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The Flare Path: Shoots And Scoots

Simulation & wargame blather

There was a young Panzer called Peter,
Who fancied himself a great defeater;
But because of his haste, and his tendency to waste Panzergranate 40 Armour Piercing Composite Rigid ammunition,
He was often disgraced in the War Thunder: Ground Forces beta.

For the past month and a half angry anvils have been trading high-velocity blows in an exclusive corner of the War Thunder game reserve. Until a few days ago, all the anvils were relatively modest in size and weight - Pz.IIIs, Pz.IVs, T-34s and the like. Now tankers - all of whom either purchased their beta places with fistfuls of cold hard cash, earned them with brow sweat and stick skill, or wangled access with press passes - can furrow mud, squash saplings, and puncture plate with giants like the Tiger, IS-1, KV-2 and Jagdpanzer IV.

Lured by the leviathans, I sampled the work-in-progress tank rumbles for the first time yesterday. For four engrossing yet inglorious hours (Currently, GF servers are only active between 02.00 and 06.00, and 13.00 and 17.00 GMT on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) I...

Darted about, injudiciously.

Tumbled down cliffs, idiotically.

Gawped at AFV detailing, unashamedly.

Obscured the fire lanes of surprisingly patient/tolerant teammates, accidentally.

And was molested by an enemy Pz.VI, quite disgracefully.

Occasionally, very occasionally, I lived long enough to immolate or injure an opponent, or send one scurrying for the cover of a boulder, pillbox or hollow.

With gun sight trajectory aids (a coloured cross tells you where your shell will land and what damage it's likely to do), glowing target outlines, and rocky maps geared to control-point capture contests, the action has a breezy, stylized, dare-I-say-it World-of-Tanks feel at the moment. As time passes and development continues, those of us that are more historically inclined will be able to temper that breeziness with a host of much simmier options.

Currently, Ground Forces is at its most Steel Fury or Panzer Elite-like when AP, HE, or APCR is colliding with RHA steel. Impressive Graviteam-grade damage and penetration modelling jams turrets, detonates magazines, saps engines and causes tracks to snap, and (invisible) crewman to quietly expire.

Once tank top speeds are lowered, and a comical tendency to roll while cornering is eliminated, the movement physics should be just as persuasive as the DMs.

In future sessions I plan to jump aboard a fleet Flakpanzer I and go hunt the aircraft that spooked me with bombs and bullet on several occasions yesterday. I also intend to engage with the elaborate XP-linked research, upgrade and training dimensions which Gaijin no doubt hope will turn the millions of us that are sure to play and enjoy War Thunder: Ground Forces, into 24-7 turret twirlers.


NorbSoftDev's Euro Vision

Wargame devs are such wet bedrolls. Instead of donning satin shirts, crocheted berets, and bespangled platform boots, and belting out Abba's Eurovision winner in front of a camera, ACW obsessives NorbSoftDev decided to announce their next turnless battlefield command sim via a sober Strategy Wargamer podcast.

To be fair, the decision did mean there was ample opportunity to explore the implications of the thematic sidestep. During an illuminating hour-long chat between host Jean Marciniak, and NSD's Norb Timpko and Jim Weaver, the devs explained that the transatlantic shift is to be a temporary one and will be accompanied by equally eye-catching mechanical changes.

Scourge of War: Waterloo should, if things go to plan, ship with sizeable casks of Context and Consequence. In a series first, the shape - perhaps even the probability - of key battles like Ligny, Quatre Bas, and Waterloo will be determined on a Total War-style strat map, rather than in carefully authored scenario files. You'll be able to play standalone simulations of the famous engagements too, of course, but arriving at Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte worn and uneasy after a string of unscripted preliminary scraps sounds far more interesting.

For anyone that struggled to adjust to Scourge of War: Gettysburg's novel approach to command chains (In SoW, subordinate COs can be wilful so-and-sos, modifying or plain ignoring your orders)
the news that a friendlier 'basic' battle mode more akin to a traditional RTS, is under consideration, should hearten. Other cheering declarations of intent included highly moddable AI, courier system improvements, garrisonable buildings, and an absurd number of authentic uniform types. When asked if they'd considered swapping sprites for HistWar: Napoleon-style 3D combatants, Jim pointed out that such a shift would be incompatible with a key design aim - putting 50,000 soldiers on the screen at the same time.

The Battle of Waterloo bicentenary (June 18, 2015) hurtles towards us like the cannonball that slew François Antoine Fauveau. NSD's 24-strong team of part-timers are determined that their simulation will be in our hands before it arrives.


The Flare Path Foxer

The word 'undefoxable' is not in skink74's vocabulary. While others floundered and fled, the wizard lizard pondered and read, eventually figuring out that the last two foxers referenced ubiquitous board games Cluedo and Monopoly. On this occasion Perspicacity + Perspiration = A unique Flare Path flair point made from a rare jackboot Monopoly token.*

*Only present in the German 1938 edition.

A. Delta Force: Task Force Dagger (dagger)
B. China Airlines (Professor Plum)
C. Dijon (Colonel Mustard)
D. White Russians (Mrs White)
E. Avro Tudor (Tudor Mansion)
F. Albert Ball (ballroom)
G. Pratt & Whitney engine (Anthony Eustace Pratt)
H. Field Kitchen (kitchen)

A. Short SC.1 (Short Line)
B. RAF Waddington (Waddingtons)
C. John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough (Marlborough Street)
D. Das Boot (boot token)
E. 'Brighton Baltic' locomotive (Baltic Avenue)
F. HMS Kent (Old Kent Road)
G. Regent Airways (Regent Street)
H. Amiens Prison (Jail square)

After the incident with the guide dog, FP's local supermarket banned him from using his self-built Goliath-based shopping trolley in-store. They don't mind him wandering up and down the aisles with his strange pictorial shopping lists, though. The one below contains aide-mémoires for eight food items. Correctly identify one or more of the foods to win a Flare Path flair point made from goji berries and goose fat, plus your own body weight in olive-stuffed anchovies.

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Tim Stone