Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Magazine Review

A recent trip to my local branch of WHSmith gave me the opportunity to buy the latest copies of each of the main glossy wargames magazines that are widely available in the UK. As two of them have changed hands – and styles – quite recently I thought that I would look at all three and make some comments.

Miniature Wargames (October 2009 – Number 318)

This issue covers:
  • Show Reports on Historicon 2009 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) and Battlegroup South 2009 (Bovington, Dorset) – Lots of photos of wargames (and people playing wargames) with a well-written commentary about both shows
  • Air War 1941 –This is a short scenario for an air battle using the ‘CHECK YOUR 6!’ rules accompanied by a report of how the scenario played out
  • The War of the Successors Part 4: The Naval Actions – A mainly historical article with ideas on how to refight the naval aspects of the War as a campaign
  • Towton 1461 – An historical article with a section that explains how the battle could be re-fought as a wargame
  • Dunkeld 1689 – Another mainly historical article with a short section that explains how the battle might be re-created as a wargame
  • Assault on the Bettel Berg 1809 – This article includes a short description of the battle and a scenario that was originally published in BATTLES FOR EMPIRE – NAPOLEONIC WARGAME SCENARIOS 1807 – 1809 by James R Arnold and Ralph R Reinersten
  • Byte the Bullet: Computers at Eggmuhl – a short article about a computer-moderated figure game that was featured at Historicon 2009
  • Salem Church 1863 – Yet another historical article with a section about how to re-fight the battle on the tabletop
  • Dark Horizons – This is a new section in the magazine; it covers all aspects of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Alternative History wargaming
  • A Dark Age Watchtower Made Simple – A well illustrated ‘how to’ article
  • Reconnaissance Report & Diary
  • Figure Reviews
  • Book Reviews
All-in-all, this magazine has not changed a great deal since Ian Dickie handed it over to its new owner and editor. Its photos tend to look less staged than in other magazines and its layout has been updated. From my own point-of-view there was not a lot in this issue for me – my interests being much more orientated towards the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Wargames Illustrated (October 2009 – Number 264)

This issue is billed as a World War One special and covers:
  • The Western Front 1914 – 1915 – An historical overview of the first seventeen months of the First World War
  • The Successors – An introductory historical article that outlines the main protagonists in and events of the wars that followed the death of Alexander the Great
  • Airborne Landing Rules – A short historical article about the major airborne landings that took place during World War II and a set of rules – designed to be used with the FLAMES OF WAR rules system – on how to recreate them
  • Attack Everything! – An historical article (and a scenario for the WINGS OF WAR rules) about Lieutenant Hawker’s attack on the Zeppelin shed at Gontrode on 19th April 1915
  • Late Medieval Irish Armies – An well illustrated article that describes the main types of troops found in the Irish armies of the late Middle Ages
  • Zeppelin Hanger - A ‘how to’ article about building a Zeppelin shed
  • Eyes and Ears – Another historical ‘tie-in’ article for the FLAMES OF WAR rules system, this time about the role of reconnaissance units in the American, German, British, and Russian Armies
  • Reno’s assault at Little Big Horn – An historical article with a section that explains how the battle could be re-fought as a wargame
  • The Big Push – Another historical article – this time about the Battle of Loos – with a section that explains how a part of the battle can be recreated as a wargame
  • Spotlight – A review of a range of plastic fantasy figures that have recently been launched by Mantic Games
  • St. Oedenrode – A scenario for a FLAMES OF WAR wargame involving elements of the 101st US Airborne Division and a German Fallschirmjäger Kampfgruppe
  • Painting a WW1 Highland Officer – A ‘how to’ article about painting a 28mm Scottish Infantry Officer
  • Historicon ’09 Show Report Part 2 – An article that mainly covers the speakers who presented sessions at Historicon ’09, including Scott Bowden, First Sgt. (Ret) Matthew Eversmann, US Army, René Chartrand, David Glanz, Keith Rocco, and Todd Fisher (winner of the Scruby Award for 2009)
  • The problem of trenches – An article that discussed the problems of recreating trenches on the table top as well as suggesting how the problems can be solved
  • How to customise your scenery – A short, well illustrated ‘how to’ article that show the reader how to improve commercially produced pieces of terrain
  • Rules Roundup – This article reviews all the major wargames rules that cover World War One and that are currently available.
  • Club Focus – This spotlights the activities of Golf Company (a wargames group based in Columbus, Ohio) who are part of the Game Korps wargames organisation
  • Reviews
This is a much thicker magazine than Miniature Wargames (116 pages as against 72 pages in MW), but it does appear to be dominated by commercial ‘tie-ins’, especially with FLAMES OF WAR. This is hardly surprising bearing in mind who now owns the title, but I do find this somewhat of a distraction. That said, I did find more things of personal interest to me within its pages, and I do like the layout and use of photos, maps, and colour illustrations.

