The Flare Path: Fancy A Viennese Whirl?

Check mirror. Indicate. Pull out. Nod at passing tram driver. Coast towards red traffic light. Dab brakes. Slide open side window. Feel cool night air on skin. Smell lilacs. Remember lilac bush that grew beside the war memorial at Pastinakweg. Picture Kathrin. Remember that holiday at Lake Balaton in ’93. Grin. Accelerate. Accelerate some more. Curse after clipping kerb at Oberfeld. Sound horn at cheeky bus lane-blocking Golf. Nose into heavy traffic near Kagraner Platz. Contemplate trail of tail lights twinkling like a flare path on Breitenleer Strasse.

This is the life. Outside, the sparrows are shining and the sun is chirping. Inside, the tea is poured, the packet of Viennese Whirls is open, and Flare Path’s OMSI-infatuated proprietor is preparing for a few more blissful hours in the charming company of Vienna: The High-Floor Bus LU 200.

M-R-Software’s awesome omnibus sim has had to wait a long time for its first piece of professional third-party payware, but, crikey, the wait was worth it. Vienna recreates, highly persuasively, a north-eastern suburb of the Austrian capital that’s well-known to Napoleonic wargamers. The 2005-era 24A line runs like a sabre scar through the middle of Marchfeld, the flat, once-arcadian venue of the Battles of Wagram and Aspern-Essling.

Between downtown Kagraner Platz – a busy public transport hub – and dozing, middle-class Neuessling (a couple of hours’ stroll from Wolfgang Přiklopil’s infamous cellar) there’s 20-odd kilometres of wiggling bus lanes, quiet suburban boulevards, fast rural blacktop and intricate junctions… basically a busload of bespoke topography guaranteed to make an OMSI aficionado’s indicator flash faster.

Unusually and somewhat disconcertingly, the route includes sections where you’re sharing road-space with giant pantographed wireworms. With help from Marcel and Rüdiger, ambitious developer ViewApp has fashioned two forms of Wiener Linien tram. Sadly AI-only, both the old high-floor ‘E’ type and newer low-floor ‘B’ type behave appropriately, stopping to pick up and deposit passengers, and pausing at tram-specific traffic lights. When trespassing, you’re expected to obey these signals too, unless the intersection in question boasts its own bus-targeted subsidiary lights.

Three forms of traffic lights! Music to the ears of the novelty-hungry OMSIist.

The 20€ add-on’s single-deck star is festooned with eccentric/authentic panel paraphernalia. Though drivers of the long-serving LPG-fuelled LU 200 didn’t get to sell tickets or waggle a gear stick, they did get to toy with singular roller-display and announcement systems…

…and operate door controls that are nowhere near as confusing as the manual makes them sound…

Audio and physics are at the heart of OMSI’s unholy allure, and Vienna doesn’t disgrace itself in these respects. Though I detected the odd recycled transmission whine and brake squeak, the LU 200 has a feel and accent all of its own.

The Viennese are represented by the same bag-less, coat-less lumbago-afflicted mannequins that represented Spandau’s residents, but they do at least greet you and grumble about late running and bitter temperatures with local lilts.

The Flare Path verdict?



A Sturmtiger-Sized Lie

Was it disrespectful to spend a portion of yesterday (the 69th anniversary of D-Day) pushing digital tanks, grunts, and planes around a hex map of the Normandy coast? I could claim I was playing Slitherine Group’s latest standalone WW2 TBS because I wanted to learn about the challenges, tactics, and human cost of Operation Overlord, but that would be a big fat Sturmtiger-sized lie. In truth I was playing Allied Corps because I wanted to see tiny Sherman Fireflies chisel hit points from petite Panther tanks… titchy typhoons rocket the road wheels off miniscule Marders… Red Devils of reduced stature polish off pint-sized Panzer grenadiers. I wanted to see if the old Panzer General formula still had the power to captivate.

It does.

Though Panzer General/Panzer Corps/Allied Corps’ highly stylised combat and simplistic AI means you don’t get the theatre-specific flavour and cunning CPU foes of, say, Unity of Command, there are compensations. One of the friendliest interfaces in PC wargaming; a vast selection of fetchingly depicted units (900!); a well-wrought and wide-ranging 30-mission campaign in which linearity is offset by an appealing core unit carry-over mechanism; Allied Corps is so affable and generous, it’s easy to forgive the conceptual conservatism. Assuming you’ve got £25 to spare, and the glut of Panzer Corps add-ons hasn’t dulled your appetite for PG-style pursuits, then report here for oodles of old-fashioned wargaming pleasure.


The Flare Path Foxer

What’s got eight arms, one moustache, lives at the bottom of the ocean, and is frightfully good at defoxing? FurryLippedSquid! The unusually perceptive cephalopod named and located four of the seven bird-ships from last week’s collage.

  • African Kookaburra – South Vietnam (Australian silver coin)
  • STOLT Guillemot – Denmark (stamp)
  • Nord Nightingale – Dominican Republic (photo of WAAF nurses)
  • DMS Siskin – Abu Dhabi (British inter-war biplane)

h_m_murdoch, The_Great_Skratsby, and Hydrogene found a fifth…

  • Black Swan – Isle of Wight, UK (Crimson Skies ace portrait)

and jimbobjunior a sixth…

  • STX Oriole – Adelaide (Baltimore Orioles logo)

Only the Dutch barge ‘Moa’ escaped detection.

For services to ornithosomething FuryLippedSquid and friends all get Flare Path flair points carved from pieces of shipwrecked frigatebirds.

I was shipwrecked once. In the Bristol Channel it was. For 12 long hours I spoke to no-one but an angry dendrochronologist and 48 cold, wet, cub scouts. I only hung on to my sanity by tearing a beachcombed copy of Lord of the Flies into letter-sized confetti and using the confetti to create the world’s largest wordsearch.

