A is for Alphabetised wargame, sim, and site news. Every so often, assuming I can persuade Austerity’s Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine to perform the miracle of internal combustion, I spend a few days 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 Bomber-based brainteasers

Aviators‘ aim is an admirable one. The lavishly produced Unreal-engined freebie is keen to remind the world of the role Polish airmen and women played in the ATA, and the RAF’s Fighter and Bomber Command, during WW2. The little I’ve seen so far suggests a slot in the next 3×3 is the very least this state-funded creation deserves. The hangared Halifax supplied at the start is splendid and some of the early puzzle-like tasks your avatar is expected to complete are surprisingly testing.

(EDIT. Possibly too testing. I’m struggling to complete task number seven or eight – starting up the pump engine in a refuelling truck with a series of rhythmic mouse button presses.)

C is for Cowerproof Brits

British PBI have no reason to complain about the latest Second Front update. While leaderless infantry units from other nations may now cower – a new play mechanic – when on the receiving end of heavy fire, grunts from the land of fish ‘n’ chips, Stafford Cripps, and stiff upper lips, assuming they aren’t ‘green’, are immune. Like many SF rules, this one has its origins in Advanced Squad Leader.

D is for Don your (th)inking cap

I’m not going to tell you how many times I played the third challenge in the Inkulinati tutorial before I beat it, for fear of appearing a complete dullard. This £13 (until March 7) TBT’s fartsome fracas take place on simple battlefields that rarely consist of more than two dozen cells, but that doesn’t mean they’re short of tactical texture or lacking in challenge. Said texture and challenge, together with the unique theme and the generous dash of humour, have already secured Yaza Games’ dazzlingly original debut release a “very positive” reception on Steam

E is for Ear candy

The perfectionists at Drydock Dreams Games are putting as much effort into creating immersive soundscapes as they are into crafting convincing visuals. The above video gives a taste of Task Force Admiral’s pulse-hastening ship klaxons and tannoys in action.

F is for Fone fun

After witnessing invaluable birdwatching aid Merlin in action, my Luddite colleague, Roman, has finally purchased a smart phone. As mobile gaming is a foreign country to me (I do 99.5% of my digital gaming on PC), I was wondering if some of you would be willing to recommend a few wargames and sims for his new device. Roman prefers his war fare tactical and turnless, and his vehicle games tactile and truthful.

G is for Graviteam experiment

Graviteam, probably the only wargame studio currently toiling away in a battle-damaged office, is beta-testing a new approach to operational cartography at present. GTMF’s 1km grid squares are set to be replaced by a more naturalistic/granular node system. If you’ve sampled the changes (I haven’t yet) I’d be interested to hear what you make of them.

H is for House of the Rising Rhino

DCS World’s pre-orderable F-4E Phantom II now has a couple of cracking trailers to its name, and a palate-whetting manual. Unusually, pilots will be able to consult that manual in flight without taking their eyes off their monitors. Thanks to some clever coding from Heatblur, holding ‘M’ while clicking a switch or button will open the embedded documentation at the appropriate page. Jester, a capable silicon WSO happy to handle radar and targeting duties while the player concentrates on flying, should also prove useful during acclimatisation.

I is for Iberian insurgency

Promising! Meteorbyte Studios understand that 3D battlefields don’t have to cook GPUs and visual cortexes, and seem to put store in groggy concepts such as morale, flanking, and line-of-fire. If this vid is any guide, Songs of Steel: Hispania will include remarkably plausible opponents too. It will be interesting to see how FoG2 fiends react to this hexy Spanish interloper when it arrives later this year.

J is for Job opportunities

The Ministry of Defence is looking to recruit four more wargamers. The snag – you’ve got to be a serving…

2nd Lieutenant, Captain, Chief Petty Officer, Commander, Flight Lieutenant, Flight Sergeant, Flying Officer, Lieutenant, Lieutenant-Colonel, Lieutenant-Commander, Major, Midshipman, Petty Officer, Pilot Officer, Sergeant, Squadron Leader, Staff Sergeant / Colour Sergeant, Sub-Lieutenant, Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer 1, Warrant Officer 2, Wing Commander, Chief Technician, Lieutenant (RN), 2nd Lieutenant (RM), Lieutenant (RM), Captain (RM), Major (RM), Lieutenant-Colonel (RM), or Master Aircrew

…and willing to relocate to Shrivenham in Oxfordshire to be elligible.

