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(updated) New scenario for testing: Peru-Ecuador Cenepa War of 1995

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(updated) New scenario for testing: Peru-Ecuador Cenepa... - 9/5/2021 12:44:34 AM   

Posts: 4320
Joined: 2/29/2012
From: Toronto and Lima
Status: offline
Good afternoon,
looking for an experienced scenario tester. I built a quite detailed and historical scenario about the Peru-Ecuador Cenepa war of 1995

in its most ambitious form, I would like at least two 3-day long scenarios, but in its current form, I have the first day, or better to say, the first 10 hours of fighting

the mission is to provide ground support to troops assaulting an enemy position. There is some potential for AA combat, but at this stage that is secondary to the ground attack mission (the second scenario will include air battles)

This war was fought, in 1995, on very difficult terrain (jungle& mountains), with a mix of high tech and ancient equipment, in one hand supersonic 3rd generation fighters, WVR missiles, late 80s manpads, attack helicopters, in the other hand COIN (counterinsurgency) and trainer attack airplanes, iron bombs, rockets, Mk1 eyeball

friendly forces available: 4 Hind Mi-25 gunships, 4 A-37s attack planes, several rocket equipped Mi-8s and 17s (available after completing their helicopter transport mission). Also Mirage2000, Mirage5 and Su-22 to provide air cover
also quite a lot of transports doint "ferry" missions, to simulate a busy, hectic air bridge to bring troops to the conflict area (a place without roads). I was originally planning to make a scenario about the logistical air bridge that happened from December to January, as I was not fully aware about the limitations of the game in terms of "cargo" missions.

enemy forces: deadly anti air capabilities, mainly SA-16 Iglas, plus blowpipes and AA guns (37mm and 23mm). the valley is a death trap. Historically, Peru lost 8 airplanes in the air campaign (which ran from Jan28 to Feb13)

in the air: Kfir C2s and Mirage F1 ... shouldn't be too relevant to this short scenario unless you go after them, they will be more involved in the 2nd scenario

key request:

1) please assess the level of difficulty, I think it is too difficult, those Iglas are too nasty and they are eating the Mi-25 for breakfast (at least against me). if you agree it is too difficult, any ideas to reduce the difficulty? maybe reduce the number of manpads?

2) ideally I would like to have bigger scenarios, like 3 or 4 days (if not more). Problem is, it gets boring at nighttime because the forces lack good night capabilities. Is there a way to fast forward to next day?

3) scoring: I put more penalties to losing expensive aircraft than achieving hits on cheap infantry. that means that it will be a struggle to end above zero. what would be a good score to set as victory?

4) I bought the game a few days ago, so any help, feedback or correction would be greatly appreciated

some historical background

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< Message edited by Jorge_Stanbury -- 9/7/2021 12:09:38 AM >
Post #: 1
RE: New scenario for testing: Peru-Ecuador Cenepa War o... - 9/5/2021 9:50:13 PM   


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Joined: 7/14/2019
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1) Difficulty is subjective, and I don't feel like I played it well enough in to give a fair assessment. If the goal is to replicate historical performance, then extreme difficulty isn't necessarily an issue requiring revision (though it may impact the extent to which the scenario is fun to play). If the goal is to produce something inspired by history, it may be worth reconsidering. If this is something you decide to rebalance, you could reduce the level of difficulty by decreasing the skill level (in the editor dropdown) and/or the engagement range (in the WRA) of the units that you think are taking too big a bite out of the player's forces. In terms of the number of MANPADs, consider also that each unit on the map has 3-4 launchers assigned.

2) In the scenario, there is not a way to force a fast forward. But it may be possible with Lua to auto-RTB all non-night operations capable aircraft at dusk and then set the time until they are ready as until dawn. What I will say I found confusing as a player was the aircraft that would be ready after the scenario ended - I tried to assign them to a CAP. Additionally, the distinction between implemented objectives and the objectives you intend to implement but that are out of scope for the 10 hour scenario released was not super clear.

3) This depends on whether you want to make your scenario as strict historical recreation as possible, or an inspired by history sort of scenario. If the former, I recommend victory be set to whatever score actual historical performance would have be represented as (or alternatively as whatever you think the political level on the player side would have considered 'good enough'). If the latter, I think you should make victory whatever the score for minimum mission success should be in your judgement - whatever value represents the necessary targets destroyed, as well as maximum acceptable casualties lost. Whatever you decide, I would encourage you to implement a scoring setup that reflects the priorities given to the player in the briefing.

