The Flare Path: A Flush Of Foxers

The Flare Path turns five this week. Here in the UK that means it can no longer travel for free on funiculars, steam tinkers, or Bounding Billies, and risks prosecution if found in possession of an imaginary dog or an impish grin. Growing up sucks. Thank goodness there are occasional distractions like this compendium of word and picture puzzles. In the dappled glade beyond the break five unusually approachable foxers lounge. Tackle these solo brainteasers (co-op defoxing will return next week) within the next 48 hours and you’ve a chance of winning various top-notch wargames and sim add-ons(Competitions now closed)

This year’s twenty-four prizes, all of which come in the form of Steam activation codes, have been provided by the good eggs at Slitherine, Graviteam, Killerfish Games and Polychop Simulations/Eagle Dynamics. As usual they are games and add-ons held in high regard by Flare Path rather than random tat that happened to be tossed in our direction.

Anyone who fancies a spot of sublime panzer persecuting, samurai superintending, wolfpack walloping, Hitler humouring, or Gazelle taming, will need to send me (timfstone at gmail dot com) their answers before 12.00 UTC Sunday. The prize draws will take place an hour or two after the deadline. Not received a congratulatory email by Monday morning? Hard cheese, old bean. That jezebel Lady Luck has obviously chosen to haystack-romp with someone else on this occasion.

The ‘Stuff Worth Bearing In Mind Before You Get Started’ Section

  • You may not need to completely solve a puzzle to qualify for its draw. See individual puzzle instructions for details.
  • NO ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS! The last person to spoil an FP birthday special by sharing answers awoke the next morning to find that he’d been blackballed by my very literal Chief Foxer Setter, Roman. Horribly sticky stuff, bitumen.
  • While you’re welcome to enter all five competitions, there’s a strict one-entry-per-person-per-competition rule. Anyone thinking of surreptitiously submitting multiple entries for a particular foxer should stand under a cold shower muttering “What have I become?” until they come to their senses.
  • I understand that a couple of last year’s Steam codes were never redeemed. If you’re not interested in playing Thugs in StuGs 2, Combat War Front Battle Tactics VII, or whatever, please make that clear in any submissions.
  • Smith had Wesson, Blohm had Voss, I have my lovely readers. Thank you for all the thoughtful observations, helpful suggestions, and morale-boosting words of encouragement scrawled beneath FPs during the past year. Thanks for tolerating my numerous thematic blindspots and grotesque overuse of the words ‘plausible’ and ‘grotesque’.
  • Best of luck!

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Missing Vowels foxer

(Five copies of Atlantic Fleet up for grabs)

Atlantic Fleet is as absorbing as it is accessible, as fetching as it is fresh. A dual-layer delight, its briny battlespaces are rarely debris-free for long. Every play session deposits a few eviscerated freighters, ruptured U-boats, and charred Condors in Davy Jones’ locker. Below is a list of a dozen things you might find in the real Atlantic Ocean. Though the salt water has eaten away vowels and currents have moved spaces (for example, RMS Titanic might appear as RMSTT NC, Sperm Whale as SPR MWHL) peer and ponder for long enough and the eleven correct answers required for prize draw eligibility should appear.


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Rivers foxer

(Five copies of Graviteam Tactics: Mius-Front up for grabs)

Graviteam’s latest Eastern Front opus scatters riveting war stories like an S-mine scatters lethal ball bearings. The combination of high-quality ballistics, detailed damage modelling, solid AI and sophisticated physics, means situations that would be drab and predictable in other wargames often surprise and mesmerise in the marvellous Mius-Front. Any GTMF player able to monitor scraps exclusively from a sensible high-altitude vantage point is a very odd fish indeed.

In honour of the game’s title, Chief Foxer Setter Roman has put together a riverine collage foxer. Send me the names of nine of the ten rivers suggested by the ten picture clues and your name will be tossed into the hat for Sunday’s draw.

