Sunday, 26 January 2014

What ... W... wargamers Want. ????

Several years ago Mel Gibson of movie fame  starred in a  rom-com fanstay where after he took a knock on the head could hear the thoughts of women unbeknown to them.
Now given the ongoing rumbling debate on sundry blogs about the content or lack thereof of the glossies one wonders if such a majical  occourance   were to happen to Henry or Guy  and they could magically hear the thoughts of Wargamers what would be the result .


So in order to help these poor benighted souls. I thought in a spirit of pure selfless purity !!!!!!!
 I'd put down - culled from various blog comments on this and other blogs what chaps DON'T want in a wargames mag- surely much much easier to decide than what they DO want.

No History
no battle reports
no reviews
 no articles about personalities
 no articles on modelling or making stuff
 no fantasy or sci-fi
 no articles or pieces about the state of the hobby
 no opinion pieces 
Holmes and Watson looking for a Wargmes mag after the bloggersphere thought police have been  past !

 thie rsult would be a pretty thin mag with a pretty thin readership.
We can't seen to get away from the circular argument
 "I don't like this its rubbish"
 Why is it Rubbish?"
 Becasue I don't like it"

 Perhaps its time to paraphrase


 "You can please some of the Wargamners all of the time and all of the Wargamers some of the time but you CAN'T please all of the Wargamers all of the time."

Now as it happens this debate has somewhat changed my views on the glossy  magazines - so 1 positve effect a least. I'm still not an uncritical fan but I'd say that given the  pure bloody- minded narrowness of some Wargamers within our broad church- and is that a contradiction ? No probably not .

 An old case in point.
 Terry (alas no longer with us)  was a rock musician - he'd played with the Strawbs and the Alex Harvey band amongst others- had his own  recording label and studioand did a lot of session work  when I knew him  but was fascinated by the Zulu war-  I got him some figures and he started diorama building - became a pretty fine painter. So one day there he is in Smiths checking out the magazines - another chap come up and Terry asks for advice- this bloke says he's into Napoleonic so Terry- still a newbie remember says he into the Zulu War- This bloke sniff- looks down his nose and says "Small and uninteresting " and stalks off leaving Terry nonplussed and seething . I appeared at this point  I've cut out Terry's expletives regarding snotty nosed snobbish b***** from the narrative
 Now over the years variants of that have become not-uncommon.and in some areas its getting worse..
 "I only play Wundarules version 6.9 using Exspensicast 32mm figures all others are untermenschen"

So I'm becoming a little less critial as I see the overwhelming tide of  negativity in some of the bloggersphere - of which I've been a part-  I must do better thinks I . After all we are comparativly few in number we bloggers- compared to the chaps who buy - well My stuff - let alone others and just bloody well get on with it...
 The job of magazine editor in todays instant access world is not one I'd relish


  1. I've worked it out - you're on the take! First "Nice One Henry' and now this. What's the world coming to?

    I agree with the level of negativity, but I don't agree with the 'poor editor' line. If you want to get round the negativity then raise the bar and produce a good publication. Barnum was right, so live with it and crack on. Although I don't recall editors doing much crying, I'm also pretty sure that none have been made to do the job either.

    I think punters should be more judicious and not just whinge about the quality of the glossies. If you don't like what's in the mag, don't buy it. If the overall balance is a publication which generally doesn't interest you any longer, then don't subscribe. Of course, you could always submit something for publication yourselves.

    Me? I think I've been farting around with bits of lead long enough to have earned the right to be free of prosecution for whingeing. No, I don't think modern mags are as good as the old 'Wargamers' Newsletter' or the early years of 'Miniature Wargames', but time has moved on and most of it has been said before. Nothing wrong with rehashing standard stuff for newer gamers, but new ground is getting harder to break. Having said, that I do know of wargamers who apparently have wet dreams or sleepless nights the day before the latest edition hits the stands.

    1. Gary- you'd be surprised at how much of that I agree with- and how much I was taking the p***- well a little bit anyway,
      I've still never held a copy of WN in my hand but see your point when using early MW and up to a point early WI as examples.

      But as you say the world has moved on and many of us have been ther and done that- some more than once
      but I do have as a retailer a twinge of sympathy for Editors nonetheless.

  2. Afternoon Andy,
    Where would I be without your posts? Probably painting more figures.
    I remember years ago [ here we go] Donald Featherstone berating wargamers in his editorials for not supporting his mag, Wargamers Newsletter, and blaming its demise on the lack of support. It was a pity that I didnt know a thing about the mag until after it folded because I would have supported it as and when I could have afforded to subscribe to it.
    My point is, support our hobby in every form possible.
    Go to the shows,buy the figures, buy the magazines, comment on the blogs in fact do anything that will help the hobby survive and perhaps even grow.
    I must admit that about twenty years ago that I thought wargamers and the wargame press were going to struggle a tad as every battle was fought, described and produced
    as an article. There are only so many times you can refight Waterloo, but no doubt with next year having a 15 in it we shall see some articles about the battle, including one from me probably. I dont feel sorry for the editors of our wargame press, in fact I wish they wouldnt be some damn safe in what they actually produce. A little bit of controversy is sometimes a very good thing. If a figure range is crap, say it. If a rulebook is overpriced tell the readers. Its easy to be safe, but I sometimes think the lack of friction causes wargamers to bleat about trivia. I always thought the Paddy Griffiths articles about not using wargames figures a great piece of press, I thought I was going to have apoplexy when I first read it, later I appreciated that it got me thinking.
    Good post again.
    Thanks Robbie.

