Companion to Shifting Sands: The v1.13 update in a nutshell

October 9, 2017 · Posted in Command · Comment 

sm3Earlier today, the v1.13 update to Command was “unofficially pre-released” on the MatrixGames forums ahead of its official October 19 release. This update accompanies the Shifting Sands standalone expansion and will also be freely available to existing CMANO users.

Following the release of v1.12 and Chains of War, with their ground-breaking gameplay features (communications disruption, aircraft damage , the new weapon types and cargo, amphibious and airdrop ops), v1.13 returns to the more traditional “a thousand little things” form. That said, there are still a few stand-out items worth mentioning.

  • As in every past update, a major development focus is on simulation performance. Large, complex scenarios should now run even faster on the same available hardware.
  • The pan/zoom operations on the map have been given a major boost (or conversely, if you are having a lag issue this should now be significantly eased). Map icons are now also significantly “sharper”, for lack of a better term.
  • Tactical chaff laying is now available, allowing players to create chaff corridors to protect their offensive packages as in historical raids in WW2, the Middle East, Vietnam etc. The advantages as well as limitations of chaff corridors (and the technological reasons that gradually led to their obsolescence from the late 1970s) are faithfully modelled.
  • Sprint & drift behavior is now also available for single, non-grouped units.
  • AAW & ABM engagement mechanics have received a major overhaul. Various nuances have been added to the aircraft damage model, generally increasing lethality against large aircraft, conferring significant lethality bonuses to late-generation weapons (here is an example of how modern AAW weapons are scarily smart about optimizing their destructive effects), and properly rewarding hit-to-kill warheads. Numerous AAW/ABM weapons have had their max-target speed values adjusted so that they are realistically less capable at rising-speed targets (e.g. RVs), and the intercept aspect angle is also taken into account (a fully “crossing shot” can reduce the nominal PH by up to 50%).
  • An all-new Lua console is introduced, offering a substantially better editing experience and functionality. The Lua API has also received myriads of improvements, additions and fixes (as always, the online reference is the best resource).

The development team is already gearing up for the next game-engine update, which will match the release of the next Command-LIVE scenario. Stay tuned!

The scenarios of Shifting Sands – Part 1

October 5, 2017 · Posted in Command · Comment 

Shifting Sands, the new standalone expansion for CMANO, is to be released soon by MatrixGames, together with the new v1.13 game update. In this multi-part series we cover the scenarios of this new campaign set. Part 1 covers the period from the sidelines of the Suez Crisis to the Six-Day War, Israel’s strategic triumph that reshaped the Middle East.

1. Red Sea Rumble

Egypt vs. United Kingdom
Date/Time: 31st October, 1956 / 22:00:00 Zulu
Location: Egypt – Gulf of Suez
Duration: 6 Hours
Playable Sides: United Kingdom

On late October 1956, as the Suez crisis bloomed out to a full intervention, a number of RN ships found themselves in the Red Sea, cut off from the rest of the active British forces. As has always been the case, the Red Sea was chock-full of neutral and commercial shipping, so rules of engagement were tight. Even against positively identified Egyption vessels, the instructions were to warn and turn ships around, and engage only as self-defence.

On the evening of October 31, HMS Newfoundland, a British Fiji-class cruiser, encountered a darkened ship passing here in the opposite direction. The Newfoundland closed to 1,500 yards, and came parallel to this ship, signalling it to heave-to or be fired upon. The darkened ship, later identified as the Egyptian Navy frigate Domiat, signalled acknowledgement and appeared to slow down. Then suddenly it extinguished its running lights and trained her guns on the RN ship.

Newfoundland signalled to her consorts that she was engaged with a confirmed hostile, and Domiat likewise called for reinforcements. The fight was on.

2. Cross Border Skirmish

Israel vs. Syria
Date/Time: 13th November, 1964 / 08:00:00 Zulu
Location: Syria – Golan Heights
Duration: 4 Hours
Playable Sides: Israel

Following the first Arab-Israeli war, Israel and Syria both claimed sovereignty over several “Demilitarized Zones” along their border. These zones were set up as part of the cease-fire ending the war. Israel attempted to farm the land in these zones, while Syria developed a project to divert water from the Jordan River, which Israel shared with both Syria and Jordan.  Syrian forces often fired on Israeli tractors attempting to farm the zones, while Israel looked for ways to interrupt the Syrian diversion project.

On Nov. 13, 1964, Syrian forces stationed on the top of the Golan Heights, a plateau overlooking Israeli territory in the Jordan River valley, fired on Israeli tractors. Israeli forces returned fire. Syrian artillery then targeted Israeli civilian villages, and Israel responded with air attacks on Syrian forces. The skirmish then escalated rapidly.

