The Flare Path: Juno’s Golden Sword

By Tim Stone on November 18th, 2011 at 1:03 pm.

I was clearing out my Operation Overlord drawer the other day and came across these ten items. Can you help me identify them?

What’s General Paulus’ take on splendid recent releases like Achtung Panzer: Operation Star and Unity of Command? Does Genghis Khan play anything other than Mount & Blade? Does Oliver Cromwell still believe the lack of English Civil War wargames is the result of a fiendish Popish plot? In an effort to answer nagging questions like these The Flare Path has acquired a SpiritMaster IV ouija board. I’m still ploughing through the manual and tutorials at present. Early experiments haven’t been wholly successful. In preparation for this week’s pieces on the the first Combat Mission: Battle For Normandy module, Steel Beasts PPE 2.6, and Eagle Dynamics future plans, I attempted to contact Michael Wittmann and Chuck Yeager, but ended-up chewing the ectoplasm with Florence Nightingale and Samuel Pepys instead.

Epsom Assaults

Fortunately Flo turned-out to be a pretty big CM fan and was very happy to share her thoughts on CMBN:Commonwealth Forces. The lady admitted to being “f**king excited” by the thought of skirmishing her way to Caen with the help of British, Candian and Polish troops. She confided that the Brit and Canuck scenarios had been amongst her favorites in Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord.

Talking of CMBO, I mentioned the disappointing absence of napalm-spewing Churchill Crocodiles and Universal Carrier ‘Wasps’ in the otherwise impressive preliminary CMBN:CF unit list:

  • Webley revolver
  • Browning pistol
  • Lee enfield rifle
  • Lee enfield rifle with scope
  • Sten SMG
  • Vickers HMG
  • Bren mk2
  • PIAT
  • 2″ mortar
  • Sherman I
  • Sherman IC
  • Sherman II
  • Sherman III
  • Sherman V
  • Sherman VC
  • Churchill IV
  • Churchill V
  • Churchill VI
  • Churchill VII
  • Churchill VIII
  • Cromwell IV
  • Cromwell VI
  • Cromwell VII
  • Cromwell VIII
  • Stuart III
  • Stuart V
  • Achilles
  • Wolverine
  • Sexton
  • M5A1 halftracks
  • M9A1 halftrack
  • White scout car
  • Otter LRC
  • Daimler Mk II Armored Car
  • Humber Mk III Scout Car
  • Humber MkIV Armored Car
  • T17E Staghound
  • Universal Carrier (Vickers MMG)
  • Universal Carrier (Bren LMG)
  • Universal Carrier (Mortar)
  • Universal Carrier (OP)
  • Loyd Carrier
  • Bedford QLD – GS
  • Bedford QLT – Troop
  • 6pdr AT Gun
  • 6pdr AT Gun (Airborne)
  • 17pdr AT Gun
  • King Tiger (Porsche turret)
  • Jagdpanther-g1
  • Pz IIL Lynx
  • Marder I
  • Wespe

Flo directed me towards a typically defensive official forum statement that explained but didn’t – in my mind at least – completely excuse the omission.

“..all good things take time to do. We are working flat out on a variety of stuff that doesn’t involve flames… Flame stuff is right up there with the big things requested, but there are LOTS of big things requested. Even with increased staffing we’re still about 200 years behind where you guys want us to be. Anybody who thinks our games are unplayable until they have all these features should just steer clear of Combat Mission.”

As I understand it, flamethrowers were an important element in British and Canadian tactics in Normandy. Not featuring them, even in a fudged form, in a ‘Commonwealth’ module feels like a compromise too far for this old pyromaniac wargamer.

Flo was more alarmed/mystified by the apparent lack of turretless Cruiser tanks. As she pointed out, “It seems f***king weird that oddities like the Otter LRC and the Loyd Carrier appear to have made the cut, but t**t-wagons like the Ram Kangaroo haven’t”.

One thing we were both agreed upon, was playing Michael Wittmann in a CMBN recreation of ‘Villers-Bocage‘ could be one of the wargaming highlights of the year. As The Lady with the Lamp put it “Cut me and I’ll bleed red-white-and-blue, but f**k me if there’s isn’t something f**king magnetic about that f**ker’s dash and talent”.

 

The Restoration

Sam Pepys’ knowledge of contemporary combat flight-sims is, frankly, patchy. He was unaware of the flap over Black Shark 2 so the news that Eagle Dynamics had, very sensibly, responded to it, by sharing their intriguingly diverse/ambitious future plans with fans, didn’t mean a great deal.

