The Flare Path: What are they all playing this weekend?

April showers filling my gutters, May blossom spangling my hedge, June bugs headbutting my window… Mother Nature seems to have muddled her months this year. I’m not one for idle gossip as you well know but Mr Valentine at the sweet shop reckons she’s back on the gin. Apparently she reeked of the stuff when she came in for her sherbet lemons on Monday. Just to be on the safe side I recommend everyone stays in this weekend and plays personal computer games about war and aeroplanes. That’s what me and the six FOFPs* below are planning to do.

*Friends of Flare Path

Oliver Cromwell: I usually spend Saturday trimming the hairs on my many warts (Sunday is for church, natch) but there will be no bristle bashing this weekend as English Civil War beckons. Hopefully the crash reports speckling the official forum and the fact that Slitherine have decided not to release on Steam isn’t significant. The involvement of The Sealed Knot would usually inspire confidence, but as the reenactors arrived too late to error check the map or manual, I suspect their influence on balance and play mechanisms is minimal. On the bright side, Spanish developer HQ know the engine well (their previous efforts include Thirty Years War and España 1936), the price, £17, isn’t too alarming, and compared to some of the more sprawling, labour-intensive AGEod titles, this one looks pleasingly pert.


Bernard Montgomery: Having recently offered my services to Brian Kelly as a Desert War 1940-1942 tester, I suspect beige hexagons will be monopolising my monitor for months to come. I first became aware of Brian’s unusual WEGO freeware through The Flare Path, a weekly column written by someone whose grandad I apparently once inspected [Sadly, I only remember three of Grandad-in-the-white-car’s war stories – Meeting Monty. Learning to drive a Bren Gun Carrier. The day I was machinegunned by a Luftwaffe raider while driving a truck along the South coast. Ed]. One of Slitherine’s talent scouts clearly liked Desert War 1940-43 and its Pacific spin-off Peleliu as much as I did, because the original title, stripped of its Tunisian element but swollen with extra Libyan scenarios,  is heading for a commercial release this autumn. I’ve often wondered whether Rommel might have been whipped earlier if the Eighth Army had been mine to marshal in ’41. Using Desert War 1940-1942 as a tactical Petri dish I plan to find out.


Amy Johnson: I’m opening a new branch of Oak Furniture Land in Hartlepool on Saturday morning. Once that’s done it’s straight home for Primula-filled Hula Hoops, chilled Scrumpy Jack and an afternoon of Flight Sim World. Bliss! I wasn’t planning to get Dovetail’s Early Access FSX-sequel-in-all-but-name until the selection of flyables expanded a bit (The lack of biplanes, jets, and large aerodynes in the initial release is disappointing) but then this email arrived saying I was eligible for a free copy because I’d bought Flight School. Being a bit of a luddite where PCs are concerned (I can strip and reassemble a Gipsy Major in a Force 10 gale with my eyes closed, obviously) I’m not entirely sure why I should be excited about the switch from 32 bit to 64 bit (Less strain on the CPU? Faster framerates and fewer stutters?). Will improved cockpit shadowing, lovely windscreen raindrops, and a new GUI together with integrated Orbx terrain textures and Accu-Feel flight subtleties compensate for a recycled scenery system, no backwards compatibility or Real Weather? I should know by Monday. Talking to Jim the other day (yes, we’re still in regular contact) he mentioned that some third-party MSFS add-on devs are far from happy with Dovetail’s approach to growing the sim (All commercial expansions must be approved by DTG and made available through Steam. There’s no news yet on whether users will be able to create freeware aircraft). He reckons that some devs may decide to stick with FSX and P3D rather than create for FSW.


James M. Gavin: I haven’t played many video games since I got into bobbin lacemaking in 1985 (Try it. Seriously. It will surprise you.). Steel Division may well lure me back, but the title I’m really excited about is Shrapnel’s All American: The 82nd Airborne in Normandy. I thoroughly enjoyed its predecessor 101: the Airborne Invasion of Normandy and expect great things from the sequel. The fact that All American has now been in production for almost twenty years suggests a staggeringly polished/rich wargame is on the way. The deafening silence on the official forum also indicates a dev hard at work. Roll on 2009!


Kim Jong-un: When I’m not threatening to plunge East Asia into an unimaginably ghastly thermonuclear war I like to play NBA Playgrounds and games about plunging East Asia into an unimaginably ghastly thermonuclear war. Imagine my delight when I heard about yesterday’s release of Command: Chains of War. The bungling Pentagon stooges at Slitherine and Warfare Sims have played right into my hands by providing me with the perfect tool for testing invasion scenarios and analysing enemy dispositions and capabilities. Once I’ve circumvented their cunning security measures (a creaky UI) there’ll be no stopping me. And in the game.


Supreme Commander Servalan: Annoyingly I have to attend an execution on Cygnus Alpha on Saturday (Kerin, the Chief Security Officer. Don’t ask!). If I forget to put Steam in offline mode before boarding my ship – all too easy –  that will mean an entire day without Children of a Dead Earth, a wonderful Kerbal Space Program-style space combat game with a 1:1 scale solar system and reality-rooted weapon physics. A hideous prospect!


Tim Stone: I’ve just heard there’s a Cold Waters preview build waiting for me in a hardened pen just inside the Arctic Circle (Killerfish’s single sub follow-up to Atlantic Fleet is now only a week or two away from release!). That’s going to be awfully hard to resist during the next few days yet resist it I must as I’m supposed to be liberating Normandy this weekend in readiness for a Steel Division Wot I Think. By the time we next meet many innocent Panzer IVs and Shermans will be dead… countless farmhouses and barns will have been reduced to rubble… numerous hours wasted attempting to grab attractive close-quarters screenshots of Hawker Typhoons. Is there anything that you’d particularly like to know about Eugen’s latest that a chump with review code and a natural penchant for singleplayer might be able to discover during the coming week?