3. Hit Hard Hit Fast

Israel vs. Egypt
Date/Time: 5th June, 1967 / 05:00:00 Zulu
Location: Egypt – Sinai Peninsula
Duration: 3 Hours
Playable Sides: Israel

In the months leading up to the June 1967, tensions among Israel and the neighboring countries of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria were extremely high. With the surrounding Arab nations, particularly Egypt, equipped with Soviet vehicles and weaponry and increasingly hostile to the existence of Israel, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) felt increasingly that only a massive pre-emptive strike would enable Israel to prevail in the coming conflict, and planned for it. One of the key components of this planning was Operation Moked (Focus), an Israeli Air Force (IAF) operation designed to completely destroy the Egyptian Air Force on the ground. Initially planned during the years following the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956, the operation was refined further by air force commanders prior to the war.

Operation Moked was launched on June 5 at 7:45 am, timed precisely to coincide with Egyptian early morning air patrols returning to their bases and standing down. Almost all of Israel’s combat aircraft were committed to the airstrike, with only twelve being held back to patrol Israeli airspace. The strike ingress was at extremely low altitude, hoping to duck under Egyptian radar and SAM coverage.

Egyptian airbase protective infrastructure was poor, with no airfields equipped with hardened aircraft shelters capable of protecting aircraft in the event of an attack. The Egyptians also hindered their own defence by temporarily shutting down their entire air defence network as they were worried that rebel Egyptian factions would shoot down the plane carrying Field Marshal Amer and Lt-Gen. Sidqi Mahmoud, who were en route from al Maza to Bir Tamada in the Sinai to meet the commanders of the troops stationed there.

On this dawning June morning, the IAF re-wrote the book on offensive counter-air (OCA) operations.

4. Rockstar Calling

Date/Time: 8th June, 1967 / 11:00:00 Zulu
Location: Egypt – Sinai Peninsula
Playable Sides: US 6th Fleet
Duration: 1 Day

The attack on the USS Liberty remains, to this date, one of the sore points of US-Israeli relations.

During the Six-Day War between Israel and several Arab nations, the United States officially maintained a neutral status. Several days before the war commenced, the Liberty (call sign “Rockstar”), an electronic intelligence ship (officially a “technical research ship”), was ordered to proceed to the eastern Mediterranean area to perform a signals intelligence collection mission in international waters near the north coast of the Sinai. After the war erupted, due to concerns about her safety as she approached her patrol area, several messages were sent to Liberty to increase her allowable closest point of approach (CPA) to Egypt’s and Israel’s coasts from 12.5nm and 6.5nm, respectively, to 20nm and 15nm, and then later to 100nm for both countries. However, due to ineffective message handling and routing, the CPA change messages were received too late.

On the afternoon of 8 June 1967, Liberty was attacked and heavily damaged by Israeli air and naval forces; eventually, 34 crewmen were killed and 174 wounded.

Two US Navy carrier task groups (Saratoga and America) were in the eastern Mediterranean, south of Crete, when the attack on the Liberty commenced. The intelligence ship called for immediate assistance to protect from the ongoing attack.

This is what might had happened next.

5. The Iron Coast

Israel vs. Egypt
Date/Time: 11th July, 1967 / 19:45:00 Zulu
Location: Egypt – Sinai Peninsula
Playable Sides: Israel / Egypt
Duration: 6 Hours

Israel emerged from the Six-Day War of 1967 with a much longer coastline to protect. The land borders were shorter, but the sea now included the entire Sinai coast. The actual fighting was over, but officially the state of war was not ended. Egypt sent intelligence operatives into the Sinai peninsula to gather information on Israeli dispositions. Israel, in turn, maintained patrols along the coast both at sea and on land.

The patrols in July 1967 were usually made by the destroyers Yaffo and/or Eilat. The destroyers were accompanied on these missions by a pair of torpedo boats from the 914th Division. These patrols covered the Sinai coast up to the approaches to Port Said. There was nothing in the written orders about seeking an engagement. However, Commanders were encouraged to ambush and destroy any Egyptian ship that ventured out. Despite this, they should avoid engaging ex-Soviet destroyers of the Skory class, now in Egyptian service, because of their superior firepower.

