Posts Tagged ‘The Flare Path’

Wot I Think – Shadow Tactics: Blades Of The Shogun

In a frozen courtyard in Kansai two guards patrol while a heavily armoured samurai stands sentinel before an icicle-fringed gateway. The gaze of the stationary warrior pans from side to side like a broom sweeping snow from a path. It takes in the patroller on the eastern side of the courtyard before shifting to the patroller on the wes… Strange, the other sentry is nowhere to be seen! More annoyed than concerned, the samurai contemplates leaving his post to investigate, but decides against it. It’s only when he resumes his routine and notices that the eastern guard has also vanished that he’s spurred into action. Matchlock pistol raised, he advances warily. Spotting then following a trail of footprints that leads to the courtyard’s only shrubbery, the searcher is seconds away from discovering the shinobi crouching in the undergrowth when a musket ball knocks him off his feet and a small but deadly dagger is thrust upwards through the base of his skull. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Cheapskate Or Die

A Flare Path flair point to the first person to identify the source

‘Tis the season to be jolly vigilant. With the six-week Matrix/Slitherine Christmas sale underway and Steam in the midst of a five-day autumnal tariff squeeze, several excruciatingly expensive wargames are currently just expensive, quite a few expensive wargames are now affordable, and a handful of cheap wargames are doing passable impersonations of gift horses. Prowling the various bargain basements like an extra-grumpy Philip Serrell, these are the deals that have caught my eye… Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: A Typical Atypical Simmer #1

The idea that simulations are consolation prizes – digital sops for people that lack the skill or dedication to make it as real pilots, race car drivers, tankies or whatever – is depressingly widespread. The linked notion that sims are something you abandon once you get your hands on the ‘real McCoy’, crops up almost as often in games criticism and forum exchanges, and annoys me just as much. While it’s certainly true that many of my brethren and sistren are aspirants who recreate in facsimiles because they can’t recreate in originals, the hobby is dotted with individuals who use and see simulations quite differently. Over the coming weeks I’d like to introduce you to some of these fascinating individuals. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: City Car Driving

City Car Driving, or ‘No Need For Speed: Lada Unleashed’ as it’s known inside my skull, is a motoring sim from Russia that prides itself on the realism of its automobiles, traffic flows and pedestrians. Aspiring bus queue splashers, hedgehog squashers, and cyclist harassers are sure to find it a useful companion to real-world driving instruction. Qualified drivers with sim sympathies should warm to it too as it captures the feel of urban motoring in winter and night-time conditions uncommonly well. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Makes For Moscow

Men in balaclavas and frosty greatcoats are jumping up and down to keep warm. Lumps of snow dislodged from bowed pine boughs by rising exhaust fumes fall like icing sugar mortar bombs on idling panzers. A few miles away to the east, framed by twin smoke columns, the fairy domes of St Basil’s Cathedral gewgaw a cloudless, corpse-blue sky. Everyone wants to know ‘What’s the delay? Why aren’t we moving?’. The frozen soldaten can’t see their famished fate-shaper – the Englander hurrying upstairs with a cheese and chutney sandwich, a glass of blackcurrant squash, and a happy “Back to Drive on Moscow!” look on his face.

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The Flare Path: Unstitched

Crisis! Geoff, the retired sailmaker who usually stitches together FP news stories, phoned in sick this morning (housemaid’s knee). We’ve experimented with alternative fastenings – velcro, staples, bulldog clips, ant-head sutures… – but none of them are strong and flexible enough to join this week’s selection of topical sim and strategy snippets. Unless Irma’s ongoing porridge experiments prove successful, I fear today’s column will have to take the form of an index finger inconveniencing gallery. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: In The Denmark Strait

The trick of using high prices to imply high quality goes back a very long way in digital wargame publishing. Computer Bismarck, the title that launched the genre in January 1980, was advertised as “the $2160 wargame” ($60 for the software, $2100 for the Apple II Plus necessary to run it). SSI proudly proclaimed their creation was “worth every cent” of this princely sum. Whether you ended up agreeing with them depended largely on how much you valued novelties like artificial opposition and effortless fog of war, and how ready you were to overlook design quirks like an onerous interface, an absence of alternative scenarios, and a monstrously magenta North Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »