"Amateurs study tactics, armchair generals study strategy, professionals study logistics." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we're talking about boxes of bullets, toilet paper, and since it's Fallout, Cram, Instamash, and fusion cells.
I was in the repair bay of the Prydwen, repairing my power armor, when it dawned on me just how materiel-intensive the Brotherhood of Steel's Commonwealth expedition must be. Of all the factions that are vying for power in the Wasteland, they have tremendous logistical concerns; Teagan's side quest to "convince" local farmers to contribute to the cause is symptomatic of that. (I give Bethesda props for acknowledging the Brotherhood's logistical woes in several quests; supply and logistics might not be as fun as vaporizing a feral's face, but without supply lines, your war is going to fall apart extremely quickly)
The more I thought about it, I'm not sure the Brotherhood's expeditionary force can succeed, unless-as Danse alludes to-the war is won quickly.
For starters, the BOS has a double whammy: it has nonexistent supply lines, while at the same time fielding a materiel-intensive force. We know supply is of concern-see Teagan, and the importance Kells places on missing crates of Cram and Blamco Mac 'N Cheese. The BOS arrives (gloriously-that scene still makes me grin) in the Commonwealth and they've got what's on their enormous dieselpunk zeppelin, and that's it. That's what Maxson has to work with.
A couple of distance references: from Washington D.C. to Boston is 439.8 miles/707.789 kilometers and from Boston to Far Harbor it's 285.2 miles/454.6 kilometers.
Fastest speed of the Hindenberg was 84mph/135 kmh, and modern zeppelins aren't that much faster, at least from a bit of cursory research.
For comparison, flight range of a blackhawk helicopter is 445 nautical miles/504 statute miles. Kells remarks that to get to Far Harbor he'll have to fit Vertibirds for extended flight; from that it's reasonably safe to say a Vertibird's operational range is less than a blackhawk-considerably so. Unless the BOS has established a refueling depot (or multiple depots) along the route to the Capital Wasteland, it's unlikely that Vertibirds are making supply runs between Boston and D.C.
So the BOS has arrived in force; they have what the Prydwen can carry, which includes manpower, materiel-including weapons, ammunition, multiple suits of T-60 power armor, Vertibirds, spare parts for the power armor and the Vertibird fleet..this is really beginning to add up. I'm not sure there's going to be room for Maxson's ego when all is said and done. Operationally, each suit of T-60 and each Vertibird is also going to require maintenance, which takes both materiel and man hours. Assume, based on the fact I repair my PA after every mission, that Ingram's staff is going to be eating up repair parts and supplies for every patrol we see in the field.
That's…a lot to be concerned about, logistically speaking.
What would make more sense is for the BOS to establish a presence at the Boston Airport, fortify it, then fly the Prydwen back and forth to the Capital Wasteland for massive supply runs-but we never see them do that; that's also assuming the BOS has an industrial and agricultural base back in D.C.; as the Prydwen was constructed at Adams AFB, it's safe to assume they do, but goddamn Maxson, use your zeppelin-don't just park it so you can gaze down at the Commonwealth like Zeus atop [email protected]
Logistically, the BOS are not in good shape-thin to nonexistent supply lines (Teagan's side missions, Kells' concern over missing supplies), a technologically advanced force which is excellent at projecting force in theatre, but which requires a huge amount of materiel and man hours to maintain, and shouting "Ad Victoriam!" isn't going to keep your birds fueled and repaired or your T-60 assets field ready. As Dense says, it better be a quick war…
The Railroad (fair disclosure: I can't stand the RR. I love Deacon and P.A.M., but Desdemona's attitude can bite the big one; Carrington isn't much better) is in much better shape. Essentially an intelligence agency with a nigh-prescient supercomputer, they have everyday human needs-and that's really the extent of it, logistically speaking. They're small-much smaller than any other faction (we'll get to the Minutemen), with most of their organizational assets being comprised of human and synth agents. Where the BOS give you a laser rifle, a suit of T-60, and a zeppelin to live on, in the RR you get a cot in some catacombs and the most powerful goddamned little gun in the Commonwealth. The RR has very little overhead, unless you count being murdered en masse by Institute Coursers and/or BOS paladins kicking your doors in. They do have to put up with Desdemona's sorry-ass attitude, but then the BOS has to share the Prydwen with Maxson's ego and seriously dope coat, so there is that.
