Command-ing a Slapfight

One of the appeals of Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations is that it gives players a chance to use military platforms to their full potential. It can be a carrier group launching a super-strike. It can be a unit of heavy bombers fighting equally advanced SAMs.

Or, in the case of my latest scenario editor experiment, it can be a more realistic battle of what Saltybet would call “P-Tier” units. I took the MiG-21bis and Mirage V, eastern and western aircraft both armed with just rear-aspect AAMs, set both sides to “novice” proficiency, set up spotting radars, and let them have at it, with ten on each side in a staggered patrol.

The result, when the survivors ran out of fuel/ammo and returned home, was:

  • Seven lost MiGs and four lost Mirages, albeit with a good number of endgame calcs that could have swung things the other way with better/worse rolls.
  • A LOT of flopping around and being unable to fire, and some missiles overshooting once the target turned. However, the low proficiency was such that when a good solution was obtained, it usually meant that the target aircraft was shot down.

The Spanish Moroccan War in hindsight

About a decade ago, young me read a tale that would spark an interest in alternate history. That story was A Spanish-Moroccan War in 2002. With a decade of hindsight, with a decade of me both more interested in and more disillusioned by alternate history (long story), what do I think of it?

Well, my first thought is “time to sim some of it in Command”, because boy is something like that meant for Command. In fact, it was the appeal of simulating such slightly unconventional (to an American) conflicts that drove me into that sim in the first place (My very first editor experiment was a Spanish-Nigerian clash over Equatorial Guinea in the 1960s-certainly as far from the GIUK Gap in 198X as it gets.)

But as for the story on its own terms…

  • In some cases, it’s like an AH.com style TL, for better or worse. What makes it “better” is that it’s detailed and scope limited. It’s an hour-by-hour recap of a war lasting a few days, and apart from an epilogue, that’s it. I think what’s made me sour on such a writing model is that it’s increasingly not done well-big events are brushed past in a few paragraphs (or less!) while history divergences monstrously in a way that’s clearly “because the author thought it”, and there’s often a lack-of-effort streak visible. This is not the case here.
  • It’s also novel, and a conflict that isn’t some mega-dystopia or other clear trend-follower. This combined with the limited scope means it manages to avoid both the “Nazi Confederates Take Over The World” and “Reads Like The Minutes of A Finger Lakes Historical Society Conference” extremes that plague the genre.
  • That being said, this kind of story is meant to be experienced an installment at a time as a kind of serial, and having access to the whole thing at once takes a lot of the drama away.

It’s interesting to look back on, at least.

 

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.