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 Bauer is your boss

After a brief detour into the fictional, Berliners Jörg Friedrich and Sebastian St. Schulz are turning once again to their homeland’s history for ludological inspiration. In The Darkest Files (ETA: Soon) we will play one of Fritz Bauer’s prosecutors and endeavour to bring Nazi war criminals to justice during an era – the 1950s – when some in the Federal Republic felt the recent past was best forgotten.

C is for Cabri close

Thanks to toggleable air flow visualisations, pilots will be able to see as well as feel aerodynamic phenomena such as ground effect and VRS when flying the whirlybirds soon to be added to Microsoft Flight Simulator. The free November 11 update that introduces the Asobo-developed Guimbal Cabri G2 and the Bell 407 by Nemeth Designs will also bolster the sim with gliders and an FS9-reminiscent selection of historic aerodynes.

D is for Das Football Boot

The DFB BdU is still buzzing after last week’s successes. Two Cornerite-captained Type VIIs sent merchantmen to the bottom during the past seven days. U-49’s victim was a 7000 ton Guinness tanker. In the case of U-50… well, I’ll let cederic, the skipper, explain his phenomenal start:

(Saturday, Aug 27) “A surprise start to the war for U-50, as she bumps into an Atlantic convoy gathering in wait for its escort. An escort that’s going to wonder where their charges are, as seven of them sit upon the seabed. The only thing that slowed down the successful sinkings was the need to reload the tubes, too many targets to hit them all at once.”

(Wednesday, Aug 31) “Caution proved necessary as the U-50 encountered a Royal Navy patrol led by a light cruiser. The accompanying destroyer escort did at one point ping the valiant sub but its competent depth charge pattern killed only fish. A single torpedo did for the cruiser, and the U-50 slunk quietly into the night celebrating its survival.”

E is for Expectations

Regiments has been assigned a slot in the next 3×3. I’m going in expecting to be unimpressed by the game’s relatively crude treatment of cover and LoS (buildings are vehicle-permeable, and don’t block LoS, apparently) but won round by the accessibility, intimacy, and spectacle.

F is for Fetching foxer mugs

Until I’m in a position to employ someone capable of building a robust on-site store, THC merch will probably consist of small runs of products manually dispatched from Blighty by Yours Truly. Before I start mailing far and wide, I’d like to test the system with a UK-only offer. If you dwell in the world’s 17th happiest country, would like to drink your beverages out of a fetching Foxer mug (other designs will be available), have £15 (price includes p&p) to spare, and don’t mind braving a somewhat Heath-Robinson purchase process, this is what you need to do.

1) Use the donation form at the bottom of this page to pay your £15.
2) Email me, tim at tallyhocorner.com, your address.
3) Wait patiently for your vulpine drinking vessel to arrive (I plan to dispatch orders on Mondays and Fridays).

G is for Gifts from Giant Flame

Since THC sung its praises in February, The Troop has benefited from numerous code tweaks, and gained ten missions and a prototype eight-scenario skirmish mode. The latter arrived last week along with an updated demo.

H is for Half-price until Monday

Cutting a key capable of unlocking the compendious World of Guns: Gun Disassembly armoury costs just £15 at present. Inside you’ll find over 230 strippable firearms, the latest of which is a 174-component Gatling Gun.

I is for Industrious Italian

Sim-smith Gabriel Campitelli has some promising irons in his brazier at present. When he’s not working on his WW2 RN carrier ops game, he’s DHC-2 Beavering away on Virtual Aviator Online – a massively multiplayer roleplaying flight sim with ownable aircraft and hangars, and earning opportunities such as cargo and passenger transportation, crop dusting, glider towing, STOL competitions, and air racing. Funds permitting, Gabriel hopes to have a closed VAO beta running before the end of year.

J is for Jams and junctions

I fear ViewApp’s determination to faithfully recreate the architecture of central Munich may have undesirable performance and coverage consequences. My interest in the recently announced CityDriver (ETA: Coming soon), a potential City Car Driving supplanter, dwindled when I noticed this map in the Steam blurb.

