Permadeath at Poelcappelle
No simulated war this week. In memory of my great-grandfather who died a hundred years ago last Monday, this is a Flare Path free of faux conflict.
Private Thomas Bourlet was one of around 500 men of 2nd Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers, tasked with taking three objectives north of the Belgian village of Poelcappelle on the morning of October 9th, 1917. The attack began in pre-dawn gloom. At 05.20, to a deafening accompaniment of Allied artillery, 2nd Battalion left the relative safety of their trenches near Imbros House and began picking their way north-eastward through a cratered hellscape glutinous after days of heavy rain. Read the rest of this entry »
Phalanxious about FoGII? Don't be.
If ever a game demanded a ‘II’ rather than a ‘2’ at the end of its name it’s the fast-approaching Field of Glory sequel. Packed with legionaries, triarii, hastati, and velites, FoGII takes the engine last seen in Sengoku Jidai and Pike and Shot – an engine Flare Path rates highly – rethinks campaigns, removes gunpowder, and adds a sprinkling of chariots, jumbos, camels and ballistae. What could possibly go wrong?
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Momentum, resistance, lift
There are various ways to make a war game realistic. Battlefront do it with blue-chip ballistics and subtle spotting mechanics, Panther Games with plausible AI and plenty of command friction, Eagle Dynamics with sophisticated flight models and painstakingly reproduced avionics. We Are Muesli built Venti Mesi with the help of real Milanese memories and the free WW2 ‘narrative docu-game’ is incredibly powerful as a result. Read the rest of this entry »
Paddington to Reading reading
Happily the unfortunate incident in Nevada early last year that led to the winding up of Flare Path Sky Tours Ltd had no effect on the activities of Flare Path Rail Tours Ltd. I may be banned from owning, leasing, or operating passenger-carrying sim aircraft in perpetuity but sim trains are another matter. Today, if you’ve nothing better to do, you’re welcome to join me and my driver, Roman, for a journey along a 36-mile stretch of British main line with an uncommonly rich and tragic history.
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Northolt to West Ealing stopper
Everyone in my street marks Battle of Britain Day in their own way. At some point today Old Mrs Walley at no.11 will set light to a garden bonfire topped by a life-size Herman Goering effigy, Mr Moulden at no. 27 will victory-roll his radio-controlled Spitfire over the village war memorial, I’ll fly a BoB2 sortie or two, and Miss Hughes at Steepcott Farm will go into town and find and hug a random Pole. Read the rest of this entry »
& Bomber Crew impressions
Bomber Crew is warming its engines and waggling its flight control surfaces. On Oct 19th, if all goes to plan, a green Very light will fizz heavenward and anyone with £TBA to spare will get the chance to find out whether Runner Duck’s 3D-FTL-with-Lancasters is W for Wizard or S for Shite. The evening I’ve just spent with the single-mission sliver of preview code suggests the game will generate far more compliments than complaints, but won’t fully satisfy fans of No Moon Tonight and B-17: Queen of the Skies. Read the rest of this entry »
Use brain! Win prizes!
Like a sentry on a bitter night or the Isle of Man in a strong sou’westerly, Flare Path’s birthday has a tendency to move about. Last year the champagne corks ricocheted and the streamers tangled on August 12. This year the big day is September 1. Today Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s most Panzeriferous and Spitfiery column becomes a hexager. Celebrations will take the usual form – a litter of wet-nosed, bushy-tailed, berry-eyed foxers all far more approachable and, potentially, much more rewarding, than the standard co-op type. (COMPETITIONS NOW CLOSED) Read the rest of this entry »
Roundheads and bobbleheads
Greying temples? Check. Mortgage? Check. Fond of Werther’s Originals and New Tricks? Check.
Gosh, according to recently issued Home Office guidelines I’m now qualified to grumble about things like soft prison sentences, the inexorable decline in the quality of pop music, and scandalous gaps in the National Curriculum. If I wanted to I could begin a review of the latest Athena-engined wargame by wagging a finger at a state education system that allows subjects of Good Queen Bess II to leave school knowing next to nothing about one of the most traumatic episodes in British history. Read the rest of this entry »
Ultimate General: Civil War has travelled a fair-old distance since I Early Accessed it late last year. Game-Labs’ spectacular sprite slaughterhouse is now bigger, better, and even more approachable. I like it a lot, but not quite enough to pin a prestigious RPS Recommended rosette on its breast. Read the rest of this entry »
Wargame and sim blather
Not bad. Not bad at all. The third communal Combat Mission clash has almost reached the halfway point (assuming it goes the distance, it will run for another sixteen days), three of seven victory locations are in Soviet hands, and the commenter-controlled Ivans still have two largely intact infantry platoons and three AFVs with which to secure the remainder. If you haven’t been following the “gripping”* daily updates during the past fortnight here are a few high- and lowlights.
*Pravda Read the rest of this entry »
Meet Richard Taylor
When Penny, Flare Path’s globetrotting PBY pilot, spots an amateur coder quietly crafting a computer wargame or sim on some remote desert island, she always executes a few low passes in order to check out the project in question. When she spots an amateur coder quietly crafting three titles simultaneously she simply has to alight and talk to the industrious individual concerned.
In today’s column, Penny’s Q&A with Richard Taylor, a man whose trio of “hopelessly amateurish” (his words not mine) naval games teem with exciting ideas. Oh, and some half-formed thoughts on Gettysburg: The Tide Turns.
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Communal Combat Mission
I was tempted to explore Nineteenth Century warfare or try something operational for this year’s play-by-comment wargaming marathon, but after surveying my game collection and conducting experiments, found myself gravitating towards Battlefront’s oeuvre and WW2 once again. When it comes to generating gripping unscripted dramas I reckon first-generation Combat Mission is peerless, and that clever WEGO turn structure (the orders of both sides are executed simultaneously) might have been designed with communal combat choreography and episodic AAR writing in mind.
If The Battle of the Perfectly Rectangular Olive Grove is any guide, the coming scrap will play out at approximately 1TPD. Every 24 hours, the Red Army troops and armoured vehicles under your control will experience 60 in-game seconds of Eastern Front hell. Read the rest of this entry »
WWI history with a dash of WOFF
…London was reeling. For the second time in a month a skein of bone-white, Iron Cross-emblazoned bombers had overflown the British capital leaving death and destruction in its wake. For the second time in a month the throbbing heart of the most powerful empire on Earth had been scourged in broad daylight by a band of leisurely marauders apparently impervious to flak and fighters. In today’s Flare Path, the story of a raid that woke up Whitehall, persuaded King George V to change his name, and almost killed one of England’s most famous air aces. Read the rest of this entry »
Direct, motivate, preserve
Thirty-five years of computer wargaming have taught me nothing about the art of military leadership. Yes, I’ve learnt how to attack and defend, how to exploit terrain, triage threats, and tell the difference between a Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. D and a Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. G, but no dev has ever asked me to build trust… maintain discipline… inspire loyalty. Since falling in love with Arnhem on my rubber-keyed Speccy in 1985 I’ve been a tactician and puzzle solver, never, in any meaningful sense, a leader of men.
Burden of Command [official site] wants to fill this gaping experiential void. A stat-shunning military RPG that mixes interactive fiction decisions with traditional hex grid battling, if all goes to plan it could prove to be one of the most memorable and affecting war games ever. Read the rest of this entry »
Snatches of sim and wargame news
“She comes down in the middle of the night and finds him on the sofa pleasuring himself with a plastic Ankylosaurus.”
“Nietzsche was your radical Islam – I get that – but it didn’t turn you into a mass murderer did it? You may have hated the human race for a year or two but you didn’t actively plot their extermination.”
“And these are? Giraffes. Of course! So the nice giraffes are helping the firemen save the people in the burning house?” Read the rest of this entry »
Carrier Deck will bead your brow/prow
Johan Nagel’s latest creation feels like a ZX Spectrum title. One third management game, one third arcade game, and one third wargame, Carrier Deck [official site] reminds me of the sort of hectic homework-hinderer I used to play back in the days before manuals, monitors, and genres entered my life. If I mentally squint I can see 11-year-old me playing a 2D version on the family TV. My sister and me have just made a deal. The next time my carrier sustains damage, I’ll call it a night. F/A-18s will make way for the kids from Fame. Read the rest of this entry »
Meet Mare Nostrum
Mare Nostrum, the galley warfare wargame currently in production at Turnopia, shouldn’t have any trouble eclipsing the competition. To my knowledge, in the forty or so years since home computing and tactical gaming first cuddled up, ancient naval aggro has inspired only one title and that title is probably best forgotten. Read the rest of this entry »
Sim sins unforgiven
I was in John’s office the other day watering April, his Aspidistra, for him (He was on holiday, and the nearest WC is a good 150m away) when I happened to notice this forgotten format poking out from under a stack of old issues of What Cat?. “I’ll have that!” I thought, and into my BOAC hold-all it went. With luck it will be back under the pile of moggy mags before John notices it’s missing. Read the rest of this entry »