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 Brabazon-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 Beechcraft witchcraft

Bah. Earlier this week, the spoilsports at Asobo fixed the flaps-generate-twice-as-much-lift-as-they-should bug that made VTOL miracles like this possible in Flight Simulator.

C is for Communal Combat Mission needs you

If the German bid to recapture Brinkmann’s Bridge fails because of bad tactics or bad luck, so be it. Don’t let it fail because willing Axis units sat idle during crucial turns. The current band of Comment Commanders is doing a grand job, but, with additional reinforcements imminent, they may need helping hands/minds if they are to fight their way past the Pumphouse of Peril, the Monastery of Menace, and the Cafe of Cracking Cheese Croquettes. The next turn will execute on Sunday morning, so get your orders in in the next 40 hours, please.

D is for Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes Offensive

Six-hour turns rather than four-day ones, hexes one kilometre across not thirty, chits representing battalions instead of divisions… even if Victor Reijkersz of VR Designs hadn’t teamed up with a new collaborator for Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes Offensive, there’d be no chance of this DC instalment feeling like its politics-infused predecessor. Do we need another Battle of the Bulge wargame? When the title in question comes from a designer as respected as Victor, and boasts inspired features like The Uncertainty Rule (“If you play with this rule each unit gets a hidden combat modifier that you will discover over time as the Unit sees more and more combat.”) the answer, surely, has to be yes.

E is for En garde!

Hellish Quart looks like £13.50 well spent.

F is for Fiery fidelity

Aware that their year-old public demo was getting a little long in the dragon’s tooth, the Gunner, HEAT, PC! devs have replaced it with a taster that reflects the current state of the Patreon build. That build boasts, amongst other things, the most detailed damage simulation ever to grace an armour sim. A segment in the latest developer stream sheds light on a dynamic fire propagation system that cares about combustibility, temperature, and pressure.

G is for Gazza Grigsby

A few of the tester statements that jumped out at me during a recent Storch stooge over the Gary Grigsby’s War in the East 2 forum:

“the AI is far better in WitE2 than in any of the earlier games. It will shift strategic direction as well as make better operational choices. At the start, I strongly suggest do not give it any bonuses until you understand the main game mechanisms.”

“In WitE the only route to cull the Red Army is pockets, in WitE2 sustained combat can do a similar job for you.”

“[Thanks to the new VP system] …as the Axis player, you need to overextend… As the Soviet player you need to contest a set of cities that in terms of force preservation you might simply write off… So it brings in the political/regime goal level that is missing from WitE1 but in a manner that retains a lot of player agency and choice”.

Glance at the Matrix Games product page and you could be forgiven for thinking WitE2 is already out. It’s not. Hexophiles can pre-order now but will have to wait until March 25 to play their purchase.

H is for Henge howler

I get the feeling Asobo’s scenery enhancers are rushed off their feet. A minute spent Street Viewing Stonehenge would have shown them that the traffic-treacling standing stones aren’t in fact hidden from the A303 by a wall of trees. If they were, perhaps the controversial road tunnel wouldn’t be going ahead.

I is for India versus Pakistan

It’s a pity Third Wire never got around to simming the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1965 and 1971. The conflicts might have been relatively brief, but, gosh, they were eventful. Sadly, there’s no sign of Sea Hawks sparring with Sabres in the trailer for upcoming “naval shooter” 1971: Indian Naval Front.

J is for Jigsaw Club

While discussing this week’s Friday Foxer, Roman happened to mention the Flare Path Jigsaw Club, the quirky collection of 500+ transport and military-themed jigsaws we painstakingly created a few years back on jigsawplanet.com. Happily, account inactivity hasn’t led to deletion. Still there and still free-to-play, the treasure trove has been renamed to reflect our new digs, and will (assuming I remember) grow by a jigsaw a week from here on.

K is for Kick in the door

Like father, like son. Unity of Command II’s second DLC will synthesise Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s ill-timed invasion of the Soviet Union. Due next month, the 10 USD expansion will be bigger than Black Turn. A 23-chapter campaign spiced with Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, Slovakian, Finnish, and Spanish supporting artists is promised. Still don’t own the excellent base game? Get a wiggle on (the sale ends on March 8) and that deficiency can be rectified for a mere 15 USD.

L is for Lofty purpose

The amazing Outerra has long felt like a sim engine in search of a purpose. Modder fly77 may well have have discovered that purpose. Glider simulation.

