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Monday, 7 November 2011

Xericor's Tactica: Choke Points

Xericor's Tactica – Choke points

What do you do if you are facing a numerically superior force, hell bent on over running your position with their weight of numbers? The answer is quite simple – choose a battleground that restricts the enemies ability to bring his numbers into play, in other words fight them at a choke point.

Anyone familiar with recent movies has no doubt probably seen a little film called '300', in which King Gerard 'Leonidas' Butler and his small force of elite Spartan Warriors take on the might of the Persian Empire and its 100,000+ troops. The way they do this is to form up in a bottle neck between 2 cliffs and never allow the Persians to use their superior numbers.

Although the film is a dramatised version of events, the actual real world battle fought out in much the same way, and in military terms is a classic example of the Choke point strategy in effect. But how can we bring real world tactics into game play? In this article I hope to explore the use of the choke point in helping to reduce the enemies numbers and while I use Doom: The Boardgame as an example the theory is easily transferred to any game, board or online, where you are able to position units or buildings, and where natural scenery forms barriers to troop movements. In the photos that accompany this article, the walls form the natural barriers, but these can easily be trees, mountains, or buildings etc. depending on the game you are playing at the time.

Lets start with an overview of the situation. Our four heroes find themselves in a very tough dilemma. The enemy force is clearly superior in terms of numbers and fire-power and standing their ground and fighting would be suicidal, they need a plan!

Pic 1. The supperior enemy force have our heroes trapped

Pic 2. Birds-eye view of the map

From looking at the map we have 3 options – A, B, and C – on where to make our stand. Take a look at the board and think, where would you stand and fight?

Pic 3. The map with points A, B, and C marked out

Would you choose Option A – meet the enemy head on. From here you are in the thick of the fighting straight away, no skulking manoeuvres needed, its a straight up fight.

Or perhaps Option B – the half way point. They cant get past you, and you will be facing them on equal footing 2v2.

Finally Option C – pull back, give ground then form a new defensive line and channel the enemies attack?

Lets look at he Options in detail

Option A

Pic 4. Set up for Option A

We deploy our troops at the neck of the choke point, with the narrow behind us, and allowing the enemy to use the open ground. Where is the problem here? Its true that the enemy cant surround us, we have held off the attack, but look at the number of squares we occupy (and can attack from) compared to the number the enemy can hold. We have 2 attacking squares, the enemy can theoretically occupy 5, of which 4 can attack.

This means the enemy not only outnumbers us, but now out-guns us as well. Option A therefore is a very bad place to hold for us.

Option B

Pic 5. Set up for Option B

Now we have moved further down the corridor, we have a frontage of 2 and the enemy, despite their superior numbers also has a frontage of 2. We are now on equal terms and have succeed in reducing the enemies advantage. Perfect you would think, but is it the best choice?

Option C

Pic 6. Set up for Option C

We have withdrawn all the way back to the open space at our side of the map. Can you see what has happened to the enemy once they pursue us? The vast numbers of the enemy are now funnelled into the corridor. The enemy has a frontage of 2, while we with the space to operate, have a frontage of 4. In other words we can bring more guns to bear on the enemy than they can on us, and the tight space of the passage means the enemy can only move through in pairs. Everybody who chose option C, well done, we shall make a tactical genius of you yet!

In Summary -
When viewing a map, or board, look for areas that restrict movement. These can be used as choke points when you are facing a superior foe. When the time comes that you need to use the choke point always remember to leave the tight space for your enemy! Build your defences, station your troops, on the large open space closest to your side of the choke. Remember – maximize your frontage, restrict the enemies, and you will have made best use of the tactic: Choke point.

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