Honestly, he seemed more interested in telling me about the real inspiration for the dome of St Pauls Cathedral (Wren’s mistress’ left “dumpling”) and grumbling about the fact that he’d never earned a penny from his diaries, than hearing about how one of gaming’s last serious combat flight sim studios were planning to release five(!) very different projects over the coming year.

In addition to giving the DCS Warthog a ‘US fixed-wing’ companion (surely an F-16 or similarly nimble jet) the team are toiling away on the first ‘Flying Legends’ aircraft. Informed forum speculation suggests this propellor-blessed throwback(?) might be based on one of The Fighter Collection’s (ED’s parent company) current or past possessions. Given that simmers aren’t exactly short of high-fidelity recreations of Spitfires and Mustangs, I’ve got my fingers crossed for a cat (Bear, Wild or Hell) or a crop-dusting, forest-fire dousing Air Tractor AT-802.

When the conversation shifted to Flaming Cliffs 3 – a coming payware modernisation package for Flaming Cliffs 2 (ED’s eight-aircraft Lock On follow-up) Sam commenced one of his interminable Great Fire anecdotes (the one about burying his precious Stilton cheese in the back garden). He didn’t seem to care a fig that that FC2 owners sim would – for a price – eventually get to fly their Frogfeet, Fulcrums, and F-15s in the same firmament as DCS: A-10Cs and Black Sharks.

He wasn’t all that impressed that a Nevada scenery add-on was on the way, either. What started out as third-party effort, and later was talked about as a possible venue for A-10C training sorties, will finally arrive as free (if you pre-ordered DCS:A-10C) DLC.

Perhaps the most exciting portion of the ED roadmap is the bit devoted to ‘Combined Arms’. This $20 adjunct will allow owners of DCS:A-10C, Black Shark 2, and FC3 to switch switch-studded cockpits for bustling HQ bunkers and command vehicles. With it installed, we’ll be able to “direct ground units, set fire missions for artillery/multiple rocket launchers, and take the role of a Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC).” For those that don’t have the patience or the time to experience ED’s remarkable sims at their high-fidelity best, Combined Arms looks like a god-send.

 

Tank Trap

Miss Nightingale had heard of contemporary armour ode Steel Beasts PPE through her friend Mrs Gaskell, but had never actually played it. Apparently Mrs G. spends much of her leisure-time hunched in a plywood mock-up of a Leo turret scanning the horizon for bimbling BMPs and T-72s. The writer of ‘North and South’ and ‘Cranford’ has doubtless already seen eSim’s latest ’2.6′ preview vid, the one showcasing coming enhancements like improved audio, chunky infantry, Centurions, helo-holing Shilkas, and a bolstered array of scary wire-guided whizzbangs.

I wonder if she’s also seen shots of the new civilian vehicles and watched studio head Nils ‘Ssnake’ Hinrichsen accidentally incarcerate himself while researching the new playable CV90/30-FI.

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39 Comments »

  1. Tim Stone says:

    Apologies for not responding to last week’s poppy answers sooner (I’ve been without telecommunications for most of the week)

    For the record Man Raised by Puffins secured a blooming-impressive four trench-art FP points for his common, long-headed, prickly, and Welsh suggestions.

    Also, anyone wondering about the beetle-chappy in the Plague of Caterpillars image:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/10/28/the-flare-path-a-plague-of-caterpillars/

    he was a Sexton beetle:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burying_beetle

  2. pakoito says:

    Is that Steve McQueen on that bike?

    • Inigo says:

      It’s a little-known fact that Steve McQueen never actually rode a motorcycle during the filming of The Great Escape. He believed the machines were earthly manifestations of “Nyarlathotep’s godless steeds of agony and fire” and drained the masculinity from anyone foolish enough to allow their testicles to be within 12 inches of the unholy devices. All footage of McQueen’s character riding a motorcycle was actually the result of painstaking frame-by-frame modification of hours of film depicting McQueen riding a specially designated horse (bathed in holy water and surgically implanted with literally thousands of subdermal silicon-sheathed lead copes of the Yellow Sign), which was subsequently replaced with stock footage of a motorcycle.

    • phuzz says:

      Although Mr McQueen did always manage to look dapper, even when not completely attired

      (nsfw, what has been seen etc.)

    • Bret says:

      Man. Steve McQueen was the coolest man alive.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Inigo: That was as inspired as Tim’s ouija board antics. I love this column :)

  3. Inigo says:

    Does Oliver Cromwell still believe the lack of English Civil War wargames is the result of a fiendish Popish plot?

    I dunno. I think he’s still busy being pissed off at the whole “being exhumed, put on trial for high treason, hung, drawn, quartered, decapitated and dumped in a pit” thing.

