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 Balloon busting

Thanks to a fast-working modder, DCS pilots were downing Chinese spy balloons the day after one of the real McCoy plummeted into the ocean off the coast of South Carolina. When Grinelli isn’t sculpting topical gasbags and their nemeses, historic biplanes, daft spacecraft, or agile aerobats, he can usually be found shaping and sharpening his WIP Super Sabre module.

C is for Command & Control 3

What a shame morale isn’t more important and weapon ranges more authentic in Command & Control 3. At times C&C Game Studios’ demo-blessed RTS feels awfully like an isometric modern warfare Close Combat. Unfortunately, realism holes and scenario design decisions mean the CC flashbacks tend to be fleeting.

D is for Das Football Boot

For a brief spell in late Jan/early Feb, a U-boat skippered by Yours Truly, topped the DFB tonnage chart. When, on Feb 4, we heard that U-30 (Derby County), our chief rival, had managed to pot three fat freighters while heading home at the end of its second patrol, there were groans aplenty aboard U-52 (Swindon Town). Even if the BdU’s ongoing investigation into reporting irregularites decides, as I suspect it will, that two of U-30’s recent kills were illegitimate (Please reread the rules related to experience, mverdo!) the Type VII with the ram-emblazoned conning tower will retain the top spot.

E is for Extraneous element

Call me a wet hammock, but my heart sank like a sounding lead when I heard that Mimimi were making a piratical stealth strategy game slathered with the supernatural. The Golden Age of Piracy – especially the blousy version that entertained cinema audiences in the 30s, 40s, and 50s – is such a perfect fit for the Commandos format, I’m worried all that magic will distract and dilute instead of enriching.

F is for Friday Foxer

Roman has provided a fiendish hexagonal wordsearch this week. Unless the volunteer defoxers (who you’re welcome to join) discern the puzzle’s hidden theme, finding all sixteen answers will be close to impossible.

G is for Good news from Romania

Door Kickers 2’s natural replayability, bulging single missions folder, potent random mission generator, and bustling Steam workshop (there are around 5000 user-made challenges available) has made the two-year wait for campaigns very easy to endure. Even so, it’s good to hear that wait will soon be over. Yesterday, Dan Dimitrescu told me that he was hoping (“Its a major addition (plus many smaller ones) so quality takes even more precedence over any release date”) to introduce the ‘Tour of Duty’ mode in roughly a month’s time.

“It will be the first of our campaign-like implementations. You’ll take a squad and try to survive for one week doing missions each day, but with a slight management layer to make things more interesting.

Later you will also see something we call Operations, which is more akin to what people have gotten in Door Kickers 1 as campaign, again with some management details added to it.

Even later, post release that is [DK2 is still in Early Access], we are looking into a proper strategic layer campaign mode with multiple units deployed around the Area and generating tactical missions where appropriate, with goals and events and dynamic developments. But, when, how and if this all happens remains to be seen.”

H is for Hover Here

Crave a decent RC flight sim but don’t have sixty-five nicker to spare? Hover Here is worth investigating. Although there’s only one venue and all of the included aerodynes are miniature whirlybirds, a £0.00 price tag makes these shortcomings easy to overlook.

I is for Idea

Talking of overlooking things… Play IDEA’s demo and tell me TLR’s quirky explore-em-up doesn’t shoot itself in the foot with its tight time limits. Top-down rambles that might have been relaxing and filled with experimentation are rendered frantic by a timer that euthanizes your mouse-nudged, pinball-like ‘idea’ if you fail to traverse screens quickly enough. I want to loiter and take in the details in each photo-based locale, but loitering is strictly forbidden.

J is for Jedi-engined gem

Dark Forces, an FPS that can play in a charity football match alongside the likes of Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, and Outlaws, without looking like the player called in at the eleventh hour because No One Lives Forever sprained her ankle, is a trifling £1.70 on Steam until Feb 23.

K is for Kadesh kondensed

I’m guessing the version of the Battle of Kadesh that comes with Swifter Than Eagles, a Field of Glory 2 add-on released yesterday, simplifies and shrinks the 1274 BC scrap. If not, purchasers are going to spend an awfully long time moving wheeled units. It’s believed over 5000 chariots participated in the “best documented battle in all of ancient history”.

