Posts Tagged ‘The Flare Path’

The Flare Path: Like A Fish Out Of Water

Traditionally, autumn is the time for virtual hunting in the Stone household. This year, for a change, I’ve decided to leave my high-velocity deer dispatcher in the gun cabinet and rely on eight feet of simulated carbon fibre for my indoors outdoors fun. Fishing Planet and Euro Fishing have six hours each in which to (A) hook me, (B) reel me in, and (C) exhaust my meagre supply of hackneyed angling metaphors. At the end of these brief but intense auditions one of the games will be granted indefinite leave to remain, the other will be tossed back into the seething Steam stew pond. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path Dissects Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa

Assault the town. Bypass the town. Commit your reserve. Don’t commit your reserve. Wait for that Sherman Firefly to get into position. Don’t wait for that Sherman Firefly to get into position… The choices in computer wargames conform and comfort far more often than they challenge and discombobulate. Homo Grognardus is not used to having mess-tins of snow-melt thrown in his face, and Anglepoise lamps turned on his soul. Lifelong hex fiends like myself aren’t used to having our martial fun interrupted by awkward questions like “Do you want to join the Nazi Party?” Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Alphabetised

Alphabetia is a miserable disease. Like Malaria its symptoms come and go without warning. I realised I was having an attack early this morning in the shower. Usually, when it comes to lathering – apologies for the following mental image imposition – I’m a conventional head-to-toes sort of guy. Today’s ankles-buttocks-chest sequence was a sure sign something was amiss. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Remembrance

It’s poppy season here in the UK. As usual the faux flowers appeared first on the lapels of politicians and TV newsreaders. By Sunday and Remembrance Day itself there will be paper buttonholes blooming in every street and workplace. The public – the communal – remembering will be in full swing.

Bearing in mind the games industry’s complicated relationship with real-life conflicts, it’s pleasing to be able to report that this year more entertainment artisans than ever are pinning virtual poppies to their products, and using November 11 to remind their younger, less historically literate customers of the unpalatable realities of war. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path Jigsaw Club

Sir Francis Drake was halfway through one when the Spanish Armada arrived. Charles Lindbergh completed eight during his momentous transatlantic flight. Legendary Stalingrad sniper Vasily Zaytsev claimed they sharpened observational skills, improved manual dexterity, and helped alleviate tension in hospital waiting rooms… jigsaw puzzles have enjoyed a long and intimate relationship with warfare and transport. This week in The Flare Path I celebrate that age-old link by throwing open the doors of a jigsaw club specially designed for people who’d rather piece together aeroplanes and angry houses than kittens and kitsch cottages. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Battleships, Gunships, Rosehips

While much of the European Regional Development Fund is frittered away on Spanish zeppelin termini and 200ft-tall unicorn sculptures for Romanian mountain tops*, some does end up in the hands of genuinely deserving recipients like JetCat Games. The Vilnius-based studio are using a slither of the vast EC money pie to help build a multiplayer military chopper game. Currently in closed alpha, Heliborne has ‘POTENCIALAS’ written all over it.

* probably

Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: How To Draw An Eagle

(Next week in The Flare Path: How to Draw a PMD-6 Anti-Personnel Mine)

Going by the number of sketches arriving in the FP inbox at the moment, this column’s recent foray into art tuition is going down extremely well. For every RPS reader keen to spend their Friday lunch hour reading about upcoming quadruplex transport sims, imminent Seven Years War strategy offerings, ill-conceived wargame patches, and my ongoing World of Warships dalliance, it seems there are three or four hungry for bite-sized drawing lessons. I’d make some comment about the pencil being mightier than the sword/Schmeisser if I wasn’t aware of the experiments conducted in the late 1940s by the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment that proved the exact opposite. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path’s World Of Warships Apprenticeship

World of Warships has been flashing its signal lamp at me for several months. Ignoring messages like…

- .. — –..– / -.– — ..- / .-.. — …- . -.. / .– — .-. .-.. -.. / — ..-. / – .- -. -.- … –..– / .– …. -.– / -. — – / –. .. …- . / .– — .– … / .- / – .-. -.– ..–..

“Tim, you loved World of Tanks, why not give WoWS a try?”

.. – / .. … / ..-. .-. .

“It’s free!”

and – …. . / .–. .. –. . — -. … / -.. .- -. -.-. . / -… . .- ..- – .. ..-. ..- .-.. .-.. -.–

“The pigeons dance beautifully.” (Not 100% sure I recorded that one correctly.)

…hasn’t been easy, but somehow I managed it. Until Tuesday.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Scratch One Summer

This splendid image is the work of Roger Murray AGAvA (click for purchasing options)

A flurry of local airshows and BoB commemorative events meant Spitfires and Hurricanes were regular visitors to my corner of Southern England this summer. Seeing six Messerschmitt maulers fly over in formation on September 15 really should have been my aviation highlight of the season, but that accolade actually goes to an encounter a few days earlier when, tramping along a Wiltshire footpath, I was repeatedly buzzed by a P-40 intent on entertaining crowds at a nearby display. The sound of a Merlin in full spate is a wonderful thing, but the whistle-threaded roar of Lulu Belle’s supercharged Allison V-12 left me beaming like a lottery winner. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Apes

The first Royal Navy powder monkeys were actual monkeys. During the blockade of Singapore in 1764-65 a short-handed admiral by the name of Thomas Allworthy, noticing that the long-tailed macaques kept as pets by many of his crew were extremely biddable, ordered the beasts to be trained up as emergency gunpowder porters and cannon spongers. Young macaques carried out the latter activity without implements of any kind. After a quick dip in a pail of water, the primates would be inserted into sooty cannon barrels down which a peanut or similar tidbit had first been thrown. Blockages weren't unknown. Much of the blame for HMS Ajax's dismal performance at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1780) was laid at the furry feet of its overfed monkey matelots. In 'Biscay Round', the 18th Century sea shanty that made famous the phrase 'Keep your powder dry', the well-known line is followed by the now largely forgotten 'And your monkey slim'.

Hello youse. Fridays are for taking a long, hard look at your weekly wargame & simulation column, and wondering “Is it sufficiently distinct?”. Fridays are also for plunging gloved hands into the beetle-studded nightsoil mound that is the Internet and pulling out stories about bovicidal board game ports, Battle of the Bulge and iRacing imperfections, and the return of an intriguing piece of TalonSoft hexoterica. Read the rest of this entry »