The Flare Path turns five this week. Here in the UK that means it can no longer travel for free on funiculars, steam tinkers, or Bounding Billies, and risks prosecution if found in possession of an imaginary dog or an impish grin. Growing up sucks. Thank goodness there are occasional distractions like this compendium of word and picture puzzles. In the dappled glade beyond the break five unusually approachable foxers lounge.
Tackle these solo brainteasers (co-op defoxing will return next week) within the next 48 hours and you’ve a chance of winning various top-notch wargames and sim add-ons. (Competitions now closed)
This year's twenty-four prizes, all of which come in the form of Steam activation codes, have been provided by the good eggs at Slitherine, Graviteam, Killerfish Games and Polychop Simulations/Eagle Dynamics. As usual they are games and add-ons held in high regard by Flare Path rather than random tat that happened to be tossed in our direction.
Anyone who fancies a spot of sublime panzer persecuting, samurai superintending, wolfpack walloping, Hitler humouring, or Gazelle taming, will need to send me (timfstone at gmail dot com) their answers before 12.00 UTC Sunday. The prize draws will take place an hour or two after the deadline. Not received a congratulatory email by Monday morning? Hard cheese, old bean. That jezebel Lady Luck has obviously chosen to haystack-romp with someone else on this occasion.
The ‘Stuff Worth Bearing In Mind Before You Get Started’ Section
- You may not need to completely solve a puzzle to qualify for its draw. See individual puzzle instructions for details.
- NO ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS! The last person to spoil an FP birthday special by sharing answers awoke the next morning to find that he'd been blackballed by my very literal Chief Foxer Setter, Roman. Horribly sticky stuff, bitumen.
- While you’re welcome to enter all five competitions, there’s a strict one-entry-per-person-per-competition rule. Anyone thinking of surreptitiously submitting multiple entries for a particular foxer should stand under a cold shower muttering “What have I become?” until they come to their senses.
- I understand that a couple of last year's Steam codes were never redeemed. If you're not interested in playing Thugs in StuGs 2, Combat War Front Battle Tactics VII, or whatever, please make that clear in any submissions.
- Smith had Wesson, Blohm had Voss, I have my lovely readers. Thank you for all the thoughtful observations, helpful suggestions, and morale-boosting words of encouragement scrawled beneath FPs during the past year. Thanks for tolerating my numerous thematic blindspots and grotesque overuse of the words 'plausible' and 'grotesque'.
- Best of luck!
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Missing Vowels foxer
(Five copies of Atlantic Fleet up for grabs)
Atlantic Fleet is as absorbing as it is accessible, as fetching as it is fresh. A dual-layer delight, its briny battlespaces are rarely debris-free for long. Every play session deposits a few eviscerated freighters, ruptured U-boats, and charred Condors in Davy Jones' locker. Below is a list of a dozen things you might find in the real Atlantic Ocean. Though the salt water has eaten away vowels and currents have moved spaces (for example, RMS Titanic might appear as RMSTT NC, Sperm Whale as SPR MWHL) peer and ponder for long enough and the eleven correct answers required for prize draw eligibility should appear.
1. CBRG (ICEBERG)
2. SRG SSS (SARGASSO SEA)
3. R GWV (ROGUE WAVE)
4. SCN SNSLND (ASCENSION ISLAND)
5. GNTS QD (GIANT SQUID)
6. GL FSTRM (GULF STREAM)
7. TLGR PHCBL (TELEGRAPH CABLE)
8. SSSCR PN (USS SCORPION)
9. SNTH LN (SAINT HELENA)
10. NNT CKTSHLS (NANTUCKET SHOALS)
11. NR THRNGNNT (NORTHERN GANNET)
12. RDCT VWST (RADIOACTIVE WASTE)
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(Five copies of Graviteam Tactics: Mius-Front up for grabs)
Graviteam's latest Eastern Front opus scatters riveting war stories like an S-mine scatters lethal ball bearings. The combination of high-quality ballistics, detailed damage modelling, solid AI and sophisticated physics, means situations that would be drab and predictable in other wargames often surprise and mesmerise in the marvellous Mius-Front. Any GTMF player able to monitor scraps exclusively from a sensible high-altitude vantage point is a very odd fish indeed.
