The Flare Path: Topical Titbits

Q’s tail is a trip hazard. V and J often fall over in high winds. B lacks dignity*. Rain tends to collect in M and U… Many letters of the alphabet have inherent flaws but here at The Flare Path we treat all 26 with equal respect when we’re compiling one of our breathtakingly superficial alphabetical sim and wargaming news round-ups.

* It’s easily transformed into a cartoon bum.

A is for A2A’s Accu-Sim T-6 Texan

I wonder how many purchasers of A2A’s latest FSX masterpiece know about the unarmed trainer’s finest hour. In May 1940, in south east France, a flight of four T-6s spotting what they assumed to be an Allied bomber below them, decided to try some practise attack runs. On closer inspection the bomber proved to be a Dornier, a Dornier in the process of disgorging its crew. Alarmed by the four rapidly approaching ‘fighters’, the Luftwaffe aviators had decided to hit the silk.

B is for Bulge beautification

As you’ll know if you’ve tried ‘A December morning’, one of the three scenarios in the generous demo, some of Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg’s Bulge battlefields feel cold enough to emasculate brass monkeys. Once Worghern’s hoary winter texture mod arrives, the urge to play CMFB in balaclava and fingerless gloves is going to be even harder to resist.

C is for Combined Arms Operations Series aka CAOS

An AI-bereft but unit and theatre-rich multiplayer WW2 wargame currently seeking beta testers.

D is for disclosure

I wonder when is going to get round to updating its cobweb-festooned ‘About Us’ page. Reading these paragraphs you’d never guess that the site has been owned and overseen by Slitherine Group, the publisher of many of the titles previewed and reviewed in its pages, for the best part of six years.

E is for Elizabethan easter egg

FSX desperately needs more easter eggs. Buzzing Windsor Castle in an Airspeed Elizabethan yesterday, I was hugely disappointed not to see a regal OAP in a big hat waving at me from atop the Round Tower.

F is for foxer

G is for Go For Launch: Mercury

In the first demo of Joe Chisholm’s as-yet-ungreenlit-and-unkickstarted Alan Shepard sim the camera refused to leave the Freedom 7 capsule. Download the trial of the new version and you will find it has now pulled itself together and will happily spacewalk, orbit and fly-by.

H is for homage to Catalonia

In a clever move guaranteed to broaden horizons and encourage exploration, new FlightGear versions – set to arrive tri-monthly from now on – won’t just enhance scenery, aircraft, and physics, they’ll switch the default airport. Home at the moment is San Francisco International. Circa May 20 the sim relocates to Barcelona El Prat.

I is for Ironclads II improvements

Ironclads II: American Civil War shipped with a pleasing strat layer, but disappointingly dull turnless battles. Last Friday’s update tackles combat criticisms head-on. Whether you’re running blockades or mounting them, you can now manually target, ram, and make damage control decisions. Time for a reinstall I reckon.

J is for Jayson NG’s Japanese Pike & Shot project

Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun is now less than a month away from completion. The tried and tested engine is unlikely to disappoint. What may miff – we shall see – is the publisher’s chosen price point.

K is for kilometre concerns

LGV: Marseille – Avignon, TS2016’s first commercial SNCF add-on, released yesterday? At last a chance to use my CSE grade 4 level French in a Flare Path! Ou est… hang on a minute… la gare de (?) Valence  s’il vous plaît?

This £25 Provencal high-speed route looks attractively landscaped, but at just 65 miles in length (20 minutes for a speeding TGV) and with limited potential for new scenarios, I suspect many will wait for sale reductions before making for the Med.

L is for learn SimSig with Luke Briner

Aspiring desktop signallers – especially those interested in British railways – aren’t short of choices. What they can struggle to find is good instructors. SimSig, a family of superb but potentially confusing UK signalling sims, many of which are free, has needed a Luke Briner for ages. Now it’s got one, there’s no reason whatsoever to hang back.

M is for martial movie recommendations

In the mood for wings or warfare, yet too weary, ill, or tipsy for interactive entertainment? What you need is the Flare Path: Screening Room. Thanks to helpful Flareopaths, this adjunct to the Flare Path Reading Room, is now packed with thumbnail reviews of the kind of films simmers and wargamers are sure to enjoy. Curator Mr Cotton is still monitoring the article, ready to expand the list if new recommendations appear amongst the comments.

N is for not in-game footage

Dovetail Games Flight School should be with us by this time next week. While I’m not looking forward to the An-225-sized download (the FSX-based sim comes with seamless global scenery which seems a bit unnecessary considering the premise) I am curious to see how Dovetail have handled tuition. Fingers-crossed the instructor is a) visible, b) voluble and c) voiced by James May.