M is for Miraculous MP mod

Ingenious meddler, Nick Musurca, has managed to add PBEM/hotseat multiplayer to intimidating turnless singleplayer joint operations wargame, Command: Modern Operations. Right now IKE offers configurable turn lengths and an optional ‘limited orders’ mode to discourage unrealistic micro-management. Future versions with new attractions are by no means out of the question.

Nick: “There are a few features I’d like to add to IKE, mostly in response to player requests. One player requested the ability to schedule delivery of chat messages to his opponent, so that he could plan his taunts to arrive at the same time as his bombs. Another asked that I find a way to change the turn length during the game dynamically, to better account for the “hours of boredom, seconds of terror” nature of modern warfare. I like both ideas, but the latter will be trickier to get right.”

N is for Not a bad start

The beauty in the screenshot is one of Vienna’s E2s. The type was added to TramSim yesterday in a free update that should make the £32 single line Straßenbahn game less vulnerable to price complaints. However, further updates will be needed to weatherproof TramSim against framerate and physics criticism.

O is for Oodles of ocean

Razbam’s South Atlantic map for DCS won’t stop growing. What started out as a battlespace dominated by the Falkland Islands has recently spread to include a chunk of South America’s thinly populated sacrum. The staggering scope means full reconstructions of famous FAA Falklands War sorties may one day be possible.

P is for Patch-up Panzers

If, like me, you’ve a secret yearning to Zimmerit the walls of your computer room with Artex and dunkelgelb paint, the wait for Tank Squad is going to seem interminable. Just about the only good thing about the Q3 2022 ETA is it will give us plenty of time to work on DeGenerals (yes, that DeGenerals). The more of us that remind them that tank sims need big battlefields and realistic ballistics, the less chance there will be of TS shipping with a combat dimension that’s closer to Panzer Elite: Action than Panzer Elite: Special Edition.

Q is for Quick teabreak

R is for Review required

Pavlov’s House sits at 124 in BoardGameGeek’s user-determined wargame rankings. Pretty impressive considering there are more than nine thousand games in the chart. In the circumstances, a THC review of the recently released PC port seems warranted. Hopefully Richard Berger will have sorted out minor issues like this one by the time I get round to deploying to Stalingrad later this month.

S is for Site news

Roman thinks I was a pillock not to apply for that postman’s job last month. Pointing to the promising graphs on our Stripe page, I urged him to keep the faith, hold his nerve, and turn the central heating down a bit. Seriously, the site’s chances of surviving, improve with each passing week. There are now 92 kind souls flying regular aid flights into our equivalent of Templehof, Gatow and Wannsee. Thank you, airlifters!

T is for Titanic tiff

A2Zs will be duller places without occasional videos featuring dapper developer/writer/film director/explorer/historian, Tom Lynskey. The public face of and driving force behind mindboggingly ambitious sink-em-up Titanic: Honor And Glory has jumped – or, possibly, been shoved – overboard after a turbulent decade leading the project. What this means for TH&G is anybody’s guess. For the sake of the backers who’ve poured tens of thousands of dollars into the endeavour, and the modellers who’ve toiled for years on “the most accurate digital reproduction of anything from history ever” let’s hope something can be salvaged from the shipwreck.

U is for Until the Last Plane


There’s a good chance next week’s Friday feature will consist of an Until the Last Plane review. I’m hoping the demo that prompted this backhanded compliment in Flare Path last October – “There’s no technical reason why, with slightly simpler sprites, Until the Last Plane couldn’t have been a ZX Spectrum game. If CarloC’s genre-spurning WW2 squadron management novelty had been around in the 1980s I’m sure I would have played it to death, and today it would be filed alongside Krakatoa, Zoids, and Arnhem in my temporal cortex.” – wasn’t misleading, and the version of UTLP released yesterday, has what it takes to winkle similar compliments from my word piano.

V is for Vow

The next communal Combat Mission game will involve M113s and BMP-1s, M60s and T-64s. – that’s a promise.

W is for War-torn

Stir beans or man machine gun? WW2 Bunker Simulator (ETA: soon) won’t shy away from war’s hard choices.

X is for Xerox machine circa 1948?


World’s first sat nav? Prototype of a Kenwood souffle maker that was pulled from shelves after a series of fatal explosions in the early 1950s? Nope, this is a Tactical Range Recorder, a device found in most Allied destroyers from 1942 onwards. It says a lot about Iron Wolf Studio that they’re carefully modelling this gizmo, along with several others, so that Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter players can stalk and slay subs authentically.