Containing 4,989 words fewer than the breathtaking Lundy Lexiathan (currently on display in the Somerset Shoe Museum) the puzzle below shouldn’t present too many problems once the theme has been fathomed. A Flare Path flair point made from illegal West Country coinage to anyone that extracts one of the eleven words.


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    “Only the Dutch barge ‘Moa’ escaped detection.”

    Oh, that is cruel!

    Durban, could be a city or a warship.

    Tojo, as in Hideki Tojo.

    Hindenburg, which could be a general, a warship or an airship.

    Zeki, Turkish field marshal or red herring.

    Elroy, a city.

    Prometeo, an opera about Prometheus.

    • zabzonk says:

      I think it’s generals/leaders – there is Courbet (admiral) and a Bloch (general) – both French (latter was the elder brother of Marcel Dassault, apparently). There is also a Yoda!

      • skink74 says:

        I was thinking Pearl Harbour, because I saw Kaga and Tojo, and an Admiral Bloch was commander of the Naval District at the time. But Hindenburg has thrown me right off.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Wasn’t Courbet an admiral?

        Edit: Ninja edit.

    • JabbleWok says:

      With Daphne and Iphigenia I thought there might be a classical theme, or vessels with such names, though maybe just more russetty herrings.

      Well, there was a French Dreadnaught called Courbet, and a German one called Hindenburg. Iphigenia and Daphne were also British warships, in several incarnations. However, I suspect there’s a more precise theme, like they were sunk or scuttled or something.

      Ah, both a Courbet and a Durban were sunk off Normandy to act as “Gooseberry” breakwaters during Op Overlord – maybe others had a similar fate?

      OK, SMS Hindenburg was also scuttled, as was the Kaga, HMS Iphigenia and a Danish submarine Daphne, so I reckon scuttling is the theme.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Seems unlikely, good spots! Buggered as to what the theme is though.

        Also Swan is in there, general or warship.

        • JabbleWok says:

          I don’t mean all at Normandy, but scuttled in general, e.g. the Hindenburg at Scapa Flow. Yep, an HMAS Swan was scuttled as a dive wreck off WA in 1997.

          Also an Italian ship Prometeo scuttled in Massawa harbour in 1941, before the British captured the port.

          Yeah, I was trying to avoid a zillion posts, but this is probably more confusing! Still a few more to find…

          I’m not yet convinced on the dodgies, if we’ve got the theme right, so there might be some obscure ones still in there.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            Yeah I knew what you meant, my comment seems out of context due to your edits!

            Bravo, sir.

            Edit: Good find on Prometeo!

            Edit: Nope, I think we have them all.

            Durban, Swan, Hindenburg, Prometeo, Tigre, Elroy (dodgy), Daphne, Iphigenia, Courbet, Bloch (dodgy), Tojo (dodgy).

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Yeah, HMS Durban was scuttled as a breakwater, 3 days after D-Day, to protect the floating harbour.

      And Tigre, a French warship was also scuttled.

      Tojo sunk a few ships.

      And someone called James *Elroy* Flecker wrote a poem called “The Old Warship Ablaze”. Which may, or may not, be a thing.

      Zeki, was the last owner of a ship called the Yarasli (originally the SS Dollart) which foundered in the Ionian sea in 1961. Seems tenuous though, I still reckon it a coincidence.

      There’s an Italian naval tug called Prometeo, but I can’t find any info on its current floaty status.

      That CORFA, or CORFAIN in the bottom left corner looks like it should be something but I’m drawing a blank.

      • JabbleWok says:

        Yeah, I’m struggling, so your dodgies might be fine. There was a couple named HMS Bee, but neither scuttled.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Yeah I’m gonna have to quit there, can’t see anything else and my eyes hurt!

        • JabbleWok says:

          Me too, hehe! There could be half the Ottoman navy hiding in there, and we wouldn’t spot it!

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          I had to come back and make my eyes bleed some more. Colbert, a French ship scuttled at Toulon.

          So my least likeliest dodgy, Bloch, is probably wrong.

  2. magnusm says:

    That’s a Faroese stamp.
    (And yes, I know the Faroes are technically a part of Denmark but to call that a Danish stamp is still kind of uncool)

    • Ericston says:

      There there, the stamp’s nationality was never under discussion. “Denmark” refers to last week’s location of that ship.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    I wonder if waiters and waitresses, having spent their time bussing tables, then go home to timetable buses. Just a sleep-deprived thought.

  4. loquee says:

    Nice, although 13A would have been the right line to pick :)

    • Ricc says:

      I agree. I have a 13A stop right outside my window. :)

    • Syt says:

      Would probably be much more frustrating than fun, though, esp. through the 7th District. ;)

  5. Great Cthulhu says:

    Found “fog”, “rum”, “tigre”.

  6. JamesTheNumberless says:

    This makes me mad, I have 10 minutes from now to get from the office to Matzleinsdorfer platz and there are no bus routs going my way!!

  7. edwardoka says:

    I really want to play OMSI, but I cannot justify £26 for it (even though I love ETS2) *sadface*

  8. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Are the little smudges the result of the tears of Mr. Stone?

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      No, that’s where my eyes have seared through my monitor and into the very depths of the internet itself.

    • deejayem says:

      Cap’n Stone to the likes of you and me, Smingleigh.

      And he never cries. It’s just, you knew, the damn sun. In his eyes.

  9. rpsKman says:

    Do you know if Allied Corps is a series of unrelated battles like Panzer Corps? I don’t feel like buying 50$ of DLC to get the full experience.

    Any Canadian stuff in there? :$