This issue heralds some big changes for Battlegames. It features some great content. Speaking of which let’s get into our first glance.
Cover: That is a great photograph on the cover. I love the usual red border on each issue. It suggests that the magazine frames the reader’s gaming world. It’d be nice if the date was shown somewhere on the front besides the issue number. That date is missing on the digital version. Also, “Flocking amazing” is a little confusing to me. Amazing what?
Editorial: Henry announces the big change at the magazine. Mike Siggins is retiring with Neil Shuck taking over the Forward observer section.
Meet the flockers: This is a great article for how you can make tons of flock without shooting your wallet into a black hole. As usual there are tons of great images to help you with the process.
Forward observer: Mike Siggins’ last appearance in this section makes it an interesting read. Of particular note is his coverage of the Italian Lifecolor paints.
Rules and the eclipse of generalship: This lengthy article puts forth a good effort to convince readers that generalship has been eclipsed. But, do you buy that argument? I’m not completely sold despite the merit in this article. If nothing else it provides food for thought.
DBA at 21: To me this read like a fanboy’s rant. “Ra-ra shish boom ba DBA is uber awesome!” Wouldn’t it have been more significant to write about the rules at year 20 or 25? Those anniversaries are more significant than 21, unless you’re an American eagerly pouncing onto the first legal gulps of alcohol. The article made me physically yawn. I gave it the ol’ college try but after the first couple pages I was battered into the ground and then trampled. The author definitely knows DBA well and is fluent in the language of DBA. Even so…this wasn’t for me.
Command challenge: What an interesting scenario/tabletop teaser! BG tends to include great scenarios but this far exceeded my expectations. Can we say Flames of War anyone? Helpful visuals, clear and concise writing, and an interesting universality helps rocket this article into the stratosphere.
Treading the boards: I have two words for you. These two words are all you need to know about this article and why you should read it. Neil Shuck.
The Grenouissian Intermezzo part 1: It pains me to say this but this article was a tiny bit disappointing. I absolutely LOVE Henry’s writings on the Faltenian Succession, of which this is part. But, two things caused me to be less than excited at the article’s conclusion. Firstly, I read the BG blog posts covering this event. They do a great job of explaining the event and the road to it. The downside is some of the content in this article is replicated from or clearly inspired by the blog posts. Not everything but some. If you read the blog posts you can skip the repetitive portions of this article. Otherwise, they make an interesting read. The second item is a potential spelling error in the top right paragraph of page 31. The article says “In Pescadrix…fishmermen…” but shouldn’t it be “fishermen?” Maybe not but it looked fishy, pun intended, to me. The Trek references were fun to see. The “fluff” or fiction really shines. I could read an entire book of Henry’s fictionalized account of the Faltenian Succession and Grenouissian Intermezzo. This article wasn’t as great as I anticipated but it was still a good read. I look forward to reading about the unfolding events in the Grenouissian Intermezzo.
Hidden deployment for Warmaster: This article feels similar to hidden deployment/fog of war dynamics found just about everywhere else. There’s nothing unique in this that screams “USE ME!” At the same time, it appears to be easy to implement. The hidden deployment rules are nicely simplified for use and the included blank cards are a big plus. Just print them out, trim, and they’re ready for use.
Hail Caesar: Neil provides a balanced and exciting review. he knows how to whet the appetite. I love Black Powder and maybe Hail Caesar could get me into ancients wargaming. This review makes me want to pick up the book and give it a read.
With Musket & Tomahawk: This is a very harsh review. I can’t help but wonder if it is too harsh and too colored by the reviewer’s use of the pre-publication review copy. That is a danger of using review copies instead of the finalized product. The review turns me off not only from the book but also from reading other reviews by Brendan Morrissey. Mabye he is too dismissive towards the value of entry level material. Plus, a huge pet peeve of mine is the lack of ISBNs when discussing printed material. The ISBN is the easiest way to find a book.
Saratoga: A Military History Of The Decisive Campaign Of The American Revolution: The review is fairly long-winded for what I receive as having two main points. The reviewer thinks this is a must buy. They, Brendan Morrissey again, admits this book doesn’t have much content that cannot be found elsewhere. Other than the convenience of having the data compiled into a single tome, which is incredibly convenient, why would anyone buy this book? It costs $35 USD and I bet the information can be found elsewhere, maybe for less, with insightful and helpful commentary. Not seeing the value here but maybe I’m missing something. Sorry, Mr. Morrissey, but you failed to convince me and this is a period I’m HUGELY interested in.
A Nostalgic Whim: Robbie Rodiss and John Reidy deliver a balanced, fun, and interesting review. Not only did I enjoy reading it but it almost, almost, makes me want to purchase the rules. I wasn’t inclined to at the start, and may not anyways, but the review piqued my interest. Especially helpful was the explanation for why the rules diverged, like a road in the wood, from some mechanics devised by Charles Grant, which infers improved gameplay.
15mm Panzer IV: These sound dreadful to assemble. They look great when completed but they are probably not worth the effort. Henry utilizes a solid method of inserting negatives without his writing turning into a rant nor overly bashing in tone.
ACW Dice: This is a short review. Very short. Of course, how much can you say about dice? These dice do sound cool but dice are dice. So, the review doesn’t really explain why you should purchase these instead of other dice. In fact, it could be interpreted that the reviewer thinks you shouldn’t. Maybe, that inference is too subtle?
Oyumaru: AMAZING STUFF! This is a solid review covering all the bases. Perhaps the only way to improve it would be to include a URL to Fred Aldous, or wherever, for those who wish to place orders, see pictures of this in action, etc.
Naval Miscellany: Could we get an ISBN please? The review does a lot of fence sitting but the book could be a nice read. I like how the review cites the negatives and the positives. It is very fair and balanced.
Die Fighting: Mike does another great review. He has me interested in this card set, which is a surprise to me. I’m not normally one for card based rules.
Force on Force: I love the idea of different dice types to represent the experience levels. Neil does a fantastic job of addressing the strengths in this rule set. His enthusiasm literally oozes from the page. But, he glosses over the disadvantage to militia forces. How does Road to Baghdad, Enduring Freedom, and the Ambush Valley expansions address this? Do they? Neil makes this game seem very enjoyable and easy to get into. Tantalizing.
Combat Stress: Please help if you can. ’nuff said.
Contest: Gripping Beast with the prize being for the Dark Ages. You need to give the questions a go…who knows you could win.
Classifieds: I love that these, excluding the Osprey one for Force on Force in the front, are consolidated in the back. That makes it easy to find them. It also doesn’t disrupt the flow of the articles. Very nice.
Preparation: 9/10 The magazine is well put together and I spotted only a single potential typo.
Visuals: 8/10 This magazine focuses on words above artwork. But, the layout and the use of imagery nicely work together.
Content: 7/10 TONS of content in this issue. Two of the main articles were lackluster resulting in this value being dragged down slightly.
Value: 7/10 There is some value in this issue between printable unit blocks and advise for do-it-yourself projects that’ll keep the money in your wallet.
Total: 31/40 C or 78% for the average of the four categories.