A2Z

A is for Alphabetised wargame, sim, and site news. Once a month, assuming I can persuade Austerity’s Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine to perform the miracle of internal combustion, I spend a day or two scouring Simulatia and Grognardia for stories with the potential to fascinate, startle, cheer, dismay or amuse. Those stories are then dehydrated, alphabetised and delivered, via articles like this one, to people who’ve got better things to do than plough through puff and platitudes.

B is for Born yesterday

Nerial and Devolver Digital’s enthusiasm for 18th Century French history knows no bounds. I have it on on good authority* that the boxed Collector’s Edition of Card Shark that released yesterday along with the standard digital version, comes with an engraved snuff box, an elegant clay pipe, and a lace handkerchief contaminated with smallpox.

* Roman told me.

C is for Chunkier chariots

Screenshots like the one above suggest ‘coming soon’ Ancient Arenas: Chariots is just Qvadriga with a new name and an extra D when, in fact, it’s Qvadriga with a new name, an extra D, and a new real-time play option. Turnopia isn’t involved this time. Creative Forge, the Hard West/Aircraft Carrier Survival people, are doing the digital donkey work for Slitherine.

D is for Destroyer delayed

It looks like Daedalic Entertainment, Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter’s new publisher, has persuaded Iron Wolf that their Fletcher sim needs to cater to those who’d rather not fiddle with esoteric kit like dead reckoning tracers and tactical range recorders. A new optional tactical mode is in development “that will vastly reduce the learning curve for casual players”. The rethink nudges Destroyer’s release date from Q2 to Q3.

E is for East African action too

On paper Unity of Command 2 and the North African Campaign is a match made in heaven. Due on July 7, Desert Rats will offer over twenty missions, not all of which will involve the titular rodents. Consulting the scenario chart, I see ‘Keren‘, ‘Amba Alagi‘, and ‘Epirus Offensive‘ lurking amongst predictables like ‘Tobruk’, ‘2nd El Alamein’, and ‘Battleaxe’. Purchasers can expect to contest hexagons in Greece, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia.

F is for Friendlier Fighting Fantasy port

When, a couple of weeks ago, I recommended middle-aged nostalgics choose The Warlock of Firetop Mountain over Freeway Fighter, I hadn’t, I confess, reached the point in the book where you blunder into the Mazemaster’s labyrinth. Negotiating a tangled corridor network using nothing but text descriptions is, to put it mildly, trying. I’m guessing one of the reasons this alternative, enpolygoned version of Firetop Mountain is popular is it makes maze navigation much easier.

G is for Games inspired by racehorse names

This month’s nags/games are all running at Epsom Downs this afternoon:

Pyledriver – You are Ernie Pyle’s driver. Attempt to keep the famous WW2 war correspondent alive, productive, and PTSD-free, on the perilous battlefields of North Africa, Italy, France and the Pacific.

Arctician – Chilly Arctic trucking simulator starring the awesome Le Tourneau Snow Train.

Lord Rapscallion – Music, murder, and machete-melting monsters mingle in this point-and-click adventure set in mid-Sixties Jamaica. When Montego Bay rude girl Una Blake agrees to roadie for local rocksteady star Lord Rapscallion, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into.

H is for Hangar gaps?

If there are empty corners in your IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad hangar, now might not be a bad time to fill them. Until June 10 most add-on aircraft are 75% off. A few like the clean-limbed Folgore can be had for as little as £2.40.

I is for It should be illegal to post Thunder Helix screenshots as pixel-fuzzing jpegs

J is for Jently does it

Flight of Nova looks like something capable of putting a smile on the face of the average Tally-Ho Cornerite. The demo-equipped weapon-free spacecraft sim boasts “realistic aerodynamics and orbital physics”, randomly generated transport and search missions, and a fictional planet about the size of Earth

K is for Kettle kriticism

In the places where rail simmers gather to gab and grumble, one of the hottest topics of conversation at the moment is released-on-Tuesday Spirit of Steam: Liverpool Lime Street – Crewe. Train Simulator World 2’s first steam loco-equipped add-on has shipped with bugs and shortcomings (incompetent firemen, physics glitches, flawed sounds, scant rail traffic…). Folks accustomed to high-quality TS kettles aren’t massively impressed, but the griping isn’t universal.

L is for Loose lips

With international espionage being both expensive and risky, it’s hardly surprising smart, frugal intelligence agencies are increasingly using GFP (Game Forum Perusal) to obtain military secrets. One of the richest sources of classified weapon info, the War Thunder forum, recently provided spooks with details of China’s DTC10-125 APFSDS round.

