton force (1 SL) at the flag.

              So I agree with "make the best decision" but strongly challenge you as to what is the best decision. Your goal should be to induce such a state of *disorientation* (very specific word) that the enemy collapses before you and you push them back into their main. To achieve that you must...
              1. Always be on the attack
              2. Always pursue speed (overwhelm their senses)
              3. Have a child's mind. No yelling or panic over a lost flag. No "must have," "must retake," or "must defend" flags. If the enemy takes your flag, dispassionately evaluate an enemy flag that you can take quickly and effectively. They probably left a different flag exposed.
              4. Decentralize the order of battle (saddle orders, aka SL pursues opportunities by redirecting squad). Commander chooses the amount of focus with primary, secondary, an tertiary.
              5. Pursue transient advantages in manpower and firepower through saddle orders and relying on passives (observation and denial tools) for defense.




              (***Yes I know that an SL with a beacon means that the squad can no longer spawn on me. The goal was redundancy, not diversity.)
              Last edited by Ski-Racer; 11-12-2013, 12:20 AM. Reason: fix bullet list

              http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf4/user/58Congo/

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              • #8
                Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                A few points:

                1. It feels a bit rich to comment like this without having even tried the game. Your post reads like an attempt to relive glory days -- despite the accusations of doing things "the old way." I didn't play much BF3, but I suspect there are a number of things that make what you're saying less applicable.

                2. I have no idea what you mean by 0-18.

                3. My points were not about whether attacking or defending is the smart play. I am an aggressive squad leader and prefer to attack. But having some squads attack and some defend is usually the correct solution, especially on maps with fluid flags where back flags can be reached without too much effort. I'd make arguments based on the actual maps we're using, but it would be meaningless to you.

                Regardless, the point is that squad leaders need to think about these things. My concern is that we have squad leaders who choose courses of action because they are comfortable for them. They're the ones out in the hills without making any push in, sniping from afar. They're the ones on rooftops because they know they'll stay alive longer. They're the ones who don't react quickly when bleed is on. Or even they're the ones who had success at a location previously and like to fight that style and so they're going to stay there, hell or high water.

                In a way, I don't care what those decisions are. TG has a lot of different styles of players and squad leaders on here. My point is that people need to think things, and they need to put those things in context of whether or not they are -- in their minds at least -- helping the team win.

                Once that's accepted, then it can be easier to wrestle with the tactical and strategic implications of the choices we are making. But unless squad leaders and the CO are engaged fully with what they can do to win, none of that can happen.
                .

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                • #9
                  Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                  Ski-Racer,

                  You can't take 4 vs 4 tactics and apply them to full-scale 64-player situations. The balance of forces is different, and things simply do not work the same way. I too played competitively going back to BF2142, and extensively in BF3. The tactics used in single-squad or even two-squad competitions are just not the same. In a 64 player server you've got 6 full squads on each team. If the map has 5 flags and I hold 3 of them, I can have a full squad defending each flag and still have 3 full squads to attack with. Or, I can defend with 5 squads on those 3 flags and use a single squad for harassment to tie down enemy forces defending their back flags. There's so many more variables, and the force applications play out very differently.

                  Comparing the two just isn't valid.
                  TG-3rd Special Forces is Active and Currenly Recruiting!





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                  • #10
                    Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                    21CW is a tournament that had ranged from 20 v 20 through 32 v 32. I am not applying 4 v 4 tactics.

                    By 0-18, I mean that we went winless for 2 campaigns. This was vanilla BF3 so very current since BF4 does not look to be that different. We nostalgically tried to hold-on to the old ways of doing things that were "the 21CW way" since BF42. People with fresh ideas entered the campaign and turned it on its head. We had to evolve. Your original post seemed "pre-evolution" to me.

                    I hope to see TG in the competitive space like years before.
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMAGrPfy0Xg
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l12SxoawVZE

                    Perhaps there we can see a direct comparison between our philosophies and yours

                    http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf4/user/58Congo/

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                    • #11
                      Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                      Originally posted by Ski-Racer View Post
                      21CW is a tournament that had ranged from 20 v 20 through 32 v 32. I am not applying 4 v 4 tactics.

                      By 0-18, I mean that we went winless for 2 campaigns. This was vanilla BF3 so very current since BF4 does not look to be that different. We nostalgically tried to hold-on to the old ways of doing things that were "the 21CW way" since BF42. People with fresh ideas entered the campaign and turned it on its head. We had to evolve. Your original post seemed "pre-evolution" to me.

