Tuesday 28 December 2010

The New Wargaming

I'm very happy to say I have finally managed to get an article into one of the wargames glossies: and not just any old glossy, but the best of them. Battlegames 24 has my article entitled 'The New Wargaming'. According to the blurb, 'veteran wargamer Keith Flint takes a long hard look at the commercial tendencies in modern wargaming and asks us to think hard about how we respond to marketing messages'. How about that: I'm officially a veteran wargamer! 

The article was inspired by reading comments on a number of forums over the last year, and by recent publications that have interested me like Wargames Illustrated and Black Powder. It occurred to me I was not particularly happy about some of the more commercial developments in current wargaming, which others seemed to welcome with open arms, so I decided to write a 'think piece' expressing my thoughts. Thanks to editor Henry Hyde for publishing it. 

Whilst the commercial growth of wargaming suppliers has provided us with a better level of choice and quality in wargaming products than we have ever enjoyed, some tendencies seem to me to be getting a bit out of hand, whilst others are being forgotten. For example, I'm afraid everything is getting a little too glossy and upmarket for my taste (and therefore increasingly expensive), whilst concepts like the pleasure of sharing things for free, or doing your own research instead of relying on supplements and army lists, seem to be fading into the background. Perhaps if one thing can be considered to have tipped me over the edge and into print, it was reading this comment regarding Black Powder on TMP:

First impressions: well, even if the rules are no good, the piccies by themselves will be worth the cost alone!'

If you agree with this sentiment, or in the unlikely event that its author ever reads this, I apologise in advance. But really! There we have a wargamer happy to shell out thirty quid for a few posed pictures of wargames figures, when they are available by the gross for free online. Alright, maybe the comment wasn't meant to be taken entirely literally. But it seemed to me some gamers were losing their perspective, not to mention their self respect and common sense, in becoming too enamoured with surface over substance.

I'm afraid the approach of Games Workshop and Flames of War to wargaming takes a bit of flak in the article as well. On the other hand, I applaud a project trying to take things the other way, namely Phil Olley's Classic Wargamer's Journal, which is not produced for profit and also contains no adverts.

Enough of me and my soapbox. I would say that Battlegames 24 is an excellent issue, with or without my article, being crammed with ideas and inspiration on a variety of topics. Indeed, it re-ignited my enthusiasm for this particular magazine after a few recent issues which I have found a little flat.

And finally, Happy New Year! See you in 2011.


Bluebear Jeff said...


I have yet to receive my Battlegames #24, but I have been debating whether or not to renew my subscription . . . because, as you say, a number of recent issues have been "rather flat".

I will look forward to reading your article.

-- Jeff

Keith Flint said...

I was exactly the same, Jeff. In fact I had pretty much decided to leave my subscription and just order individual issues which looked interesting. We'll see how the rest of the subscription goes...
Cheers, Keith.

Fitz-Badger said...

I'm glad you guys are saying this. I'm feeling the same way. I did not renew, will likely order issues as interest dictates.

Pjotr said...

I like Battlegames, despite the rather flat recent issues. But I'm having doubts as one of my favourite features (Grants TTT's)has ended and I'm not sure how such a high standard/interest series will be replaced. And to be honest: I'm quite fed up with D. Sutherlands hand fetish pictures. But now that the terrain has been build and everybody knows that you can game in the sun...will that series of articles go on?... If not, there is that problem of replacing a good seven pages of regular features with other contents.
But as I still believe in the "the spirit of..." concept, I wish Henry good luck with his venture and hope it will turn out well (as I have another 7 issues of subscription to go).


Keith Flint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith Flint said...

'D Sutherland's hand fetich pictures'! Love it!

I agree. Those articles have been a strange choice to open the magazine with, and I won't be sorry to see them go. But I remain optimistic about future issues. I guess we'll see.

arthur1815 said...

Much of your article mirrored my own feelings about the hobby, which have led me to go back towards 'old-school' rules and concepts and plan creating two 'imagi-nations' armies, rather than attempt to recreate historical ones. My only criticism would be that you didn't put the 'anti-establishment' case more strongly!
Looking back at my collection of Practical Wargamer and early issues of Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated, I was struck by the far greater varity in both subject matter and presentation than can be seen in the two latter magazines under their new ownership. Their standard of visual presentation may have 'improved', but the tone of the articles and the image of wargaming they present has become bland and rather unimaginative, emphasising appearance over the actual experience of playing, and suggesting that great effort and expenditure must be put into creating/decorating the troops and scenery to achieve a good game. I much prefer the DIY/'Blue Peter' approach to rules and scenery of the old days!

Keith Flint said...

You're right Arthur. A look back at some old mags would have made an interesting comparison with current trends. Thanks for taking the trouble to give me some feedback.

Best wishes, Keith.

James said...

Just browsing older posts now that I've found your blog.
I used to try and edit a magazine (HMG Magazine) and it's a bugger of a job to find good content nowadays with the blogosphere.
Now anyone with anything to say puts it on a blog and gets instant gratification instead of scribbling out an article on his latest research into the tartan colours of Slobvakian bogtrotters for Wargmaers Digest.

So it's a hard task for guys like Henry to get articles that are worth printing. Also for us older gamers it's very much a "nothing new here" experience. My wife experiences it with her quilting and knitting magazines. There's only so many techniques and how-to articles before one has read them all.