O is for Orbiter obituaries premature

It’s been six years since this free space flight sim‘s last significant overhaul, but that doesn’t mean dev Dr. Martin Schweiger has moved on. The new version (beta-testable here if you’re feeling brave) features better collision detection and supports far finer terrain meshes and sharper textures, as the above comparison pictures illustrate.

P is for PC Cold Warriors finally get their hands on Twilight Struggle

I’m planning a weekend of proxy wars, spy swaps, and missile crises courtesy of Playdek’s latest.

Q is for quick teabreak

R is for Rev Sudasana rethinks real-estate

Loyalty to solitaire board wargame Patton’s Best, meant tanky roguelike Armoured Commander could be pretty cruel at times. Keen to give players more control over their destinies in the sequel, Rev Sudasana (Gregory Adam Scott) is planning to replace AC’s crude 37-hex battlefields with gridded venues composed of thousands of squares. Moving around these new arenas it should be far easier to keep threats at arm’s length, take advantage of terrain, and understand demises.

“The player tank will still be vulnerable, but hopefully careful commanders will learn to place their recon forces ahead of the main column, to support themselves with AT guns and infantry, and not to poke their hull out when they know a Tiger is waiting for them.”

S is for Sean O’Connor’s Firefight sequel on Steam soon?

With its unusually fleecy Fog of War, elegant control approach, and worth-its-weight-in-Sturmtigers random map generator, the original Firefight made a very acceptable alternative to Close Combat. The sequel, presently angling for a Steam Greenlight, can’t Capability Brown its own battlefields but apparently offers smarter AI and better ballistics and physics.

T is for Tactical Wargames to be targeted

When Flare Path discovers a promising new wargaming blog, we generally arm and dispatch Warty, our faithful A-10C, ASAP. Warty is grounded at the moment with turbofan trouble. Enjoy Tactical Wargames while you can.

U is for unbuttoning insights

Knowledgeable grog Michael Dorosh has been considering the issue of unbuttoning in Combat Mission. Though forcing a virtual tank commander to stick his head above the parapet can feel awfully heartless at times, it appears encouraging exposure does have historical precedent.

“Crew commanders will NOT close both turret flaps except under very heavy mortar fire when the situation does not demand unrestricted vision.”

From Canadian Army Standing Orders, WW2

V is for Victoria Wood

W is for where are the chariots?

Daniel Lopez Soria, the creator of riveting Roman racing game Qvadriga, has had enough of blood and circuses for the time being. His next project, CHEXS, re-imagines chess as a WeGo hex wargame. I was hoping for another history-rooted TBS, but, going by that trailer, he does seem to be on to something interesting. The greenlight page doesn’t mention silicon opponents; I wonder if that’s significant.

X is for xpendable aircraft

Flare Path Games is currently developing the world’s first CAM ship-based flight sim. Time-acceleration-free, each Atlantic crossing will take up to three weeks to complete, of which – assuming your convoy is ‘lucky’ enough to come under air attack – around 20 minutes will be spent aloft pursuing surprised Focke-Wulf Condors. The chance of drowning after each sortie will be roughly 1 in 6.

Y is for yikes! The Flare Path deadline is so close I can smell its deodorant (Lynx Action). Better wrap things up.


  1. padger says:

    Can I just say: it’s such a pleasure to read Mr Stone’s work. Quality unwavering after all these years. He is truly one of the greats, as quiet as his corner of the internet may be.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Morale +1. Thanks.

    • Shiloh says:

      +1 – there aren’t many things on the internet I look forward to more than the unveiling of the latest Flare Path/Foxer at 13h00 on a Friday.

      Long may you blather, Tim.

      • Stugle says:

        8:00 am on the Eastern Seaboard in the US. My work day is always off to a rather unproductive start on Friday. Things usually pick up about 1-2 hours later. :)

        • unacom says:

          14:00 for us central european types. I have a very late and prolonged midday break, which I counter by arriving about two hours early…

          • celticdr says:

            1am Sat for us downunder types.

            I must also concur with others that Flare Path is pretty much an essential read for me too, keep up the good work Tim!

    • JB says:

      Same here. I look forward to Fridays for 2 reasons:

      1. Usually manage to play some boardgames with my friends.

      2. The Flare Path.

      Thanks, Tim!

    • Tim Stone says:

      Much appreciated. Thanks.

    • All is Well says:

      Just wanted to add a slightly late +5 (or whatever we’re up to now) – as corners of the internet go, the Flare Path is easily one of the best.

    • froz says:

      That’s a funny coincidence. I read the article earlier today and now I had a thought to come back here and write how I like Flare Path. Really, for me it’s the best of what we get on RPS. Very, very high quality and I never feel like I wasted my time reading anything you write. Thanks for that.

      Even though I didn’t enjoy Victory & Glory as much as I thought I would :p.

