A first-rate idea
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 »
Endless bears, deadly dice, purple prose
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 »
Wargame and sim news
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 »
Afghanistan '11 approaches
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 »
Infinite Horace II, the first five missions
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 »
Believably brutal, B-17: Queen of the Skies
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 »
We need a new Flight Commander
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 »
Pithy previews of approaching sims
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 »
2017 wargames worthy of yearn
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 »
Analog puzzle games
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 »
A Warbands: Bushido battle narrative
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 »
Sim and wargaming verbiage
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 »
Commandos with katanas
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 »
Black Friday bargain hunt
‘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 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 »
Gone in 600 seconds, traffic lights permitting
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 »
Drive on Moscow test-drive + sim news
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.
Read the rest of this entry »
Sim and wargaming news
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 »