Intro to Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures for Arma 3 (TTP3)
Greetings, and welcome to the Arma 3 "Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Guide", developed for Shack Tactical and published in cooperation with Bohemia Interactive. I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about this guide, how it came to be, what's different between it and my prior guides for the Arma series, as well as all sorts of other preamble topics. Please bear with me for a bit – I believe that there are some important things to convey before we dive into the heart of the guide.
Greetings! My name is Andrew Gluck, though you most likely know me by my online nick of Dslyecxi. I am the founder of the Arma community Shack Tactical, a community which has acted as the inspiration for this guide and each prior guide in the series. Over the course of our nearly eight years of existence, Shack Tactical – commonly shortened to just 'ShackTac' – has attempted to answer the question of how best to approach Arma and how best to harness the potential inherent in the series. Since the original Operation Flashpoint, this series has stood out as an incredibly deep and rewarding simulation, one deserving of the time we've collectively poured into learning, refining, and enjoying.
My tactical guides have been created with the intention of spreading this knowledge beyond the confines of ShackTac, with the hope that the lessons we've learned and the doctrine we've created for ourselves will help to bring better gameplay experiences to anyone else operating in the environments of Arma. Having our guides – which we refer to simply as "the TTP" – has allowed us to acquire a community-wide understanding of military operations within Arma, regardless of whether any given participant had a military background. This has given us fantastic gaming experiences for many years, and it's my hope that this third iteration of our TTPs will help to spread this potential to a broad new Arma 3 playerbase.
You'll note that unlike my prior guides, TTP3 is an official product of Bohemia Interactive, available as part of the Arma 3 Deluxe Edition as well as in print and e-book formats. In addition to those formats, I'd like to thank them for graciously agreeing to allow me to offer a web version of the core of the guide - some 130,000 words - for free. The information contained herein is something every Arma player should have access to free of charge - not locked away in our private forums or as a pay-only product. It is truly commendable, and I thank them for supporting the vision!
This guide is available for all who have the time to read it - it is offered up warmly, with the hope that everyone can take something from it in some capacity. A strong Arma community benefits us all, and if this guide helps facilitate that in any capacity, I will consider it to be a great success!
As always, note that this guide is not "the only way to do it". It is, however, the way that ShackTac does things, and it works exceptionally well for us. Hopefully you can find a use for this guide in your gaming as well!
What's New & Different
With Arma 3, we see the series further enhanced and refined - with a particular focus on the infantry aspects of it. These changes in game mechanics, technology, and other aspect of the simulation environment were the inspiration to take the existing second iteration of my TTP Guide, update it, integrate the lessons we collectively learned in Arma 2 and Operation Arrowhead, and both refine and expand the content to cover Arma 3's possibilities as well.
Since Arma 2's release in 2009, ShackTac has had over four years worth of gaming experiences to learn and grow from. We've seen some incredible changes in the series from that time – from Operation Arrowhead's release, to game-changing modifications like the Advanced Combat Radio Environment mod – and have adapted our own methods accordingly.
If you're familiar with my prior guide, you'll no doubt find plenty of familiar work here, updated to Arma 3 standards and refined to reflect our experiences in the intervening years. One of the biggest changes is the reorganization of our group structure. In 2009 we were platoon strength - in 2013 and beyond, we operate at the company level. Our infantry platoons have been reworked for a variety of reasons, detailed within, while we see a new set of roles emerge with our Company Commander, as well as changes to how our Platoon Commanders operate and how our attachments and crew-served weapons teams are employed.
Arma 3's infantry-centric improvements manifest themselves most strongly in the Basic Infantryman chapter, which goes into detail about the new inventory systems, weapon and gear modularity, stance adjustments, and much more. The enhancements don't stop there - each chapter has been carefully reviewed and refined, with obsolete techniques culled and new ones introduced.
For those who have purchased the full guide, you'll find an additional chapter containing several more advanced concepts - from a guide on Survival, Escape, Resistance, & Evasion, to a role breakdown of Combat Engineers, Paratroopers, and Combat Divers, as well as information on Guerrilla Warfare, Reconnaissance, and how to Fight at Night. I'm very proud of these sections, and I hope those who chip in for a Deluxe guide enjoy reading them as much as I did creating them.
All told, this guide has ended up as about 150,000 words worth of content, with hundreds of pictures and illustrations to further flesh it out. As before, there is no military fluff here. Every topic covered is truly relevant to the series - whether in the vanilla game or in one of countless community modifications or missions.
Reality vs Gaming
Milsim & pitfalls
As before, the point of this guide is to convey material that truly is relevant to Shack Tactical's style of realism-combined-with-fun combat simulation. This is the sort of information that our players use every session to work as a well-oiled and diverse team. We have maintained a very pragmatic outlook on military simulation (milsim) and have taken every measure possible to avoid doing things "because the real military does them" and thus becoming what we call "hardcore milsim".
In our eyes, hardcore milsim is chock-full of "tactical fluff" that is irrelevant to the games at hand. This hardcore milsim typically presents itself though excessive rules, regulations, attempted recreations of full military rank structures far beyond what is relevant in the scope of your average Arma mission, doing things "because the real military does them" regardless of their actual application to the game at hand, and other things that we believe do not have a place in these games.
This guide reflects that mindset as well. One thing that I noticed back before doing my first guide was that military-game guides commonly fell victim to two pitfalls - the first being the recitation of actual military publications, without any attempt to separate the wheat (info relevant to gaming) from the chaff (military or real-world procedures that are irrelevant or not simulated in games). Now, don't get me wrong - there are many things that can be learned from military publications and field manuals, and this guide benefits heavily from being referenced against a number of such manuals. However, this is not a recitation of them word-for-word, as that would be pointless. The information presented here is what is truly relevant to the game, as we have experienced through our years of gaming.
Another thing that must be kept in mind is that the kind of missions most commonly found in games like Arma – in the real world – require a massive amount of planning and preparation by well-trained professional military personnel well before the first shot is ever fired. The goal of groups like ShackTac is to be able to play to the best of our ability without requiring such huge time-sinks in the pre-mission planning. Basically, we want to get the best results we can without having to spend hours in advance planning out each operation. Planning is great, but we strive to keep the initial planning short and sweet - minutes at most - and further develop our plans as we carry out the mission. After all, as the saying goes: "No plan survives first contact".
The second pitfall is that of being "gamey". "Gamey" guides are those that are oriented around giving very precise info about things in a fashion that takes advantage of knowledge that would not exist in reality - for example, a list of tanks, their armor values, and the precise 'damage' values of anti-tank weapons. These "gamey" guides also tend to give tactics that are meant to exploit the game itself. I don't believe in those types of guides, so if that is what you're fond of, my apologies - you won't find it here.
Fun is the Ultimate goal
Finally, it is worth reiterating that we are playing games here. The point is to have fun - in our case, we strive for organized, disciplined fun. We are not trying to pretend that we're in the military - many of us have already been there, done that, or are still there and doing that. We're in ShackTac and playing Arma to have a good time. We're a community of friends, ultimately, and this guide is written in that spirit.
A Technical Note
The online version of this guide was developed with Google Chrome and likely looks the best in it. Also note that there is a sidebar on each page of the guide - simply click the 'Index' bar on the left to expand or collapse it.
With that out of the way - best of luck to all of you as you delve into both this guide and Arma 3 itself!