The Flare Path: Achtung, Panzer Poachers!

The walls of the FP office are plastered with pictures of iconic war machines. When I yaw left I see the elegant elliptical wings of a Supermarine Spitball, the slab prow of a Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiepin, the yawning bomb-bay of an Avro Lankystreakofpiss. When I yaw right I see swarms of side-slipping Sopwith Camelots, HMS Hoodie steaming at full speed towards the Denholmelliot Strait, a sharkmouthed McDonnell Dougal F-4 Phantompregnancy splashing napalm onto a bunker-riddled Vietnamese hellside.

I also see Clause 5 of the ‘FLARE PATH CODE OF PUBLISHER GOOD CONDUCT’ – “Thou shalt not make life difficult for small developers by forcing them to change the name of a well-loved franchise”. Swedish strategy behemoths Paradox appear to have breached this particular clause in recent dealings with Ukrainian warlords Graviteam.

The Kharkivites responsible for some of this correspondent’s favourite WW2 diversions are in the process of unscrewing the nameplate from their excellent Achtung Panzer series because Heinz Guderian Fred Wester owns the AP appellation and, apparently, has other plans for it. While Paradox undoubtedly have law on their side, it seems rather churlish to reclaim a name now inextricably linked with gripping real-time tank choreography and why-don’t-more-wargames-contextualise-battles-this-classily strat layers. Whatever project the Swedes have in mind, surely another moniker could have been found?

The folk behind Steel Fury, Steel Armor and Achtung Panzer haven’t had a lot of luck in their dealings with Western partners. Lighthouse Interactive, the distributors of SF, went bust before the promised convoy of royalty-loaded GAZ trucks had got anywhere near Cossack territory. All things considered, it’s remarkable Graviteam are still such an enthusiastic and generous bunch. On the cards in the coming twelve months are…

  • Three new adjuncts for the Achtung Panzer Graviteam Tactics series (ETA Q2-3)
  • A hefty free update for Achtung Panzer Graviteam Tactics (ETA April-May) highlights of which will include new vehicles like the Panzer I Ausf. F, simulation of radio, voice, and wire communications, and the option to lighten the command load by temporarily handing units over to the AI.

  • Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front (ETA Q3), a new standalone title effectively replacing Achtung Panzer: Operation Star.

In a genre where devs cling to Tigers, T-34s and Shermans the way toddlers cling to threadbare teddy bears, the latter project feels especially bold. Sifting through the zip of unit images that arrived in my inbox a few days ago, I see nothing bigger or better-known than a BT-7. Will GT: Nomonhan be the first wargame ever to feature a mighty Type 94 tankette on its cover?


Achtung Panzer: Operation Star and associated DLC is currently on sale at GamersGate. The reductions aren’t nearly as generous as those offered by Strategy First a few weeks back, but anyone eager to get familiar with this singular series before it loses its catchy title, and heads east for a spot of treeless, tankette-heavy tussling might want to take advantage.


Parasitic Drag

X-Plane author Austin Meyer is the only dev I know of that has fulfilled both Clause 83 (“Thou shalt nobly resist parasitic patent trolls.”) and Clause 171 (“Thou shalt endeavour, without exploiting terrorist training rumours or crash reconstruction opportunities, to get flight simulators onto the evening news.”) of the ‘FLARE PATH CODE OF PUBLISHER GOOD CONDUCT’.

The legal duel Alec reported in September made CBS News just before Christmas. Eagle-eyed spotted Austin being eloquent, just, and impressively-housed:


Bear Cub

Previously on ‘Slitherine/Matrix – The Publisher That Ate PC Wargaming’

…Slithtrix announced they’d swallowed Ageod – the French history-mongers responsible for mappy marvels like Birth of America 2 and Alea Jacta Est. Tim wondered quietly if they’d find the meal more palatable than Paradox did.

…Slithtrix told the World they were collaborating with Buzz Aldrin on a space exploration strategy game. Tim wondered quietly if it would turn out half as good as the last game Buzz mentored.

…Slithtrix announced they’d signed promising high-detail Harpoon-descendent Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations. Tim wondered quietly if a) he’d have the patience/wit to fathom its numerous subtleties, and b) whether the partnership might encourage WarfareSims to look again at that heartbreakingly drab name.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!, a likeable board game-aping Ost Front wargame from Western Civilization Software got a major update and a demo. New features include a set of mightily attractive 2D textures snatched directly from the inspiration, support for unit carry-over campaigns, and a new LOS tool. Tim wondered quietly if he could pleasantly fill the hours between breakfast and lunch by playing the four scenarios included in the trial.

Happily, he discovered that he could.


