The Flare Path: KillHouse Rules

The Flare Path kill house is not like other kill houses. Footwear must be removed at the front door. All offers of tea or coffee politely accepted. No-one is allowed to exit the hall without yelling “C-o-m-i-n-g, ready or not!”. Those that pass the cat without a) stroking him or b) complimenting him on his “wuvly fluffiness” can expect to be taken to one side by an instructor. Obviously, flashbanging the granny annex between 12.15 and 13.00 (Bargain Hunt) and 14.00 and 15.00 (Bergerac) is strictly forbidden, and anyone caught sniggering at the mantelpiece photo of Tim (the one where he’s wearing the knitted swimming trunks) will be instantly evicted.

Stick your spy camera under this door and swivel it 30 degrees to the left, and you should just about be able to make out a big heap of Door Kickers alphas being guarded by three ski-masked Romanians with MAC-10s. If you want early access to one of the freshest, friendliest, and most entertaining tactics games I’ve played in ages, you’ve got a few options.

1. You and your colleagues can kick open the door then waddle towards the tangos tweaking the triggers of your Colt automatics and M4 carbines as you go.

(Success chance: 5%. There’s another hostile in the bathroom on the right-hand side of the door. On hearing the commotion he will emerge, fly undone and machine pistol blazing.)

2. You can split your team into two groups – a southern group that will enter through the front door after hurling a flashbang into the centre of the room, and a western group that will enter through the sidedoor after cillitflashbanging the bathroom.

(Success chance: 45%. When the western group pass the entrance to the master bedroom, there’s a high likelihood they’ll be spotted by tango #4 who will panic and promptly execute the hostages.

3. Slide $7.99 under the door.

(Success chance: 100%.)

I plumped for a variant of 3 and have been enjoying the alpha for most of the week. Though there’s only a couple of weapons available to SWATists right now, and the AI is still being hammered into shape, there’s ample evidence that KillHouse are onto a winner.

Missions and map layouts start simple – tiny unfurnished kill houses occupied by handfuls of hostiles. Before long, however, you’re moving Kevlared killers through elaborate single-storey hotels, embassies, and convention centres, dotted with cunningly positioned badmen, hostages, and – occasionally – defusable timebombs.

Door Kickers’ door kickers are directed with mouse-dragged destination dots. A right-click accesses reload, flashbang, and – assuming the operative is near a door – spy camera and entry options. With a little practise and timely employment of the pause function, organising synchronised assaults is relatively easy. Even if you’re being incredible cautious, it’s rare for a mission to last longer than five minutes. This brevity might sound a little alarming, but I’ve found myself playing many of the 22 challenges numerous times.

Random tango positions, unpredictable reactions, and complex LoS/LoF combinations encourage replay, as does the sight of a friendly crumpling under a hail of unexpected bullets. Team casualties don’t mean defeat, but if you’re the sort that takes pride in your work, they’ll almost certainly prompt an immediate restart.

A few tactical tips from a man that has seen far too much innocent blood splashed up the walls of the Solomon Islands Embassy and the Golden Sunrise Hotel.

  • 1. Reload regularly. Though team members do reload automatically when mags are exhausted, the last thing you want is for one of your men to round a corner, fire one shot, then start fumbling for ammo.
  • 2. Consider crossfire. When the tangos open up with those machine pistols, anything between them and their targets is likely to get liberally hosed.
  • 3. Flank home-made barricades. In my build a target behind a desk or upturned couch can be twice as hard to neutralise as one caught in the open.
  • 4. Flashbang like it’s going out of fashion. The few seconds of confusion sown by detonating stun grenades are often the difference between triumph and tragedy.


Northern Exposures

My interest in slaying digital ungulates might have waned in recent years, but The Hunter remains one of my deerest chums. Unwilling to shatter the soul-salving calm of its brilliantly rendered outdoor spaces with rifle and revolver reports, I now do all my shooting with a compact camera.

The sim has recently acquired a handsome tract of snow-sprinkled Sweden called Hemmeldal. Equipped with nothing but a Nikon and a beatific smile, I set off yesterday morning in search of Roe Deer, Moose and Brown Bear.

“Mission 1: Mischievous squirrels have stolen 28 vital components from Doc’s prized 1956 Volvo. Retrieve the parts and he’ll reward you with the key to the old copper mine at Koppartorp”

Wow, that was so worth the climb. Perfect spot for a picnic. Wish I’d brought a blanket and a beef-paste cob. If orienteering sims like Suunnistussimulaattor and Catching Features had visuals like this, I suspect Anterro and Greg would be beating customers off with a stick.

Amazing how quick the weather can change up here. A crackling stove and a glass of akvavit would be very welcome at this point. Is that a cabin up ahead? Odd. It’s not marked on my HunterMate.

What a friendly old lady and an unusual abode! Seeing I was chilled to the bone, she offered to let me warm myself inside her unusually capacious oven. I declined but might stop in on my way back; those shingles were delicious.

