High or low density scenarios?

Take command of air and naval assets from post-WW2 to the near future in tactical and operational scale, complete with historical and hypothetical scenarios and an integrated scenario editor.

Moderator: MOD_Command

Figeac
Posts: 77
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:07 pm

High or low density scenarios?

Post by Figeac »

Hi,

I have recently purchased the Desert Storm expansion and found an incredibly large number of units in many of the scenarios. In the first, I am responsible for transporting air units from many bases all over the world to the Middle East. In another, I was supposed to take control of three or four Carrier Strike Groups with all their embarked Air Wings and assign missions to all of them. All of these things sometimes look like a logistical nightmare to me, like I'm having to do the work that many, many people would do in real life.

I personally prefer scenarios where I control few platforms, where I can get to know them better and feel the immersion in the scenario. I know that there are other expansions with less complex scenarios (but not less challenging) like Shifting Sands and Silent Service. This thread is by no means to criticize the designers of the missions I mentioned above, which I know were done impeccably. I would just like to have a perspective on what kind of scenario most people prefer here: large and massive with many units under their control and a lot of things happening at the same time that demands your attention, or bigger or smaller scenarios, but with fewer units under your control and the ability to focus your attention on just a few platforms and actions?
User avatar
stilesw
Posts: 1515
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:08 pm
Location: Hansville, WA, USA

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by stilesw »

I would just like to have a perspective on what kind of scenario most people prefer here: large and massive with many units under their control and a lot of things happening at the same time that demands your attention, or bigger or smaller scenarios, but with fewer units under your control and the ability to focus your attention on just a few platforms and actions?
Hi Rogerio,

This had been asked in the past and it really comes down to is individual player preferences. Many forum members advocate small-medium scenarios while others prefer huge ones that can last weeks in game time. One Gulf War scenario weighed in at around 7mb in size with just about all historical units included. To me, that is probably a little too large. MGellis has created many relatively small scenarios that forum members enjoy. Other campaigns such as Northern Fury have larger scenarios with more units that have also been well received. The Desert Storm Campaign was designed to generally have representative unit numbers to keep the individual scenarios manageable in size. You are correct however that "Invasion" does require more "hands on" player involvement especially when it comes to the refueling of aircraft in transit to the Middle East. It is more logistically focused than combat oriented.

A couple of years ago a Matrix forum member (Lunex) posted a "Scenario Viewer" tool which is very useful. If you do not already have it you might find it useful in selecting scenarios you might be interested in playing. You can find it here:

https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.a ... 2365533%3B

The real point is to enjoy the CMO game/simulation so I recommend you try ones you may be interested in through the viewer.

-Wayne Stiles
“There is no limit to what a man can do so long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.”

Charles Edward Montague, English novelist and essayist
~Disenchantment, ch. 15 (1922)
KnightHawk75
Posts: 1557
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:24 pm

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by KnightHawk75 »

I enjoy both types, it entirely depends on my mood, though I don't generally enjoy super easy scenes.

Sometimes I want to speed irl days or weeks (or even months a bit at a time) playing a super complex scene where I need to micro almost everything including the entire logistics train to achieve optimal results across a series of dozen objectives over many in-game days or a week+ (ie NF-41 Tour-de-Force). Other times I just want large and complex but with logistics largely abstracted. Other times I'm in the mood for something fairly simple (not necessarily easy), where I have one objective over 24-36 in game hours to get it done with limited assets|units involved (Cleaning the Way 2021 comes to mind as example). More often than not I'm looking for something in the middle to higher side. I just spent the weekend playing CtW2021 6-7 times without getting a total success for example and had a blast, last week I played some more of NF-41 TdF that I started in may and still haven't finished though I'm getting close.

If you told me I had to pick one or the other forever, I would go with longer-running (multi-day) higher density complex scenes.

