How you define scale!

As the titles suggests how do you define scale for a given game?

Sometimes its obvious. Other times not so much. Some titles tell you – Tactical, Operation etc. So join in , let me know what you think about the following categories!

When I think of tactical games I think about units fighting in a sub part of a battle. Lock n’ Load and ASL readily come to mind, they are typically squad level engagements. OR lower level still would be skirmisher mode such as Patrol or Sniper!

When I think of Grand Tactical I think of many units/formations fighting in a battle on a defined field. An easy one here is GTS [Grand Tactical System, Devils Cauldron or NBS Napoleonic Brigade System, Austleritz]:

Of course the TCS system from MMP also to my mind falls into the Grand Tactical scale with the battalions of forces at platoon detail on the battlefield:

When I think of Operational titles things become fuzzy.

Usually I see operational as a series of battles fought over a campaign or a period of time in a given theatre.

For instance, if supply checking is involved it begins to feel operational. Thus Battle for Normandy might be Operational, but the constraints are pretty abstract as far as supply is concerned.

SCS titles [1-2 mappers such as Yom Kippur & Bastogne] :


feel Operational but are about a battle or small set of battles. Bastogne to me is tactical, but Yom Kippur and It Never Snows are Grand Tactical….I think?

Sometimes Operational can be a portion of a theater or the ‘operational plan’ executed to achieve a goal involving a series of battles perhaps A Victory Denied qualifies there or even Panzer Gruppe Guderian. Both of these also have logistical issues to be managed. Operational Combat System….is well operational as the name implies and has a heavy logistical emphasis that drives the game.


Pacific War is designed as an operational game compared to Empire in the Sun according to Mark Herman :

Strategic games, are theatre wide actions, or Front based, i.e. The Russian Campaign, Sekigahara, Fortress Europa [?]

Grand strategic, these will usually come down to multi theater in nature and usually politics, economics, technology and production are in play. Supreme Commander is a nice example of that.

So all that said how would you define the following?

1. Is CV Tactical or Grand Tactical?
2. Is the SCS game Crusader Operational or Grand Tactical?
3. Is Case White [GDW] Operational?
4. Is Churchill Grand Strategic?
5. The Russian Campaign Operational or Strategic?
6. Supreme Commander Grand Strategic?
7. Battle for Normandy Grand Tactical?

5 thoughts on “How you define scale!

  1. I’ve not played all the games you ask about – however:

    Churchill = grand strategic for sure – there’s no details in the “combat” and you’re making most choices on the “political/econ” side of things at the conference table

    Russian Campaign – strategic, but not grand strategy since you’re not really dealing with the economics/production side of things and the reinforcement schedule is laid out in a fixed format

    CV – I think is more tactical – like flat top – you’re dealing with individual ships and plane groups, making decisions on search patterns and attack load outs

  2. I see Crusader as more Grand Tactical than Operational. Interestingly, SCS has been used to cover subjects from the Grand Tactical (Crusader, Bastogne) to Operational (Stalingrad Pocket) to Strategic (Afrika).

    I would suggest that once issues of supply and/or lines of communication enter the equation, you have probably stepped up from Tactical/Grand Tactical to Operational.

    When an entire campaign is simulated, you have moved up to the Strategic level.

    And once issues of diplomacy and production are prominent considerations, you are working at the Grand Strategic level.

    What blurs things is scale. It Never Snows covers an entire Operation, but at a quasi-tactical (Grand Tactical) level. So which is it? Both, I would suggest.

  3. Tactical is at best classified as maneuver in the face of thr enemy such that it is geometric. So, you do a left flanking, fighting withdrawal, etc. It is minute to minute or hour to hour at best. The preparations are done ahead of time and friction with the enemy is high. It is very dependent on individual leadership and speed of thought.
    Strategic is best classed as a conflict of wills. Maneuver is not geometric but rather based on ideas, aims and the like. Methods of engagement are long term and is best thought in terms of month by month or even year by year.
    Operational is somewhere between the two. As such, I would classify Russian Campaign as operational. For a strategic game, I would classify Rise and Decline of the Third Reich as such.

  4. Strategic and tactical combine different elements.

    A tactical game (Grand or otherwise) is concerned about the combat maneuver and fighting itself over short periods of time. It also involved moving formation whose largest level is perhaps a platoon and certain games a company.

    Strategic Games are concerned with larger formations and time scale and sometimes abstracted levels of supply. It also deals with combat on a more abstracted level and hexes begin to cover large distances. (BTW Both SCS Ardennes and It Never Snows and Strategic games to me)

    Operational Level games start to deal with Regiments as the lowest unit of formation but usually a Division. Supply and other matters become Much more important Matters at this point and distances moved and turns can be in days weeks and months.

    Above this level you are really playing a political game mostly. Well not political but at the level that only exists for people like Eisenhower or in the case of the Pacific Secretary of the Navy and Army along with the joint Chiefs as Campaigns in this theater involved more than on CnC.

    My 2 cents Kev.

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