A is for Alphabetised wargame and sim news. Now and again, 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 Befriend a Beast

The feature list at www.il2.korea.com provides far more information about 1CGS’s next combat flight sim than this teaser trailer. “Korea. IL-2” will utilise DirectX 12 and boast a seamless 440×440 kilometre map. It will come with four jet and four piston-engined flyables*, and, in addition to typical aerial activities, allow players to manage squadrons, plan sorties, and walk about airbases. Loose and detached aircraft skin sheets and holes through which internal components can be glimpsed promise to make battle-damaged machines arresting sights.

* The Il-10 ‘Beast’ will be amongst the latter.

C is for Cold can kill in this new train sim

Trans-Siberian Railway Simulator, a June release I plan to cover in more detail next week, certainly starts promisingly. Yesterday evening, after heeding the tutor’s advice and purchasing essentials such as beer, bread, tinned sprats, and a chainsaw at a market close to the station, I made my way to a shed where I was introduced to a twin-unit electric loco with a surprisingly extensive interior and realistic cold start procedure. The meters in the top-left corner of the screen aren’t obligatory. Those who want to play without added complications such as hyperthermia, inebriation, wolves, and the mafia, are free to do so.

D is for Dirt-cheap Dusty But Trusties

Hidden & Dangerous 2 (£2) , Ghost Recon (£2.60), Iron Warriors (£1), Silent Storm (£2.25), Desperados (£1), IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 (£2), 1942: The Pacific Air War (75p)… the ongoing Steam sale includes several titles already inducted into the Dusty But Trusty hall of fame, and many sure to end up there eventually. If you’ve noticed any bargains, please publicise your finds via a comment.

E is for Electable entertainment

Would someone have a bash at explaining to me why – with the possible exception of the Democracy series – there are no games devoted to simulating or satirising British politics amongst the 379 titles tagged ‘politics’ on Steam? Is it a symptom of disillusionment… an ailing democracy, or are there more mundane reasons for the absence of titles mocking eminently mockable figures such as Sunak, Starmer, Davey, and Farage.

F is for Find the Fox d’Or

By this time next week it’s quite possible the Fox d’Or will be lounging on a mantelpiece rather than skulking inconspicuously in deepest darkest REDACTED. If you’ve not joined the hunt yet, it’s not too late. No defoxer, however perspicacious or prescient, will be buying a train or bus ticket, or putting on a seatbelt, crash helmet, or stout pair of walking boots until they’ve solved next Monday’s brainteaser.

G is for Grim and grimy

As Jordan Mochi has “sacrificed a lot of [his] 20’s” making CONSCRIPT, a “top-down survival horror game” set during the Battle of Verdun, I think the least I can do is draw attention to its brutal demo. In this case, the ‘h’ word doesn’t indicate the presence of supernatural entities. The ‘monsters’ in the trial are spade- and rifle-wielding German troops, and artillery shells and poison gas.

H is for Heartening news for Harrier fans

Seemingly abandoned Early Access Harrier sim, Combat Air Patrol 2, has been given a second wind by MicroProse. Shortly after MPS unexpectedly signed the VTOL vagabond, the sim gained its first update in three years, and developer Ed Scio unveiled an encouraging roadmap.

I is for Invaluable instruction

Wargame Design Studio update their demos more diligently than some wargame devs update payware products. Since May, Grenada, their free, ten scenario introduction to the Squad Battles series, has included a training grounds campaign designed to show new players how factors such as range, target density, and morale influence attacks, assaults, and movement. Play it and peruse this tips article prior to tackling the campaign proper, and your units will fight more efficiently and take fewer casualties while waging war on the Spice Isle.

J is for Jolly good

Gosh, the impressive retro flight sims just keep coming. The latest, Hijong Park’s Defender Patrol, puts you in the cockpit of an MD 530 equipped with a clickable cockpit and a pretty plausible flight model, and invites you to hunt Warsaw Pact vehicles on a procedurally generated island. There’s no tutorial, and some important controls are unassigned, but dab J (battery on), hold P (starter), and lift the collective (W) and you’ll be airborne in seconds.

