TacOps: Description and Features
TacOps is a realistic simulation of contemporary and near-future
tactical ground combat by US Army and USMC forces against a variety
of Russian-equipped opposing forces (OPFOR).
Most vehicles, unit organizations, and weapons featured are those expected
to be in place by 1995. Weapons and capabilities likely to be available by
the year 2000 are included as options.
There are over 60 scenarios, each of which can be customized by you.
Additionally, you have the ability to build your own scenarios from the
ground up! If that is not enough, TacOps fully supports solitaire and
two-player play (by modem, e-mail, and/or network).
- Q: Will it support 12" monitors?
- A: Yes - 9", 12", 24", whatever - the TacOps game window
automatically adjusts to the size of your monitor.
- Q: How many colors?
- TacOps displays 16 colors. Dithering and the use of the custom
palette feature of the Mac creates the impression of more.
Limiting screens to 16 colors allows the program to run and scroll
quickly in color on Macs having as little as 4 meg of memory -
smaller scenarios will run on 2 meg Macs.
- Q: Does an FPU help?
- I don't know what if anything an FPU might add. I did not compile a
version specifically optimized to switch the code into a FPU but the
program does take advantage of an 040 cache if you have such. If the
program was any faster you would not be able to analyze what was
The terrain is actually made up of 16 colors (dithered for cosmetic effect).
The overall effect is that of a simplified military topographic map --- low
ground is a yellowish green, higher ground is a medium green inside a darker
countour line, woods are a dark textured green, roads are gray or white, and
towns are a gray and black pattern of small rectangles. Rough terrain has
the main colors of the elevation but is irregularly textured. The main
priority for the battle maps is that they clearly indicate to the user the
type of terrain at a particular point.
A lot can be done with just 16 colors on a Macintosh with dithering and
custom palletes. Keeping the color count down makes for much fast game play
and screen scrolling on "average" and older Macs (i.e. last year's Macs) and
means that the user can have something else on his hard drive besides one
darn game <grin>. At 16 colors the whole game package occupies less than
five megabytes. TacOps is a computer implementaton of a sort of combination
of a traditonal board wargame and lead miniatures. It really doesn't take
256 colors to clearly and attractively communicate the terrain, the
situation, and the battle action in a wargame of this type.
Still...having said all that...next year I will probably go to 256 colors
for TacOps WWII --- primairly because
- it is easier to code for 256 colors,
- by the end of next year the "average" Mac will be fast enough to handle
TacOps at 256 colors, and
- by then the average Mac will have a large enough hard drive that a ten
or fifteen megabyte, 256 color, game package won't be a problem for most
Game length depends on how serious an approach you take to using real
world tactics and on which scenario of several dozen you are playing. Small
scenarios (company vs company) can be setup and played in less than an hour.
Large scenarios (bn or regt vs regt) might take several hours to an evening.
If you are playing on a network against a human who gets highly excited about
fiddling with every possible game option, a large scenario might take several
You can modify factory provided scenarios or you can create your own
scenarios using factory provided maps. There is no map editor.
TacOps can be played via network, direct connection modem, play-by-mail,
and by EMail.
- Q: I'm glad Saddam didn't have AT missles like the OPFOR --- I lost a
lot of M1A1's before I learned to stay out of sight...The only
things that bothered me was that the M1A2's could be taken out from
the front (do the OPFOR forces actually have a weapon that could do
- OPFOR having such weapons is a matter of current debate with most
authorities saying "probably very few today". However OPFOR can
have them anytime they want to spend the money to build or buy them.
TacOps is initially set up for a more or less fair fight between US
and OPFOR equipment. In order to do this the factory default
preference settings give OPFOR thermal sights plus ATGM warheads and
tank main gun penetrators that are up to current Western standards.
If you want a game reflecting conventional wisdom on the current
real world situation you just need to change the game preferences
during the startup turn. You will then be able to happily see most
of OPFOR's shots bounce off the front and sides of the US M1 tank -
course it won't be much of a game and I doubt that you will be able
to talk a human opponent into taking the OPFOR side <grin>.
- Q: One suggestion for future version: Turreted vehicles (tanks only
would be fine) should have a separate facing for the turret that can
be set to face a known threat direction so that they can gain some
benefit from the turret's front armour if the threat/target is
located to their side or rear.
- TacOps gives benefits and disadvantages for unit facing but turret
facing is just below the true game scale. Although you can split
down to individual vehicles and squads, the game engine is primarily
intended to portray platoon (probably optimum accuracy) or even
company markers (arty bait). Thus, front and side armor in the game
is generally rated somewhere between hull and turret thickness.
The demo does not bring this out because there are only three or four
units on each side in the Basic Training scenario. Most of the real
scenarios in the commercial version start with anywhere from several
dozen to a hundred or more multi step unit markers in play -
generally Company vs Battalion, Battalion vs Regiment (Brigade for
you Army types), or Regiment vs Regiment. A player would have to be
pretty hardcore to want to break all the unit markers down to
individual sub units.
The opposing force in TacOps is not the former Soviet Union per se, but it
is equiped with modernized Soviet equipment and when playing the AI the
computer opponent follows Soviet doctrine. Just about anyone we fight over
the next ten years is likely to be using Soviet equipment, and Soviet
doctrine offers advantages for less well trained armies.
- Scenarios with AI:
- Generally you can add some optional additional units but only from a
restricted list. The larger the scenario, the more optional units
are usually on the list. You can increase or decrease artillery and
air support, modify certain weapons and fire controls, modify spotting
rules, swap some weapons for others (T80 for T72, Dragon for
Javelin, etc.), change the game length, change the exit percentage
if that is a victory condition, you can delete any unit that starts
play already on the map, and do assorted other things.
- Custom Scenario Templates (no AI):
- These are special scenarios with no set starting forces. You create
the kind of force you want from a long list of weapons/organizations
ranging from one USA/USMC/OPFOR tank platoon up to several entire
brigades/regiments. You can add and delete from the list as you
like. You can use any factory provided map with the scenario
templates. You specify and police your own victory conditions - the
computer does not adjudicate victory. These templates were mainly
provided to support two player games between experienced, very
motivated players with strong tactical opinions. The were not
intended for the average gamer.
January 24, 1995 - Robert Lentz