A2Z

A is for Alphabetised wargame and sim news.

I could have scattered these topical tidbits throughout the week in the hope they’d make Tally-Ho Corner look lively and well-staffed. Concern for your LMB dabber persuaded me to glue them all together and present them as a single Musashi-sized tract instead.

(I’m always on the lookout for material for my monthly news round-ups. If you’re aware of any interesting games with Strv 103-low profiles, please drop me a line).

B is for Boosted by Benchmark

Will the, on paper, 23-year-old Falcon 4.0 ever support VR? With tireless improvers like Benchmark Sims in its corner, never say never. The changelog that accompanied the latest BMS update is a magnificent thing:

DirectX 11 Upgrade
Tactical Reference UI and Data Update
Weather Control Improvement
Zulu Time Integration
Enhanced Flight Planning
Updated 2D War
Enhanced Fog Of War and Unit Detection (RECON/JSTAR)
Improved Gameplay for KTO TvT Theater
Revision of (AI) pilot names
New Arresting System for emergency landings
HTS and HARM improvements
New multipage customizable kneeboards
Full canopy control implementation
Jet Fuel Starter 1+2 support
Taxi-/Landing light update
New Pilot Seat Adjustment
New Anti-Ice Implementation
Updated MFD fonts
Enhanced Brakes + Hydraulic Systems
Accurate Gear Implementation
Better Aircraft Spawning and Despawning
Improved Taxi, Lineup, Takeoff and Landing behavior (AI)
ATC Overhaul (AI)
Tanker AAR Update (AI)
Carrier Enhancements (AI)
RWR Realism Update
New Pilot Death Situation
SAM and AAA Operator Enhancement (AI)
SAM Multi Targeting (AI)
Enhanced Ship Self Defense Capability (AI)
Anti Missile Intercept (AI)
Better Aircraft Weapon Selection + Deployment (AI)
Improved BVR Tactics (AI)
More realistic pilot view and threat detection (AI)
New Wind Turbine Facilities
New Airbases
New Features
New Aircraft
New Aircraft Skins
New Ground Units
New Naval Vessels
Optimized LOD transition
Improved Aircraft Destruction Model
Moon Phases + Ephemeris
Higher Atmosphere Upgrade
Enhanced Smoke Duration for Destroyed Vehicles
Updated switches on the F-18 cockpits
Mirage 2000 cockpits improvements
A-10 cockpit fixes
New Sounds (internal + external)
New HOTAS Callbacks
RTTClient/RTTServer Update
Hitbox Optimization
Updated Flight Models (non F-16)
Updated Key Files
New Training Missions
Documentation Update
Enhanced Multiplayer Stability
Hundreds of bug fixes, 3D and data improvements

C is for Combat Mission: Black Sea

The recent appearance of Combat Mission: Black Sea on Steam almost persuaded me to set THC’s first communal CM game in modern-day Ukraine. If I had pressed CMBS into service, chances are Brinkmann’s Bridge would have been a very different affair. The blue team probably would have been able to reconnoitre their objective without risking the lives of any of their grunts, and cross the canal without the aid of the titular bridge. Black Sea’s sizeable arsenal includes UAVs, amphibious APCs, and AFVs with reactive armour.

D is for Don’t buy Field of Glory II: Medieval

…if you’re a thrifty tactician and completely new to Byzantine Games’ lively/lovable pitched battle sims. Although FoG2: Medieval launched yesterday at the not unattractive price of £21.40 (it will be nearer £24 after Feb 11) its sword-and-sandal forerunner is a bargain £11.60 on Steam for the next six days.

E is for Everything must glow

Something tells me MicroProse’s Mighty Eighth team won’t lose much sleep fretting about this Polish pretender. B-17 Squadron, like another WW2 PlayWay title announced recently, looks a long way off and, judging by this trailer, not especially well endowed in the realism department.

