Thursday, February 14, 2013

Battlegames merging with Miniature Wargames... who'd have thought it....

..indeed....  'bear with' for some navel gazing of a wargaming bent....  all of the following of course is purely in my view..  as you'd expect on my blog

So "Battlegames", my favourite wargames magazine of the current crop (not of all time...yet... ), is going to merge with my least favourite magazine, "Miniature Wargames"...

A lot of my fellow bloggeratti are fairly bullish, and up about it - Henry, the editor of Battlegames is in his usual ebullient form (see here [clicky]) but I'll admit to being slightly worried....


I'd say that a cynic would have seen the writing on the wall the moment Battlegames moved to Atlantic publishing just those few months ago...I couldn't see how there wouldn't be a conflict of interest - one publisher, two wargaming magazines, limited market....  it wasn't difficult to see....

Miniature Wargames has a circulation of 37,000 (they quote that themselves) but despite the bandied around title of the 'grand old man' of wargaming magazines has seemed to me to be a bit of a dead man walking for some time... poor fantasy articles, science fiction, and re-hashed history with a face saving paragraph at the end on how you can wargame the period in question is not my idea of fun....  it seems to be better lately (I browsed on in the local newsagents a month ago), but it's main problem is I suspect there are many like me, who had it on a regular basis in the past and remember how disappointing it was. The new editor (anyone have an idea on where/what he will do now?) clearly has done a lot to improve it, but essentially it is the same magazine....

So Atlantic have brought in Henry to re-design it, and then merged the two magazines with him as editor...  very clever move....  they have saved themselves the cost of supporting two magazines, they have also solved the problem of how they get people 'back' to Miniature Wargames...  keep the name but make it look like Battlegames which I'm guessing they see as the lesser "brand".... (anyone remember "Military Modelling with Battle" by the way??)

....as a subscriber to Battlegames since issue 1, I'm an enthusiastic supporter of it's style/substance/ethos - I am not an enthusiastic supporter of Miniature Wargames...  I will give it more than a fair crack of the whip...  but yes, I'm a little worried about exactly how much Henry will be allowed to change it, and what we're going to end up with...  at best it will be Battlegames with a new name, at worst it will be a diluted Battlegames......  let's hope for the former.....!

24 comments:

  1. Yes,I must admit that I immediately had many of you same thoughts and concerns when I saw the news yesterday. I hope Henry remains able to maintain his high standards and editorial control over things. I'm very sad to see BG go, but not surprised. MW hasn't been anything to write home about or at least 20 years in my book. It should be interesting to see how things tape shape with Henry at the wheel.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  2. I assume most of MW will remain more or less the same with some of Battle added to it, mostly because of the people who already write for MW, no way does a months worth of articles etc. get put together in that month. I should imagine Henry will have about six months worth of articles already in some sort of order. I think best you can hope for the next 3-6 months will be the odd Battle article mixed in with Henry improved MW articles. It may be a few months before you see any real improvement in the content in real terms.

    As for running two mags they did at least try, just a few months ago they were giving away copies of Battle with MW at WH Smiths and maybe a couple of other big chains in the hope of picking up extra sales for it.

    Ian

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  3. I found myself nodding while reading your article! Yes I remember the merging of Military Modelling with Battle but at that time I was just buying Military Modelling and making model tanks and I did not know Battle existed. It started my proper wargaming hobby and then the eureka moment happened when I saw the first Miniature Wargames magazine with Peter Gilders photos. I have also bought BG since issue one and it has been a great magazine although I suspect that its sales figures are probably some thousands rather than tens of thousands like MW. If Henry can work his magic again then perhaps there will be thousands out there who will benefit and it can only work out best for our hobby. If anyone who can do it then I suspect it's him.

    Regards,
    Guy

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  4. Wise words, chaps... I for one will give Henry a fair crack of the whip, but if I'm still getting turgid history articles after 3 months Ian, I'm going to be a "bit" disappointed...

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  5. Its a shame to lose one of the titles, but it should be a great combination. MW was always the 2nd place mag to WI, but I think its got a hell of a lot better over the last year or so and now with Battlegames added I think it will topple the WW2 mag formally known as Wargames illustrated!!

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    1. Ah yes, Wargames Illustrated the Battlefront house magazine.. do you remember White Dwarf before it was taken over by the evil empire?? Another loss.... :o(

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    2. Must admit, I was never impressed with MW. WI was always far superior...
      I have glanced at a couple of issuse of battlegames but not bought any...

      I'm actually quite happy with WI still... there's obviously the FoW content which I am happy with (despite spitting my dummy out at the game every so often!) , but it also contains a lot of Hail Caesar and Black Powder stuff - my favourite historical rules sets...

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  6. Another cynic here. I feel like BG went downhill a little after Atlantic picked it up. Two columns on views from the armchair? Where are the rules that used to be incuded? I spoke with Bob Barnetson in email about why he stopped writing articles ... for both magazines. I was seriously considering letting my subscription lapse, but remembered that the price was good for just the Tabletop Teasers alone.

    I suspect that there will be one "old school" column in MW, when all settles down, and it bloody well better be Tabletop Teasers, or I am done.

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    1. Dale - for me one of the lights went out leaving the place a little dimmer when Charles Grant moved on, and we had no more table top teasers....