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This way to the foxer


  1. DeadCanDance says:

    “Is there anything that you’d particularly like to know about Eugen’s latest (…)?”
    Yes, please. I would like to know if there are sprawling forests on it like there was on european escalation and airland, and if units behave properly when you tell them to go to the edge of it.
    Great article as always!

  2. Shadrach says:

    Tim if you’re not going to play that Cold Waters preview build please give it to me. Please, pretty please.

    Red Storm Rising being one of my all-time favourite games, I am very exited about this game, especially after the latest dev update today:
    link to

  3. Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

    Mr. Stone, there’s a very real possibility that this column might have been the greatest thing in the entire history of things.

    • Stugle says:

      All that’s missing is a photo of bloodstained John besides the line that he’s been fired.

  4. AutonomyLost says:

    I have never read a Flare Path column but will be checking in on them now. This was quite a fun read.

    • JB says:

      You’ve been missing out. But welcome to the fold!

    • unacom says:

      Luckily, you can peruse the archives. Just get into the Flare Path Annexe, past the Tiger pen, second door to the left. Strategic photo-reconnaisance wing. Enter. Walk straight through. The hintermost rolling-stack.

  5. Stugle says:

    It’s nice to get an update on 82nd Airborne – good to know it hasn’t been forgotten. :)

    Regarding Steel Division, I’m curious what the workload is? I have Airland Battle and honestly can’t keep up with the pace (guess I’m too old for real-time strategy). I know Red Dragon had some kind of pause mode, does Steel Division have something similar that allows for more leisurely consideration of options?

    • Shiloh says:

      I’ve watched a couple of Lets Plays and I know this isn’t for me – it just looks too fast-paced and click-y. If you’re looking for a WW2 RTS, I’ve played a lot of Theatre of War 2 recently and while it’s not perfect, it’s a hugely enjoyable game with the added bonus that it lets you pause or run the game at half speed and figure out what to do next when you run into one of those pesky bocage-concealed 88s… A chap called Sim Deck on You Tube has a couple of Lets Plays up there if you’re interested in more on TOW2 by the way.

      • Stugle says:

        I might have that languishing in my GamersGate account, I’ll have to dig for it. Thanks for the recommendation! I suspect that, between the unexpected imminent arrival of Cold Waters and the ongoing Stellaris-driven Humble Monthly, my meagre gaming budget is already spoken for, regardless of the verdict on Steel Division. :)

    • Syt says:

      I feel Mr Stone’s comment was abit tongue in cheek, considering that the game’s page hasn’t been updated in many years, the questions about release in their forums fall on deaf ears, … that said, pre-orders are still being accepted for $49.99

      It’s a shame, because I used to like Shrapnel Games. :(

    • GernauMorat says:

      The beta of Steel Division does indeed have speed settings, from bullet time on upwards. Same thing Red Dragon has in fact, and it allowed me to learn how to play in that game as well!

    • harley9699 says:

      Wow, shocking! I thought 82nd Airborne has been dead and vaporware for Years! Unless mentioning it is just a big joke that I’m too tired to pick up on. I even quit watching for it to finally come out Years ago.

  6. Rorschach617 says:

    IS BOMB living up to its expectations?

    It was mentioned in a Flare Path years ago.

  7. Stellar Duck says:

    Tim, playing as the Scots 15th infantry, how should I effectively deal with the Sdkfz 250/9 with the 20mm Kwk38?

    They’re a pain and I need them all to die. How to do that?

  8. dangermouse76 says:

    I now have a delivered and functioning R5 1600 and RX 580, so what else……minecraft !

    No actually in a strange hit of nostalgia I will be playing GTA San Andreas. It’s been years. Must look up mods for it.

  9. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    I KNEW IT! I have had my suspicions for years, but I must say that I never expected such brazen confirmation that the so-called “Tim Stone” is in fact the undead Charles Hawtrey, trapped on Earth to bring his skills with puns and double-entendre to the realm of sim reviewing. Next step: to prove that Alice is the undead Fenella Fielding, John the undead Kenneth Williams, Jim is Bernard Bresslaw, Kieron Sid James, Pippa Joan Sims and Alec Harry H Corbett. (Cara, naturally, is Barbara Windsor). The next stage of the operation is to unmask the rest of you, step by step.

  10. welverin says:

    Now if only Alice would bring this header image back.

  11. JB says:

    “Primula-filled Hula Hoops” – Genius. Now all I need is a bag of Hula Hoops.

  12. mariandavid says:

    Dear Mr Field Marshal Stone Sir: Is it true that Cold Waters will be out in a week or two? If so am bewitched with joy, but trembling with fear as no such comment yet on the Steam Page. Strangely despite the plethora of ships and the dazzling graphics of World of Warships I find myself for pleasure instead playing the Cold Water creators previous product – Atlantic Fleet – which bodes most well for the upcoming game.

  13. corinoco says:

    MMMMmmmmm. Supreme Commander Servilan!

  14. Manburger says:

    The Flare Path never ceases to amuse! So lovely.
    Definitively one of the finer ongoing series on the site (Along with The Mechanic)

  15. Grizzly says:

    As a quick FYI: The big news in switches from 32 bit to 64 bit is that it gives flight sims a *lot* more ram to work with, which means that “Out of memory” crashes are a thing of the past (or atleast, far less likely).