The Flare Path: Urgent Fury

sorry no time for capitals or punctuation this week theres a flakturm high stack of demos on my desktop and if im going to introduce each and every one of them to you and still have time for a spot of luncheon grammatical niceties must go by the board on the other side of that html ha ha down there roman chariot haulers paw the dust grenada awaits invasion viking history masquerades as third person adventure and a motorbike sim prepares to graze you in places where youve never been grazed before


Alternatively I could just type really fast. GP Bikes fast.

Hell For Leathers

The trial/latest beta for this formidable crotch-rocket recreation has been around for a couple of months. If FP wasn’t so inexcusably wing- and hex-centric I’d almost certainly have noticed it sooner.

Featuring extremely strong physics and (happily) extremely strong rider skeletons, the demo lets you tear around a fictional 4.5km circuit astride a ridiculously thin slice of car.

Even with the various lean assists activated, a racing line aid visible, and the camera trailing your bike like a failed drogue chute, staying in the saddle is challenging. Over the last couple of days my simbuttocks have careered across so many kerbs I now can’t grate cheese, carrot, or nutmeg without wincing.

PiBoSo, the clever swine responsible for the thrills and spills, is a one man race-sim factory. Having cornered the market in classy (though, sadly, AI-less) karting and MotoGP games and dipped his toes into the four-wheeled mainstream he’s now got his sights set on MX Simulator’s mud spattered crown.

In contrast to MX Sim, the riders in MX Bikes should occasionally (frequently if GP Bikes is any guide) separate from steeds. In terms of track deformation and mod friendliness the newcomer promises to be at least as capable as its rival. Will that bot deficit pothole MX Bikes’ appeal? With a beta/demo set to arrive this Spring, we should find out pretty soon.


Free Circus Tickets

Phew. Qvadriga, the turn-based chariot racing game I’ve enthusiastically Flare Pathed on several occasions over the last couple of years, is out, and isn’t horribly expensive.

Matrix Games/Slitherine are asking £13 for the right to found and manage a Roman chariot team, travel around the Med in search of fame and fortune, and whip, side-swipe, and squash hated rivals. A fair price? I intend to spend much of this weekend Ben Hurtling so should have the definitive answer to that question by the time we next meet.

In the meantime I recommend you hitch up your toga and hurry along to where a small but illuminating demo awaits.

The management side isn’t represented and there’s only two tracks and teams to choose from, but a contest or two should leave you with a good feel for the elegant order system, tension-magnifying ‘dynamic’ mode (where commands are issued against the clock), and the crowd-stoking savagery of the racing. It’s rare for an entire field of aurigas (charioteers) to finish an event unscathed. Some poor bastard invariably gets dragged to his death after a qvadriga (chariot) roll. Usually someone will be turned into a flesh-and-bone mosaic while dashing for the safety of the lime-plastered armco.


Grenades For Grenadians

If you like your tanks fast, your winters bitter, and your battlefields birchy, 2014 is turning into a quite a year. Combat Mission: Red Thunder and Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front are nearby, and Lock ‘n’ Load: Heroes of Stalingrad and Panzer Battles: Kursk are already amongst us.

The latter, a characteristically solid and scholarly offering from one of wargaming’s most traditional and experienced teams, is, understandably, hogging the limelight over at at the moment. On my last visit I almost failed to notice another recent release.

Squad Battles: Grenada is a wonderfully generous Operation Urgent Fury freebie. A ten-mission standalone tactical TBS, it fastidiously recreates scraps most of us won’t have gamed before.

Together with the clutch of low-headcount jungle skirmishes, there are much larger engagements featuring US parachute drops and Grenadian BTR-60-backed counterattacks. Resistance is frequently tenacious, (especially when you run into Cuban forces), unit mixes and weaponry intriguing. For instance, until yesterday I’m not sure I’d ever played a wargame scenario in which my only AFV was an armoured bulldozer.

SB stalwarts won’t need to peruse the succinct ‘Getting Started’ pdf. Series virgins should definitely do some reading before deploying. Tillerisms like the manual toggle between ‘fire’ and ‘movement’ modes, and the need to manually deploy reinforcements (they won’t automatically appear on the map) may catch out those that have skipped basic training.


