The Flare Path turns four this week. Here in the UK that means it can legally bear arms, arm bears, bear grudges, and drive geese and Vauxhall Chevettes across London Bridge on public holidays. To mark the occasion there’ll be no news items or inscrutable intros today. The entire column will consist of puzzles. On the moss-upholstered bank beyond the break eight fat Foxers lounge.
Tackle these brow furrowers within the next 48 hours and you've a chance of winning various top-notch wargames. (COMPETITION NOW OVER)
The majority of this year's 16 downloadable prizes (two for each foxer) have been provided by the benevolent mayhem-mongers at Slitherine, but there's also Battlefront.com and Just Flight delights to be won. In the past, prizes have been distributed on a first-come-first-served basis; this year things are a little different. All correct answers sent to me (timfstone at gmail dot com) before 12.00 UTC Sunday will be placed in the appropriate fez, pith helmet, M1 or morion. Winners will then be drawn on Sunday afternoon.
The ‘Stuff Worth Bearing In Mind Before You Get Started’ Section
- NO ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS! Loose lips sink ships and, on the occasion of Flare Path's birthday, turn Roman, my big-hearted foxer setter, into a Nietzsche-spouting grouch.
- While you're welcome to enter all eight competitions, there's a strict one-entry-per-person-per-competition rule. Anyone suspected of submitting multiple or proxy entries for a particular foxer will get a visit from Cornish Steve, the ex-Royal Marine Commando currently serving as Flare Path's taxidermist-in-residence.
- Usually foxed by foxers? Don’t be put off. The prize puzzles are nowhere near as esoteric or elaborate as the normal co-op variety. Knowing a Stuka from a Skua, or a Maus from a Matilda won't help you much today.
- If Monday arrives and you've not received a 'Congratulations!' message from Flare Path HQ, hard luck, fickle Fate has obviously chosen to nibble somebody else's ear lobe on this occasion.
- Thank you from the bottom of my Hawker Hart, for all the kind, amusing, and helpful messages pinned under Flare Paths during the past year. After lunch on Friday the FP office tends to empty faster than an English Electric Lightning's fuel tank, but that doesn't mean comments go unread or unappreciated.
- Best of luck!
Prize: Vietnam '65 (Steam code)
Roman seems to have got the wrong end of the punji stick here. I asked him to put together a COIN foxer in honour of Every Single Soldier's hearteningly unconventional hearts-and-minds wargame Vietnam '65. He delivered the image below.
For a chance to win a copy of one of 2015's most original, moreish, and friendly military strategy titles, add up the denominations of the eight pictured coins and send me the resulting number (For example 10c + 25dr + 50n + 5d + 20ar + 1k + 20j + 10mo would equal '141')
Prize: Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm (Steam code)
More proof that hex wargames aren't all forelock-tugging traditionalists, Flashpoint Campaigns' vari-length turns, resourceful AI and ingenious command and control limitations produce Cold War clashes as memorable as they are murderous. A browse of this enthusiastic Wot I Think should help you work out whether FCRS is for you.
Tempted? The two copies of this singular battle sim up for grabs will go to readers that send me a chronological list of the ten British monarchs suggested by this not-especially-cryptic collage. (A chronological list of letters will be sufficient. For example - c, d, a, j, f, i, b, e, h, g)
ANSWER: G (Edmund Ironside), B (William the Conqueror), C (William Rufus), A (Richard the Lionheart), F (Bloody Mary), J (Elizabeth I), E (Charles I or II), H (William of Orange), D (Anne), I (Victoria). (A couple of other interpretations/sequences were also deemed valid)
Prize: Pike & Shot Campaigns (Steam code)
If I wasn't putting together this birthday bonanza right now, I'd be playing Pike and Shot: Campaigns. Released yesterday, this semi-sequel perks up likeable 16th/17th Century aggro enabler Pike and Shot with a new Total War-ish strat layer. Some early impressions are likely to find their way into next Friday's FP, but conquer this 'Where am I?' foxer and you won't need to wait for week-old dispatches.
Where am I? (Send me the name of the street and the town)
- I am on a petrol station forecourt
- I'm a stone's throw from a railway line
- I can see a big green buoy
- I'm within a star fort
- The town I'm in was named after a European king
- I'm 500 miles from the Austrian border
- I'm in a country that was neutral during WW1
- I'm a five minute drive from one of the World's biggest breweries
- I'm in a town that has a (slightly tenuous) connection with pirate radio.
ANSWER: I was at the Shell petrol station at Norgesgade 50, Fredericia, Denmark
Prize: Gary Grigsby's War in the East (Steam code)
Neglecting railway lines in Siberia-vast, Lake Baikal-deep Eastern Front TBS Gary Grigsby's War in the East is a recipe for a botched Barbarossa. Without a well maintained army-nourishing rail net at your back, deep penetrations into the Soviet Union are impossible. I imagine Roman had this in mind when he plundered his transport-dominated stamp collection for the following foxer.
