Posts Tagged ‘The Flare Path’

The Flare Path: Unburdens

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 »

The Flare Path: Heard Through An Open Window

“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 »

The Flare Path: Flat Top Frenzy

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 »

The Flare Path: Row Boats

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 »

The Flare Path: Do & Don’t #10

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 »

The Flare Path: In Cold Waters

A message for Mr. D. Jones Esquire. Over the next few weeks, thanks to unlikely-to-disappoint Cold War sub game Cold Waters [official site], your locker is going to see a lot of action. I strongly advise you to make space, grease hinges, and evict endangered echinoderms in readiness for the imminent deluge of mutilated missile frigates and battered boomers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: What are they all playing this weekend?

April showers filling my gutters, May blossom spangling my hedge, June bugs headbutting my window… Mother Nature seems to have muddled her months this year. I’m not one for idle gossip as you well know but Mr Valentine at the sweet shop reckons she’s back on the gin. Apparently she reeked of the stuff when she came in for her sherbet lemons on Monday. Just to be on the safe side I recommend everyone stays in this weekend and plays personal computer games about war and aeroplanes. That’s what me and the six FOFPs* below are planning to do.

*Friends of Flare Path Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Wars Across the World

“A turn-ribbed, hex-shunning operational wargame elastic enough to simulate conflicts two millennia apart sensitively, and friendly and affordable enough to appeal to all stripes of strategy gamer – not just Slitherine and Paradox aficionados.”. If I’d read a pitch like this while drawing up my Dragons’ Den shortlist a couple of weeks back, I suspect it would have gone straight on the ‘pie in the sky’ pile. Wars Across the World, a new DLC-fecund release that rifles history like Hermann Göring rifled art collections, really shouldn’t work and almost doesn’t, but happily none of its faults are terminal. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path Dragons’ Den

Two weeks ago I invited readers to send in their ideas for military strategy games. The response was magnificent, the calibre of submissions Paris Gun high. Choosing a dozen or so pitches to put before the Flare Path dragons (five industry notables whose creations frequently grace this column) was horribly difficult, but the shortlist was eventually drawn up, the Scaly Ones summoned. While no two dragons first-prized the same pitch, praise did tend to cluster around a particular clutch of submissions. Those submissions together with a few personal favourites are displayed at the end of this piece.

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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 »