In cleaning up around the place I decided that I could part with issues 1 to 6 of the Courier. Having read these about 50 times each I thought it was time to pass them on to someone else. These date back over 35 years so are older than many wargamers these days. Read some early words from some of the grandfathers of wargaming.
There was a pleasant surprise in the letterbox here Thursday night – Slingshot 296 from the Society of Ancients had arrived. The contents of this edition include: the Macedonian Cavalry Wedge; War, Games and Wargames (4); Destrier Rides Again!; Books and Game Reviews; and Battle Reports from the Society’s Battle Day, on Montaperti, 1261 AD.
If you are like me, you have every intention of spending time whipping around the Interwebs for an hour or so at night and catching up on those wargamers with more painting talent, more modelling talent, a better grasp of rules systems and such than I have but for some reason, you never get the time.
This is a “fanzine” issued every two months and which grabs some of the best content from wargamer’s blogs on the Internet and builds that content into a PDF based online magazine. The magazine, unlike the commercial ones, is platform independent so you can download it to your PC< read it on your Android, iOS or Windows 8 tablet (probably even Blackberry) and even on your phone of you want to squint a lot 🙂
This month’s issue has just been released. The contents include:
Colonial New Zealand Wars
Cricket in VBCW
Second Part of Serenity City Series started last month
and lots more
Their Facebook page for those using Facebook is here. They also are on Google+.
It’s times like this I wish I was back living with a one hour train ride home instead of a 10 minute walk so that I could have a good read before getting into the maelstrom that is evenings at home.
As many of you will know, I get annoyed with magazines that I subscribe to and that insist on locking me into one technical eco-system or other. Osprey publishing has joined that group.
They have recently been promoting their World War II Military History Magazine. This magazine looks good, slick and in the quality we come to expect from Osprey. They have even offered a free PDF download so one can have a look at the magazine. The magazine itself contains one complete e-book from the Osprey range and near as I can work out, subscribing gives you complete access to all the back issues.
To be fair to Osprey, they publish their eBooks in PDF and ePub format.
Which now begs the question … why, of why, is the magazine only avaiable through the iTunes store. It is advertised as
available for iPad and iPhone, and subscriptions can be purchased for just £2.99 per month or £7.99 per quarter. Each issue is a real gem, so why not give it a try and unlock a world of fabulous material on the Second World War.
OK, earlier in their advertisement they note that each
issue includes a full Osprey series eBook, and is packed full of fascinating extra material from our archives and authors
Hey Osprey – there are other tablets out there other than iPads. In fact, iPads account for 39% of the total international tablet market. Android tablets account for 61% currently! So what possesses a company to cut off 2/3rds of its potential market?
Why don’t you make all issues of the magazine downloadable PDFs so folks can move it from one platform to another, in the same way I can move my Osprey eBooks? You can still offer it through iTunes (and as a PDF, through Play Store as well as the Windows 8 Marketplace. Why cut off 67% of your potential market?
On 23 August 2014 I published Digital Wargame Magazines Overdo It! here in Thomo’s Hole. The crux of the discussion was that some magazines do not provide PDF access to their content so you are locked into your platform (iPad, Android tablet etc) as there is no real cross-platform format except for PDF.
I sang the praises of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy from Karwansaray Publishers as they provide their publications in platform independent PDF format. I criticised Wargames Illustrated for allowing the technology to overshadow the content, making it hard to read as well as providing content locked to platform ensuring that either a spend a fortune repurchasing everything for a new platform or I stay stuck to Apple tablets.
I also criticised Miniature Wargames with Battlegames (MWBG) which is available through Exact Editions for not being available on PDF.
Henry Hyde, the editor of MWBG was quick to comment on Facebook, Twitter and here in the Hole where his comments to the post noted:
Giving Henry the benefit of the doubt, and knowing that I had looked at this before, I downloaded that PDF and checked and ‘lo and behold, there was no PDF version available for me. I looked further around in the Exact Editions website as I have an account. I had originally subscribed to Battlegames through Exact Editions.
Now Battlegames merged with Miniature Wargames around March/April 2013 and my Battlegames subscription expired about then. I had a subscription to Miniature Wargames at the same time, taken with Exact Editions through Apple iTunes (Newstand).
Henry will recall around that time there were a number of questions asked about subscriptions to both magazines and how they would be combined. I did nothing as my Miniature Wargames subscription was extant and any remaining issues I had to receive of Battlegames would be added to that subscription. In any case, I could not take out a Battlgames subscription then as I already had the Miniature Wargames subscription.
So, no PDF for Thomo.
I contacted Exact Editions support about this. My enquiry was:
Aug 25 18:11
I have had digital subscriptions to both Battlegames and Miniature Wargames
since 2012, both through Exact Editions.
Since the merger of the magazines, I understand that I should be able to
download PDF copies of the magazine. However, as you can see from the two
screen grabs below, Exact Editions does not seem to know that I have a
subscription even though I have a subscription.
Please advise on how I can access PDF versions of the magazine – as I am
thinking of changing platforms soon from the iPad to a MS Surface Pro and
will only be able to access via PDF.
