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Subject: Please explain wargame magazines and maybe recommend one rss

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Jason Theriot
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Just as the title says - please explain wargame magazines to me. I'm a total newbie to this but am really wanting to get into it. Am I correct that they send these out every quarter or so? What do they usually include?
I have D-Day Dice and REALLY like it, but I've been looking into playing some much more advanced wargames like Barbarossa Campaign, D-Day at Peleliu, and Conflict of Heroes with the solo expansion.
Notice that those are all solitaire games- I don't have anyone to game with. So I was hoping that if you could recommend a magazine to me, which one would be better for solo players?
Also, I guess I'll add that I really like the eastern front history of WWII.

Thanks!
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ROGER DEAL
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YAAH from Flying Pigs Games is a good one that includes a game or two in each issue. But so far none have been designed for solo play. It comes out quarterly. There are 3 issues out and one more due this quarter. The magazine is large (72 pages), professional quality and has many articles and scenarios for popular games.
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Andrew Kluck
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Based on your interests and experience I'd steer you away from all magazine games at least for now. Command Magazine has plenty of accessible titles, but they're out of print and many are showing their age. If Battles Magazine wasn't so sporadic I'd recommend them, though back issues are likely available (of particular interest to you would be Issue #4 Race to Berlin)

Have you taken a look at No Retreat!? The GMT version would cost only slightly more than a magazine game and the VPG version certainly is cheaper.

ETA: Welcome to the hobby!
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Judd Vance
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First, a magazine wargame is pretty much that: you get rules, counters, and a paper map in a magazine. The magazine will have an accompanying article on the background of the game and a few other articles on various historical events.

I think Against the Odds is the best one I have seen.

But for you and your situation that you describe I have a different recommendation. I have 27 solitaire-only games (you vs. artificial intelligence) and most of them are wargames. This month, I am playing through them along with 3 others that have solitaire variants. This is a good way to get familiar with them:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/198905/barteus-con-20...

Next, you don't have to play solitaire-only games when there is no one to play with. There are plenty of 2 player games that play just fine with one person. If there is no hidden information, such as cards, you play both sides to the best of your ability. With games that have some hidden information, you still try to play as good as you can and base your play on what is reasonable. Finally, you can use Vassal, a Java-based program that you download. Then you download various "modules" (one for each game) and it will show the you board, dice, cards, etc. You can then get on BGG and seek an opponent and either agree on a time to play live or e-mail the plays back and forth. It is really easy and I have tutorials to show how to use it. The request line is here:

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/199022/vassalcyberboardsk...

Finally, if you are new to wargames, I offer two bits of wisdom from a gray-bearded grog. #1) Don't be in a hurry to fill your shelves with games you don't play. It's like the national debt in that you'll never get them played because you keep adding more. When you buy a game, get it on the table within 3 months and don't buy more until you make sure this is true for your wargames.

#2) Don't jump off the deep end and get a game that is way too complicated to learn. Those are very frustrating. The theme might be great, but what is the point of having a game you can't play? Learning complicated rulebooks is like a lifting weights: don't overdo it when you start. As you exercise your "complexity muscles" you'll be able to gradually build up. To that end, I made this Geeklist of every game I ever owned and played, rating them from easiest to hardest in terms of how hard they were to play correctly. Find your comfort level and then explore through those games, find a game that appears interesting, and then you can do your research to find out if it is one you really want. Note: D-Day Dice is on the list at #107.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/134875/my-war-games-s...
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My local Barnes and Noble has the non game versions of Magazine: Modern War and Magazine: World at War on the magazine rack. I'll read the history and then if a subject that grabs me such as Dien Bien Phu or Carrier Battlegroup: Solitaire has a game, I'll buy that from a retailer. Yes, I'm getting the magazine twice but it saves me from many games that won't interest me.
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Eric Walters
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Consult this GeekList: Wargaming Magazines

It's admittedly a list of current (as well as no longer published) wargame magazines. The list is not complete, particularly regarding "fanzine" publications and magazines of all types that are no longer published. But it's a place to start.

Note that there are wargame magazines that don't come with wargames, but these days that's not been the trend. Game magazines more and more come with games in them. Consider this list of publications with games.

STRATEGY AND TACTICS (Decision Games)
WORLD AT WAR (Decision Games)
MODERN WAR (Decision Games)
BATTLES (Nuts!) (Olivier Revenu)
PAPER WARS (Compass Games)
YAAH! (Flying Pig Games)
COUNTERFACT (One Small Step Games)
ARES (One Small Step Games
AGAINST THE ODDS (LPS Publications)
SPECIAL OPERATIONS (Multi-Man Publications)
C3i (GMT, occasionally comes with a complete game)
PANZER DIGEST (Minden Games)

Regarding whether or not you should consider subscribing, much depends on what you think you'll get out of them. So here's my recommendations, based on possible motivations you may have:

-- "I want to start a game collection and this seems to be the cheapest way to do it." If that's your rationale, then I am with airjudden that you probably should not start this way. Magazine games are usually of pretty mixed quality; you only get a really good one every once in a long while. Game magazines tend to be places for designers to try out new design ideas (particularly familiar subjects), cover battles/topics that rarely see the light of day, or put out "teasers" that attract interest to upcoming or new titles. You get a bunch of so-so to okay games and the occasional dog.

