Saturday, 22 October 2016

The 'new' Miniature Wargames

This afternoon I found myself haunting the streets of Epsom, rattling a tin on behalf of a local dog charity.

Trigger practising his 'sad' face to get more money out of the public

We have 2 rescue dogs which came from Celia Cross Greyhound Trust, and occasionally I get roped into street collections to raise funds for them.  They tend to be an interesting experience and I often end up bumping into someone I this case somebody I worked with 15 years ago and it looks like a reunion lunch date with some other ex-colleagues may well be on the cards.

miniature-wargames-november-2016-issue-403(on sale 21/10/2016)

I popped into WH Smiths to pick up the latest issue of Miniature Wargames... no longer with Battlegames. I'm old enough to remember picking up issue #1 of MW although admittedly I was at school at the time: under various editorship it has been great/terrible/mediocre at times.

Image result for miniature wargames magazine number 1

 I haven't really kept up with all the ins and outs of recent events but it seems that Henry Hyde, most recently editor of Battlegames and then the combined title,  has been ousted/resigned and the editorship has fallen to John my head I like to think there was some kind of Game of Thrones style power struggle going on which was settled by a bloody editorial skirmish but I suspect it was all disappointingly mundane.

Already in various forums (I know it should be fora but that sounds weird) the usual comments of "I'm never buying another issue" etc have begun to appear.  The fact that the publishers have decided to add a 16 page Fantasy and Sci-Fi section in the middle has also sealed it's fate in some people's eyes,  despite the fact that this appears to be in addition to the normal page count.  What's more interesting is what this means for Tabletop Gaming magazine which comes from the same publisher.  I've liked TTG since it first appeared (although I thought the last issue was a bit flat) but it does seem to be too close a match with the 16 page supplement...will they both be able to survive??

So what's the first issue like?  There's definitely been some tinkering with the layout and at first glance it seems like there's still a bit of work to do before they settle on a new House Style.  Different articles use different fonts, some have 2 columns to a page while others have 3 etc.  None of this is a particular problem but it does make it look a little disjointed.  There are some columns which have survived the putsch such as Conrad Kinch's excellent 'Send Three and Fourpence' and (for me at least) the less interesting 'Wargamers Widow' terrain building regular... it's never held much interest for me but that's mainly because I know I'm rubbish at scratchbuilding stuff.  The contents (bearing in mind I haven't actually read them properly yet) are...

  • Editorial... a very brief hello from John Treadaway.
  • Forward etc as before
  • Wargaming My of the regular navel-gazing articles which can either be interesting or rather dull depending on the contributor.  I haven't read this one yet so can't say where it lies.
  • Send Three and Fourpence...I've always really enjoyed Conrad's articles and this looks particularly interesting, looking at Little Cold Wars: rules for the Cold War era inspired by Little Wars.
  • Dreadnought Battle fleet...WW1 large fleet actions
  • The Battle of Crete...a potted history of the WW2 encounter with some thoughts on gaming
  • Back to Back article by Jim Webster on, erm, back to back wargaming
  • Competition - prizes are books from Osprey and the 'new' Escape from Colditz  game.  My original set is still at my parents house in Glasgow!  I used to enjoy the competitions in the 'old' MWwBG which were quite challenging and had several questions and required a little bit of thought and research (at least on my part anyway).  The new style of competition is the more typical 1 question with the answer in the accompanying blurb so hardly much of a challenge.
  • Critical Hits.  This is new 16 page Sci-Fi/Fantasy supplement which they have put in the centre presumably so you can pull it out and burn it if you are offended by this subject.  I've never understood the antipathy that some gamers seem to have to certain genres contaminating their magazines.  The section includes reviews of figures and rules by John Treadaway (as before in 'old' MWwBG), an article on Infinity: Operation Red Veil, an interview with Joseph McCullough about Frostgrave (wasn't there something very similar in Tabletop Gaming?), an article about Panzerfauste (wasn't there something very similar in Tabletop Gaming?), and  review of Bushido...the skirmish game, not the old FGU roleplaying game.
  • Belli Minimi - A set of fast play Ancients rules from Harry Pearson
  • of books and rules
  • Painting Toy Tanks... a lengthy but interesting-looking article from John Treadaway about painting AFVs.  I always switched off whenever Hammers Slammers was mentioned in the old MW magazine and still have no interest but the techniques may be useful
  • Wargames I said I'm not particularly a fan but there is the odd interesting snippet in these articles,  This one looks at improving MDF this case the Rorke's Drift set from Warlord Games.
  • article about Wargames Assoc of Reading
  • And finally a Club Directory...I'm never sure how accurate of up to date these things are as they are dependent on clubs being organised and actually wanting to be listed
So not a huge difference from the last few issues which isn't really a great surprise and definitely some interesting stuff in there.  A few regulars have carried on contributing but I don't know whether that's because there were articles already 'in the can' or if they will continue and the general tone seems similar so far.  They have obviously been tinkering with layout and design but don't seem to have worked out what they want yet.  Certainly there's nothing for the naysayers to be worried about on first glance.  I would imagine things will begin to change over the next few issues as the new editor and the publishers begin to make the changes that they want and it'll be interesting to see what happens with the Critical Hits section and the future of Tabletop Gaming.


  1. It is years since I have bought an off the shelf magazine - I much prefer the various wargames societies offerings.

  2. Personally, of the three mags (Miniature Wargames, Wargames Illustrated, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy) it has always been my least favourite so I'm looking forward to seeing what the changes are.

  3. I think they've all had their peaks and troughs over the years: I'm optimistically hoping it'll be heading into a good period.

  4. If I was going to buy a magazine MW was always my choice and I got it regularly up until the merge with Battlegames. I am more likely now to buy it if something takes my fancy rather than subscribe again, which I have to admit is not very often. I do wonder about the future of such magazines when so much of the content is available on websites or blogs.

  5. I'm not anti sf and fantasy either but I thought it would change more than it has. As you say, we will see!