by Farsight designer Jamie Jolly
Throughout history there have been many military doctrines that link theory, historical knowledge, and often just experimentation into practicable principles of engagement. In Farsight, which is set in the near-distant future, players control conflicting corporations, each of which has assembled an army of both Battlefield units and hidden ‘Specialist’ units, to crush their opponent.
But despite its sci-fi setting, Farsight’s versatility can make a study of historical warfare useful. In this series of blogs we are going to look back at some of the most effective and intriguing tactics used throughout history, and how they can be applied to a game of Farsight.
Blitzkrieg was, in typical Nazi fashion, an unsubtle but brutally effective tactic employed by the Germans during their expansion throughout France and Poland during World War II. The principle was simple: a highly mobile armoured force forms a speartip that is driven through the enemy’s frontline, reinforced by aerial and artillery support. The armoured force’s primary objective is not to inflict maximum damage, but to penetrate the line, allowing the armour to follow through and attack support forces like artillery, and cut off reinforcements.
This strategy was effective at unbalancing the enemy, as the previously unified fronts found themselves split into separate encircled groups now harried on two fronts.
But rather than linger and harass the divided fronts, the armour avoided lengthy engagements in favour of moving swiftly from objective to objective. The key to pulling off this tactic lied in the blinding speed with which it was executed, and the apparent irrationality of it. This forced the enemy to take a reactive stance, creating an ever shifting battle-line which kept the allies on the back foot for much of the campaign.
In Farsight these types of maneuvers can be put to good use as an opening to your campaign.
Two units in particular lend themselves to the lightning war, the Prototype and the Assault mech units, both of which are ‘Fast’ units allowing them to move one extra square per turn. They have high attack values and can destroy individual units very quickly. In the early game, when Supply Lines are still forming and defenses are developing, the units you choose to bring on first can have a big impact.
By bringing a highly mobile force and concentrating that threat into a small space, the spear can penetrate the line destroying one unit and quickly moving on into the enemy’s back line where artillery can be hunted and objectives gained quickly.
This leaves your units with a valuable ability to flank or rear-charge the enemy, and support weaker units as they keep the enemy busy. The enemy here may attempt to react to the armoured assault, but if the assaulting player can keep the distance whilst picking off prime targets, the speartip can dismantle the enemies plans.
Countering a Blitzkrieg
Like in real warfare the primary danger to a lightning strike is the loss of momentum: should the enemy manage to wither the original impact, or bog down the armour by deploying with deep lines that allow for counter attack, the tip can quickly be blunted.
This is best done by having armour units form a rearguard to your force, close enough to reinforce each other should the enemy break through.
Additionally, by committing some of their most powerful and expensive units early, the assaulting player takes a lot of risk. Artillery is particularly effective at softening up valuable units: a concentrated shelling of the speartip can break the back of a charge, causing the enemy to retreat rather than risk losing the cream of their forces.
Off the battlefield, some well-placed saboteurs can cripple the movement of the units, stopping them in their tracks and making them even more vulnerable to shelling. For this reason the assaulting force should have a good understanding of the enemy’s specialists before attempting this maneuver: assassins should be used to locate and hunt down any saboteurs in the target area before the attack, and spies should reveal any hidden units that the speartip is aiming for.