L is for Lamentable launch

My plan to include WinterThunder, an £11 Battle of the Bulge board game port, in last week’s A2Z was stymied by a technical issue. Because the hexy newcomer launched with a bug the size of a Goliath beetle that prolific designer Brian Train was unable to squash until he had returned from his holiday, Train Operator 377 grabbed the slot instead. Whether WinterThunder makes the next A2Z will depend on how speedily Brian rectifies another issue.

M is for Masterfully modelled multihulls

Assuming the aged pixel pump under my desk can handle its handsome vistas and high-fidelity physics, there will be impressions of the Early-Accessible-since-yesterday Hydrofoil Generation in the next 3×3. As I’m someone who generally prefers messing about in wind-powered dolphin magnets than racing them, I’m keen to find out whether HG needs the frisson of competition to divert.

N is for Nuclear War Simulator

Some of NWS’s early purchasers don’t appear to have realised they were buying an incomparably sophisticated armagaeddon sandbox not a hardcore version of DEFCON or ICBM. Others such as digitcruncher had more realistic expectations, but aren’t overly impressed by the UI design and level of polish in Slitherine’s latest release.

O is for Operation: Harsh Doorstep…

…not a game in which you play a Tory candidate pounding the streets in a Red Wall constituency in the days leading up to a general election, but a free, tactical shooter with (if early Steam reviews are to be trusted) optimization issues and weak audio, but great mod support and considerable potential.

P is for Papers, Please with automobile abuse

Contraband Police, a 3D Papers, Please with a bit of vehicular vandalism and first-person gunplay thrown in, is nigh (March 8). Given that a fairly polished demo was available way back in October 2020, you have to wonder what developer Crazy Rocks has been up to for the past 28 months.

Q is for Quick tea card

The final card from ‘Australia’, a 48-card set issued by Lyons Tea in 1959, features a radio-controlled turbojet-powered target drone called a Jindivik. Developed and manufactured Down Under, the Jindivik (“hunted one”) was a very successful machine that could, with the aid of a Luneberg lens or two, impersonate aircraft much larger than itself. Usually, but not always, the decoys it trailed bore the brunt of successful missile hits.

R is for Realistic ballistics

It’s good to see Green Tree Games aren’t so focused on crafting computer gaming’s first (?) ‘tactical leadership RPG’, that they’ve forgotten Burden of Command will need plausible AFV exchanges if it wishes to gull grizzled grogs.

S is for Show of hands

Hands up who’d like me to devote a Friday Feature to Combined Arms Operation Series. While some of the information provision complaints I raised a year and half ago don’t appear to have been addressed yet, the £15 title now offers several meaty historical scenarios, and is more than happy to sim amphibious landings and airborne ops.

T is for Troglodytic train sim

It’s not often I stumble upon the official site of a mobile sim and think “Gosh, I wish there was a Windows version.” and “Realism-wise, this actually looks superior to its PC peers.”. If anyone reading this has played Subtransit Drive and cares to share their thoughts via the comments or an email, I’ll paste those thoughts (with a credit, naturally) in the gap below.



U is for Unusually foggy

Radio Commander: Pacific Campaign isn’t the only FoW-shrouded wargame ‘coming soon’ from Polish publisher Games Operators. From a distance, King’s Orders looks like a potentially pleasing melange of Defender of the Crown, Radio Commander, and Campaigns on the Danube. Fingers crossed, historical factors like weather, disease, and logistics aren’t ignored.

V is for Vilification

The launch of Hogwarts Legacy was a golden opportunity for the big beasts of the Anglophone games press to demonstrate that they could apply their finely honed critical faculties to a subject other than video games. Instead many of them have used it as an excuse to ramp up their demonisation of J. K. Rowling and, by implication, anyone who has sympathy for her views.

Nuance-free accusations of transphobia litter the ‘HogLeg’ controversy articles produced by the likes of PC Gamer, Gamespot, and Gamesradar. Concrete examples of Rowling’s heinous crimes, however, are conspicuous by their absence.