K is for Killbots

Every three years or so, eSim dangle a tempting payware update in front of Steel Beasts Pro PE users. The latest, 4.3, arrived this summer and, in addition to a number of new steeds, targets, and engine improvements, offers purchasers a chilling glimpse of angry house aggro circa 2030. Amongst its selection of loitering munition types is the speculative Sprite, an ‘autonomous killbot’ that emerges from its container den, usually in numbers, flies to the target area and engages AFVs without any human involvement at all.

L is for Lacking in reelism

Fishing sim expert KpShamino isn’t exactly bowled over by Call of The Wild: The Angler. In the video above he highlights dozens of things Expansive Worlds need to improve before CotW:TA can be considered a serious alternative to Russian Fishing 4 and Fishing Planet.

M is for Miniature interview…

…with Thomas Guyon of Maesto Cinetik.

THC: When and why did you cross the line that separates game players from game designers?

Thomas: I spent countless hours tweaking editor-equipped games like Age of Rifles and Warcraft 2. Sometime around 2011, I wanted to play Balance of Power again, but couldn’t find it so made my own Cold War simulator instead. This is when I really became a game designer. Later I coded a better version that you can still play for free here.

THC: Which of your creations are you most proud of and why?

Thomas: I am still very proud of Jey’s Empire, a game where you play as J. Edgar Hoover. It has huge flaws and some great qualities, and I will certainly someday remake it. This was the first game I made for Steam that did not lose money (To be honest, it didn’t earn money either). It showed me becoming a full-time full game designer was possible.

THC: You’ve joined the Cornerites, a silent order of game-playing monks who, when they take the cowl, are only permitted to bring three games with them. Which three titles would you choose?

Thomas: Does my whole collection of Advanced Squad Leader boxes count as one game? I also admit to having played Warhammer Total War II for more than 1000 hours, so I guess I should bring that too. A Tetris or a Pokemon Yellow would be perfect to complete that collection.

THC: Judging by Maestro Cinetik’s catalogue, your book shelves are dominated by history books about 1960s USA, Eastern Front WW2, and Warlord Era China.

Thomas: I am afraid you are right. You can add books about Polar conquest, Winston Churchill, and WW1 naval history – interests I’ve yet to turn into games.

THC: I suspect few wargamers outside of China know much about the Warlord Era. Do you see this knowledge void as a problem or an opportunity?

Thomas: Both! I am on an evangelical mission. I want to convert as many players as possible to this era. I’m convinced it can provide refreshing experiences to players. As a developer it was a problem at first. The Warlord era is such a mess! The information at hand is both scarce and biased. It took me a lot of time to come up with the right system to simulate both the political struggles, the murky plots, and the military operations. In fact the game will offer a large variety of very different gameplay to capture the complexity of the period.

I want the player to be able to play factions as diverse as:

  • The Chinese Communist Party: with a lot of underground action.
  • The Green Gang: with a focus on gaining respectability and money.
  • The Guomindang: with a lot of internal political plots and a loose coalition to maintain.
  • Warlords: each one with its own personality: they are more diverse than one can imagine and they will have all their own unique challenges.

THC: Speaking as a developer rather than a gamer, if you could change one thing about Steam, what would it be?

Thomas: This summer, their team randomly broke stuff in the developers’ interface. I really wish they could simply just go back to the previous working version instead of letting things sit broken for weeks. For example, they broke their easy zip system to upload game builds. That system made a developer’s life easy and was used daily by most of us. Besides other minor complaints I could have made, I really appreciate Steam. It’s still the best way at my disposal to distribute my games.

THC: Name a game, either upcoming or released, that you feel deserves more attention.

Thomas: I would say Task Force Admiral by Drydock Dreams Games. I am following their progress and I am hyped. I am sure it has already some attention from Pacific and naval warfare addicts but it would be great if this game could reach a broader audience. This is the kind of game I would like to be able to do some day.

