I’ve been thinking of trying a few Command scenarios as part of the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War, some dealing with what-if equipment, and others dealing with what-if politics. So far none have gotten any farther than a few experiments in the scen editor to see how balanced they are.
The F-16XL one I mentioned earlier was equipment-wise. The rest is going to be political. One possibility, actually mentioned in the official US Navy history, Shield and Sword, was that the nations who openly supported the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Libya, Sudan, and Yemen, would interfere with Coalition operations-most importantly, their vital supply routes.
The book also mentioned that a show of force quickly deterred them from doing so-understandably. Iraq’s would-be allies are considerably weaker than their patron-and my experiments showed it.
On this day one year ago, my first blog post at Baloogan Campaign was published. I’ve gotten into blogging a lot more since then, and the experience has been very good.
The blog post in question was about Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations, a game I enjoy immensely and which I have no shortage of things to say about. Since then, my blogging has ranged from other pop culture to Command itself.
As a followup to the last post, how would I balance a scenario between one very strong and one very weak opponent?
This can be tough. The very realism of Command means that it can handily create results similar to historical examples. If those results mean a crushing defeat for one side, so be-it?
There are ways around this. Here’s several, in a sort of order from my “least preferred” to most.
-Use the scoring system to take away extra points for the player when they lose a unit. This makes some sense in some circumstances, but doesn’t in others. I’m often hesitant because it can make some missions more luck-based (That missile rolled a one and hit your fighter, condemning you to only a minor victory)
-Give the player many objectives despite the resistance. This can work, but is a large effort for the scenario designer, and can turn into a slog.
-Make the opponent ahistorically strong. Rollback had a plot that couldn’t resolve this, but in other contexts it could work. A small handwave is often all that’s necessary to generate a much better challenge.
-Make the player side less strong. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest is to insist it’s an immediate crisis and those are the only forces in the area. Command is very good at showing that one squadron of F-15s are quite different from two squadrons backed by AWACS and jamming.
-Finally, make the player the weaker side. I love this concept, and should really have used it more often. While very tricky not to just turn into the Fighter Shot-Down Simulator, if it works, it works well.
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All these can be used together to make a scenario more “balanced”.
I’ve talked about about how my “Rollback” plan ended up semi-stalling, but there was one exact “ok-looks like this isn’t working” thought that hit me. So I’ll explain it.
The exact moment when I realized my “Rollback” scenario project was when I was planning Super Tomcats, naval F-117s, and maybe even NATFs launching as part of a large carrier mission-and then realizing that I’d be putting them against the same force that was hopelessly bulldozed by units vastly inferior to that.
I’m sure other scenario authors have had a problem like that.