IDK that there is a 'most' view though, to each their own, that's the beauty of the game\sim.
User avatar
kevinkins
Posts: 2231
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:54 am

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by kevinkins »

This is an age old question in wargaming. It takes time to find out what size scenario you will enjoy. Start rather small and move up in size to what you like. However, huge scenarios run the risk that towards their end, an unintended design error could ruin your experience after weeks of play. So don't let the scoring system determine your overall performance in a given scenario. It's very difficult to find playtesters for huge scenarios that might take weeks to finish. Designers do their best, but sometimes errors creep in.

Kevin

“The study of history lies at the foundation of all sound military conclusions and practice.”
― Alfred Thayer Mahan

AndrewJ
Posts: 2383
Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:47 pm

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by AndrewJ »

This is entirely a personal preference, but in my case I particularly enjoy long complex scenarios, where I can see the ebb and flow of ship movement, and watch multiple operations and logistics having a meaningful effect on game-play. (When ship refuelling becomes a significant factor, it really starts to change your perspective on what makes a good ship.) Personally, I lean towards the micro-management end of the spectrum, and as a result it's not unusual for a long scenario to take me a couple of weeks or more to play, grabbing a few hours here and there whenever I can find them.

But that's not to say a small, focused scenario can't be interesting and challenging too, and I've certainly enjoyed many of those over the years.
rixtertech
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2001 10:00 am

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by rixtertech »

I'm like you Figeac, preferring the smaller scenarios so that I can concentrate on and enjoy the adventure without getting bogged down in the management aspects.
"They're firing? But they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from ther-"

-Union Gen. John Sedgewick, Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, 1864, KIA while berating a private for ducking sniper fire
User avatar
SeaQueen
Posts: 1338
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:20 am
Location: Washington D.C.

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by SeaQueen »

It depends.

4 CSGs is definitely doable, especially when you start to understand a CVW as an integrated strike force and deck cycles. One of my problems I have with scenarios involving multiple carriers, is that very often they're asked to do too much. I haven't played the Desert Storm scenarios though, so I can't comment on them specifically. From what you've said, I like them in principle. I usually get annoyed by the execution in commercial scenarios. I should download that one and see. If I can't quickly read a scenario briefing and immediately say, "Today my target is the power station in I-don't-care-istan, and it consists of 3 generator buildings, a transformer, and an admin building," then it's probably a badly written scenario.

That being said, one of the challenges in CMO is that yes, you're wearing a lot of hats. At some point you're faced with the "too many hats" problem where you're making too many decisions and it ceases to make any sense. It's on the scenario designer to not do that. There's two limiting factors for the player. Those are task saturation and realism. The task saturation issue is just a function of player skill with the software. A good player can handle a couple hundred aircraft with some reasonable intelligence. The sweet spot is generally about 100 airplanes, though. The realism limit is when the person commanding a force that large would have little or no influence on the kinds of decisions you spend your time making in Command (e.g. weaponeering, routing, timing, sequencing, etc.) that's the subject for a whole separate topic. At that point you probably need to pick a few targets and make a scenario for each of them. The "one scenario to rule them all" mentality is a non-starter. Those aren't really interesting either because CMO is probably the wrong gaming tool for those. The scenario designer really wants to be playing a different game.

I like both larger and smaller scenarios, provided they're realistic. The sins I get frustrated with are:

1) Too many injects: I'm not against injects per se, they can serve a purpose, but very often there are too many of them, and they're not very realistic. They cloud up your decision making and make planning impossible. The sky is not falling all the time, and forcing the players to act as though it is creates a false impression of what exactly the problem they're facing actually is. For example, the scenario starts off "strike a bunch of SAM sites" but really it's about SOF support. Too often, it's just an annoyance that consumes resources that you'd prefer to put elsewhere. If that's the case, just assume that whatever SOF team you want me to support somewhere has some sort of dedicated CAS already and it doesn't belong to me from the beginning. Make a separate scenario for that. Scenario designers should ask themselves, what's the point of an inject? Does the scenario really get more interesting because of it? Would this sort of thing normally be planned for in advance and would be better handled by giving the player fewer forces to work with up front? If all you're doing is adding one more task to the player to penalize them for failing to do, then it doesn't need to be there. What is the challenge of this scenario anyhow?

