In an effort to weed-out oiks, riff-raff, rotters, fakes, frauds, bounders, curs and cads from Flare Path's readership, from this week onwards only individuals able to answer 'yes' to one of the following questions - Do you rush outside and start scanning the sky on hearing an unusually throaty aero engine? Is your contentment reservoir refilled by the whistling of distant trains? Have you named your children after obscure WW2 Royal Navy minesweepers? Does your 'If I Ever Won The Lottery' list begin 1) Quit job. 2) Buy vast rural estate. 3) Purchase Panther tank? - will be able to see the 'Read the rest of this entry' link lurking under intros like this one.
The Eagle Has Landed
Splendid. Plainly you are 'one of us' and being 'one of us' will be excited at the prospect of Digital Combat Simulator: Combined Arms. Realising that some potential punters don't have the patience, time or aptitude to decipher avionic Rosetta Stones like the A-10C and Ka-50 Black Shark but nonetheless crave the company of such rigorously modelled machines, Eagle Dynamics are about to add a dash of low-complexity RTSing and tank simulation to DCS:World.
In the pre-orderable Combined Arms, mudmoving and furballing can be left in the hands of live or AI pilots. While the Paveways plummet and the Sidewinders seek, those with less lofty ambitions can sit on hilltops or in ops tents tasking air assets, calling in artillery strikes, and directing the crucial movement of AFVs and infantry. Better still they can hot-desk their way around their scurrying formations of MBTs, APCs, IFVs, and SPAAGs personally traversing turrets and squeezing triggers.
Sim and wargame working together in seamless symbiosis? It sounds marvellous. Even if tanks aren't modelled to Steel Beasts Pro PE standards (which they won't be) and landscapes end-up looking a little barren compared to Arma equivalents (almost inevitable considering the current state of the DCS Georgian scenery) the opportunity to both orchestrate and participate in plausible modern battles comes along so rarely, overlooking such shortcomings should be relatively easy.
Sleeping With The Fishes
If all goes according to plan, by the end of the year Combined Arms JTACs should be able to commission commotion from friends in finely fashioned Fishbeds. In a step almost as bold as the strategy injection, Eagle Dynamics have recently announced their first 3rd-party add-on - a MiG-21Bis.
Despite the fact these elegant machines provided the backbone of Warsaw Pact fighter cover for more than a quarter of a century and served with countless Third World airforces, they've been largely ignored by the makers of high-fidelity combat flight fare. No-one, until Hungarian Laszlo 'Beczl' Becz came along, has ever dared to deep-model their instruments, radars, engines, navigation and weapons systems.
As Cat's characteristically surgical SimHQ interview reveals, Beczl is no fly-by-night. His passion for and knowledge of all-things-Fishbed is plain to see and should mean those of us that experience a little stomach-flutter on seeing a screenshot of a turquoise, Cyrillic-peppered panel are in for a rare treat.
The Manchurian Candidate
Graviteam haven't quite got around to melding their interests in WW2 tank simulation and WW2 strategy, though on the evidence of the bi-genred Blaze of War, it's surely only a matter of time. Never ones to kowtow to convention or travel on crowded highways, the Ukrainian studio is currently bolting together an Achtung Panzer: Operation Star sequel with a decidedly exotic setting.
In the summer of 1939, while storm clouds gathered over Western Europe, 5,000 miles to the east a conflict over a remarkably unremarkable stretch of the Mongolia-China border was busy claiming the lives of around 50,000 men. The Battles of Khalkhin Gol were the bloody culmination of an undeclared border barney between Japan and USSR and promise to make Achtung Panzer: Nomonhan a quirky customer.
With no Panzers, Stukas, and - going by photos of the area - precious few trees, APN should feel very different to previous AP outings. Though skirmishes will still be sparked by a peerless operational meta-game, veterans will need to get their heads round the capabilities of a plethora of new unit types. Do I-Gos pose a threat to Betki? What's the best way to employ Type 94 tankettes? Should I worry about the AT capabilities of IJA infantry... there are numerous tactical questions that only first-hand experience of the series' famously realistic ballistics, and delightfully unpredictable AI will answer.
A couple of powerful patches silenced many of my Operation Star gripes but I'm still hoping for a few mechanical improvements in the coming instalment. Warier AI tanks and a simple suppressive fire command would top my list of hoped-for enhancements.
The Flare Path Foxer
When the Burgundian Sulphur Owls have been fed and watered, and the hazard lamps hoisted to the tops of all sixteen Dew Towers, FP likes nothing better than settling down for a cosy evening of Arma editor tomfoolery. This week he's been tomfooling around with the Iron Front battle builder. He's rather proud of his latest batch of 'attachTo' abominations, but is struggling to come up with suitable names for them. Maybe you can help. Five ferrous-fronted FP flair points for the five best suggestions.
Last week's Tintin-focussed foxer foxed for barely an hour. Flair points fashioned from the shells of blue blistering barnacles go to Hydrogene, Thany, Stranglove, Spinoza and BooleanBob who, between them, correctly identified...
a) The de Havilland Tiger Moth calamitously commandeered by Thomson and Thompson in The Black Island.
b) The Savoia-Marchetti S.73 that carried Tintin and his employer from Frankfurt to Prague in King Ottokar's Sceptre.
c) The Bordurian Bf-109 that met a fiery end in King Ottokar's Sceptre.
d) One of the de Havilland Mosquitos operated by the Khemedi airforce in The Red Sea Sharks.
e) The jungle-scouring Mil Mi-1 that glimpsed a concussed Captain Haddock in Tintin and the Picaros.
f) The Spitfire that leaflet-bombed Sheik Bab El Ehr's camp in Land of Black Gold.
g) Probably the toughest of the lot. The V-tailed Beechcraft Bonanza used by the kidnappers in The Calculus Affair.
h) The 707 that appeared in Santaero colours in Tintin and the Picaros.