Now that I’m finally settled in Australia, I’m in a much better position to take in new rules, magazines, blogs and forums/bulletin boards. I’ve picked up a couple of issues of Wargames Illustrated (pre-and post-Battlefront purchase) as well as a couple of issues of Battlegames.
Battlegames works very hard at differentiating itself from the other two UK based magazines. Sometimes I think itfalls into unwitting satire of itself, with almost audible hear-hears and self-laudatory commentary. Graphically it errs on the side of de trop with the tell-tale pointers of DTP overkill and form over function. The one criticism I have of Battlegames that resonates with me is that it can look like a Web 2.0 ‘zine on steroids and suffers from a surfeit of Photoshop cleverness. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, Battlegames offers a great deal in terms of the written word. the prose is well-written and edited, with minimal overt editorialising or agenda-pushing and a distinct lack of the petty jealousies and bitchiness derived from envy that pervades online media at sites such as Page Miniatures The. Mike Siggins’ column is equally thought-provoking and incredibly insular in parts. Battlegames is expensive though, at AUD$17 a pop, but for that you do get the aforementioned good writing, excellent photography and the “Old School Wargaming” tenor.
Wargames Illustrated, well according to some lackwits and luddites, it’s purchase by Battlefront (a successful non-UK wargames company, the cheek of it!) was the pre-cursor of the apocalypse. If one ignores that sort of thing and looks at the mag of late, It’s back to something of the good old WI of old. Sure there’s Flames of War content, but if FoW isn’t your thing, what’s to stop an adaptation of the FoW content from being usable with your current rules du jour. Certainly IABSM and PBI aren’t too dissimilar interms of scale and scope. There are some distinctly off-putting parts – but they may have gone by now – the excruciating faux bonhomie of the pseudo-Siggins is cringeworthy at best and lacking in any content of note. I wasn’t so impressed with the painting guide for the freebie ECW figure, being pure Dallimore in technique and really poorly presented. Sadly it seems that fewer people seem to be aware that there is more than 3 stark colour clashes to painting 28mm.
Online the usual suspects feature. PMT is becoming more and more irrelevant as it descends into self-parody with each month. By searching through some of the more focused forums around, one finds better advice, more trenchant opinion and often much more up to date news bereft of agenda-pushing and stalking horse commentary. The interface is as archaic as ever and the censor’s knife is wielded with the finesse and reasoning of a dull mattock. I tend to spend most of my online time these days at WargamerAU, despite its Fantasy/Sci-fi leanings, as there’s much to be picked up in terms of c0nversions, modelling and painting in an easily accessible format. When I’m not there I look for inspiration to the Guild, and other such forums. I avoid the heavy traffic forums like FoW, Daka Dakka or Frothers while the SOTCW forums are following the same path and featuring some of the same names that dissuaded me from paying much attention to TMP – sad really as SOTCW would do well if they would actually broaden their horizons beyond the few rules sets they do actually bother with. Again insularity rears its head in the case of the SOTCW. Will I rejoin? Possibly, but only because I don’t have all the back issues yet.
This may seem a tad negative in outlook as a blog post, but I’d like to stress that I see much to be positive generally. I’ll spend more time paying attention to the various podcasts that are out there especially with 3 hours of commuting each day. There are also a few eZines and club forums that are worth searching out. I’ve given up on Yahoo groups for the main part, only Perfidious Albion continues to be a constatnt, mainly because of the varying content and a take no prisoners attitude to the Prima Donnas of the boardgames hobby.