Posts Tagged ‘The Flare Path’

The Flare Path: Maghrebian Musings

Graviteam’s reputation for martial eccentricity is under threat. Their next standalone dual-layer wargame isn’t set in a cobwebby corner of the Eastern Front. It doesn’t simulate an operation in the Bangladesh Liberation War or the Western Sahara Conflict. Manned exclusively by German and US personnel, the monikered-with-a-mallet Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943 (out on Monday, price TBA) has at its hub an operation that is almost a household name compared with the likes of Operations Zvesda and Hooper. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Dragons’ Den

That idea for a PC wargame you’ve been mulling over for the past five… ten… twenty years – is it ready for primetime yet? Are you prepared to run it past five of the most talented and experienced people in the industry? Today’s Flare Path is a light-hearted Dragons’ Den-style competition (Each of the five dragons will be choosing their favourite submitted concept). A chance to get feedback from the pros. It’s also an opportunity to put cherished ideas to fellow Flareopaths who could be coders in search of themes. If you know deep down you’re never going to get round to programming Kia Mate Toa: The NZ Wars, or Red Ball Express: Fuelling The Fight, then why not place your blueprints where they can inspire. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Get Knotted

Happy Eggmas! As this Steel Division/MaSzyna Flare Path may end-up lingering longer than usual on the front page, I’ve been asked to preface it with a quality intro rather than the usual nonsense. Apparently, a list of my Top Ten Knots (10. Sheepshank, 9. Highwayman’s hitch, 8. Dutch bunch, 7. Cream splice, 6. Inverted Medusa, 5. Double Windsor, 4. Sir John Knot, 3. Pixie snare, 2. Quarter Lincoln, 1. Bee-and-thistle) or my Ten Favourite Sexual Positions (10. Sheepshank, 9. Highwayman’s hitch, 8. Dutch bunch, 7. Cream splice, 6. Inverted Medusa, 5. Double Windsor, 4. Sir John Knot, 3. Pixie snare, 2. Quarter Lincoln, 1. Bee-and-thistle)  won’t cut it today.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: A Typical Atypical Simmer #3

Jeremy Louden’s first passengers were reluctant ones. As an eleven-year-old he’d make his younger brother and sister sit behind him while he piloted his MS Flight Simulator 4.0 Learjet 25 from Chicago to San Francisco in real time. Today, flying MD-88/90s for Delta Air Lines, he no longer has to arrange chairs prior to a flight and very seldom arrives at a destination only to discover his passengers have vanished en-route. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Mostly Militaria

How to find the Flare Path stand at EGX Rezzed 2017. Make for the gap between the Signal From Tölva booth (giant robot skull) and the Steel Division: Normandy 1944 one (two bomb-flipped Tiger tanks). Roughly midway between these unmissable landmarks, projecting a few inches above the heads of the milling crowds, you should see some plastic cabbages and leeks. Said vegetables are sprouting from the roof of a replica Anderson shelter. Enter the shelter and, assuming there’s room (there will be) sit down opposite the man wearing the pith helmet, the ear plugs and the frightened rabbit expression. Congratulations. You’ve made it. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Afghanistan 11

Let’s see if I can get through this without using the W word. Afghanistan 11 is a w****** (history-steeped military strategy game with influential terrain and plausible, reality-derived unit relationships) but it would be a tragedy if w******* (habitual users of history-steeped military strategy games with influential terrain and plausible, reality-derived unit relationships) were the only people who ever stumbled into its quicksand. The W word, especially when used in close proximity to hexy screenshots, tends to imply threadbare themes and moribund mechanics. It doesn’t generally suggest a game with the irresistible momentum of Civ, or the colourful intricacy of Tropico. A game like the quietly brilliant Afghanistan 11. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Cattle, Crops, and Crusaders

Steam tells me Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul requires a mere 2.8 of my Great Britains and will be in my possession in a trifling 48 minutes. That should leave me just enough time to a) draw your attention to the fairly imminent Cattle and Crops, an agri sim with a feature list [guaranteed] likely to gladden the heart of serious sodbusters, and b) run my Phantom Leader review, and this intro, through RPS’s new Objectivo 6000, [probably] unquestionably the finest subjectivity removal device money can buy. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: HMS Uncertain

Reader #43, put down that euphonium. Reader #119, stick a bookmark in that “Paddington Station, 1967” daydream. Reader #723, you can finish that doodle of an IS-2 crushing a Kübelwagen later. Right now we’ve got work to do. Vital work.

During a recent email exchange with Johan Nagel, the man behind 2015’s cleverest wargame (and possibly 2017’s too) happened to mention that one of his other projects was becalmed at present. After prototyping ‘HMS’, a management wargame in which players captain 18th Century British warships, he realised that though “the concept sounds cool… it runs a high risk of being boring”. Struggling “to inject drama and tension in multiple and varied ways and at the same time giving an overall strategic objective that is compelling” it sounded like he was close to moving the project to the backburner. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Horatian Ode

B-17: Queen of the Skies is a solitaire board wargame that talked its way past the RPS platform police with help from this VASSAL module and this emulator. The star of my current game is a Liberator called Infinite Horace II. Crewed by Tim ‘Stonewall’ Stone and nine FP readers (JFS – nose turret gunner, Eightball – bombardier, phuzz – navigator, JB – co-pilot, bsplines – engineer/top turret gunner, unacom – radio operator/waist gunner, Lord Byte – ball turret gunner, Rorschach617 Snowskeeper – waist gunner, Shiloh – tail turret gunner) this is the story of Horace’s eighth and ninth missions. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Flotsam

