April 20, 2024

Matrix Games’ Command:Modern Operations – First Look!

Mike Orwick, 11 December 2019

Command: Modern Operations (CMO) is the successor to Command: Modern Air and Naval Operations (CMANO).  I have had some experience with CMANO, though I never got very deep into it, nor have a played it for a couple of years.  I had just finished reading H-Hour: Northern Fury, which was based on a series of scenarios written for CMANO and had decided to revisit the game.  Before I did, I learned that CMO was coming out soon and decided to wait.

The first thing everyone needs to understand about CMO is that it is a very detailed and complicated game.  The games database is loaded with ships, aircraft, sensors, and weapon systems.  These are not just generic items, but very detailed items based on real world systems.  You don’t just have air to air missiles, you have Sidewinders, Sparrows, Pythons, and all their different variations.  As an example, if you lookup the Sparrow missile in the database, you get 14 variations.  The one thing I would like to see added to the database is a short description section to help novices understand what the general purpose of the system is, and what the differences are between variations.

The Sparrow III in the Database Viewer


What this means for you, as the player, is that you will need to have a good understanding of what each system can do and what it cannot do.  This isn’t just for attacking, but for defending yourself.  Knowing what weapons and sensors an opponent has, or could have, and what the best counter to those.

A major new feature to CMO is the introduction of ground forces, a player now must understand air, surface, ground, subsurface, cyber, and even some space warfare.

A major new feature to CMO is the introduction of ground forces, a player now must understand air, surface, ground, subsurface, cyber, and even some space warfare.  Depending on the scenario, you may only have to deal with one or two of these facets of modern warfare.  The addition of ground forces should also allow scenario authors to construct some interesting situations on air supporting a land battle.  It will be interesting to see if someone can build a scenario of the entire battle in West Germany in 1988.

In tackling a game like this, I find myself not trying to win a scenario as much as I’m trying to learn different facets of the game.  There are a few scenarios included in the game, but the largest wealth come from the user, which can be found on the Matrix forum or CMO’s Steam Workshop.  You’ll find a large variety with years ranging from the 1950’s to the near future.  The difficulty and complexity of the scenarios can also vary greatly.

The game designers could have done a better job with the tutorials.  The first Surface Warfare tutorial is an ASW Exercise 1.  The overview states that you’re to find an SSN.  I’ve played this scenario about a dozen times, and have yet to find a sub. I’ve located biologicals (fish) and junks, but never a sub.  There are no pop ups to guide a new player through what tasks need to be done to find a sub or how to perform those tasks in the game.

Other scenarios, like the Flight Tutorials for Air Warfare are very well done. There are eight separate scenarios, each builds on the previous one to teach a player how to control aircraft. Once you start the scenario, you get popups that explain what you need to do and how to do it.


One of the many popups explaining how to complete the first Flight Tutorial


What is missing are tutorials on cyber and ground warfare, or at least I haven’t found them yet.

The manual is over 300 pages, but again, seems to be lacking in some ways, such as no section for ground warfare.  For a new addition to the game that can add a huge amount of new playable options to the game, this seems like a big miss.

CMO allows you to take detailed control of a unit, controlling it’s altitude or depth, speed and when to fire, what to fire with, and which target. Or you can give a unit an order to attack a target and let the AI take over for you.  You can also define Rules of Engagement (RoE) and the AI will take the appropriate action based on the defined RoE.

Now, I need to get back to defending USS Roosevelt and USS Iowa from a combined Soviet surface and air attack in the Eastern Mediterranean.


Map from one of the basic tutorial scenarios.


From a tutorial Scenario.  This window shows the aircraft available at Ramat David airbase.  Also shown is the weapons loadout, the aircraft status, and how long until they have completed that status.


Missiles zooming in to take out a bogie.  One the right hand side, you can see detailed information of the mission that is currently selected.


The database can be accessed by sampling clicking on the link in the information bar on the righthand side.  The database will provide you will everything you need to know about the selected system.


From the scenario Northern Fury 10 – Eisenhower Move North.  This is a complicated scenario ranging from the Straits of Gibraltar to Iceland. It uses surface, subsurface, air and satellites.


The colored circles represent weapons and sensor ranges.  These can be turned off and on.  The ^ symbols are sonobuoys, which can also be turned on and off.


The red square in the upper center of the screen is a Soviet sattelite passing overhead.  As you can see, at just 8 minutes into scenario, you can see how busy the screen is getting.  The yellow oblong objects are unidentified ships.  These could turn out to be neutrals, friendly ships that need to be protected, or they could be the enemy that need to be sunk.


Stay tuned for more coverage of this great new game.

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Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

View all posts by Brant G →

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