M is for Memories of ’68

Concerned that its release might be perceived by some as “support of or tolerance of the aggression” SCS Software have decided to indefinitely delay the release of the next ETS2 add-on, Heart of Russia. The studio’s strong stance is hardly a surprise given its location. Many of the people working at Jihlavská 1558/21, Praha, probably have parents and grandparents with Operation Danube memories.

N is for New Gunship instalment on the way

Microprose don’t do ‘cryptic’. This image appeared in their twitter feed last week instantly sparking wild speculation.

O is for Open opium dens

It’s now possible to play the dense but intriguing Rise of the White Sun demo as the Nationalists, the Green Gang, and the Shanghai garrison commander, as well as the Communists. Further enhancements planned by Maestro Cinetik include a multiplayer mode and a scenario covering an entire province.

P is for Paraguayan War

The man-made catastrophe that convulsed North America in the 1860s tends to overshadow the man-made catastrophe that convulsed South America. Deprived of ludological limelight for decades, The War of the Triple Alliance finally gained some long-overdue illumination in late May. The £4 Curupayti 1866 scenario for Wars Across The World runs for thirty two-month turns and can be played either as Paraguay or the Triple Alliance (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay).

Q is for Quick tea card

This is card number 38 from one of my favourite sets, The Sea – Our Other World (Brooke Bond, 1974). It depicts one of the RAF’s strangest ever ops – the ‘attacks’ on the stricken Torrey Canyon in 1967.

R is for Radio waves

Serious Sim and Foolish Mortals might have turned their backs on radio-orchestrated wargaming, but the concept lives on in the shape of the upcoming Radio Commander: Pacific Campaign. It’s a little disappointing franchise owner Games Operators have chosen the somewhat crowded PTO as the new setting when there are myriad other less familiar fronts and conflicts they might have chosen. A big part of Radio Commander’s charm came from the small scale of its engagements. Can the sweeping RCPC do intimacy, I wonder.

S is for Suggestion for Shrapnel

As, a few years back, I failed to shame Shrapnel Games into removing the chimeric All American: The 82nd Airborne in Normandy from their store, I doubt there’s much point in me publicly suggesting they mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War by bringing Pro Sim’s The Falklands War: 1982 to Steam at a price that reflects its age and imperfections.

T is for Test-drive tanks

Soon it won’t just be Gunner, HEAT, PC’s supporters that have unrestricted access to the sim’s complete range of greensward gougers. For the duration of the next NextFest (June 13-20) all and sundry will be able to testdrive everything GHPC has to offer via a special action-packed demo.

U is for Unfinished, unfortunately

Interactive graphic novel Diptych: The Great War is too flimsy to secure a 3×3 spot. If the gifted Russian watercolourist behind it ever gets around to finishing his anthropomorphic tale of life and death on the Western Front, I’d have the excuse I need to litter THC with splendid illustrations like these.

V is for Vista veritas

Those drawn to DCS World by a love of aviation rather than an appetite for verisimilitudinous violence are likely to find RAZBAM’s close to completion South Atlantic map awfully hard to resist. Awash with pleasing panorami, the vast scenery looks like an aero rambler’s dream. However, anyone planning to use it to recreate tumultuous events from four decades ago will need to turn a blind eye to anachronisms like a painstakingly recreated RAF Mount Pleasant.

W is for WeGo warbird wargame?

Disappointed by Slitherine’s Scramble: Battle of Britain radio silence? Console yourself with the following gen. Valentin Lievre, the talented coder behind Hex of Steel, appears to be working on his own WeGo warbird wargame!

^ Wanton wishful thinking! As reader KSBearski points out:

“I believe Valentin Studio’s next endeavour will be more like an FPS. His YouTube channel highlights 39 DevBlog videos detailing different things about the new game’s mechanics. Personally, it reminds me a little of WW2 WarThunder.”

X is for XXL furballs

The floating aerodromes that traded blows in the Pacific during WW2 could disgorge prodigious amounts of angry aluminium. Aware of this, Drydock Dream Games are keen to ensure the engine powering Task Force Admiral can cope with edge case clashes involving huge air armadas. The results of early stress tests are promising.

Y is for Y strength steps?

Out next Tuesday, Attack at Dawn: North Africa is a tempting subject for a THC review. While some of Tomislav Čipčić’s design choices are not to my taste (last time I checked, the game used pretty crude board game-style strength steps), the unusually flexible approach to timekeeping, the friendly UI, and the (TBC) able AI, should mean my assay essay is light on scathe.

Z is for ZX Spectrum games were rarely this good

To play the terrific Travel Through Time, a ZX Spectrum racing game that would definitely have been a Crash Smash had it arrived 35 years earlier, you’ll need an emulator like Fuse. Be sure to select ‘128K’ (Machine > Select > 128k) before starting, or your high-speed Scandinavian peregrination will be over before it’s begun.