2) Responsibility without authority: The scenario designer decides when you get to fly a plane or not, and very often has a specific idea of what you're "supposed" to hit with it. I don't like being told what to do. When you build a scenario, it should be the player's circus to run. Give it to them. Furthermore, when I play, I plan very carefully and very thoroughly. It's rare for me to parcel out airplanes ad hoc. I have my own ideas about how I want to accomplish a task, and playing with them is part of what wargaming is about. It's not hard. Just tell me how many planes I've got up front, let me plan and execute. Parceling out airplanes is back-door way of forcing players to do what the scenario designer believes to be the "right" thing and I'm not interested in the scenario designer's opinions. If I didn't know I had enough airplanes to do a strike, I wouldn't do the strike. The whole scenario would be off.

3) Distances are wrong: I've got 500 mile jets, bombers that can fly half-way around the world and back, and 1000 mile missiles. Why is everything piled on top of everything else? Squashing everything together is another way for scenario designers to force a "story," at the expense of player agency. Effectively, it eliminates the player's OODA loop, and destroys the value of ISR. If everything is right there in weapons range, there's no need to maneuver. You don't have to plan routing, or fuel consumption, or where to put your tankers. It reduces a scenario to a fast violent exchange of weapons where you've got no choice but to go full tilt Leeroy Jenkins from the very beginning. That's not how things work. You're forcing a situation that both sides strive to avoid.
User avatar
BeirutDude
Posts: 2733
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:44 am
Location: Jacksonville, FL, USA

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by BeirutDude »

The scenario designer decides when you get to fly a plane or not, and very often has a specific idea of what you're "supposed" to hit with it. I don't like being told what to do. When you build a scenario, it should be the player's circus to run. Give it to them.

I agree and tried that by placing the aircraft as a base/carrier and letting the player load them out. I was hit with, "Well my B-52H's are at Anderson AFB for 20 hours doing nothing while I ready them." So there has to be a balance between the two. It's either a long scenario without a lot going on in the early part while aircraft are staged and load outs are loaded or (at least for long duration ready time) we load out what we think is appropriate. I agree I hate putting a JDAM on an aircraft vs. a JASSM. Also when you are designing you have to remember not every player is comfortable going into the scenario editor to change the load out to their liking.

Unfortunately a 2 day scenario with only 24 hours of action is boring to most players, I know because I tried it! [:D]
"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, 1985

I was Navy, but Assigned TAD to the 24th MAU Hq in Beirut. By far the finest period of my service!
thewood1
Posts: 6884
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:24 pm

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by thewood1 »

I almost always play in the scenario editor for some of these very reasons. The first thing I do is look at what the scenario design assigned for missions and loadouts. If they built missions, I'll typically keep most of them. But I do tweak a lot of them, especially loadouts. As most of you know, you can change loadouts without penalty in the editor. I do try to judge if the scenario designer might have intended for the time 0 loadouts to be a part of the scenario, but I do reserve the right to change them.

I also think its the risk you take building large complex scenarios without warnings to newer or inexperienced players. Warnings about downtimes, loadouts, no fly zones, patrol zones, etc. might seem tedious to experienced players, but it helps new players in deciding where to spend their playing time.
You are like puss filled boil on nice of ass of bikini model. You are nasty to everybody but then try to sweeten things up with a nice post somewhere else. That's nice but you're still a boil on a beautiful thing! - BDukes
User avatar
SeaQueen
Posts: 1338
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:20 am
Location: Washington D.C.

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by SeaQueen »

Regarding bombers taking forever to be ready, I agree. I don't think there's anything wrong with helping players get going faster. The thing is, at least in my scenarios, any bombers tend to be tied directly to the victory conditions of the scenario. For example, if the scenario objective is to drop quickstrike mines in a specific area, or strike a highly defended, deeply buried, hardened target, then there's nothing wrong with preconfiguring the aircraft at scenario start. You're going to need quickstrike or MOP or a bunch of JDAMs or whatever no matter what, because those are the only things that can feasibly do the job. I don't have any problem with that. That's just a practicality and time saving. If I'm saving the player's time, that's one thing.