In honour of the game's title, Chief Foxer Setter Roman has put together a riverine collage foxer. Send me the names of nine of the ten rivers suggested by the ten picture clues and your name will be tossed into the hat for Sunday's draw.
Volga, Hudson, Mississippi, Amazon, Nile, Jordan, Tuul, Colorado, Thames, Orange.
Roman also accepted some other interpretations including Bug (Colorado), Yellow (Orange), and Onon (Tuul).
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'Where am I?' foxer
(Five copies of Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun Collector's Edition up for grabs)
The automatic pursuit mechanism in Pike & Shot and its unmissable Japanese offshoot Sengoku Jidai is worthy of an Alex Wiltshire piece. With one simple, beautifully executed design flourish Richard Bodley Scott explains why pre-rifle pitched battles rarely resembled chess games, and ensures most P&S and SJ rivals feel horribly stilted. Combine auto pursuits with randomly generated countryside, a simple dynamic strat layer, and smart opponents, and you've got a recipe for endlessly entertaining engagements. As you'll discover if you're lucky enough to win a copy of Sengoku Jidai Collector's Edition by correctly answering the following question:
Where am I? (city and street name required)
- I can see a sculpture of a woman holding two children.
- The street I'm on is named after a national hero.
- I'm in a country that has land borders with five countries.
- I'm a stone's throw from a ruined factory.
- The city I'm in was once part of the Ottoman Empire.
- I'm 1000 miles from the location of a famous WW2 German defeat.
- I'm at the same longitude as a soldier sim venue.
- I'm surrounded by punchlines.
- Directly below me is a Danube tributary.
- I'm in a country that has yet to win any medals at the 2016 Olympics.
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(Five copies of Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa up for grabs)
Grognardia would be a much more interesting place if Cameron Harris' fascination with command structure politics was more widespread. In the deliciously human Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa you aren't a faceless counter pusher – an anonymous combination of multiple military bigwigs - you're a real person with bosses to placate, underlings to chivvy, and colleagues to coerce.
VR Designs' stimulating combination of hex conquering and relationship nurturing will, I believe, be best appreciated by gamers already steeped in Eastern Front gaming, hence the following foxer. Decipher at least nine of the ten anagrammed Ost Front wargame shortcuts to put yourself in the running for a Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa Steam code (Sadly, the slab of fab that is the hardback manual isn't included in the prize, but you can upgrade for £13 via matrixgames.com).
Top row: Unity of Command, Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front, Close Combat III: The Russian Front, Graviteam Tactics: Operation Star, World War 2: Europe
Bottom row: Korsun Pocket, Battles of Kursk - Southern Flank, Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin, Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue, Gary Grigsby's War in the East
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(Four copies of the DCS World SA342 Gazelle add-on up for grabs)
There was a time not so very long ago when the skies above Flare Path HQ were regularly enhanced by Aérospatiale elegance. Nowadays ugly olive-green robber flies are almost the only Army Air Corps hoverers you see. Polychop's first add-on for DCS World helps fill the void, and, via an extensive livery library, serves as a reminder of the type's surprisingly diverse and long combat career (Gazelles have been accosting AFVs and importuning infantry for over thirty years).
Standing between you and a peerless SA342 facsimile with a hang-on-to-your-hat flight model and alarmingly entertaining wire-guided weaponry, are a dozen flight sim manual fragments. Work-out the sources of at least eleven of the page portions shown below (this bigger version might prove useful) and one of the four available Gazelles could be yours.
a) MiG Alley
b) Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2
d) Eurofighter Typhoon
f) Falcon 4.0
g) Flanker 2.0
h) Jane's Longbow 2
i) F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter 2.0
j) B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th
k) Rise of Flight
l) 1942: The Pacific Air War
(As some passages and images feature in the manuals of more than one version of a sim, Roman accepted alternative answers for some fragments)