THC: Thank you for your time.

N is for News from Norb

Last month Scourge of War developer NorbSoftDev ended a long relationship with Slitherine. The split means the various SoWs – Gettysburg, Waterloo etc. – will be unpurchasable for a while. However, when they do eventually return to market, it sounds like they’ll be better and, possibly, cheaper than ever:

“Right now we want to re-release the games at a fair price with lots of good upgrades and fixes. That’s the goal here. Keep working on the games and make enough to pay the bills.” (Norb, Aug 30)

O is for Outwit October Revolutionaries

Legacy 1917 is an upcoming stealth-action game set during the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Bears Smile look like a talented bunch and the thought of sneaking, stabbing, bombing and distracting my way through lovingly crafted chunks of Vladivostok, Mogilev, Moscow, Klin, Tver, Rzhev, Velikiye Luki, Pskov, Yamburg and Saint Petersburg appeals.

P is for Plausible puddles

Does your race sim of choice take into consideration terrain elevation and inclination, and drain sizes and locations when working out where track puddles form? Since last week’s mega update, Automobilista 2 does. Also part of V1.4.1 is ‘Advanced Mechanical Damage Modelling’ – a new system that makes thrashing engines much riskier. Previously “engine wear and temperature were live variables that could be gamed to a certain extent – you could for example calculate that 50% engine wear from running it too hot in a 30-minute race still offered plenty of headroom”. Now by pushing hard you raise the probability of a catastrophic failure. “AMDM may force you to decide between playing a little safer or taking the extra risk for that extra little bit of performance.”

Q is for Quick tea card

Card number 25 in Brooke Bond’s 1966 set ‘Transport Through the Ages’ features Turbinia, the fastest thing afloat at the turn of the 19th Century. Newcastle upon Tyne’s Discovery Museum kennels ‘The Ocean Greyhound’ today.

R is for Risk-free purchase

Air support, bridging, and seven new missions for arguably the most interesting wargame of 2020? A THC review of this £5 Radio General adjunct probably isn’t necessary.

S is for Saveless sequel

Dovetail is hoping dynamic weather, improved lighting, and longer, busier routes will persuade the Train Sim World faithful to invest in TSW3. Predictably, browsing the forums it’s not hard to find customers who won’t be reaching for their wallets on September 6. One pretty significant disincentive is DTG’s failure to sort out longstanding save game issues. TSW3 will ship without save functionality, and there’s no way of knowing when it will reappear.

T is for Tow-friendly Tank Squad

One of the military graves in a churchyard not far from Bramley End belongs to a British tanker killed in Belgium in September 1944. Slain by HE while unbuttoned, the unlucky warrior had won the Military Medal and bar earlier in the war – a pretty rare feat. Interestingly, both of the awards were for actions unreproducible in most all existing WW2 armour sims. Under fire, he had attached tow cables to disabled tanks then towed those tanks to safety. Roll on Tank Squad, a sim capable of recreating such dramas.

U is for Ulundi

Strategiae, the outfit that delights in digitising conflicts other devs wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot polearm, is working on an Anglo-Zulu War add-on for Wars Across The World. While WatW’s siege mechanics means player are unlikely to witness Rorke’s Drift-style miracles, the DLC shouldn’t have any trouble hatching engagements that bring to mind Isandlwana and Ulundi.

V is for VGA V bombers

Ruben Moreno’s Retro Flight Simulator with its playful graphics switcher (GGA → EGA → VGA → SVGA) is the reason I’m presently picturing a multi-era flight game in which the pixels shrink and the colour palette increases as the years pass and the planes and weapons grow in sophistication.

W is for Wield wands

“Unrealistic” is a word unlikely to appear in Airport Ground Handing Simulator VR reviews. Unlike the vast majority of oddball sims on Steam, Aviar’s ground operations agent game started life as a real world training tool.