The problem is when scenario designers set the ready times of the aircraft such that you CAN'T use them, and the ready times correspond to specific objectives. Effectively they're saying, "use these airplanes with this loadout for this." As I said before, I'm not interested in the scenario designer's opinions. The purpose of a wargame is subverted if the whole thing is nothing but a complicated way for the scenario designer to opine about how the "real world" works. That doesn't tell you anything about tactics. It just tells you something about the scenario designer. :-) The other problem is when the scenario designer is artificially slowing the player down. In order to plan as a player, I need to know how many airplanes I've got at the beginning. If I don't know that and there's not at least enough to do the mission, then I can't do the mission. But scenario designers, for some reason, like to arbitrarily dork around with ready times and LUA.
ORIGINAL: BeirutDude
I agree and tried that by placing the aircraft as a base/carrier and letting the player load them out. I was hit with, "Well my B-52H's are at Anderson AFB for 20 hours doing nothing while I ready them." So there has to be a balance between the two. It's either a long scenario without a lot going on in the early part while aircraft are staged and load outs are loaded or (at least for long duration ready time) we load out what we think is appropriate. I agree I hate putting a JDAM on an aircraft vs. a JASSM. Also when you are designing you have to remember not every player is comfortable going into the scenario editor to change the load out to their liking.

Unfortunately a 2 day scenario with only 24 hours of action is boring to most players, I know because I tried it! [:D]
User avatar
SeaQueen
Posts: 1338
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:20 am
Location: Washington D.C.

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by SeaQueen »

If there's missions for the player side the first thing I do is delete them. I don't care about how the scenario designer thinks I ought to do something. It's usually messed up. The other thing I usually find myself doing immediately is backing off (which has to do with the distance complaint I have above). If you're starting the CVN off in the middle of a strategic SAM WEZ for example, whoever is in charge ought to be fired. Don't place the player in an obviously bad situation. That's lame because nobody would ever do that who knew what they were doing. But! Oh! I see! The scenario designer is still learning too! Got it. Okay, I forgive them. I just don't want to play those scenarios. That's why I make my own.
ORIGINAL: thewood1

I almost always play in the scenario editor for some of these very reasons. The first thing I do is look at what the scenario design assigned for missions and loadouts. If they built missions, I'll typically keep most of them. But I do tweak a lot of them, especially loadouts. As most of you know, you can change loadouts without penalty in the editor. I do try to judge if the scenario designer might have intended for the time 0 loadouts to be a part of the scenario, but I do reserve the right to change them.

I also think its the risk you take building large complex scenarios without warnings to newer or inexperienced players. Warnings about downtimes, loadouts, no fly zones, patrol zones, etc. might seem tedious to experienced players, but it helps new players in deciding where to spend their playing time.
thewood1
Posts: 6884
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:24 pm

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by thewood1 »

When I find a scenario where one side is put in immediate jeopardy without any CAP or patrols airborne, I go right into the editor and add those and advance time to where those missions are active. Then I start the scenario. There a couple scenarios in the game box that have a CVN in the middle of the Persian Gulf with no units airborne. There should at least be a CAP and an AEW patrol.
You are like puss filled boil on nice of ass of bikini model. You are nasty to everybody but then try to sweeten things up with a nice post somewhere else. That's nice but you're still a boil on a beautiful thing! - BDukes
User avatar
SeaQueen
Posts: 1338
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:20 am
Location: Washington D.C.

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by SeaQueen »

Depending on the scenario, and what's going on, I'm actually okay with them not necessarily starting off capping. It's a misconception that they've got to always have planes up. A lot of that has to do with issues that are beyond the scope of the simulation, like maintenance cycles, for example. Every time you're flying you're burning hours on that airframe and engine, so you don't want to fly unless there's a reason. There's also such a thing as cyclic ops on aircraft carriers, so depending on the deck cycles it's perfectly reasonable for them not to be flying. It might in many cases be smarter and/or more realistic to leave aircraft on deck/strip alert.

