Thursday, 27 April 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 409

The April issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered just before I went to SALUTE2017 and I have only just managed to have a long and serious look at it.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Bagging Boris: A 'Black Ops' scenario by Conrad Kinch
  • Hostage to Fortune: A short medieval skirmish scenario by Chris Jarvis
  • Pursuit after Kunersdorf: A Seven Years War skirmish game for two players ... and two figures by Arthur Harman
  • (Well) Behind the lines: Ideas for using support and supply vehicles and troops by Philip Andrews
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Cloudships of Mars: Small scale Victorian air-to-air combat in Martian skies by John Treadaway
  • The African Princesses: How to paint 19th century female African royalty by Kevin Dallimore
  • Wargaming my way by Robin Miles
  • Recce
  • Toupee Trees: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Directory
Although I did not find this issue as entertaining as the last, there were still some good articles that made my continued purchase of this magazine worthwhile. Of particular interest were Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence was as usual good value for money, and Arthur Harman's Pursuit after Kunersdorf shows just what can be achieved in the realm of small scale game design with a bit of thought and ingenuity. I even enjoyed the Cloudships of Mars article, having owned several of the SPACE 1889 books and products in the past. I do, however, still have concerns about whether or not I will renew my subscription the next time it is due. John Treadaway is quite unequivocal in his editorial about his vision for the future. He states that 'Whilst I've Kreigspieled (sic) and role-played as much as I ever wanted to (and still do) wargaming is, for me at least, primarily a feast for the eyes: the figures and scenery are, I think, far more important than even the period and I want this magazine to reflect the world of painted toy soldiers in all its splendour wherever possible.'

Whilst I agree that one of the major attractions that wargaming has for me is its aesthetic side, I'd always prefer to fight a well designed wargame with averagely painted figures on reasonable terrain than a poorly designed one where the figures have 'splendid brush work' and move across 'great terrain'. I am just concerned that if the latter is going to be the norm on the pages of Miniature Wargames, it and I will be parting company in the near future.

37 comments:

  1. I cancelled my subscription because of this. The magazine used to have interesting articles about wargaming but these are few and far between. When I found myself reading only one or two of the articles I gave up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephen Briddon,

      I used to buy all three of the mainstream wargames magazines, but gradually gave up purchasing them. When Henry Hyde took over at Miniature Wargames, I looked at the first issue and immediately felt that it was something that I would want to read every month, which is why I took out a subscription. Now that Henry has left, I wanted to give John Treadaway a few months to make his mark ... but he seems to be taking the magazine in a direction that does not gel with my interests.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. Bob,
    Your last paragraph expresses my feelings perfectly, too!
    Regards,
    Arthur

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arthur Harman,

      I'm not surprised by your comment; you and I share a lot of wargaming history and experience in common, which probably accounts for our similar points of view.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. I too agree with your closing remarks (not just because my brushwork is truly awful); well painted toy soldiers are wonderful but are not necessary for a great game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maudlin Jack Tar,

      When seen from a distance, I must admit that I cannot easily tell the difference between figures that have been painted to an extremely detailed standard and those that have had a basic paint job ... so unless I only want my figures to sit unused in a display cabinet, they are going to get the simplest of paint jobs.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. After a number of years, I too have cancelled my subscription for much the same reasons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stuart Asquith,

      As the former editor of an excellent wargame magazine, your decision is a damning indictment of the current state of the commercial wargame magazine market.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  5. I gave up on all the wargame magazines a few years ago when I admitted to myself that I hadn't actually been reading most of the articles and that the unremitting focus on 28mm scale figures and glossy rulesets just bored me. As the discerning readers of your musings recognize, it's a wide wargaming world out there - it's just a pity that the magazines chose to ignore most of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barry Carter,

      I gave up reading all three commercial magazines for pretty well much the same reasons as you state in your comment. The slightly 'old school' approach that Henry Hyde had in the two magazines he edited did appeal to me, which is why I took out a subscription to Miniature Wargames, but now that he has bowed out, I suspect that I will be giving up reading It again.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. I stuck with it until Henry moved on and then read the runes.

      Delete
    3. Barry Carter,

      Probably a wise decision.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  6. I had my last copy last month. Too much fantasy for me.

