A look at Miniature Wargames magazine No 352

I got my advertisers copy of this months new Miniature Wargames magazine in the mail on Monday so I have it fairly close to those who line up at WHSmith newsagents at the weekend.  Now that the carnage of the The Thinker’s tenth birthday is over I can do a wee look at this issue.  So without further ado….

Miniature Wargames No 352

Cupola: Andrew Hubback does his editorial commentary as normal and this time he announces or hints at a refreshed design for the layout of MW coming next issue.  I look forward to seeing the rests of his feedback from the readers.  Feedback is vital in all industries and I often feel as if I operate in silence because if the customers who buy my titles and miniatures do not tell me what they think of them or what they would like to see it is really tough to improve!

Letters Page:  Good letters in this month especially one from John Treadaway (ah..fond memories of Full Thrust!) concerning the lack of non-historical materials in the magazine (not just MW but focused on it).  While this can mean Fantasy and Science Fiction it also means ‘what if’ scenarios from history too.  This is an important point to take up.  MW own survey last issue showed how much non-historical gaming there was at Salute 2012 and I commented then about its importance to the future of the industry especially among younger wargamers.

Boxing Clever at Fisticuffs:  Nigel Pell and Gary Mitchell report from the Fisticuffs show in Weymouth (south coast of England).  A good read this and its always good to hear of the joy and suffering that wargamers go through getting to shows.  I have not been to Fisticuffs (it would be a thousand mile round trip from Girvan!) but it looked like a fine event with a lot going on including a large game of GrUnTz put on by the Wessex Wyverns local club plus of course Gary’s own excellent Space Vixens from Mars was there; love that range!

The Attack on Raedykes Camp:  The third article in the series by Peter Hall on re-fighting Mons Graupius with the Hail Caesar wargame rules.  This time a Roman Marching Camp hobby article and run through of two games centred around it.  I studied this campaign at university and Peter does an excellent job in turning it to wargaming.

Apocalypse Vow:  It is going to be the end of the world on December 21st this year if you believe the long vanished Mayans.  This article by Gary Mitchell looks the this prediction along with Mayan warfare and ways to use it on the tabletop.  As to the end of the world…no way…I still got rules to write!

The Osaka Campaign:  Part two, and sadly the final, of Kevin Jones look at the rise of the Tokugawa family and the Japanese feudal wars.  One of my favourite nations and a period I know a lot about and in fact I own almost of the books the author quotes as sources.  An excellent summary with some wargaming notes and ideas too.

Scuffle at Shevardino:  Napoleon’s 1812 campaign and the smaller battle that came just before Borodino written by Chris Hahn.  This is a fine article with a lot of history, maps and wargaming material in it but it did not grab me much.  Perhaps I am not in a mood for Napoleonics just now (I am busy with my preparations for a ‘Martian’  terrain set for 28mm scale but that is another matter) so I read it and passed on.

15mm.co.uk’s advert for Renaissance miniatures..gosh it almost looks like a professional did it!

Don’t Forget Your Tomahawk:  I always look forward to Steve Eardley’s pages in MW because he ranges wide and far for material and always delivers a good read.  This time its an approach to wargaming the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years War if you come from the civilised side of the pond!) followed by a delve into the miniatures that can be had for the conflict.  Four excellent pages!

Wargaming Gettyburg Part Two:  Jon Sutherland offers up the second part of his series on wargaming the biggest battle of the American Civil War.  It is a well delivered and sharp article which is just as well as I am fairly tired of ACW as a period and of that battle in particular.  Good for fans of the period.

France 1940:  World War Two booty for fans of the most recent worldwide conflict.   Mark Freeth presents a report on a battle that recently took place at his Wargames Holiday Centre.  It reads like a plug for the place but hey its a good plug and I for one would love a weekend of Mark’s hospitality!

A Spreading Insurgency:  Mike Haran presents a system for wargaming the action when the recent Arab Spring turns to a cold, cold Arab Winter of war and terrorism.  For me this near future article is the best one in this issue. Presenting a squared grid of the Middle East and surrounding regions along with outcomes allows for massive variety and unknowns in play.  Added to this is a system of unit deployment, spies, situations.  Excellent all around and could be adapted to a sci-fi setting with ease.

Darker Horizons: This time headed up ‘Redundancy’ Gary Mitchell begins my favourite part of the magazine by outlining his potential woes of facing the loss of his teaching post and having to do the ‘trolley shuffle’ so loved by the middle aged all across Britain’s thousands of supermarkets.  I wish him luck and while its not the purpose of this posting or this blog to get political it does make you wonder if teaching children is about experience or being cheap…ah but lets carry on.  Gary crams and I mean crams information into the pages listing all the current happenings of two dozen companies and fifty or more releases.  Black Cat Bases get a feature of their new ‘between scales’ Grey Aliens and Sheep while some other person gets a mention about his ‘amazing sci-fant empire.  I wonder where he finds the time?’…what can I say, not much sleep, fast typing, a strong work ethic and a loving wife.

MOTH and Me get a mention! 

Book Reviews: A collection of reviewers look at Twilight of the Hellanistic World (Pen & Sword), The Fall of English France (Osprey), Austrian Seven Years War Cavalry and Artillery (Ken Trotman Publishing), Napoleons Swiss Troops (Osprey), Forts of the War of 1812 (Osprey), The Eastern Front 1914-20 (Amber Books) and a biography of Georgy Zhukov (Osprey).  Good reviews but all I can say is thank heaven for Osprey eh, otherwise what would the review pages do!  I often think that a wargames magazine should review wargame rules as well as military history books in its pages; after all it is aimed at the wargaming hobby.