Volga, Hudson, Mississippi, Amazon, Nile, Jordan, Tuul, Colorado, Thames, Orange.

Roman also accepted some other interpretations including Bug (Colorado), Yellow (Orange), and Onon (Tuul). 

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‘Where am I?’ foxer

(Five copies of Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun Collector’s Edition up for grabs)

The automatic pursuit mechanism in Pike & Shot and its unmissable Japanese offshoot Sengoku Jidai is worthy of an Alex Wiltshire piece. With one simple, beautifully executed design flourish Richard Bodley Scott explains why pre-rifle pitched battles rarely resembled chess games, and ensures most P&S and SJ rivals feel horribly stilted. Combine auto pursuits with randomly generated countryside, a simple dynamic strat layer, and smart opponents, and you’ve got a recipe for endlessly entertaining engagements. As you’ll discover if you’re lucky enough to win a copy of Sengoku Jidai Collector’s Edition by correctly answering the following question:

Where am I? (city and street name required)

  • I can see a sculpture of a woman holding two children.
  • The street I’m on is named after a national hero.
  • I’m in a country that has land borders with five countries.
  • I’m a stone’s throw from a ruined factory.
  • The city I’m in was once part of the Ottoman Empire.
  • I’m 1000 miles from the location of a famous WW2 German defeat.
  • I’m at the same longitude as a soldier sim venue.
  • I’m surrounded by punchlines.
  • Directly below me is a Danube tributary.
  • I’m in a country that has yet to win any medals at the 2016 Olympics.

I was standing on the bridge at the end of ‘Hristo Botev’ in Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

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Anagrams foxer

(Five copies of Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa up for grabs)

Grognardia would be a much more interesting place if Cameron Harris‘ fascination with command structure politics was more widespread. In the deliciously human Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa you aren’t a faceless counter pusher – an anonymous combination of multiple military bigwigs – you’re a real person with bosses to placate, underlings to chivvy, and colleagues to coerce.

VR Designs’ stimulating combination of hex conquering and relationship nurturing will, I believe, be best appreciated by gamers already steeped in Eastern Front gaming, hence the following foxer. Decipher at least nine of the ten anagrammed Ost Front wargame shortcuts to put yourself in the running for a Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa Steam code (Sadly, the slab of fab that is the hardback manual isn’t included in the prize, but you can upgrade for £13 via

Top row: Unity of Command, Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front, Close Combat III: The Russian Front, Graviteam Tactics: Operation Star, World War 2: Europe

Bottom row: Korsun Pocket, Battles of Kursk – Southern Flank, Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin, Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue, Gary Grigsby’s War in the East

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Manuals foxer

(Four copies of the DCS World SA342 Gazelle add-on up for grabs)

There was a time not so very long ago when the skies above Flare Path HQ were regularly enhanced by Aérospatiale elegance. Nowadays ugly olive-green robber flies are almost the only Army Air Corps hoverers you see. Polychop’s first add-on for DCS World helps fill the void, and, via an extensive livery library, serves as a reminder of the type’s surprisingly diverse and long combat career (Gazelles have been accosting AFVs and importuning infantry for over thirty years).

Standing between you and a peerless SA342 facsimile with a hang-on-to-your-hat flight model and alarmingly entertaining wire-guided weaponry, are a dozen flight sim manual fragments. Work-out the sources of at least eleven of the page portions shown below (this bigger version might prove useful) and one of the four available Gazelles could be yours.

a) MiG Alley
b) Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2
c) Tornado
d) Eurofighter Typhoon
e) Hind
f) Falcon 4.0
g) Flanker 2.0
h) Jane’s Longbow 2
i) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter 2.0
j) B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th
k) Rise of Flight
l) 1942: The Pacific Air War

(As some passages and images feature in the manuals of more than one version of a sim, Roman accepted alternative answers for some fragments)


  1. Tim Stone says:


  2. Shiloh says:

    Many thanks in return, Tim, for the best column on RPS by a mile.

