Search Glorious Little Soldiers

Sunday 29 December 2013

.... and your point is????

 Like most chaps I have some odd habits- one of mine is that I'm a toilet thinker... I contemplate the human condition whilst enthroned. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this as it seems that for some chaps -especially those unfortunates with noisy brats etc the smallest room is the only place where they can get a bit of peace and quiet- possibly the only place where they get to read the latest crop of Wargames Magazines. Now I don't read THOSE in the Kharsi. I might be tempted to use them for a more useful purpose and the paper is too slippery and MIND THE STAPLES !!!

But it does lead you to wonder what Wargames Magazines are for. I've touched upon this in previous posts and frankly I have 2 distinct opinions one professional and one  personal. They do not always coincide.
More than once on the various blogs I read there are reviews of the various magazines  both positive and negative depending upon the mag and the content.
 Now in my time I've read most of them MW, Battle(both before and after it was a Wargaming title) PW WI Dadi I Piombo La Gloire ,  Battlegames Vae Victis and WSS. All of them at various times  have has something in their favour though I personally never saw the point of Battlegames it was too narrow too retro too low on content. From a potential advertisers view it had little to recommend it. From a readers view it was mostly 1970-80s retread stuff that I'd read before in MW or PW
 As for the current crop of survivors None of them are what they were- with the possible exception of WSS- and the latest issue of that is rather good as is the latest MW- see the previous post- I even have a recent WI which provided some reading - as long as I ignored the middle bit and gritted my teeth at the "Corporate Style" of the Figure Fascists.
 However none of that crop of  magazines were truly awful and all had something in them to read.
 So I ponder what do chaps actually expect of a wargames mag.
 I realise that asking this question is opening a can of worms. It often seems to me that chaps answer questions such as that without thought.
 "I didn't like it cos it was rubbish"
"Why dear Sir was it Rubbish"
 "Cos I didn't like it"
and so on round and round
 So what do I want to see in a magazine-
 Stuff I can read that will tell me things I had either forgotten or didn't know in the first place.An article should hopefully lead me down a new path or make me want to re-examine a path I went down a few years ago. . A bit of eye candy is nice but by no means important. Reviews are pretty essential  even though I personally rarely buy new products these days Notices about shows are useful- though personally I usually know about the one I go to- but this is not just about me.
 Periods and subject should vary after all there is plenty of history about  I'm not averse to the odd bit of Dwarf Fiddling within the pages Likewise SF - though the argument as to weather Fantasy and SCI-FI are each  "Just another period" can wait for another post.
Now what I'd prefer to avoid.
 I don't want to be patronised to treated like I'm 12 again. Certain writers and magazines often seem to think that no-one but they have ever read a whole book without pictures or that most of the potential readership are (in theory) ADULTS
 Endless bloody scenarios for the hard of thinking really get my goat- can't these fellas read a book ?
Most scenarios were done to death sometime in the 1990s if not before   so I accept its difficult not to retread but I do sometime wonder if some of our brethren prefer to be thick.
"Obey or be considered "Untermenchen" " - IE the "Corporate Style" of the figure fascists. Us these paints   Paint this way- you are merely a brainless prole and BIG WARGAMER is watching you open tyour wallets and let him in Braincells not required  . Yes I overstate the case more than a tad but  sometimes it does feel that way. 

 The above leads to another question
 Is "Wargaming"  a large enough subject to  support itself without the History - personally I think not After all how many different ways of rolling a diffferent sized dice are there. The Fantasy and Sci-fi chaps have their "Histories"  but there is a body of opinion that says wargames shouldn't somehow know any - this is the most arrant twaddle imaginable.
 Is our hobby only to consist of lightweight magazines and pretty rich boys showing off books . If that is the case we have fallen a long way since the thought and erudition of Grant  or Griffith.


  1. Hi Andy -
    I find it difficult to answer your question as put, and I find these days wargames mags less appealing that once they were. I do find, however, that painting guides can be useful in magazines, as they are often more accessible than books (which are either expensive, or simply unavailable in this country). It occurred to me that the following narrative might supply the answer.

