The Flare Path: Cobbled With Craniums

Thank heavens, Battlefront, the devs behind just-announced Combat Mission: Fortress Italy expansion Gustav Line, aren’t planning to model the propaganda shells that regularly exploded over Allied positions at Monte Cassino. Coming on top of the minefields, the barbed wire, the steep slopes, the cunningly sited German strongpoints, the snow, the rain, the mud, and the infamous Green Devils, blizzards of courage-corroding handbills might have been the last straw for our dispirited D-Day dodgers…

AAR, ‘Rapido Rush’, Turn 18. “Due to the leaflet stonk on Turn 2 most of my units are still refusing to leave their foxholes. The few that are advancing are doing so at snails pace because of dysentery and trench foot :(”

German paratroops, British, New Zealand and Polish forces, AA guns, snow… the Gustav Line feature list has surprised many with its scope. True, there’s no sign of the French North African forces that were so effective north of Cassino (and so feared by local civilians), and I don’t see any Gurkha or Indian faces in the screenshots, but compared to recent CM releases, this new instalment looks generous and cosmopolitan.

Tackling the landings at Salerno and Anzio, and the horrendous fight for the mountain-top monastery at Cassino, means BF campaign designers are going to have be at the top of their game. With its costly frontal attacks and emphasis on artillery and fortifications, the latter four-month battle had the feel of a WW1 rather than a WW2 confrontation. To capture the flavour of the slow, frustrating Allied advance without producing scenarios that are themselves slow and frustrating will require plenty of research and an extremely deft touch. As someone that can rack up impressive friendly casualty totals in the cover-rich terrain of Normandy, the prospect of attacking across open ground carefully sown with mines and stripped of LoF obstructions, brings me out in an icy sweat.

One thing’s for sure, dramatic armoured thrusts aren’t likely to feature in many of the outings. Guderian and Liddell Hart definitely weren’t thinking of the jagged Apennines when they penned their masterworks.

Now that Gustav Line is in testing, Battlefront’s creative flamethrower is being trained on Arnhem (the Market Garden module has been in development alongside GL so, hopefully, should be with us by the end of the summer), Operation Bagration (CMx2’s first Ost Front posting) and Combat Mission: Shock Force 2. If you like your tactical gaming intricate, intense and unforgiving, it looks like it’s going to be an excellent/expensive year.


Not Waving But Downing

Would any of you be interested in joining a social networking service I’m thinking of setting up? As the name suggests, will be a gathering place for the kind of people that can’t resist waving at passing trains and planes. I hatched the idea on a glorious summer evening last year when, within the space of 20 minutes, I found myself waving at both a passing Class 66 and – unbelievably – a pair of low-flying S.E.5As.

Your £9.95 annual membership fee would give you the right to use W@T&P’s lending library and dating service, rent any of our delightful trackside holiday properties, and download waving polygonal people packs for a range of top rail and flight sims. Even now our artist-in-waiting is busy preparing a set of arm-waggling Belgians for upcoming WWI sequel Wings Over Flanders Fields.

WOFF’s unspecific imminence doesn’t mean its predecessor, Over Flanders Fields, has been put out to grass by fans. A band of modders led by Lothar of the Hill People continues to develop OFFice, a visionary enhancement bundle that adds extra colour and authenticity to countless aspects of an already colourful/authentic sim.

Recent changes impact everything from flight models and medal distribution, to mission generation and injury simulation. OFFbase, the delightfully domestic text-based social sim that sits at the heart of OFFice, now lets you clobber squadron-mates with snowballs and fall out with pals over dead mice and puddles of mascot pee. Sod dogfights – if flight simulation is serious about escaping its self-built ghetto, it might want to try modelling a few more dogdisagreements.


The Flare Path Foxer

Edwardian island inspectors don’t come more efficient than skink74. With tree-fern fronds dangling from his floats and the emerald green tail of a dazed Fig Parrot protruding from his top pocket, he landed alongside the Improbable a mere 50 minutes after taking off. Good show, Sir. Good show.

Today you’re looking for words rather than birds. There are a dozen hiding in the grid (or 17, if you want to be pedantic). Figure out the theme and they shouldn’t stay hidden for long.


