The Flare Path: Set To Idle

By Tim Stone on March 9th, 2012 at 3:07 pm.

Has anybody seen a brown and white Protestant Work Ethic, about this big? He answers to the name of Scamp. I was walking him in the park yesterday morning when the little so-and-so ran off. I’ve contemplated searching for him, and I was going to print some ‘LOST’ posters, and stick them up in the local area, but – well – I just don’t seem to have got round to it yet. Right now, I’m not even sure I can summon-up the gumption to tell you about the delights of Combat Mission: Battle For Normandy Commonwealth Forces and Accu-Feel.

 

Laziest After Action Report EvAAR

Even Nazis like to nap.

Assuming dozing on mossy banks and leaning on gates doesn’t get in the way, Combat Mission: Battle For Normandy’s first module should be getting its own Wot I Think at some point next week. In the meantime an AAR would seem appropriate.

Sadly, since Scamp’s departure, a conventional battle commentary seems like a huge undertaking. Moving all those units, devising all those tactics, adding arrows to all those screenshots… I’m exhausted just thinking about it. If only there was a way to illustrate the Caen-focused splendour of this new wargame adjunct without a) spoiling either ‘The Scottish Corridor’ (the 14-mission Allied campaign) or ‘Kampfgruppe Engel’ (the 8-mission SS alternative) or b) working up a sweat. If only the game catered for temporarily work-shy word operatives like myself.

Wait a second. Perhaps it does. If I press this here Quick Battle button, choose to play as the Germans in a smallish defensive battle, then purchase a single example of The Meanest Mountain of Steel in the game, then I may be able to generate a scrap that’s both loafer-friendly and gripping.

Right. It looks like my task on this balmy August, 1944 morn is to defend a couple of Norman hamlets from a British attack of unknown complexion. With luck, the AI will have picked a nice selection of Commonwealth Forces’ new unit types, and my lone 70-ton trundler will stay alive long enough to gape at and gore a few of them.

In the coming clash, I intend to use a tactic Heinz Guderian dismissed as “imbecilic” in chapter 8 of his seminal work on armoured warfare. I plan to park a bloody-huge tank slap-bang in the centre of my enemy’s most obvious avenue of attack, then sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

The first five minutes pass uneventfully. Apart from the bumble-bee drone of a fighter-bomber overhead, there’s neither sight nor sound of the foe. I congratulate myself for deciding to deploy my hulking feline on a tree-screened lane.

I’m starting to wonder if the Brits have stood me up, when a Daimler II armoured car scoots out of the trees on the hillside opposite my position. Its boldness earns it a catastrophic 88mm hull hole.

Two minutes later a Staghound AC breaks cover in roughly the same spot and gets exactly the same treatment. Two shots, two kills. A haughty Heer sneer would seem appropriate at this jun… CLAAAAAANG! Then again perhaps it’s a bit early for Aryan arrogance. Something unidentified at 1 o’clock has just gouged a chunk of Zimmerit off my beautifully-sculpted Porsche turret.

The vandal turns out to be a Cromwell IV cruiser tank halted near the ford on the right-hand side of the map. My metal monarch dispenses swift retaliation in the form of a turret-perforating AP shell. Incredibly, the British machine shrugs off the wound, and puts another round into my flank. No penetration, but this time the pop-up damage label reports ‘armour spalling’.

Concern overriding laziness, I plot a short reverse movement. As the Panzer begins its backward bimble, it spits another projectile at its molester. This one is fatal.

Nine minutes in and the score is 3-0 to the gamey git in the Hitlerian folly. Said folly is still busy hosing fleeing Cromwellians, when it sights an adversary so far below it on the food chain, it seems cruel to even engage it with a bow MG. A Humber III light recon car is making its way gingerly down the slope opposite. Armed with nothing but a piffling Bren Gun, this is Allied pluck at its most preposterous. Predictably, one trigger pedal-stamp is enough. No-one escapes alive from the Tommy jalopy.

The next 120 seconds are particularly bloody, and the blood is all British. In rapid succession a Daimler II, a White Scout Car, two more Humber IIIs and a Cromwell VII enter the fray then exit it wreathed in smoke and flame. Tempted by a mysterious ‘?’ loitering on a road at 11 o’clock, I decide it’s time my Royal Tiger stretched its legs.

