What is a Scenario
WHAT IS A SCENARIO? (Draft - ShotMagnet - 02/06/04)
You’ve likely played a ton of them, but what are they really?
A scenario consists of five distinct elements:
- A map
- Blue forces
- Red forces
- Triggers and/or Conditions and/or events, which may affect one or both sides
- Victory conditions, usually to be determined within a given length of time ( a time limit)
These elements, taken together, make up a Steel Beasts scenario. That still doesn’t fully answer the question of what a scenario is. Pieces on a map, operating under a pre-arranged set of conditions toward a goal mean little without a context. The units are there, they’re supposed to kill a certain number of enemy units maybe, or get to a particular position, or do both, but what is the mission about?
A scenario, even one designed as a teaching instrument, is usually trying to get the player(s) to attain the aforementioned goals in order to demonstrate a tactical concept. A scenario isn’t just an exercise in Blue and Red units fighting each other, it’s also a way to demonstrate how (or how not) to go about attaining a certain goal.
Military forces all over the world set up scenarios to get commanders thinking about how to employ their forces. Steel Beast missions can do the same thing, in order to get players (lots of who used to be in the military) thinking about how best to use their virtual units. The best scenarios in Steel Beasts are those which get the player thinking. The best ones do other things as well, but they all get the player thinking; and if you the designer want to craft something of quality that people will speak well of, making players think is a good place to start.
There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. One is to employ a certain type of mission. Military engagements can be categorized generally as follows:
Advance to contact- Forces of one side probe enemy defenses in an attempt to discover who’s where
Meeting engagement- Forces of both sides bump into each other as they advance
Hasty Attack- One side, having found the other, initiates a quickly drawn-up assault
Hasty Defense- One side, having found the other, deploys itself immediately in anticipation of an imminent attack
Deliberate Attack- One side mounts a concerted effort against the other, with more preparation than in a Hasty Attack
Fighting Withdrawal- The defenders retreat in an organized fashion, exchanging fire with the enemy while doing so.
This list is not all-inclusive. Battles are not all readily categorized in this manner, either. From the list, though, the designer will get an idea of the fighting the designer wants to simulate, or the principles to be demonstrated. Knowing the kind of battle you want to see will guide your hand in determining the victory conditions for that fight.
A scenario then, is more than just the units and the playing field. It’s the goal, the thing you want to teach, the fight you want the player to fight. A good scenario demonstrates a particular concept, reflected in the scoring for that mission.