Red #1 The Operational Art of War vs White #1 Command Modern Operations
Harpoon’s combination of sea and air power proved to be too much for Steel Panthers MBT to overcome. This matchup is drawn along comparable lines though The Operational Art of War likely has a slight advantage over SPMBT in that it is an operational-level game. On the sea/air side of the equation, Command Modern Operations is a monster of a game with the flexibility to allow any game option from a 1v1 dogfight to a fleet-level campaign. These are also two games that need to be in any serious wargamer’s digital library.
Learning Curve– Both games have PhD level learning curves. Players need to have at least a basic grasp of military and wargaming knowledge if they hope to learn the ins and outs of either one of these games. CMO wasn’t too bad for me simply because of the time I had invested in its predecessor CMAO and Harpoon. Literally, hundreds of hours. The same holds true for TOAW Volume IV. I’d been playing the series since it came on the scene in 1998. Bottom line is that either game here will require major commitments by a player if he or she wishes to become proficient.
Playability– Once you become proficient, these games will monopolize your game time and you’ll be fine with it. The amount of campaigns, scenarios, player-designed scenarios and sandbox games available are limitless. Again, this category is a draw.
Replayability– Same as above. It is impossible for players to grow bored playing either game. They will remain in your digital library for years to come.
Realism– TOAW pits armies against each other, yet the engagements on the ground…and in the skies as well….are presented in an abstract manner. Two divisions clash, for example, yet the player cannot influence the outcome of the battle once it is underway. In CMO, the battles are real time and fluid. Players can see the missiles launch and ordnance striking warships and aircraft. Split second decisions and adjustments can be made that will affect what side wins a particular battle, or even an entire war. To me, this gives a major advantage to CMO’s realism.
Scenario Editor– As is the case with learning curves, the scenario editors in these games are not for the faint of heart. CMO’s editor is more tolerant of mistakes, however. TOAW’s editor, on the other hand, is not. To create a scenario, one must first design a map. No small undertaking and an absolute cake walk in comparison the unit-building/order of battle process. I’ll be honest, I have never designed an entire TOAW scenario and doubt I ever will. The overly complex and maladroit scenario editor is the only smudge on TOAW’s otherwise perfect pedigree. And unfortunately, it ended the game’s run in this tournament.
Final Score: CMO 2 TOAW 0. Command moves on to the championship game.