In one such patrol, on July 11, this proved easier said than done…

6. A New Age

Israel vs. Egypt
Date/Time: 21st October, 1967 / 14:00:00 Zulu
Location: Egypt – Sinai Peninsula
Playable Sides: Egypt
Duration: 6 Hours

The Soviet Komar-class (Project 183R) fast attack craft, entering service in 1958, were a revolutionary new type of coastal combat ships, thanks to their armament of SS-N-2 “Styx” anti-ship missiles, the first such practical weapon to be operationally deployed on tactical ships (larger missiles such as the SS-N-1 “Scrubber” and SS-N-3 “Shaddock” were typically nuclear-tipped and intended for strategic strikes). The Soviet Union mass-produced and distributed these ships liberally to its allies and client states as a way of reducing their vulnerability to western “gunboat diplomacy”. Egypt had received five such boats starting in 1962. They did not see much use in the catastrophic Six-Day War, but they would soon show their mettle.

INS Eilat (ex-HMS Zealous), a Z-class destroyer sold to the Israeli navy post-war, had already distinguished herself on both the 1956 and 1967 conflicts, most recently sinking two Egyptian torpedo-boats off the Rumani coast. On October 21, 1967, she was patrolling in international waters off Port Said in the Sinai. At the time, two of the Egyptian Komar boats were inside the harbor. They were ordered to attack and destroy the Eilat.

The engagement that followed would send shockwaves throughout the naval operations community and influence the design of ships, weapons, electronics and countermeasures for decades to come.

Next: From the War Of Attrition to Yom Kippur

Arrows, Lightnings, Little Green Men and WW3: Twenty new Command scenarios

September 22, 2017 · Posted in Command · Comment 

Miguel Molina has released the updated version of the Command community scenario pack. The new release includes a breathtaking twenty new scenarios:

Northern Fury #13.4 – Hammer (1994): Bart Gauvin’s WW3 epic continues. You are commanding the USAF’s 336th Fighter Squadron – The Rocketeers, and your mission is to sever the only ground link through central Norway – the E6 Highway. Several elements of 25th Air Force will be supporting you, in particular SEAD and OCA support from 81st Tactical Fighter Wing and some of the heavies from Scotland, but this is your time to show what your F-15Es can do.

Northern Fury #12.4 – Sneak & Peek (1994): As the Soviet ground and air campaign moves south, consuming massive amounts of supplies and resources, the Rear Services group for Archangel Corps struggles to keep pace. For much of Norway’s coastline there is a single two-lane road connecting from the Arctic border near Murmansk all the way to Trondheim, over 2000 Km including an 8Km ferry SW of Narvik. In order to speed the delivery of supplies, coastal shipping is in fairly heavy usage. But that is vulnerable – and your job is to prove just how vulnerable that is.

One Ship, One Country (2017): The capabilities of the F-35 and LHA as a light carrier are to be put to the test in this wargame where a single amphibious ship is quickly diverted to attack a fictional nation comprised of highly skilled Aggressors. For many of the newly trained pilots, it will be their first big “battle”. The hypothetical AEW-Osprey joins the Lightning II in the scenario. For the commander, it will also be a big battle-of how to deal with the ‘rationing’ of limited ammunition and many targets.

Confrontation near Tartus (2017): This scenario assumes the attack on Syria by U.S. forces in 2017 was quickly followed by another strike. By this time, however, Russia has a surface action group (SAG) in the area and it is not clear how they will respond.

Baltic Ballet (2019): The “Gotland Independence Front”, a group suspiciously similar to Ukraine’s “Little Green Men”, has occupied the island of Gotland and its rich natural resources. How will the Swedish government respond?

Deter, Detect, Defend – CF-105 variant (1962): Chris Comars’ already-classic nuclear air defence scenario gets spiced up with the addition of Canada’s interceptor that never was, the mighty CF-105 Arrow. (And you thought TSR.2 buffs were bad)

Desperate Measures (2016): Bolivia and Chile are at war, and the Bolivian Air Force plots a desperation mission with its remaining strength.

String of Pearls – Lance the Boil (2020): Following months of negotiations, the Chinese military base in Sri Lanka is to be eliminated before it can be further developed. The USN Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) is ordered to destroy the facilities located at Port Hambantota on the southern coast. The attack must be a lean quick strike to send a firm message that any moves toward the Diego Garcia US base will not be tolerated.

Yankee Team (1966): Operation Rolling Thunder continues apace for the US Navy. For the next 24 hours, you will be overseeing air operations for Task Force 77, on station at Yankee Point and conducting strikes on North Vietnam. The targets for today, located in the USN’s area of air operations at Route Packages 2, 3, 4 and 6B, have just been assigned with direct oversight from the White House. It is sure to be a long day.