    I like beautiful terrain but I much prefer your more abstract approach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nobby,

      If I wanted to read about fantasy wargaming, I'd buy an appropriate magazine ... but judging from what was on show at SALUTE, it does seem to be a major growth area within the hobby.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  7. I'd very much agree and have much the same feeling at shows where a lot of the "games" seem more or less static though very pretty. I enjoy looking in the same way I'd appreciate a good diorama in a museum but it hasn't much connection with my hobby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nigel Drury,

      I have nothing against nicely presented wargames, but I think that too much effort is going into presentation and not enough into content ... as seems to be true in so many aspects of modern life.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  8. Don't cancel yet - I sent John an article this month, it's about the wargaming, not the pretty figures and terrain, honest!

    Chris

    Bloody Big BATTLES!
    https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BBB_wargames/info
    http://bloodybigbattles.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris BBB,

      I have a couple more months before I have to decide whether or not to renew my subscription, so I may well be reading your article before I have to make that choice.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  9. I stopped buying wargames magazines, full stop, about a year ago.

    I spent a year and a half selling my deceased chums figure collections, painting and selling his unfinished works, his books and subsequently his magazines.

    The magazines were the hardest to move on except for a few choice early issues and I eventually gave them away.

    I still have a few left, taking up space, collecting dust.

    Then I have my own magazines which I have managed to move on a good few of them. I see no point in adding to them.

    I have an extensive book collection which I still add to which covers adequately all the periods I am still interested in.

    Then there is the internet which procures any missing information that I need.

    I attend about a dozen wargames shows each year so I get to see lots of products in the flesh, lots of demonstration and participation games and more importantly lots of wargamers and traders, eye to eye.

    I see no point in buying magazines at all now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim Duncan,

      I think that is an exceptionally well argued comment as to why wargame magazines are not necessarily as relevant as they used to be, especially to wargamers who have been in the hobby a long time.

      Ol the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  10. The Rochester model shop sells off old wargames and modelling magazines for 50p with the money going to the local Air Ambulance. It's a useful way of disposing of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nigel Drury,

      That it is a great idea! I wonder if other places do something similar.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  11. Funnily enough, having received my copy of Miniature Wargames this month, I too was disappointed. so I dug out a 2013 copy of Battlegames and compared the two. Battlegames was thicker, had very little fantasy/sci fi and about 80% of the contents were of interest to me.I will most likely stop buying Miniature Wargames magazine when my subscription ends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob Kett,

      Battlegames was an excellent magazine that I didn't 'discover' until it was almost too late. If only circumstances had been such that it could have continued publication ... but it was not to be unfortunately.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  12. I buy all three and sub-scribe to one. I was also disappointed with the current MW issue ..... but there is a part of me that feels that we are lucky to have 3 mags on the shelves in the high street and I really feel that if they disappear, that will be a loss to the hobby ..... even if we don't notice it! Yes I know that doesn't make sense, but perhaps it is the dinosaur in me that would hate to see them disappear, which is why I buy them all. I wish they were better., though I presently like WSS and think I will flip my subscription over to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Norm,

      I used to be an avid buyer and reader of the mainstream wargame magazines, and wish that they still had something to offer me as a reader. They cost just under £5.00 each, which is not expensive when compared to the cost of buying a daily newspaper, but I was finding less and less of interest to me in each copy, and eventually gave up buying all but MINIATURE WARGAMES.

      As a hobby we are lucky to have three such magazine published in the UK, but I am surprised that there is no equivalent publication in the US, where the numbers of wargamers in the population would seem to justify at least one, but since the demise of THE COURIER and MWAN there hasn't been one.

      Interestingly I was having dinner yesterday with a journalist turned publisher and we were discussing the impact of electronic publication on circulation. He told me that he had a client who switched from publishing a printed copy of their quarterly magazine/newsletter to only providing an electronic copy ... and saw their circulation drop from 400,000 to 40,000 almost overnight. The problem was that they could not switch back once they realised their mistake.

      A lesson for the wargame magazine to learn from.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. Norm,
      I have had a sub to the electronic version of WSS for two years now. Even though the theme of an issue may be of no great interest to me, I usually find some interesting articles:in the latest WSS there's a useful set of ECW campaign rules for the Siege of Portsmouth which I think I can adapt for PW purposes. I also like its predominantly historical flavour. Do give it a try.

      As for MW, I may well revert to just buying the occasional issue if it has anything that particularly appeals.

      Delete
    3. Arthur, I agree that themes might not always hit the button, but of the three magazines, WSS is the one that is generally a cover-to-cover read for me.

      Bob, that 400k to 40k figure is amazing.