Bah, a little part of me was hoping this was going to be a stealable submachine gun.

Having spent many a day executing Scots Pine trees, I feel I can only give The Hunter’s Pinus sylvestris a meagre five out of ten. The coppery trunks and branches are passable, but close-up that foliage looks far more cypressy than piney.

I’m getting… vanilla… warm hay…. notes of blackberry… cinnamon… and turpentine. Mainly shit, though.

Nuts. Just missed a potentially brilliant bear shot. On the trail of one of Hemmeldal’s honey fiends I spotted what I thought was my quarry on a distant ridge. Quickening my pace, I failed to notice another Ursus dozing at the foot of a tree directly in my path. I was a few steps away from the earth-coloured mound when it stirred, scrambled to its feet and dashed off into the undergrowth. By the time I’d thought to raise my camera, there was nothing to shoot but twitching spruce twigs.

One day Expansive Worlds are going to surrender to the malign forces that surely haunt these hills and vales. Players will return to their tents to find amateur taxidermy, burnt maps, and empty ammo boxes. We’ll all finally be let into the grim in-joke that is the game’s title.

This is what it’s all about! After a twisting twenty minute stalk, here I am, laying in the grass a stone’s throw from a spectacular bull moose! Marvellous. What would be the point in pulling a trigger or loosing an arrow now? How would seeing that majestic animal slump onto the frosty ground improve my mood or magnify this sense of wonder and triumph? All those gun-toting trophy hunters are missing a trick.

Wow, he’s even turning in my direction. That’s it big fella, smile for the camera. Say “Herrgårdsost”.

Hmm. Why is he dipping his head like that and pawing the ground? Surely he…

Oh God. No.


The Flare Path Foxer

Airlines shunned in the past by the hyperstitious FP include…

a) Air Malta
b) Swissair
c) Tunis Air
d) National Airways Corporation
e) Eastern Provincial Airways
f) Air Liberia
g) Angola Airlines
h) Aeromexico
i) Japan Air Lines
j) Garuda Indonesian Airlines
k) Czech Airlines

Only the extinct NAC and EPA eluded legendary logo loggers Matchstick, Brun, JabbleWok, and Aluschaaf. FP flair points made from lifejacket toggles seem like a fair reward for their efforts.

There’s a moose loose in today’s foxer. Find it before anyone else to earn a Flare Path flair point engraved with likenesses of both Johan Hedberg and Elkie Brooks.



  1. jumblesale says:


    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I was goign to say that! Bah, ninja’d by just four hours!

      Door kickers looks like fun, I’d always try and do the same sort of thing in XCOM, invariably getting shot by the alien hiding behind me (or some such)

    • JB says:

      I’m with jumble, H2 for sure.

    • SuicideKing says:

      That’s not the box moose you’re looking for. Move along.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    The title Doorkickers evokes an image of several burly special ops types surrounding a door in a pub carpark, kicking the crap out of it repeatedly.

  3. MuscleHorse says:


  4. Kelron says:

    C6, I think.

  5. guygodbois00 says:

    Is that a wild boar at G9? Also, deer (or moose) at C6?

  6. Gundato says:

    Holy crap… doorkickers is an updated SWAT 2. I MUST HAVE IT!!!!

  7. SouperSteve0 says:

    Moose, E7

  8. grundus says:

    I1, calling it now.

  9. Arathain says:

    G7, obviously.

  10. FurryLippedSquid says:

    There is no moose.

  11. JabbleWok says:

    I’d agree with C6, a 3/4 rear view wandering away from the POV. There also looks to be something sideways-on at H2, with its tail still wagging (as moose tails doubtless do) in G2. Or is it another hunter? Soon find out…. Bang!

  12. Llewyn says:

    A3. It’s hiding very well indeed.

    I assume the Door Kickers alpha follows the usual model of giving the completed game on release? It’s very appealing even though I know just how bad I am at that kind of tactical gaming.

    • Premium User Badge

      Matchstick says:

      The base tier of $7 gets you the alpha, updates and final game.

      However the first 500 backers to cough up $7.99 get the alpha, updated, final game PLUS voting rights on the forum on what features to implement next. After 500 people it goes up to $15.

      I’ve plonked down my $7.99 and been extremely impressed.

      It took a little time to get used to how you have to manually control where your units are looking during the moving phase if you don’t want them just looking straight ahead (and if you have two characters moving simultaneously you might need to do a lot of pausing and micromanaging) and I’m missing the ability synchronize actions between team members but considering it’s just an early version there’s alot of fun to be had.

  13. mrpier says:


  14. Jubaal says:

    You sank my Battleship!

  15. Prolar Bear says:


  16. Azophi says:

    DoorKickers looks like exactly the game I want to play, and, even rarer, a game that would run on my little Mac Air.

    If only, that is, that there was a Mac version out at the moment. Wiki says “maybe someday”, so I’ll keep my eyes open. It evokes a great mix of SOCOM and XCOM that I’d adore having for twenty-minute downtime.