K is for Kinetic killfest

Wall running, bullet time, and a cyberpunk setting aren’t high on my list of FPS desirables, but that hasn’t stopped SPRAWL – £6 until July 11 – getting its claws into me. Supported by robot dogs and fond of exchanging menacing radio chatter, the foes I’ve run into thus far have a fair bit in common with HL2’s Combine. However, from the outset, the dilapidated high-rise settings, and emphasis on manoeuvre (some enemy types advance behind big ballistic shields), give MAETH’s atmospheric debut plenty of individuality.

L is for Leopard learners

An article published on the Modern War Institute’s website last month revealed that Ukraine’s Leopard 2 crews are  – like the maker of the above video – using  Steel Beasts Pro for gunnery training:

“Visiting the training base for Leopard tanks, we are greeted by the Danish commanding officer that tells us all about the twelve Ukrainian tank crews his combined Danish-German unit is training. He shows us across the training compound, to include the virtual tank training facility where we observe dozens of highly motivated Ukrainian soldiers sitting at computers with Leopard gunnery wheels attached. Using an upgraded version of the commercially available Steel Beasts, we watch Ukrainian crewmembers fight enemy tanks on their digital battlefield.”

M is for Massive mushroom clouds

Since Update 0.28 introduced 250 kiloton nukes and destructible skyscrapers to simcade gem Nuclear Option, the latter stages of Escalation sessions have become truly apocalyptic. Other consequences of the latest content injection were an additional flyable (the multirole Ifrit), aircraft carriers, a new economic model, and extra missions and game modes.

N is for Nautical cat and mouse

The bank of sea mist that has obscured Sea Power for years is beginning to dissipate. Last week Triassic live-streamed their WIP wargame for two and half hours, revealing, in the process, a project that appears to balance realism and playability rather nicely.

O is for Omniferous assets

MicroProse have unveiled yet another B-17 project. In addition to The Mighty Eighth VR – the game shown in the above video – and B-17 Flying Fortress: The Bloody 100th – the upcoming sim based on the Outerra engine – they plan to release a Fort for FS2020 and FS2024.

P is for Plasticine castle

Q is for Quick trade card

Nine centimetres long and five centimetres wide, the cards in this 1955 Castrol set are amongst the largest in my collection. The featured card depicts the product of a Cambridge ironworks. Powered by a two-litre Bristol engine and driven by the remarkable Archie Scott Brown, the Lister Bristol achieved great things at Silverstone in 1954. Born with no fingers on his right hand, and “feet twisted almost backwards”, Scott Brown died tragically in 1958 after his Lister Knobbly hit a road sign at a rain-sluiced Spa-Francorchamps.

R is for Rommel would be rotating in his grave

Tally-Ho Corner’s latest registered reader is a Combat Mission fan who can’t quite believe Combat Mission: Afrika Korps (2003) still doesn’t have a sequel. I imagine Clive isn’t alone in wishing Battlefront would return to North Africa post-haste. Modders have attempted to fill the void using Fortress Italy, but, hampered by CM’s intractability, their hard-to-find efforts are no substitute for an official Desert War module.

S is for Stunning transformation

Very soon, owners of Brian Kelly’s latest title will be able to trade Stalingrad for the Shenandoah Valley. A modder who goes by the name ‘governator’ has been experimenting with ACW maps and units, and sounds well pleased with the results:

“The Civil War scenarios got the strongest feedback from testers. They really show the WEGO engine at its best as the elements of surprise and maneuver play a main role. These scenarios play very differently from the WW2 scenarios. I will advertise them on the main Matrix forum once they are released as I think they’d get attention from the wargame community at large. Again just waiting for the patch from the developers as some of the planned fixes are quite relevant.”

