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Battle Tempo and Controlling Time

Written by DX
Last updated on 2007-05-29

  • Subject Type: Abstract Concept
  • Subject Level: 4 [Advanced]
  • Recommended Progression Level Range: Normal - Fluid
  • Recommended Caliber Range: Advanced - Hardcore
  • Recommended Game Type Families: OHK, OHS, OSF

Unfortunately, "controlling time" does not mean that you are going to learn how to freeze time or see the past and future. You will, however, be able to wield time and make it work in your favor. Most people don't think about that when they pick up a water gun. They don't know what they are missing! Along with the initiative and countering, time is one of the classic wars within water wars. Fighting for control of time and tempo makes players do things that they would never ordinarily do, for better or for worse.


Understanding how the tempo works is the key to controlling time, for you cannot control time without controlling tempo. Every war has some kind of time limit. The tempo is how quickly the battle action progresses within that framework. Lots of action and intense fighting speeds up the tempo and hiding/not engaging slows it down. Reverses, unsuccessful counters, and weak defenses also speed it up while ambushes, series of successful counters, and stiff defenses also slow it down. There are exceptions, of course, but that is how it goes for the most part. Your job is to recognize when you need a fast tempo or a slow one. For example, if you are playing OHK and have lost 3 guys vs 1 for the enemy, you want to speed up the tempo and get attacks in. You need to make kills. The enemy, on the other hand, will want to slow down the tempo by disengaging and denying you any opportunity for kills. If you are playing OHS and are down 3 points to 1, you also need to speed up the tempo and get more points. If OSF and have taken the brunt of the soaking, you still need to engage, for that is the only way you have a chance to even things up.

Time [mainly limits]

Game time plays a significant role in deciding how you need the tempo to go. All organized wars, skirmishes, duels, and scenarios have either a short, medium, or long time limit. The length and how far into the battle you are factors in a LOT.

For a short war [up to 1 hour in length], deciding the tempo is exceedingly important. You just don't have enough time to take your time if you are "losing" in some way. If you are "winning" in some way, you cannot afford to lose control, for you may not have enough time left to undo whatever the enemy does during their time in control.

For a medium war [1-2 hours in length], deciding the tempo is important. Especially late in the war, if the enemy has the tempo, they are able to turn time against you.

For a long war [over 2 hours in length], deciding the tempo is only important towards the end of the battle or when one side develops a major lead. You've got so much time that you can take your time, even when down. However, you should not waste it. Use extra time to execute your maneuvers carefully and to minimize the risk of making mistakes.

Turning the tempo against your enemy

If you have control of the tempo, you may be able to have fun at your enemy's expense. Say you have the lead and vastly superior firepower. The enemy has been putting up skilled defenses, but they have run low on water. So they run away. You don't have to chase them, but you feel like it. They are fleeing from the fast pace and you are forcing that pace on them. The tempo has just become a weapon greater than anything you might be carrying. The enemy has to keep running until they can find a safe place to refill. Don't give them that chance. Keep pursuing and force them to battle. However, if they get desperate enough, they will outrun you. But even if they do get away, you've just taken control of many of the abstract ideas and certainly put a dent in their morale while raising your own.

Turning time against your enemy

Here's the really fun part. If you have control of time, you can force your enemy to do whatever you want. Say you have a decent lead. You decide to retreat to the most formidable defensive position imaginable. Your enemy now has two choices: attack at a severe disadvantage, or do nothing and lose the battle when time expires. Any reasonable enemy will have to attack. Likewise, if you have a shaky lead [perhaps you have one more point, one more guy, or one more dry guy than the enemy and time is close to running out [say in 15 minutes], you may choose to run away and go hide somewhere. Well, the enemy will be frantic to find you. If they cannot, then they lose. They'll be Sweeping the battlefield like crazy. You've got excellent ambush and Overrun options in case isolated enemies stumble upon your positions. Or you could just lie there and let enemies walk right past you. Time is all yours. In this case you also have the initiative and only a reverse can take it from you. Don't make mistakes! Cornering an enemy against the end time can be great fun. With only minutes left, normally calm people may become totally reckless and desperate. You do have to be extremely careful in this situation, for as much as you have a great advantage, a desperate enemy is always very dangerous. Watch out for the Outnumbered Defense and enemies calling in supporters if you can't see them.

Fighting for tempo and time

In order to fight for time, you often need to have the tempo on your side [you've got to fight for that, too]. The tempo is more often fought over than time, since time usually works against the currently losing team, but tempo can work against either equally. Teams with the initiative usually are able to set the tempo by default, but this is not always the case. Momentum, reverses, morale, pressure, etc. all have the potential to influence who gets to change the tempo and in what ways. Additionally, if both teams think that they have control of the tempo, you are going to see a stalemate. In reality, neither has it, though it is considered split control until someone realizes that neither has it! The tempo would not change until someone comes away with the initiative [or a good reverse]. There are even situations where the team without the initiative has total control over the battle tempo. A team which retreats hastily, for example, may or may not get the initiative [most often not], but they have control of the tempo. The very act of running away slows it down, at least temporarily. If the other team pursues and forces battle, the tempo speeds up once more. When fighting for both tempo and time, you've got to have your heart in the battle, hence why most of these struggles occur late in a war. Anything can happen in the beginning, so bad luck early is not a cause for distress.

There are situations where you can control time without controlling tempo. Say that you've got the lead, there's not much time left, but the enemy has run away. Well, they've chosen to slow the pace down. Fine, go lose! Likewise, say you were running away, but were attacked and now are holding off the enemy, say at a bridge, with the lead and time about to expire. The enemy has chosen to speed up the tempo [they have to], but you've got them backed into a time corner. You're putting up an excellent defense and they are making no progress. Give them 10 more minutes and they can break your defense because you are running low on water. Well, they haven't got 10 more minutes! Ha!

I personally think this is great fun. Others may think that I've spent one-too-many days in a reed grove. Either way, tempo and time further show how all the Abstract Reality ideas are linked together, and how all of both Realities are linked together. You can learn all you want from other sections, but ignore this one and it may all come apart. Cheers to puzzles without missing pieces!

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