The Flare Path turned eight last summer but was so busy doing the things eight-year-olds do (Stress-testing their ankles, baiting ghosts, drawing WW2 bombers with 17 simultaneously firing turrets...) that it forgot to celebrate in the traditional manner. Amends will be made today with the help of half a dozen puzzles and a cache of high-quality prizes donated by 2x2 Games, DeGenerals, Foolish Mortals, Ndemic Creations, PortaPlay and Serious Sim.
Unlike the tough-as-old-boots co-op foxers posted every Friday at 1, the brainteasers below are prize bearing and aimed at solitary novice/intermediate defoxers. Send me (timfstone at gmail dot com) your solutions
within the next 48 hours (COMPETITIONS NOW CLOSED) and you could win up to six of the games that have floated my Schwimmwagen this past half year.
The ‘Stuff Worth Bearing In Mind Before You Get Started’ Section
- You may not need to completely solve a foxer to qualify for its draw. See individual puzzle instructions for details.
- NO ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS! The last person to spoil a birthday special by sharing answers was last seen sprinting across Grimpen Mire in a pair of Henry Baskerville's old pyjamas.
- There’s no great rush. Your chance of success is the same whether you submit your answers today or at 11.58 GMT Sunday. All draws will take place on Sunday afternoon.
- Each prize will come in the form of a Steam activation code. If you’re not interested in a particular prize, please don’t play for it.
- Not heard anything by Monday? Hard Parmesan, old fagiolo. Better luck next year.
- While you’re welcome to enter all six competitions, there’s a strict one-entry-per-person-per-puzzle rule. Thinking of surreptitiously submitting multiple entries for a particular foxer? Don’t do it! Remember what happened to the donkey gelder in the Parable of The Donkey Gelder Who Submitted Multiple Entries For a Particular Foxer (Luke 7:46-7:62).
- The Irish stout that fuels The Flare Path is paid for by RPS, and the games I write about are (usually) provided gratis by sporting devs and publishers. You, dear readers, put the spring in my step and the twinkle in my monocle. To all those kind souls who’ve proffered praise, made suggestions, shared experiences, issued orders or defoxed foxers via comments or emails during the past nineteen months, many thanks.
* * *
(Five copies of Broken Lines up for grabs)
Inspired by that 1980s BBC drama series Terry Nation never got round to making, writing, or dreaming up, Broken Lines blends WW2 warfare and gritty low-budget sci-fi very naturally. The atmosphere is eerie, the weaponry familiar, the turn-chunked skirmishes - thanks to a WeGo approach and absent inventories - agreeably lively. The furious firefights toughen the stranded commandos you marshal, but also wear them down. If the 'ginks' haven't denuded your
merry band by the end of the campaign, then despair and internal squabbles may well have.
Danish dev PortaPlay, currently taking five after completing a Switch port, aren't the only ones willing to mess with WW2. My long-serving Chief Foxer Setter, Roman, has gleefully scrambled the names of eight 1939-45 games for the puzzle below. Unscramble at least six of them (eight correct answers will double your chances) to qualify for the Broken Lines draw. All of the anagramised games are currently available on Steam.
* * *
Missing Vowels foxer
(Five Steam codes for Rebel Inc: Escalation up for grabs)
The “How soon is too soon?” question is irrelevant when your wargame is as nuanced and intelligent as Rebel Inc: Escalation. Ndemic's uncommonly fresh counter-insurgency sim is the only game I know of that has the approval of an appropriate ambassador, and a recommendation from a World Bank representative on its Steam page (“Rebel Inc. lets everyone wrestle with the messy challenges of post-conflict recovery and better understand the complex realities of building peace.”). The Flare Path rated it highly too.
Now available in Pashto and Dari, and with an intriguing campaign mode imminent, Early Access Rebel Inc could be yours for precisely £0 if your vowel hunting skills are up to snuff. Below is a list of “15 Things Wot You Might Find in Afghanistan” (‘things’ is used here in its broadest possible sense). Entries have been stripped of vowels and had any inter-word spaces repositioned. For example, if Genghis Khan was present, he might appear as…
Kabul would be…
Send me at least 10 correct answers to qualify for the draw. Provide all 15 and your name will go in twice.
