Effective Zeusing 101
This guide is designed to provide a head-to-tail guide to creating a fun, engaging Zeus mission on the fly in an acceptable amount of time for intermediate-advanced level mission makers. It assumes you already have an intimate knowledge of the Zeus utilities at your disposal and can think quickly on your feet; it also assumes you have at least some prior knowledge in military tactics.
- 1 The Guide
- 1.1 Step 0: Mindset
- 1.2 Step 1: Find your mission area
- 1.3 Step 2: Create your mission statements and situation
- 1.4 Step 3: Evaluate friendly strength and obj. then create ENFOR ORBAT
- 1.5 Step 4: Write and issue WARNO
- 1.6 Step 5: Begin placing units
- 1.7 Step 6: Inform Mission Commander of, then deliver, recon report & update.
- 1.8 Step 7: Finish placing units
- 1.9 Step 8: Wait for first sighting.
- 1.10 Step 9: First Contact
- 1.11 Step 10: Subsequent contacts to mission end.
- 2 Appendices
Step 0: Mindset
Never forget: You are not playing to win.
You must never use knowledge gained through DM tools that would otherwise be unavailable to your commander to direct your forces. This includes controlling a unit and engaging forces he would be unaware of normally (for example, through concealment.)
You must never create or position ENFOR units using DM tools unrealistically. This includes spawning new enemies after you have finished placing your force or teleporting units for reasons other than diagnostic ones. Your job is to create a challenging and realistic experience for the players. The difference between a good Zeus and a terrible Zeus is the knowledge where challenging becomes impossible and realistic becomes unfair.
Step 1: Find your mission area
Selecting a suitable mission area for your mission is important to the playability of your mission. You should be considering the size of the friendly force, terrain, defendability of the area, possible avenues of approach as well as cover and concealment and how all these tie together.
For example, A single section will be incapable of capturing a city no matter the size of the force defending it, however, the same section WILL be capable of taking a single compound in the middle of nowhere. That section may find it more difficult to take that compound if there is no cover or concealment surrounding the compound, ect.
This should take no more than 2 minutes with good map knowledge, it is helpful to have a few ideas in mind BEFORE you enter the mission.
Step 2: Create your mission statements and situation
This includes 1UP and 2UP mission statements. A small background situation will aid you in devising what realistic support the enemy and you might have as well as how strong and moralized their forces are, a little creativity in this department will work wonders when you try to flesh out your mission later on. This only has to be a sentence or two.
These mission statements will not only define how you create your mission but also how the friendly commander plans for the mission. A realistic and viable 1UP and 2UP intent will allow the friendly force commander to infer what might be realistically available to him in order to support his mission and therefor will allow him to create a rough plan without knowledge of the enemies’ disposition. Ensure your mission statements are not conflicting, for example, do not issue a mission to “RECON in order to CLEAR” as a RECON mission implies you are not engaging the enemy.
See Appendix A for example situations and mission statements.
Step 3: Evaluate friendly strength and obj. then create ENFOR ORBAT
This stage will be critical to making the mission possible for your friendly forces. Too many AI, especially when controlled by a competent human player, will very quickly attrit a friendly force and make a mission impossible as well as creating server lag at extreme numbers. There is such a thing as ‘too hard’ in this context; for example, a platoon would NEVER consider nor be ordered to assault a company size force in order to destroy them, nor would they be ordered to attack a platoon-sized force entrenched in a town.
On the flip side too little AI will make your job as a Zeus harder by simply not having enough maneuver or supporting elements to successfully engage the enemy. Take into account the mission statement of friendly forces in this evaluation.
You do not need to spawn or even have detailed knowledge of the enemy force at this point, you simply want their size and rough composition in order to issue your WARNO.
Step 4: Write and issue WARNO
If you have completed the previous steps properly then the only thing you need to do on this step is standardise the format of your WARNO. A standardized format will assist not only commanders by allowing them to easily pick out information they need but also you by ensuring the information is given in a clear and concise manner. See Appendix B for more information on creating a good WARNO.
The timing of this step is critical, the WARNO should be issued no later than 10 minutes after the mission has begun, if not sooner. This will allow consecutive actions to begin taking place meaning nobody is waiting for too long, nobody becomes too bored and importantly nobody’s morale is degraded because of long waits. (Poor morale leads to derp and disconnects) As long as the One-third/Two-third rule is obeyed at all levels of command and admin is sorted while the plan is being devised (PL issues WARNO which allows admin to start) the friendly forces would theoretically step off 30 minutes after mission start which is in line with UO standards for normal mission briefing times. See Appendix B for more information on WARNOs.
Due to the time-critical nature of the prior section everything up to now should have been completed by a single DM, If you involve 2 or more DMs in the planning process it will take invariably longer as discussions must take place. Beyond this point, however, having 2 DMs will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to place and set up the mission, as well as make running it more realistic and easy.
Step 5: Begin placing units
NEVER have single-unit enemies unless you are precision-placing them inside buildings or fortifications. This step is likely to take the majority of your time. An entire book could be written (and has been written) on the composition and disposition of forces and how to defend or attack different objectives. Truly, there is no right answer in this area, you simply have to think as a commander. As yourself, “How would I complete my objective,” be it defending a position, attacking a position, protecting a target, attriting an enemy force, ect ect. then place your forces in positions that will allow you to achieve that objective. Identify strong points on the terrain and defilade BLUFOR could use then plan your forces based on this. Remember, the primary goal and best feature of Zeus is allowing you to move groups dynamically, once you take contact you can easily pull a section off patrol and have them reinforce troops in contact (TIC). You should consider how you will spot BLUFORs approach: patrols and sentries are integral to this procedure, not only do they allow you as a commander to gain intelligence on the enemy they also allow for a slow ramp up to combat with breaks in-between for the players to re-org. Be sure to consider your friendly situation when placing spotters, if you place them in locations they would be spotted by hypothetical or AI friendly forces the BLUFOR commander will not think to look for them and in turn will give an unrealistic advantage. Consider how you will reinforce your troops in contact. Are your sections mutually supporting? Do you have a QRF section ready to respond? Will TIC fall back? Do they have a good route to fall back through? Technically… Try to spawn pre-set groups of enemies instead of spawning each unit individually. It will save time and allow you to focus on the strategy of placing your units, instead of the details. Do not waste time editing the loadout of each individual unit to specifically match your desires. If the unit has the weapons needed to accomplish the EFFECT then it does not matter, within reason. The exception to this is uniforms, but this will not matter if you are choosing the correct groups. Following these three guidelines will allow you to quickly place the units you need so you can spend the rest of your already limited time on creating a strategy for your forces.
Step 6: Inform Mission Commander of, then deliver, recon report & update.
By now the disposition of your forces should be mostly complete, all units should be spawned and their rough areas of responsibilities defined.
You should consider which groups may have been spotted through recon and report this to the mission commander. The mission commander will not have time to conduct a proper recon of the area therefore you must do it for him. Do not be afraid of omitting information or of including information for the commander. If the commander knew exactly the path and location of every enemy unit it would be no fun and certainly not a challenge. The recon report is not binding but it should be at least somewhat accurate, patrol routes can change or squads move slightly but the AO should at least be recognisable from the report in most circumstances. You should include any detailed terrain information the commander might need to know about such as destroyed buildings. Any updates to your WARNO such as new control measures or limitations should be included in this. This step can be omitted partially or entirely in certain scenarios, however, if you are proceeding with this step it should preferably be given before the BLUFOR commander begins his brief.
Step 7: Finish placing units
Finalize your units and routes. Once you have finished placing all units and waypoints are happy with your forces stop spawning and begin to plan your reaction to contact. You must not spawn any additional units for the remainder of the mission!!! In addition to this you must not teleport groups or units anywhere. If the mission was completed with ease congratulate the commander on a job well done and adjust your next mission’s enfor. Placing units after mission spawn will frustrate the blufor commander and players as they have to fight off endless waves of enemies or have random enemy groups pop up behind them, contrary to popular opinion respawning is not available in real-life and nor is teleportation. The one exception to this rule is for debug purposes only, for example, to reset a stubborn AI (sometimes they just like to do whatever the heck they want.)
You should now entirely stop thinking like a DM and begin thinking like an enemy commander. This includes NOT utilizing the god-like knowledge of blufor positions you have, try to visualise what information you would be receiving from a competent force (don’t use UO players as an example for this) as a commander and what orders you would be giving to react to them.
Step 8: Wait for first sighting.
At this point try to consider what alert state your forces are in. If they are expecting an imminent enemy attack there will be increased of patrolings activity and larger, better placed sentries. The soldiers will be more likely to spot the approaching forces. Conversely if your forces are not expecting an attack at all there may well be extremely little or perhaps even no patrol activity and sentries will be more likely to miss fleeting sightings of movement. Be sure to factor this information in when deciding if your forces have spotted an enemy.
Consider if your sentries have radio communications with platoon directly or if they have none at all (or anything in-between.) Will they have to run back to their squad leader to report? Include this in your time to first reaction. This can be made much, much easier if there are 2 DMs. One DM can be running the entire platoon as a commander whereas the second can be actively controlling AI to provide a realistic report, in addition player scouts can utilize ACRE and sound to identify and locate the enemy, do not be afraid to use unconventional means to locate the enemy in this manner.
If your forces fail to spot the enemy force do not begin to maneuver them into position to spot them. Similarly, if the enemy forces have chosen a good route and are completely bypassing your forces then let them. When contact does eventually happen you will be in an encircling position of the enemy which is an extremely powerful position to be in.
Be mindful that first sighting does not mean first contact, if you spot the enemy first then utilize that time to fall your sentries back and maneuver your forces into an OPTIMAL position to ambush them then attack. Attacking with a single patrol as soon as you sight the enemy will likely result in that patrol dieing and you losing a portion of your forces while doing very little damage to them. You can force AI not to fire by setting their group to Stealth mode, combine this with defilade and concealment and your forces will be very easily missed, especially by players with poor situational awareness.
Step 9: First Contact
As with placing your forces, entire books can be written on this subject, therefore, I will only go over the basics and the technical aspects. First and foremost, remember retreat is not failure. Against a superior force it is often preferable to retreat to either better ground of more friendly forces while attempting to slow the enemy force down and attrit their numbers. Performing a fighting retreat with your units and regrouping them will allow the players to have a much more fun large-scale contact at the end of the mission while still maintaining the fighting all the way to the objective.
If you can maneuver an element into a flanking position you should strive to achieve it. A flanking position will allow you to split the enemy fire meaning your forces are more likely to survive and inflict casualties. Additionally, a flanking position will allow you to pursue a retreating enemy parallel to their direction of movement instead of moving directly through their position which may have been mined or had some other deterrence put in place.
Frontal assaults are rarely used and rarely work.
As the action starts you must remember to only use intelligence that could conceivably be gathered by your forces and then relayed back to you. This means if friendly forces get the jump on your forces and (very) quickly dispatch them it is highly unlikely they will be able to send a radio message to command, however, nearby forces may very well hear the commotion and you would be well within your rights to dispatch a patrol to investigate.
Step 10: Subsequent contacts to mission end.
Consider the wider scenario, do the enemy have the capability to counter-attack? would the enemy BOTHER to counter attack? If you are continuing the mission after this force the commander to think about re-supply (if he is competent enough to do it), security and defending attacks. If you have not already begun the process for your next objective you need to start it NOW.
Mission statements allow us to convey our intent for a mission quickly and in as few words as possible. They are given in the format: (UNIT) is to (TASK) in order to (EFFECT). Capitalize the TASK and EFFECT verbs in order to make them stand out. When given in this format a commander will be able to extract not only what higher desires his unit to do, but also the effect higher intents to achieve with this mission. This gives the commander the freedom to deviate from the task higher has set for him but still achieve the effect intended, therefore giving much more freedom for the commander to react to a fluid battlezone.
A few examples:
A Coy is to INTERDICT ENFOR logistics along ASR Ingrid in order to DISRUPT ENFOR operations around Feruz Abad.
1SECT is to PATROL the south of Vybor in order to FIND and DELAY ENFOR advances from the south.
2PLT is to ESCORT logistics group A in order to PROTECT it from ENFOR attack.
B Coy is to ASSAULT the airfield at Vybor and DEGRADE ENFOR air power by destroying at least 4 of the 8 fighter aircraft stationed there. This is in order to DISRUPT ENFOR air operations in the AO allowing friendly forces to advance.
3PLT is to DEFEND Objective Kilo from ENFOR in the north in order to DELAY enemy movement allowing friendly forces to withdraw.
As mission statements are used all the way from Army level down the full list of TASKS and EFFECTS is extremely long and not all apply to battlefield operations. The below lists are a sample of the most-used verbs in a combat scenario (by the British army) with the bolded ones most likely to be of use in a standard mission.
ADVANCE: Conduct offensive operation designed to gain or re-establish contact with the enemy.
ASSAULT: Climax of an attack; closing with the enemy in close-quarters fighting. Short, violent attack, against local objective.
BREACH: Deliberate or hasty: cross or create a lane through a minefield or IED belt or a clear route through a barrier or fortification.
BREAK OUT: Continuation of a crossing operation once the force has consolidated in the bridgehead; or offensive action by an encircled force to link-up with a main force.
BYPASS: Move around an obstacle, position or enemy force to maintain momentum of advance.
CONFIRM: Provide current information of previously reporting within a specified degree of certainty and/or accuracy.