Tellingly, only eleven of the two thousand words in PC Gamer’s hatchet job are JKR’s own and those eleven – “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” “social contagion”, “natal girls and women” and “costume” – are shorn of context and used to draw decidedly dodgy conclusions. You’d think “a leading voice of anti-trans panic” with “years of transphobic comments” behind her would have provided Tyler Wilde with some better ammunition.

Gamespot devote a staggering six thousand words to proving JKR and her supporters are hate- and ignorance-fuelled bigots. Their rambling sermon contains much that is misleading, a few truly jaw-dropping takes, and at least one demonstrable falsehood. The only direct JKR quote they choose to use…

“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.”

…has been carefully stripped of its preamble in order, I suspect, to better fit their unmistakable agenda.

Here’s what Rowling actually wrote:

“I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk. Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.

So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.”

Websites like PC Gamer and Gamespot wouldn’t dream of treating a video game in the hearsay-heavy, evidence-light manner in which they treat JKR. For those of us who see Rowling as a compassionate realist – a courageous feminist who says what she says and does what she does because she’s more aware than most of the damage, problems, and injustices gung-ho trans activism can cause – the blanket hostility displayed towards her by the mainstream games press is as disappointing as it is alienating.

W is for Worth waiting for

It’s been a year and a half since Derail Valley’s last update, but as ambition and perfectionism are behind the lull not laziness or distraction, very few people are grumbling.

X is xcised because I’m running late

Y is for You could actually drown whilest playing World of Warships in the 1960s

Z is for Zeros galore

Home Net’s single-minded devotion to VR marks them out as progressives, however their approach to realism and choice of conflicts/theatres suggests they’re big Dynamix fans. Having followed a friendly, well-received WWI flight sim with a friendly, well-received WW2 PTO flight sim, in theory their next title should feature Spits, Bf-109s, Mustangs, and Fw-190s tussling over Europe.


  1. I bought Hydrofoil Generation and love it so far. I like that it comes with in-depth tutorials as I knew next to nothing about foiling. There are no AI races for single-player so far, or at least I couldn’t find any for now, but you can do solo practice or multiplayer.

    Hopefully more people will dive in since I think it has great potential and the fact that the co-founder of the Assetto Corsa development team has the helm can only inspire confidence in its future. Keep in mind that’s Early Access. Do get it while it’s hot (and everybody still sucks at it).

  2. The Naval Warfare event at Peasholm Park in Scarborough still continues to this day, though only in Summer months, I think. An absolute highlight of family holidays as a child.

  3. That model naval battle is fantastic – what a great show to put on for holidaymakers.

    ‘Dad, are we going on the bumper cars?’

    ‘In a bit, son. First we’re going to the lake to watch a recreation of the Battle of River Plate’

    • I am confident that any misunderstandings will result from the unfortunate smudge in the Captain’s logbook caused by exuberant celebration at continued success.

      Overworked flunkies at the Ministry will no doubt assess and rectify any unfortunate error made while updating the official records.

      In the meantime I’m a little confused by something myself: You appear to have run out of fuel after travelling 12 of the 10 legs from your patrol area back to the home base. Wouldn’t this merely indicate leaving the generator running following your return to properly charge batteries, and allow a full refuel and resumption of duties?

    • Apologies if the last sentence of D is for DFB sounded like a rebuke, mverdo. It wasn’t meant that way. The Das Football Boot rules are a bit tangled/opaque in places. If I had the funds to employ a coder and run a separate site, I’d automate the whole bookkeeping/rule-checking side of the game. People would simply create an account, choose a team, and provide regular Caution settings, and the site/engine would do all the fiddly stuff.

  4. That Derail Valley update looks amazing! I found the selection of engines a bit lacklustre last time I tried it, and the some of the movement options poorly explained – I didn’t realise I had to crouch to connect an engine – so became frustrated with one of the tutorials. Think I might have to give it another go.

