Monday, October 27, 2014

Supply Lines

Many of the notable works about military strategy (Art of War, The Prince, etc) talk at length about supply lines. Sword fighters often disregard those chapters because it rarely comes into play. While much of the more large scale, strategic applications will rarely be simulated by Belegarth, it did occur to me that sometimes we see a smaller scale of supply lines: respawns.

At WAR this weekend, it became paramount to control the flow of respawns, much as one might cut off supplies before a siege, etc. Those paths that connected the respawn point to an objective could be compared to a main supply route. By raiding or blockading such areas, a team could reduce the enemy's ability to reinforce or control objectives.

I may have swapped my colors around.  This is what it looked like during the first round (actual headband colors are opposite).  Not to scale, of course, but the path for the red respawn is more direct to the action, and is very difficult to cut off from its own castle.

Red team used this idea to come back from a large deficit in the second half. Rather than simply attack and hold the objectives, the team pushed past them to control the supply lines, leaving only a small reserve to secure the objective. Of course, this strategy was much stronger from the higher, more open ground which red team started with in the second round.

From the forest side, this strategy is much harder, largely because the open field allows the hill side free access to two objectives from their respawn point. That makes it only really possible for a strong forest team to choke off three points from the enemy supply route. The hill side can, with less people, choke off all five objectives from the supply route. Previous years saw some of this, but the forest side castle and respawn point were in slightly better positions to counteract blockades.  Due to the location this year, the blue respawn point doesn't force the enemy to fight on two fronts to siege the castle.

Correct team coloring this time.  Red team had all five points controlled early by blocking off the two main supply routes out of the blue team respawn.  Thanks to a sneaky group (and Liz, all her fault), they were able to deploy a small force behind red lines.

You can see in the above picture, that a small force of red team was able to tie up a much larger force, using the natural choke points and limiting the blue team's ability to attack anywhere other than a prepared front.  Because blue team needs to get out of this choke point in order to gain any ground, they have to be very aggressive in attacking.  This makes kill pockets and solid defense with support weapons extremely effective for the red team.

Valkyries (mobile respawn points) could act as forward bases, opening new supply lines for their team.  While often they end up being more of a tool for getting troops to the front faster, this role as a sort of supply base also allowed a team to break blockades with a small number of troops.  By taking a longer, more difficult path around the enemy, the Valkyrie and a small group could end up behind enemy lines.

It was thanks to this raid on the backfield that allows blue team some room to breathe and finally push out of the choke points.  Even though the group in the backfield was small, the additional casualties weakens the front line and runs through Valkyrie respawns quickly.  It also forces red team to take a wider front to try to block off the advance.

The backfield raiding, though, wasn't quite enough to stifle the damage already done by red team holding all five objectives for an extended period, but it did prevent them from gaining a decisive lead.  The final score was only separated by a single point (equivalent to 1 minute of holding your own castle).

TL;DR: The path to the respawn point acts as a supply route in traditional military strategy.  Take the supply route and you can control the area much more effectively.

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