The Flare Path: A Skulk Of Foxers

By Tim Stone on August 17th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

The Flare Path turns one this week. Here in the UK that means it can legally get its navel pierced, buy wine gums, point at clouds, and read Knut Hamsun on public transport. To commemorate the occasion there’ll be no game newscasts or inscrutable intros today. The entire column will be given over to quizzes. Dozing adorably beyond the jump are five bushy-tailed Foxers, each with a rather special prize tied to its brush.

Thanks to the generosity of 2×2 Games, Aerosoft, Battlefront.com, RailSimulator.com and Slitherine/Matrix Games, the swiftest solvers of the following Foxers will win a downloadable copy of one of FP’s favourite games.

Before you get stuck in, be aware that the rules are a little different from normal.

1. DON’T POST YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION! Email them to me using the ‘Tim Stone’ link above, and I’ll get back to you if you’ve won.
2. If you already own the prize game, or for some bizarre reason really don’t fancy it, then please hold fire.
3. Your first answers are final! Emails containing revised solutions will be fed to Ottokar, the FP goat.
4. Only one prize per player so choose your first Foxer carefully.
5. Once a particular quiz has been de-foxed I’ll make that clear ASAP.
6. Click on pics for a closer look.

Best of luck! <blows ‘tally-ho’ on tin replica of John Frost’s hunting horn>

 

Foxer No.1
Prize: CLAIMED! by Plopsworth

It’s a scarily long way from Berlin to Stalingrad…. General Winter isn’t an opponent to be trifled with… One man’s breakthrough is another man’s encirclement opportunity… A Panzer Army marches on its fuel tanks… In this brilliantly condensed WW2 wargame, Croatian newcomers 2×2 manage to deliver important Ost Front truths without burying those truths in exhausting snowdrifts of detail. The crisp rule-set combined with a predatory yet patient AI make every battle in the 17-stage campaign a headscratcher/nailbiter.

The game’s bust-based unit art wasn’t to everyone’s taste but FP loved it. Of course, FP has always been fond of busts – in fact he owns a collection of the things. Quickly identify the seven historical bigwigs in that collection, and you could win yourself the hexcellent UoC.

 

Foxer No. 2
Prize: CLAIMED! by Owen Baines

*After 24hrs of unsuccessful schreck seeking, FP has decided the prize should go to the nearest miss (there were a couple of  ’J3′ suggestions but Owen’s was the first).

Call me fussy but every time I tell a Sherman to sling AP at a newly spied Panzer, I like my CPU to reach for a fat Encyclopaedia of WW2 Armoured Warfare and start hurriedly checking armour thicknesses, angles and ballistic formulae. I also expect it to think really hard before relaying the sighting to the PIAT team, 17-pounder crew, and field kitchen dug-in in the neighbouring field.

If you’re a similarly demanding soul then Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy will appeal. Forensic, tough, and underpinned by incomparable subject knowledge (Battlefront have forgotten more WW2 facts than THQ will ever know) its portraits of post-D-Day skirmishes teem with historical echoes.

…and Panzerschreck rockets. To solve the ‘Spot the schreck’ puzzle below, you must correctly identify the grid square occupied (before cunning Paintshoppery erased it) by a speeding Raketenpanzerbüchse projectile.

 

Foxer No. 3
Prize: CLAIMED! by Kevin Axe

Its regular identity changes have caused me to bite through a fair few pipe stems, but RailWorks remains the rail sim I turn to most often when I fancy a pleasant evening on the footplate. Cosmopolitan and constantly swelling/improving (since the last major free update we’ve had some lovely cab motion and shadow effect) it’s the closest thing rail simmers have to a railway FSX.

The only thing FP enjoys more than travelling on simulated trains is travelling on real ones. Next Friday he’s embarking on his most ambitious railway journey yet – a rail trip from London to Hanoi. In preparation he’s purchased a new toothbrush and an inflatable copy of Proust’s ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’. What he hasn’t got round to doing yet is working out his itinerary. Maybe you can help. A copy of RW3 + London to Brighton to the first person to supply his arrival time in Hanoi, bearing in mind…

A) FP will be ready to leave London at 13.00 hrs next Friday.
B) He wants to arrive in Hanoi as quickly as possible.
C) Intra-city foot/bus/tram/taxi/tuk-tuk/ferry transfers are acceptable.