UBOOT, the Das Boot-inspired WW2 sub game with cutaway Type VIIs and fallible submariners, is going to be a few months late. Nudged onto a new course by Kickstarter backers accustomed to Silent Hunter-calibre realism, the Polish devs have spent the last nine months adding features, reworking visuals and poring over copies of Iron Coffins. New thinking means crewmen can now be cajoled in a stem-to-stern first person mode, torpedo slinging will involve target identification, stopwatches and stadimeters, subs can circumnavigate the globe, and UBOOT is to have a cardboard sister game. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Amaxophobia

Out on March 23, Afghanistan ’11 is the second PC wargame from Johan Nagel, a South African who fairly recently swapped a well-paid job in risk mitigation for a far less remunerative one in risk creation. Because of Mr Nagel and a reassuringly engrossing slice of A11 preview code I now have a crippling fear of road hexes and a serious case of bunker mentality. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Sings The Unsung

Once I’ve typed up this sortie summary, Infinite Horace II, my latest B-17: Queen of the Skies hope chalice, will be setting off on his sixth combat mission. Unlike the original Infinite Horace, a B-17 Flying Fortress based in England and crewed by RPS writers, Infinite Horace II is a B-24 Liberator based in Southern Italy and crewed – with one exception – by foolhardy fearless Flare Path readers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Infinite Horace R.I.P.

Glen Frank’s B-17: Queen of the Skies has been mesmerising board wargamers for more than thirty years. A recreation of the USAF’s early Flying Fortress forays over Europe intended for solitaire play, it breaks one of the golden rules of strategy game design by depriving its players of almost all agency. You don’t think your way through a multi-mission B17QotS tour, you dice your way through. The approach shouldn’t work yet does. It succeeds because the tumbling bones invariably weave exciting stories, and the sense of powerlessness is actually chillingly appropriate. Although crew skill and teamwork improved the chances of a B-17 getting back to Blighty in late 1942, they guaranteed absolutely nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Sequel This, Please

Today’s column is aimed squarely at Brian/Briony, a hypothetical FP reader who also happens to be…

  • An avid computer wargamer
  • A big Falcon 4.0/DCS fan
  • The owner of an unusually well-thumbed copy of Mike Spick’s ‘The Ace Factor’
  • An unemployed developer searching for project ideas
  • Extremely impressionable

If my calculations are correct, Brian/Briony won’t be able to read my paean to the tragically unsequeled Flight Commander 2, without reaching for a code hammer. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Propliner Perfection


The DLC page for Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition doesn’t do the alleged Best Simulation Game Ever Made any favours. Littered with the unambitious, the mediocre, and the aged (the listed ‘release dates’ are highly misleading) it suggests a third-party development scene short on craftsmanship and almost completely devoid of excellence. I fear there are users out there who assume that the tired selection of admittedly fairly affordable add-ons is it when it comes to enhancing gaming’s most rounded and richly provisioned pilot-em-up. My heart’s Nagging Nora mutters ‘SINK RATE! SINK RATE!’ when I picture the FSX aviator destined never to encounter masterworks like A2A’s Lockheed Constellation. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Things to Come (Part 2)

Like that chap just to the left of the lady in the big hat in every Victorian crowd photo ever taken, the world of simulation refuses to stand perfectly still. During the next eleven and a half months a constant stream of the Globemasters that have served as the genre’s storks since sector deregulation in 2003, will be touching down at Simulatia International eager to disgorge their cargoes of new titles, add-ons, upgrades, and patches. Read on for précis of some of the more noteworthy items due for delivery in 2017.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Things to Come (Part 1)

Until my ongoing Nostalgium 76 experiments bear fruit, Time will continue to march on in seven-league boots hobnailed with uncertainties; the Future will continue to yawn like a bored crocodile while we stumble towards it like distracted ducklings. On the bright side… [checks notes] soothsayers will remain in employment, caterpillars and acorns will have something to look forward to, and work-in-progress wargames such as the ten word-sketched in this week’s column will get a chance to turn promise into pleasure. Read the rest of this entry »

The Foxers


A week of rich confectionery, cold turkey and fortified wine can do terrible things to an organic CPU. An hour or two in the company of the following three puzzles may not repair all the damage, but it should leave you fit enough to take on simple tasks like deciphering the Voynich manuscript, discovering the whereabouts of El Dorado, and completing an HMRC self assessment tax return. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Must Stop Skirmishing

Samurai slaughtered Shermans at last night’s FP game awards. Slitherine’s Sengoku Jidai won Best Wargame of 2016, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun won Best Strategy Game, and Warbands: Bushido bagged Most Promising Early Access Game. Though it’s short of maps and exclusively multiplayer at the moment (a sizeable solo campaign is imminent) Red Unit’s katana-crammed tactical TBS is already dangerously distracting. This week’s column is an attempt to explain the allure of WB’s bijou battle ballets. Beyond the break is an account of a typical scrap – ten minutes of brisk skirmish converted into two thousand words for your entertainment and edification. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: No Discernible Theme

This week I’ve mostly been…

  • Sulkily watching other people play the Train Sim World beta.
  • Scampering around The Kingdom of Spiderwebs clutching a map and compass.
  • Skirmishing with handsome 25mm samurai.
  • And improving Time Commanders in my head.

For further details inspect the words milling about below the break like truculent prisoners of war at an early morning roll call. Read the rest of this entry »