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    2. Steve: you are incorrect about TT Teasers. They are still in BG under the new title of "Command Challenge " and I would imagine that they will be one of the regular features in the new MW magazine. I should know as I wrote Teaser in BG32 for an AWI scenario and am working on some more for the new MW.

      My guess is that out of respect for Mr. Grant and the fact that the title Table Top Teasers is associated with him, that Henry elected not to use the name going forward. Also, I believe that the reason for Charles S. Grant leaving the BG stable has something to do with his increasing work load publishing new books and editing the Wargamers Annual. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for writing six more columns each year.

      Best regards,

      Fritz

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    3. Fritz - you are of course correct in strict terms - but I referred specifically to the "Table Top Teaser"/Charles Grant pairing..... maybe Charles should think about registering it as a trade mark! :o)

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  7. The only thing that surprised me is that it is the editor of Battlegames that came out on top in the merged magazine (and they really are the two at the opposite ends of the wargames magazines spectrum). I would have expected in the inevitable merger for it to have been the other way round.

    It will be interesting to see what changes. There is more competition now with the resurgent and excellent Wargames Soldiers and Strategy which is now probably my favourite.

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    1. Legatus - I'll be honest and say that one of my first thoughts was, "what a shame" for Andrew Hubbak (and apologies if I've spelt that wrong)- it seems a poor return for having worked so hard to turn the magazine around - then again, I have no idea what the circumstances are, he may have wanted to move on, and anyway would prefer Henry as an editor of my wargaming magazine...

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    1. Good question - new magazine, who knows... MW was cheaper than BG, but there was only 50p in it.... question will be will it cost more than either of those it's replacing.. :o)

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  9. Never been a BG fan so I fee the same as steve but the other way around. I found BG just a bit pointless full of repeated 1970s stuff and crapped out after the first dozen. Do we really need MW to go back to the 1970s. Gawd I hope not- been there done that . Whilst I can mostly find something to read in MW my back issues of BG are for the bin unless someone wants 'em ... a bit later... I've just re-flicked through my copies of BG and I still hate it . There is very little to actually read- given that I find article on rules deadly tedious articles on non existant ficticious wars deadly tedious- especially when they have appeared in other magazines and they were tedious then.... and Table top teasers- how much more tedium can one man stand...

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    1. So, Big Andy, what DO you want to see in future pages of MW/BG? And what was wrong with the 1970's?

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    2. Now, now children - play nicely... :o)

      I know where Andy is coming from.... don't necessarily fully agree or disagree... besides I know enough about him to know that at least 50% of his comment was tongue in cheek..... Andy however, is a practical dude from Yorkshire.. calls a digging implemt a shovel.. :o)

      For some of us the '70's were a time of "make do and mend" wargaming'wise... I made my own scenery, wrote my own rules, and painted Airfix plastic.... creatively and imaginatively etc. it was probably the best wargaming I ever had.. I played more games, painted more soldiers, made more scenery, wrote more rules, but more importantly I had more time to indulge the hobby... magazine'wise, there was only one (the Newsletter), so choice was not an issue.....

      Andy is a "now" person - the ranges of figures/rules/scenery/paints/magazines is astonishing... the choice bears no resemblance to back then.... and I agree it *is* better in some ways... I only wish I had the time to indulge it!!

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  10. I've never even seen one of these magazines let alone read them.
    Sometimes its hard to appreciate just how lucky we really are.

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  11. The thing about the Mil Mod merger with Battle was that Battle was a much smaller magazine and quickly absorbed into MilMod, ultimately disappearing without a trace. This time round the two magazines compete in a very limited market and with, dare I say it, better publications. Henry has built up a loyal folowing and deservedly so. But it remains to be seen how much he can improve the failing sales of MW. As for price - subscribers will get the new issues at their subscription price for the duration of their sbscription - for me that is two magazines of Battlegames (or four of the new monthly publication). Good luck to Henry - he's going to need our support.

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  12. I think Moif and Paul (Grimsby Mariner) touch on a good point... I kicked myself round the room 3 times when Practical Wargamer went out of business for lack of cash flow, "if only I'd subscribed" I thought... lets give Henry the benefit of the doubt, but more importantly our cash, and see what he does with it... the alternative is no Battlegames at all which would be a shame.... maybe a review post in 6 months!

    PS. Moif - have you considered an electronic subscription??

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  13. You can't please all the people, all the time, and some people, you can't please any of the time. It's uncomfortable to see someone totally rubbishing my efforts of the last seven years, but c'est la vie.

    I've explained everything I can about the changeover in the latest Meeples & Miniatures podcast episode 101 at http://meeples.wordpress.com/

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    1. Henry - I sincerely hope that the "someone" you refer to isn't me - if it is, then you haven't read the post..... I am quite possibly you and your magazines no. 1 "fan boy".. (blechhh - horrible term) it is human nature to be "worried" when something you have enjoyed since day one might change..... I hope (hoped?) my post showed that despite my worry I was supporting your efforts completely.... if it didn't, then my apologies, I failed to convey the correct message..... onwards and upwards.... :o))

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  14. No, Steve, I thought your comments were very balanced and perfectly understandable. And let's not deploy the 'fanboy' term – it's bad enough people knowing I live in Brighton. :-D

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