    1. Robbie as a "thought experiment" I tried to complie a list of battle- in period I don't play that I'd never seen in a glossy mag- there were quite a few- the results will appear in a future post .
      I had the sae reaction as you over Griffiths pieces- but these days thought seems to out of fashion....

  3. Mr Amos hints at something that has struck me in recent years - a surprising number of wargamers seem to buy every new, glossy, overpriced (yes, i'm looking at you Warlord Games) product that's dangled in front of them, and then maybe find themselves wondering why, how to make it work for them, or just complain it isn't what they wanted it to be. Maybe twas ever thus......

  4. My goodness, I believe that Hell has indeed frozen over -- Andy has nice things to say about wargame magazines all of a sudden. Better late than never, I guess 8^)

    Some magazines can go on for several issues before I might hit one that strikes my areas of interest. That said, even though the content doesn't grab me, I appreciate the effort that the editors are doing on their respective books. after all, no magazine publisher ( or figure manufacturer) is trying to do harm with their efforts.

    1. Fritz- well sometimes some of 'em are OK and my main point was to illustrate the narrow pointlessness of "Its crap cos I don't like it" argument .
      One of the points that is beginning to interest me is the relative narrowness of our supoosedly broard church- and I'm speaking in terms of historical stuff now. Considering the number of different periods I sell- and I don't do em all by a long way youi often see comparatively few periods in the mags

  5. I form the impression, Andy, that you really want to be fair and do right by magazines - the glossies - and perhaps make up for what a credulous mind might perhaps interpret as fairly negative earlier comments.

    I think what doesn't help editors and article writers is that wargamers' interests change over time - or, perhaps more accurately, what interests any given war gamer will change over time. Thinking about the rude Dude (I suspect his reaction was one of surprise as much as anything else - a surprised reaction is often an unintended rude one). At any rate, right then he was into Napoleonics, to the exclusion of anything else. There may come a time - who knows - when something will trigger an interest in Colonial warfare, and the Zulu war by association if not in particular, and he'll have an entirely different attitude. By which time he will long have forgotten this Smith's shop encounter.

    There are several wargamery things that don't interest me all that much - Ancients is one at the moment. But that doesn't mean I'll give an Ancients article the automatic go by. There are all sorts of ways it might capture my interest, but the key thing is that it would have to say something new, and have to indicate this early. What's new? Aye, well, there's the trick!

    1. Ion - yes exactly - if its a bad mag I'll say so so it seems only fair to be equally candid when I think its a good one..
      As for change of interest/ attitudes- yes that will come into it- I'm far from a 1 period man but there is stuff out there that leaves me cold- quite a bit of the Ancient world for a start- most of South America for most of its history- Currently 3 cornerd hats- but that may not last.....

  6. When I was in school one the instructors said "if you get one good recipe from a cookbook it was worth the price. I tend to look at wargame magazines the same way. One good article makes it worth the price. Of course around here WS&S is the only mag that shows up in stores and I'm too cheap to layout the cash upfront for a subscription.

  7. Hi Andy,
    Your points are well made and well taken.
    I missed out on WN (American, you see), but back in the day Don Greenwood and later Don Lowry did reviews of figures, rulebooks, and board wargames (and later, RPGs) in Panzerfaust magazine. Also battle reports, history, game variants, rules sets, etc. It was very good. When the real wargaming explosion took off in the late 70s, there was such a glut on the market that he couldn't review everything anymore -- too many products, not enough time. So he changed the format to a simple description of the components, and it lost a lot of its usefulness. Also he moved away from minis and focused more on boardgames and history. Too bad.
    My point is, the wargaming field is even broader now than it was then; even if you just stick to minis, there are so many more manufacturers, and rules sets, and historical periods being represented (that you could only get flats for back then), it is probably just too much for one magazine to cover in-depth; and the more you try to cover, the thinner your coverage of any given aspect.
    If you had a number of magazines, each focusing on a particular period or genre, there would probably be more satisfaction among the readership, because there would be less that was not of some interest to them. But would there be enough readership for any given mag to support it? I'm guessing "no", sadly.
    It's a good thing we have blogs then, huh?


    1. John Good points- I have a couple of issues of Panzefaust and a couple of Table Top Talk and yes today they wouldn't have a hope of covering the ground.
      but I'm always in two minds about reviews- as a customer I'd think who is the revierer , what axe has he to grind
      As a supllier I'd think the same - though to be fair less now than formerly
      As a Historian I prefer to make my owm judgements .
      Almost all reviews these days are little more than descriptions- which is probably for the best- I've read some dammned ill-informed reviews in the past .
      Ther was a mag over here that was primarily a review publication . Personally I thought it was awful . Professionally I thought that some reviewers needed to get out more and actually know wherof they spoke.
      I think that mag has now snuffed it