F1 2012 Qantas Australian Grand Prix

Melbourne, Australia: The first race of the Formula One season kicked off on March 16 under beautiful sunny conditions with a three day weather forecast of 27/26/28 degrees Celsius. The track is 5.3km long and the race is scheduled for 15 laps. My objectives for the weekend are to qualify 14th or better and finish the race 11th or better, and the Team Mate Challenge is active during the race weekend.

Albert Park is a street circuit located outside of Melbourne and has been a fixture on the F1 schedule since 1996. Consistent corner placement makes the track fast and easy to drive, however the flat terrain in some areas and few true straights make overtaking opportunities limited putting a heightened importance on qualifying and pit sequencing.

Rainbow Six Lockdown Desert Village

Djaskra, Algeria May 13th: During the apartment raid in the previous mission, the team marksman Dieter Weber was captured by forces loyal to the weapons smuggler Faisal Amidan. NATO is refusing to authorize a rescue mission, so the onsite coordinator John Clark is stepping aside and yielding operational control of the mission to rescue Weber to Ayana Yacoby.

The elite multinational counter-terrorism unit codenamed Rainbow Six is called into service against a worldwide terrorist threat from an organization known as the Global Liberation Front, a group that is comprised of various leftist, anarchists, and third-world organizations opposed to western civilization. Rainbow Six is tasked with tracking down GLF cells in various countries and either capturing or killing that cells leader.

Graviteam Tactics Operation Star

The following after-action report covers a Quick Battle between the Germans (attackers) and the Soviets (defenders). I will be playing as the Axis forces while the computer handles the Allies and the game mode will be Capture Flags. The battle will take place on the stock Rakitnoe map in daylight with clear overall weather conditions. All other settings in the Quick Battle panel are left in their default selections.

Operation Star is a sequel to Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943 and is developed by Graviteam based in Kharkov, Ukraine. The game focuses solely on single-player and surrounds combat operations on the Eastern Front in which the Soviets were initially successful in their offensive activities in Kharkov and Kursk, but were defeated by a German counteroffensive in the Third Battle of Kharkov.

While the game has proven difficult to learn, Phil over at Sim Deck has put together the first of a couple of YouTube instructional videos for my benefit. This video helped me a great deal in getting past a perceived brick wall in learning the basic functionality of the game. While there is help information in the game itself provided in the form of typewriter text on paper, it is a clumsy overall solution.

Rainbow Six Lockdown Algeria

Malzir, Algeria May 12th: Terrorists have stolen a lethal virus with a 100% mortality rate that is for sale to the highest bidder. Team Rainbow must raid the apartment of an international weapons smuggler and download sensitive information from his laptop.

The elite multinational counter-terrorism unit codenamed Rainbow Six is called into service against a worldwide terrorist threat from an organization known as the Global Liberation Front, a group that is comprised of various leftist, anarchists, and third-world organizations opposed to western civilization. Rainbow Six is tasked with tracking down GLF cells in various countries and either capturing or killing that cells leader.

Rainbow Six Lockdown South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa May 2nd: The South African President Yared Mbelu and an aide were taken hostage and are being held inside the vault of a local bank by elements of a terrorist organization. The hostages must be rescued and escorted to an extraction zone.

The elite multinational counter-terrorism unit codenamed Rainbow Six is called into service against a worldwide terrorist threat from an organization known as the Global Liberation Front, a group that is comprised of various leftist, anarchists, and third-world organizations opposed to western civilization. Rainbow Six is tasked with tracking down GLF cells in various countries and either capturing or killing that cells leader.

SITREP

Today is the last day of my vacation and I have been messing around with a few things in an attempt to get back into active blogging. Although I have played the hell out of Tropico 4 since May (367 hours on Steam, to the detriment of all other games), there is really not a singular go-to game for me. This afternoon I tried to install the original Rainbow Six game from Red Storm Entertainment, only to find that it does not play nice with Windows 7 (even with all of the compatibility capabilities).

Giving up on that I noticed that Steam is having a sale on 2K Games, with a number of them at a deep discount. I went ahead and picked up The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and three DLC items for less than $10, and presently am waiting for it to download over my wireless connection. A couple of weeks ago my apartment building was struck by lightning, and even though I have a surge protector we lost the router, a Blu-Ray player and my Ethernet connection to this PC has become inoperable.

Battle of the Roadblocks

December 18th 1944, 06:00 Bastogne Corridor: This scenario pits elements of the Allies VIII Corps HQ against the Axis XLVII Corps HQ. After the virtual elimination of the US 110th Infantry Regiment, VIII Corps committed their last reserve units into blocking positions along the St. Vith-Bastogne Highway in an effort to blunt (if not halt) the German advance to the west. Reinforced by the 101st Airborne and CCB of the 10th Armored Division, this force is all that stood in the way of the three Axis divisions moving on Bastogne.

Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (Operation Watch on the Rhine) was a massive German offensive supported by multiple subordinate operations with the ultimate goal being the recapture of the harbor at Antwerp, a secondary objective the severing of the American and British line which they hoped would allow for the encirclement and destruction of the various Allied forces in theater. Although American intelligence predicted a major German offensive, a precise date was not known and the Axis forces achieved almost complete surprise.

SITREP

Today my wife and I lost our beloved pet cat of 15 years who was named Midnight Mouse, or “Middie”.  He exhibited no signs of diminished activity and was actually quite playful this morning when we both left for work. When I came home this afternoon, he had already passed away. My wife and I are having him cremated and will keep his ashes.