(Note. This Foxer will stay open for at least 24hrs as verifying unusual itineraries may take a while)

 

Foxer No.4
Prize: CLAIMED! by Zhou Fang

It doesn’t pay to scrutinise most wargame AIs too intently. You start noticing the predictability, the moments of fly-against-a-window incomprehension, the heartbreaking dearth of anything resembling human guile. “Coding AI is difficult! Play multiplayer if you want a real challenge.” shout the apologists. “No thanks” reply the enlightened “We’ll just go back to lovely Command Ops”.

In Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge and its forerunners the flies know their sashes from their skylights, their casements from their louvres. Freed from the shackles of hexes and turns and directed by AI routines steadily improved over the course of the past decade, armies really do behave like armies. You see them fall-back, re-plan, and coordinate. You scratch your chin as they push, block, bypass and Schwerpunkt. Combined with a wonderful command system that lets you issue orders from any rung of the command ladder, the result is really rather remarkable.

…as you’ll discover if you de-fox the following before anyone else. Command Ops: BftB recreates one of history’s most famous chilly battles. Can you identify seven other sub-zero scraps that are a little less well known?

 

Foxer No.5
Prize: CLAIMED! by Electricfox

For the full explanation of why I rate this German omnibus sim so highly, you’ll need to consult pages 60-65 of the August issue of PC Gamer UK. In a nutshell: PHYSICS that feel they’ve been extracted from a real MAN doubledecker with horse forceps and a big brass syringe, (Somewhere in Berlin there’s a bus deeply baffled by the fact he can no longer feel the cobbles under his tires, the press of passengers on his leaf-springs), AUDIO so multi-layered and dynamic, even humdrum acts like stopping at traffic lights feel great , and a VENUE (late Eighties Spandau) so real and redolent you’ll struggle to re-enter the Inter-Dimensional Wardrobe without at least one wistful glance over your shoulder.

There’s a lot of ‘bus’ in OMSI and there’s a lot of ‘bus’ in the following Foxer. Simply identify the
nine ‘bus’-incorporating words before any other puzzle-buster, to claim a downloadable copy of MR-Software’s doubledeck delight.

 

Last Week’s Foxer

…was as hard as they come. Danny252 and protorp came bally close, but the answer Miss Budanova was holding out for was this one:

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44 Comments »

  1. LionsPhil says:

    Was the sixth fox of the banner image beset by hounds before it could aquire a prize and a conundrumn?

  2. Hoaxfish says:

    I recognise 1 bust, google got me a 2nd… turns out googling “busts” has, er, distracting results.

  3. Llewyn says:

    Argh. So near, and yet so far…

    Edit: Curse you, Electricfox! Who was she?

  4. GernauMorat says:

    Sent my answer to no 1 in Tim

  5. jimbobjunior says:

    That dastardly ElectricFox, I had only two left to identify (d and g). Paintings and women and paintings of women are my weak point evidentally. Guess there’s no harm posting my answers now:

    a. Leyland Railbus
    b. Buster Keaton
    c. Arquebus
    d.
    e. Great Bustard
    f. Airbus (A380)
    g.
    h. Bustle
    i. Bushmaster

    Edit: ordering :S

  6. johnki says:

    Damnit. Literally the only one I couldn’t figure out for OMSI was the lady. Anyone mind telling me who that was since it was claimed?

  7. Mechanicus_ says:

    Sent my answer in for 2 – I bet that one holds out the longest given how tricky finding the right square will be.

  8. Plopsworth says:

    In case people are wondering what the correct answers were for No 1:

    a: Victoria: (stumped me for a bit, since she looked more medieval, like a female Charlemagne – and I think most people are used to seeing Victoria presented as the old “we are not amused” matriarch anyway).
    b: Nefertiti: (One of the more famous objects of Ancient Egypt. Plus, the significant other has it as a miniature tourist souvenir)
    c: Mussolini: (First guess confirmed. Iconic fancy cap with neo-Roman fascist eagle design)
    d: Cromwell: (Quite a unique looking person).
    e: Sherman: (Took a bit of googling for U.S. Civil War generals with the rare property of no facial hair, but I eventually stumbled on a photo and bust which matched).
    f: Hannibal: (This one stumped me for a while. At first I was trying to recall and google any “bearded Roman emperors”, finding only Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius who seemed close-ish, but not quite close enough to warrant an e-mail. Then I tried other Greek leaders’ names, until I tried Hannibal.)
    g: Lenin: (instant recognition for anyone who has lived since 1917?)

    • GernauMorat says:

      Damn you plopsworth, you must have got in before me!

      I had some trouble finding Sherman as well, the uniform looked familiar.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      got Nefertiti straight off (a hat worthy of TF2)

      Hannibal’s bust is the one that comes up if you reverse image-search the whole image with google

      I kinda worked out g was some sort of commie, from the hat, but it wasn’t karl marx… 50% of lenin’s busts are straight up bald, which threw me.

  9. johnkillzyou says:

    Gah, number 2 is hard!

    • Tim Stone says:

      As my inbox testifies. 30+ guesses so far, all of which are wide of the mark.

      • johnkillzyou says:

        Is there any way to “Tell” where it is, or is it just pure guesswork?

        • Tim Stone says:

          There are no obvious visual clues, but if you know the scenario/map (pic was taken while playing one of the demo scenarios) and make some assumptions based on the time the puzzle has taken to solve, you might have something to go on..

          • Tim Stone says:

            This is verging on the bizarre now. Around 50 guesses so far and /not one of them/ has selected the right column.

            I think the point has been reached where second (but not third) guesses are permissible.

          • Wilson says:

            Wow. I’d be fascinated to see a plot of where all the guesses were afterwards, see if everyone had much the same (wrong) idea.

            I’m also surprised you haven’t had more guesses.

          • johnki says:

            I’m surprised no one’s got it yet. Maybe you should email back a “close” or “not close” when someone sends in an answer. :p

          • Tim Stone says:

            Having plotted the guesses I’ve received so far, the spread is even stranger than I first thought.

            -Over a quarter of the guessers have suggested The Same Square

            -Four adjacent columns are totally guess free.

            -One row boasts more than half of the total guesses.

          • johnkillzyou says:

            Would I be correct in assuming THE SAME SQUARE is E6?

          • Wilson says:

            Haha, fantastic. Maybe you should challenge people to guess where everyone thinks the rocket is and the four empty rows, instead. I’m assuming the row with more than half the guesses contains the most popular square.

  10. President Weasel says:

    I have no idea, but I am pretty sure Rossignol said on the forums “mumble grumble the good posts don’t get enough comments mutter grumble”, so here is a comment.
    Keep on doing your thing, Mr. Stone.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Indeed. Flare path is a fascinating little venture into a world of gaming I don’t usually care for, puncuated by peculiar gems like SpinTires, and reviews of German mundanity simulators.

      • Llewyn says:

        Oooh. For some reason I missed that week’s FP. Spin Tires looks to be right up my quagmire.

      • mr.black says:

        Tim’s writing is really entertaining and though hard core sims aren’t my first choice, this column has made me try at least a few of them and I can find some interesting game at least once every two weeks! Appreciate it, don’t change for years, Foxer!

      • Phasma Felis says:

        I don’t think I’ve played a sim since LHX Attack Chopper, and I still read every Flare Path. It’s fascinating.

    • Skabooga says:

      Indeed, I applaud Tim Stone for taking such a dense and forbidding subject and presenting it in a fun and approachable way. He is the Julia Child of simulation gaming.

    • GreatUncleBaal says:

      Yeah, I echo this, though I don’t tend to comment, I always read and enjoy Tim’s stuff. Here’s to (at least) another year!

    • Tim Stone says:

      FP is fiercely proud of the number of ‘lowest comment count’ awards it’s taken away from RPS monthly team meets, but thanks anyway. You lot are marvellous folk to write for/at/to/inthegeneraldirectionof.

    • Marcin says:

      Hear, hear.

  11. Llewyn says:

    On an entirely tangential note, I really don’t understand why MR don’t produce a demo version of OMSI. I can’t be the only casual simmer to have an interest in the sim but an unwillingness to throw €30 at something that I might not get any satisfaction out of. Surely developers of niche products are the ones with most to gain, relatively, from broadening their markets?

  12. Marcin says:

    Signing in to say Yes please, more of this. I’ve been enjoying FP since its birth, and hope for many more.

    It’s not been good for my wallet, mind you. Steel Fury on the desktop, and OMSI imminent, now that you BROUGHT IT UP AGAIN ARGH.

    Say Mr. Stone, what do you think of World of Tanks these days? I know it’s not exactly sim but it sure is approachable! Really, considering its “1 life on the field, 1 weapon, as much as 10-15 seconds delay between shots and SLOW movement speed” pedigree I’m actually quite astounded at how well it is doing.

    • Tim Stone says:

      I haven’t played in a while, but had a fine time when I did. As you say, not a sim but most of the essential ingredients of armoured combat are in there. And despite what some critics claim, I didn’t feel disadvantaged using free tanks and ammo. Thinking about it, I should probably cover it once in a while in FP.

  13. johnki says:

    For the people that were interested in Unity of Command, it’s 50% off on Gamersgate right now.

    http://www.gamersgate.com/DD-UOC/unity-of-command

  14. Samolety says:

    What was the winning itinerary, out of curiosity? I was playing around with the trip last night (maps and travel are very much my thing) and had a pretty good route through Russia and China, but I already own RW3 and therefore didn’t want to post it.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Here’s Kevin’s route.

      Friday 8/24 Depart London St. Pancras 15:04 Eurostar 9144
      Arrive Brussels Midi 18:05.

      Depart Brussels Midi 19:28 Thalys 9473
      Arrive Koeln HBF 21:15

      Depart Koeln HBF 22:28 EuroNight 447

      (Starting here, Bahn.de lists a series of mysterious regional trains, while RailEurope.com just ignores all transfers)
      Saturday 8/25 Arrive Terespol 14:53

      Depart Terespol 15:18
      Arrive Brest Central 17:36

      Depart Brest Central 17:50
      Arrive Minsk (BY) 22:04

      Depart Minsk (BY) 22:09
      Sunday 8/26 Arrive Wjasma 05:07

      Depart Wjasma 05:23

      (The Germans and French don’t quite agree on an arrival time, but nobody can agree on what to call the station this train stops at).
      Arrive Moscow Belorusskaja/Byelloruskaya/Belorusska 08:48 OR 9:37

      Depart Moscow Byelloruskaya via Byelloruskaya Metro (Trains arrive every 3 minutes, so exact timing isn’t a problem)
      Arrive Moscow Yaroslavsky/Iaroslavsaja via Komsomolskaya Metro

      Depart 21:35 Moscow Yaroslavsky 004
      Monday 9/3 Arrive Beijing Railway Station 14:04

      Depart Beijing Railway Station via eponymous subway station
      Arrive Jianguomen Subway Station

      Depart Jianguomen Subway Station
      Arrive Military Museum Subway Station

      Walk to Beijing West (While there are busses, it’s 2 km, and your legs could probably use some exercise, if they haven’t atrophied completely yet)

      Depart Beijing West 18:05 China Railways T189
      Tuesday 9/4 Arrive Nanning 23:30

      Wednesday 9/5 Depart Nanning 18:45 China Railways T189
      Arrive Dong Dang 23:22 (I wish I weren’t too tired to think of a pun for this station).

      Thursday 9/6 Depart Dong Dang 0:22 Vietnam Railways MR2
      Arrive Hanoi Gia Lam 4:45 (!)