    And thanks to all fellow de-Foxers out there for making Friday afternoon such a pleasurable stroll through the byways of Roman’s puzzling mind.

    I believe the bar in the Annex has just opened – anyone for a swift half before the weekend? I’ll be over there, by the bronze miniature of U-99.

  3. Little_Crow says:

    Any chance of the answers for last week, an enquiring public (me) want to know.

  4. Spinoza says:

    Happy Birthday !

  5. Stugle says:

    Happy happy birthday! Long may the Flare Path light the way! Thank you for another year of highly entertaining reads, great information, and of course the Foxer. While it’s true I’m mostly here for the Foxer, I can’t help but be enthused by the writing and occasionally pick up some gems.

    Atlantic Fleet is one of those: even though I’ve yet to dive into the campaign, I can confirm that setting up a custom battle (say, pitting Scharnhorst against all of the Queen Elizabeth class – who ever said this had to be fair?) is an entertaining way to while away half an hour.

  6. Stellar Duck says:

    No way I’m going to get any answers right, but I gotta say that this is the best column on RPS.

    Happy birthday Flare Path!

    • Little_Crow says:

      I’d say the missing vowels are the most accessible puzzles and a good place to start.

      I initially only joined in for the missing vowel and word ladder foxers, and bounced straight off the picture based ones. But lately I’ve paid a bit more attention to them and I’ve caught the bug big time.

      Initially there’s a rivalry of getting a clue first, but it soon turns into a collaborative effort with backslaps and afternoon sherry all round for a well defoxed clue.

      I can honestly say the foxer has the most pleasant comments section anywhere on the internet. So cheers Tim, and Roman, and long may it continue

  7. Boronian says:

    Happy birthday! Thanks for all the entertainment and information over the last years! The Flare Path is one of the highlights here on RPS.

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    phuzz says:

    Can I just confirm that there’s supposed to be ten clues in the rivers foxer, because for the life of me I can only count nine.

    • Stugle says:

      There’s a tenth one, but it is less obvious than the others. Not saying anything more is taking an effort…

      • Shiloh says:

        Agreed – *bites tongue*

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Agghhh, really?
        Damnint, I’m going to be banging my head on this for the rest of the day now.
        Thanks for keeping me in suspense, I guess.

        • Shiloh says:

          Keeping schtum is hurting me much more than you, believe me.

          Anyway, chin up, you only need 9 to qualify.

    • Artiforg says:

      Was going to say the same thing, but sat there staring at it for a bit until I realised. The collaborative defoxer in me wants to tell you but I don’t want to get into trouble with Roman.

      • Stugle says:

        It’s the odd time of the year when we have to clench our jaws and not spout partial hints that someone (usually AFKAMC) uses to clear the clue and solve the theme. It feels decidedly odd to sit on that information and not share it.

  9. unacom says:

    Happy Birthday, Flare Path!
    Thank you for the beautiful foxers, hard nuts, fiendish annanagrammmations and the flare lighting a path from the wind-swept plains of the seven seas, through the triple canopy jungles of forgotten battlefields and into the wild blue yonder of computer wargaming.

  10. JB says:

    I say (more or less) this every year, but thank you so much for the work you put in to the FP every week, Tim. It’s certainly my favourite column on RPS, and I look forward to Friday lunchtimes because of it. Many happy returns, Flare Path! Long may she reign!

  11. alh_p says:

    Thank you and happy birthday Tim (and Roman)! Although Roman sounds decidedly odd and I think he’s a gentleman who should probably get out and about a bit more…

    Your articles are ever the most engaging on the site and the care and attention you put in, which evidently goes beyond *just* playing games and writing about them, is a window to many other wondrous things. Many a happy Friday afternoon of work have I wasted on an FP inspired wikipedia binge, and a fair few books recommended or in some way linked by you have made their way into my library. I particularly enjoyed Doenitz’s memoir on the Uboat war, to my surprise, as I didn’t expect to ever read something for pleasure by anyone who featured in the Nuremberg trials…

    I hope the FP continues and that you’re able to continue deriving the same satisfaction from it as your readers do. Cheers!