4) Additional thoughts (feel free to disregard whatever you disagree with):
- I found the 2 airfields at the end of the air bridge a bit confusing to navigate. If the point of that is to replicate reality, I suppose no change is needed. If the point is to separate which aircraft are player-owned and which aren't, you should know it is possible to base aircraft at friendly or neutral airfields.
- The aircraft not in a Maintenance status but that became ready after the end of the scenario felt distracting.
- Having read the wikipedia article linked to above (which I very much appreciated - I'd never heard of this conflict before), was there a reason you decided not to enable quick turnaround for the player side? It might have made more forces available for follow-up attacks more quickly.
- The mechanics of the air bridge (which ground units need to go where) were not made particularly clear. I think a note in the briefing or pop-up early in the scenario would be very helpful here.
- My specific priorities as a player weren't as clear as they could have been. The briefing says what to do, but not what is most important to do, and this matters because there's not a whole lot of assets available.
- It would be helpful if friendly land forces the player. Failing that, consider identifying approximate locations of friendly forces at the start of the game. I set WRA to free fire on land forces, and think I killed a bunch of friendlies. One way you could model intermittent communications would be to have a timer that triggers every 5 seconds at sets OutOfComms to True, and a timer triggering every hour that sets OutOfComms to false. That way, at the top of each hour, the player gets a position and status update, but otherwise cannot coordinate directly with ground forces.
- Not a whole lot happened between the two assaults, so I started moving infantry to the East towards the objectives. They got killed promptly while trying to conduct reconnaissance, but I had no assets with which to attack the enemy. It'd be helpful to get coordinating instructions for follow-up attacks similar to the message provided for the initial one.
- If you're looking to even out scoring, maybe consider providing points for identifying hostile formations?
- My final score was horrendous (-1220) in part because I messed with the preset ferry mission altitude and speed settings, leading to losses.

This was a fascinating scenario to play, as I knew nothing about the historical conflict or OOBs beforehand. I look forward to playing a revision, if you choose to make it. Thanks for sharing!

(in reply to Jorge_Stanbury)
Post #: 2
RE: New scenario for testing: Peru-Ecuador Cenepa War o... - 9/6/2021 1:14:27 PM   


Posts: 5385
Joined: 4/29/2005
From: The Great White North!
Status: offline
You’re a brave man for tackling a scenario after only a few days with the game. Well done.

I’ve only played the first 30 min or so but I like the air battle, using the Mirage2000 to control the air fight for the non-radar Mirage & Fitters against those bloody Kfir was good fun. The T-33s probably don’t belong in this fight though, you may want to save them to run decoy missions when the Ecuadorians conduct a strike.

I’ll echo Fido81’s points and expand a bit with a couple more. I’ve only played a little bit but here goes:

You should probably ask yourself ‘what do I want to show/achieve/exercise with this scenario?’ Scenarios that try and do too much are often confusing and awkward to the player (I’m one to talk – I know…). So in the limited look I see several things:

• The air superiority fight – good fun so far
• Airmobile insertion – but you have already set up the cargo missions and loading. What does the player do?
• Ground support but almost independent of the airmobile because the player is only doing one part of it, and your first pop up tells the player explicitly how he/she is to do it.
• Airbridge - I found the air bridge confusing. Is it necessary? Some airbridge AC are under player control, some aren’t, can I do other things with them? If it is necessary - why? What does the player have to do with it? How do you make it a part of the players problem?
• Defensive operation which I have not seen yet. (you may want to run through the Strike Tutorials to help set these us)

This is the tricky part in historical scenarios where you are trying to recreate what happened and the player is trying to play the game. You will find that CMO players don’t necessarily react well to being told how to do their mission (as in the first pop up). Try to focus on what they need to achieve and let them figure out how to do it, that’s the fun of the game. Trial & error, experimentation and realizing that the real guys had reasons to do it this way – or – if they had done it that way it would be better …etc

A couple other points

No nav zones: Perhaps give them meaningful names. Zone 2 & 3 are connected, it may be better to make this one zone, not a huge issue but large zones can be resource hogs so just a good habit to streamline them. An explanation of why they are there in the brief would be useful, also rounding the edges will make it easier for the AI to make paths around them without getting hung up, it can really be annoying when you lose an aircraft due to fuel only to find that it’s been phaffing about trapped in the corner of a zone somewhere. Mechanically they are a bit fiddly to work with, there may be a video on how to work with them better

Briefing: This is more of a style point so disregard as you see fit; the brief flows between orders and commentary so the essential bits could get lost. It may be better to have a short ‘designers notes’ section at the end of the brief so you can keep the essential bits for the player easy to identify and the more in-depth explanations separate where they can read at their leisure.

