Thursday, 22 December 2016

A clutch of unread magazines

As you might expect I've been a tad busy in the run up to Crimbo. However all is as done as we can do . Now the last few latecoming parcels have gone up  up to the Post Office  that is it until we start again on Jan 4th. Orders can still be ordered but won't be processed or sent as there is little point in them sitting in a Sorting Office for a week and a half. Also - it has to be said - in certain areas stocks are a bit low after the hectic period just finished. Though I have just added a bundle of new stuff to the website in the shape of more Blue Moon ECW and a bundle of late Saxon Napoleonic cavalry. More new stuff will be added in late January.  when I get my next shipment from the USA.

 My last shipment from the USA arrived last Friday- since then Carole and I have dispatched around 150 parcels via the Post Office and our courier so I've barely had time to open let alone read any of the last 2 month's worth of magazines that have dropped on my mat since late November..

So now I may, just may have a bit of time to myself. Some of it will be spent looking through this bundle of magazines
 MW 404 MW 405  WI 350 WI 351
 Now in theory that is an awful lot of pages but once you categorise it actually works out a lot less. Ignoring all the adverts in both magazines for the same old same old cuts down the workload by at least half. The reviews in all  if the magazines are sometimes useful  but mostly not  likewise the infomercials for particular rulesets or games masquerading as articles. and the"interviews" with sundry games designers who - quite naturally want to push their latest creation . This kind of thing seems to be almost the only reason for  non- historical content these days. Either infomercials or interviews. Sci- Fant is or seems to be almost totally  game driven - "buy this game play it this way  because we told you so (£49.99)DISCLAIMER The company is not responsible for any accidents resulting from gamers using their  own brain)"
 Now this does not detract from the quality of some of the gear- so the Crooked Dice minis for 7TV look excellent- I even own a couple and the new John Carter of Mars stuff from Modiphius looks interesting -from the point of view of a figure painter getting the right flesh tone on Deja Thoris'   lissome thighs  could prove an interesting challenge!!
 Are sci- fant gamers so devoid of imagination that ALL they want to do is open the box and roll dice? Surely that cannot be the case. The vast number of different "games"  currently appearing in all of our different fields of endeavour would however suggest that this instant approach is becoming more and more popular. I'm not sure some of these are even wargames- when did the Thunderbirds , for example go to war ?. Even within the historical field the appearance of many very similar "games" may lead us to believe that this trend is for the moment almost universal.  This means that magazine content has to follow this trend (or perhaps help to create it under pressure from publishers anxious to make a few quid)  So within these four issues are no less than 11 infomercials for specific "games"- the majority- 7 -  being in the 2 issues of WI add in a couple of "interviews" in MW plus the usual review pages in both mags and you'd think that there would  not always be a lot of room left for "proper" articles.
In the case of these four issues at least you would be wrong.
 Show reports  include SELWG. and  Warfayre  in the UK ,Little Wars in the USA and Little Wars in Melbourne Australia.. All of the show gave us some fine looking display games..
 Various articles gave us information on the Korean War battle of Choisin ,Naval action at Jutland, Colonial Warfare and a good look at wargaming on gridded terrain. MW has a nice article by Belgian Wargame  Dirk Donvil on Napoleonic gaming in 54mm - showing different ways of doing stuff. Miles  away from the "open the box and do as you  are told"  of the infomercials sometime apparent.  Add in what I suppose is really another infomercial for Warfare Miniatures on the Great Northern war (interesting that the author barely mentions  15mm GNW ranges at all and totally ignores both the Blue Moon 15mm range- which has after all only been available for about 5 or 6 years.) Despite this overall the articles do provide a basic grounding in the period albeit a somewhat biased one.
 Of the four mags my overall favourite article was by 10mm enthusiast Dan Johnson in MW 405 detailing how he turned skirmish game SAGA into a rather splendid looking 10mm Crusades  set up for larger engagements. Equally Arthur Harmans ECW rules look useful and intresting - though I have not tried them yet.
Once again as far from the "buy my new thingy" infomercial as you can get and showing that (with others) there is still individual sentient life out there.
On a personal note I read the review of  Osprey's ECW/TYW -a -like "game" Pikeman's Lament " with more than a little trepidation. The review leads me to believe that it is more of an FRPG than a set of Historical rules- more like the D and D volume "A Mighty Fortress" that say "Forlorn Hope" or even "File Leader".- According to the review there are no rules for unit facing- so perhaps that is the reason for the Pikeman's lament as a pikeman on his own is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. Equally a bunch of pikemen with no unit structure is possibly even less use. Now I'll have to get a copy of these but if - given the author- they are as 17th century as Lion Rampant was medieval then I'll be using  such wonderful historical documents as Hammer's "The Scarlet Blade" as my historical source material. Nevertheless let us not pre-judge until I get a copy.

Overall there is plenty to read in these four mags- WI seems to have toned down it's "Shazam-Kapow" just a little though overall most of the articles are still shortish and in general of lighter weight than those in MW with a somewhat heavier reliance on the infomercial style. MW still seems to me-somewhat the more adult- though it has to be said the gap between the two in this regard is closing.