The Games That Led Me To Command

Over at Baloogan Campaign, I have a post on the three major games that led me on the path to Command: Modern Air Naval Operations. Those games are Advance Wars, Steel Panthers, and Fleet Command.

Read the post here.

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A look behind the scenes at Northern Fury

So, on the Northern Fury Project blog, scenario author Bart “Gunner98” Gauvin explains how the parts of the story become Command scenarios in the latest post. It’s an excellent post, and I’d like to add a few thoughts on it, from my own Command experience.

First, I cannot emphasize enough how much I agree with this sentence. “To make a good two-sided scenario, in my opinion, takes about three times as much effort as making a one-sided one, not to mention probably four times the playtesting effort.” Both of us have made two-sided Command Live scenarios, so we have experience with these. I’ve found that for trying to create a specific type of, for lack of a better word, “feel” in a scenario, trying both that and making it viable by both sides is far trickier-not impossible, but trickier-than having it be one-sided. And a lot of the Northern Fury scenarios aim for that kind of feel.

Second, briefings. I tend to be as basic about the briefings as possible, but now and then like to have some fun with them. Hint-they don’t have to be completely accurate…

Third, and this could be worth a post by itself, I’d be interested in seeing how the “canonical” losses are determined for a scenario set. The player could either succeed brilliantly or fail miserably. But how does that average into the assets  for the next scenario in the same place?

Still, a very fascinating, very effective post.

Submarine Fiction

With the release of The Silent Service DLC for Command, I figured I’d talk about submarine fiction. Now, the genre includes traditional classics like Run Silent Run Deep, and of course, a submarine novel kickstarted the technothriller genre as we know it.

Submarine fiction is a sort of genre that’s interesting in the context of how it adapted to the post-USSR period. It was a very hard, very uphill struggle. Probably more so than any other subgenre of technothriller, because not that many countries even have subs, much less modern ones.

Small fry? You’d be lucky to get anything more than a Kilo or Type 209.

Nuclear submarines? Only six countries operate them, four are democracies, and three of the four are NATO members.

So the methods I’ve found authors use are:

  • Give the enemy a “thingy”. That is, the weaker opponent has a submarine (or submarines) as well. Is it a Kilo/209? Is it an upgraded Kilo/209-style submarine? Is it a newer, quiet submarine?
  • Make the story part of a big great-power conflict, in some form or another.
  • Go full sci-fi or weird and make it unconventional in some form. Larry Bond’s Cauldron is a mild example of this, whereas Joe Buff‘s submarine novels are an extreme example.
  • Finally-have a submarine that’s hijacked/hacked/rogue/stolen/otherwise in the hands of the antagonist. This is one of many examples, as is this.

Obviously, they can mix, these are not hard and fast categories by any means. The only thing that really feels “natural” is the great-power conflict, and that has its own issues and hangups. The others can still be done well. As with any genre, a skilled author can turn a questionable setup into a delight, while a bad author can get a story handed to them on a silver platter and mess it up. But the obvious handwaves and possible pitfalls are still there, and still clear.

An additional one that I think exists for submarines regardless of the time period is that they’re “all or nothing”. You can destroy individual protagonist tanks or aircraft easily enough, but, for the most part, either all the submarine’s crew makes it, or none of them do.

Submarine fiction is an interesting technothriller niche, that, thanks to the real exclusivity, seems to amplify the issues the genre has had. And that’s legitimately interesting to me.

Operational Map Games

I’ve been entertaining a few operational “map exercises”. Some are “semi-real” and others completely fictional.

One, which I like because it’s the most readily translatable to Command scenarios features a deep intervention of the XVIII Airborne Corps (or a differently-named formation designed to evoke it) against the fictional “Turkic Republic”, an amalgamated Central Asian opponent.

Which Turkic Republic it is-the strong power or the weak wreck, depends on the kind of scenario I want to make.