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy (September 2009 – Number 47)

This issue includes a boardgame about the Battle of Quatre Bras as well as:
  • News – This covers the Alpha Ares Games Days 2009, the Third Atlántica Juegos Impetus Tournament, and the new Spanish wargames company, Cosas Wargame
  • Miniatures Review – A very well illustrated guide to newly released wargames figures
  • Publications – A short review of SNAPPY NAPPY and the 2nd edition of BATTLEGROUP PANZERGRENADIER
  • Impetus Hispanicus – A review of the recently published IMPETUS Ancients wargames rules (written by Lorenzo Sartori) and details about the 2009 Impetus Tournaments that have taken place in Spain
  • Zama, Scipio in Africa, 204 – 202 B.C. – An historical article that covers the background to the Battle of Zama
  • Recreating Zama with FoG and Impetus – A pair of articles that explain how the Battle of Zama can be refought using either the FIELD OF GLORY or IMPETUS rules systems
  • WW2. Race in the dark – An historical article about the Battle of the Bulge and the fighting around Bastogne
  • Clean this boil out! Scenario FoW – A short scenario for a FLAMES OF WAR battle between elements of the 101st US Airborne Division and 15th, 26th, and 2nd Panzer Divisions on Christmas Day, 1944
  • Dossier – Quatre Bras 1815
    • ¿Que voulez-vous que je fasse?, The Battle of Quatre Bras – A blow-by-blow account of the battle told in the form of despatches from the major commanders
    • The “Forgotten Men” of Quatre Bras – An article about the role of the Dutch-Belgian forces that took part in the battle
    • The Frenchies are coming! – A short campaign game that puts the players into the role of a battery or cavalry squadron in the French Army that is advancing upon Quatre Bras
  • Interview with … El Mercenario – A interview with Javier and David Gomez, who form the EL MERCENARIO painting team
  • Step-by-step – The second part of a ‘how to’ article about the construction and painting of a Northern Spanish hermitage
  • Virtual War – a review of the latest computer-based wargames
This is the thinnest of the three magazine (it only has 66 pages) and the translation into English can be a little quirky at times; however there is something very endearing about it, and of the three I have reviewed, this is the one I actually look forward to reading most. The boardgame that came with this issue is very nicely presented, and although I will not play it, the map will no doubt be very useful at some time in the future.


There is no outstanding 'winner' amongst these three major wargames magazines as far as I am concerned. They all have their weaknesses and their strengths, and I will probably continue to buy them each month if there is at least one article that interests me in an issue. That said, if I was only able to buy one of them, it would probably be Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy because I like its slight eccentricity and quirkiness as well as its coverage of the somewhat too often neglected European wargaming scene.


  1. And over here in western Canada the only one I subscribe to is . . . BATTLEGAMES Magazine.

    I find it much more interesting than any of the WI or MW issues that I've seen for quite a while. As for WSS, I will admit that I've never seen a copy of it so I'll have to defer my judgment as to its value.

    -- Jeff

  2. Jeff,

    The problem with BATTLEGAMES is that it is not readily available in the UK via newsagents and hobby shops, and I wanted to do a review of those magazine that were.

    In fact I find most of the 'mainstream' magazines rather repetitive in content, although WSS does seem to manage to get a slightly different slant on things, which is probably why I like reading it. It was ahead of the rest in terms of layout until recently, and it still manages to avoid too many commercial 'tie-ins'.

    All the best,


  3. I don't know if it is a sign that one is getting older, and more jaded, but virtually any area of interest I have that supports magazines, I find are with a couple of exceptions, all very much the same. Anyway, thanks for the reviews as it looks like a couple of these are worth looking at with intent to purchase.

  4. Paint it Pink,

    The problem is not confined to wargaming magazines. My wife is researching her family's history and used to buy all the major UK magazines ... but after three or four years what was covered by the articles began to be repeated. She now only buys issues that have something specific that she wants to read about. I have hear similar comments made about other 'interest' or 'hobby' magazines.

    I don't so much think that we get 'jaded' as we like to look for something new or different. There are only so many articles you can read about wargaming the Battle of Waterloo - for example - before your interest begins to wane.

    Mind you, I can remember an instance not so many years ago when exactly the same article appeared in issues of WI and MW!

    All the best,



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