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Wargaming Magazines

February 6, 2013

With Battlegames entering the mainstream, there are currently four wargaming magazines available on the British High Street (ignoring White Dwarf, which is dedicated solely to Games Workshop product). These are Wargames Illustrated [WI], Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy [WSS], Miniature Wargames [MW] and Battlegames [BG] (sister magazine to Miniature Wargames and recently given away as a sample issue with that magazine, prompting this comparison). Given the variety, I wanted to examine each of them and see which offered the best value to gamers.

Title                           Price              Pages (inc. covers)        Non-Ad Pages

WI #303                    £4.50               124 (3.6p per page)              99 (4.5p per page)

WSS #64                 £4.20                84 (5p per page)                 72 (5.8p per page)

MW #357                 £4.25                 72 (5.9p per page)               55 (7.7p per page)

BG #32                   £4.95*               52 (9.5p per page)             36 (13.75p per page)

* regular price (this issue free with MW #357)

As can be seen from these initial comparisons, whilst all four are similar enough in price for it to not make a huge difference between them in itself, Wargames Illustrated offers by far the best value for money, whilst Battlegames offers by far the worst, being three times the latter on a cost per page basis. But, what of their content?

Title                              News Pages              Scenarios     Setting Articles  

WI #303                            4                                        5                         3

WSS #64                          1                                        4                         2

MW #357                          9                                        2                          –

BG #32                             3                                        2                          –

Title                         Rules/Campaigns      Reviews         Tips*           Other

WI #303                                 1                            –                 1                 2

WSS #64                               1                           22                3                 6

MW #357                               –                            22                1                 6

BG #32                                  2                            5                 3                 1

* Suggestions on painting, modeling and such like.

Title                     Eras Covered

WI #303  WWI, WWII, French & Indian Wars, Victorian Colonial/Pulp, Swiss Civil War

WSS #64               Crusades, WWII, Sudan, Ancients, Marlburian, 100 Years War

MW #357                Wars of the Roses, Marlburian (?), Napoleonic, WWII

BG #32                   Crusades, AWI

Obviously, whether to purchase a magazine is not solely a question of overt value for money based upon page count; the reader will be influenced by what they want to get out of it. Although all four have substantial numbers of pages dedicated to advertising, Wargames Illustrated not only has the most, but manages that feat whilst providing both the most non-advertising pages and best value for money; it is also a close second in terms of number of eras covered, despite being both themed and incorporating a regular Flames of War section. It is also both the most lavishly illustrated (as its title should suggest) and the strongest in terms of supplying actual gaming material such as background information and scenarios.

If it is news that you want, Miniature Wargames is probably the magazine that you desire, whilst it and Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy tie on the number of reviews (the only area where Wargames Illustrated absolutely fails to deliver), making it a good magazine for those who want to know what is going on in terms of events and releases.

Battlegames could be considered the ‘advanced gaming’ sister title to Miniature Wargames, although nothing in it would really have been out of place in the latter. Although it contained some articles with interesting ideas and I really wanted to like it, it was just too lightweight in both terms of content and coverage to justify the high cover price (I probably wouldn’t pay more than £2 for it, to be honest). I’m not entirely certain what they are aiming for with the magazine, as it didn’t really seem to have a proper identity of its own; had they worked with the apparent ‘advanced’ idea, providing chunky and thought-provoking articles, it may well have been worth it, but not as it is…

Wargames Illustrated is the only one of these magazines that I regularly buy and, being on a limited budget, that is unlikely to change as none proved sufficiently interesting or useful to challenge it. Of the others, Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy would likely be my second choice. Overall, I find Wargames Illustrated the most interesting read – even articles on eras or topics I don’t have much interest in are still useful and interesting, many of the articles are the equal of a good history book in appraising you of the details of often obscure military topics, and the copious photographs and illustrations add to the written content in a way none of its rivals have managed to achieve. In essence, it feels professional, whilst the other three all feel amateurish by comparison, whilst also maintaining the lead in length and value. Of course, in an ideal world, I would be purchasing all four on a regular basis, as they all contain items of interest to inform and entertain, and, if you are lucky enough to have plenty of money, then go for it; but, if, like me, you are on a limited budget, go for Wargames Illustrated – in my opinion, not only the best value, but the best of the bunch…

(In the interests of full disclosure, I have had work published in both Wargames Illustrated and Miniature Wargames – although not for a long time – and, aside from Battlegames, this being the first time I had seen a copy, have read all three previous to this comparison.)

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