-- "I'm really getting into military history and not only want to read about but try out ideas on a map/in a wargame." This is probably the best reason to subscribe to wargame magazines. Notice the caveat "getting into" military history versus being a military historian. The latter tend to have a lot of detailed knowledge or big libraries (often both) and find that more specialist journals (e.g., Journal of Military History) are more to their liking. The wargame magazine articles just don't have the kind of depth. And the games...well, not all of them work well enough to get a really good understanding of the subject. Plus, they are designed to be entertaining first and foremost, especially these days. Too many wargamers are older and have less time to devote to detailed and complex games. So we don't see so many.

If you have a very wide field of view/interest in military history, a subscription to the journals that focus on them (e.g., STRATEGY AND TACTICS, WORLD AT WAR, AGAINST THE ODDS) may make sense. But if your field of view is narrowly confined to a particular war or era, then consider "cherry picking" issues that interest you from back issue lists instead of a subscription.

-- "I like wargame design theory and tinkering with games; the subject is less interesting to me so long as its a wargame." This is another good reason to subscribe to wargame magazines. You'll certainly get attention if you develop variants to "fix" magazine issue games; these are published either in those periodicals or so-called "fanzines" devoted to such things.

-- "I'm a collector more than a gamer and want to scarf up these publications given their short print runs. Maybe I'll consider them investments, maybe I won't. I just like the idea of having wargame magazine collections." I would not consider these magazines as a collector's item for investment purposes. A little research on old out of print issues will usually convince you of that; there are issues that go for a lot of money in pristine condition, but not many. Most you'd barely break even and there's quite a few where you'd be losing money. But if money is not your thing but collecting is, then you might have a good reason to subscribe, especially for the newer magazines so you aren't paying mint for back issues.

-- "I am interested in buying games so I need magazines that review them." While there are some very good reviews in some of these journals--and some journals that are exceptionally decent compilations of reviews--these issues typically come out long after the game has been released. In some cases, the game has already gone out of print by the time the review hits the magazines. Far better to depend on the online sources for reviews in making decisions to purchase before interesting titles go out of print. If you are interested in the so-called "secondary market" these reviews are good for that as they often (bot not always) are more thoughtful and in-depth evaluations of the wargames. If you are going to pay "secondary" or "after"-market prices, it helps to know if you'll be getting your money's worth. That said, you are still better advised to cherry pick issues instead of get a subscription.
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Steven Mitchell
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I wouldn't recommend any wargame magazines. Even the best ones are very much hit-or-miss in terms of the included games. Some are just downright bad except for the occasional gem.

The slight exception to this are the in-house publications by GMT and MMP, C3i and Special Ops, which are a different animal from how I normally think of wargame magazines, like S&T or Command or ATO. Part of the reason for this is because they have an irregular release schedule, so they will only publish an issue when they have enough quality material, rather than forcing sub-par material in order to make a regular deadline. The downside to these two is that they do contain mostly supplemental material for their own existing games, rather than material on wargming generally so a given issue may have very little of use to someone new to wargaming.

All of that said, the other reason I always hesitate to recommend magazines is because they are, after all, hobbyist magazines. That means they rely on submissions from everyday wargamers, which is not always going to provide the best material. Some wargamers are very good writers and very good at offering genuine insight into gaming and military history. But many are not, and so many of the articles are mediocre at best.

This is another reason to favor C3i and Special Ops. Since they do not work on a subscriber model and can easily be ordered issue by issue, you can always take a look at the contents and read issue reviews by others before deciding whether to pick up a particular issue.
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Ben Schomp
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KT_Cobra wrote:
Notice that those are all solitaire games- I don't have anyone to game with. So I was hoping that if you could recommend a magazine to me, which one would be better for solo players?
Also, I guess I'll add that I really like the eastern front history of WWII.

Thanks!


Solo gaming and east front? Look no further than C3i #27 which contains a copy of the solitaire Soviet Dawn or C3i #28 with the fully playable (and solo-friendly) scenario of Unconditional Surrender! Case Blue.

I recently grabbed a copy of Special Ops #6 because it has a complete copy of the also soloable Storm Over Normandy.

