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The After-Action Review







Foreword


"Dslyecxi's
guide is an unbelievably complex, detailed and informative resource,
showing many ways how to be more efficient in combat in ARMA II and
hopefully also get more enjoyment from the game. The previous guide was
already unique, and it is breathtaking to see it this much improved
right on time for the international release of ARMA II.

This guide is simply one of a kind and I strongly recommend it to everyone who will be sent to Chernarus!"

 

Marek Španěl, CEO of Bohemia Interactive

 




The After-Action Review




Intro to the ShackTac ArmA2 TTP2 Guide




Welcome!



Greetings, and welcome to my ArmA2 "Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures"
Guide. I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about this guide, how it
came to be, what's different between it and my prior guide for ArmA1,
as well as all sorts of other preamble topics. Please bear with me for
a bit - I believe that there are some important things to convey before
we dive into the heart of the guide.

Intent



First, let's talk about the intent behind this guide. This Arma2
"Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Guide" - henceforth known as
"TTP2" - was created with the intention of following up on the success
that my previous ArmA1 guide brought to my gaming group, Shack
Tactical. Having a well-established doctrinal reference for how we
conducted ourselves as a group was a major factor in our gaming
enjoyment for over two years of playing ArmA1 (and our OFP1 guide,
before that, showed similar success for us). It gave us a common,
group-wide understanding of various aspects of how to play, allowed us
to easily integrate new players, and generally made things run more
smoothly and enjoyably for all involved. That's ultimately why I wrote
it, and that is again what drove me to update it to what you see here.

Now, as to what inspires me to make it available to everyone,
utterly free of charge - that deserves explanation. I am a strong
believer in this style of gaming, and I also very strongly believe that
this sort of information should be disseminated as widely as possible
in the interest of helping everyone, without bias or restriction, to
have a more enjoyable time while playing games like ArmA2, and not
locked away in a private forum where few can read it. Even when I
offered a print version of this guide for A1, I always kept the free
version available. I have no intention of changing that here.

This guide is available for all who have the time to read it - I
offer it up warmly, and hope that everyone can take something from it
in some capacity. A strong community benefits us all, and if this guide
helps facilitate that in any capacity, I will consider it to be a great
success.

To those of you reading this - if you like it, I would encourage you
to spread the word to anyone else that might benefit from it.
Word-of-mouth has always been my favored means of promotion, and anyone
is welcome to participate.

Note that this guide is not "the only way to do it". It is,
however, the way that we (ShackTac) do things, and it works
exceptionally well for us. Hopefully you can find a use for these TTPs
in your gaming as well.



What's New & Different



For those of you who read my first guide, let's talk about what makes this one different.

The primary source of changes and expansions to this guide are the
result of having a solid foundation to work from (TTP1) and being able
to take all of the myriad lessons we learned throughout our ArmA1
experiences and apply them to the creation of new content, as well as
updating the existing content.

The result of these changes shows itself in a variety of ways -
content in general is more info-rich as well as more organized and
digestible, and important topics like leadership and tactics have
received a tremendous amount of additional attention. That's not the
extent of it, either - every part of the guide has received an overhaul
and expansion. If you've read the first one, you should find this to be
a refreshing and interesting sequel to it.

The first guide ended up as being a bit over 60,000 words in total.
At last count, this new one doubles it at around 120,000 - and I think
you will find that it is 120,000 words used in careful moderation to
convey a vast amount of information that truly is pertinent and
relevant to ArmA2. There is no mil-sim "fluff" here. More on that
shortly.

How do you eat an elephant?



When
I sat down to write up my goals for TTP2, I was struck by how much
effort would be required to even come close to doing that vision
justice. At the time, an old saying popped into my head - a question,
rather, that mirrored the difficult task that I found myself faced
with. The question was - how do you eat an elephant? The answer to that
guided me through the writing, and at the end of it all, it turned out
even better than I had hoped.

I mention that for those of
you who are now faced with the rather daunting task of reading through
this. It's a big guide - you might as well bookmark it now - and
there's a ton of info to take in. If you heed the answer to that
question, though, you'll make it through - perhaps not in one sitting,
but after a few, you'll suddenly find yourself done.

How do you eat an elephant? It's simple, really - one bite at a time!

Hope you brought a good appetite.



Reality vs Gaming


Milsim & pitfalls



As before, the point of this guide is to convey material that truly
is relevant to Shack Tactical's style of realism-combined-with-fun
combat simulation. This is the sort of information that our players use
every session to work as a well-oiled and diverse team. We have
maintained a very practical and pragmatic outlook on "milsim" (military
simulation) and have taken every measure possible to avoid doing things
"because the real military does them" and thus becoming what we call "hardcore milsim".

