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Written Matters: Miniature Wargames 375

A Quick Review by Craig Andrews

miniature-wargames-375

We take a look at the most recent issue of Miniature Wargames and give you brief run down of what to expect in each article.

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Introduction

Here is my quick review of this month’s Miniature Wargames that arrived in my inbox via the magic of Exact Editions online subscription. It’s not meant to replace any other reviews out there as, like them, it is just the opinion of one person (in this case, me).

I started Written Matters on OITW back in 2008 to let readers know what is in a particular publication and if there’s anything of particular note that I feel might be of use to it’s readers. Back then it was anything of a vaguely Blackpowder / Alternative Historical bent but now the readership of OITW has expanded so has my mini review.

Today’s review was written excruciatingly early in the morning having seen my wife head off to Scotland in what can only be described as the middle of the night (despite the sun at this time of year claiming otherwise). As such any errors or oversights are entirely mine and not meant to offend but as it was written with an early morning coffee instead of a mid afternoon pint it might even be more coherent than usual.

Craig Andrews, June 2014

Briefing, Henry Hyde, The Editor

A nice piece this month about D-Day.

Forward Observer, Neil Shuck

Neil’s cracking old school style news column has a few pieces about digital media this month. Something I am very keen on. If only more manufacturers would release PDFs of their rules and when then do get someone to hyperlink and bookmark the damned thing. There is nothing worse than an unwieldy PDF. The lack of interactivity makes it less functional than a paper version as you can’t easily jump around from section to section. I think this is changing, all Two Hour Wargames products from now on are fully hyperlinked and bookmarked for example (in the spirit of full disclosure I should mention they are being bookmarked and hyperlinked by me so I might be somewhat biased).

Bargain Boats, Diane Sutherland

Another cracking little terrain article this time as the title suggests featuring boats. There’s a few nice techniques in the article as well as the always important message of keeping your eyes open - wargames terrain inspiration can come from many sources...

Fantasy Facts, John Treadaway

John’s column this month is of great use for OITW readers featuring a host of products that can be used in several of our featured game system. As usual the article reads really well as the writing style lends itself to quick short reviews. This month he explains why he doesn’t review miniatures from GW and takes a look at miniatures from Nortumbrian Tin Soldier’s Nightfolk (great for Flintloque fans looking for something new and a bit different), Black Pyramid Gaming’s Tea Wars, Brigade Model’s tanks, CP models aliens and starship crews, GZG’s tank kits and Clockwork Goblin’s Weird War II miniatures.

The Trouble with Dragoons, Barry Hilton

A fascinating article looking at the history and use of Dragoons over the years and how that has translated into wargames. The article is chock full of examples all of which would make cracking scenarios as well as having some lovely photographs of painted units.

Send Three and Fourpence, Conrad Kinch

This month Conrad looks at various sources of audio books for you to listen to whilst you build, paint and base. An unexpected theme but a very welcome one as I listen to stories as I partake of the manual side of the hobby and some of the sources he talks about were not known to me.

Collecting Featherstone, Daniel Borris

Whilst not brimming with ideas for scenarios Daniel has written a nice article telling us about what happened to a large chunk of Donald Featherstone’s wargames collection.

For Want of a Horse, Arthur Harman

Another surprise. What I thought at first glance would be a scenario featuring some of the smaller actions from Waterloo (having had it’s anniversary this month) which whilst useful can often be a little bit dry for Alt Histo Fantasy fans like me was actually a full card based game system for playing Napoleonic engagements. Simply brilliant and worth the cover price alone.

Secret Eye Candy, Partizan in the Park 2014

A single page showing a few of the displays from the Kelham Hall show.

Who Needs Army Lists?, Andy Copestake

A five page whopper of a well written and engaging article about the problems with relying on a certain rulesets army lists to the detriment of history. I really enjoyed the article, it makes quite a lot of good points and has some great tips on how approach gaming any given period.

Competition

As always, it’s worth a go. It could be you...

The Mongols in Europe 1237-1241, Mick Sayce

Continuing on from last months article this months one focuses on the Polish campaign. It felt a bit more dry historical but that could be the fact my coffee has run out. Some parts of it could be used for skirmish gaming ideas but it’s mainly of use to people wanting to play the exact battle mentioned (for which it has suggested lists and a scenario outline) or learn a bit more about the Mongols.

Bannockburn Reborn, Paul Bright

Another unusual but thoroughly enjoyable article, this time a review of the new Bannockburn visitor centre. Not something you find that often in wargaming magazines but something I’d like to see more of.

Jeux Sans Frontières, Franz Ehart

An article, accompanying scenario and after action report of a Napoleonic engagement. Sounds pretty normal...However it uses an intriguing style of play where all the players form part of a specific chain of command, only move their own units and aren’t sure of what is going on until afterwards. Adding to this was the unique use of moveable tables to create the battlefield. It reads really well and has plenty of ideas in it for those planning on hosting a game.

Hex Encounter, Brad Harmer

Despite being disappointingly short this months board game article by Brad is another good one that looks at the storytelling potential of games. Whilst I personally don’t agree with his views on miniature gaming compared to board games I can see why he says what he does what with story-light points based battles that regularly fill gaming tables worldwide. The overall points made about immersion in theme are food for thought for many players.

Wars of Absolutism Part 2, Roger Underwood

Hmm. A bullet point after action description of a battle. Not really for me, the wargames equivalent of death by powerpoint...

Recce

Seven pages of reviews of books, rulebooks, and accessories.

Combat Stress Appeal

The monthly update on the progress towards the £20k target of fundraising.

In Conclusion

A brilliant issue of the magazine, despite a very dry final article* it was again well worth the cover price containing loads of interest to OITW readers and a damned good read.

I subscribe to the digital edition from Exact Editions for PC/Android and pay £29.50 a year making it a ludicrously low £2.45 per issue (which these days you get to download as a PDF along with access to the back catalog of both Miniature Wargames and Battlegames going back to June 2010).

* Which always seems to affect the In Conclusion parts of reviews. So much so I might randomise how I read it next month.

 

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Webmaster's Notes

This review was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 20th June 2014.

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