X is for Xtra Firefight

Firefight, a Close Combat-style RTT with plenty going for it, quietly doubled in size and price on August 21st. Those who purchased before the 21st get the nine new Eastern Front maps and the 72 scenarios that accompany them for free. Latecomers must stump up, in effect, an additional £8.

Y is for Yearnworthy

Campaigns in due-in-October Rule the Waves 3 will last up to eighty years. Players can, if they wish to start out designing, ordering, and orchestrating coal-fired pre-dreadnoughts at the tail-end of the Nineteenth Century and finish up overseeing fleets filled with gas turbine-powered missile cruisers and aircraft carriers in the decade of the Moon Landing and Flower Power. The first Matrix-published instalment of RTW will look just as dated as its predecessor, but thanks to that extended timeline and host of other improvements (individual captains and admirals with traits and specialisms, customisable divisions, more complex bases, brighter AI, more AI nations, AI vs AI wars…) there’s no danger of it going down in history as ‘more of the same’.

Z is for Zendora needs you

In the first third of Operation Oryx, the Comment Commanders liberated southern Strupnic, clobbered several AFVs, and reclaimed a hidden T-72. In the second, they turned the M2 highway into a smoky T-62 graveyard. What will happen in the third and final phase of the battle is anybody’s guess. Somewhat shorthanded, our unit choreographers are currently facing a force of enemy tanks that’s advancing in an alarmingly coordinated manner. Report here for duty if you’d like to help the Zens repel this tide of steel.

8 Comments

  1. The Angler remains on my wishlist, as release day reviews were unkind but I still have faith in its future.

    Tank Squad’s been on my wishlist since it was announced – the team behind it have joyfully detailed tank models from their still-being-updated Tank Mechanic Simulator which still gives me great joy rebuilding and painting Panthers.

    I can also easily recommend World of Guns: Gun Disassembly, and did indeed have a happy half hour earlier this week taking apart then putting back together a Gatling Gun, before then firing it in x-ray vision slow motion to see how the darn thing actually works. For something with so many parts (143?) it’s mechanically simple, which appeals to my inner engineer.

  2. I hope people who bought scourge of war through steam or slithering won’t be left in the cold. I got Waterloo in the slithering summer sale and found out the games where leaving when I was trying to get help with the steam key.

    My number one hope for rule the waves three is a better explanation of what all the armour values mean. That was the biggest thing that kept me from fully digging into RTW 2. You have all these values you can tweak but no explanation of what they do.

  3. A great opus as always, Tim!

    As for Regiments, buildings – or more like, city tiles – definitely restrict LoS and will force you, like other obstacles like orchads, to reposition your unit properly to have a line of fire. All around, it plays remarkably much like a lite TacOps reincarnated in the clothing of Ground Control I. Finding what game it reminds you of is not too easy, yet once you draw a parallel with the former when it comes to the topic and its treatment, and the latter for the gameplay mechanics and the overall pacing, it kinda makes more sense IMHO.

    Two links I would like to promote and commit to your demanding taste before you end up inking your final verdict:
    1) Capt Miller of Combat Mission AARs fame posting his opinion of the game and what it brings to the genre
    https://millerswargamingvault.blogspot.com/2022/08/west-german-chevauchee.html

    2) Yours truly adding to the cause at his own very humble & amateurish level
    https://www.reddit.com/r/computerwargames/comments/wor11e/debatewhy_regiments_is_not_your_average_rts_and/

    Hope these will provide extra food for thought 😉

    Cheers!

    PS: and my thanks to Thomas for his kindness 😉

  4. That retro flight sim in the browser is pretty neat. Reproducing EGA and in particular CGA must take some dedication to technology preservation. There’s no two ways about it – that’s ghastly to look at without nostalgia-tinted glasses.

    And oh my gosh, I can finally show the kids what daddy did for a living at the airport. Describing it always seemed to leave too much to the imagination.

    Yay for Radio General!

    And Mr. Guyon, I believe in you. Warlord Era and Polar conquest, you’re going where few have gone before. Godspeed, sir.

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