                      I hope to see TG in the competitive space like years before.
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMAGrPfy0Xg
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l12SxoawVZE

                      Perhaps there we can see a direct comparison between our philosophies and yours
                      I think part of the problem is you're viewing things through a filter that colors the way you read what Zoraster is writing. I 100% fully agree with you that there is no sense in having a squad sitting idle at a flag at the back of the map sitting around just in case that flag eventually gets attacked. The battlefield is dynamic, and SLs need to be dynamic in their way of thinking. That's why I wrote what I wrote. But it isn't always about attacking. It's about fighting smart. Reading the flow, predicting what your enemy is going to do and finding a way to stymie them. This may sound reactive, but it isn't. When done well you're basically crystal ball viewing, and then pre-emptively foiling the enemy. Sometimes this means realizing they are about to attack a certain flag that was basically undefended, and getting there ahead of them so when they roll in expecting nothing they get wiped by a well played ambush. It might mean anticipating enemy troop movement and attacking them en-route. It might mean attacking a back flag to make them react there instead of pushing their entire force forward.

                      The point is it isn't always about relentless attacking. That often just leads to wack-a-mole flag hopping which is a very inefficient way to play, unrealistic, and relies far too much on the luck of staying one flag ahead. It's about being adaptive, thinking forward, and acting appropriately to the battlefield you have in front of you.
                      TG-3rd Special Forces is Active and Currenly Recruiting!





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                      • #12
                        Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                        Also, for what it's worth, things should be read with the context in which they were intended. My purpose is to provide guidance for squad leading on a public server. Doing that and doing an organized competition is necessarily going to be far different. If the 2142 forums didn't mysteriously go "poof" I'd show you how I approached several competitions there with my planning and execution (although you can see the effect here).

                        I suspect you have this axe to grind and bring that to the conversation without really thinking about whether it's appropriate. I say this because your last post, in 2011, did much the same thing

                        Anyway, point is that this is designed for how squad leaders should approach the game in the TG server on any given day. The samples are provided because they show a thought process designed to think about how to win, not because of any inherent correctness in their tactics, though I believe all are appropriate depending on the situation.
                        .

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                        • #13
                          Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                          Also talking about competition and TG in the same breath is a waste of time. There is no way you can wear the TG tags and be successful in competition gaming. In competition gaming you use every tactic and game glitch to get every advantage you can. At TG we are playing as close to reality as the game allows and are not allowed to game the game just to win.

                          These two are polar opposites!!
                          sigpic

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                          • #14
                            Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                            Can we not get into the TG/Competition argument here pretty please? I'm restraining; I hope everyone else will too.
                            .

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                            • #15
                              Re: Decisive and Thoughtful Squad Leading: Your Decisions Should Always Help Your Tea

                              Excellent post! I usually prefer not to SL (if I got handed the role I'll SL accordingly, but typically I prefer to be a squad member), but I have a similar line of reasoning when I am SL - taking current flag possession and ticket count into my decision making. I pretty much wholeheartedly agree with you, but there are certain things I reconsider when I play devil's advocate.

                              "Playing not to lose" - I'm typically content holding a flag if we have the flag majority, but there are certain situations where I feel even if we have the bleed we're not doing enough to guarantee a win. We all know that any given round can swing at the blink of an eye, and a comfortable lead with bleed can suddenly flip to being down 2 flags and in a situation to lose the round. Like I said, I'm comfortable defending a flag for an entire round and bleeding out the enemy, but there are situations where I feel it's more beneficial to increase a lead instead of simply defending it.

                              Dictating where the battles are fought and keeping the enemies on their toes - There are some points that I agree with Ski-Racer. As an attacker, I LOVE to flank. I thrive on positioning myself to have a jump on enemies. As an attacker, I feel I can dictate the flow and pace of a battle better than I can when I'm defending. Obviously, this is just my experience... I guess I'm more naturally suited for creating punches than I am for reacting and countering them.

                              In the end, I feel like this is where having proper command structure is sorely missed. Even at it's current implementation, I feel there isn't enough tools & features for a commander to properly coordinate a team. I've seen TG teams with commanders operating well at a squad level, but uncoordinated at a team level; Multiple squads with similar SL mentalities often assigning redundant objectives, whether it be defense or offense. We really need to find a way to get SL's working together, that way the CO (or at least the SL's) can come up with these decisions collectively.


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