The Operational Combat System (OCS) is a holy grail system for many. In players circles, critics are shunned, negative judgement about OCS are burned at the stake or better yet dismissed as fools who don’t understand what they have.
You would be a fool to offer any sort of radical changes to the iconic system.
With this in mind I present just such a thing! :).
Actually this blog presents to you no rule changes, but more of a call for a discussion about supply in the light of Dean Essig’s revelations in the BCS designer notes. Which frankly excited me more for OCS than BCS. I was imagining the possibility of not having to shuttle donkeys and wagons and trucks full of 1 Token counters across the Steppes of Russia or round the mountains of Sicily! The giddy thought of being freed of the shackles of accountancy (I took a faculty pass in College to get me thru it then…OCS is now my penance).
BCS which I think is going to be superb, based on what we have seen and read so far, does a curious thing to me. It shines a 10 GW spotlight light on the inherent flaws in the way supply is modeled in OCS. ..WHOA…..Sorry...Maybe flaw is too strong a word. It shines a light on the way Supply is modeled in the game system that makes me wonder if it ain’t time to revisit that bad boy! Lets continue to look at what Essig has to say about logistics:
What applies at the Battalion level would surely apply at the Regimental scale too right?
Sure. But wait, OCS is divisional scale. With 1/2 week turns. Really? Are you sure?
German, Soviet and Commonwealth forces all have break down units for the most part that are Regimental. Yes there are indeed limits to the number of break downs. Why? Likely counter printing costs, and play ability issues. This means we are playing with Battalions and Regiments more often than not, even if the time scale is different across different systems. As a player you end up using the most bang for the buck combat value units (CF & AR ratings) that cost the least to get into the fight. If BFS can evolve a supply system to manage Battalions of guys (probably with company break downs) into something more streamlined then why not OCS?
One element of the OCS system is the inherent static nature of forces and the lack of ability to ever really use arty (OCS Korea anyone?). In a combined game of Case Blue GBII you can have literally 100’s of units doing very little or nothing for turns on end.
Precision players max – min not combat results but Supply in OCS. “How can I squeeze that one extra supply point to execute my desired uber plan? ”
“Ahh, yes lets leave those motorcycle Bns in the rear, or lets not move that set of motorized regiments this week.”
Don’t get me wrong boys and girls. There is a sublime satisfaction from pulling of that massive un expected strike deep into the enemies heartland. but is the rest of the Army really chilling….please dont trot out the “oh you must imagine low level conflict along the front!!!!” canard either. Action must and did occur in many parts of a given front.
I think in a nutshell what Essig is doing here inside the guts of BCS is the same as he did to the combat system for OCS. by applying a random element (surprise rolls and a wide distribution of results for the combat system) he breaks the back of the ASL style, or perhaps its the Avalon Hill style accounting players hold on the game in terms of game play. You will be subject to variation..to chance and there can be no perfect plan.
Instead now you are forced to deal with a situation where you may not be able to use all the assets where you wanted them for what you wanted them for. Due in part to logistical foul ups, or day to day problems. The could end up being problems with this method inside BCS. There are many situations from the war histories that show plentiful supply was on hand for operations and the level of freedom to act was much higher than this new SNAFU table would permit. I imagine this can be handled with X activation free from the table or some similar factor.
It would be interesting to see a review of Supply for OCS and all of its effects with this new level of thinking that has been applied to BCS. The fact is that OCS is largely a Bn and Regiment level scale game in most instances with larger divisional units all able to be broken down to Regiment size generally speaking.
So there is some justification to take a review of how Supply is used, what mechanism could be refined, how combat and mech movement are applied and what impacts this has upon Trace supply constructs. This might change the value and use of HQ’s also.
This might be too big a change. It might not work. It might not be worthwhile!
But what if we had the choice?
What if there was a way to still a way to garner the feel and struggle of OCS’s logistical system without the fiddling with tokens and SP, trucks, donkeys and wagons with their carry distances and HQ Draw Throw ranges?
That could be amazing!
That could shorten game play time, increase the enjoyment and radically expand the potential market of players of this superb system.
Now. Would that not be something noteworthy to ponder for a bit?
The full designer notes are here: