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The Flare Path: Alphabetised

Simulation & wargame blather

Alphabetia is a miserable disease. Like Malaria its symptoms come and go without warning. I realised I was having an attack early this morning in the shower. Usually, when it comes to lathering - apologies for the following mental image imposition - I'm a conventional head-to-toes sort of guy. Today's ankles-buttocks-chest sequence was a sure sign something was amiss.

A is for Armoured Commander

Right now I can't think of a single wargame that's maturing as speedily or as sure-footedly as this free Patton's Best-inspired roguelike. In recent weeks Rev Sudasana (Gregory Adam Scott) has added a host of great features including optional area-linked missions (capture, recon, defend, rescue) and enemy counterattacks. On the way is a top-down tank view that should enrich shell exchanges and aid crew management.

B is for BMS 4.33

Thanks to loyal royal equerries Benchmark Sims, Falcon 4.0's reign as the king of modern air combat sims looks to set to continue for a good few years yet. The latest gratis BMS update revamps like a Philip Glass-obsessed harmonicist. Visuals, avionics, AI, weather modelling, MP code, framerates... the excellent provide a good overview of the numerous enhancements and, via guest writer Manic's pacy Tornado trip narrative, an entertaining reminder of why this legendary sim still attracts such devotion.

"Roll over, pull (did I set all the switches up right??). Pull harrrrddder! The thing…is…on…the…thing. Mash the button. Lot of explosions off to my right. No time to take pictures…don’t have enough arms & hands for that. Probably that armored division engaging someone. Me?"

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C is for Command Ops 2

Wargame AARs dont come any richer than this sumptuous 'Return to St.Vith' account. Beautifully illustrated and packed with handy tips for greenhorns (the featured scenario is part of the free demo/base game) Daz's opus is a reminder that CO2 is alive and kicking, and is still The Guvnor when it comes to operational warfare sims.

D is for Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa

Yesterday's 80-minute Twitch preview is a little glutinous in places, but stick with it and you'll glimpse an uncommonly bold and imaginative Eastern Front command sim. VR Designs are interested in personalities and power structures as well as headcounts and hardware. They've attempted to model the complex and fluid network of relationships that constrained and empowered German and Soviet commanders in 1941. In less than two weeks early adopters will be rubbing epaulettes with recreations of real people - people that can be alienated or won over via the chance-infused political choices that bookend the game's four-day turns.

E is for Every Single Soldier

The makers of assumption-ambushing COIN wargame Vietnam '65 are keen to stress that their next project is no opportunistic re-skin. Though winning hearts and minds will be as important in Afghanistan '11 as it was in the la Drang Valley, the combination of new multi-level terrain, a reworked supply system, random political events, and unfamiliar activities such as opium field destruction and aid delivery, promises to generate plenty of fresh tactical dilemmas. V65's crude campaign mechanism is also in line for improvement with the old medal-motivated skirmish chain replaced by an authored 19-stage scenario sequence following the Afghan invasion from its start in late 2001 to the Bin Laden raid of mid 2011.

F is for foxer

(all answers in one thread, please)

G is for Gun Disassembly 2

World of Guns: Gun Disassembly 2 got its second motorbike on Monday. Somewhat lost under the mountains of modelled firearms, the 353-part Ducati 916 is a reminder of roads not travelled. After dismantling and mantling hundreds of different weapons, I find myself hankering after deconstructable locomotives, traction engines, clocks, and windmills.

H is for hesitant Harriers

Fret not, if a recent statement on Sim155's Facebook page is to be trusted, Combat Air Patrol 2  is temporarily delayed by Steam integration and DX11 upgrade issues rather than terminally damaged by Jet Thunder-style project probs. Fingers-crossed we'll be Jump Jetting around a dynamic Strait of Hormuz by Christmastide.

I is for Ironclads 2

Since Flare Path praised and pilloried Totem's latest American Civil War naval wargame, the double yolked curate's egg has sailed onto Steam and been augmented with amphibious assaults, harbour sieges, and infantry representations. Hopefully, the game's anaemic 3D battle mode will receive attention in the next update.

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J is for Jigsaw Club

Truth be told, Uncle George was a tad disappointed by the response to the jigsaw club appeal. Though there are now more than 50 war-torn or transport-themed puzzles in the clubroom cupboard, very few of them are based on reader screenshots or photo submissions. If your FRAPS folder is a treasure chamber of striking sim and wargame images, why not cherry-pick a selection, and send them in (timfstone at gmail dot com). All pics that tickle my aged Quality Controller's fancy will be puzzlified (with a credit) for others to enjoy.

K is for Kickstarter casualty?

Chances of the Romanian subwrights now known as KillHouse Games eventually tiring of top-down tango takedowns and making an Artemis-style U-boat sim? Stingray-slim. Realistically, unless Skvader Studios shrug off their Kickstarter disappointment and forge ahead with the Greenlight-angling HMS Marulken, communal subsimming is likely to remain a pipe dream for years to come.