      Delete
    4. Norm,

      I must take another look at WSS. The idea of having themed issues had rather put me off buying it, but it sounds as if I might have been missing out as a result.

      To my mind the figures for the drop in circulation are something that anyone considering moving wholesale from printed to electronic publication should seriously consider. Whereas electronic publication might well be all right for fiction and news, I think that when it comes to non-fiction, people still want printed publications that they are able to pick up, read, and refer to when necessary.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  13. I must admit I call myself a wargamer but (or should that be "yet") I have not purchased a wargaming magazine in over a decade now .. I did subscribe to WI and MW but I seemed to get bunged up with two decades of backlog - have they covered eberything by now(?), even buying the MW and digitised CD's to save space (yet I kept the originals). Yes I guess this means I am "out-of-touch" with the mainstream , but when I look through my old mag collections I still get inspired! My commercial game systems have gone forward (Chain of Command and Impetus for example) but I simply don't get the urge to buy when I look through the magazines in WH Smith. Note: WI going full-on FoW was the kiss of death for me :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      Out of touch with the 'mainstream'? You are an obvious candidate to join Wargame Developments!

      I suspect that there are quite a few of use who are in a similar position to you. So much of what appears in modern magazines often seems to be either a re-hash of something old or a just a commercial tie-in ... as was the case with WI. Why buy what you have already read or something that relates to a game system or rules that you will never buy.

      It sounds to me as if you have arrived at a situation that suits your needs ...and why should you bother to change? I can seen no reason to do otherwise.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. Cheers Bob,

      Thanks for your kind words
      They ring true, I do seek the WD intelligent .. experimental and slightly bizare conversation

      I have "vowed to get to CoWs", but alas not this year
      I have to say that UK Connections 2016 had a great tasty "salted twist" of a flavour to it (particularly coming from the hobbyist side of things) but I cannot see myself as a "regular" in that fold

      Well worth the one off effort but it would break me

      I would love to sit down and do a Fletcher Pratt with yourself and Tim Gow one sunny fine day
      I should start things off with a Nugget subscription

      Best Wishes
      Mark

      Delete
    3. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      You can always stick your toe in with WD by subscribing as an E-member. That way you get access to the electronic, online version of THE NUGGET for only £15 per year.

      Over recent years we have had a steady trickle of new people coming to COW ... and almost all of them book for the next year as soon as they have. It can be quite a heady mix, and I know that it is THE highlight of their Wargaming year.

      I see UK CONNECTIONS as an interesting contrast to COW. The former seeks to wrap itself in an academic/professional cloak for good reasons ... but it is interesting to note how many of the real hardcore of the attendees are actually hobby wargamers as well. At COW they can let their hobby side have free run, something that they cannot do at CONNECTIONS.

      I'd really enjoy facing you in a Fletcher Pratt game one day ... just as long as my old knees can stand it!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  14. Living in the USA, MW in the bookstore costs $13.00. When I look at it, there is just not enough content to make me spend that kind of money. Also, I find plenty of good articles on blogs, such as yours. Often you just have to mention an interest to a blog, and they will give you the information you are looking for. I can cherry pick subjects I'm interested in on blogs; magazines you are stuck with the articles. I find that my interests are outside the mainstream of the hobby, therefore there are rarely articles that interest me. When Henry Hyde was editor, I did find myself spending that kind of money; even if I had no interest at the time, the articles made me think that in the future they could come in handy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jhnptrqn,

      That is some mark-up in price, even allowing for the cost of getting the printed copies to the US.

      Blogs and online forums can be informative, and one soon learns which ones to bother with and which ones to just ignore. The advantage is that with a little bit of work and ingenuity it is possible to copy stuff from blogs and forums and to store it in either printed or electronic form, thus saving both money and storage space.

      It was a sad day for a lot of us when Henry decided to walk away from the editorship, but he had good reasons for doing so. Its just a pity that the publishers couldn't find someone of his ilk to fit the vacant position.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  15. Now I am going to have to find a copy just for the cloudships article. Sadly even under Henry the shipping costs were exorbitant for a subscription and the very few newsagents in the area didn't carry it. The one copy I did find was in the Frankfurt airport.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat G,

      I don't know why it is so expensive to post things like magazines. In the UK I can send a 2kg parcel to someone for £2.90 ... but a small magazine to the US costs almost as much. In this day and age you would have thought that shipping something like that would not have been so costly.

      Good luck with getting hold of a copy of the article. Perhaps the publisher will send you a scanned version of the pages for a small charge?

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete