Briefing: the Editor introduces himself and the new, merged magazine.
Forward observer: columnist Neil Shuck of Meeples & Miniatures podcast fame surveys the latest trends catching his eye, including the startling growth of steampunk, Gripping Beast’s latest Dark Age plastics, All Quiet on the Martian Front, Mutton Chop Miniatures for A Very British Civil War, The Bear Marches West on Kindle, cardstock cityscapes for Dropzone Commander, forthcoming samurai and ninja gaming opportunities, and Battlefront’s Tour of Duty Vietnam supplement. He ends with a bit of a rant – just a little one!
Lofty ambitions: our ‘tales of a wargames widow’ continue with the magic hands of Diane Sutherland revealing the secrets to successfully tackling the new glut of laser-cut and prepared MDF buildings on the market, using 4Ground’s ‘Settlers’ Lofted Log Cabin’ as an example. Mmmm, I love the smell of laser-cut MDF in the morning, it smells like victory…
Little Wars for little money in little space: here’s that clever man Arthur Harman, always on the lookout for ways to play exciting games on a tight budget, and here he tackles none other than H G Wells, whose Little Wars celebrates its centenary this year. Your Editor got really excited about this, plotting out grid squares and raiding his RISK set. You’ll see!
Send three and fourpence: Conrad Kinch has some useful advice for beginners – and, indeed, the rest of us – to help you stop procrastinating and get gaming!
The Great Armada, Part 1 – the makings of a wargame: veteran gamer Jim Webster demonstrates that a much-neglected piece of history for wargamers can, indeed, be turned into a simple and exciting campaign. Accompanied by some stunning photographs, this piece is bound to have you looking at this Renaissance era afresh.
Opening Hell’s Highway – Wargaming Operation Market Garden: well-known gamer Jon Sutherland presents two scenarios representing the colossal struggle by XXX Corps to reach the beleaguered paras at Arnhem. You’ll be drooling over the eye-candy of his WWII collection and logging on to LoveFilm to watch those Market Garden classics again.
Digital photography for wargamers: I get asked lots of questions about taking pictures of wargames and miniatures. People also send me lots of photos to accompany article submissions, some of which could be, ummm, improved! Therefore, here’s an introduction to the basic principles of digital photography, from choosing the right camera, through basic principles of lighting, focus, depth of field and composition to choosing the correct format for your final images, according to whether they are intended for print or just the Web.
Command challenge – an uncivil Roman war scenario: that talented chap Steve Jones of the Newark Irregulars takes on Partizan organiser Laurence Baldwin for an almighty clash in northern Gaul, as an occupying army heading home from England gets more of a reception than they bargained for. A cracking game, played using Dan Mersey’s Dux Bellorum rules, accompanied by Steve’s superlative photos of his beautiful collection.
Dux Britanniarum – how one man fell in love with the Dark Ages: American gamer Chris stoesen and his chums have fallen for the other Dux, and here he explains what he and his chums find fascinating, not just about the battle rules, but also the integral campaign system. Together with Steve Jones’ piece, we’ve got the Dark Ages covered and you can compare and contrast the style of the different rulesets.
A Saladin for UNIT: nothing to do with the Crusades! Instead, this is superlative modelmaker Tony Harwood demonstrating how he took an unloved toy and transformed it into a shiny, spick-and-span armoured car for his Doctor Who games. Clever stuff, and useful for all AFV fans whether historical or non-historical.
Zinnkrieg! The allure of two-dimensional gaming: you want old school? I give you old school! Guardian footie columnist and much-loved Achtung Schweinehund! author Harry Pearson reveals his passion for German flats and the search for the ultimate set of old school rules to use them. Marevellous stuff as you’d expect, and guilty of arousing a strange hankering in this Editor…
Competition: picking up from where we left off in Battlegames, a new competition to win a goodie-bag of Normandy stuff including a book, a ruleset, a tank and a box of figures to get you started. In all, worth £70 to the winner!
Thoughts from an armchair: Mike Siggins snuggles into his favourite leather upholstery in the snug bar and considers how and why he is still searching for his ultimate ruleset in almost every period – except one. And the answer revealed there may surprise you!
Recce: absolutely packed this month with reviews of books, rules, miniatures and paints. I’ve also introduced a new rating system indicating how in-depth a rules review is. See the new Contributors’ Guidelines elsewhere here on my blog, but in brief they are:
- Readthrough – you’ve only had time to give the rules a thorough read, but haven’t had the time or opportunity to do more. This category should not be dismissed out of hand, since an intelligent reviewer who has read and tried many rulesets may be very good at distilling the essence of the rules to help the reader make an informed decision.
- Dabbled – not only have you managed to give the rules a thorough read, but you’ve also managed to try out some of the rules mechanisms, perhaps solo, to see how (or, indeed, if) they work in practice. It’s the kind of thing most of us would do given a couple of hours and a handful of dice and a few figures and constitutes a perfectly acceptable level of review.
- Playthrough – you’ve managed to find the time to play a complete game with the rules, perhaps solo, or with a friend, or down the club. It’s unlikely to be a large game, but it’s been sufficient to give you a real flavour of the rules, with most mechanisms receiving repeated attention, such as command and control, movement, terrain effects, firing and morale. Anyone should be more than happy with this level of review.
- Multi-play – you, with or without companions, have found the rules sufficiently intriguing/exciting/exasperating that you’ve made the time to play two, three or several games, giving the rules the most complete workout possible. For a rules review, this is the luxury end of the scale, and neither the editor nor, indeed, the person who wrote the rules, has any right to expect this, but it’s nice when it happens. Sometimes, such a review might be ‘promoted’ to become an editorial feature (especially if there are nice photos alongside it) and the contributor would be paid accordingly.
The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal: with our total now approaching an impressive £12,000, there’s plenty of activity to report, including news of some forthcoming eBay auctions of items kindly donated to the cause.
Together with our classified ads and messages from an impressively wide range of your favourite traders, there’s plenty in this issue to keep you busy until next time – and I’m already working on issue 362!
Finally, a note that I will be at Salute, wearing a white T-shirt this time instead of a red one. Atlantic Publishing have a trade stand at the show (TE11), and also some pretty girls selling copies of this very issue to slack-jawed wargamers. 😉 However, you’re most likely to catch me wandering about, camera in hand, pressing the flesh and feeling the pulse. Do come and say “hello” if you see me.
Publication date: 19th April