The Flare Path: This Sporting Life

Gosh! I’ve just read the small-print in my RPS contract. It seems Flare Path’s remit includes sports simulations. Strictly speaking, for the last 45 weeks I should have spent as much time in dugouts and bunkers as dugouts and bunkers. My weekly screenshot selection really should have featured as many wingmen, props, and Tigers, as wingmen, props, and Tigers. Thank God the Hivemind usually naps on Friday afternoons. All the same, a change of tack would seem sage. In today’s column not one but two games with cast-iron connections to current sporting events.

Combat Mission: Wallet Assault

Only foot-to-ball fans as fanatical/ingenious as Battlefront would think to include a sly tribute to the Azzurri’s redoubtable defence in the title of their next project.

Combat Mission: Fortress Italy was one of four upcoming CM games announced in a flurry of press releases and forum posts last Friday. Over the next 12 months, if all goes according to plan, the CMx2 engine will be…

a) Invading Sicily (the first game in the CMFI family)
b) Battling across Belorussia (the Operation Bagration focussed base of a CMBB sequel)
c) Going a bridge too far in the Netherlands (Module #2 of CMBN)
d) Exploring a hypothetical future falling-out between a Ukraine/NATO alliance and Russia (‘CM: Shock Force 2’).

After years of fairly slow growth, the dramatic change of pace is as surprising as it is exciting.

Though the first instalment of CMFI (already in ‘final beta testing’) will only provide a two-legged Operation Husky (British, Canadian, and Fallschirmjager forces are due in later modules), the feature list makes enticing reading. Most Italian, German, and US unit types that shed blood amongst the blood-orange groves will be present. That means feather-festooned Bersaglieri, the baggy-trousered art lovers of the Herman Goering Panzer Division, and a host of unfamiliar/ungainly AFVs at our beck-and-call.

Just as significant as the new TOE are the promised engine improvements (also available separately as a paid update for CMBN). Back after an improbably long holiday are CMx1-style moveable waypoints, armour arcs, and target identification vagueness. Unit bases are still MIA but new icon categories, and a redesigned camera and orders approach, should make skirmishes considerably easier to handle.

Hopefully, there ‘ll be some first-hand Flare Path CMFI battle reports soon, but in the meantime why not read an official AAR and gawp at a screenshot featuring both WW2’s loveliest lorry and its handsomest helmets.


Court Jester With A Cessna

If it pisses down at Wimbledon next week, don’t be surprised if you see Yours Unruly distracting the bedraggled masses during downpours. After opportunistc crooner Cliff Richard threatened to repeat his impromptu singalong of 1996, the Lawn Tennis Association decided it was time to put wet weather entertainment on a more formal basis. Four jugglers, an escapologist, a fireeater, a bearded lady and myself have all been hired just in case the heavens open. My act? I perform amazing aerobatic feats over net and baseline with a selection of deftly controlled RC aircraft.

Being too miserly to shell out on premier RC sims like RealFlight, Phoenix, and Aerofly I learnt my trade via freeware gem FMS. Sadly, the advent of Windows 7 and 64-bit processing means this German offering is no longer the trouble-free trouper it once was. Lately I’ve been doing most of my virtual training via the increasingly splendid BMI Flight Simulator.

Though BMIFS lacks the fancy damage models and photo-based sceneries of its peers, it does boast a rather redolent flight model and a pleasingly packed hangar. In the year and a half since it took to the air, the nine official aircraft – all recreations of BMI products – have been joined by a bevy of user-made machines.

Anyone that can browse this site or this thread without filling their boots probably needs to return their Flare Path membership card, enamel tiepin, and secret handshake instructional DVD. If you’re new to RC simulations I recommend Gary Gunnerson’s Fieseler Storch as an early acquisition. Slower and more docile than the default craft, it makes for an extremely tolerant trainer.

I’d also strongly advise plugging in that flight stick or gamepad rather than attempting to fly with the tricky keyboard controls. Dealing with the brain-befuddling control reversals of RC flight is hard enough for a beginner without crude binary throttle and flight surface inputs stiffening the challenge.

This time last year there was talk of BMIFS and its almost identical sister sim RC Desk Pilot (add-ons work in both titles) getting photo scenery support. Belgian dev Davy is plainly well on the way to achieving this goal but the update has yet to appear. A pity that. I’d be a lot more confident about my ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and ‘Death of the Red Baron’ routines if I’d had the chance to practise them in a delicately digitized No. 1 Court.


The Flare Path Foxer

A dozen FP genius jetons in return for the decoding of a dozen diagrammatised destinations? Sounds fare to me.

Using powerful telescopes and well-thumbed copies of the heartbreakingly expensive Jane’s Merchant Ships 2012-2013 westyfield, Electric Dragon, mrpier, and protorp made short work of last week’s seafaring foxer.

The following vessels were named and located:

*Mont St Michel (ferry)
*Pink Stars (tanker)
*Moscow Kremlin (tanker)
*Green Stars (tanker)
*MS Queen Elizabeth (liner)
*Orange Stars (tanker)
*William Shakespeare (container ship)

And acceptable alternatives to…

*Red Osprey (ferry)
*Cap Finistere (ferry)

…were provided. All lookouts get gold anchor-shaped FP flair points, except for protorp who, having correctly IDed the fog-shrouded Mont St Michel, gets a platinum seabed-snagger.


  1. Shar_ds says:

    G03 is Gaiemmae on the Ginza Line and the top of the Northern Line (Black) is Edgware

    • Shar_ds says:

      And top-left in the background could be Réaumur – Sébastopol but my colour vision isn’t the best…

    • deejayem says:

      Think the black one is Mill Hill East – looks like it from the jaunty angle, anyway.