On reflection, the wander probably wasn’t wise. Shortly after arriving at the stone bridge on the left of the arena, and euthanizing a confused M5A1 halftrack (I’m beginning to think I’ve encountered the UK Military Vehicles Club annual rally, rather than the spearpoint of 11th Armoured Division) I’m pummelled by a series of shots from various sources. Two of the incoming rounds ding skywards, one – a lower right hull hit – generates that eleven-letter word every tanker dreads: penetration.

It was around this point that things got so insanely chaotic – the air over the little map-bisecting brook so clogged with hurtling munitions – that I stopped taking mental notes. All I can tell you with certainty is that none of the next fifteen minutes passed without at least one allied AFV coughing-up dazed and singed crewmen. Brit war machines were perishing all over the place… on the bridge, on the river bank, in the woods. When precisely my Panzer lost its mobility I can’t say for sure. Was it before that Sherman I with the Rhino hedge-cutter, expired fording the stream? Possibly. Was it before or after that game Cromwell managed to barge its way across the wreck-strewn bridge, only to die in a stupendous fireball? No idea. All I know is that by the 23-minute mark, my hot-barrelled death disseminator was down to its last 2 AP shells and the horizon was black with the smoke from all the brewing British battlewagons.

But in the end it wasn’t ammo exhaustion that caused me to reach for the ceasefire button and halt the most impressive lone-wolf performance I can recall in 12 years of Combat Missioning, it was pity. Those poor, gutsy Brits had suffered enough.

 

Accu-sations

A day doesn’t pass when I’m not accosted in the street and accused of either lying about how often I’m accosted in the street, or under-reporting the still-flourishing Microsoft Flight Simulator add-on scene. When confronted, I tend to use the poverty excuse or the “There’s not a lot you can say about SkyPig’s new ATR-72 add-on or GeoSpangle’s new Orkney Islands Deluxe except they’re fantastic recreations of the ATR-72 and the Orkney Islands.” The excuses work in most situations, but in the case of the fairly cheap, and gloriously generalist Accu-Feel pack from A2A, they don’t really prop-wash.

Having finally got this titchy FSX physics and sound strenghtener installed (to be fair to A2A, my early technical issues were, I now realise, entirely my own fault) I’m pleased to be able to report it really is rather splendid. Returning to an Accu-Feeled FSX after a spell in Microsoft Flight is like gulping Budvar after a month on Budweiser. My tragic Gusto Deficiency means I can’t be arsed to write about the ambience and feedback differences the pack makes, but I am prepared to provide a few Before & After screenshots.

1) Vanilla FSX

1) FSX + Accu-Feel

2) Vanilla FSX

2) FSX + Accu-Feel

Hmm. This really isn’t working, is it. Look, all you really need to know is that clever old A2A have figured out a way to make runways bumpier, cockpits rattlier, brakes squeakier, tyres more talkative and pre-stall scares even scarier. All these effects are automatically adjusted to fit with the plane type you’re piloting. It’s dashed clever, and it’s hard to think of a more cost-effective way to enhance FSX at present.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

…is currently curled up with the lazy dog. Sorry. Back next week.

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28 Comments »

  1. Bhazor says:

    Ok who else spent at least a minute trying to spot the differences between the two?

  2. westyfield says:

    > A day doesn’t pass when I’m not accosted in the street and accused of either lying about how often I’m accosted in the street

    This line had me in stitches. Excellent work, Mr Stone, as ever.

  3. Megadyptes says:

    Combat Mission Normandy really does look quite nice, I’ve been tempted to get it for a while now. The Commonwealth addon makes me want it that much more.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Not played a CM game in years. I remember playing either the first or second one, advancing as the allies into a small town, and the nazis cutting my entire squad to pieces.

      Tactics never were my strong suit.

  4. MistyMike says:

    British army: 325points
    German army: 593 points

    Apparenty despite inflicting *zero* casulaties the Brits still get a score for good sportsmanship.

  5. Curry the Great says:

    The problem with Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy for me is that the training missions are all fine and dandy, you control a few units and you feel pretty good about handling them. Then you try the campaign and they say, here you go, have an entire regiment to play 19 missions in the campaign with. And you get all units on the first map, making you go up from controlling 12 units to over 60. It’s just too much to micromanage for me. I want to give a few orders and then see how it plays out, preferably only microing my favourite tank (a la men of war). You don’t really take the role of a high level commander but you take the role of every officer in the chain of command, and that kinda bums me out. I wish there was a campaign where you play as a smaller-sized unit. Actually, maybe I should just go play more Men of War. One tip I can give for a new Combat Mission player is to play a quick battle with several pieces of every artillery unit in the game, and simultaneously letting them fire at one point, and laugh at your PC exploding.