K is for Knockdowns and refusals?

Turn left and turn right, and speed up and slow down… while the controls for this new sports sim suggest shallowness, Pro Show Jumping is actually anything but. Every mount in the game is rated 1-100 in five areas and the stats impact everything from the horse’s preferred stride length, to how tidily it leaps, and swiftly it regains balance after changes in direction and pace. Hopefully, a relatively high price (£30) a few slightly stiff animations, and the apparent absence of refusals won’t do too much damage to the sales figures of this realism-rich equestrian rail raiser.

L is for Long overdue

Approachable, evocative, relatively expensive Maquis could really use a PC port. There are several free versions of Jake Staines’ highly rated solitaire board game available for Tabletop Simulator, but a standalone computer incarnation would, I reckon, sell like like hot pain au chocolat if coded competently and priced sensibly.

M is for Microshunter

Derail Valley’s latest loco is a tiddler. Based on the German LEW EL 16, the battery-powered, radio-spawnable BE2-260 is much too slow and feeble for cross-map haulage job so will need to  repay its purchase price ($30K) in emergency situations and cramped yards.

N is for Nostalgia hit

If you’re as superannuated as I am you’re sure to find something familiar in Itizso’s amazing collection of simmed handheld games from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. All of the beautifully recreated relics are free to play and come with original instructions, rotatable 3D packaging, and an inauthentic but indispensable* speed selector.

* Many of the early portables had only one difficulty setting – maddeningly hard.

O is for “One hundred percent compliant with reality”

Slitherine last Tea Time vidcast contained encouraging tidings from the Maslas Bros. Modern Naval Warfare, the studio’s Dangerous Waters-style sub sim, is “progressing well” according to Marco. Beta testers could well be doing their thing by the end of July. A release by the end of the year may not be out of the question. MNW promises to innovate in several areas including sub physics, sonar modelling (real-time ray-tracing will be used), and AI traffic (civilian shipping lanes are reality-based). Yes, we probably won’t get ocean currents at launch, but they are slated to arrive later.

P is for Peruvian pixel art

You can’t fail in Hawk & Puma, but there are numerous opportunities to learn, reflect, and admire. Nico Valdivia Hennig’s haunting fifteen-minute history lesson tells the story of Waman Poma, a Quechua nobleman who documented colonial abuses in Sixteenth Century Peru.

Q is for Quick fag card

Card no.50 in Wild Animals’ Heads, an attractive fifty-card set issued by John Player & Sons in 1931, features the world’s largest wild equine. Described on the back of the card as “one of the most beautiful quadrupeds” and “fleet as the wind”, Grévy’s zebras are a lot rarer today than they were when renowned animal artist Arthur Wardle painted this likeness. Reduced by uncontrolled hunting, and, more recently, habitat loss, livestock competition, and anthrax outbreaks, the wild population now totals only around 2250 animals. To see one in its natural habitat you’d need to travel to Ethiopia or Kenya. Grévy wasn’t a naturalist but a Nineteenth Century president of France with an endearing dislike for autocracy, and a dodgy son-in-law whose questionable moneymaking activities eventually curtailed his presidency.

R is for Range and round rich

If you’d rather use and collect realistic firearms than strip and assemble them, World of Shooting, a free Early Accessible offering from Noble Empire, the World of Guns studio, has to be worth a look. The game’s UI, structure, animations, and aiming mechanics have prompted the odd red thumb review, but the vast majority of the feedback so far is enthusiastic.

S is for Sinuous ship savers

Potting moored ships in Boat Crew got trickier this month due to the appearance of torpedo nets. The more established the base, the more likely you are to encounter buoy-suspended eel stoppers. Bold captains can slither over them before firing. However, misjudge the manoeuvre and the consequences could be dire.

T is for Tactical pause added

Performing simultaneous takedowns in moreish Commandos-like Red Glare no longer requires the manual dexterity of Django Reinhardt. Although I couldn’t persuade developer Bilawal Talpur to participate in a THC Q&A, he has shared some details about his inspirations and plans in a recent Steam forum thread. Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and its expansion pack Beyond the Call of Duty are his creative touchstones, rather than Mimimi’s offerings which he enjoyed but found too easy and linear. More WW2 stealth tactics games featuring RG’s characters are a distinct possibility. One day Bill may even use his impressive engine to depict contemporary cloak and dagger antics.