It should be up to the player to decide to CAP or not. Things like how many aircraft to devote to capping versus strip alert, versus strike are all great for Command. If the distances are set up smartly, though, it shouldn't matter if you're capping at the start or not, because your sensing layer should provide you with sufficient warning to react. There should be many options about how to skin the cat, and some of them might be more and less effective, but that's for you to play with and figure out.

I bet the reason you feel the need to be up, is because you've been effectively sucker punched by too many bad scenario designers who set you up to fail on scenario start. That's conditioned you to play in a reactive mindset, not an aggressive one. You're reacting to the fact that it's effectively impossible to perform ISR in those kinds of scenarios, which isn't real. A good scenario gives you a chance to build up some SA with your sensors before going full tilt into raining hate on the bad guys. If you're defending they may get to pick the moment, and if you're attacking then you do, but that's a different situation from starting a scenario blind.
ORIGINAL: thewood1

When I find a scenario where one side is put in immediate jeopardy without any CAP or patrols airborne, I go right into the editor and add those and advance time to where those missions are active. Then I start the scenario. There a couple scenarios in the game box that have a CVN in the middle of the Persian Gulf with no units airborne. There should at least be a CAP and an AEW patrol.
thewood1
Posts: 6884
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:24 pm

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by thewood1 »

I would imagine in most of these scenarios where you are right on the middle of the Persian Gulf with the briefings stating that Iran is on the verge of war, you would have a CAP...at a minimum.
You are like puss filled boil on nice of ass of bikini model. You are nasty to everybody but then try to sweeten things up with a nice post somewhere else. That's nice but you're still a boil on a beautiful thing! - BDukes
User avatar
SeaQueen
Posts: 1338
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:20 am
Location: Washington D.C.

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by SeaQueen »

I would imagine in most of these scenarios where you are right on the middle of the Persian Gulf with the briefings stating that Iran is on the verge of war, you would have a CAP...at a minimum.

Depends. If I don't have enough aircraft to cover those CAPs for 24/7 (i.e. I'm engaged in cyclic ops with another carrier), then I might not fly them. Even then, I can only sustain that for so long before the engines need to be overhauled, so I don't want to burn my jets if I don't have enough engines in the theater to replace them. There's a lot of things that go into the decision of capping versus not capping.

Doctrinally, you might want to look at Joint Publication 3-32, "Command and Control for Joint Maritime Operations." Associated with each carrier are various Composite Warfare Commanders (CWC). These guys are responsible for defensive operations of various warfare areas. The air warfare commander (AWC) is typically on a CRUDES although they might be on a carrier or LHA/D. The AWC will have within their operating area a sensing area (SA), a classification, identification and engagement area (CIEA), and a vital area (VA). The idea is that you detect the targets in the SA, figure out who they are, what their intentions are, and if necessary destroy them in the CIEA, so they're not able to enter the VA and threaten you. Where you draw the lines between those areas depends partially on what you think the bad guys are able to do in terms of their kill chain. For example if they can't shoot as far as they can see, for example, then you might make the VA smaller. If they can shoot off an external cue, then you might make it bigger. But it also depends on what you can do. If you've got a really long ranged missile (e.g. SM-6) and enough sensing capabilities to detect and assess the enemy's intentions with enough time for a missile flyout, then maybe it's better to keep the jets on the deck alert and launch them as needed. In that case you might have the caps pre-planned, but not filled until you're sure the badguys are coming. That's particularly the case with jets like the F-35B or Hornet where you've got short legs and don't want to burn them unless you have to. Then again, if I have big wing tankers then maybe I can keep the jets up longer. That being said, if there's big wings up you've got to defend that too. If you've got F-14s on the other hand, you can fly 'em all day because they have a ton of gas. Maybe you might push a couple DDGs forward to take care of the CIEA, and launch the jets if you need more information (e.g. visual ID).