T is for Torch tussle

Currently, two studios are tussling for the ‘stealth strategy’ torch dropped by Mimimi last year. Claymore, the outfit behind Commandos: Origins, possess a prestigious licence and, judging by this recent gameplay trailer, sufficient talent and respect for Pyro’s work to use it well. Artificer, the firm behind Sumerian Six, have the fresher setting, the nattier title, and the more colourful cadre of sentry slayers.

U is for UFOs and cyclones

Splendid! One of my favourite ZX Spectrum games has a modern incarnation and that incarnation can be purchased for next to nothing on Steam or itch. Ignore self-deprecating dev J Griffin when they say Whirlibird sports a “potentially infuriating control system whether you’re using keys or a gamepad”.  The controls for the little green, people-plucking hoverer are perfectly practical.

V is for Vegas reveal

FlightSimExpo 2024 attendees were given a very early glimpse of Combat Pilot, the PTO warbird sim on the way from Entropy Aero. The brainchild of ex-1CGS executive producer, Jason Williams, (Barbedwire Studios, the makers of Call to Arms – Gates of Hell, are also involved) and powered by Unreal Engine 5, CP is unlikely to be with us before 2026, judging by the state of prototype in the above video.

W is for Weaponised winch

The undeclared winch war between David Walters and Colin Karpfinger seems to be hotting up. While fliers will be able to pinch chickens and use dangled boulders as ad-hoc wrecking balls in ‘coming soon’ Cleared Hot, elevating camels and combatants during tornados is the sole preserve of Thunder Helix pilots right now.

X is for Xtra armour

The multiplayer WW2 FPS formerly known as Post Scriptum got well and truly Bovingtoned last week. Hetzers, StuHs, Nashorns, Comets, Valentines, Jacksons, Sherman Jumbos… the Reign of Steel update added dozens of new AFV types.

Y is for Yellow Way Society

I really need to revisit Rise of the White Sun (£8.50 until July 11). Since the start of May, Maestro Cinetik’s oriental opus has gained a five-tier difficulty system, a powerful delegation mechanic (“Tired of repetitive actions? Bored with province development? Overwhelmed by managing a large empire? Just delegate these tasks to the AI!”), a free DLC introducing the Yellow Way Society as a playable faction, and a slew of new actions linked with famine relief.

Z is for ZhiHuiShang Studio…

…the developer of War Laboratory, an innovative £10 wargame that uses OpenStreetMap to let desktop tacticians fight battles anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, a horribly confusing UI stands between buyers and globe-trotting guerre at present.


  1. I remember an Election game in the 80’s on my BBC, but looking it up online, i can’t find it, so it might just have been one of the games i just made up for fun in my teenage years or maybe typed in from a mag. I vaguely remember you decided how much % of the budget you would spend on different areas and then each constituency would vote for your candidates and you’d just end up winning or not.

    • Sounds like something that featured in (probably just) one lesson at school, presumably computer studies as we were at most two to a computer.
      I’ve no particular recollection of the interface and have some doubts that it was broken down by constituency.
      I’m not sure there was much learning going on. Then someone figured out you could game it by having high taxes for four years and radically cutting them in the fifth (ie. flagrant electioneering), getting you re-elected. So that was one thing learnt.

      ETA: Oh. And Elite was 40 this year.

      • I don’t think so, i remember it being pretty simple, more of a simple simulation rather than a full game which makes me think I did it myself.

        I remember writing an F1 simulation and a D&D character generator, i was only about 9 :).

  2. War Laboratory has a great idea (I love several OpenStreeMap games). However, your comment about the UI paired with zero reviews and zero forum discussions is not a good sign for a game that has been out for about three weeks already.

  3. I wanted to like Nuclear Option but Tiny Combat Arena has spoiled me with keyboard/mouse controls. It feels fantastic flying with just that on TCA but not at all on Nuclear Option and I ended up refunding it. Maybe I’ll revisit it when I get a cheap HOTAS setup

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