3. KTRN NR
4. KJ KDM
5. DC TRWTSN
6. THHM LYS
7. CRC KTBT
8. HLM NDPRVNC
9. P MPPPY
10. HNDGN SHP
11. BZK SHPLYR
12. SMB NL DN
13. SNWLP RD
14. BD DHSFB MYN
15. HMDK RZ
* * *
Spot the Difference foxer
(Five Steam codes for Radio Commander + DLC up for grabs)
Mrs Doyle wouldn't approve of the language in Radio Commander. Serious Sim's fondness for the F word – the bad F word – is meant to bolster authenticity, but at times inadvertently saps it. Don't be put off though. A manually updated map combined with an intentionally frustrating radio-reliant order system allows RC to simulate something most PC wargames sadly have little interest in: command. Waiting for confusing faraway firefights to resolve or worryingly silent friendlies to report in, RC seeps tension the way a bullet-grazed rubber tree seeps latex. Few wargames communicate battlefield chaos better.
Keen to strengthen the bond between the player and their pawns, Serious Sim have recently unveiled Squad Management, a DLC that encourages inter-platoon personnel juggling by giving every grunt in your force a name and character. The add-on is part of a prize that could be yours if you correctly identify at least 15 of the 20 differences between the two stamp collages below (A complete defox will double your chance of winning a Steam code).
^ click to enlarge
* * *
'Where am I?' foxer
(Five Steam codes for Radio General up for grabs)
It's easy to forget that the figurines in Radio General – an easy to recommend New Wave wargame much less interested in storytelling, cursing and character than Radio Commander - are lifeless pewter reminders not empirical battlefield truths. Remembering the Italian engagement in which I lost a Victory Location to an enemy unit that, hidden by a mountain's bulk, approached my lines unseen, while I, like an idiot, monitored a meaningless/motionless metal model, I can't help but smile.
RG's luxuriant Fog of War even masks the movements of friendlies capable of map-reading cock-ups. Finding units lost in forests and swamps with the help of the clues they provide is as satisfying in its own way as repulsing an attack or taking an objective. Inspired by these dynamically generated manhunts, here's a geography test that you'll need Wikipedia and Google Street View to pass. Send me the correct answer to the following question by Sunday lunchtime and Foolish Mortals' iconoclastic complacency puncturer could be yours.
Where am I?
- I'm standing in front of four people who are doing the YMCA dance.
- I can see a chap wearing inline skates.
- I'm 175 metres from a building that makes me think of Stalingrad.
- I'm in a city that has hosted the Olympic Games. The city isn't a capital.
- I'm in a country that has a lower prison population than Cuba, a more extensive rail network than the UK, and a lower average elevation than Burma.
- I'm in a country that has no blue on its flag.
- The country's name would score 9 in Scrabble if placed on normal (non-premium) squares.
- I'm a stone's throw from a railway line and a minute's stroll from a retired tug.
- I'm about one kilometre from a famous British landmark.
- The nearest metro line is roughly 900 metres away and is coloured orange on maps.
- I'm at the same latitude as one of the largest lakes in Southern Europe
(Answers must be within 10 metres of the actual location)
* * *
(Five copies of Unity of Command 2 up for grabs)
Flare Path's favourite wargame of 2019 will soon boast an Allied campaign that doesn't necessarily stop when you take Berlin or Bohemia. Thanks to the “gargantuan” Update 12 available to the impatient right now through Steam's beta option, you can fall-out with the Soviets after VE Day by demanding Polish self-determination. Choose to play hardball with Uncle Joe and your weary liberators will wind up trading blows with Red Army hell-raisers like the IS-3 and SU-100.
Fancy a copy of a sequel that abstracts masterfully, employs 3D graphics beautifully, and doesn't allow players to deploy unstoppable battlefield super units? Send me the names of at least seven of the 'sequels' shown in this image. Identify all ten to go into the hat twice.
* * *
(Five copies of Tank Mechanic Simulator up for grabs)
Tank Mechanic Simulator doesn't do grazed knuckles, baffling faults, or dismantlable power plants, but plenty of mesmeric manual labour involving impact wrenches, angle grinders, sledge hammers, and spray guns, plus the palpable satisfaction that comes from turning rusty WW2 trundlers into handsome testdriveable museum exhibits, have helped this generously proportioned* paean to caterpillared killing machines secure a 'Very Positive' rating on Steam.
* Tiger, Panther, Panzer IV, Panzer III, StuG, SdKfz 251/1, KV-2, KV-1, T-34/85, T-34/76, Pershing, Sherman, Wolverine
DeGenerals' sim will be enjoyed most by people with a pre-existing interest in AFVs... people perfectly happy to spend half an hour wandering around the Bovington Tank Museum with the help of Street View in search of the solution to the following puzzle. What I'm after is NOT the identities of the pictured AFVs but the direction (N, E, S or W) I was facing when I took each of the snaps. Your name will go into the hat once if you send me eight correct answers, twice if you provide all ten answers.