      • Fontan says:

        Sometimes when I have times I’m too busy and can’t read RPS as the new articles come out (such as the past few weeks), I accumulate too many and end up removing a lot from my feed without reading them.

        Never Flare Path. I always save them and read without skipping a single one. Definitely the best stuff on RPS.

  2. GrinningD says:

    Aye Tim you are my only must read every week, thanks for sharing your passions with us.

  3. Stugle says:

    It’s quiet because all the regulars bugger off to the Foxer as soon as it deploys, anxious to get in their dibs. :) We’re competitive like that.

    That said, I do always take time to read the Flare Path and greatly enjoy the finely crafted wordsmithery.

    Thanks for writing and for exposing me to games I would otherwise never consider or even know about. There are definitely things that are waaay past my comfort zone, but I’ve picked up some gems that are suited to my play style and ability over the years (Rule The Waves being the prime example).

    • unacom says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. I´m amazed about how much stuff you dig up week after week.

  4. unacom says:

    I read M as MARITAL movie recommendations, immediately visited it and wondered: “How the hell am I ever going to get my wife to watch even the opening credits of anything listed here?
    With the notable exception of Das Boot, The Thin Red Line and Saving Private Ryan.

  5. spelk says:

    Can I just say the tiny niche sub-reddit I set up a couple of years ago, for the hobby of computer based wargaming, has just recently celebrated its 1000 subscribers milestone. And Tim Stone and his always interesting Flare Path makes regular appearances there!

    Thanks for dedicating a weekly article to the likes of our niche!

  6. Shiloh says:

    My wife loves A Bridge Too Far – we must have watched it 20 times, we even watched it on French TV when we were on holiday over there last year (the dubbed version – and no, disappointingly, Sean Connery’s accent didn’t transfer to the French actor who voiced his part).

    She’s not too keen on Come and See, though.

    • Shiloh says:

      Sorry, that was in reply to unacom – looks a bit odd as it is, oh well, whatever, never mind.

    • unacom says:

      I haven´t seen it, yet. However I am safe to assume my wife won´t like it. She decided after Black Hawk Down that warmovies are totally not her thing anymore. I can´t even blame her.

      • Stugle says:

        I’m currently watching The Longest Day in bits and pieces while cleaning up after dinner (using one of those new-fangled tablet devices). About two hours in, it’s a surprisingly gentle film. I mean, yes, hundreds of extras drop dead everywhere, but there are no real injuries, nobody dies in agony – they all just drop down and that’s it. In mood, it feels closer to a picnic than a harrowing battle. I know stuff like Saving Private Ryan give you a better sense for the horrors of war, but every now and then a little jaunty WW2 makes for a good change of pace.

        • unacom says:

          I agree. It´s not necessarily about the grittiness.
          However, my wife does not. For her anything about war is too much.
          I´ll probably not even get her to watch “Un Taxi pour Tobrouk”, “Hell in the Pacific” or “M.A.S.H.”.

        • sandman2575 says:

          The Longest Day is still my favorite WW2 flick. I love that it’s not really about depicting the combat, which is pretty tame, as you say. I just love the way the movie moves between the differing perspectives of the combatants — the US and British, the Germans, even the Free French (all of whom allowed to speak in their native languages — no ridiculous “Vee are Nazis!” faux-German accents).

          Especially love Richard Burton’s turn as the grizzled RAF pilot, and the movie’s last scene. “He’s dead, I’m crippled, you’re lost. I suppose that’s how it always is. War I mean.” Such a great international cast.

  7. Zenicetus says:

    Just a heads-up — the DTG Flight School has been delayed until May 24th.

  8. harley9699 says:

    What does this mean? “Warty is grounded at the moment with turbofan trouble. Enjoy Tactical Wargames while you can.”
    You think they’re leaving or something?

    • Stugle says:

      I believe Mssr. Stone is insinuating not too seriously that he will have the upstart competitor site strafed and bombed (possibly Hellfired) as soon as possible to ensure the continued unchallenged hegemony of the Flare Path as your prime source of simulation and wargame news. :)

      In other words, it seems to be a grudging nod that this competitor site might be worth checking out.

    • wodin says:

      Clayton you can stand down. Your enthusiasm to rise to TW defense is commendable. However though this obviously is a threat about an imminent attack it also can be seen as a compliment to us that we are actually seen as a serious problem for Flare Path.

      Out of character now. Clayotn it’s cool. I think you just read it wrong mate:) Tim knows we aren’t going anywhere.

  9. wodin says:

    Jason from Tactical Wargames here.

    Your warty engine troubles will be the least of your worries if you send it our way. Our defenses have been put on high alert. You will not take us out that easily!

    Hehe..anyway big thanks for the heads up!