The Long(boat) View

History is my food and drink… my sword and shield. On one memorable occasion in 1992 even my chair and mattress. The point is, I love the stuff and thank my lucky stars daily that I was brought up in a household, and educated in schools, where The Past was valued and vividly evoked.

If you feel the same way, you might want to steer any younglings you know in the direction of the Playing History: Vikings demo, or commit a few dollars to the project via its Kickstarter page.

Serious Games Interactive, a Danish studio I first encountered when they were busy crafting gritty educational games about things like child soldiers, sweatshops, and the Palestine situation, have lately turned their attention to historical themes like the slave trade and the plague. Their current work-in-progress is history dissemination at its most subtle.

Players mouse-click (hopefully, keyboard controls are planned) Erik, a Viking lad, through a 3rd-person adventure ring-ditched by historical truths. There’s trade, village life, religion, romance, and raiding. Currently the turnbased-combat feels a bit half-baked, and the ‘secret coin’ collection mini-game a little out of place (the ‘spot historical anachronisms to earn gold’ idea sounds far cleverer), but the 30-minute demo segment left me eager to know more about the protagonist’s fate, so the omens are good.


The Flare Path Foxer

Budget cuts mean the Flare Path Royal Horse Artillery no longer fires royal horses during 21-gun salutes. It’s mostly proletarian goats nowadays. Hopefully, last week’s foxer VIPs – Palindrome, LordBilisknir, All is Well, Matchstick, foop, skink74, Stugle, Medicine, phlebas and quietone – will be too busy admiring the regiment’s 500-year-old bombards to notice the cheap ammunition.

(Cigarette brands)

  • A) Long Beach
  • B) Bristol, Buckingham
  • C) Black Cat
  • D) Regal
  • E) 555
  • F) Prince
  • G) Embassy
  • H) Solent
  • I) Kent
  • J) Camel

(The Netherlands)

In addition to the bombards, the FPRHA also owns an impressive 1200mm Krupp Cowitzer. Captured near Amiens in the Summer of 1918, ‘Dicke Frida’ trundles around on four specially adapted A7V tanks, and can fire a medium-sized heifer a distance of 75 miles. Work out the theme of this week’s collage before anyone else, and this magnificent beef cannon is yours to play with for a whole weekend*.

*Prize includes 2 cows. Additional cows £1700 each.


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Douglas World Cruiser Seaplane is the, um, seaplane.

    • mrpier says:

      The japanese sea plane could be a Nakajima A6M2-N ‘Rufe’. Can’t really tell from that picture.

  2. Stugle says:

    The tank (with the guy doing questionable things on the barrel) appears to be a Königstiger.

  3. Matchstick says:

    The steam engine on the right looks like it’s a West Country Class Locamotive

  4. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I think the train is either a West Country or Battle of Britain class, operated by Southern Railway.

    Edit: *shakes fist*

    • Matchstick says:

      HEH ! :)

      According to Wikipedia the West Country and Battle of Britain classes were collectively known as the Light Pacifics or Spam Cans.

  5. Stugle says:

    Submarine looks like HMS Ocelot.

    • Matchstick says:

      HMS Ocelot is an Oberon class submarine which makes me think of Midsummers Night’s Dream/Shakespeare, but I can’t see a link to any of the others (not that I ever can till someone else points them out)

  6. All is Well says:

    I think the blue American aircraft in the upper middle is a McDonnell FH Phantom.

    • Stugle says:

      I thought it was a McDonnell F2H Banshee. Wait, that’s the same thing. That, or it looks a bit like a Grumman F9F Panther.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    I know what that green stuff in the middle is.

    It’s grass. I’ve seen it before. Outdoors.

    • Stugle says:

      What is this unspeakable horror of “outdoors” that you speak of? I must have a lie-down and take some hayfever meds pre-emptively.

    • sith1144 says:

      Looks like lions mound, waterloo

  8. Matchstick says:

    Is the plane bottom left the Tupolev TU-28/TU-128 Fiddler ?

    (Aparently the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft ever to enter service)

    • Stugle says:

      Jesus! That thing weighs almost as much as a Panther tank! And that flew at Mach 1.5…

      Oh, and yes, Wikipedia seems to agree wholeheartedly with you. ’tis a Fiddler.