COUNTER ATTACK: Attack by a part or all of a defending force for such specific purposes as regaining ground lost or cutting off or destroying adversaries advance units, with the general objective of denying to the adversary the attainment of his purpose in attacking.
COVER: Protect by offence, defence, or threat of either or both.
CROSS: Deliberate or hasty: pass over or through an obstacle.
DEFEND: Defeat or deter a threat to provide circumstances for maintaing or regaining the initiative. Depending on what size of formation/unit is defending, defence can include delay, hold, deny and attack.
DEGRADE: Reduce the effectiveness or efficiency. (Should be quantified.)
DESIGNATE: By visual or other means, indicate a target to a designated unit, object, activity, situation, event or person(s).
DETAIN: Hold a person temporarily including the right to search.
DETECT: Discover the presence or absence of a unit, object, activity, situation, event or person(s).
DISENGAGE: Break contact with the enemy in a delay or withdrawal.
ENCIRCLE: Surround and isolate lines of communication resulting in loss of freedom of movement.
ESCORT: Accompany and protect another force or convoy.
EXTRACT/EXFILTRATE: Recover reconnaissance, stay behind or encircled out of contact with the enemy.
FEINT: Distract the enemy through seeking contact but avoiding decisive engagement by the bulk of own forces.
HARASS: Fire designed to disturb the rest of the enemy, limit movement and, by threat of losses, lower morale.
INSERT/INFILTRATE: Deploy reconnaissance, stay behind or raiding forces out of contact with the enemy.
INTERDICT: Divert, disrupt, delay or destroy an enemy’s military potential before it can be used effectively against friendly forces.
LINK UP: Establishment of contact, in enemy controlled terretory, between one or more friendly units or formations which have the same or differing missions.
OCCUPY: Move into and enable proper organisation of an area to be used as a battle position.
PATROL: Move tactically within an area of responsibility to deliver a clearly defined effect(s). A patrol is conducted in an area where an enemy threat precludes normal administrative movement. (e.g. behind friendly lines.)
PENETRATE: Break through the enemy’s defence and disrupt his defensive systems.
PURSUE: Catch or cut off an individual or group attempting to escape, with the aim of destroying it.
REINFORCE: Strength in place forces with additional personnel or equipment.
RELIEVE/RELIEF IN PLACE(RIP): Replace all or part of a unit in an area.
SCOUT: Actively seek info on the enemy, ground and other relevant detail in support of the commander’s plan.
STRIKE: Inflict damage on, seize or destroy an objective or threat.
SUPPRESS: Fire to inhibit the enemy’s ability to acquire and attack friendly targets.
TARGET: Make the object of an operation.
TRACK: Maintain identification and location of a unit, activity, situation or person(s).
WITHDRAW: Move away from the enemy (in or out of contact.)
BLOCK: Deny enemy access to an area or to prevent his advance in a particular direction
CANALISE: Force an enemy to take a desired direction in it’s actions to gain an advantage.
CLEAR: Remove all enemy, and their infrastructure or capability, from an assigned area and prevent their return.
CONTAIN: Stop, hold or surround an enemy or cause him to centre his activity on a front and prevent his withdrawing any part of his forces for use elsewhere (including preventing him from leaving a given area.)
DEFEAT: Diminish the effectiveness of the enemy to the extent that he is unable or unwilling to participate further in the battle or at least cannot fulfil his mission.
DELAY: Operation in which a force under pressure trades space for time by slowing down the enemy’s momentum and inflicting maximum damage without, in principle, becoming decisively engaged.
DENY: Prevent access or use by blocking, disruption, dislocation and/or fire. Can be achieved by either holding or covering the area by direct or indirect fire. To deny without holding requires surveillance.
DESTROY: Kill or so damage an enemy or his capability that it is rendered useless (distinct from DEFEAT in that an enemy is totally incapable.)
DISENGAGE: Break engagement in preparation for eventual withdrawal.
DISRUPT: Break the cohesion of an enemy and prevent it from functioning.
ENVELOP: Pass over or around an enemy’s principal defensive positions.
EXPLOIT: Take advantage of success in battle by seizing opportunities, and following up on initial gain(s), or take advantage of an individual or a group(s) weakness or vulnerabilities.
FIND: Detect, recognise, identify and/or locate a unit, object, activity, situation, situation or group(s).
FIX: Deny the enemy his goals, to distract him and thus deprive him of freedom of action in order to gain own forces freedom of action. Note: An adversary may fix himself.
HOLD: Maintain possession by direct or indirect means.
