Posts Tagged ‘wargames’

The Flare Path: Full Steam Astern

The labyrinthine Steam department store now stocks mind-blowingly rich historical strategy epics, military-grade battle sims, and flight sim add-ons so dense they can punch through Chobham armour like it was damp loo roll. Is there any chance My Wargame of 2014 will be appearing on its shelves any time soon? Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Bulges

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la,

But forget ye not war’s cruel folly,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la,

Ringed by corpses and burning tanks,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la,

70 years ago, Bastogne gave thanks,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Wargaming – Where To Start?

Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm, Command: Modern Air Naval Operations, Combat Mission: Red Thunder… most of my favourite wargames of recent years are hulking beasts studded with obscure units, potentially overwhelming scenarios, and abstruse tactical subtleties. I’m not sure I could wholeheartedly recommend any of them to a genre newcomer. A fellow or fellowess just arrived in the land of hexes, morale checks, and myriad Sherman variants would be far better off starting with… um… errr… sorry, I’m going to have to consult my notes at this point… hmm… be with you in two shakes of a lamb’s tail… maybe three shakes.

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The Flare Path: John Tiller, Boredom Killer

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 »

Wot I Think: Simulating War by Philip Sabin

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 »

VASSAL: A Virtual Army of Conflict Sims In One Client

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

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 »

The Flare Path: A Fraud In Fredericksburg

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

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 »

The Flare Path: Reductions Reveille

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 »