Thanks for your assistance.
I received the following response:
Aug 26 16:40
Thank you for your email.
A subscription purchased through the Newsstand app does not include access via the Exact Editions website or PDF download.
For a multi-platform digital subscription, you will need to purchase through the Exact Editions web store., rather than through the Apple Newsstand app. An app subscription, only includes access via that specific app.
Do you still have an active subscription through the app? As the receipt which you forwarded in your email is for an annual subscription from March 2013. If you have not renewed this, I would recommend purchasing a digital subscription from the Exact Editions website, here –
So, it seems that PDF versions (or multi-platform as Daniel describes it) of MWBG are only available if you subscribe through their webstore – which was not an option when Miniature Wargames first came out.
I wonder how many other gamers are in the same position?
I like wargame magazines. It figures that I would, after all I am a wargamer. I have favourite magazines by way of content and others I like because of the eye-candy inside them. I also like technology such as smartphones, tablets and the like. So, you would think a marrying of the two – wargame magazines and technology – would be a perfect match for me.
Well, I would have thought so.
I used to get the paper versions of Wargames Illustrated, Miniature Wargames (now including Battlegames which was also a favoured paper publication) and Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. When electronic versions of these came out I adopted them fairly quickly, after all, given my lifestyle of moving from place to place, electronic versions I can either carry with me in a device or park somewhere up in the cloud for access and reference later is a positive boon. It is the same with e-books. I have then in both my Kindle and my iPad.
So, “what’s the beef” I hear you say?
“Format and trying to be overly clever and sexy’ says I!
Yes, it is possible to be too sexy. Let’s look at this one at a time.
Wargames Illustrated was the second of the truly glossy colour wargaming magazines and has been running for 322 issues now (at around 12 per year, that is nearly 27 years). Calculating that figure just now made me think about my start in wargaming but I will come to that in another post.
Wargames illustrated does note, however that their
original plan for the launch for WI digital focused solely on an iPad version of the magazine, however after listening to your feedback we decided to slightly delay release and launch on all available formats – iPad, Kindle and Android. This means you can now access WI Digital from ANY TABLET device.
They also noted that
from WI316 the digital magazine will include a range of dynamic content, including: videos, 360-degree figure spins, image galleries, web links and more.
Here is the problem. Actually, here is two problems. The dynamic content is the magazine showing how clever they are technically. 360-degree views of figures, for example, or scrolling images within the article you’re reading. The problem with the scrolling images however is that it actually distracts from what you are reading. As you read, images are changing further down the page which drags your eyes away from the words and to the images. It takes longer to read an article and is much harder work.
The other problem is that I have subscribed in the past, and then purchased issues as well as archive issues on my iPad. No where can I see an option in the the Wargames Illustrated website to move the content I’ve purchased over to a different (but supported) operating system tablet. My iPad is over three years old now. I will want to replace it in the next few months and I was thinking of an Android tablet, which will fit better with my overall technology landscape here. My books (ePubs, PDFs and mobis) I can carry over. My Wargames Illustrated I can’t. So I either throw out a few hundred dollars worth of purchases and replace them with the Android version by spending another few hundred dollars, or buy another iPad which I don’t want to, or just stop buying Wargames Illustrated altogether which I also do not want to!
Miniature Wargames with Battlegames is a similar but with a slightly different problem. There was originally two magazines. Miniature Wargames was the first of the glossies and has now been running in one form or another for over 31 years. It was originally offered in electronic form on iPad’s Newstand. Battlegames is not nearly so old and was offered electronically through Exact Editions. Exact Editions is a reading app that is available on Apple and Android devices. Battlegames was therefore, arguably, portable. Miniature Wargames and Battlegames merged and those of us who had a Newstand subscription for Miniature Wargames and a separate Exact Editions subscription for Battlegames had our subscription extended for the Newstand version. Those who subscribed only to an Exact Editions Battlegames had the new combined magazine available in Exact Editions and as I understand, downloadable PDF versions as well.
Again, should I buy an Android tablet, I will lose my iPad content as there is no way for me to take that magazine across to another tablet operating system.
This brings me to the last Wargames magazine I read regularly – Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. Karwansaray Publishers have done the decent thing and producted their magazine as a downloadable PDF. What does this mean? First off, there is no clever moving bits to distract my reading as there is in Wargames Illustrated. Secondly, I do not need to use a specific app to read it across multiple platforms like Miniature Wargames and Battlegames. Most importantly, I have flexibility. I do not have a magazine publisher telling me which operating system and tablet I should use.
It is time for me to replace my laptop as it is getting somewhat old and dated. It has served well over the last four years and continues to work as designed but it is starting to show it’s age. I was thinking of replacing it with a Microsoft Surface 3 or similar, in part because I need to use it for business and that still means Microsoft applications in most cases and partly because the surface acts like a tablet. I use my tablet mostly for reading books and magazines, watching the odd video or YouTube, doing a little mind mapping and the like and these days, rarely playing games (except Words with Friends and Chess which I can continue to play on my phone).
