Playing any sort of sandbox game, I can’t help but think of the ripples that might move on from it. Both Automation: The Car Company Tycoon Game and Command: Modern Air Naval Operations are, thanks to their gigantic arrays of details, excellent at this.

So, in Command, I think of what effect the battle will have on not just politics, but on force issues.

One battle may lead to the accelerated retirement of certain obsolete units. One may either boost the dominance of a certain platform or bring a new one into vogue. Economic ripple effects may cause stronger or weaker defense spending, with the side effects that exist from that. Almost all never amount to more than daydreams, but they’re fun daydreams.

With Automation, given its bottom-up build-a-car mode, the question is often reversed-not “how will this car affect _____” but “how will ______ affect this car?”. Some examples are fairly ‘easy’-Kyoto or another climate protocol means a forcibly efficient car that uses a lot of exotic gimmicks to boost mileage faster than a “natural” and gradual efficiency gain. Others are tougher (I’ve thought of designing hypothetical cars in an existing alternate history setting where A: machine tools are decades behind history, and B: Japan’s car industry is not an international one. Needless to say, the cars would be a lot different).

Sometimes I answer those style questions in Command, pointing to Empire State lobbying as the reason for adopting the Super Tomcat (F-14s were built on Long Island), or greater naval air losses in the Gulf War forcing a stealth carrier unit (The F-117N or more capable A/F-117X, adaptations of the classic stealth fighter with far superior avionics taken from the cancelled A-12).

Then the question goes all the way around again, and I ponder the fairly short service lives of these stealth attackers (they’re a stopgap developed from the F-117, which was a bare-bones stopgap in and of itself).

Little comes of this, but it’s fun.

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