The Institute, for all its technological strengths, has its own worries, but you have to dig a little. Of course, there's the power issue; all that super-science takes energy; That includes growing their food, fabricating synths, bleaching the hell out of the entire Institute ("how did you get your whites so white?" "SCIENCE!" ) and if course the Molecular relay-everything in the Institute demands energy, to the point where they were tapping into external power assets prior to faction quests and the SS. I'd also like to point out that in my opinion, the Institute doesn't just reclaim synths because Blade Runner was the best sci-fi movie of all time, but because each synth-much like the Brotherhood's suits of T-60-represents an enormous investment of time and resources (note: they appear to not give a shit about the Gen 1s who flunked out of Imperial Stormtrooper school and are made of toilet paper). Logically, if it requires less resources to reclaim and repurpose a rogue synth, then that process begins to make a lot more sense, other than "Institute EEEVIL."
The Institute is in an advantageous position, logistically speaking, with their only real concern being power requirements, and are able to move materiel around at will; their supply lines are effectively limitless with the only limiting factors being the range of the Classical "radio station" and the power output they're able to muster. They're also run by the biggest collection of intelligent-some might even say brilliant-stupid people this side of Diamond City, but that's another discussion.
Finally, the Minutemen-or Minuteman, unless you choose to help Preston. If you choose not to help Preston, well, the Minuteman is screwed, and stays a colonial cosplayer in a museum forever. However, if you willingly submit to Garvey's pleas for help, you can-and it really is dependent on you, for the Minutemen truly are your faction-not Maxson's, not Desdemona's, and not the Institute Department Heads'. The Minutemen are what you make of them. (I like to think of them as a nascent CPG) andxbyvthe time you've built up a bunch of settlements, you'll have a self-sustaining interconnected group of small towns with trade routes linking them together. Your little Empire will feed itself, have it's own workshops (and you alone can manufacture warbots!), have artillery with overlapping fields of fire, you'll have microeconomies in each township, and depending on how you choose to equip them, your Minutemen can be wearing rags and using pipe weapons, or be in full combat armor with gauss weapons, plasma and laser weapons (or Manwell rifles, good god) and be defending settlements ringed with turrets of death. The Minutemen can't project force liked The BOS, they don't have the intelligence network of the RR, and certainly can't match the Institute technologically speaking, but logistically they can become a major powerhouse if you invest in them. No other faction has a whole region of self-sustaining, interconnected, decentralized settlements that generate trade, foodstuffs, and their own surplus. But-as you all are probably painfully aware-the Minutemen are wholly dependent on how much you invest into them. If you take the factions as they exist at the moment you exit Vault 111, the Minutemen aren't even worth mentioning.
tl, dr: the BOS has some serious logistical and supply concerns, but wouldn't if Maxson would actually use the Prydwen.
the RR benefits from having almost no large scale logistical concerns, due to their relatively small size and being a collection of individuals.
The Institute is looking pretty damned spiffy logistically speaking, having effectively infinite supply lines and internally grown food supplies; just hope Father remembers to pay the power bill.
The Minutemen-sorry, Minuteman-start as a non-entity, but can grow to a whole region of self-sustaining, interconnected townships with their own economies, and can be as militarily as powerful as you're willing to make them; artillery, warbots, and your own militia, but is heavily dependent on player investment, and let's face it, eventually you're going to want to tell Preston where to shove his laser musket.
Thank you for listening to me ramble and please excuse any grammatical or formatting errors as I'm on my mobile. If anyone has any in-game sources for information I've missed (e.g., the BOS is making regular supply runs to D.C.) please feel free to enlighten me.
p.s. I find it interesting that everyone calls Maxson a dick, but Desdemona and Justin Ayo are just as bad if not worse. I really don't have an issue with any of the other Institute directors and Deacon is a bro.
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