In our eyes, that hardcore milsim (which often simply is referred to
as "milsim" in general) is chock-full of "tactical fluff" that is
irrelevant to the games at hand. This hardcore milsim typically
presents itself though excessive rules, regulations, attempted
recreations of full military rank structures far beyond what is
relevant in the scope of your average ArmA mission, doing things "because the real military does them"
regardless of their actual application to the game at hand, and other
things that we believe do not have a place in these games.

This guide reflects that mindset as well. One thing that I noticed
back before doing my first guide was that military game guides commonly
fell victim to two pitfalls - the first being the recitation of actual
military publications, without any attempt to separate the wheat (info relevant to gaming) from the chaff (military or real-world procedures that are irrelevant or not simulated in games).
Now, don't get me wrong - there are many things that can be learned
from military publications and field manuals. This guide benefits
heavily from being referenced against a number of such manuals.
However, this is not a recitation of them word-for-word, as that would
be pointless. The information presented here is what is truly relevant
to the game, as we have experienced ourselves through our years of
gaming.



With that being said, military field manuals and publications can be
very interesting reads for people who are into this kind of realism.
With this in mind, I have provided download links for many of the most
applicable field manuals. These are entirely optional, but if you are
curious on how the real military does things, or want to know more
about a specific subject, I encourage you to download them and check
them out. You can find those linked from the final page.

Another thing that must be kept in mind is that the kind of missions
most commonly found in games like ArmA, in the real world, require a
massive amount of planning and preparation by well-trained professional
military personnel well before the first shot is ever fired. The goal
of groups like mine is to be able to play to the best of our ability
without requiring such huge time-sinks in the pre-mission planning -
basically, we want to get the best results we can without having to
spend hours in advance planning out each operation. Planning is great,
but we strive to keep the initial planning short and sweet - minutes at
most - and further develop our plans as we carry out the mission. After
all, as the saying goes, "No plan survives first contact".

The second pitfall is that of gaminess. "Gamey" guides are those
that are oriented around giving very precise info about things in a
fashion that takes advantage of knowledge that would not exist in
reality - for example, a list of tanks, their armor values, and the
precise 'damage' values of anti-tank weapons. These "gamey" guides also
tend to give tactics that are meant to exploit the game itself. I don't
believe in this type of guide, so if that is what you're fond of, you
will need to look elsewhere.



Fun is the Ultimate goal



Finally, it is worth reiterating that we are playing games here. The
point is to have fun - in our case, we strive for organized,
disciplined fun. We are not trying to pretend that we're in the
military - many of us have already been there, done that, or are still
there and doing that. We're in ShackTac and playing ArmA2 to have a
good time. We're a community of friends, ultimately, and that is far
more important than any milsim make-believe ever will be. This guide is
written in that spirit.



A Request



For those of you who read this guide, I have one main request - once done, please take a look at the finale page.
In particular, check out the survey there. A minute of your time in
filling out that survey would mean a lot to me - it helps me to
evaluate where to take future training materials like this. You can
reach that page via the index, or via the "Next page" link at the end
of the final section, Vehicle Usage.



Using this Guide



After releasing the first ArmA TTP, I was pleasantly surprised to
see that many other groups had an interest in adopting large parts of
it for their own group's usage. In addition to that, several requests
came in for permission to translate it into a slew of languages, many
of which were completed whole or in part.

If you are interested in either topic - using it as part of your
group's tactical toolbox, or translating it into another language -
please don't hesitate to contact me at .


Intro to Shack Tactical




Who we are, what we do



For those of you reading this who are not familiar with my group, Shack Tactical, and would like a bit of information about us and how this document is tied to us, read on.



Shack Tactical is a gaming
group I run that focused on Operation Flashpoint in the past, then
moved to Armed Assault, and is now focused on ArmA2 for the future.

The basic guiding principle is that we are interested in developing
and maintaining a mature yet fun group that has a common interest in
realistic tactical combat simulation. I'm sure that many people reading
this are familiar with some of our "After Action Reports" and have seen
videos of our sessions. If you have not and are interested, you can
find the AAR's on my articles page, and the videos on my Youtube account.

At the time of this writing, ShackTac has played ArmA1 for over two
years, and Operation Flashpoint for over a year prior to that. In that
time, we've evolved considerably as a group. All of our evolution has
been based upon experience in the games we play - I have tried very
hard to avoid introducing elements that are not truly necessary, or
would over-complicate things and cause a negative impact on the
enjoyment of what at the end of the day is ultimately a game.



We are not all real soldiers (though many of us, like myself, have
served in the military in the past, or are still actively serving), and
we do not pretend to be. We do, however, enjoy fighting as a cohesive,
skilled, and tactically knowledgeable group of like-minded gamers.