  2. Alex Bakke says:

    The District/Circle line clue is Mansion House.

  3. Gothnak says:

    There is Pimlico on the Picadilly Line too.

  4. Gothnak says:

    And Warwick Avenue on the Bakerloo.

  5. Gothnak says:

    Oh, and the top left is Reaumur Sebastopol on the Paris Metro.

  6. Dever Rulood says:

    nice games!

  7. Hydrogene says:

    Nice sport simulations reviews, Tim. Well done!

    But, what is the point of a RC plane simulator?? We already have “normal” planes simulators, which in a way are a kind of software version of make-believe RC planes.

    • mrpier says:

      Well, crashing your RC thing can be quite expensive, not to mention time consuming to repair/build up again. So it makes sense to practice a bit first. Also I think some of these simulators will let you use your RC controller to control the simulation, which makes for really good practice as the inputs you want to make is different depending on the orientation of the plane/copter relative to yourself (I think that makes sense).

  8. Novotny says:

    Tim Stone could write a column about detergents and I would want to read it.

    • Hydrogene says:

      sport detergent, or military detergent? He might need a new contract with the RPS hivemind…

  9. Hydrogene says:

    The four lines in the middle of the pic stop at Treptower Park.
    And the brown line hanging down from the top is Tierpark, on the U5 Linie. Both in Berlin, obviously.

  10. Network Crayon says:

    I love the Moscow Kremlin’s giant NO SMOKING lettering.

  11. The13thRonin says:

    So after spending 80+ dollars on Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy and the Commonwealth module awhile ago I’m now being asked to buy a patch which will become standard for all future customers?

    Uh… Way to reward loyalty… Not…

    • Ranger33 says:

      What is the better alternative though? Watching CMBN become obsolete overnight or BF giving away an upgrade that likely took hundreds if not thousands of man hours to develop?

      I’m excited that there are all of these CM games coming out, and even more excited that I don’t have to worry about any of them becoming outdated when the next one gets released. The holy grail would be linking all the games together so you could just throw anything you wanted at each other, but I doubt we will see that soon, if ever.

      • Valhuen says:

        “The holy grail would be linking all the games together so you could just throw anything you wanted at each other, but I doubt we will see that soon, if ever.”

        Fire up CMBO, CMBB & CMAK, no need to pay hundreds on endless titles that do the same thing IMHO……

    • Valhuen says:

      This is precisely why I have avoided BF like the plague since CMSF…….they started to treat their loyal customers as Alpha testers and subsequently as ATM’s. I just can’t force myself to forget that kind of behavior…..

  12. Vagrant says:

    Woo Lukas Rosol keeping things interesting! Calling it now, Federer v Roddick final rematch! Wait, we are talking about sports, right? RC Planes are a thinly veiled analogy I think.

  13. Lamb Chop says:

    From the title, I was hoping for a simulation of The Sporting Life where I can relive the most acute moments of childhood humiliation.

  14. Valhuen says:

    I truly used to love Battlefront, CMBB & CMAK still remain two of my most frequently played titles. However since the fiasco with the launch of CMSF, and the subsequent flood of “paid improvements”, it will take a lot for me to trust BF again. CMBN looks great, but I don’t like the idea of constantly paying for upgrades. In short I can game the entire Eastern Front with CMBB, why would I pay for 12+ games to do the same thing (at this rate am assuming that’s not an unrealistic number), even if the engine upgrades are decent enough?

    IMHO BF truly has lost their way……YMMV

  15. XDeus says:

    The answers for London Underground stations in the Foxer vary depending on which map you’re using, as pictures here seem to be taken from both the Original and Rail and Tube maps, or older map variants. I personally prefer using the Rail and Tube map as it’s essentially the same network (uses the same fares, can use travelcards/oyster on both barring a couple of services, etc.) and actually covers South London. Either way, my predictions:

    Black is a Northern Terminus of the Northern Line. On the Standard current tube map, it’s Mill Hill East, as Edgware has a disabled interchange symbol instead of the flat line. On Rail and Tube, it is either of them, but I think it’d be more likely to be Edgware as Mill Hill East would have the rest of the High Barnet branch still in the picture.
    Maroon and Navy Blue is Uxbridge – Metropolitan and Picadilly Lines respectively, from the Rail and Tube map variant as on the Standard one has a disabled interchange symbol.
    Lightest blue is Pimlico on the Victoria line, as it is the only station on that route without an interchange, and is correct on either map.
    Yellow and Green lines together is either Temple on the Rail and Tube map, or Mansion House on the original as it’s the only station on the Circle and District lines at that angle/line combination on those respective maps.

    The rest aren’t London Underground stations and therefore I am stumped. Brown isn’t the Bakerloo line; even rotated, there isn’t a line on the London Underground map that looks like that (they’re smooth right angles unless there’s a station there), and the colour looks slightly darker. I may be commiting a bit of a Faux Pas by doing this (stop shouting, I’m new here), but for reference, a link to the tube maps are below: Top is Original, “London Rail and Tube Services” is the other. I didn’t cheat (honest, I spent two years travelling on tube trains for a market research job and didn’t have any reading material) but I thought it was odd that they don’t seem to be from the same map unless, shockingly, they aren’t London Underground stations.
    link to

  16. pexpress says:

    CM: Fortress Italy plays a little misleading, since this module does not actually cover the operations in Sicily, and even only commitments on the American front at the beginning of Operation Husky.

    galaxy note 2 ipad air