All in all a good read and recommended for those of you who can get it.   But then I would say that…I am in it!


9 thoughts on “A look at Miniature Wargames magazine No 352

  1. Wow- Someone writing about Feudal Japan who isn’t Stephen Turnbull! Does that make it a collector’s item?

    • Hello Edward,

      Maybe it does. I would write on the subject, I have the background for it, but alas they did not ask me!


  2. The one slightly down note is that the spin-off science-fiction & fantasy wargames magazine “Darker Horizons”, long expected as recently as issue 351 to launch this September, seems now to have been put back to spring 2013, judging by the editor’s reply to John Treadaway’s letter. Presumably the MW revamp was originally meant as part of that launch package, but given that the magazine has dropped from 80 pages per issue to just 68 since Atlantic Publishers took it over, it may hint at something else. Given the popularity of “non-historical” gaming that you drew attention to, this seems at the very least to be a rather mixed message coming from MW. And I speak as a subscriber!

    • Hello Alastair,

      Yes, I have heard that the dedicated Darker Horizon magazine has been pushed back again, this would be at least the second push back. Certainly during my chat with the editor at Salute 2012 he gave me the impression that non historical wargaming was getting evermore important and he had changed course to account for this. It is a mixed message but time will tell and I hope the mag does arrive, it would be shame to crop or cancel a dedicated SF&F title. But…it is no doubt hard to sell a print magazine these days, there is a lot for free and for download too out there on the web now. I made this choice with Barking Irons Online, print to online a couple of years ago.


  3. Gavin,
    Thanks for the mention. It’s nice to actually see someone remark upon my submissions to MW. (The number of pieces sent in and published far outstrip the number of responses – good or bad – which I honestly find a bit curious. Anyway.) Sorry to read that the piece did not fully arrest your attention and interest. More evidence (as if it was needed) that wargame articles CANNOT please all wargamers ALL of the time.
    FYI – Andrew has two more articles of mine in queue. One is about a 30YW project, and the other is about Caesar’s landing on your ancient shores. Here’s hoping that you – and others – find these worth the time.

    • Hello Chris,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.

      Sorry that I did not adore your piece but I did read it through, it is just the subject matter, not my current favourite. But certainly Caesar’s landing sounds very different and I know nothing of this so I look forward to that! Thirty Years War is not often printed so again this will be something different in the pages.

      Speaking as one writer in the industry to another the lack of responses good or bad is not surprising to me. It is VERY hard to get readers to tell you what they thought and often it is like throwing material into the dark void, it just vanishes without a peep. Why this is I do not know. Perhaps it is such an internal action, reading, that wargamers do not realise any need to tell a writer their opinion. It is one of the main reasons that I decided to take the time to type up a response to each issue.

      Keep an eye on the blog for future reviews…I promise not to be bias due to your personal attention 🙂


      • Gavin,
        Have added your blog as a bookmark to the few and various online forums I frequent (BP, HC. MOA, and LONE WARRIOR). Will try to keep informed as time permits. (Presently engaged – no pun intended – in a solo mini campaign . . . Dark Ages, points based, using HC, etc.)

        Appreciate your thoughts on writing for and about the hobby. Took up this topic with the editor of LW some months ago. We couldn’t figure it out completely either. I guess no news is good news, meaning that no responses translate into general acceptance of the article or report. It was curious to read, however, a thread in one of the mentioned forums, about someone’s unhappiness with a specific piece. The gentleman remarked and worried about the general state of articles in the major publications. When I suggested that he take up a pen or keyboard and try to correct the perceived downward turn, he said that it wasn’t his duty. He was a consumer and did his part by buying the product. Anyway.
        Going back to my “discussion” with the editor of LW, I discovered that I was guilty – to a degree – of what I was “complaining” about, though I do try to make a point of letting editors know that I received, read, and enjoyed the latest issue.
        I suppose writers should simply be grateful that their submissions were accepted and published. While WSS, MW, BG, and WI are not academic journals, they do represent the top of this hobby. And I suppose we should focus more on making our next report or article better, than on what John Q. Public thinks about our last effort. Still . . .

        Closing on an unrelated note, very much enjoyed the opening ceremony last night. Had to laugh when Her Majesty parachuted into the stadium!


        • Hello Chris,

          Thanks, I appreciate it. Time always flies and I often do not have enough time to post on items that interest me, I have to sift and sort!

          Yes, I agree on those sentiments which you took up with the editor of LW. It is the attitude of many that their support or non support only extends to purchase or not purchase. This is less than helpful of course as falling sales like this do not tell you why they are happening. Yes, while not academic, these titles are the mainstay of the hobby and as such should strive for quality in their articles at all times. Progress and evolve as they say.

          I enjoyed the opening ceremony too even from all the way up here in the wilds of Ayrshire. Her Majesty proved she has a sense of humour and I really enjoyed Rowan Atkinson too.


  4. Chris & Gavin: Believe me, it’s not just in writing about/for wargaming that this lack of response from readers occurs. From my experience as a researcher/author over the past 35+ years in various other fields, it’s virtually everywhere else as well. I came to the conclusion long ago that people only really make contact to complain, and if they don’t do that they’re either happy with what you wrote or disinterested. It’s no coincidence the three of us are published writers, I suspect!

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