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L is for last week's foxer

theme: stage magic (defoxed by AFKAMC)

a saw (Stugle)
b Chinese linking rings (Artiforg)
c white rabbit (unsolved)
d disappearing act (phuzz, Rorschach617)
e cups (Artiforg)
f wand (Artiforg)
g dove pan (AFKAMC)
h flowers (phlebas)
i assistant/famulus (Al__S, phlebas)
j top hat (unsolved)
k levitation (Stugle)

M is for massive reductions and missing words

rFactor 2 arrived on Steam yesterday. Right now it's heavily reduced and rather poorly explained. Nowhere in the 500-word store description are the limitations of the basic £14.39 package clearly set out. Shun the £9-a-year subscription and you're restricted to singleplayer.

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N is for Nuts!

I'm guessing the PC version of Nuts! is honey-roasted or hickory-smoked, while the iPad and Android ones are just plain-old salted. If I remember I'll ask HexWar about the strange $10 price difference between platforms when I get round to requesting a copy of this cardy Bulge wargame. Traditionally, mid December is Wacht am Rhein time in the Stone household so don't be surprised if you find a wrinkled Nuts! review in the toe of the Flare Path stocking on Christmas morn.

O is for Old Brown Dog obscurities

Surely the Wings Over Flanders Fields folk could have found a slightly more interesting subject for their third add-on. The $19 'Motley Crew' expansion stars the Nieuport 12 and Fokker D.II - two of the Great War's most forgettable flying machines.

P is for pit progress

Given enough man/womanpower, expertise and patriotism it's possible to build a real Wellington bomber in less than a day. The virtual ones generally take a bit longer, just ask Team Fusion. The class act behind the rebirth of Cliffs of Dover released shots of a very fetching Wimpy cockpit last week. Currently sharing workshop space with a WIP Beaufighter, Martlet and tropicalised Spit, the British stalwart together with its companions are part of an ambitious plan that will, one day, see CloD travelling far from Kent's chalky ramparts. All signs point to the North Africa as the destination TF have in mind.

Q is for quick teabreak

R is for race sim reflections

It's two-thousand-and-flipping-fifteen and for some mad, inexplicable reason we're still without a high-fidelity sidecar sim with co-op multiplayer and a laser-scanned TT course.

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S is for Seven Years War improvements

Mrs Compton, my optometrist, has forbidden me from playing Baltic-deep dual-layer strategy offering The Seven Years War until dev Oliver Keppelmüller has improved font legibility and GUI scaling. Mr Pauncefoot, my cardiologist, has made me promise I won't play until the bug list is significantly shorter and the tutorials far more extensive. Oliver has been delivering regular remedial updates for much of the past fortnight but there's still a way to go yet.

T is for The Tactical Art of Combat

Every morning, Constance, the sky-blue Flare Path PR Spitfire, is despatched to Epsom to gather pics of WIP Close Combat successor, The Bloody First. Every lunchtime she returns with the same two images. Early signs indicate that sorties over Tackom's HQ will prove more fruitful. The makers of Bloody First rival, The Tactical Art of Combat, have already released four shots of their strat layer experiments, and drawn up a very tempting preliminary feature list.

U is for user feedback

This poll over at the Eagle Dynamics forums makes interesting reading. If you're one of those DCS fliers who's railed against the sim's on-rails campaigns for years, it appears you're not alone.

V is for Victory and Glory: Napoleon

Slitherine's last attempt at fast-playing, continent-spanning Napoleonic strategy was a bit short of period flavour. With an attractively illustrated 100-card 'event deck', far more unit types, and a simple battle layer in its knapsack, their next attempt, Victory and Glory, should be much less vulnerable to 'generic' jibes. Join the beta test and you could be sulking on Saint Helena before you know it.

W is for War Thunder's 'Firestorm' update

I really need to dry-dock World of Warships for a spell and get back to War Thunder. The last update introduced, amongst other things, an advance guard of British armour (Sherman Firefly, A43 Black Prince, M10 Achilles, and A13 cruiser tank) MLRS mayhem, rubbleable ruins, and a Stalingrad Dzerzhinskiy Tractor Factory map.

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X is for Xmas present possibility

Judging by sites like Amazon, Saitek's just-released Farming Simulator controller is selling like hot cattle cake in the UK at the moment. Until new stock arrives, the closest many British sodbusters/polecutters are likely to get to the £180 'Precision Control Pack' is Daggerwin's unboxing vid.

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Y is for Yorkists at one o'clock!

Once I've completed this alphabetic assault course I'm planning to get stuck into a new mod for one of my favourite wargames of 2015. Paul59's effort can be downloaded and installed in-game with a couple of clicks, and transmutes Pike & Shot: Campaign's stock ECW campaign into something much rosier. As the new armies are based on a Richard Bodley Scott tome (Richard is the historian behind P&S) I'm anticipating some convincing clashes.

Z is for Zerstörer

News of January Uprising wargame Zouaves of Death and Rothschildian coach-and-four sim Zebra Team is thin on the ground so let's wind things up with some glad tidings for IL-2: Battle of Moscow early accessers. Anyone that pre-ordered the semi-sequel to IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad will soon be swooping about in the E-2 variant of Willy Messerschmitt's twin-engine heavy fighter.

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