Unit naming: Since this is an historic scenario, real unit names (or nicknames) would be a nice touch. They would also be useful to differentiate who the player has control of or not

I don't mean to come across too critical, I like the setting and as Fido81 said, this is a fight that not many of us know about. So keep it up, this is not an easy game to master and building good scenarios takes some practice. Could I suggest you play a few of Mark Gellis's scenarios, they are often on a similar scale and scope to this one and are really good fun.

Keep it up... B


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(in reply to Fido81)
Post #: 3
RE: New scenario for testing: Peru-Ecuador Cenepa War o... - 9/6/2021 7:04:46 PM   

Posts: 4320
Joined: 2/29/2012
From: Toronto and Lima
Status: offline
Thank you very much Fido81 and Gunner88. I have made some changes, mostly from Fido81's feedback, as I haven't have time to do any change from Gunner88's reply:

the goal is to make the scenario historically accurate, but with some gameplay licenses, as long as they are plausible: so I won't include aircraft not available during the conflict, definitively no borrowing planes with advanced electronics from hypothetical allied nations
But on the other hand, increasing a bit the number of operational aircraft, or borrowing from the strategic reserves a few planes, is OK

what I updated:

- added "designer notes" to the briefing
- changed to quick turn around = Yes for Peru and Ecuador
- made manpads "out of comms", so that they are not as reactive... this has made the less deadly
- extended scenario to almost 3 days (2 hours + 10hours)
- any plane not relevant to the scenario is now unavailable
- I set scripts to "activate"/ "deactivate" missions at night time
- removed the duplicated "allied" airfield
- I removed "ground forces" and "army aviation" as allies. instead, I have now 4 platoons "lost" and "totally out of comms"; these are set up as neutral, the idea is to avoid shooting at any contact (and/ or risk friendly fire). That said, in the briefing there are instructions on where (which RefPoints directions) not to expect friendly forces
- I would like implement intermittent out of comms; but so far I don't know how to
- The airborne insertion mission is now up to the player to follow/ or to modify. The helicopters are now carrying useful toys, like artillery, mortars, reinforcements and target designators (laser, IR and night vision), so it is a good idea to deploy and use them

Lastly, this is Ecuador's Tiwinza, this is how a "jungle base" looked... wooden structures, chopped trees to make a heliport, the Cenepa river nearby (left side)... all bases the valley bases were near the river; in the jungle the rivers are the highways. by the way that phrase is a message to the (attacking) Peruvian airforce: "not a step back"

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< Message edited by Jorge_Stanbury -- 9/6/2021 10:59:02 PM >

(in reply to Gunner98)
Post #: 4
RE: New scenario for testing: Peru-Ecuador Cenepa War o... - 9/6/2021 11:22:06 PM   

Posts: 4320
Joined: 2/29/2012
From: Toronto and Lima
Status: offline
Some additional points:

- Ecuador used T-33s (the trainer version of F-80 Shooting star) in the real life; and this is not as stupid as it sounds,
1st the Ecuadorian T-33s were armed (6 50cals, but not for the Iranian version I found available), they had good long range endurance (good for extended patrol) and they were fast and maneuverable against the targets they were expected to fight: A-37s, Tucanos and helicopters. And they were still fast enough to run away if they found Peruvian supersonic fighters, because there was always a MirageF1 or Kfir nearby.
From a game point of view, is there a way of making them run away from contacts? I also like the idea of showing more
"bogeys", in a environment of low radar coverage. That said, I had them patrolling only the 1st day.

- The Ecuadorians will strike on the second scenario, the second scenario will focus on the air. It will run from February 9th to 11th/ 12th. That was the time of maximum escalation, with both sides launching strikes and a main air-to-air battle on Feb10 (worst day for Peru, as it lost 2 Sukkois and 1 A-37)

- I will rework the no-nav zones to reduce them as much as possible, I will also add the reason in designers note: it was simply that neither country wanted to be seen as the aggressor by public opinion and the violation of national borders would be seen as a dangerous provocation and escalation

- the air bridge is now totally outside the conflict zone, the player has total control of the assets at Ciro Alegria, the rest can be ignored as a "flavor" event

and another pretty picture: the Condor mountains as seen from the Cenepa river... notice the low clouds making it hard to bomb, and perfect hidden place for Igla manpads

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(in reply to Jorge_Stanbury)
Post #: 5
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