Friday, July 22, 2016

Command Modern Naval and Air Operations - Old Grudges Never Die (DLC)

Fighting armed religious radicals in the fence-less backyard of a former acquaintance who is now politically bankrupt is like crashing a bar fight crowded with drunkards. Welcome to present-day Syria!

Welcome to yet another winner DLC for the awesome Command Modern Naval Operations. The Old Grudges Never Die DLC requires just the base game (i.e. Northern Inferno not required). Priced at US $2.99, the DLC is a Syria/ISIS/Russia/Turkey/NATO single scenario that lasts 24 hours of simulated time. The player can take command of either the Russian or the Turkish forces.

As described in Matrix/Slitherine games webpage: " you attempt to maintain national honour and pride while keeping any hostilities limited". In this picture, my Russian nuclear submarine has been fired upon.
First off, the versatility of the Command engine is fantastic. In this scenario that I am playing as the Russians, I target religious radicals, try to not piss off NATO, and keep my forces on alert against Turkey, who is borderline hysteric with my presence in Syria. On top of that, I try to figure out what the Syrian Air Force is up to (they never tell me). I applaud the design of this scenario, with no prescriptive "bread crumb trail of known objectives" that the player has to cover to achieve victory. This is an scenario that encourages free exploration on operational art in the air and in the sea.

Two Russian SU-34 Fencers return to base after a successful strike mission on ISIS-operated oil rigs. Note the Kurdish militias east of the targets. They are allies (that's why they are labelled "A") and can't be controlled by the Russian player.
Old Grudges' has a very thorough set of scripts and triggers under the hood. Just the orders of battle of the several sides present in the scenario are worth the price of admission.

Cruise missiles (blue icons coming from the north) flying over Turkey on their way to ISIS targets. As the Russian player I have no control on firing them, but I know I will pay the bill with my precious forces for that show of force.
Old Grudges is a proof that the engine can be used for professional-level rapid prototyping of contemporary conflicts. If you look beyond the technical specifications of the war toys (not implying that I consider anything to be wrong in CMANO's database), Old Grudges is chock-full of  important issues in command, operational art, plus rapid and effective deployment for emerging threats.

Do not underestimate the naval aspect of the DLC. It's not by chance that the Russians have two nuclear submarines in the theater of operations.

If you are not using "missions" to organize and assign tasks/objectives, this would be a great time to start doing so.

Russian in-theater resources are few. In this screenshot I sent Mi-24 helicopters to attack ISIS-operated oil rigs. It's like Cold War tactics: use helicopters massed deep into enemy territory to interdict the enemy.

When it hits the fan, it's FUBAR. In this screenshot, USAF F-15Es had just shot down one of my Su-25s. I'm now officially fighting the US. Although two of my Su-27s managed to shoot down the F-15s, the road ahead is not pretty.
Old Grudges has a lot to offer for a very small price. The complexity of the scenario is moderate but very manageable. The type of decisions the player has to make is spot on. Playing as the Russians, most of the time I had to share airspace with French, US, Syrian attack aircraft. Tracking down those bogeys coming from Turkey is always a thrill. On the naval front, keeping a fine balance of assertiveness while not looking into confrontation with Turkey seems like the best option. Unfortunately for me, the Turkish Navy is on a very bellicose footing.



Chris said...

Just purchased. Can't wait to give it a whirl.

JC said...

I knew you would be interested. :)