Posts Tagged ‘The Flare Path’

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 »

The Flare Path: A Typical Atypical Simmer #2

The man currently sipping a Koskenkorva and consulting his cue cards in the U/S Williams X-Jet The Flare Path uses as a dais is Ilja ‘Zipuli’ Varha. Our second ‘atypical simmer‘, Ilja has very kindly agreed to talk about his journey from juvenile M1 Tank Platoon fan to 33-year-old brigade simulator officer in the Finnish Defence Forces. Whether your polygonal battle wagon of preference is a Steel Beasts Leo, a Steel Fury T-34 or a World of Tanks Tiger, the following paragraphs should prove interesting.

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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 »

The Flare Path: Laminar Floes

There’s a saying in my village:

“When sloes and cobnuts early fall,
And goatsuckers in daylight are heard to call,
You’ll be playing a spiritual sequel to MicroProse’s Red Storm Rising and a new instalment of X-Plane in no time at all.”

The local sayings related to wargame pricing and acceptable frame-rates in heli sims scan better but are less relevant to today’s column so I’ll save those for another day. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path Grand Prix

Vaguely aware that we’re living in a race sim golden age? Not sure which of the ‘Big Six’ you should invest your precious time and money in? Me too! Hopefully, by the time the inaugural Flare Path GP is over (Oct 14) little of that bewilderment will remain. Guided by the preferences and observations of that section of the RPS community that knows and loves realistic Cars Wot Go Fast games, it shouldn’t be hard to find a high-quality race sim that suits you and me to a GT. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path And The Sea Lion Tamer

I’m glad Strategic Command 3’s camera is a tad myopic. Not being able to see the Panzers parked in Parliament Square… the SS Sturmgrenadiers marching down The Mall… Mosley and Hitler shaking hands on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street, means I can push north towards unconquered Scotland with a spring in my goose-step. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: The Man Who Listens To Trains

In the light industrial districts that have sprung up around FSX, X-Plane, and DCS World, genuine craftsmen aren’t all that hard to find. The machine tools that whirr and thump and whine in the workshops of add-on makers like A2A Simulations and PMDG are operated by passionate perfectionists – driven micrometer wielders whose scrap bins brim with components that look, on first, second and third inspection, absolutely flawless. Elsewhere in Simulatia, it’s a different story. Just about the only sim that can boast a third-party add-on as lovingly fashioned as this Texan or this Fishbed, is Train Simulator. I enthused about that add-on – a delightful Class 205 DEMU – a few weeks ago, and in today’s Flare Path I talk to the outfit behind it, Armstrong Powerhouse.

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The Flare Path: Modern Life Is Rhubarb

I remember the days when you could get a hundredweight of hand-picked sim and wargaming news delivered to your door by a man in a tailcoat and a velvet top hat for sixpence. Now look at us. You, peering into your digilink screen like a person who’s dropped their monocle into a bowl of consommé. Me, stripped to the waist in a bomb-damaged Pat Garrett, shovelling raw press releases into the maw of a humming Wordshine 6000. If this is progress, you can keep it! Want to know what 777, Panther Games, Old Brown Dog, and John Tiller Software are up to at the moment? Unplug yourself and head down to the abandoned liquorice processing plant on Canal Street. I’ll meet you there in ten minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Tankless Tasks

With the 100th anniversary of warfare’s first armour action less than a week away, I was rather hoping I’d be able to fill today’s gaping word trench with a fat fascine of WW1 tank game news. Graviteam are working on a landship sim! Rev Sudasana is to release a Whippety version of Armoured Commander! Noble Empire are going to let us assemble A7Vs! As it’s now Friday morning and my OPs have yet to sight a single rhomboid on the horizon, it looks like Plan B will have to be put into operation instead. A few inches below yonder html parapet lurks news of Dovetail’s TS replacement, plus talk of the latest Sengoku Jidai add-on and a WW2 MP tactics game with hints of Close Combat, Men of War, and Jagged Alliance. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Thumping Great Thumper Fan

Newly released German coach sim Fernbus Simulator has spent the week hiding my car keys, flicking rubber bands in my direction, and thumbing through my favourite books with jammy fingers. Exasperated by its anti-social antics I’ve put it aside until TML improve controller configuration facilities and patch away the most infuriating bugs and performance issues. Instead of a Fernbus impressions piece radiating frustration, today in FP you’re going to get a Train Simulator 2016 article radiating admiration. Today I’d like to talk about why Armstrong Powerhouse’s new Class 205 ‘Thumper’ has just elbowed out a very miffed Su-25 Frogfoot from my All-Time Favourite Sim Steeds top ten. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Faustian Packed

How does this sound? I describe my last Steel Beasts Pro Personal Edition battle then show you the emails that three publishers sent me following last week’s “old wargames are too expensive” rant. In return you give me ten minutes’ worth of a substance more precious gram for gram than saffron, platinum, or petrified rainbow. Deal?

Ah, the old walking away gambit. You win! Fine, I’ll also throw in a picture puzzle so fiendish no individual can solve it unaided. Read the rest of this entry »