U is for UI overhaul imminent

There weren’t many days last month when Early Access Angola ’86 wasn’t improved by an update. The most obvious changes implemented since I last Bush Warred are graphical. Reworked terrain visuals means the game’s border-straddling battlefields area are now significantly more attractive and much easier to read. The title’s complete range of air assets and ops are now available too. This month Johan plans to concentrate on the UI. He tells me, he’s basing his new front-end on the one in Dune: Spice Wars.

V is for Vast venues and virtual victuals

There’s not a Panzer or T-34 to be seen in the latest Steel Gear – Stalingrad vid. Developer Álvaro Bermejo is more interested in showcasing his WW2 tank sim’s novel “personal areas” and “physicalised inventories” than demonstrating his deeply modelled angry houses. Eventually SGS owners will face the prospect of permadeath on vast randomly generated Eastern Front maps.

W is for Winch warfare

I’d be surprised if Thunder Helix, a love letter to DOS heli sims such as LHX Attack Chopper, wasn’t Early Accessible by the end of Lent. I love the fact that all three of the game’s fictional-but-faintly-familiar flyables sport improbably robust winches. Downed pilots, unsuspecting camels, abandoned fuel trucks… it looks like we’ll be able to elevate almost anything.

X is for Xtra gun stations?

While the above vid contains little detail, no surprises, and the odd eyebrow-elevating statement (“The twin-engined [German] bombers are fast and they take a lot of punishment, and they have gunners in the nose, the tail, and the sides”) it’s a welcome sign that Scramble: Battle of Britain – that very rare thing an upcoming aerial wargame – hasn’t been abandoned, so I refuse to relay everything Ignatius the Ingrate muttered while watching it.

Y is for Y I won’t be buying FPV Kamikaze Drone

Even if I was certain publicity-shy HFM Games were not involved in training Russian drone operators, I’m not sure I’d be in the market for the painfully topical FPV Kamikaze Drone.

Z is for Zakblood recommends

If zakblood, a Rogue Trooper fan you’re sure to have come across if you frequent the Matrix and Slitherine messageboards, reckons Tank Operations: European Campaign is deserving of 325 hours of play time, Linked Dimensions’ new £17 Panzer General-like can’t be all bad. Despite the tired theme and the apparent formula loyalty, this one is now on my 3×3 list.


  1. Some quasirandom thoughts:

    1) DCS continues to in my opinion blow away every other combat flight sim ever made with the depth and quality of its latest releases, and its trajectory somehow continues to accelerate even further in the positive direction. I’ve pre-ordered the F-4; you should see the videos showing how every component in the aircraft is simulated. When you pull up on the stick, the aircraft doesn’t magically go up; a simulated cable pulls on simulated hydraulic pistons, which push simulated control surfaces, etc. The altimeter is made up of individually simulated dial hands which have different friction coefficients and can each fail or stick separately. I’ve said before, DCS is the game we all imagined we were playing as we squinted at our 320×200 flight sims in the 80s. Not that DCS is a hidden gem exactly, but I still think the quality and depth of the simulation, and how far it’s come and how rich it now is, isn’t widely understood by a lot of potential players and simmers out there.

    2) And in a similar vein, the quality of the work that Graviteam continues to do, even when their offices are literally being shelled, is unparalleled.

    3) I bought FPV Kamikaze actually mistakenly thinking it was made by a Ukrainian publisher. Your targets are, to the best of my knowledge, un-insignaed, and all the enemy hardware appears to be ex-Soviet. It does do well what it claims to do, for whatever that’s worth.

    • “When you pull up on the stick, the aircraft doesn’t magically go up; a simulated cable pulls on simulated hydraulic pistons, which push simulated control surfaces, etc. The altimeter is made up of individually simulated dial hands which have different friction coefficients and can each fail or stick separately”


      Amazing. I had no idea the F-4 was modelled so forensically.

  2. Thunder Helix looks great. I’m loving these nostalgia games like this and Tiny Combat Arena. Now I just need a retro throwback type game that plays like the OG 1990 Red Baron and I’ll be quite chuffed. That also reminded me that there’s this Desert/Jungle/Urban etc Strike type game in the works but I forget its name now. Not quite a sim but I loved those old games as well so looking forward to this, if I can bloody remember what it’s called.

  3. A fun fone game is: ‘Rebel inc.’
    Also available on pc of course, but works well and is free.
    Totaly not a wargame nor a sim, but I like the 100% free and complete ‘My Friend Pedro’ as well (if you hate ads, play offline)

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