18 Comments

  1. Three, rather jumbled, incoherent thoughts:
    -The showcase videos on Flight of Nova´s steam page seems hell-bent on depicting all my bad landing habits in Elite Dangerous, when lazy or no longer paying attention. But colour me intrigued.
    -If the number of people you have direct contact to stays the same handful as in the first game, you could probably still keep some intimacy in Radio Commander2. What I am less keen on is doing it once more on the same old battlefields we always see in games. Developers are self-limiting out of habit. I suspect their niche audience would way more readily accept and even value more exotic times and places than they presume.
    -I had totally forgotten about the Empire of Brazil. Damn you eurocentrism.

  2. IL2 thingy suffers from three main issues.

    The first is the miserable confusion about what you should and shouldn’t buy, as they have multiple products with overlapping and similar names, covering several game engines and generations.

    The second is that they appear to have some twisted approach to DLC on Steam whereby you buy it, then can’t play it until you dig into the files, find a key of some form, add it to a website that you’ve logged into using an account you have to link to Steam through some unstated mechanism. If that doesn’t sound too complicated the number of reviews complaining that it hasn’t worked is enough to put me off; I want to play games, not play DLC key enabling games.

    The third is that even if you do all this, half the content isn’t available on Steam anyway. Half the WWI DLC isn’t on Steam, multiple vehicles (for the tank DLC) aren’t, many aircraft and an entire campaign aren’t.

    It all just puts me off even trying to engage with the franchise, especially for an 8 year old game. I do still own the ‘so old I bought it on DVD’ original so I guess if I need some IL2 fun I can dig that out and play that instead.

    • 1. It’s not that complicated, really:
      – Great Battles series (Stalingrad, Moscow, Kuban, Bodenplatte, Normady) plus Flying Circus and Tank Crew and the various campaigns integrate into the same game using the same engine which has been under constant development for the last 8 years with huge improvements over time.
      – Cliffs of Dover and Desert Wings.
      – IL-2 1946 the one and only.

      2. You can buy the modules directly from the developer’s site or Steam or both. On Steam you must own Battle of Stalingrad which acts as the base game, then you buy DLC normally like for any other game.

      If you own the game on Steam and want to buy from the developer’s store you only need to create an account on the developer’s site and link your Steam account using the option inside the game, no key needed. The DLC then activates in the Steam version. There’s a manual here: https://forum.il2sturmovik.com/topic/76846-il-2-sturmovik-great-battles-manuals-ver-4702c. Flight simmers still read manuals, right?

      3. See above, you can get it from the developer’s site and it integrates into the Steam version if you link the accounts. The DLC are released on Steam once they’re out of early access, usually. They do this to encourage people to buy at source.

  3. I keep meaning to give Rise of the White Sun a serious playthrough. The setting alone intrigues me, and it seems to have some really novel mechanics happening.

    Any of the Tally-Ho aircrew have suggestions for a relaxing flight game? I go all to pieces when fuel mixtures go sideways and shrapnel starts flying. Deep down I just want to tool around landscapes gracefully in something like Skye (https://store.steampowered.com/app/1214360/SKYE/) but I’d happily pay for it to get a little more space and perhaps a few different aircraft.

  4. I think the market is ripe for a good turn based air combat game, very excited to see how this one plays out!

    I revisited Achtung! Spitfire and Over the Reich a while back – core gameplay is still there, but I think with modern UI/UX and 3D graphics layered on, they could be much improved on (any extra core gameplay tweaks would, if done judiciously, just be icing on the cake).

    Those Sid Meier’s mobile ports from some years back are amazing, but are also “beer & pretzels” level complexity.

  5. I believe Valentin Studios’ next endeavor will be more like FPS. His YouTube channel highlights 39 DevBlog videos detailing different things about the new game’s mechanics. Personally, it reminds me a little of WW2 WarThunder. This dude is very prolific, not only is he developing this new game but he’s added interesting new mechanics to HoS and new content. It’s worth buying Hex of Steel just to support him. That young man has some serious talent AND he remains very accessible to boot.

    • One other thing to note, Valentin has announced at least on Steam he is modifying the map size in HoS to cover the entire world. He does not have a world map yet, but he says he’s working on one. So he is still improving HoS while working on his new project. Pretty hard-working fella.

      Sorry to hear you’re disappointed. Having enjoyed Avalon Hill’s “Achtung Spitfire” and “Over the Reich”, I would like to see a turn-based air conflict game myself. Would be nice if Slitherine was more forthcoming on “Scramble”.

Leave a Reply