    • Premium User Badge

      Matchstick says:

      The relative simplicity of the game engine does suggest it might well be able to run reasonably under Crossover Mac even without an official OSX port.

      If I get a chance this weekend I’ll give it a try.

      • Azophi says:

        Thanks! I’ve never backed an alpha game before (except Kerbal Space Program, a long time ago) so I’m eager to hitch my cart to the bandwagon, with the always wonderful possibility that I’ll wake up to an email one day announcing official support for OSX.

        I look at long flights, and back to my Mac, and I always feel like there is so much more use I could be getting out of it, other than writing.

        • Premium User Badge

          Matchstick says:

          I’ve just tried with Crossover Mac 12.1 and the game looks to be running fine (just needed to fully restart Crossover after installing Door Kickers) but I’m having a little problem with getting the game to play nicely with the trackpad – the trackpad works properly with the game it’s just without a left mouse button to click it’s a tad diffiult to click to set where the characters need to look.

          However stick a mouse in and it works just great.

          • Azophi says:

            Awesome, you have my renewed thanks!

            I think I may have to get in on this, then.

  17. kochanneo says:

    i 15, he’s hiding under that rock.

    • tigerfort says:

      You’re right about the location, but that’s no moonrock. The slight sheen gives away that this is actually an alien moose, making use of an advanced combination deflector shield/camoflage device.

  18. pakoito says:

    I think it’s D2

  19. Saarlaender39 says:

    Dear Mr Stone,
    your mentioning of wearing a knitted swimtrunk reminded me of an incident some 28 years ago, when my parents and I were visiting some friends of my parents.

    After a cloudy morning it became a nice sunny day, and out of the blue, the grown ups decided it would be a fantastic idea to visit the local “Freibad” (open air bath?).

    On my objection, that I had no swimming trunk with me, the female part of the with my parents befriended couple said: “No problem, I’m sure I have still some spare trunks from my son here.”

    What that Lady then (after some rummaging in the closet) presented, were a pair of crotcheted (!) swim trunks in psychedelic colours.

    A true leftover of the 70’s.

    My desperate attempt, to convince my parents that I’m really not in the mood to go out swimming, got – and I’m sure you already guessed – successfully ignored by the grown ups.

    So I ended up in the “Freibad” as the only 12-13 y.o. wearing a relict of times, better be forgotten, suspiciously eyed by my contemporaries.

    And the only thing I thank the almighty Lord up until today, is that all this happened in a town far away from my hometown, so at least my disgrace never was revealed to my friends and classmates.

    To make a long story short: my deepest sympathy, Mr Stone.

  20. wodin says:

    I had a go of Door Kickers Alpha the other day. lots of potential. Posted a little on it over on my Tactical wargames facebook page. The developers have some great ideas and if successful we could be seeing Special forces DLC.

  21. Radiant says:

    Kill House looks bloody awesome

  22. Hydrogene says:

    I smell a dirty moose in E3. Or is that a trampled sim-columnist?

  23. strangeloup says:

    DoorKickers makes me think of a cross between Frozen Synapse and Hotline Miami and that sounds like a pretty wonderful thing. Unfortunately due to poor reading comprehension (I’m ill) I thought for some reason that The Hunter was actually a nonviolent explore-and-photograph-things game, which sounded really neat, until I realised it was actually an animal killing sim.

    I am not sure why it is that a game focused around killing animals bothers me whereas no end of games focused around killing bad mans generally do not. Hm.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      I have spent a few hours playing the Hunter and just getting lost in the world. I have never successfully killed an animal. It really is quite pretty.

  24. Syt says:

    It certainly has to be Elk on D5.

  25. slerbal says:

    Yes please to DoorKickers – that looks totally like my cup of tea :)

  26. Aardvarkk says:

    It’s D16, looking suspiciously like a baby snow moose squirrel.

  27. JiminyJickers says:

    Looking forward to Door Kickers, looking very good.

    I would be interested in The Hunter too, but I don’t buy any game with always online DRM for single player.

  28. corinoco says:

    I hate “find the X” puzzles where the “X” has been removed. Pointless. Why not just say this week’s fixer is “pick a number between 1 and 144”. From a gameplay and strategy perspective it is EXACTLY the same.

    Oh, all right, F4 is my guess, without looking at either picture or previous comments, and because the Douglas F4-D is my favourite 1950’s jet interceptor due to it’s awesome good looks.

    Tenuous link between pretty but ‘I just can’t bring myself to buy it’ moose hunting game and 1950’s jet interceptors: ACHEIVED

  29. Henke says:

    C4! Boom!

    wait what are we doing?

  30. JS says:

    G3! Also, I just bought Door Kickers. Seems like fun…

  31. harvb says:

    Just bought Doorkickers alpha a couple of days ago and loving it, really loving it. Good fun.

  32. lordfrikk says:

    Why… did I not know there were games like Orienteering Simulator and The Hunter?