Image by Paul Lipps

It seems that the endless magazine games are beginning to swallow a larger share of wallet, the least play time, as well as more and more storage. Is this a problem?
Yes. For now at least it is.
Generally there is no beef with me that magazine games needing a little work, or any beef about them being a little lighter far. Especially given the deadlines these magazines impose upon themselves.
It is easier to excuse the designer or the publisher for errors and omissions.
There are some more venerable titles such as S&T where we have resigned ourselves to hit and miss affairs, and as such rarely acquire the magazines.
As prices creep up the expectations do go up also! The line between inexpensive game and expensive magazine draws in from the parallel to cross over with companies such as Tiny Battles and Holland Spiele producing excellent playing and nice quality games for the price of a magazine title.
The magazine format enforces a level of simplicity and counter density that can be good for some games and ideas, but on the whole the 1/1/10 rule of thumb (1 sheet of counters,1 map and ten pages of rules) often makes for a compromised design.
One must  wonder though about the need for so many magazines and so many magazine games. We have a literal a plethora of magazines today. Here are the ones I regularly buy and what I intend to do about them as I assess what to keep acquiring:

First on the chopping block: Paper Wars magazine , while it is cool that they are revising / reprinting games long out of print, the currently owned versus played ratio is terrible for their issues!
Only one game has made it to the table that I recall of all of them so far.
$34.95 for the magazine & game or just $16.95 for the magazine. Skipping both once the sub expires.
It might be worth revisiting the magazine at some point, and of course we should all be open to buying a special title or a favorite designers game!
Ares & CounterFact are both from One Small Step games who have taken big strides in the game publishing world of late.
These two subs need to run their course then its adios unless something compelling happens. I will say that the recent edition issue 004 is really well done tho…Maybe I’ll keep getting CounterFact for just the magazine?
The articles are fresh and interesting.
The SciFi writing for Ares is not moving me. Which is a shame. Perhaps the bleakness of the fictional writing  is a trend that will reverse itself?
Battles Magazine, the zero F$%^ks given by the editor cracks me up, I’d gladly keep buying  but even here titles inside the magazine are not making it to the table! Wagram and 2 others out of 10 or more titles…:( .
WTF 1940 – taunts me. That is despite the glowing review by Mark Herman whose game is being published by Nuts Publishing, the sister company to Battles. Even with all that, I still cant get it to the table!
Lately the articles are being written by friends of designers who are featured in the magazine. It is all starting to feel a bit incestuous.
Kevin Zuckers efforts to justify his 1970’s era design was tortured, along with the shameless promotion of Stumpters off shoot rule set of Zuckers game, came across as a pat on the back and a slap in the face all at once. Classic Vasey style. In fact the magazine really is like the Charles Vasey Perfidious Albion user group mafia took over the magazine. I certainly read all the reviews there with a grain of salt these days. Off the list and I’m reading the digital copies
Yaah! , Some really nice reading here, new writers, great art work and formatting. I’d like to keep getting this as the designs are really pretty smart, from Tom Russell, Herman Luttmann and Walker himself. This could replace Battles as the premier magazine, with out the bloated wordiness of Battles.
C3i An always order, auto buy!! Owning a substantial # of GMT titles makes this a great value buy, and shipping prices and packaging has been fixed, so its much cheaper now and the game arrives in great shape! – Other publishers should take note.
War Diary, Not a bad rag. It quickly caved and added a game. So that magazine has been dropped by me somewhat reluctantly.
S&T Family….Just too much of the same content re packaged. the games cant be trusted to be consistent for any of the S&T titles, so they too go and will be bought on a one off basis as gems are unearthed by trusted sources.
On the odd occasion I write something for a magazine and receive a comp copy, or a publisher will send me a complimentary review copy. This happens rarely, so  the days of me covering magazines and games in them are fast approaching their end, as my level of interest in the games and ability to keep up with them is being challenged by actual gaming time.
That said, if someone wanted to do the reviews here for the blog and I could get you comp copies let me know. I’d like to keep a pulse on the market place for blog readers but dont have the bandwidth to do it alone.
Think of all the giveaways we could do!
Thats it for now.

9 thoughts on “Magazines

  1. I subscribed to World at War for its first four years or so. Never once tabled one of their games and rarely read through the mags. They came too often for me to keep up with given life and other aspects of my wargaming hobby, so I reluctantly dropped it. Could no longer justify an increasing pile of unplayed games and unread magazines.

  2. Kevin, just a quick note about War Diary. The game that we did, Ball’s Bluff by John Poniske, was a one time thing that was offered as a subscription incentive. We don’t publish any games in the magazine. Come back!!

  3. I never realized there were that many magazines with a game it in it. Thanks for your interesting insights.

    Here are mine based only on the “S&T family” which I had experience with. Prices for the sub and individual copies have gone WAY up but the quality of the games and articles are all pretty suspect. The only really good games seem to be the re-tread SPI ones from decades back which I missed the first time around but you pay through the nose for them. While the articles have nice graphics, I noticed that a recent one had a huge revision on a previous issue’s article to correct a big error. I shook my head as the revision was also wrong . . . I use to buy the occasional issue and had a subscription for a year then decided that it was all a waste of money. Don’t buy either any more or miss them. (Forgot to add, I was more than a little bit annoyed when they cut an issue out of my sub in the middle of it when they decided to have a double size issue . . .)

    Looking at how much they have raised prices (“less for more”) and the frequent “re-tooling” of old SPI titles, it sure seems like they are trying to strip-mine out the old intellectual property before all the old gamers die off . . . or before they go out of business . . .

    • Sam ATO is to me a bit unusual. Usualy each edition is built around the game whereas most other magazines have a game and perhaps 1 article regarding the title. Therefore I see it more as a game publishing company that publishes in a magazine format vs a magazine company with additional content that includes a game.

  4. “incestuous”, “mafia”… wow. Maybe you missed the review in B#10 that totally destroyed TTLM (a Nuts! game), for example. Kev, you apparently don’t know how Battles is made. The making of Battles is an adventurous, turbulent, chaotic and still amusing process, which does not (and can’t) leave any place to any time (or will) for complotting… It’s just fun and tense, no time for an agenda. I understand that your personal enmity toward Sir Lord Vasey could influence your opinion, but please…

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