  9. Stugle says:

    The Japanese seaplane (in red) hiding in the background is a Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe (if you do a Google image search, one of the results is a – dead – ebay link that seems to show the same image as box art for a model kit).

  10. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Fiddler on The Rufe (literally)?


    Phantom of the Opera, Spam, Pacific, etc.

    • Gusdownnup says:

      Tiger and Ocelot suggest Cats. The background grass is at the Waterloo monument in Belgium (maybe Mamma Mia?)

      • mrpier says:

        The waterloo monument is also a Lion.

      • Thurgret says:

        (edited this post some. I was off the mark with my initial thoughts on vehicles)

        If it’s music, we have Abrams, at least — the tank looks much more like an M1 than a Leopard, which has an extremely distinct silhouette. He does some music.

        If it’s animals, the wheeled vehicle is a Luchs. Lynx. The tracked one is possibly a Jaguar 2? I’m not certain.

        The helicopter is a tricky one. There are Soviet helicopters with NATO reporting names Hare and Hound, but I’m pretty darn sure it’s neither of those.

        • skink74 says:

          Actually now you mention it the helicopter looks a lot like a Westland Lynx …

        • Thurgret says:

          Looking up the Westland Lynx, that looks about right.

          The Luchs and Jaguar both had Henschel involved in certain productions runs, I think. Really going out on a limb, but there are apparently some musical sorts called Henschel.

          To stretch the musical thing hideously far, Westland became Agusta Westland, and there’s an Icelandic singer with the first name Agusta. But that’s going out on a limb and then smashing said limb up into little bits, really. That’s the stage at which I would almost give up and declare that the theme is musical cats. Probably something more related to the ‘west’ bit — reading up above, there’s a West Country locomotive, too.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            West Side Story, West End, who knows!

          • skink74 says:

            Well no need to overthink… If the theme is “musicals” then the musical Cats is probably sufficient to explain two Lynx/Luchs, Jaguar, Ocelot and Tiger.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            Seems a lot of clues to waste on one specific musical, that’s all!

          • sith1144 says:

            Between lynxes, tigers, leopards and panthers I think the theme is cats

            Edit – in general, not the musical

    • Stugle says:

      “Fiddler on the Rufe” is beautiful. :)

      The HMS Ocelot is a member of the Oberon class and there are at least two operas… Which isn’t quite a musical. Never mind.

    • Gusdownnup says:

      Also, the train looks like a Bulleid Pacific, with a Southern roundel. South Pacific?

  11. Matchstick says:

    Any real wargaming types recognize the counters scattered over the picture ?

    • JiminyJickers says:

      That is from Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm. So cold war era units.

      Can’t tell off the top of my head the exact units though.

      • Stugle says:

        If they are all US units (I don’t think they are – the helicopter looks wrong and I don’t recall wheeled APCs in the US arsenal – but I’m grasping at straws here), then there was a musical called “Damn Yankees”. :)

  12. Stugle says:

    The counters strewn around are from Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm.

  13. skink74 says:

    The cargo ship top right appears to be the CTL Cosette. There is a character in Les Miserables called Cosette so if there’s a musical theme, it fits…

    Oh and the specific Douglas World Cruiser pictured is named Chicago.

  14. Guvornator says:

    “a ridiculously thin slice of car.”

    Oooooo, you want a slap, you do. Bet you wouldn’t say that to Carl Fogerty. Thin slice of car indeed…

    EDIT: also, what’s the word on separate rider physics, especially highsides? Because that bit at 2:42 of the vid looks slightly iffy – I instinctively thought in real life the poor rider would be heading skywards (unless it’s James Ellison because, well, see for yourself link to )

  15. sith1144 says:

    has anyone seen this :O link to

  16. dufus0057 says:

    It looks like the theme is “Lightning Doesn’t Strike Twice!” but I carnt be bothered naming things, takes too long.

  17. Shiloh says:

    Hey Tim, did you get to the bottom of those John Tiller counters turning up in last week’s Viet Nam game? Great to see you keeping the Tiller name alive but were those unit counters in the South African guy’s game legit or was he borrowing them as placeholders until something better came along?

    • Tim Stone says:

      I suspect they are placeholders never intended for public consumption (the decision to release the prototype was rather spur-of-the-moment). I’ll contact Johan.