The Flare Path Foxer

Surveys have shown that losswords are the most hated form of Foxer. Why are there no clues? Why are the words arranged in clusters of three? Instead of insulting your intelligence by providing answers to valid questions like these, can I just point you in the direction of a past solution and hope the penny drops?


  1. tigershuffle says:

    this flare path just made my treadhead year……thank you :) <3

  2. Paul says:

    I have no idea what I just scrolled through.

    • Web Cole says:

      But it was awesome.

      • caddyB says:

        Indeed. It always is, even though I don’t understand half of it. Mr. Stone is amazing, it’s just that I don’t know anything about sims.

        • Tim Stone says:

          Appreciated. Thanks. The lunacy at the beginning was my sherry-soaked attempt at saying ‘Look how important nomenclature is!”. Less sherry/lunacy next week.

  3. Dozer says:

    The first paragraph – is this what happens when Tim Stone is stoned?

    The correct title for Graviteam’s new game is “Achtung Panzer^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HGraviteam Tactics”. This is because the strikethrough text effect can’t be recorded in ASCII/Unicode.

  4. Lev Astov says:

    I love the headline photo. I imagine that’s how tanks carry their young around until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

  5. wodin says:

    Great article again Tim. Every game mentioned is worth the price of admission.

    • Tim Stone says:


      I meant to mention that Conflict of Heroes is on sale at the moment. It’s a Matrix sale so the reduction isn’t huge (25% off until Jan 14) but still, if the demo appeals, now would be the time to buy.

  6. Njordsk says:

    Would be great to have a WIT for Close Combat : Panther in the fog someday.

  7. Bonedwarf says:

    I bought Achtung Panzer during a recent sale. Got the expansions. Which I can’t install due to the fact there appears to be a very complicated patch routine required, and the required updates files are 404 Not Found when you click the download link on the devs website, and everywhere else.

    So if anyone can point me to working version of the Feb update, that’d be lovely.

  8. cptgone says:

    i hope that doesn’t leave AGEOD slit off the matrix.
    i bought a few of their games at Gamer’s Gate, but i don’t plan on buying from Matrix/Slitherine (who BTW have most games at approx. 35% off ATM…)

  9. yhancik says:

    Fred Wester isn’t happy link to

    • Lev Astov says:

      He certainly can moan to the twitters, can’t he? Hopefully we’ll hear more on this, though. I’m quite interested now.

      • Shadowcat says:

        I think Fred has a good point; there was enough speculation here that it really would have made sense to ask both sides what the situation was.

    • killias2 says:

      Whether or not Wester has a convincing story to tell here, he should’ve had a chance to tell it. I’m actually finding myself -disappointed- with RPS, which almost never happens!

  10. Zogtee says:

    I gave up on Graviteam about a year ago. Their documentation is shite and the patch process is so convoluted that I just can’t figure out how to do it anymore. Balls to them.

  11. Shadowcat says:

    That news story / video with Austin Meyer is remarkable; that’s an very impressive stand that he’s taking. I have no idea whether it can effect any change in the system if he wins, but I really hope so.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    The guy in the first screenshot is clearly taking Civ IV’s stacks of tanks a little too literally.

  13. Shadrach says:

    I don’t know what might have a caused a fallout between Graviteam and Paradox – but certainly Graviteam can’t be easy to work with as a publisher. The language barrier and their very independent way of doing things are possible explanations.

    Just look at the situation on the Matrix release, where they have been unable to provide patches or DLC for the version bought on Matrix’ store. Matrix’ customers are used to a whole other level of support and feedback so I imagine they are not getting a lot of sales from that deal… generally speaking Graviteam are hopelessly bad at *communicating* with their customers and publishers it seems.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Their communication skills and patch approach might not be brilliant, but their post-release commitment and conceptual boldness is pretty special.

      Even if Paradox came up with the ‘Achtung Panzer’ name (which I assume they did) I reckon Graviteam have earned the right to keep it.

      • wodin says:

        Well said..leaders and should be admired for the way they constantly update the game for free..superb. Oh and the patch system isn’t that hard..really come on.

  14. RogB says:

    probably makes more sense posting this in the bargain bin post, but its probably more relevant to readers here – DCS-A10 Warthog is todays steam community choice game, 75% off.

  15. biggergun says:

    Finally we get to play with the cute BTs in a setting where they are not Panzer fodder. I love Ukranians. Now if someone would make the same for the french and polish tanks that occupy second and third places on the cuteness scale respectively, my life would be complete.
    What’s with the Paradox, though? First that Magna Mundi business, then the Ageod story, then this – they aren’t transforming into a typical Evil Corporation, are they?

  16. JauntyAngle says:

    What is the weird horse-drawn panzer in the Conflict of Heroes picture?

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