F is for Feldgrau foxer

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy decorates its loading screens with memorable period photos. During map and scenario creation inevitably you get to know the well-chosen selection pretty well. While working on Brinkmann’s Bridge one particular image – the one shown above – got under my skin so successfully that I found myself scouring the web for information about its subjects. I wanted to know what happened to the youthful Gefreiter turning his head to smile at the camera, and the even younger soldiers marching with him. Frustratingly, my searches revealed nothing besides the obvious – that the teenage lance corporal in the Feldgrau uniform was, when the picture was taken, in an uncommonly dangerous place for teenage lance corporals in Feldgrau uniforms – Normandy in the summer of 1944.

G is for Gongoozlers beware

H is for Harking back

Don’t judge Tiny Combat Arena by this dusty itch.io build. Recent videos show a nostalgic lite Harrier sim with a nice line in bandit AI, a pleasing (for those of us raised on the likes of DI’s Hind and iF-16) mid 90s aesthetic, and a long game with hints of “dynamic campaign”. Developer Why485 took a week out over Christmas to code Vector Fury, an entertaining arcade flight game with similar assets.

I is for Impenetrable jungle

Sengkala Dev, the outfit behind Surabaya Inferno, a novel but inscrutable WW2 wargame released last September, has returned with another exploration of seldom-gamed Indonesian history. Partially funded by Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture, Dato of Srivijaya is a free RTS inspired by the 7th Century rise of Srivijaya, a Buddhist thalassocratic empire that I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of until stumbling upon this title. The fascinating fifteen minutes I’ve just spent reading this Wikipedia page suggests the world urgently needs a game about the rise and fall of Srivijaya. Is DoS that game? Judging by my unsuccessful tussle with its baffling tutorial, no.

J is for Just call it a demo

Aircraft Carrier Survival’s free “prologue” should be in the hands of interested parties by this time next week.

K is for Knee mortar

Over-engineered and heavy, the Granatwerfer 36s that may or may not help the Comment Commanders secure Brinkmann’s bridge, contrast starkly with the equivalent weapon the Japanese used for indirect fire support. Recently added to artificer-em-up World of Guns: Gun Disassembly, the ingenious Type 89 grenade discharger had no bipod or monopod and was always fired at the same angle, 45 degrees. Viewed using WoGGD’s cutaway cam the ‘knee mortar’s’ clever ballistic secret – an adjustable firing pin that, in effect, modulates the power of the grenade’s propelling charge – is clear to see.

L is for Limbless in Latvia

2×2 Games might have fallen out of love with busty units, but the head-and-shoulders look still has at least two admirers – me and Māris Ozols. Māris, the chap behind the moreish patience title that provides the ‘J’ in the A2Z header image, is employing busts in Comrades and Barons: Gates of Freedom, the world’s first Latvian War of Independence digital wargame.

M is for Maritime bargain

In the market for something briny, deep, and bally cheap? £1.80 until February 8, multi-platform naval sim Dangerous Waters could be just the thing. This ongoing patrol log from the subsim.com forum, shows the sort of thing you can expect from Sonalysts’ last recreational offering once mods have been applied.

N is for NIMBY Rails

It’s impossible to ramble far in lowland Britain without coming across an empty cutting, an overgrown embankment, or a pair of bridge abutments missing a deck. If, like me, you regularly find yourself wondering what life would have been like had Beeching not swung his axe, then NIMBY Rails is going to be hard to resist. Weird and Why’s enthusiastically received railway mania trigger comes with a tantalising sandbox – the entire planet. As actual railways have been erased from the global map, players are free to recreate existing lines as well as reinstate long lost ones. Where you build matters as passenger numbers are partially determined by local population densities and construction costs reflect the underlying topography.

O is for Out and about in Angus

As my attempts to give away an unclaimed GameMaker 2 activation code via the Sunday raffles have failed dismally, let’s try doing it with a geofoxer. The first person to tell me, via a comment, where precisely in YoYo Games’ home city I was when I took the Street View snap above, will win a copy of GM2.

P is for Pavlov’s House

Wargame settings don’t come much more cramped than Pavlov’s House, the fortified Stalingrad apartment building that the Germans unsuccessfully assaulted numerous times in the autumn of 1942. A board game port coming to Steam later this month aims to give us a little taste of the claustrophobic conditions endured by Sergeant Pavlov and his platoon, while, with help from a natty three-section board, simultaneously allowing us to influence the crucial communications system and cross-Volga logistics flow that sustained and bolstered the defenders.

Q is for Quick tea break

R is for Radio control

You can purchase two aerofly RC 8 expansion packs on Steam, but an administrative hitch means the 64-plane base sim has yet to land. Enchanted by its predecessor (“Obviously designed and priced as an all-weather training tool for real-world RC enthusiasts, aerofly RC 7’s flight physics feel, to this admittedly inexperienced park flyer, spot on”“Even without appropriate ambient audio many of the photo sceneries feel real in ways the best computer-generated environments don’t.”) I’d be surprised if I didn’t take to RC8 too, especially as it includes a fetching recreation of a type that I’ve always wanted to fly in miniature, the Fiesler Storch.

S is for Site news

The mellifluous Twin Wasps and Bristol Pegasi that have been singing me to sleep for the past few weeks bode well. Consulting the site incomeometer, I see that, thanks to the efforts of generous airlifters, Tally-Ho Corner is currently filling my Pig-shaped piggy bank at roughly half the rate The Flare Path used to. Highly encouraging considering I’m the world’s worst publicist and it’s only five weeks since Amy cut the ribbon at the launch do. Even glass-half-empty-and-probably-COVID-infected Roman is going around with a spring in his step and a twinkle in his glass eye at the moment.

After five Sunday raffles, the last of which redistributed the THC hat collection and made two subscribers business owners on the Brinksmann’s Bridge map, I’ve decided to make the regularly declined A2Z ‘subscriber slot’ and ‘foxer immortality’ prizes requestable perks rather than randomly assigned awards. If you’re an airlifter and would like to submit a short game, book, movie, or museum review for possible inclusion in the next A2Z, please do. Likewise, any airlifters happy to have their penchants (favourite game, book, album, aircraft, holiday destination etc.) turned into a hive foxer, are welcome to drop me a line.

At present you can cancel a subscription using the ‘manage subscription’ link in the footer, but you can’t switch plans. I was hoping to rectify that this week, but the task is proving more complicated than anticipated so, for the time being, anyone wishing to up or downgrade a subscription must cancel then resubscribe. Sorry about that.

T is for Top-down taxiways

Less than a month away from debuting on Steam, airbase management diversion Until the Last Plane will let us task, repair, and fly (after a fashion) the WW2 warbirds of three nations: USA, USSR and Germany. Interestingly, switching sides won’t only alter the aircraft types in your hangars and blast pens, it will fundamentally change the way the in-game economy works. Playing as the USAF gives a player complete control of resource (ammo, fuel, and spare parts) purchasing and pilot selection. Russian airbase overseers must maintain “Political Influence” in order to be assigned new men and supplies. Able to recruit their own pilots but reliant on automatic supply deliveries, Lufwaffe squadron leaders sit somehwere in the middle, freedom-wise.

U is for Urban unpleasantness

Coming to Armoured Commander II soon.

V is for Vague resemblance

The virtual workspaces in Model Builder are looking splendid. I wish I could say the same about the virtual plastic kits. These days few self-respecting scale modellers would lavish time, glue, and paint on a Spitfire as crudely moulded as this one. What a shame Moonlit hasn’t struck 3D model-sharing deals with local materiel miniaturisers like Arma Hobby and IBG Models. That way we’d have been guaranteed quality components.

W is for War on the Sea

“Dynamic campaign”… “50 classes of playable ship”… “fight fires, counter flood compartments and repair ships”… although War on the Sea’s feature list is as well-armed as a Yamato-class battleship, early Steam reviews of this real-time PTO wargame from the makers of Atlantic Fleet, suggest Killerfish need to look to their UI and AI. What do you think – should I review now or wait until patches have rasped away the worst of the rough edges?

X is for XCOM modders’ magnum opus

In its vanilla alien-infested form Terra Invicta has little chance of THC coverage. What I wouldn’t rule out is a TI mod making it into A2Z at some point. The rich global geopolitical sim that will sit at the heart of Pavonis Interactive’s vigorously kickstarted grand strategy project looks ripe for retasking.

Y is for Yemen is that way

Half fascinating race sim museum, half effervescent news fount, RaceSimCentral brought the promising Dakar 21 to my attention. Developed by the studio behind MudRunner and Snowrunner and powered by the same amazing tech, this long-distance Saudi Arabian rally sim seems certain to prompt fewer physics complaints than its predecessor.

Z is for Zippier house construction

The Door Kickers 2 random mission generator gained zip and sophistication last week. The current version is capable of producing some truly fab labyrinths (fabyrinths?). AI improvements, and new armour types and custom maps, accompanied the enhancements to machine-built venues.

20 Comments

  1. Thanks for another excellent update on the wargaming front Tim! My suggestion is to wait a bit on the War on the Sea review until the bugs have been mostly ironed out. Im also reading something about 4 hour fixed delay between launching planes, if its a Essex-class carrier or a lowly floatplane tender, which will simply not do! The world wonders.

  2. NIMBY Rails looks wonderful! Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    I actually thought B-17 Squadrons looked rather fun, heh…

    I agree with Brasshat, from what I’ve been reading in the Steam reviews, War on the Sea needs a few well-targeted patches before meriting a THC column.

    • I agree, after a month or so of bug fixes and other improvements, War On The Sea will be in a much better place. I think it has the potential to be a truly outstanding game.
      Speaking of B-17 bombers, I made a short game about a B17 bombing and reconnaissance mission over Europe, called Bomber Command, and you can download it here for free, if you want:
      https://zombiewarrior07.itch.io/bomber-command
      I hope this shameless bit of game promotion doesn’t break any forum rules?

  3. It looks to me as if the door nearest the camera is 21 and the one around the front of the building is 22.

  4. One day I will manage to get in to falcon 4.0. But it’s hard to feel the tought love of a 500 page manual when you already have the worm embrace of a well worn copy of IL2.

  5. Forget Dundee, the entry under G made me go ‘good, good, good, oh shit. Why am I crying?’

    So I shared it with my father and made him cry too.

  6. It’s a crying shame that Dangerous Waters is a bit of a pain to run on modern systems, and that it doesn’t support multiplayer time compression or saving. I have some fond memories of an attempt to run a multiplayer game with me in the Perry and a friend driving one of the helos as we escorted a convoy up a sub-infested Slot, but when the plan wasn’t scotched by Russian torpedoes, it was scotched by our not having twelve hours in one go to play it out.

    It is on my list someday to run a F4 BMS server in real time, however, jumping on daily to run a mission or two with friends in the evenings, while the sim proceeds without me the rest of the time.

  7. I really, really, really hope that Dakar 21 is not EGS exclusive. I gave snowrunner a pass because of it.

    • Oh is Snowrunner exclusive? What a shame. I don’t mind the competition with Steam but the Epic launcher is a buggy mess.

  8. Great article, as usual. I’d recommend waiting a bit on War on the Sea. Patches are proliferating.

  9. When I read that line about busty units, I was worried Tim had started to get into Fate Grand Order or some similar anime game.

  10. War on the sea …. ehh..it feels like an alpha… kind of tech demo like. The fire control solution system doesn’t really reflect reality. This leads to long battles battles where no one hits anything because ships steaming on parallel courses at battleship ranges never seem to get better than a 20 percent solution because radar contoled guns are having their accuracy reduced by range and darkness apparently. Mechanically the director/range keeper set up is just odd. Using spot one and two gives a bonus … nevermind that a range keeper on a US BB could not accept inputs from two directors at the same time. It captures the feel of combat fine… but winning seemed more like a result of chance. And mechanically its just frustrating if you have even a slight inkling of how the systems actually worked.

  11. Tiny Combat Arena looks like grand fun and the messages remind me of early Elite Dangerous YouTube videos by Isinona. Somehow I’ve always found text to be a more gripping narration and less distracting than most voiceovers.

  12. I’m not particularly sure where to suggest or ask about a game so I figure this round up might do until there is a suggestion box somewhere. Despite not being a sim or a wargame, have you seen the new city builder Nebuchadnezzar?

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