  1. zabzonk says:

    Foxer theme is battles centered round hills/mountains – Spion Kop, Tumbledown, Pork Chop, Malvern are the ones I’ve got so far. Oh, and Hamburger.

  2. skink74 says:

    I would like to add Senlac, Takur Ghar, Longdon, Garrison, Majuba, so far.

  3. zabzonk says:

    Just spotted suribachi (iwo jima). There is also “mole”, but unfortunately I can’t find a “battle of mole hill” – there certainly ought to have been one!

    • JabbleWok says:

      I agree on hill battles – here’s what I have so far:

      Pork Chop
      Naga (not sure – village near Kohima?)
      Spion Kop
      Takur Ghar

      Edit: Managed to dredge up one more:
      Col di Lana

  4. Curry the Great says:

    I wish Combat Mission was less micromanagey and more about being a commander, making a plan, and then seeing your little men carry it out. Having to tediously micromanage every single squad makes the game dreadful for me. I’d also be happy if I could just play as a solitary tank and take a new one should I get knocked out. I like the smaller scenarios the most cause there you can actually have some time to see the battle play out.

    Shouldn’t it be possible to let the AI handle things more for you? Seeing as the enemy AI handles itself pretty well. It would be great if it was like that civil war game where you send orders and then see how they’re carried out by your AI officers.

    • wengart says:

      The strategic AI in the new CM games is scripted by the scenario designer. Combat Mission: Shock Force actually had an option where the designer could script AI orders for both sides, but no one used it. So they scrapped it.

      • wengart says:

        To put this another way. There is no strategic AI. Just a series of waypoints and timers placed by the designer.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      What do you mean? You have *infinite* time to let the battle play out, over and over as long as you like.


      You… you weren’t playing on “real time”, were you? Because that would be an enormously silly thing to do. The turn-based We-go system they designed specifically for these games is the proper way to play.

  5. grundus says:

    May I just interject for a second to point out that Kunos have released an Assetto Corsa ‘tech preview’, which is available to all owners of NetKar Pro (which is currently 4.99 EUR)? You get the Lotus Elise SC and Magione to drive it on.

    link to

    Oh jeez, I just realised this looks an awful lot like spam. Sorry! I figured FP would be the place to mention sim racing news, you know.

    • Llewyn says:

      Oooh, that’s my sort of spam, thank you. Any word yet if it’s any good?

      • grundus says:

        No, it came out about three hours ago or something. I would’ve been playing it myself but I got caught up in Borderlands 2 and now I have to go out… I guess I’ll find out what it’s like on Tuesday night. Maybe.

        Scratch that, I’ve just had a go and it’s pretty astonishing. A lot of other members of my chosen sim racing community (I won’t say which one it is now as you’ll laugh for calling it a ‘sim racing community’!) really, really like it. Some are even saying it’s better than rFactor 2, but I haven’t tried rF2 yet so I can’t comment on that. Others are saying it feels a little more dead than Project CARS and I can see what they mean, the sounds and environment aren’t quite as exciting, but it’s early days for both yet.

        • identiti_crisis says:

          I’d been meaning to try out Netkar Pro for years and years, and somewhat serendipitously stumbled across the offer they’ve been running on their website only a few days ago (get the game for 5 Euros, or so, and get access to an eventual tech demo for AC). Needless to say I was grinning from ear to ear within minutes with nkp, once I’d figured out how to actually get going, and even moreso once I got my hands on the Vintage Replica. That tyre model really doesn’t disappoint; however its scope does a little bit, though understandably so – but that’s something AC looks set to rectify massively.

          Sign up here:
          link to

          Since I’m recovering from Man-Flu, I won’t be going out this evening, so I guess I’ll be downloading this and giving it a spin.
          Oh, and I thought I recognised your avatar. ;)

  6. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Gosh that was a nice preview video.

  7. pepper says:

    I would sign up to that network, although could you have a subdivsion in it that handles people fotographingatplanesandtrains?

  8. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    LOVE that font.

  9. cckerberos says:

    What were the “Whining Winnies” referenced in the propaganda sheet?