My point is, you've got lots of options, all of which might be prudent and smart depending on the timeframe, the forces available, the technologies involved, and whatever else is going on. It's also the Navy, so everything is squishy and you work for 5 bosses. ;-)
magi
Posts: 1529
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:06 am

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by magi »

ORIGINAL: thewood1

I almost always play in the scenario editor for some of these very reasons. The first thing I do is look at what the scenario design assigned for missions and loadouts. If they built missions, I'll typically keep most of them. But I do tweak a lot of them, especially loadouts. As most of you know, you can change loadouts without penalty in the editor. I do try to judge if the scenario designer might have intended for the time 0 loadouts to be a part of the scenario, but I do reserve the right to change them.

I also think its the risk you take building large complex scenarios without warnings to newer or inexperienced players. Warnings about downtimes, loadouts, no fly zones, patrol zones, etc. might seem tedious to experienced players, but it helps new players in deciding where to spend their playing time.
what he says.......
magi
Posts: 1529
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:06 am

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by magi »

ORIGINAL: SeaQueen

Depending on the scenario, and what's going on, I'm actually okay with them not necessarily starting off capping. It's a misconception that they've got to always have planes up. A lot of that has to do with issues that are beyond the scope of the simulation, like maintenance cycles, for example. Every time you're flying you're burning hours on that airframe and engine, so you don't want to fly unless there's a reason. There's also such a thing as cyclic ops on aircraft carriers, so depending on the deck cycles it's perfectly reasonable for them not to be flying. It might in many cases be smarter and/or more realistic to leave aircraft on deck/strip alert.

It should be up to the player to decide to CAP or not. Things like how many aircraft to devote to capping versus strip alert, versus strike are all great for Command. If the distances are set up smartly, though, it shouldn't matter if you're capping at the start or not, because your sensing layer should provide you with sufficient warning to react. There should be many options about how to skin the cat, and some of them might be more and less effective, but that's for you to play with and figure out.

I bet the reason you feel the need to be up, is because you've been effectively sucker punched by too many bad scenario designers who set you up to fail on scenario start. That's conditioned you to play in a reactive mindset, not an aggressive one. You're reacting to the fact that it's effectively impossible to perform ISR in those kinds of scenarios, which isn't real. A good scenario gives you a chance to build up some SA with your sensors before going full tilt into raining hate on the bad guys. If you're defending they may get to pick the moment, and if you're attacking then you do, but that's a different situation from starting a scenario blind.
ORIGINAL: thewood1

When I find a scenario where one side is put in immediate jeopardy without any CAP or patrols airborne, I go right into the editor and add those and advance time to where those missions are active. Then I start the scenario. There a couple scenarios in the game box that have a CVN in the middle of the Persian Gulf with no units airborne. There should at least be a CAP and an AEW patrol.
agreed......
User avatar
BeirutDude
Posts: 2733
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:44 am
Location: Jacksonville, FL, USA

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by BeirutDude »

That's why I make my own.

Be nice if you shared them.
"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, 1985

I was Navy, but Assigned TAD to the 24th MAU Hq in Beirut. By far the finest period of my service!
User avatar
SeaQueen
Posts: 1338
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 4:20 am
Location: Washington D.C.

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by SeaQueen »

Every once in a while I do. People seem happy with my TAB31 scenario, although I need to update it now. It's looking a little old.
ORIGINAL: BeirutDude
That's why I make my own.

Be nice if you shared them.
thewood1
Posts: 6884
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:24 pm

RE: High or low density scenarios?

Post by thewood1 »

Yeah, looks like you should send them out as examples to scenario builders.
You are like puss filled boil on nice of ass of bikini model. You are nasty to everybody but then try to sweeten things up with a nice post somewhere else. That's nice but you're still a boil on a beautiful thing! - BDukes
Post Reply

Return to “Command: Modern Operations series”