  12. zrg says:

    Happy Birthday FP!

    My favorite column here! Thanks for also covering the more obscure and niche titles. Since I started reading FP I spent quite a bit on matrix games (*not ashamed at all*) and I am not even _that_ much of a strategy game fan.

  13. Synesthesia says:

    Happy Birthday Flare Path! Best column on RPS, no doubt, as many have said.

    That gazelle looks tasty, i wonder if I can get it.

  14. Tim Stone says:

    As no-one has provided a correct answer to the “Where am I?” foxer yet, I’ve added a clue I cut just before the piece was published. If you’ve already submitted a guess for this foxer, feel free to have another go.

    • Stugle says:

      I’m working on it! Since I’ll be at work for another three hours (East Coast US), it’ll be a while before I can submit a guess. I have narrowed it down to the country level, but I’m a bit stuck after that. Ah well, c’est la vie.

  15. SamC says:

    Probably silly question, but if we’re answering multiple foxers, should we send them in multiple emails or just one omnibus one?

  16. GameOverMan says:

    Happy 5th birthday FP, and good luck to all participants.

  17. aethle says:

    Hate to be ‘that guy’ here, but counting clues in the Riverine Foxer, it appears that there are only 9…not 10, clues in there.

  18. Boronian says:

    May I ask what is a “soldier sim venue”?
    I am not sure if my English skills aren’t good enough or I am just not getting the meaning.

    • Llewyn says:

      Hi Boronian, not sure how well I can help with clarification without starting to give clues, but ‘soldier sim venue’ refers to the setting or location of a specific soldier sim.

      Hope that helps a little – I don’t think I can break down ‘soldier sim’ without giving a clue, but hopefully that’s not the bit that was causing a problem.

  19. ItAintNecessarilySo says:

    Aargh, I s was so close with the location (and my first attempt) yesterday one but got stuck on the wrong bridhe and just gave up :(. Hell of a nice challenge though!!

    • Llewyn says:

      The one outside the Museum of Satire? I spent a long time gazing dolefully over the parapet of that one too.

      • JabbleWok says:

        Ah, I considered that one too, and in the end decided on a nearby town.

        What a fiendish, frustrating timesink of a foxer! More please…

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          alison says:

          This was a terrific puzzle. I was almost going to give up at the Baev Bridge (two to the south), which also appeared to have some kind of family statue on the north-eastern corner, but the name of the street didn’t feel right, so I kept hunting and eventually found it. I’d definitely be up for some more of these.

          • Bob_Bobson says:

            I enjoyed that a lot, for all that I didn’t get the result (although I spent some time in street view in the two nearest cities). Which famous WW2 German defeat was it? What did the punchlines clue mean? I was hoping that would be clear once I saw the answer but I’m still nonplussed.

          • Tim Stone says:

            The WW2 German defeat was Stalingrad. The punchlines clue was a reference to ‘Gabrovo humour’ – the locals are the butt of numerous jokes in Bulgaria.

            link to

          • Bob_Bobson says:

            Thanks very much.

  20. AFKAMC says:

    Happy birthday, Flare Path!

    Re. the missing vowels foxer, funny how SARGASSO SEA leapt out at me straight away, but I only got what is possibly the most obvious one (ICEBERG) last of all!

  21. phlebas says:

    Oh dear! The dates of my summer camp changed this year and it never occurred to me that’d put it across the annual. Belated happy birthday to this most flavoursome of columns, kudos as ever to Stone and Roman, and a hat-tip to the fellow defoxers with whom I am privileged to collaborate and occasionally compete each week.

    One request – next time could the answers go a little further from the puzzles, so that we latecomers can have a stab even if the prizes are long gone?