  5. One rival sunk and the other struck by rules lawyers, I’d better hope that Chelsea’s slump doesn’t improve too much!

    I’ve played quite a bit of Hogwarts legacy – it’s quite similar to a modern assassins creed game in terms of exploration, combat and collecting things. With way more systems than it has any right to, you keep on unlocking new things to do as you progress through the main story in a way that’s absurdly generous – you now have a room to brew potions in, now have a field to keep beasts in, now another one, now you can breed them, please have a new way to fly… It is rather hampered by you being a hogwarts school kid though as you are the most psychopathic 15 year old ever it would have been better if you were a teacher if anything. overall it’s a solid 8/10.

    Although I’m putting it down now to play the new Yakuza game, which is a bit of a success for PC games as it is the first time a game in the series has got a day 1 PC release. Shows the health of the format in Japan. But that said, what is it with 19thC spin-offs of modern franchises this month?

  6. It is worth noting that Dark Forces has recently got a long overdue source port with The Force Engine so the game can be played in higher res and with mouselook support and a bunch of other improvements.

    Subtransit Drive looks interesting. A shame it is mobile only. I’m not a phone gamer but I would probably give it a go if it was on pc.

  7. I adore this site and your work, Tim. And I’ll continue to read and support for as long as you’ll have me.

    The controversies surrounding the treatment of JK Rowling are well known. The way you were treated by RPS is less known, but well known by us — your readers and fans and supporters.

    But I worry you’re becoming a Captain Ahab with this transgender stuff. Is this really a serious issue that the PC wargaming community needs to confront or be reminded of so regularly?

    You’re the best PC wargaming writer on the internet. Bar none. And you’re probably one of the most wonderfully florid and articulate PC games writers of our generation.

    We — your fans and admirers — are going to follow you. I implore you to wield that devotion and adoration responsibly, towards the glory of beautifully crafted and impeccably critiqued PC wargames — and away from the division, pain, and cynicism of socio-political zeitgeist.

    • Thanks for the kind words and the continued support, hellfighter6.

      Rest assured, THC will always be dominated by wargame- and sim-related discourse (and foxers, of course). For the record, apart from two paragraphs in previous A2Zs, this is the only time in over two years that I’ve touched on the subject.

      I realise it’s a peripheral issue to many, and that plenty of gamers don’t share my views, but watching the industry I’ve worked in for the past twenty-odd years, lazily demonising someone for the crime, essentially, of believing biology is important in some contexts, I find it hard to stay silent.

      • I’m glad you did. Otherwise I would have missed Hogwards Legacy. It is the first game I bought for a full price in a while, and it is the Harry Potter game I didn’t know I wanted 🙂
        It is really good and I would compare it to modern Assassins Creed games, although I don’t like combat that much, but the whole exploring the school stuff is cool.

        Also I think it’s fine to stray a bit from all those wargames and sims and as this is pretty much only gaming related site a can stomach to read I would welcome occasional venture out of those realms 🙂

        And I must agree that the whole JKR affair is hugely overblown by certain people, who I suspect are just jealous of her success and spread missinformation. It reminds me a bit of a whole D&D satanic craze in the age of yore. But I quess that pointing fingers is what some people like to do so…Just waiting till somebody attacks JRR Tolkien for being racist against orcs 🙂

        Also Hydrofoil generation looks pretty good, I’m just wondering if and how it would run on my older pc:) If it is anything like Assetto Corsa then I suspect it may run kinda ok, well thanks to steam refund policy I will probably pick it up regardless and try. I miss the days when every game had a demo 🙂

  8. Tim,
    With all due respect, I don’t care about your politics. That isn’t why I read you. That isn’t why I followed you here. Thanks for the great wargame and sim reviews.

  9. Hi Tim,

    I’m sure you knew when you weighed in on Hogwarts that you would stir up some discussion.

    There is a lot of nuance that has been missed in the dialog around Rowling, especially as she is a creative artist, a public figure, and a billionaire (in USD). It is a large and long-running subject of discussion which requires a ton of context to begin to understand: not only what she has said, but what others have said about her, and analysis of that dialog.

    I have read news analysis pieces this week that criticized these same publications for only including 200 words about Rowling, but then gushing about the game for the next 5000, which the critiquer interpreted as (paraphrasing): ‘sure, this person is anti-trans, but that is OK because the game is SOOO GOOD’. Clearly there are heated opinions all around on the topic of Rowling, this game, and gaming news.

