Playing 3LW, Hello OODA

Concept of operations for HZB/IDF in the short, historical scenario of 3LW covering the limited invasion of 2006.

Playing both sides in 3LW takes the trick of the mind known to most wargamers — maybe especially so to lovers of magazine games who often seem to despair of finding opponents for commercially unproven games on esoteric subjects. I drew up a concept of operations for both sides. The Israeli Defense Force IDF isn’t really menaced in any conventional way; whereas, Hezbollah (HZB) has to think about optimizing its ability to hide and delay discovery of their rockets long enough that they can rack up victory points. Above all he has to be a wicked opportunist. With respect to traditional designs, 3LW puts you in the deep end of planning considerations. You do not have long parallel snakes of counters to analyse or even lines of communication to secure. Yet you have strategic assets such as special operations forces whose optimal use is outside of a larger force. Once it is understood that the IDF has great freedom of movement, the initial situation is very tense and unpredictable.

IDF begins by developing intelligence on enemy positions before pushing the 36th division up to Tyre. Command chits structure

The real limit on force is planning capacity. The IDF rolled into southern Lebanon like the tide. But there were gaps. Hezbollah (HZB) conducted reconnaissance and so discovered the IDF’s main effort, a critical intelligence task that is often underplayed in most operational wargames. (Note that in a face-to-face game all counters are face down until discovered via ISR or engagement.)

Setting correct priorities for your planning staff is crucial. The fight immediately settles into absorbing cycles wherein some force capabilities become robust while others are at rest. Worry about where the other side might be in its cycle invades your choices. For example, it is best if the HZB player times his planning so that he fights at the precise moment the IDF has to take an operational pause to coordinate its maneuver, before his intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets become available. The IDF player has to decide whether it is opportune to go pedal-to-the-metal at the expense of maintaining combat power.

IDF 36th division moves and successfully uses its ISR to identify the enemy in Al Naqurah. HZB opts to exfiltrate them, requiring the expenditure of one of its J2 chits.

Joe Miranda’s command card system models these considerations in an admirably straightforward, simple fashion. 3LW would be an ideal tool for professional study of the conflict. Students of operational warfare will appreciate how naturally John Boyd’s famous OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) decisional cycle manifests itself. I can’t think of a wargame which illustrates this concept better, in fact. Staying ahead of the enemy’s cycle is hugely important. It is hard to judge in a solo playtest, but I can well imagine expending intelligence (J2) chits to reveal the enemy’s chit selection.


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