I eagerly took advantage of the side proficiency setting options in Command as soon as they became available, using them in many of my scenarios. When 1.06 was released with the option of setting proficiency for individual units, I became even more interested.
Many have undoubtedly asked “what determines the ideal setting for a side”? Now I can give the rough guidelines for how I choose proficiency settings-in the event that I choose them. Before I continue, I should emphasize that there is no harm in leaving both sides at “Regular”. Having done it myself often, the scenarios play extremely well even without the different effects caused by side proficiency, and it should not be something that the scenario author should obsess too much about (in other words, when in doubt, just go back to “Regular” for all sides).
That being said, here are my basic guidelines.
Regular is the default proficiency, I interpret as a ‘mixed’ force. Not (necessarily) an elite or battle-experienced faction, but one that has seen some fighting, or at least conducted reasonable training, and that knows something. From “Regular”, the faction can be more or less proficient.
Novice and Cadet
“Cadet”-level proficiency factions/units are ones that I interpret as having just a lack of something-maybe it’s training in the wrong way, maybe it’s a lack of resources, an over-politicized crew selection, or something different. “Novice”-level ones either have a combination of those or one of those carried to an extreme degree. They can also be, as their names signify, new to the equipment in question and thus unable to use it to the fullest.
Veteran and Ace
“Veteran”-level proficiency exists in those factions/units that have something more. They have the combat experience that their name implies, they can be highly selective and demanding in their training, or they can have a degree of both. “Ace”-level was one I felt uneasy applying to entire sides-I reserved it for the elite “Aggressor” sides in training missions, with the (player’s) trainees having much less skill.
So that is how it often works in my mind with side-level proficiency. Note that I avoided using specific national examples. This is because such comparisons lead to ugly beliefs, and also because the same nation can change dramatically over time.
Enter 1.06 and its ability to set proficiency for individual units. This allows for even more flexibility. Here’s how I changed my guidelines to account for it.
-Natural variation in proficiency. Some units will be above the median proficiency and some will be below it. A few pilots will stand out, and thus have a much higher proficiency than the side as a whole.
-Selectivity in units, either for better or worse. Either the best aircraft get the best crews-or they’re new/pushing the crews to the limit, and thus get lower proficiency.
-If two or more countries are on the same playable side, the variations that would make one nation’s proficiency different from another can be shown while keeping them both in the player’s control.
-Related to “selectivity”, certain units within a side (one example being special-forces supporting aviation like the 160th SOAR) can be set to a proficiency that matches their maximum training.
-Also related to “selectivity”, when I use two-seat training versions of an aircraft or dedicated trainers in a combat role, I take it as a sign that the instructors of that air force are thus being pushed into a front-line role in them and thus up the proficiency of those aircraft.
This is admittedly much work, so it is acceptable and understandable to either stay with “Regular” or select a uniform proficiency, especially in expansive scenarios. But adding the styling of different proficiencies can make a scenario that much more distinctive.