Send me a list of the twelve countries whose stamps appear below and early next week you may discover you're the proud/excited/scared owner of one of the most ambitious and highly regarded wargames of recent times.
ANSWER: Cuba, Hungary, North Korea, Australia, West Germany, Cyprus, New Zealand, Romania, East Germany, India, Canada, UK.
Prize: Just Flight Tornado for FSX or Prepar3D
Just Flight's latest in-house production is an FSX/Prepar3D incarnation of swing wing NATO stalwart, the Tornado GR1. I haven't had the chance to test-fly it yet, but as the team's last warbird was a corker, I've high hopes for this release. If there's room in your MSFS hangar for a supersonic contour-chasing bomb bus with extensive cockpit functionality and an afterburner roar that can crack dams, then send me the names of the seven aircraft depicted below (like the GR1 they're all named after after extreme weather phenomena) and cross your fingers.
ANSWER: Hawker Hurricane, Westland Whirlwind, Hawker Typhoon, Maachi C.202 Folgore, F-35 Lightning II, Dassault Ouragan, Kyūshū J7W1 Shinden
Prize: Order of Battle: Pacific (Steam code)
According to Myrna, the fact-filled Myna bird that oversees Flare Path's reference library and card index, the M4 Sherman has featured in 896 PC games thus far. One of the tank's more recent appearances was in palmy Panzer Corps sequel, Order of Battle: Pacific - a title I've been meaning to revisit since enjoying its early missions back in... gosh, April. Excellent presentation, a clever supply system, and some well engineered scenarios quickly banished my "Yet more Panzer General?" misgivings during that initial tour.
If you fancy a spot of hexy island hopping in the company of OoBP, peer at the following pic until the scrambled shortcut texts unscramble, then send me the names of the ten installed games (all of which feature Sherman tanks).
ANSWER: Panzer Corps, Men of War, Theatre of War, Ruse, Day of Defeat, iBomber Attack, Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord, Open General, Close Combat: Panthers in the Fog, Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood
Missing words foxer
Prize: Combat Mission (Black Sea or Red Thunder, your choice)
Is Roman's choice of passage for this 'missing words' foxer a sly reference to the nerve-frayingly fallible aircraft in Combat Mission: Red Thunder (friendly fire incidents are two-a-kopek in aircraft endowed CMRT scenarios thanks to appropriately weak liaison between air and ground forces) or simply an indication that none of my Chief Foxer Setter's books on Eastern Front or contemporary warfare are sufficiently obscure to survive sustained Googling? I suspect the latter.
Between you and ownership of a multi-mode (real-time or WeGo - it's up to you) Battlefront gem rammed with subtlety, realism and tension, are twenty missing words (the length of each word is indicated in the brackets). Send me a list of those words and, assuming your name is plucked from FP's mangy ushanka on Sunday, come Monday you could be stalking Tigers, Javelining T-90s, or waving furious fists at short-sighted Sturmoviks.
ANSWER: a) German, b) great, c) east, d) Hill, e) pressurised, f) wings, g) vectored, h) Head, i) same, j) acknowledgement, k) four, l) Channel, m) sign, n) dived, o) bursts, p) vanished, q) tubes, r) relayed, s) possible, t) think.
Word ladder foxer
Prize: Command: Modern Air Naval Operations (Steam code)
This BAE Systems-approved Harpoon replacement can recreate most post-1945 air and naval clashes with ease. The global map, the staggeringly encyclopedic unit database, and the exotic scenario selection have been tweaked and expanded numerous times since my October 2013 Wot I Think.
If the thought of unleashing Tomahawk swarms and hunting Red Octobers excites then have a bash at scaling the following word ladder. You clamber from bottom to top by placing appropriate five-letter words on each empty rung. Usually a word inherits three identically positioned letters from the word below it. The exceptions are  clues where only two letters are inherited and [A] clues which are anagrams of the words below them.
Your email should contain all 12 missing words.
13. —– Japanese martial art
12. —– Scene of British intelligence debacle in 1939
11. —–  Huey variant
10. —– British interwar biplane
9. —– Alexandrian engineer
8. —– [A] The real Navarone?
7. —– Napoleon at Waterloo
6. —– Steamship damaged by Victorian timebomb
5. —– Structures vitally important to Operation Dynamo
4. —– Ranged weapon popular in Patagonia
3. —– Israeli copy of Yugoslavian pistol
2. —– Gave his name to a military issue chocolate bar
ANSWER: loyal, logan, golan, bolas, moles, mosel, loser, leros, heron, demon, venom, venlo, kendo.