The Flare Path: No Respite

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War-weary after fourteen days of communal Combat Mission battle reports? Today’s competition and collection of news stories probably won’t help. Apart from a bit of Deadstick pre-alpha footage, and a poor-quality phone snap of two de Havilland beauties I encountered on a recent excursion, everything in today’s FP indirectly celebrates state-sanctioned murder.

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^ A poor-quality phone snap of two de Havilland beauties I encountered on a recent excursion.

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Slitherine aren’t the niche-huddling hermits they used to be, that’s for sure. Having embraced Steam a few years ago, the Surrey warmongers have recently released a trio of titles, together with associated add-ons, DRM-free through GOG.com.

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While there’s a fair chance cheeky Panzer General knock-off Panzer Corps is already in your wargame collection, and GOG’s $21 version of cheeky Panzer Corps knock-off Order of Battle has Steam’s slimmer, try-before-you-buy free one to compete with, Field of Glory II may entice.

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Although arguably not quite as appealing as its strat-map-equipped engine mates, Pike & Shot Campaigns and Sengoku Jidai, FoG II’s masterful melange of crisp rules, strong AI, and infinitely varied random maps invariably produces entertaining scraps. Entertaining scraps like the one described in this old FP.

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Knowing I’m rather partial to a bit of FoG2, the chap with the keys to GOG’s cavernous game warehouse last week sent me twenty-five redeem codes for Byzantine’s ancient aggro sim (Each redeem code also grants its user a copy of Panzer Corps and Order of Battle). I managed to shift nineteen of these at a local car boot sale on Sunday, and, to assuage feelings of guilt, now plan to award the remaining half-dozen to eagle-eyed FP readers.

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^ Click to embiggen

To go into the galea for Sunday’s draw, just send me (timfstone at gmail dot com) by 13.00 GMT, May 27, a missive or pic pointing out the ten differences between the Battle of Marathon pic on the left and the Battle of Marathon pic on the right. If Sunday night arrives and you’ve yet to hear good news, assume the worst – the tripartite prizes have either gone to other contestants, or I’ve had a weak moment and flogged them in a sunny field on the outskirts of Basingstoke.

(Only one entry per reader, please.)

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For reasons I can no longer recall, most of the Airfix AFVs I built as a boy ended up painted sand yellow. If I was hoping the uniform colour-scheme would lend my dice-driven sandpit WW2 wargames an air of coherence and authenticity, then, on reflection, I probably shouldn’t have included Centurions and Scorpions in my Eighth Army OOBs.

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Youngsters nowadays don’t know they’re born. Thanks to relatively affordable (£11) DLC like Sandstorm they can Desert War without risk of historical gaffes or danger of stumbling upon cat turds while sowing air rifle pellet minefields.

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The latest adjunct for Order of Battle features the panzergeneralike’s first branching campaign, and introduces, amongst other things, a plethora of new Italian units and a LoS-disrupting, combat-power-compromising sandstorm mechanic. Sadly, the selection of new terrain types doesn’t seem to include “walled fields”, an omission that leaves Malta looking decidedly unMaltese in the what-if Operation Herkules scenario.

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Another wargame that has distended in recent weeks is Graviteam Tactics: Mius-Front.

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Black Snow (£12) models a little-known Eastern Front op conducted SE of Leningrad in March 1943. A large heavily forested battlefield (centred roughly here) together with the return of the white stuff, promises to bring Operation Star memories flooding back.

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Soviet armour includes mobile outhouses like the Churchill II and KV-1S. Play as the Germans in the DLC’s seriously dynamic 28-turn campaign and your longest, loudest wails of anguish are likely to be provoked by losses of just about the only unit capable of stopping these goliaths at distance with anything approaching ease – the 8.8cm Flak gun.

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At no point in the following dead-short Deadstick announcement trailer does an alighting Cessna 180 gingerly dip its Dunlops in ice-cold snowmelt before bouncing to a stop on a mid-river sand bank. At no point is a Piper Super Cub forced to perform a TGL after a mangy moose wanders onto the runway. At no point does a low-flying Maule M-5 buzz a clearing in which the word ‘HELP’ has been spelled out using bleached human skulls. Look past these minor shortcomings – focus instead on the comely cockpits and fetching forestscapes – and the first public footage of Remex’s commerce-spiced flight sim shows considerable promise.

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By the time we next meet I should be in a position to tell you whether 303 Squadron: Battle of Britain Hurricanes handle like Hurricanes or Harrier Jump Jets and whether the game’s hands-on CMS-style aircraft maintenance feels like a chore or a privilege. Unveiled in Early Access form yesterday, the game is a bold attempt by a relatively inexperienced Polish studio to create a broader, more holistic combat flight sim.

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Mooching around RAF Northolt in first-person between sorties sounds great in theory, but if the hangars are bare, the erk and waaf chatter colourless, the novelty could wear off very quickly. Fingers-crossed there’s an interesting flyable hack parked in a quiet corner somewhere, and a fellow flier in the dispersal hut always up for a game of chess or cribbage.

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If upcoming IL-2 spin-off Battle of Bodenplatte is to do its late-war subject-matter justice, 1CGS/77 will need to dumb-down their flak crews considerably. During the Luftwaffe’s large-scale bid to catch and destroy Allied aircraft on the ground on January 1, 1945, the Germans lost dozens of aircraft to ‘friendly’ flak flingers who, like the enemy, were not expecting the audacious raids.