    I appreciate that you provide objective news and subjective reviews (as all reviews are), but also opinion pieces. Your piece on the wargamer curse was excellent. Generally I would think of the A2Z as a wargaming news summary, so the opinion critique of other publications regarding a fantasy RPG felt inappropriately placed.

    I’m happy to skip over opinion pieces on games reporting, much as I do with the foxer (it’s just not my kind of puzzle),
    and as long as this doesn’t become a haven for transphobic rhetoric you’ll still find me here. But I will say that I most look forward to your interviews with devs, your combat mission collaborations, and your continued reporting on a niche corner of games.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Happily I’ve seen no transphobic rhetoric posted on this site.

      Highlighting poor practice across the gaming journalism industry isn’t traditional THC fare but I’m interpreting it as a reminder that we get honest transparent thoughts on games here, not the promotion of political agendas.

      • the whole problem with the so called lgbt+ activist is that anyone who doesn’t fully agree with them is labeled as transphobic. And they in all honesty employ fascist methods to get their view of the world and their opinion heard. And sorry I dragged those politics in there.

        And I must say that this is the only one gaming site visit anymore.
        But Tim should stop posting about cool games because it is kinda hurting my wallet :)))

      • As noted by Cederic, I have also yet to see any transphobic rethoric.

        I’d like to point to the fact that all the gaming news outlets “called out” in Tim’s remarks are based in the US. That’s because in the UK all JK needs to do is ask her lawyers to get in touch with whatever outlet publishes something “contentious”, and an apology usually follows.

        This is what actually serious gaming news had to say about Hogwarth’s Legacy:


        From the article:

        However, among a significant percentage of the millennial contingent that form Potter’s original and most passionate fanbase, JK Rowling’s gender critical views about transgender identity – she is against self-ID, or admitting trans women to some single-sex spaces such as women’s prisons or rape crisis centres – have caused outrage, and this game is the subject of a boycott.

        It is a shame that the game can’t escape this context, because tremendous effort has clearly gone into diversifying Potter’s magical world for a 2023 audience. Aside from the baffling decision to use one of the books’ most uncomfortable tropes, the goblins, as the central antagonists, Hogwarts Legacy is studiously inclusive. Hogwarts’ students and staff hail from Uganda, India, Korea; it is heavily implied, if never outright stated, that at least one character is trans; a female quest-giver casually refers to her wife within the first five hours. It might be set in the 1800s, but this is a thoroughly modern take.

  10. Chiming in to say a couple things re: Rowling.

    I wanted to reiterate that though I don’t comment very often, I continue to come back here because Tim you bring good writing and (in your best pieces) a rare empathy I don’t see in games coverage full-stop, much less in wargaming. I’ll keep coming back for the forseeable future for that coverage.

    Re: trans-coverage in the games press, it’s your website, and I imagine it must feel particularly galling seeing the games press you’ve given much of your career to collectively give in to, well, let’s call it unprofessional behaviour. So I can understand the impulse to say something, and I’m not in your shoes personally nor as emotionally invested in the ‘gaming press’ as you no doubt are.

    That said, I’m also wondering if there’s any good outcomes here. I can’t imagine there’s many people who know of J.K. Rowling who haven’t already formed strong opinions about her that are very hard to shift, and I’m a little anxious about the comments section getting caught up in a wider culture war.

    I think it’s not really a secret that wargaming has a (large?) minority of people who are maybe a little too excited to, shall we say, recreate the 1939 invasion of Poland. And I know for a fact that some alt-right adjacent blogs picked up the controversy about RPS’ dismissal and tried to tie it into a wider narrative about the ‘woke left’ and civilisational decay or whatever.

    I’d hate to see the comments section of this good site become chum for culture-warriors of any stripe. I’d like a little more dignity in my virtual battles, rather than the ugly brawl that a lot of the internet has become.

    • You do have the option of voting with your mouse and not visiting the site, you know? It’s Tim’s site and it’s his choice, and his choice alone, over what to post.

      Most of us here are adults capable of nuanced rational discussion regardless of our stance on JK Rowling and the associated arguments.

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