Korean Crisis (1994): The Korean crisis of 1994 is a seldom studied incident the in timeline of US efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Realistically, the ’94 crisis was the starting point. In June of that year the United States found itself dangerously close to war with North Korea. It was becoming evident that North Korea was committed to developing nuclear weapons. The primary concern in Washington at the time was that any action the US might take could result in war on the Korean peninsula. The North Korean government had made it clear that even an act such as the implementation of sanctions would be regarded as an act of war. Tensions were rising and the possibility of war was quite real.

Duke of York Never Gives Up (1950): During the early days of the Korean crisis, the United Kingdom decided to send two large warships into the Sea of Okhtosk as an intelligence-gathering and show-of-force mission. They did not expect the Soviet Union to respond with open hostilities.

Khasab Helicopter Strike (2017): The turmoil of Middle Eastern politics has turned to Oman, and the UAE attempts a daring helicopter hop across the mountains to seize Khasab.

Cocos Islands (1978): The Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian ocean occupy an important strategic location, allowing extension of regional force projection, surveillance and secure lines of communication. They are also located close to IO and South China Sea shipping lanes. This strategic importance is further boosted by the airfield that was constructed there in WWII.
In 1978, due to the very poor treatment of the islanders and the feudal system of governance by the then owners, the Clunies-Ross family, the Australian government forced the islands owners to sell the island to them using the threat of compulsory acquisition. This scenario explores what may have happened if the disgruntled Clunies-Ross family instead sold the island to India.

Northern Fury #13.5 – Anvil (1994): Strike Fleet Atlantic (STRIKFLTLANT) is now in the second phase of its counter attack in the Atlantic. Fighting on Iceland continues but 2 MEF believes that they will have the island clear within the week. A massive NATO attack three days ago halted Soviet plans to seize Oslo but with Berlin and Copenhagen in Russian hands, the situation is not yet assured. Commander STRIKFLTLANT has set in motion a series of attacks designed set up the conditions for upcoming amphibious operations in central Norway – Operation Thor’s Lightning. This is one of those actions.

Arctic Tsunami (2019): Following a massive cyber attack, “Little Green Men” units feature prominently in erupting riots accross all three Baltic states. At the same time the Russian Northern fleet is performing a major sortie centered around its strategic missile submarines and the upgraded flagship Admiral Nakhimov. To counter this, the RN carrier Queen Elizabeth embarks with a squadron of F-35Bs and the shut-down airbase at Keflavik in Iceland is hastily reactivated.

Indian Fury #2 – Mozambique Madness (1994): The chaos of WW3 fought in Europe (as chronicled in the “Northern Fury” series) now spills over into the Indian Ocean. A depleted battle group steaming into the IO after a visit to Cape Town is caught in the emerging maelstrom.

Indian Fury #3 – Socotra Scramble (1994): Commanding the USS Nimitz CVBG, you have been tasked to steam at maximum possible speed north to join the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Things are “interesting” in the Indian Ocean but positively frantic in the Med. You will need to assemble your Battle Group, neutralize several layers of enemy defences, and proceed through restricted, hazard-laden waters to enter the Red Sea on your journey to the main theater of operations.

Blood Diamonds (2018): On August 2018 an alleged coup d’état was attempted in Angola against state institutions, including (but not limited to) the government and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The attempt was carried out by a faction within the Angolan Armed Forces that organized themselves as the FNLA (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola). On August 5th, the ruling MPLA party, considering its strong economic relations with China (Angola is China’s second biggest trading partner in Africa), appealed to the Chinese government with the request to help stabilize the situation in country.

Between Ascension and San Carlos (1982): Argentina’s navy was quite powerful by South America standards, but never tried to attack the British lines of communication in the Atlantic between Ascension Islands and the Falklands. This hypothetical scenario depicts an aggressive Argentine blue water navy formation trying to attack escorted Royal Navy replenishment ships, carrying much needed fuel and spares to the British task force to the South.

Between Ascension and San Carlos – The carrier duel (1982): This hypothetical scenario depicts aggressive moves by Argentinian task forces, including the Venticinco de Mayo carrier, trying to attack escorted Royal Navy replenishment ships, carrying much needed fuel and spares to the British task force to the South. The Royal Navy, discovering the plan, calls the Invincible carrier with escorts and a SSN for help from the south, trying to stop the Argentine formation and save the replenishment ships.

As always, the community scenario pack is available for download from the Command downloads page: . Most of the scenarios are also available for individual download on the Command workshop on Steam.

Command LIVE #6 released: Pole Positions!

July 27, 2017 · Posted in Command · Comment 

Available now through Matrix Games and Steam.

Steam summer sale!

June 22, 2017 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

« Previous PageNext Page »