GAMING

This is why team leaders should play real-time strategy games

Writing a five paragraph order is boring. Who really wants to sit there and write, by hand, 20 pages of a battle plan for the sole purpose of showing your platoon leadership you have some tactical sense and that you're not a moron? Nobody! It sucks and you'll almost never get to see how your plan plays out.

If you want to develop a strategy, actually see it unfold beautifully, and revel in sweet, sweet victory, you should play a real-time strategy game.

RTS games have been around for decades now and you can play them either on a console or a computer (though we strongly recommend you use a computer). They're not for everyone, but if you're a team leader itching to use your tactical knowledge in a more immersive sense, playing one might be good for you. Here's why:


1. You can go up against other people

If you want to practice against a computer AI, by all means. But if you get one of your buddies at the barracks to go up against you, the two of you can turn it into a competition and see how it feels to put your skills to the test against someone else. Pitting yourself against some AI is fun, but nothing's quite as dynamic as a human opponent.

If you can find a worthy opponent, it's an extremely rewarding experience.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal)

2. You can implement realistic strategies

Though every game is different, no matter which you pick, you'll likely need to consider avenues of approach and utilizing forces to create blocking positions to restrict enemy movement. These are real-life strategies, yes, but they're also things you must do to find success in most RTS titles.

Another common theme is the use of explosives and air assets to dominate, softening targets to push your enemy to a breaking point.

If you own the skies, you can own the battlefield.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron D. Allmon II)

3. Build up your forces using fake money

In real life, it costs millions of dollars to build a functional and efficient military. So, it makes good fiscal sense to not give to give a Lance Corporal the reins for a week just to see how they do. In an RTS, you can harvest resources and burn them on any desperate gambit without staring down a massive bill.

There's no risk in burning fictional currency.

4. There's no real blood involved

Loss of life in real war is tragic but, in an RTS game, your troops aren't real people — so who cares? That being said, you still get a glimpse into how big of an effect losing a small unit can have on your efforts at large. As a leader, learning the value of every single troop is essential.

It's kinda like this.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Rylan Albright)

5. You get to see the consequences of your choices

Making a mistake in real life can be costly in a lot of different ways. In an RTS game, you can make all the mistakes you want, see the consequences of your actions, and not have to worry about the loss of resources or lives. It's a good idea to learn these lessons before the end result is tragedy.

With practice, getting to this point won't be much of a challenge.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David N. Hersey)