    Having discovered 'Battle' magazine, I started buying it, whereat, of course, it promptly morphed into 'Military Modelling'. I was mainly following C.S. Grants table Top Teasers and Tony Bath's Hyboria series, but there were quite a few other articles of interest.

    I continued buying Mil Mod for a few years, but its appeal faded as it concentrated more on the modelling side. I've never been all that much of a modeller and painter (though I seem to be doing a lot of it lately!). Just as I was about to quit buying the thing, suddenly there appeared a series of article on the 7YW - really good ones, with some awesome pics of town walls and army encampments, and descriptions of some of the more obscure actions on the periphery of the main campaigns. One I organised as a scenario 'The Olmutz Convoy' - a rather unusual 'wagon train' scenario (LOTS of wagons).

    Just as this set of articles came to an end another by one Robin Hunt appeared on the Spanish Civil War. I don't know much about that conflict, and don't wargame it, but the series was so interesting, by one whose enthusiasm for the subject seemed to indicate an interest deeply personal.

    For mine, that series would have been nicely rounded off with a rule set (or ideas for one) and a sample game using them. Even without them, that series of articles - along with the 7YW - rates as one of the best I've ever read.

    Later I got hold of some PW mags, which, not long on good illustrations, at least had reasonable content. I particularly liked to collect the 7YW battle series. These featured battles organised for wargames. Although they didn't translate to my own organisations, they were clear enough for modification to be a simple matter.

    Flash figures and flash terrain, at first very tasty, cloy after a while. I will be more attracted to a game with rough-as-guts or even unpainted figures and extemporised terrain pieces, but that shows imagination or presents something new, than to a game in which everything is presented in pristine perfection. The just doesn't look that much like a game - in fact it looks like hard work, to me....

    It is possible that there really isn't all that much to be said in this hobby of hours. We can be presented with all sorts of different ways of saying the same thing, or a variety of rule sets for the same war, until we get to the point of thinking 'enough already!' That is why I prefer 'Old School' rule sets of my own devising. I know pretty much what I want. have some knowledge of history (even if less complete than some) and have my own interpretations of it (even though these might vary from established wisdom). To change my view, the argument would have to be interesting, enlightening and compelling. A tall order!

    As always, I enjoy your ... erm ... musings (punctuated by the occasional fulmination!) upon this topic.

    1. Ion- Given our differences on modelling and such I'm surprised with the level of agreement here. There is no doubt that mags in the past were better than they are now- there is a lot less uniform info or paonting guides for a start.
      and your last full paragraph hits the nail on the head-

  2. Hi Andy,
    I gave up on published mags a long time ago. Too expensive for the value of the content, for the most part, although I have enjoyed some of the Lone Warriors I have read.
    Now I find that there are a number of thoughtful and thought-provoking blogs that fill that void for me. Yours and Ross's, Bob's and Tim's and David's and Keith's, Ion's and Conrad's and Dux's and Solo Wargaming in the UK, and a number I can't recall off the top of my head. Plus in most cases they are more accessible -- you can ask questions and receive answers. You can make suggestions and sometimes even see them implemented. It has more of a feeling of community than a financial venture -- like some of the mags from the 60s & 70s such as Panzerfaust, BattleFlag, and AFV-G2 only even more accessible. And not a trace of paint-job- or flashy-terrain-oriented snobbishness. But lots of inspiration.

    The old debate about sci-fi & fantasy gaming is a dead issue my friend -- it's here to stay. Personally I would rather play such a game that included some maneuver and required some thought, than a line of tanks shooting at another line of tanks, or another push of pikes where the dice decide the outcome. Don't get me wrong, given a choice, I will take WWII or horse-and-musket or a naval game, but the rules and scenario can be more important than the period in making for a good game. If good tactics aren't rewarded, we might as well play checkers. Just my $2.98 (2 cents adjusted for inflation).
    Thanks for another interesting rant.

