Command Community Pack Commentary

The latest Command Community Pack has been released, with a whopping 29 new scenarios available in it.

I made two of them, Brazil Abroad and Human Limitation, and figured I’d give a “director’s commentary”.

  • Brazil Abroad was both logistically limited power production, and a slow-paced, sustained ops air campaign, something I feel has been underutilized in Command. I wanted to give the player limited resources and a wide array of freedom when pursuing a target, which in practice meant a LOT of targets.
  • Human Limitation is a concept I’ve been interested in for a while, even before I got Command. Not just of Gaddafi’s African adventures leading him to Rhodesia, but the basic min-max concept of lots of equipment and little skill vs. the exact opposite.

What will I make next? I’m considering a Circle Trigon scen or doing what I’ve long scoffed at, making a pull-out-all-the-stops classic WWIII.

Unleashing the Circle Trigon

So, it’s very weird how when dealing with the early “Circle Trigon” phase of US military OPFORs (a history of their progression I recorded in another post at Baloogan Campaign), my usual approach to exercise scenarios has been turned on its head. I played a largely futile attack by USMC aircraft on a battleship/cruiser pair in Command, and it was really fun.

However, instead of an American battleship and cruiser, I represented the Trigonist warships with a French battleship and Spanish cruiser. This was “in-character” for the Aggressor backstory, which featured them carved out of Bavaria, Italy, Spain, and France. The Aggressor Navy being vaguely defined gives me a lot of creative freedom (it’s neither a direct copy of an American unit or obvious Soviet stand-in). I think my approach involves…

  • For later OPFORs, using “Actor” aggressor units adds variety, as a break from the waves of units. But for this earlier environment, obscure French/Spanish/Italian units “in-character” get their chance to shine. The Circle Trigon backstory is so goofy I feel compelled to run with it.
  • The proficiency setting is not always “Ace”. Weird how, even as I focus on the ‘characters’, I shift to the ‘actors’ proficiency. These are ad-hoc units trained in Aggressor tactics and speaking Esperanto, not the full-time OPFOR that became a beast at Nellis and the NTC. But who knows, I could make them aces if I wanted to 😀
  • Just wanting to have fun.

And I certainly did. I really should make a full Aggressor scen that treats everything seriously.

 

 

 

Command Fiction: Sixty Turning And Forty Burning

This Command Fiction is based on the community scenario Operation Vulture, which is in turn based on a real (and thankfully never enacted) proposal to use heavy bombers to support the French at Dien Bien Phu.

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Only ten of the Peacemakers were serviceable. There were many reasons, from spare parts still being flown in to the tropical air not being to the liking of any aircraft. Still. The number-crunchers would have something to chew on once the analyses came back.

Could a greater payload (a much greater payload) in an individual platform make up for a decrease in overall platforms? The world, the French, the PLA, and the Viet Minh were about to find-

Ok, that was loud, the staff officer thought as the aircraft hefted its tons of bombs upwards. Really, really, loud.

-find out.

Post-Soviet Snags

I like obscure conflicts in Command, even hypothetical ones.

However, there’s one (not insurmountable, but still present) issue I’ve fond with would-be post Soviet conflicts. The issue comes from the Soviet-era force structures. In many ex-bloc states, a conflict in the scenario editor ends up in an unequal squash. Surplus aircraft with little standoff capability go against top-of-the-line air defenses designed to stop the USAF.

Thankfully, there are workarounds. Plot ones like saying the missiles aren’t totally deployed, in-game ones using WRA and proficiency changes to make the SAMs less effective, or, in the case of large countries, taking place in an area where the best defenses wouldn’t be stationed anyway.

Command Fiction: The Little Sink

While Operation Little Sink sounds like something from a random generator, it’s in fact a fake name I came up with by myself in the process of writing this post. Now I want to make a Command scenario entitled “Operation Little Sink”.

Or “Plan Little Sink”.

What could it be? My theory is that it’s a limited contingency plan, the smaller counterpart to a “Plan Big Sink”. And what could that contingency be? Perhaps an amphibious operation (sink as in water sink?), although those have to be big. Amphibious raids vs a full-scale attack?

Or air support and limited ground forces (Little Sink) vs. full-scale war (Big Sink)?

Hope my Little Sink scenario doesn’t sunk like many others. (Sorry, had to make the pun)

Command Community Update

The Command Community Scenario Pack has just been updated, with a wide array of new scenarios ready for play. These range from adaptations of classic Tom Clancy novels to large original works to alternate-history what ifs.

The scenarios are described in full here and can be downloaded in the usual Warfaresims spot here.

Old Wargames And Possible Adaptations

I remember two of my Steel Panthers games I played all the way through, and wondered if I could adapt the “plot” of them to Command

The first was an unusual skirmish. This consisted of the unconventional UN side trying to break a dug-in position belonging to Ukraine. The vanilla UN isn’t even meant to be a proper side, just a scenario placeholder for its “Allied” components (They have decent “Peacekeeper” infantry, but their only real AFV is an over-expensive for plain armor mine-plow M60 Patton).

