This and That

I’ve decided to give Angola ’86 some space. Publicly grumbling about bugs and interface imperfections a week into its Early Access puberty, feels a tad unfair, and I don’t want frustrating situations such as the one I described yesterday to cool my ardour for 2023’s most unconventional wargame.

Instead of a diary entry, how about a quick competition and some very early impressions of Last Train Home?

MicroProse have just announced the signing of Boat Crew, the briny Bomber Crew-like with the unexpectedly fancy campaign engine. As I already own it, I asked them if I could use the Steam activation code they sent, as a prize in a foxer-style brainteaser. They agreed, hence…

To be in with a chance of winning the action-packed and admirably dynamic BC, send me (tim at tallyhocorner dot com) the sum of the three numbers obscured by red rectangles in the above Street View images by Sunday night. On Monday morning I’ll draw one correct answer from THC’s albino deerstalker, and send the lucky provider of that answer the activation code.

Steam trains, warfare, Czech history… on paper, THC’s proprietor and Last Train Home should get on like a slivovice distillery on fire. Odd then that three hours in, I’m seriously considering pulling the emergency cord, jumping down onto the ballast, and legging it into the nearest les.

The game’s premise – entrained Czech troops forced by the turmoil of the Russian Revolution to return to their homeland via the Trans-Siberian Railway – is every bit as fresh and colourful as it sounds, but the early emphasis on fussy character cultivation and tedious resource gathering isn’t exactly electrifying me at present.

I guess I was expecting more pauseable Men of War-esque scraps, less clicking on icons, waiting for timer icons to fill, then hearing that my away team had managed to find X fuel in that abandoned village or catch Y fish in that lake.

Unless a Cornerite much closer to Vladivostok than I am, can persuade me to press on, the last side mission I undertook may prove to be my last.

Slightly implausible in nature (Like bob-a-jobbing cub scouts, the Czech Legion stop to assist the residents of a village near the railway), said mission exemplifies LTH’s problems idiosyncrasies. On reaching the village my hand-picked squad discovered they would need to complete a set of prosaic tasks in order to earn a reward. One of those tasks – repairing fences – turned out to be beyond them, because, I assume, no-one possessed the magical ‘engineer’ role necessary to demystify hammers and nails*.

* Or maybe I’d forgotten to tell my engineer to ‘be an engineer today’

Another – shifting crates to a warehouse – was so monstrously mindless I refused to play ball.

The wolf slaying sounded vaguely promising. However, sending my party to a spot precisely marked by a minimap icon then watching as they riddled a pack of charging lupines, failed to boost my fast-flagging enthusiasm.


  1. Wasn’t it the approach of the Czechoslovak Legion to Ekaterinburg/Yekaterinburg that bumped the bolsheviks into liquidating the Russian royal family? Leads me to idly wonder if there’s a ‘Rescue the Romanovs’ side quest.

    I guess 3 hours would’ve qualified it as a 3×3 entry (but, on its’ own, is it a 1×3 or 3×1?) Any idea how much further that is than the Demo (which I haven’t tried yet)?

    Do you have any comments on how historically-connected and/or linear it is? Is the russian rail network your’s to roam across? Are there events/military encounters that are unavoidable and historically-rooted; or is it just used as a backdrop to which they’ve added a difficulty curve and quest chains?

    Beware the lesna pani.

    • I believe everything I’ve experienced so far is included in the demo (the demo seems to end in Penza which I’ve yet to reach). No rail network route decisions so far, but I’d be surprised if Ashborne hadn’t included them.

      >>Are there events/military encounters that are unavoidable and historically-rooted; or is it just used as a backdrop to which they’ve added a difficulty curve and quest chains?

      I’ll report back next Friday. Last Train Home is so interestingly themed and is garnering so many positive reviews, I reckon it warrants perseverance.

      • At the end of the second chapter you have the choice of two routes. Go north into White territory, or go south into Red territory, where other legionnaires are known to have run into trouble. So their is at least one choice of different routes. Also once you start the third chapter your train is at risk of attack every time you stop. Which makes supply runs and breakdowns a bit more interesting.

  2. I was so impressed by the premise and subsequently falling down a wiki hole of Central European history in 1919 that I picked this up.

    In an attempt to be optimistic I was hoping the game was more Xenophon style management sim and less a twenty year older skin for Company of Heroes. So I don’t mind exchanging a few fights for spreadsheets. But those tasks don’t sound great…

    • Having played a bit I actually like it. The mission you talk about with the wolves was great fun and ends with a big set piece defence/ambush. You repair the fences by first picking up a box with “tools” anyone can do it.

      The combat is fun very offensively minded and allows you to mix a variety of tactics. The main principle seems to be momentum. You need to achieve overwhelming superiority on localised areas and then move on to the next. Its a LOT less defensive than the traditional idea of x-com, and being real time with pause leans into this even more, although it can get a bit distracting when you are coordinating multiple simultaneous ambushes.

Leave a Reply