Hello Variants, and welcome back to another edition of War Talk. Today we will be discussing Deep Operations Warfare, a unique doctrine which was utilized most famously by the Soviet Union during the Second World War. We will begin with an outline of the doctrine.
In essence, numerically superior formations were sent against the enemy across the entirety of the war front of each and every battle. This would be repeated in effort to prevent the opposition from having time to recover. This onslaught of pressure would eventually cause a break in the enemy line, which would allow a massed formation of troops to flow through the breach. Once the mass (which often included mechanized and armored elements) flowed through to the far side of the breach, it would spread throughout the back of the enemy formation. They would then take aim at critical targets, such as supply lines, communications, and even command personnel.
This tactic is typically meant for large scale combat between opposing armies, but it is possible to adapt deep operations warfare to a TTRPG combat encounter. I like attributing this style of warfare to enemies with numerical superiority over the players, such as goblins and orcs.
In a party sized encounter, a simple way to employ this strategy is to have multiple enemies move through and separate melee focused characters while a few push through to the squishier characters. If the monsters are able to maneuver well, they can place several of themselves between each player, making it harder for them to work together or share items throughout the fight. Using this tactic also is a great way to show if a bad guy has any sympathy for his minions.
In a standard sized combat encounter, one way we could employ deep operations warfare would be to have multiple opponents push through and separate the frontline, melee focused character, while others slip through to the vulnerable backline (think archers, casters and healer). If these foes are quick on their feet, they can place several of themselves between the players. This can easily defeat or hinder several common team strategies and force your players to rethink how they approach combat. In addition, a villain (or BBEG) that employs deep operations warfare can be seen as particularly cruel, as it is expected that many of the foes thrown against the party in this fashion will fall.
Whether you’re preparing a war between factions, or just a singular bandit attack or raid, consider using deep operations warfare. It will prove as effective in your game, as it had during The Second World War. Just don’t be too surprised if some of your more ruthless players attempt the same if given a chance!
Do you have a tactic or weapon you’d like to see featured on this blog? Let me know in the comments below!