This loss quite literally is devastating to me emotionally and while some may not understand the connection with a pet, many others do and understand what I am talking about. Over the last 15 years Middie was very interactive with my video gaming habit, often sitting on my desk while I was playing a game or trying to write a blog post.

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park

Olustee Battlefield is commemorated by the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, a part of the Florida State Park system. This park is located within the Osceola National Forest, on U.S. 90. The actual battlefield consists of the state park, part of the national forest and privately held land on the south side of U.S. 90. There is an annual historical reenactment that takes place on the site of the battle, and nearby Lake City (in Columbia County) has hosted the yearly Olustee Battle Festival (a separate event) since 1976.

In February 1864, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore, commander of the Union's Department of the South at Hilton Head, South Carolina, ordered an expedition into Florida to secure Union enclaves, sever Confederate supply routes (especially for beef and salt), and recruit black soldiers. Brigadier General Truman Seymour, in command of the expedition, landed troops at Jacksonville, in an area already seized by the Union in March 1862. Seymour's forces then made several raids into northeast and north-central Florida.

Tropico 4 Eva Peron

The following post will detail a sandbox game (not tied to a specific set of campaign progression goals) utilizing the stock Tropico 4 game. The decision is being made up front to forgo the Modern Times DLC, as it in my opinion makes some undesirable changes to the game (most regrettably various facilities are made obsolete and there is a texturing issue with some of the new buildings that make the game look ugly). That DLC does have its positives however, such as some rather useful edicts like Health Care Reform and my favorite (so far) Police State.

While I have put in some hours on this game I do not purport to be an expert at this or the construction/political simulation genre in general. My build order preference is unique to my experience and what I detail below certainly may not be the best suggestion or optimal approach. One of the great things about this game is the ability to learn and evolve through trial and error, all along the way making both “happy accidents” as well as bone-crushing errors that drive you batty (I could not tell you how many miles of roads I have demolished.

SITREP

I have not posted anything in over a month on either of my primary blogs. I picked up a game on a Steam sale several weeks ago called Tropico 4. A good friend of mine had me try out the demo over a year ago and I was unimpressed, quickly uninstalling it and forgetting about it. Then the developer launched Tropico 5 on Steam in May, and they put the entire T4 game and all DLC (a boat load) on sale for $10.00 (I couldn’t pass up all of that content).

It turns out that the game has completely hooked me in the time since purchase. I have completed the main campaign and have logged over 200 hours of game time on Steam, more than any other game I have owned on that platform – in almost ten years. The closest other game was X-COM: Enemy Unknown (a freaking great game in its own right). There is just something about T4 that hit me at the right time and was just the right amount of different to capture my interest.

Orbiter Space Flight Simulator Delta Glider Test Flight

Orbiter Space Flight Simulator 2010 is a real-time 3D space flight simulator developed by Dr. Martin Schweiger that was first released in November 2000 and has gone through several updates with the most recent having been released in August 2010. The program is available for free and weighs in at approximately 2 GB as a compressed download and 3 GB when stored in a folder (it can be run directly from a folder without writing anything to the system registry).

The game attempts to simulate space flight by using Newtonian physics in an effort to correct a perceived lack of realistic physics based flight models in other space flight simulators that were available at the time of initial development. It models with a high degree of accuracy planetary motion, gravitational effects, atmospheric flight and orbital decay among other things. It allows the user to experience both manned and unmanned space flight missions.

Unity of Command Zitadelle PVP

This evening I faced off against Doug from the Cry Havoc! blog in my first PVP battle in UOC using the Zitadelle scenario, a six turn affair that features overwhelming Axis forces up against a wall of Soviet units fronted by entrenched infantry. The battle attempts to mimic the German offensive in the summer of 1943 in an effort to maintain a strategic offensive achieved after the third battle of Kharkov. The objective was to encircle the Soviets and destroy their mobile reserves.

The scenario consists of three objectives: Orel Outskirts (controlled by the Germans at the start, decaying by 10 points per turn after turn 3), Kursk (controlled by the Soviets at the start, decaying by 25 points per turn after turn 2) and Road to Voronezh (also controlled by the Red Army, decaying by 50 points per turn after turn 4). The margin required to win is 99 points and if there is no change from the start, the Soviets win outright.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!

Today I will be reviewing the demo for the tactical turn based wargame Conflict of Heroes from Western Civilization Software in conjunction with the creator of the original board game, Uwe Eickert. This is one of the few games that have a playable demo offered on the Matrix Games website and came highly recommended by my good friend, Javelin so I had to give it a try to see what it is all about. I never played the original board game so I am coming into this with a fresh perspective of not drawing natural comparisons to that product.

That board game was first released (from my limited research) in 2008 by Academy Games and a second edition followed in 2012. There were a number of expansions released for the game and the total product won a number of awards upon release. The PC iteration currently sports two expansion packs, Ghost Divisions and Storms of Steel (standalone), also available through Matrix Games. The base game is currently running for $39.99 USD. The Ghost Division expansion is $14.99 USD and Storms of Steel is $39.99 USD (all price points are for the digital download versions).

Free Game Weekend - Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis

The original Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis (repackaged as ARMA: Cold War Assault) is being offered for free on Steam until Monday. This is not just a free play weekend for ArmA III, but they are actually giving away perhaps the greatest military combined arms game ever created in the Cold War Assault title. Sure it is pushing 13 years since originally released back in June 2001, but great games age well and this title has been verified to run in Windows 7 (I have downloaded the free game and have confirmed this).