The Flare Path turns one this week. Here in the UK that means it can legally get its navel pierced, buy wine gums, point at clouds, and read Knut Hamsun on public transport. To commemorate the occasion there'll be no game newscasts or inscrutable intros today. The entire column will be given over to quizzes. Dozing adorably beyond the jump are five bushy-tailed Foxers, each with a rather special prize tied to its brush.
Thanks to the generosity of 2x2 Games, Aerosoft, Battlefront.com, RailSimulator.com and Slitherine/Matrix Games, the swiftest solvers of the following Foxers will win a downloadable copy of one of FP's favourite games.
Before you get stuck in, be aware that the rules are a little different from normal.
1. DON'T POST YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION! Email them to me using the 'Tim Stone' link above, and I'll get back to you if you've won.
2. If you already own the prize game, or for some bizarre reason really don't fancy it, then please hold fire.
3. Your first answers are final! Emails containing revised solutions will be fed to Ottokar, the FP goat.
4. Only one prize per player so choose your first Foxer carefully.
5. Once a particular quiz has been de-foxed I'll make that clear ASAP.
6. Click on pics for a closer look.
Best of luck! <blows 'tally-ho' on tin replica of John Frost's hunting horn>
Prize: CLAIMED! by Plopsworth
It's a scarily long way from Berlin to Stalingrad.... General Winter isn't an opponent to be trifled with... One man's breakthrough is another man's encirclement opportunity... A Panzer Army marches on its fuel tanks... In this brilliantly condensed WW2 wargame, Croatian newcomers 2x2 manage to deliver important Ost Front truths without burying those truths in exhausting snowdrifts of detail. The crisp rule-set combined with a predatory yet patient AI make every battle in the 17-stage campaign a headscratcher/nailbiter.
The game's bust-based unit art wasn't to everyone's taste but FP loved it. Of course, FP has always been fond of busts - in fact he owns a collection of the things. Quickly identify the seven historical bigwigs in that collection, and you could win yourself the hexcellent UoC.
Foxer No. 2
Prize: CLAIMED! by Owen Baines
*After 24hrs of unsuccessful schreck seeking, FP has decided the prize should go to the nearest miss (there were a couple of 'J3' suggestions but Owen's was the first).
Call me fussy but every time I tell a Sherman to sling AP at a newly spied Panzer, I like my CPU to reach for a fat Encyclopaedia of WW2 Armoured Warfare and start hurriedly checking armour thicknesses, angles and ballistic formulae. I also expect it to think really hard before relaying the sighting to the PIAT team, 17-pounder crew, and field kitchen dug-in in the neighbouring field.
If you're a similarly demanding soul then Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy will appeal. Forensic, tough, and underpinned by incomparable subject knowledge (Battlefront have forgotten more WW2 facts than THQ will ever know) its portraits of post-D-Day skirmishes teem with historical echoes.
...and Panzerschreck rockets. To solve the 'Spot the schreck' puzzle below, you must correctly identify the grid square occupied (before cunning Paintshoppery erased it) by a speeding Raketenpanzerbüchse projectile.
Foxer No. 3
Prize: CLAIMED! by Kevin Axe
Its regular identity changes have caused me to bite through a fair few pipe stems, but RailWorks remains the rail sim I turn to most often when I fancy a pleasant evening on the footplate. Cosmopolitan and constantly swelling/improving (since the last major free update we've had some lovely cab motion and shadow effect) it's the closest thing rail simmers have to a railway FSX.
The only thing FP enjoys more than travelling on simulated trains is travelling on real ones. Next Friday he's embarking on his most ambitious railway journey yet - a rail trip from London to Hanoi. In preparation he's purchased a new toothbrush and an inflatable copy of Proust's 'À la recherche du temps perdu'. What he hasn't got round to doing yet is working out his itinerary. Maybe you can help. A copy of RW3 + London to Brighton to the first person to supply his arrival time in Hanoi, bearing in mind...
A) FP will be ready to leave London at 13.00 hrs next Friday.
B) He wants to arrive in Hanoi as quickly as possible.
C) Intra-city foot/bus/tram/taxi/tuk-tuk/ferry transfers are acceptable.
(Note. This Foxer will stay open for at least 24hrs as verifying unusual itineraries may take a while)
Prize: CLAIMED! by Zhou Fang
It doesn't pay to scrutinise most wargame AIs too intently. You start noticing the predictability, the moments of fly-against-a-window incomprehension, the heartbreaking dearth of anything resembling human guile. “Coding AI is difficult! Play multiplayer if you want a real challenge.” shout the apologists. “No thanks” reply the enlightened “We'll just go back to lovely Command Ops”.
In Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge and its forerunners the flies know their sashes from their skylights, their casements from their louvres. Freed from the shackles of hexes and turns and directed by AI routines steadily improved over the course of the past decade, armies really do behave like armies. You see them fall-back, re-plan, and coordinate. You scratch your chin as they push, block, bypass and Schwerpunkt. Combined with a wonderful command system that lets you issue orders from any rung of the command ladder, the result is really rather remarkable.
...as you'll discover if you de-fox the following before anyone else. Command Ops: BftB recreates one of history's most famous chilly battles. Can you identify seven other sub-zero scraps that are a little less well known?
Prize: CLAIMED! by Electricfox
For the full explanation of why I rate this German omnibus sim so highly, you'll need to consult pages 60-65 of the August issue of PC Gamer UK. In a nutshell: PHYSICS that feel they've been extracted from a real MAN doubledecker with horse forceps and a big brass syringe, (Somewhere in Berlin there's a bus deeply baffled by the fact he can no longer feel the cobbles under his tires, the press of passengers on his leaf-springs), AUDIO so multi-layered and dynamic, even humdrum acts like stopping at traffic lights feel great , and a VENUE (late Eighties Spandau) so real and redolent you'll struggle to re-enter the Inter-Dimensional Wardrobe without at least one wistful glance over your shoulder.
There's a lot of 'bus' in OMSI and there's a lot of 'bus' in the following Foxer. Simply identify the
nine 'bus'-incorporating words before any other puzzle-buster, to claim a downloadable copy of MR-Software's doubledeck delight.
Last Week's Foxer
...was as hard as they come. Danny252 and protorp came bally close, but the answer Miss Budanova was holding out for was this one: