Q's tail is a trip hazard. V and J often fall over in high winds. B lacks dignity*. Rain tends to collect in M and U... Many letters of the alphabet have inherent flaws but here at The Flare Path we treat all 26 with equal respect when we're compiling one of our breathtakingly superficial alphabetical sim and wargaming news round-ups.
* It's easily transformed into a cartoon bum.
A is for A2A's Accu-Sim T-6 Texan
I wonder how many purchasers of A2A's latest FSX masterpiece know about the unarmed trainer's finest hour. In May 1940, in south east France, a flight of four T-6s spotting what they assumed to be an Allied bomber below them, decided to try some practise attack runs. On closer inspection the bomber proved to be a Dornier, a Dornier in the process of disgorging its crew. Alarmed by the four rapidly approaching 'fighters', the Luftwaffe aviators had decided to hit the silk.
B is for Bulge beautification
As you'll know if you've tried 'A December morning', one of the three scenarios in the generous demo, some of Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg's Bulge battlefields feel cold enough to emasculate brass monkeys. Once Worghern's hoary winter texture mod arrives, the urge to play CMFB in balaclava and fingerless gloves is going to be even harder to resist.
C is for Combined Arms Operations Series aka CAOS
An AI-bereft but unit and theatre-rich multiplayer WW2 wargame currently seeking beta testers.
D is for disclosure
I wonder when Wargamer.com is going to get round to updating its cobweb-festooned 'About Us' page. Reading these paragraphs you'd never guess that the site has been owned and overseen by Slitherine Group, the publisher of many of the titles previewed and reviewed in its pages, for the best part of six years.
E is for Elizabethan easter egg
FSX desperately needs more easter eggs. Buzzing Windsor Castle in an Airspeed Elizabethan yesterday, I was hugely disappointed not to see a regal OAP in a big hat waving at me from atop the Round Tower.
F is for foxer
G is for Go For Launch: Mercury
In the first demo of Joe Chisholm's as-yet-ungreenlit-and-unkickstarted Alan Shepard sim the camera refused to leave the Freedom 7 capsule. Download the trial of the new version and you will find it has now pulled itself together and will happily spacewalk, orbit and fly-by.
H is for homage to Catalonia
In a clever move guaranteed to broaden horizons and encourage exploration, new FlightGear versions – set to arrive tri-monthly from now on - won't just enhance scenery, aircraft, and physics, they'll switch the default airport. Home at the moment is San Francisco International. Circa May 20 the sim relocates to Barcelona El Prat.
I is for Ironclads II improvements
Ironclads II: American Civil War shipped with a pleasing strat layer, but disappointingly dull turnless battles. Last Friday's update tackles combat criticisms head-on. Whether you're running blockades or mounting them, you can now manually target, ram, and make damage control decisions. Time for a reinstall I reckon.
J is for Jayson NG's Japanese Pike & Shot project
Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun is now less than a month away from completion. The tried and tested engine is unlikely to disappoint. What may miff – we shall see - is the publisher's chosen price point.
K is for kilometre concerns
LGV: Marseille – Avignon, TS2016's first commercial SNCF add-on, released yesterday? At last a chance to use my CSE grade 4 level French in a Flare Path! Ou est... hang on a minute... la gare de (?) Valence s'il vous plaît?
This £25 Provencal high-speed route looks attractively landscaped, but at just 65 miles in length (20 minutes for a speeding TGV) and with limited potential for new scenarios, I suspect many will wait for sale reductions before making for the Med.
L is for learn SimSig with Luke Briner
Aspiring desktop signallers – especially those interested in British railways - aren't short of choices. What they can struggle to find is good instructors. SimSig, a family of superb but potentially confusing UK signalling sims, many of which are free, has needed a Luke Briner for ages. Now it's got one, there's no reason whatsoever to hang back.
M is for martial movie recommendations
In the mood for wings or warfare, yet too weary, ill, or tipsy for interactive entertainment? What you need is the Flare Path: Screening Room. Thanks to helpful Flareopaths, this adjunct to the Flare Path Reading Room, is now packed with thumbnail reviews of the kind of films simmers and wargamers are sure to enjoy. Curator Mr Cotton is still monitoring the article, ready to expand the list if new recommendations appear amongst the comments.
N is for not in-game footage
Dovetail Games Flight School should be with us by this time next week. While I'm not looking forward to the An-225-sized download (the FSX-based sim comes with seamless global scenery which seems a bit unnecessary considering the premise) I am curious to see how Dovetail have handled tuition. Fingers-crossed the instructor is a) visible, b) voluble and c) voiced by James May.
O is for Orbiter obituaries premature
It's been six years since this free space flight sim's last significant overhaul, but that doesn't mean dev Dr. Martin Schweiger has moved on. The new version (beta-testable here if you're feeling brave) features better collision detection and supports far finer terrain meshes and sharper textures, as the above comparison pictures illustrate.
P is for PC Cold Warriors finally get their hands on Twilight Struggle
I'm planning a weekend of proxy wars, spy swaps, and missile crises courtesy of Playdek's latest.
Q is for quick teabreak
R is for Rev Sudasana rethinks real-estate
Loyalty to solitaire board wargame Patton's Best, meant tanky roguelike Armoured Commander could be pretty cruel at times. Keen to give players more control over their destinies in the sequel, Rev Sudasana (Gregory Adam Scott) is planning to replace AC's crude 37-hex battlefields with gridded venues composed of thousands of squares. Moving around these new arenas it should be far easier to keep threats at arm's length, take advantage of terrain, and understand demises.
“The player tank will still be vulnerable, but hopefully careful commanders will learn to place their recon forces ahead of the main column, to support themselves with AT guns and infantry, and not to poke their hull out when they know a Tiger is waiting for them.”
S is for Sean O'Connor's Firefight sequel on Steam soon?
With its unusually fleecy Fog of War, elegant control approach, and worth-its-weight-in-Sturmtigers random map generator, the original Firefight made a very acceptable alternative to Close Combat. The sequel, presently angling for a Steam Greenlight, can't Capability Brown its own battlefields but apparently offers smarter AI and better ballistics and physics.
T is for Tactical Wargames to be targeted
When Flare Path discovers a promising new wargaming blog, we generally arm and dispatch Warty, our faithful A-10C, ASAP. Warty is grounded at the moment with turbofan trouble. Enjoy Tactical Wargames while you can.
U is for unbuttoning insights
Knowledgeable grog Michael Dorosh has been considering the issue of unbuttoning in Combat Mission. Though forcing a virtual tank commander to stick his head above the parapet can feel awfully heartless at times, it appears encouraging exposure does have historical precedent.
“Crew commanders will NOT close both turret flaps except under very heavy mortar fire when the situation does not demand unrestricted vision.”
From Canadian Army Standing Orders, WW2
V is for Victoria Wood
W is for where are the chariots?
Daniel Lopez Soria, the creator of riveting Roman racing game Qvadriga, has had enough of blood and circuses for the time being. His next project, CHEXS, re-imagines chess as a WeGo hex wargame. I was hoping for another history-rooted TBS, but, going by that trailer, he does seem to be on to something interesting. The greenlight page doesn't mention silicon opponents; I wonder if that's significant.
X is for xpendable aircraft
Flare Path Games is currently developing the world's first CAM ship-based flight sim. Time-acceleration-free, each Atlantic crossing will take up to three weeks to complete, of which - assuming your convoy is 'lucky' enough to come under air attack - around 20 minutes will be spent aloft pursuing surprised Focke-Wulf Condors. The chance of drowning after each sortie will be roughly 1 in 6.
Y is for yikes! The Flare Path deadline is so close I can smell its deodorant (Lynx Action). Better wrap things up.