If I step in that direction then I will no longer read Wargames Illustrated or Miniature Wargames and only read Wargames Soldiers and Strategy as that is the only magazine that is both digital AND portable.
The other benefit that Wargames Soldiers and Strategy provides is that as it is a PDF, it adjusts to screen size and fits the viewing window, unlike the other two which are A4 sized magazines trying to fit into an American Quarto world.
So, well done Wargames Soldiers and Strategy and “boo, hiss” to the other magazines. Links to all magazines Facebook Pages are below.
There is a new quarterly wargames magazine available in the Internet called Wargame Bloggers Quarterly. This is, as the title suggests, a quarterly magazine designed to highlight the best looking of games and and reviews.
I have had a quick look through issue one and I am impressed. No fancy tricks, just good solid text and images.
This first issue has chapters on:
Bloody Cremona from Simon Miller
Trouble Brewing in “Serenity City” by Dave Docherty
Whitechapel 1888 by Michael Awdry
Lledo “Days Gone Bye” Horse Drawn Carriages from Robert Audin
Inside the Mind of Loki – Vallejo Model Colour and Triads from Andrew “Loki” Saunders
Iron Mitten Plays “Spot the Royalist”
and lastly, a copy of the Official Charter of the Magazine
Well worth having a look – I know what my lunchtime reading is today … and tomorrow!
One of the magazines I always look forward to is Ancient Warfare and this latest issue is of particular interest to me for two reasons:
There is no coverage of the Mongols – they deserve separate treatment purely because of their success and the size of their eventual empire
The coverage of the Amazons – something that has been an interest to me since seeing the Amazon sculpture frieze and mosaic in the Louvre
This issue then covers many of my interests whilst focussing on the Pontic Steppes where the majority of classical period nomadic horsemen originated. Included then are articles about the Amazons; a look at Herodotus’s examination of the Skythians; Dugdammi (Lygdamis), who managed to cause some trepidation in Ashurbanipal of Assyria when he united a number of nomadic tribes; Darius the Great’s Scythian expedition, 512 BCE; The battle for the Bosporan Kingdom, 310/309 BCE (Skythians face off against Sarmatians); and Alexander the Great’s mauling of the Skythians at the Battle of the Jaxartes.
There are a number of other articles as well on Rome and Egypt but perhaps most interesting for me was the article noted as an obscure debate over a very long spear – How Long was the Macedonian Sarissa? There are a couple of good illustrations of both the reported length of that spear and it relative reach compared to the spears of regular hoplites.
It is also strangely appropriate and good timing that this issue comes out during the Naadam festival, the celebration of Mongolia. As I type this I have been watching the nine standards of Chinggis Khaan paraded and placed for the festival.
The Society of Ancients is catching up. Slingshot for Sept-Oct 2013 appeared in the letterbox here in Singapore on Monday. I believe that Issue 291 has gone off to the printers already so should arrive shortly completing 2013. It’ll be time for a renewal of membership then and hopefully the 2014 printing schedule will catch up with the passing of the actual months. In this issue, however, are some interesting articles:
Ruspne 46 BC — Reconstructing the battle using Lost Battles – Part 2
The increasingly long “A Short History of the Iberian Peninsula from 400 to 1100 AD – Part 6”
A piece on the Battle of Hastings
The Campaign and Battle of Sambre in 57 BC
Army Selection and Gaming Style
Chinese Dynastic Colours — a really interesting piece from Duncan Head
The Battle of Montaperti 1260 AD — the SOA Battle Pack
The only problem with the issues coming out so quickly at the moment? Instead of savouring the journal I’ll need to read it somewhat more quickly that I had planned.
So I mentioned how good Wargames, Soldier and Strategy was as a magazine on my Facebook timeline and as a result have had a couple of comments about it. I thought then a brief mention of Issue 71 was well in order.
Rather than waxing lyrical, I thought the simplest way is to show the contents page (which should also ensure that I am using it for fair use). The theme for this last issue is the Conquest of the New World and there are articles on:
Conquest of the New World (an historical overview)
Xochimilco (I wish I could pronounce that)
The Skulking Practice of War (17th Century New England)
In Search of El Dorado
Tlaxcala, The Aztecs’ Enemy (and another name I wish I could pronounce)
Creating and Aztec House
The Halls of Montezuma (that I can pronounce)
The Night of Sorrows (painting the diorama that is on the front cover
There are then the regular features, which are normally an interview with a personality from within the wargames world, Pillage in the Village (Viking raiding for fun and profit and probably topical given the start to Vikings Series 2 recently), Mohnke Business (work that out yourself) and some Steampunk skirmish rules.
The Regular Departments which include reviews of miniatures, Rick Priestly’s column (always a good read), game reviews, road test of rules, boardgame reviews and book reviews.
The last section is hobby general and usually covers tasks such as painting big armies, making terrain, flags etc.
All in all, it is a great read and delivered digitally, brilliant value. The digital edition comes as a PDF and you can view it anywhere you can view a PDF file.
Highly recommended and my a long-shot, my favourite general wargaming magazine currently. My only criticism is that it only comes around every two months!