This guide was created to help further our gaming experiences as
well as introduce them to the general public, in the hope that it may
have even a tiny positive impact on the overall tactical gaming
community.

I hope that you all enjoy the material that is presented within this
guide. Many ShackTac members contributed valuable input to it, and as I
said, it would not have been possible without the experiences of the
group as a whole these past years.



Closing Notes



Before we move on, here are a few notes to close off the intro to this guide and Shack Tactical.
  • The distinction between tactics applicable vs AI and tactics vs humans are not generally made within this TTP.
    Some tactics the AI obviously will not utilize or appropriately react
    to, whereas human opponents will frequently do them. To keep things
    simple, this TTP is written to the higher level - meaning, these
    tactics are not "gamey" ones that exploit the AI, but rather tactics
    which can be effectively used in a player-vs-player environment. It
    never hurts to assume that the enemy is smarter than they may be, just
    to be on the safe side. Due to our emphasis on both styles of play
    (adversarial and coop), we always err on the side of 'more tactical',
    as we're frequently being pitted against ourselves, and we know that we
    can't slack off in such fights if we want to win.
  • Some
    of the tactics in this guide are based off of experiences with a more
    realistic ArmA mod called Advanced Combat Environment (ACE)
    , and may not come into full effect in ArmA2 until the sequel to that mod is released for A2.
  • There
    are many good ideas that are applicable to real-world combat or slower,
    more methodical turn-based gaming that do not lend themselves to
    practical implementation with large groups
    . I have made every
    effort to present the various tactics in a way that makes them
    approachable to even moderately skilled groups.



Intro to ArmA2




What ArmA2 Is



For those of you new to ArmA2, the basic premise is that it is a
military combined-arms simulation with an incredible scope and a
second-to-none ability to convey large-scale modern military combat. In
addition to that, it is a fantastically configurable and moddable game
- it comes with a robust mission editor and scripting language, and
tools are available to allow any manner of units, weapons, vehicles,
terrains, etc, to be created for the game.

ArmA2 follow in the footsteps of ArmA1 and Operation Flashpoint to
provide the most realistic combined-arms from-the-infantry-up
experience around, bar none. It is a military sandbox environment that
can be tailored exactly in accordance to what you want from it.

In addition to that, ArmA2 supports a robust set of multiplayer
features. It has the capability to handle up to a hundred (or more,
with good hardware) players in a single mission at a time, playing
against each other in teams, together against the AI in cooperative
scenarios, or any imaginable mix. The mission design possibilities are
almost unlimited - if you can think it up, you can probably make it.

Like ArmA1 and OFP before it, ArmA2 is the game of choice for my
group, Shack Tactical. The experiences we have had in these games for
the past many years have been unlike anything else available in gaming,
and it continues to pull players back week after week in large
quantities into ever-changing and new scenarios. We play the whole
range of serious to not-at-all serious, and all of it is an utter
blast. It is our enthusiasm for this sort of group-wide "Build Your Own
Adventure" method of content and mission creation that has allowed us
to thrive as a private group for so many years.

I hope that anyone who is looking into the multiplayer facet of
ArmA2 is able to find a place to play where the vast possibilities of
the game can be appreciated with a quality group of players. I also
hope that this guide is able to provide the base of knowledge to help
players work together throughout the community, if not exactly "by the
book", then at least more informed because of it.





Chernarus, the main land mass of ArmA2, weighing in at 225 square kilometers of terrain






Mods of Note



When it comes to mods for ArmA2, the community is bound to come up
with a huge variety of fantastic stuff. A2 introduces so many new
possibilities to modders, it will be incredible to see what all is
developed over the lifespan of the game.

With that being said, there is one mod I feel confident in
recommending already. That is the Advanced Combat Environment 2 mod -
sequel to the ArmA1 mod of the same name, which I promoted in the first
ArmA Tactical Guide.

Let's talk about ACE2 for a moment.

Advanced Combat Environment 2



ACE2 is oriented around the concept of "fun realism" - which is to
say, the focus is on introducing systems that are not simply realistic
for the sake of being realistic, but rather because they increase the
fun factor and enhance the gameplay of the mod. ACE1 was arguably the
most popular and significant mod to come out for ArmA1, being adopted
by countless servers and played by thousands.


ACE1 was the mod-of-choice for Shack Tactical in ArmA1, and set the
stage for hundreds of memorable missions and experiences. I can't
recommend it highly enough - it set a gold standard in gameplay that
simply has not been matched since.

Always looking to improve, the ACE team is ready to take this even
further in ACE2. While full details are not yet ready to be revealed,
there are some bits and pieces of ACE2 scattered throughout this guide
- signified by the
logo - such as references to the stamina system, crew-served weapons,
and a variety of other slick gameplay features such as resting weapons
on obstacles, improved rocket ballistics, an improved penetration
model, and more.