    1. John See you point regardibng blogs but I'm coming at the Fantasy Sci-fi thing from a different angle. Even if we leave out GW Fansy and Sci-fi - ie "Non-historical miniatures gaming" (godawful title) is or should be a large enough Genre to support its own magazine. For a start for every Historical minis outfit there are 2 Fantasy or Sci--fi ones.
      Look at all the crowdfunding in our hobby roughly 60-70% of the projercts are non-historical- mostly Zombies . Look at TMP more bloody Zombies (what IS this American fascination with Zombies????)
      Yet deswpite all of that there is no surviving mainstream Scj-fi fantasy magsazine outside the GW genre. I think thats a crying shame it gives the field to the peurile nastiness of GW.
      Seeing Non Historical- with all of its diversityas merely "another period" does it no favours

  3. I think I agree with most of what you've said about magazines, but I've stopped buying and reading them for a few years now. When GW changed White Dwarf to an "In house" magazine featuring nothing but their own "professionally painted" figures I think the writing was on the wall for all the other mags too as one or another Manufacturer's historical figures came into fashion. Manufacturers themselves have always done similar things too with their figures, having them slightly less compatible with other manufacturers figures of allegedly similar "scales".
    The influx of Kickstarters is for the new generation of "wargamers" who like what I call "A game in a box", they provide everything for the gamer, whether it be an Alien Invasion, or Victorian Slasher London. The game is sold "with its "research and rules" as complete so that little thought need be done by the purchaser.
    Magazines merely supplying the demand and are selling to a completely new audience who like eye-candy over content and who flit from one project to another regularly it seems.
    I laughed recently when I read a blog about someone who went "Old School" (whatever that means nowadays) on some Games Workshop Marines.
    I smiled to myself.

    1. Excellent...

      " the new generation of "wargamers" who like what I call "A game in a box", they provide everything for the gamer, whether it be an Alien Invasion, or Victorian Slasher London. The game is sold "with its "research and rules" as complete so that little thought need be done by the purchaser."

      .. there in a nutshell is why the modern magazines are not appealing to you (or me, it has to be said) so much.. new audience... we've been left behind.... we know too much and we're too independent of thought...

      Another thought... look at Salute this year... 50% (more??) non-historical.... the traders/manufacturers know where the money is and it isn't in our (my?) little dusty corner of the hobby...

      A final thought on what I like in magazines... or probably what I don't like...

      1/. extended historical articles regurgitated mostly from Wikipedia, with a paragraph at the end comprising "rules suggestions"(MW used to be awful for this... seven part articles, comprising pages and pages... yawn).. I can do my own research, I'm interested in hearing about new periods, but make it a summary, make it interesting to read, and up the rules suggestions content...

      2/. Non-historical content (hey.. you asked!) - not interested.. it's wasted paper in a magazine I am paying good money for..

      3/. I'm weird, I like game reports, though I appreciate to most it's a little like watching rather than playing cricket.. good maps, good background, and a light touch to the writing are required... and I appreciate snippets on how the rule set used affected the play...

      4/. I like articles on tactics and how they translate to the table under a set of rules - Rich Clarke did an interesting one not long ago in support of his new WWII rules..

      ....and that's enough for now... but I'll leave you with one final phrase "one mans meat is another mans poison"... :o)

    2. Nice one Joe!!
      Steve- we may disagree a bit here- Never sure about game reports- but if you have to have them your criteria are the right ones- Game reoprts depend on the battle for me if its an historical refight then fine but if its Fartania versus Shytenstien then no thanks .
      Historical articles do depend upon their sources- I don't use Wiki much as its often twaddle though I may use it toget at the sources.
      If a writer doesn't use and quote his sources in a historical article then why the hell is he writing it in the first place.
      Now in theory I'm a sort of trained historian- that what the letters after my name- which I rarely use are suppoed to be about so I do see your point .
      Properly done articles on tactic are useful and of course historical but tying them to a mere ruleset simply makes them product placement.
      One of the things I'm not keen on regarding Wargamers is the obcession with rules.
      There is a simple test
      IF a known given tactic or manovre used in a period does not work in a given ruleset then BIN THE RULES