Godtear and the OODA Loop
Updated: Feb 24
The OODA loop is a decision making model developed by US Air Force Colonel John Boyd. Boyd started as a fighter pilot and went on to author strategic concepts which changed military thought forever. Boyd’s OODA loopI has since been adapted to a wide variety of competitive strategic situations from industry to litigation. The OODA loop is meant to organize and enable rapid and effective decision making in response to dynamic, evolving circumstances.
A game of Godtear is a competitive strategic situation. The circumstances one encounters when playing it are certainly dynamic.
The main thing about the OODA loop’s relevance to Godtear is that it encourages you to constantly adjust to your circumstances and to avoid being frozen when information is incomplete. Despite being an open information game, there are many unknowns in Godtear. You don’t know what the dice will do. You don’t know what your opponent intends. You don’t always know how the scenario might change the board in the end phase. If you go in with a rigid idea if what your models have to be doing, you might fail to adapt when the dice don’t cooperate or when your opponent has a good counter-tactic.
So… let’s apply the OODA Loop.
OODA stands for:
Before deciding what to do, observe the board. This sounds obvious, but I can recall times when experienced players, including myself, have missed opportunities because they were locked into a previous idea they had.
If it’s the plot phase, start with the positions of the objective hexes. Note health totals and relevant boons and blights. Then, observe the positions of the models on the table.
If it’s the clash phase it’s essentially the same except you should start by observing the state of the battle ladder and which activations remain in the turn. From there, repeat the observations you’d make for the plot phase.
So, what do your observations mean? Can you win the turn? How many steps can you and your opponent potentially still score this turn? Is a model vulnerable due to low health and/or blights? Are any banners crushable? What models are potentially within each other’s threat ranges? Are there safe spots due to models having already activated? What are the opportunities? What are the threats?
Orienting is the process by which you apply relevant parts of your experience and knowledge to the observations in order to comprehend your situation as best you can. The loop diagram implies a sequential process, but you should be orienting constantly. Boyd liked to say that doctrines become dogmas once the fighting starts.
Make your choice. You’ve oriented yourself to the situation. You don’t know what the dice will do or what your opponent is thinking, but you’re ready.
This is where you implement your decision.
You’ve made an informed decision. You can now focus on action. Do the thing. An important part of this in an OODA loop is that you have to close the loop. Make sure you observe the results of your action. The loop begins again.
Examples? Ok, sure.
Let's start with an easy one.
It's the top of the turn 2 clash phase and you're going first. The scenario is Change. Your warband is Skullbreaker, Blackjaw, and Finvarr. Your opponent's warband is Lorsann, Jeen, and Mourneblade.
Let's observe the board state carefully. Really give these images a careful look.
First, the Battle Ladder. Your opponent is up four steps thanks to Jeen's retaliatory bladestorm against the Unburnt Reavers. Since this is Change, the opponent still has five more steps before they max out.
Your opponent's dashboards:
The board state.
So what do these observations mean for us? Let's orient.
On our left side, there are no remaining banners. Jeen has no immediate opportunities. Blackjaw and the reavers might be able to get her, but there's not a lot you can do about it. On our right side, Finvarr is trapped by a horde of Knightshades who just popped up there when Mourneblade expended his ultimate. Finvarr could KO one, I suppose, but he can't get to Mourneblade's banner even though it's right next to him. What about the Sentinels? Well, they can block off Mourneblade's path, but why? Mourneblade cannot get to Finvarr's banner anyway. Now, the center, that's where the action is. We've got two champions on low health. Both the Tooth Bearers and Lorsann can potentially KO Skullbreaker. Moreover, Lorsann is threatening your banner advantage. We have two ways of threatening her to prevent this: the Tooth Bearers and Skullbreaker himself.
Ok, so now that we've oriented ourselves to the situation, let's decide.
The default plan with Skullbreaker is to use the Tooth Bearers to push the big guy adjacent to an enemy. That's how you get Skullbreaker's big bonuses, after all. We should probably do that, right? Nope. First of all, if Lorsann survives, she'll take out the banner and probably Skullbreaker as well. For that reason, it does not matter if we position Skulbreaker for a big hit because it will take too long. The Tooth Bearers can swing at
Lorsann with a 62% chance of getting that KO. If we accept that Skullbreaker won't get the big swing of our dreams, though, he can swing at 79% odds to get the KO thanks to his accuracy boon. You noticed that, right? He could also use the ultimate to virtually guarantee the KO. Even if you do that, Lorsann can probably bounce right back, and the Rangers are still likely to KO Skullbreaker. No avoiding that, but you can save the banner. I'd say the move is to send Skullbreaker elf-smashing.
Now Act. Smash that elf with your big sword. Afterwards, make sure you and observe the new state. Close the loop.
Some of you may have found that last one a bit obvious. Ok. Let's try something trickier.
It's the top of your plot phase in the decisive turn 5 of a Quest scenario. You are playing Styx, Grimgut, and Keera. Your opponent has brought Halftusk, Titus, and Maxen.
Your opponent has already had their plot phase and has created a few problems for you. They have maxed out the Battle Ladder and set up a hard to reach flag.
The board state:
So now it's time to orient. What does all this mean?
I'm going to leave you to try to loop this on your own, but let me leave you with a few things I promise are possible:
You can definitely win.
You can definitely gain banner advantage by the end of the turn.
You can be ahead on the Battle Ladder before the clash phase starts.
Want a hint? Ok scroll down.
Ok here you go. This is simply a quote from page 19 of the rulebook: "In the rare case that there are no hexes adjacent to the champion where a follower can be placed, place the follower in one of your deployment hexes instead."