I had two of those tanks as the peacekeepers breached the line, although one sadly did not survive the battle. The peacekeepers were not unscathed, but their opponents were hit far harder.

(The plot is difficult-the best I can think of is an earlier Crimea/Donbass style conflict that ends with a demilitarized zone patrolled by peacekeepers, a potentially unauthorized attempt to occupy part of it that the UN defuses by attacking by itself rather than having the Russians and their local allies risk reigniting it)

The second was a France-Sudan battle in Chad. This is vastly more suitable.

A company of Leclercs and APCs destroyed a large force of Sudanese armor, infantry, and militia. A few APCs and infantry were lost, but that was it in the very Desert Storm-like lopsided battle.

The aftermath of that would be something. Even better, I can use it for either side. A push-on as France with casualty-sensitive events for balance reasons, or a desperation sortie by Sudan. Then again, I have a million scenario ideas already…

Command Fiction: Cold Patrols

Intro:

This Command Fiction vignette is based on my scenario Yellow Sea Patrol. The scenario itself is one I’ve found largely unsatisfying due its luck based component. I still like the concept, it’s just hard to model right in an operational level sim.

So, this is a Cold War story-no, it’s-a story of luck.

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The destroyers Morgan and Winters had just fired the first shots of the Cold War, and just taken the first hits. Whatever encouraged the ChiComs to go out with their Mustang and torpedo boats remained a mystery.

-What wasn’t a mystery was the outcome. A destroyer beat up by air-launched rockets and the torpedo boats all on the bottom of the ocean.

-What wasn’t a mystery was the outcome. A destroyer getting purely cosmetic damage from air-launched rockets that missed it.

-What wasn’t a mystery was the outcome. A destroyer sunk by a lucky torpedo hit, the first postwar loss of a ship that size.

Was the outcome indeed a mystery? Not what it was that particular day, but what it could have been?

 

Command Fiction: Democratic War Theory

Intro:

For whatever reason, a Command scenario that has stayed in my imagination long after I released it was Regaining Honor. Perhaps it’s the unconventional drone gameplay or something else. While its description of the state of the Yemeni armed forces has turned out to be the exact opposite of what happened in real life, the circumstances-similar to real life but also different, have gripped me.

So I’m writing this “Command Fiction”, describing the aftermath of a scenario. There will be more of this, from multiple perspectives.

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June 12, 2015.

The irony of it all. A Middle Eastern nation with little history of anything but authoritarianism holds a democratic election and hands over power. Under most circumstances, it would be cheerful.

Not today.

On April 2, routine drone operations turned into the largest aerial combat losses for the United States since the Vietnam War. Four American fighters, including two of the previously unbeaten F-15s, fell. In return, they shot down at least seventeen Yemeni planes. The regional buildup has accelerated, and now a fleet of warships sits off the coast, backed by hundreds of land-based aircraft everywhere from Jordan to Djibouti.

All against a military that, even before the loss of half its air force, was hideously weak even by regional standards. But every American from President Winslow down to the lowest-ranked enlisted knows that striking first after the event would be politically suicidal. Even the initial sweep and cruise missile strike (apparent an awkward enactment of a CENTCOM contingency plan for the loss of a crewed aircraft over Yemen) was considered by many domestic and international observers as overreacting.

An immediate snap election was called. The ruling YPP won 79 out of 141 seats in the Yemeni national parliament, allowing it to (theoretically) form a cohesive leadership without the awkward dealings and rumblings that characterized the past two years of civilian rule. No one believes its large victory to be the result of anything but fear and a desire for some kind of stability.

The YPP’s coalition partners accepted the defeat (at least for the time) and the new single-party cabinet was sworn in on June 10.

Unresolved issues include POW Jim Butterfield, an F-15 pilot captured during the air battle (Two were killed and a third was safely rescued).

The elected, civilian government chose to shoot down the drones as a political move-an irony that, for the claims of “democratic peace theory”, it proved more belligerent than its authoritarian predecessors.

Whatever, markets have jittered and oil prices spiked since the start of the crisis. While Yemen has little interdiction capability and the American buildup would make any attempt near-impossible, the instability is bringing fear. If Winslow hoped that a large buildup would reassure financial leaders, he is mistaken.

Air Force Coups

So, one of my endeavors in Command has been to make a scenario where the player controls the plotters of a coup attempt. At first, the main stumbling block was what country to set it in, and at what time. I figured that out.

The problem is that fixed-wing aircraft are inherently the worst tools to use for a coup. Coups are about seizing, even more so than conventional battles. Because of this, there have been only a handful of historical coup attempts that relied largely on aircraft and all of them failed.

The paradox is this-if the circumstances make the coup likely to succeed, the fighter aircraft are superfluous. If the circumstances make it likely to fail, they’re irrelevant no matter what their performance.

I do have an idea of how to model their niche, so that’s not an issue with making the scenario.

Just an observation that shows why an unorthodox situation is unorthodox.