  4. Elmar Bijlsma says:

    There are actually quite a fair number of notable absences in the Commonwealth unit list.
    AVRE, 3″ mortar, 25pdr, Priest, Daimler Dingo and any of the Kangaroos.

    A Beetle… it was a bleeping Sexton Beetle?! Never ever would’ve guessed that. Mentally skipped over the entire British clergy when going through Brit vehicles.
    Thanks for getting back to that.

  5. alh_p says:

    The sprig is of Mulberry, ref to the flatpack mulberry harbour floated accross the channel.

    • alh_p says:

      oh and the map is of Cornwall, so maybe a staging area for the invasion fleet(s)?

    • Elmar Bijlsma says:

      As for the weaponry, a PIAT bomb and the Lee Enfield No.4′s Pigsticker bayonet.

    • Tim Stone says:

      The oak FP points up for grabs this week were all carved from old Calvados barrel staves.

      alh_p gets one for harbouring mulberries. Elmar gets a pair for his combined arms combo.

    • D-Mon says:

      The standard bearing sheep is the capbadge of the Queen’s Regt. Pilot’s wings in the British Army.

    • westyfield says:

      The map is of Tasmania, not Cornwall. Not sure what it’s there for – Australian amphibious landing practice, I guess.
      Edit: a spot of Googling lead to my discovering that Field Marshal Montgomery grew up in Tasmania. A tenuous link, to be sure.

    • Tim Stone says:

      D-Mon’s pair of FP points land silently at his feet coup de main-style.

      Westyfield grabs a rare beret-shaped gold FP point for obliquity. The map does show Tasmania but the Monty link isn’t the one I had in mind.

    • El_Emmental says:

      “D-Mon’s pair of FP points land silently at his feet coup de main-style.”

      Rock Paper Shotgun, naturally making cross-language puns since 1873…

      I must say, chapeau bas milord, this is truly taking it to another level ! :D

  6. Vexing Vision says:

    I have to ask – what is a t**t-wagon?

    Seriously, what is it? It sounds intriguing.

  7. Fede says:

    As far as I know Chuck Yeager hasn’t died, so you could try to contact him through other means!

  8. pagad says:

    Never liked the early-production “Porsche” (although Krupp actually designed it) turrets…

  9. stahlwerk says:

    Oh the frogfoot, what a magnificent aeroplane. I remember playing a certain game that tried to glorify it as being something more than an angry bathtub, but nowadays only serves as proof that EA are dirty communists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8gchB3UIJI

  10. jimbobjunior says:

    The map of Tasmania, but I’m unclear of the WWII connection. The only reference I can find is that Field Marshall “Monty” Montgomery’s father was “Bishop of Tasmania”.

    • jimbobjunior says:

      And the badge in the bottom right corner is that of the 150th Infantry Brigade.

    • D-Mon says:

      It is also the insignia of the 50th Infantry Division which was present on D-Day.

    • Tim Stone says:

      jimbobiwasMontysdoublejunior gets a rare beret-shaped gold FP point for the bishop link (posted at exactly the same time as westyfield’s Monty answer). EDIT and an oak one for the 150th Infantry Brigade (part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division)

  11. The Greatness says:

    The emblem with the lion, crown and wings is the emblem of the British Glider Pilot Regiment. They dropped 180 troops on D-Day to capture two bridges crossing the Caen canal.

  12. Vinraith says:

    That’s the constellation Pegasus just right of center. Presumably a reference to Pegasus Bridge?

  13. Electricfox says:

    I see the Green Howards mentioned there, a nice nod to Company Sergeant Major Stan Hollis perhaps?

    • The Greatness says:

      I just figured out that the stripe is the Green Howards. I suspect it’s there because the only man to win the Victoria Cross on D-Day was in the Green Howards.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Electricfox steals into the FP hen coop and snatches a point. Just two more available – the badge in the lower left corner and the map in the top right. Another tenuous link between Tasmania and D-Day, please.

  14. CalleX says:

    Wow, they want 35$ for the CMBN expansion/module! They can forget about that!

    • Elmar Bijlsma says:

      Yeah, at that price I think I too will opt for one of the many other serious wargames featuring 21st Army Group’s adventures around Caen. There are just so many competitors out there.

      I never had that much trouble coughing up a little extra for rare items of great quality.

  15. D-Mon says:

    The Tomahawk in the bottom left is the patch of the US XIX Corps.

  16. Rodafowa says:

    The thing is, she’s such a terribly, terribly good nurse.

  17. Wartooth says:

    A little late perhaps, but the map of Tasmania is undoubtedly a reference to Hobart’s Funnies, the city of Hobart being the capital of the island state.

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