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The Flare Path: This Sporting Life

Simulation & wargame news

Gosh! I've just read the small-print in my RPS contract. It seems Flare Path's remit includes sports simulations. Strictly speaking, for the last 45 weeks I should have spent as much time in dugouts and bunkers as dugouts and bunkers. My weekly screenshot selection really should have featured as many wingmen, props, and Tigers, as wingmen, props, and Tigers. Thank God the Hivemind usually naps on Friday afternoons. All the same, a change of tack would seem sage. In today's column not one but two games with cast-iron connections to current sporting events.

Combat Mission: Wallet Assault

Only foot-to-ball fans as fanatical/ingenious as Battlefront would think to include a sly tribute to the Azzurri's redoubtable defence in the title of their next project.

Combat Mission: Fortress Italy was one of four upcoming CM games announced in a flurry of press releases and forum posts last Friday. Over the next 12 months, if all goes according to plan, the CMx2 engine will be...

a) Invading Sicily (the first game in the CMFI family)
b) Battling across Belorussia (the Operation Bagration focussed base of a CMBB sequel)
c) Going a bridge too far in the Netherlands (Module #2 of CMBN)
d) Exploring a hypothetical future falling-out between a Ukraine/NATO alliance and Russia ('CM: Shock Force 2').

After years of fairly slow growth, the dramatic change of pace is as surprising as it is exciting.

Though the first instalment of CMFI (already in 'final beta testing') will only provide a two-legged Operation Husky (British, Canadian, and Fallschirmjager forces are due in later modules), the feature list makes enticing reading. Most Italian, German, and US unit types that shed blood amongst the blood-orange groves will be present. That means feather-festooned Bersaglieri, the baggy-trousered art lovers of the Herman Goering Panzer Division, and a host of unfamiliar/ungainly AFVs at our beck-and-call.

Just as significant as the new TOE are the promised engine improvements (also available separately as a paid update for CMBN). Back after an improbably long holiday are CMx1-style moveable waypoints, armour arcs, and target identification vagueness. Unit bases are still MIA but new icon categories, and a redesigned camera and orders approach, should make skirmishes considerably easier to handle.

Hopefully, there 'll be some first-hand Flare Path CMFI battle reports soon, but in the meantime why not read an official AAR and gawp at a screenshot featuring both WW2's loveliest lorry and its handsomest helmets.


Court Jester With A Cessna

If it pisses down at Wimbledon next week, don't be surprised if you see Yours Unruly distracting the bedraggled masses during downpours. After opportunistc crooner Cliff Richard threatened to repeat his impromptu singalong of 1996, the Lawn Tennis Association decided it was time to put wet weather entertainment on a more formal basis. Four jugglers, an escapologist, a fireeater, a bearded lady and myself have all been hired just in case the heavens open. My act? I perform amazing aerobatic feats over net and baseline with a selection of deftly controlled RC aircraft.

Being too miserly to shell out on premier RC sims like RealFlight, Phoenix, and Aerofly I learnt my trade via freeware gem FMS. Sadly, the advent of Windows 7 and 64-bit processing means this German offering is no longer the trouble-free trouper it once was. Lately I've been doing most of my virtual training via the increasingly splendid BMI Flight Simulator.

Though BMIFS lacks the fancy damage models and photo-based sceneries of its peers, it does boast a rather redolent flight model and a pleasingly packed hangar. In the year and a half since it took to the air, the nine official aircraft - all recreations of BMI products - have been joined by a bevy of user-made machines.

Anyone that can browse this site or this thread without filling their boots probably needs to return their Flare Path membership card, enamel tiepin, and secret handshake instructional DVD. If you're new to RC simulations I recommend Gary Gunnerson's Fieseler Storch as an early acquisition. Slower and more docile than the default craft, it makes for an extremely tolerant trainer.

I'd also strongly advise plugging in that flight stick or gamepad rather than attempting to fly with the tricky keyboard controls. Dealing with the brain-befuddling control reversals of RC flight is hard enough for a beginner without crude binary throttle and flight surface inputs stiffening the challenge.

This time last year there was talk of BMIFS and its almost identical sister sim RC Desk Pilot (add-ons work in both titles) getting photo scenery support. Belgian dev Davy is plainly well on the way to achieving this goal but the update has yet to appear. A pity that. I'd be a lot more confident about my 'Flight of the Bumblebee' and 'Death of the Red Baron' routines if I'd had the chance to practise them in a delicately digitized No. 1 Court.


The Flare Path Foxer

A dozen FP genius jetons in return for the decoding of a dozen diagrammatised destinations? Sounds fare to me.

Using powerful telescopes and well-thumbed copies of the heartbreakingly expensive Jane's Merchant Ships 2012-2013 westyfield, Electric Dragon, mrpier, and protorp made short work of last week's seafaring foxer.

The following vessels were named and located:

*Mont St Michel (ferry)
*Pink Stars (tanker)
*Moscow Kremlin (tanker)
*Green Stars (tanker)
*MS Queen Elizabeth (liner)
*Orange Stars (tanker)
*William Shakespeare (container ship)

And acceptable alternatives to...

*Red Osprey (ferry)
*Cap Finistere (ferry)

...were provided. All lookouts get gold anchor-shaped FP flair points, except for protorp who, having correctly IDed the fog-shrouded Mont St Michel, gets a platinum seabed-snagger.

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Tim Stone