Y is for Y no map overhaul?

Cauldrons of War – Stalingrad is bubbling merrily. Five weeks from release, the CoW: Barbarossa sequel will come with engine improvements. Unfortunately, significant cartographic changes don’t look to be on the cards. Screenshots suggests we’re getting another under-utilised main map.

Z is for Zero Zekes

February 20th, 1942 was a black day for the Imperial Japanese Navy’s air arm. As this fascinating documentary explains – with graphical assistance from Task Force Admiral – attacking a USN carrier task force with a squadron of unescorted Bettys was a high-risk gambit.

16 Comments

  1. As always, thank you so much for the kind mention, kind Sir 😉

  2. About Cauldrons of War – Stalingrad you mentioned that “significant cartographic changes don’t look to be on the cards.” and “(…)under-utilised main map”.

    Would you have an example of what you think would be better?

    Cheers

    • In my CoW: Barbarossa review I said this:

      “Harder to ignore are my misgivings about the way Cauldrons displays data on the main map and operational screens. Not only is it impossible to see which ops are linked to which HQs without clicking on them, you can’t see which units are committed or how ops are progressing without switching screens.”

      The CoW: Stalingrad screenshots give the impression that little has changed. As the issue didn’t stop me enjoying Barbarossa, I doubt it will spoil the sequel for me, but I’d like to have seen a more informative main map.

  3. @ClaudeJ thank you for that question
    @Tim thank you for this feedback
    I am currently working on the beast with that in mind.

    Here are some of the map & display improvements planned :

    -hovering an Army group will display linked operations and the % of progress
    -A sump up screen will be available from the map with all the Army Groups and Front useful informations displayed
    -hovering an operation will turn the meteo icons transparent for easier reading
    -a more classical map scrolling
    and so on…

  4. Thanks for your quick and candid answer mate.
    Great review by the way.

  5. A- Why not to have one occasional board wargame review ? It is definitely , I believe , overlapping hobby.
    My first suggestion/recommendation would be https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/94373/dien-bien-phu-final-gamble
    B- Witchcraft indeed
    C-I love reading it and feel very guilty to not contribute , but in past weeks I went through a almost constant 60 hours work weeks ,including night shifts, and I could not honestly put any sensible orders in my spare time. But maybe I am limiting myself. It could perhaps accurately model haste/wrong combat decision under duress. I will see what I can do.
    D- Oh yes.
    E- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkYjdPCyYjk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaVEGgsvM7o
    F- As much as I appreciate the fidelity , it somehow becomes to gruesome for me. Strange.
    G -Looks like there is some confusion with the preorders. Still looks really great. Except.. I am not so found of the new map/units artwork. I am probably in the small minority which really like the original WITE 1 look. Still exciting news about AI.
    H- They just should give back Stonehenge to the Welsh.
    I-Ah the British Empire. The gift which keeps on giving.
    J- Looks great
    K-WITE 2! WITE2! WITE2!
    R- I am very interested in the next project , the https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/318353/soldiers-postmens-uniforms
    W-Can’t wait
    Z- Sort of tactical win for Japanese I guess? I wonder
    As always thanks for great column, it is immeasurable help to have this , always interesting, distraction from the surrounding reality for me , this days.

  6. Cold War Combat Mission sounds amazing. Will be compiling a synthesizer-ridden music playlist in anticipation.

  7. Zimmerit. Whenever I see a link in one of your articles I know I’ll learn something if I follow it! I’d always wondered what that stuff was on the German tanks but had not ever tried to track it down. Now I know! It’s great to be back to learning interesting things from everything you write.

  8. Tank Mechanic Simulator has just had its tank models rebuilt to properly include ammunition storage and its contents, and they’ve used that as part of modeling the damage that disabled the tank and left it in a field for you to find.

    That may well mean they’re using that game to validate and improve the models and damage modeling on the upcoming one, which makes a lot of sense and means we could end up with two excellent games.

  9. Just getting to this today…

    As an aside, i have fought against Matt Easton, the Swordfighting expert in E, and drew 1-1 :). His wife used to train us.

  10. Graviteam released a new DLC! I hope you’ll give us a look, your column is where I discovered Graviteam and I’ve always enjoyed your take on their games.

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