Wargames Magazines

Henry Hyde just announced that he would step down from the editorship of Miniatures Wargames. I’ve been a subscriber to this magazine when I was a kid, reading it under the school bench and dreaming of playing games like those depicted. This was around 1989, there was no internet and in Austria, this was about the only way of connecting to the world of wargaming. I’m not even sure how I came to know about the magazine, but it certainly caught my imagination.

Miniature wargames magazine, issue no 7 doug mason, chasseurs de la garde, phil robinson

When I restarted wargaming a couple of years ago, I resubscribed to MW. I also discovered Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy and subscribed to that, too. However, I soon learned that many wargamers think magazines superfluous and are not prepared to shell out the subscription cost – after all, there are a zillion blogs and forums out there and all the information, they argue, can be found for free on the Web. And there I was, even changing my subscription to WS&S from digital only to paper and feeling like an old sod.

wss85_cover_uk

So what is it I like about magazines?

First of all, let me state that my favourite magazine has become WS&S. I still like MW, but it can’t hide that fact that it’s not as well funded as WS&S. Henry did a marvellous job, but there is only so much one man can do in contrast to a team – especially if the team is working on a bimonthly publication and doesn’t have to churn out one issue per month!

And what about Wargames Illustrated? Well… I have to say that I don’t especially like it. It’s full of pretty pictures, but often, articles are disappointing (although there were some notable exceptions). But first and foremost, I don’t like the way they represent the hobby: It’s a very limited perspective, acting as if 28mm is the only scale available. Most of the images are staged dioramas, not snapshots of games – if I wanted a modelling magazine, I’d read one.

And this gets me to the point: I’m not very interested in pretty images, especially if they serve no purpose (like showcasing a game that is actually played). What I want instead are good articles. Pretty pictures can be found on the Web, but for substantial articles, forums or even blogs are not the appropriate medium. Historical background stories, but especially scenarios and ideas for gaming are what I enjoy. A case in point is the last issue of WS&S on monsters, which not only featured nice and useful scenarios, but some very inspiring ideas for rules mechanism. Background stories on the industry are also interesting, as are in-depth reviews that point me towards things I wouldn’t have discovered on my own.

mwwb-401

All this boils down to own thing: good editorship. The Web is full of stuff, and we all know how you can lose yourself browsing around and feeling like you have achieved nothing apart from wasting a couple of hours. There is something to be said for the skills of a good editor who knows how to put together a selection of interesting stuff. In the best cases, he manages to mix things I know I’m interested in with stuff I didn’t care for, but, as soon as I read into the article, might get hooked (or at least broaden my horizon). And there is, in my opinion, even more to be said for reading such a magazine in the paper version, lounging on the couch with a nice cup of tea.

I for one hope that despite the online competition magazines still have a great future!

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8 thoughts on “Wargames Magazines

  1. David September 17, 2016 / 9:25 am

    Yep I’m in the same boat and agree with you. I want scenarios, battle reports, rules or play throughs, campaign ideas and some reviews. MW tends to be chock full of peoples opinions and photos of shows.

  2. Anthony Stephen Harwood September 17, 2016 / 10:02 am

    As a contributor to both W, S & S and MW, I find it hard to comment other than saying I believe that there is a place for both paper based and on-line editions of all modelling and wargame magazines – long may they continue.

    I also agree – that a good editor is needed.

    Tony

  3. cptshandy September 17, 2016 / 10:50 am

    Please don’t get me wrong: I think Henry was a good editor (and I greatly admire what he has done for wargaming in general) and I still enjoy reading MW – after all, I just renewed my subscription.

  4. Mikko September 17, 2016 / 11:02 am

    I haven’t read any wargaming magazines apart from White Dwarf years and years ago. I have been a subscriber for a video gaming magazine for ages, though, and I recognize the value of a physical product, even if a lot of information is available online. While visiting the UK last Spring, I was surprised to see so many different magazines available, maybe I should get a few and give them a try!

  5. Andy McMaster September 17, 2016 / 1:32 pm

    I too like the paper mags. I switched MW to digital a couple of years ago and found I hardly read them. Having a paper copy (or several) next to the bed/loo is something I can dip into whenever. I think Henry did a great job turning MWwBG around and I’ll let my sub run and see how John T does before making a decision on renewal. I really like WSS too. Sometimes the theme doesn’t grab me but there is usually enough other content to be worth the read. I like Rich C’s column. Rick P’s less so. I concur with your views on WI.
    I do still have all my (really) old WI and MW mags and still dip into them. The vast majority of mags over the recent years eventually go to recycle. Apart from Battlegames. That sits in binders and is still worth re-reading.

    • cptshandy September 17, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      Oh, Battlegames was great, I bought all issues as pdfs… the Tabletop Teasers alone are worth the purchase!

  6. Michael Peterson September 17, 2016 / 5:08 pm

    I gave up on MW some time ago, but took an electronic sub when HH took over. Conrad Kinch’s columns were always worth reading, but managing the electronic sub and making time to look at it on my laptop or tablet always seemed more troublesome and even harder than picking up the physical mag.
    Today I buy WSS because my local chain bookstore (Chapters) carries it and I think it is worth supporting, though the older copies pile up, seldom reread.

  7. dave2718 September 18, 2016 / 1:32 am

    Blogs are awesome; I have really enjoyed this extension to the gaming scene (including gaming groups on FaceBook). But sometimes it is really nice to hold a magazine in your hands. For me digital editions site a little between the two: the role of editor as curator as well as polisher is a valuable contribution.

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