    • Weylund The Second says:

      OR you could play any of the dozens of smaller scenarios (and no small number of campaigns) available, or make your own small scenarios, or make your own small campaigns.

      Remember you’ve got a very powerful editor at your fingertips, not to mention a quick battle system. The campaigns that ship with the game are great, but they’re only a tiny slice of the content for any given title in the series.

    • tigershuffle says:

      My feelings too……just a bit overwhelming

      would prefer if you could choose your tactical level from Platoon/Company/Regiment etc

      so if you play at Company Commander you only deal with that….but have to respond your superiors tactics and orders……bit like having Nick Nolte shouting at you ala Thin Red Line to get the mission done

  6. MistyMike says:

    In the coming clash, I intend to use a tactic Heinz Guderian dismissed as “imbecilic” in chapter 8 of his seminal work on armoured warfare. I plan to park a bloody-huge tank slap-bang in the centre of my enemy’s most obvious avenue of attack, then sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

    Could a military buff explain which tactic is more appropriate in this situation according to ‘Achtung Panzer’? To a layman it seems perfectly reasonable to put your defensive force in the way of the enemy’s attack.

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      The correct answer is to let the enemy attack, and then utilize the populace’s not inconsequential outrage to garner support for a devastating counterinvasion.

    • varangian says:

      >Could a military buff explain which tactic is more appropriate in this situation according to ‘Achtung Panzer’?

      I read that once, in fact I think it’s on a shelf somewhere, but I must admit to having forgotten the details of specific chapters. So I’m guessing a bit here but the way the Wehrmacht handled armour attacks was, if they could, to avoid using their own tanks in anti-tank roles. Where possible they’d set up static anti-tank positions – the famed 88mm gun being a stalwart here – supplemented by minefields and whatever specialist anti-tank armour was around. The idea being to allow the opposition to exhaust themselves and fritter away their armour at which point the Panzers would be unleashed in a counter-attack for a bit of a blitzkrieg if that was deemed feasible.

  7. varangian says:

    >just gouged a chunk of Zimmerit off my beautifully-sculpted Porsche turret.

    Looks more like a Henschel turret to me. Quibbling aside the game looks interesting so I look forward to the Wot I Think.

    • Elmar Bijlsma says:

      I see your quibble and raise with a “No such thing as a Porsche turret. What you see here is merely an early production turret.”
      Hah! Beat that.

  8. Darcangelo says:

    You are one of many people aboard Space Station 13: one of many Space Stations deployed by the NanoTrasen corporation and kept in line by the rather vaguely defined Central Command (frequently Wikiworded as CentCom) unit. Various problems occur on or around the station, which are vaguely hinted at by unreliable and classified communications. The incompetent, paranoid, self-serving and just plain sociopathic members of Space Station 13 then have to attempt to do their jobs and survive as the situation unfolds around them – but they usually just start killing each other until they evacuate. The modes differ greatly between servers, but the usual premise is that someone aboard the station is a traitor of some description, be it a spy, alien in disguise, or a space wizard.

  9. Darcangelo says:

    Angelo Sorman
    seo service
    You are one of many people aboard Space Station 13: one of many Space Stations deployed by the NanoTrasen corporation and kept in line by the rather vaguely defined Central Command (frequently Wikiworded as CentCom) unit. Various problems occur on or around the station, which are vaguely hinted at by unreliable and classified communications. The incompetent, paranoid, self-serving and just plain sociopathic members of Space Station 13 then have to attempt to do their jobs and survive as the situation unfolds around them – but they usually just start killing each other until they evacuate. The modes differ greatly between servers, but the usual premise is that someone aboard the station is a traitor of some description, be it a spy, alien in disguise, or a space wizard.

  10. wodin says:

    I need to purchase CW module at some point. Though it’s not high on ym agenda. Mainly because my CMBN mojo is lacking at the moment.

    Anyone interested in Tactcial Wargames and are on the devils own social website Facebbok then feel free to join my Tactical Wargame page. Covers both PC and Board. Tim the cry goes out to you. Be great to see you on there.

    https://www.facebook.com/Tacticalwargame

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