Monday, May 25, 2009

New look magazine

Whilst I was away the company behind the enormously successful Flames of War (Battlefront Miniatures) has procured the long established Wargames Illustrated, The Last I knew, it was still operated by Duncan Mcfarlane (whom, to name drop I once had a pint with, and more remarkably, managed to extract payment for an article from!).

Now, I can't pretend to know the reasons behind his selling the magazine, though I guess there are several obvious contenders, but from first sight it is obvious why Battlefront would seek to buy it. Reading through the magazine now in its' revamped format is a mixed experience. Compared to one of last years issues I had lying around, it is a thicker volume, as it states proudly itself on the cover. The new thickness seems to allow for more in depth articles, and this certainly must be a good thing, however it is very apparent that almost, if not every, article is written with an agenda.

I don't think there is an article that isn't directly plugging a product, most obviously Flames of War itself - clearly WI is now to become the official organ for pushing this game system, no more Rapid fire articles I'm sure! By my count there are 23 pages devoted to FOW. But that aside there isn't an unbiased, non-selling article. I know things have been moving this way, but it is really obvious the difference to a couple of years ago.

Of course many won't mind that at all. After all many gamers nowadays do not look beyond the glossy published systems. In an age of new populism in wargaming (as I see it any way), the simple, hassle free route of straight forward full colour rule books, massive supplementary guidance and units in a box, requiring no research to get the ratio's right, it would be counter intuitive for the most read magazine on the subject to support obscurism. For the obscure, there is the Internet; WI has to play it safe and go mass market.

And with that does come some positives, Battlefront's clout means that the articles can now be supported by top notch production values; lifting maps and other material from Osprey publications to support several articles. The realigning of the magazine as a purely historical gaming magazine, will doubtless please many too.

Overall, I remain divided. I admit I've never been a regular buyer of the magazine, generally picking it up only when there were specific articles of interest, probably about two or three times a year. It is in some respects an improved package; but that comes with a massive caveat of every article seeming like an advert for something - in other words it's gone a bit Games Workshop. Slick but surprisingly - despite that extra content - a bit shallow; soulless.

For those who would rather, there is still Miniature Wargames of course. Maybe I should pick up a copy to do some comparisons...


  1. ..but let's not forget "Battlegames"... beginning to be a bit of a life saver in a sea of mediocrity...

    I bought last months Wargames Illustrated and realised yesterday that I still hadn't summoned up enough enthusiasm to actually read it - these days I seem to browse the pictures/adverts and shove it on the "to read" pile - where usually it isn't!

    As for Miniature Wargames I gave up on that years ago - hideous photo's - but I note on Fire at Will's blog that that is under new management as well...

  2. I'd echo Steve's comments over Battlegames. Henry has mananged to combine the enthusiasm we all got from the early Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated when Duncan did it his way. Add in good review pages, Siggo and Grant what more could you ask for in a magazine?
    Battlegames always reminds me of the excellent Practical Wargamer - the magazine I miss most of the three we used to have a choice from.
    If you're right about the FOW dedication then I'm not about to buy it either. No interest in the product and even less interest in reading about it.