Posts Tagged ‘wargames’

The Flare Path: John Tiller, Boredom Killer

By Tim Stone on July 18th, 2014.

Today in FP I question a man who has been testing, besting, and interesting PC wargamers for nigh-on twenty years. In my imagination, the legendary John Tiller lives in a hexagonal mansion/pillbox atop a hexagonal hill in Hexham, Northumberland. He never drives anywhere without first checking which hexes are visible from his destination, and setting aside sufficient Action Points for unloading. Read on to discover just how accurate my mental picture is for pithy personal reflections from one of wargaming’s most popular and prolific designers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wot I Think: Simulating War by Philip Sabin

By Tim Stone on May 25th, 2014.

To Professor Philip Sabin a wargame isn’t just a plaything, a contraption for turning weapons-grade boredom into 24-carat fascination. To the man that teaches the World War Two in Europe, Warfare in the Ancient World, Fighting in the Air, and Conflict Simulation modules at King’s College, London, high-quality historical strategy games are invaluable research and educational aids, as useful in their own ways as conventional written histories. In his latest book, Simulating War, he explains why his Strategic Studies students are often to be found hunched over hexgrids, and details a design approach that, though geared towards the creation of board wargames, contains much that will interest and inspire computer wargame creators. Read the rest of this entry »

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VASSAL: A Virtual Army of Conflict Sims In One Client

By Matt Thrower on January 20th, 2014.

If you want to play a board game, one of the most essential ingredients is someone to play against. I found this out the hard way as a first-time parent, house bound by the demands of a baby and drained of energy but not my feverish appetite for gaming.

That’s when I discovered VASSAL. It’s a freeware, open source Java program that lets you play boardgames over the internet, either live or via email. And not a narrow selection, either: each game requires that you download a specific module, and the official site alone lists over 1,300 of them. There are more out there in the wilds.

At the point of succumbing to child-induced cabin fever, I was suddenly free to choose from this bewildering library of brilliance and play games as slowly as I wanted without ever leaving the house. There were games I already owned, games I wanted to try, games I’d never heard of but sounded superb; all at my fingertips alongside an army of eager opponents.
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The Flare Path: Hurls Demo Charges

By Tim Stone on November 22nd, 2013.

Demos are a digital wargamer’s Predator drones and PR Spitfires. They allow us to scout new battlefields safely and smartly. They furnish us with the information reviews, AARs and Let’s Plays can’t provide. I wouldn’t be without them, yet, these days, often am thanks to the questionable policies of sector-dominating militaria-mongers Slitherine/Matrix Games. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Flare Path: A Fraud In Fredericksburg

By Tim Stone on July 26th, 2013.

Wargame publishing leviathan Slitherine held their 2013 press conference last Friday. Fredericksburg, Virginia was the venue and I was there! In spirit. Physically I was in a small room in Staines, Surrey eating fig rolls and reading Nevil Shute’s ‘Pastoral‘ but I’m determined not to let a minor detail like that get in the way of pithy reportage. With the help of half a bottle of Auntie June’s extra-strong sloe gin, enough press releases to wallpaper a Pickett-Hamilton fort, and considerable experience of events of this type, I’m sure I can provide a fairly accurate account of what went on.

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The Flare Path: Parleys With A Warlord

By Tim Stone on May 17th, 2013.

Every day is D-Day -1 for the busy Seabees at Slitherine Software. An Epsom-based outfit that started life constructing singular sword-and-sandal TBSs, is now, thanks to a slew of acquisitions and a dazzlingly dynamic approach to talent spotting/signing, the dominant force in PC wargame publishing. During the coming year, company chieftain Iain McNeil will be overseeing more than fifty releases. Realising I knew little about the firm’s founder, philosophy, or plans, I dragged Iain away from a red-hot field radio and a sand table crowded with 15mm Hoplites, Panzer Grenadiers, astronauts and Space Marines for a chat. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Flare Path: Reductions Reveille

By Tim Stone on May 3rd, 2013.

Wakey-wakey, rise and spend! Jackie is blowing her utility trumpet because she wants the world to know that three old wargames have just had their prices slashed. As conveying detailed sale information with valveless brass instruments is notoriously tricky, it will be left up to Jackie’s assistant Jean (Out of picture. Armed with a Glockenspiel 17.) to explain that the games in question are John Tiller’s Battleground Civil War, Forge of Freedom: The American Civil War and The Great Battles Collector’s Edition. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Flare Path: Indecent Proposal

By Tim Stone on April 19th, 2013.

In the summer of 2001 I bought a copy of This Blessed Plot at a village fête for 20p, never suspecting that the hefty tome was destined to sit unfinished on my bookshelf for the next twelve years. My failure to get any further than chapter 3 – ‘Russell Bretherton’ – I’ve always blamed on Hugo Young, Russell Bretherton, or Tim Stone (Perhaps I’m not as interested in Britain’s troubled relationship with Europe as I thought I was). A recent forum comment from the boss of the World’s busiest computer wargame publisher suggests another possible cause. Perhaps the book was simply too cheap.

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Just A Very Quick Thought About Wargames

By John Walker on January 12th, 2013.

I was watching Wargames tonight, as one does, and a quick thought occurred to me.

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Interview: James Sterrett, Professional Wargamer

By Tim Stone on November 16th, 2012.


Americanians, did you know that 0.000000000323% of every dollar you pay in tax is spent ensuring a man in Kansas by the name of James Sterrett gets any PC wargame he desires? Recently I crossed Flare Paths with this mysterious freeloader and asked him to justify his lavish government-funded strategy habit. He pointed out he was Deputy Chief, Simulations Division, Digital Leader Development Center, at the Command & General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth and the games in question were used to hone and assess the skills of the US Army’s captains, majors, lieutenant-colonels, colonels, and planners. Totally unfazed, I stared at my shoes for a bit then mumbled “Ah. Right. I see.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Flare Path: Not Loitering, Reconnoitring

By Tim Stone on November 2nd, 2012.

Yes 'stubby red chinagraph pencil' is a euphemism.

Could those ruts in a pasture north of Saint-Lô have been made by an experimental Patton’s Best-inspired PC wargame? Might those scorch marks on the runway at Oberammergau indicate that a spiritual successor to Over the Reich is finally on the way? Is that newly-laid narrow-gauge railway line near Arras evidence of an imminent WWI logistics game? FP spends a fair portion of his working life hunched over recon photographs searching for signs of exciting work-in-progress war-fare. His stubby red chinagraph pencil is always close at hand, but recently he’s had precious few opportunities to use it.

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Heavily Engaged: Sid Meier’s Gettysburg!

By Tim Stone on April 25th, 2011.

Being the oldest RPS contributor has certain advantages. You can attend preview events in un-ironic cardigans, you can admit to finding 90% of manshoots deadly dull, and best of all, you get to sit in the RPS rocking chair and regale the young’uns with tales of wargaming glory. That’s what Heavily Engaged is all about. Over the next month or so, I’ll be giving a selection of the worthiest military strategy games on my shelves, the AAR treatment. Expect lashings of martial drama, tactical blunders aplenty (it’s a while since I last played some of these), and maybe even a little dash of post-result historical analysis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Battle Of Raszyn Day!

By Tim Stone on April 19th, 2009.

I’d love to have commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Raszyn by announcing that Jean-Michel Mathe had finally finished his Napoleonic opus HistWar: Les Grognards. Sadly I can’t (he’s still drilling his TacAI and personally sharpening and polishing every single sabre and bayonet in the game) so instead I’ll mark the day by drawing your attention to a darling chunk of much lighter Nap strategy. Read the rest of this entry »

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