Tactics: Terrain Analysis

Correctly understanding the terrain of a battlefield can often be the difference between winning and losing a game.

While carrying out research for a set of modern amour rules I am working on I came across the following extract from US Army Field Manual FM71-2: The Tank and Mechanized Infantry Battalion Task Force. The extract explains how a battalion commander can analyze the terrain in a combat area in preparation for an operation.

The procedure would be easy to adapt for wargaming purposes. While playing a game players can use the following procedure to look at the terrain set up on the gaming table and come up with a plan on how they intend to deploy and maneuver their forces.

Terrain is analyzed using the five military aspects of terrain (OCOKA) detailed below:
Observation and fields of fire –  Observation is the ability to see over a particular area. Fields of fire refer to the area a weapon can cover effectively from a given point.

Cover and concealment – Cover is protection from the effects of fire, concealment is protection from observation.

Obstacles – Obstacles are existing or reinforcing features that stop, impede, or divert movement.

Key terrain – Key terrain is any feature or area whose seizure or control offers a major tactical advantage.

Avenues of approach – Avenues of approach are routes by which a friendly or enemy force may reach an objective or key terrain feature. The S2 should consider both ground and air avenues of approach.  Mounted and dismounted avenues of approach include mobility corridors. Mobility corridors are areas within the avenues of approach that permit movement and maneuver. An avenue of approach is broad enough to contain sufficient mobility corridors to support rapid movement and maneuver of forces along its course. Avenues of approach are readily identified when NO-GO and SLOW-GO terrain has been depicted on a combined obstacle overlay. Once identified, avenues of approach should be analyzed (using OCOKA, ease of movement, and maneuver room) and then compared from both friendly and enemy perspectives. This comparison will help in identifying key and decisive, terrain.

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Baltic Flashpoint


Jim of “Jims Wargames Workbench” is currently working on a campaign based on a hypothetical conflict in the Baltic States between NATO and Russia called Baltic Flashpoint.

Check out his excellent blog.

Jims Wargames Workbench


Naval Command : Q&A

Here are a few questions that I have been asked recently about Naval Command.

 What scale models do I use?
 I personally use 1/3000 scale ships and for aircraft either 1/600 aircraft or for games with lots of air power I just use counters.

Why do I use this scale?
I use 1/3000 scale as they are probably the cheapest way to build sizeable fleets with each ship only costing a few pounds each enough ships for a good game can be bought for less than £20. A list of manufacturers can be found on the links page.

When is Damage Applied?
Damage is applied to ships immediately. This means that the initiative and order in which shots are fired is very important.

Is the damage rating of guns for the whole battery, or for each gun?
The damage rating shown on a ships data card is for the entire battery of turret firing at once. For example, a Udaloy class destroyers two 100mm gun have a damage rating of 2. This represents both guns hitting together

If you have any questions about Naval Command or any of my rules feel free to get in contact.

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artists impression of the new British Type 26 Global Combat Ship