INTERDICT: Divert, disrupt, delay or destroy the enemy’s military potential before it can be used effectively against friendly forces; or fire placed in an area or point to prevent an enemy using it.
ISOLATE: Seal off an deny freedom of movement.
NEUTRALISE: Deliver fire to hamper the and interrupt the movement and firing of weapons (Often coupled with task SUPPRESS)
PROTECT: Prevent the enemy from having an effect on an individual or group(s).
SECURE: Gain possession of by direct or indirect means and seek to retain. This may be protecting an individual or group(s) from danger or threat.
TURN: Force an enemy to adopt an axis of advance or approach he might otherwise not select.
To create mission statements quickly you need to be familiar with the bolded task verbs as these cover most regular military combat operations and at least have a passing knowledge of the unbolded verbs as these represent unconventional, asymmetric or logistical operations which may be conducted by a combat force.
You must be familiar with all the effect verbs as you need to be able to describe the mission objective, no matter what it is, quickly.
Bear in mind you can use Effect verbs as Task verbs and vice versa in certain limited scenarios.
The above list is not a comprehensive list of task and effect verbs, indeed some may imply different effects and actions in different military doctrines, however, as this is an online community with many nationalities it should be safe to use the above words with anyone with a basic understanding of the English language in order to get your point across.
Write it down and issue it via text if possible this will allow the commander to refer to the actual WARNO when creating his plan instead of notes which may have been copied down incorrectly or incomplete.
Situation - Including the current time, ground brief, enemy forces (size and rough composition only, including uniform), likely enemy intent and friendly forces (both player and AI, hypothetical forces and support)
Probable Mission - Player forces mission including end-states and restrictions. (This can change, but not by too much. If you are giving this verbally repeat it twice.)
Main Effort - 1UP and 2UP Mission Statements go here
Timings - No-Movement-Before, anticipated step-off time, anticipated H-Hour and objective time limit.
O Grp - Effectively, the time at which you will give your recon report.
Combat Service Support - Including ammunition, special equipment as well as essential matters and changes to SOPs.
Ack - Ensure the commander received and understood this.
Frini Attack Scenario Example
The below examples are from a real created scenario, as well as times that they were created at.
Example for Frini Attack scenario Issued 9m 37s after mission start
Current time is 09:30.
Enemy forces consist of approx x1 Platoon holding the town of Frini, they are standard CSAT infantry forces with no known special weaponry. Likely enemy intent is to hold the town of Frini and fall back if overwhelmed. The enemy may counter-attack with reserve and retreated forces.
Friendly forces consist of A Coy, 1PLT is securing the Western flank. 3PLT is securing the Eastern flank along the coast.
Your mission is to ADVANCE to the town of Frini and SECURE the town itself as well as the area immediately surrounding it. Once you have secured the town you are to strongpoint the town with the intention of defending it until reinforcements arrive.
2UPs intention for our Btn to ADVANCE north in order to SECURE the north-western side of this area of Limnos.
1UP’s intention is SECURE the area of Frini in order to establish a base to continue operations in the AO.
Anticipated step-off time is 0700 you are not to move before 0700. Anticipated H-Hour is 0730 with objective secure no later than 0900.
Coy recon will be issued shortly You will receive a detailed ground and ENFORCE brief then.
We have no combat support during this mission. Ammunition resupply can be coordinated once you have secured the town of Frini. Minor casualties are to be brought with the platoon until you capture Frini where they will be treated. Major casualties are to be coordinated with Btn in order to extract back to Btn. aid station. Dead are to be covered where possible and their location marked for recovery.
Acknowledge no later than 12:15.
RECON AND UPDATE
Coy Recon Report & Update for Frini Attack scenario
Issued 21m 11s after mission start
Hill to the west provide good eyes down onto flats to the south of Frini but are devoid of cover from the town. Woods approx. 700m S of Frini provide good cover from the town itself. Between Frini and the southern woods there is almost no cover and concealment is sparse. To the north-east of Frini there is another hill which provides good eyes down the Eastern side of the AO. To the South-East of Frini there is no concealment, cover amounts to a few small run-down buildings along the ASR.
x1 Fireteam around area of 145201
x1 Fireteam around area of 149206
x1 Heavy Weapons Det in church 147208
Numerous pax inside town of Frini itself
Armor spotted in grid 1320 - Do not cross western LOA, 1PLT will deal with that.
Western LOA hills immediate west of Frini, easting 142.
Eastern LOA easting 152.
LOE Northing 212.
Do not begin attack before H-Hour; 1PLT must engage armor before your attack commences.