ACE2 is definitely a mod to watch out for in ArmA2. Once it has been
released, I'll make sure to update this section with a link to it.



Where to Play



The ArmA2 community, like the ArmA1 community and the Operation
Flashpoint one before it, contains a huge variety of playstyles and a
diverse collection of communities and servers to cater to those styles.
You can find the official BIS forums Squads & Fanpages section here, in which many, many different groups and communities maintain a presence.

I would of course encourage all A2 players to take their time and
look throughout the community to find what they think will best suit
their style. There are hardcore groups, less-serious ones, ones
oriented around roleplaying, others oriented around all sorts of fun
and silly stuff. There are even weekly tournaments that pit large
forces against each other in progressive campaigns where the outcomes
of each major battle influence the next one. In short - there's a
flavor for everyone.

With that being said, there are two communities that I'd like to
specifically promote in this guide. Whether you look into them is up to
you, of course.

Tactical Gamer



The first of the two is Tactical Gamer. Tactical Gamer - or 'TG' -
is a large community that plays an equally large variety of games. For
our purposes, though, we're concerned about their ArmA1/2 side. In that
respect, they have the following aspects worth considering:
  • Easy membership requirements.
    If you'd like to play on TG, the only real qualification you need to
    fulfill is to not be an asshat. Their server and forum are open to the
    public and attract a wide variety of players throughout the community
    due to their accessibility.
  • Well-populated server much of the time.
    Due to their easy membership requirements and public nature, you can
    usually find a game in progress on one of the TG ArmA servers. These
    generally stay in good order, too, provided that some of the more
    'regular' players are there to help guide people towards "The TG Way",
    or admins are present. For a public server, they do a pretty good job
    of administrating their servers.
  • Semi-regular scheduled sessions.
    While they are not weekly, TG tends to run a scheduled weekend session
    on a semi-regular basis, which allows for a different style of planning
    and gameplay to be conducted in them. These sessions require advance
    signup (at no cost)
  • Coop-oriented.
    TG is primarily focused on cooperative gaming - in short, players vs
    the enemy AI. If you're looking for adversarial player-vs-player
    gaming, you'll need to look elsewhere, but if you're keen on coop, they
    do a good job of it.
  • Not spastic about mod adoption.
    TG introduced some additional islands, as well as the ACE1 mod, during
    their time with ArmA1. This was done in a fairly deliberate and
    measured method, allowing for people to easily get their mods in order
    and not be worried about having to constantly change them. This is a
    refreshing change from some servers that haphazardly mod-of-the-week
    and make it difficult for players to stay up to date.
  • US-oriented playing schedule. While the TG playerbase consists of more than just US players, their most active times are centered around the US timezones.


I would definitely recommend new players to give TG a shot in A2.



You can find the Tactical Gamer ArmA2 subcommunity here. Feel free to tell them how you got there. smile

6th Sense



This next community is based around the European gaming community, though it does have some members from outside of Europe.



6th Sense is a private community that is oriented towards
cooperative gameplay in the ACE mod, combined with a unique combination
of supplemental addons by Sickboy (an ACE lead dev and key member of
6th Sense) and beyond. While they're focused mainly on coop, they also
conduct scheduled events throughout the month where adversarial
gametypes are also played from time to time.

If you're interested in checking them out, you'll want to do the following:

  • Register an account at Dev Heaven
  • Register an account at the 6th Sense site
  • Post a short introduction in this thread
  • Once confirmed, you'll get access to their mod compilation, as well as the password of their game server


It's a bit more work to get into than Tactical Gamer, but that extra
work can pay off in a more cohesive experience thanks to the
entry-barrier that exists and (hopefully) helps to prevent unsavory
characters from hopping in-game easily and dorking things up for
everyone.



Moving on...



With the intro bits out of the way, let's go ahead and move into the meat of the TTP2.

First stop... The Basic Rifleman. Click the "Next" button, below, to move forward in the guide.

Oh, before we start... a note about navigation through this guide.
The index button you see at the bottom of each page will take you to a
full-fledged, in-depth index of the guide. From there, you can pick
through the different pages, or even the subsections of each page. The
previous/next buttons will, predictably, take you to the previous and
next pages in the guide, of course.

Also note that the full index is not completely linked-up yet (ie:
subsections do not have direct links). I will try to have those in
place 'soon', but I wanted to get the guide itself released first, and
worry about that aspect of navigation later, as I would expect most
people to go through the guide in a linear fashion their first time
through.

Anyhow.. hit 'Next' to hop to the Basic Rifleman page. Hope you enjoy the ride.