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**** ROW V (Part 2) ****


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Painless AARs

I've exchanged a few emails with Ace Pilot about AAR style and he asked me to post some of contents on the thread. I don't think I have anything new to say, but i's also probably worth repeating.

In ROW IV, my first, I dreaded the AARs, put them off to the end, and found doing them at the end, from memory, dreadful indeed. I recall that it had been suggested to me, by one of the organizers, to keep up with them, at least in the form of notes, during the course of the tourney, but being bent on winning glory on the ROW field (I didn't), the advice was ignored, and the writing was a painful chore, both for me and for anyone who actually read my AARs.

This time, I decided to follow the advice, and found that it not only rendered the AARs painless, but actually enjoyable to write and, I hope, more engaging to read.

Here is the method I have been using:

After setting up, but before sending the first file, I tab out of CM and create the document. I then summarize my plan, and often reconsider and refine it in the course of describing it.

Now, although you can write the whole thing in terms like "in the third ridge from the right, by the second clump of heavy woods next to the river..." it's a lot easier to take a screenshot and make a few notes on it with a simple graphics editor.

As we know from the numerous enquiries on the subject, taking a screenshot is a difficult and technically demanding operation:

screenshot.jpg

Actually it's not. At all. No harder than using the search feature of the forum, but just in case anyone doesn't know, in the game, you just press the Print Screen key, and that copies the contents of the screen to the Windows clipboard. You then tab out of CM, open up Windows' built in paint program (or other program of your choice) and PASTE the image. Voila. Screenshot. Add a few notes and lines on the map, and describing a setup and plan becomes very easy.

Here's an example. This, if I recall, is GreenAsJade's defense which led to an embarrassing defeat for me in Frontier Firefight:

FFexample.JPG

It's simple, but easy to understand and thus to follow the AAR.

After the battle starts, I write a paragraph every time there is a really eventful turn, or several uneventful turns, summarizing the action, my thoughts at the time, and any changes in plan. Once again illustrative screenshots are worth a thousand words.

Then at the conclusion of the battle, when it's all fresh in my mind, all I have to do is write a conclusion, note lessons learned, and make some scenario notes for the designer.

I cannot urge doing the AARs concurrently with the battle more strongly. It turns something miserable into something easy and, I found, enjoyable. While it's hard to even remember the action months after the battle started, it's easy to record at the time, and I quickly found myself digressing, speculating about the enemy's intent, musing on plans and options, and so on. I think it will be of much more interest to know what was going on in the commander's head as the battle developed than just get the hindsight at the end.

That's my two cents. I hope some find it useful. The rest will be convinced after they try to write their AARs from memory... :D

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And I should add that it is not only the designers who benefit from this, but the community as a whole. A well written AAR is sometimes all that is needed to bring another player into the fold.

Case in point, go back 5 years in time and there I was surfing the net, bored, and looking for some new demo to d/l and try out. I really had no idea what to look for, or where to find it.

Then I stumbled upon this and the hook was set in this fish ;)

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The screenshots are lost to history, but you can recreate new ones from the same scenario (kinda).

"Going to Town" is available at the depot in the CMBO form, while a CMAK conversion by the Desert Fox can be d/l from Der Kessel. I did a slighly modified version that has the battle taking place in Tunisia, which you can d/l from Boots and Tracks.

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Originally posted by Malakovski:

Painless AARs

Here's an example. This, if I recall, is GreenAsJade's defense which led to an embarrassing defeat for me in Frontier Firefight:

FFexample.JPG

It's simple, but easy to understand and thus to follow the AAR.

... not that anyone else would know, since this AAR isn't posted yet... :(:(
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Originally posted by GreenAsJade:

... not that anyone else would know, since this AAR isn't posted yet... :(:(

I thought this was from a batch I pulled off the web, but I guess it was the copy you sent me, your unfortunate opponent.

Why are so many of the AARs still unposted? I am happy to help convert to PDF or HTML or whatever format is needed if that will help things this time around.

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Originally posted by JonS:

I just tried to email a couple of AARs to Acepilot, but got a delivery failed return message. What gives? Is a yahoo address really a goodplace to be sending large AAR files to?

JonS,

I've sent an email to the yahoo.uk account listed in your profile and to the net.nz account listed for the tournament. Did you receive either?

Ace

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Just a reminder. Do NOT surrender even if things are going very poorly for you.

I had an opponent surrender with 1 turn to go! This bumped my score up significantly, when 1 turn longer and it wouldn't have been well . . . not quite as bad for him anyway. Remember these scenarios might well be designed to be unfair, so even if you're losing you should still play your best.

[ March 07, 2005, 09:07 AM: Message edited by: Walpurgis Nacht ]

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