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Pre-purchasers of Bodenplatte are already flying two of the title’s eight stock aircraft, the Bf109 G-14 and Spitfire Mk.IXe. The new Spit is a more capable creature than the ‘VB’ Neville Novichok flew in my recent Battle of Kuban diary. Pokier– thanks to a two-stage supercharged Merlin – it comes with a fully modelled gyro gunsight that helpfully calculates target lead for you during deflection shooting.  According to historical data, gyro gunsights doubled the marksmanship score of an average dogfighter. Being a very average dogfighter, Neville should benefit immensely from the new tech.

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This way to the foxer

9 Comments

  1. Shiloh says:

    I’ll admit I do fancy that Mius Front DLC – I used to wargame the Sologubovka area in ASL and other games quite a bit. Gets some decent reviews on Steam as well.

    Incidentally, info about the German cemetery at Sologubovka here for those with an interest in such things: link to en.wikipedia.org

  2. Rorschach617 says:

    Can I have a little advice from someone?

    I loved Hearts of Iron 2. Make Division, add detachment to taste, group Divisions into Corps and Armies, assign officer, plan big offensive/defensive battles, loved it. And the messing with history never got old (making Adolph Hitler resign the Chancellorship, Mussolini siding with the Allies, Stalin not purging the Officer Corps in 1938, all golden memories).

    But HoI2 felt easier to get into than HOI3 and I bounced off of that one.

    Can anyone recommend HOI4?

    • Premium User Badge

      Der Zeitgeist says:

      Yes, I can.

      I bought HOI3 a few years ago, but I never really got into it, because the whole thicket of mods, DLC and rule changes over the years seemed just insurmountable.

      So a few days ago, when HOI4 was on sale, I finally got it and also the DLC packs.

      For me, it provides exactly the amount of complexity I still like, while not being unnecessarily packed with features that would smother any fun you might have while playing.

      It’s exactly as you described, you design your division with templates, combining different types of combat and support battalions, then make sure your production lines are running to produce the needed equipment for your troops. It just works really well.

      There are a few bugs though, and also a few minor inconsistencies with the UI. It just shows that they have been improving certain game areas already, while leaving other ones untouched until the next big patch. Didn’t take away the fun from playing for me, though.

      I’m still in my first real game, started as Germany in 1936, then tried to get rid of Hitler immediately. The Wehrmacht conducted a military coup, and I had to fight a short but violent civil war to get rid of the remaining NS loyalists in the Army.

      Afterwards, we had about one year under a military junta of former Kaiserreich officers, who then made way for elections and the new democratic government with Konrad Adenauer at the helm. After rebuilding the country, in 1938 or so I began a campaign to build up a new central European alliance of anti-communist democratic states. All went well, more and more countries joined, until Poland, the baltic states and finally Finland got into the new pact. Then in the summer of 1939, the Russians came. :-)

      It is now the Summer of 1946. All of Europe is under Soviet control or allied with the Comintern. After falling to the Red Army, the new Socialist Republic of Germany, led by Wilhelm Pieck, took up arms against its former western allies and led a five year long Battle of Britain against the last remaining democratic outpost in Europe. We have been building strategic bombers, jet fighters are in widespread use, our type XXI subs have closed the Atlantic, and in Germany, several nuclear reactors are producing Plutonium for a special project led by Werner Heisenberg.

      You can probably tell how awesome I find this game. :-)

    • g948ng says:

      I can and I can not in good conscience recommend it.

      On the one hand it is comparatively easy to get into. Designing divisions, grouping them and assigning plans and leaders to them is smooth and intuitive.
      On the other hand how the AI executes them is driving me nuts. Active plans provide huge bonuses, but makes the AI force 100% identical unitsswapping place constantly, eating attrition. In the end you better micro everything yourself.
      Also naval warfare is absolutely imbalanced and impractical. Most naval battles take so long you can actually do a whole Operation Seelowe while the Royal Navy chases like 10 destroyers. And you actually would need 2 human Allied players (UK/US) because their strategic situation is too complex for the AI to handle well.

      Strategically speaking I find myself not very keen on replaying a nation. Their national focus trees are intended to give the game the air of a sandbox, yet they do not. They just give you have 3-4 ways you are railroaded on. (And add buffs over buffs.)

      That being said, I am sure this will be a good game at some point down the line. At the moment, sadly, it is not there, yet.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Thanks for the advice, guys.

      I see that Steam usually drops the price by a fair bit during sales. I’ll take the plunge one of these days :)

      • Rorschach617 says:

        By which I mean, since g948ng mentions problems with the AI, I think I’ll wait for a sale.

        By the by, any DLCs that should be avoided? CK2 had that backlash for Sunset Invasion :)

        • Premium User Badge

          Der Zeitgeist says:

          Do it the same as I did, get the base game first when there’s a sale on. Play that for a little while, and if you like it, then try to get the DLCs on the same Steam sale if you can.

          The newest DLC is usually at full price (and some would say that’s not worth it) but the previous ones are quite cheap during a sale.

          If you play the base game for a few hours you will also know very quickly which DLCs you may want to have from their feature sets.

          They’re described in detail at the HOI4 wiki: link to hoi4.paradoxwikis.com

          • Rashism says:

            I play a lot of HOI4 and everything stated above is correct. I think the next DLC will fix the issues with naval combat but we’ll have to wait and see. I still prefer Darkest Hour above any other HOI.

  3. DEspresso says:

    Regarding Order of Battle there is currently a 5€ bundle at Fanatical including most of the Pacific Stuff.

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