Honestly I'm not a huge fan of the other content in these magazines, especially if you don't already have a large collection - its mostly errata counters and additional scenarios for other games ... but some of the articles are fun to read, but just go into it knowing they're fairly self-serving and the entire publication is one big infomercial.

That being said, I'm very happy my magazine games because they're usually compact (I store them all in a single 3-ring binder) and on the smaller, less complex side of things.
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Pelle Nilsson
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airjudden wrote:
Don't be in a hurry to fill your shelves with games you don't play. It's like the national debt in that you'll never get them played because you keep adding more. When you buy a game, get it on the table within 3 months and don't buy more until you make sure this is true for your wargames.


DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS HERETIC
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Eric Walters
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dabowsa wrote:
KT_Cobra wrote:
Notice that those are all solitaire games- I don't have anyone to game with. So I was hoping that if you could recommend a magazine to me, which one would be better for solo players?
Also, I guess I'll add that I really like the eastern front history of WWII.

Thanks!


Solo gaming and east front? Look no further than C3i #27 which contains a copy of the solitaire Soviet Dawn or C3i #28 with the fully playable (and solo-friendly) scenario of Unconditional Surrender! Case Blue.

I recently grabbed a copy of Special Ops #6 because it has a complete copy of the also soloable Storm Over Normandy.

Honestly I'm not a huge fan of the other content in these magazines, especially if you don't already have a large collection - its mostly errata counters and additional scenarios for other games ... but some of the articles are fun to read, but just go into it knowing they're fairly self-serving and the entire publication is one big infomercial.

That being said, I'm very happy my magazine games because they're usually compact (I store them all in a single 3-ring binder) and on the smaller, less complex side of things.


If it's customized solo games the OP is after (as opposed to just solitaire playing of games), then two of the Decision Games magazines have a higher proportion of them than any others. Of these, WORLD AT WAR has the highest number compared to MODERN WAR

For example, in the past two years, these are the published customized solitaire games:

WORLD AT WAR:
Panzers East (#45)
Night Fight: Solitaire East Front Tactics (#44)
Patton's Third Army (#43)
Rampage and Stalingrad Cauldron (#40)
Ghost Division (#38)
Bloody Ridge (#37)

MODERN WAR:
Drive To Baghdad (#20)
Green Beret: Vietnam (#18)
Dien Bien Phu (#17)
Carrier Battle Group (#14)
Target: Iran (#10)
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James
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I quite like Against the Odds. Lots of eras covered, some decent games, fairly good articles. They do a good deal for 3 issues on their site too.

I'd agree with the guy above about getting the latest C3i and Special Ops mags for the games but not for the other content. Special Ops is generally better for games than C3i I reckon.

Battles mag is ok too.
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Nick Wade
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If you rely on solo games I think you get the best value out of World at War or Modern War. Against the Odds has some nice games, but their solo playability is not quite as good, although generally do-able.
 
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ericmwalters wrote:

BATTLES (Nuts!)


Just a precision if I may. Battles is not published by "Nuts!". It's published by myself only, and I'm also part of Nuts! Publishing.
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Brandon
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What's the verdict on Paper Wars since Compass took over? Are the articles still mostly wargames-oriented (that's my impression of the Omega days), or is there a lot of military history too? And the games?
 
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Nick Wade
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Compass is mainly games reviews or previews. Games are about par for magazine games, and with good components.
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Eric Walters
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Crabe tambour wrote:
ericmwalters wrote:

BATTLES (Nuts!)


Just a precision if I may. Battles is not published by "Nuts!". It's published by myself only, and I'm also part of Nuts! Publishing.


FIXED!
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(Agreed that magazine games don't seem the best approach for getting into wargaming.)

KT_Cobra wrote:
I have D-Day Dice and REALLY like it, but I've been looking into playing some much more advanced wargames like Barbarossa Campaign,

Barbarossa Campaign is an excellent great solitaire wargame. Probably a significant step up in complexity and play length from D-Day Dice (but it sounds like you're aware of that and ready for a bit more challenge). As "real" wargames go, it has quite good clear rules (which you can download to read and see if they look manageable or too confusing for you).

Quote:
D-Day at Peleliu, and Conflict of Heroes with the solo expansion.
Notice that those are all solitaire games- I don't have anyone to game with.

A nice thing about CoH with the solo expansion is that you can also play normal 2-player CoH (if you find another player, or convince someone to try it with you), and you can also try soloing both sides of a 2-player scenario.


Note that for "solo" wargaming, there are the 2 very different paradigms:

1. a true solitaire game which you play competitive, trying to win against an AI opponent / "the game system" (e.g. Barbarossa Campaign, Soviet Dawn, COIN games played solitaire vs the "bot" players, B-17, Mosby's Raiders, Ambush, etc)

2. soloing both sides of any normal 2-player wargame you like, simply to enjoy the history, explore the rules system, watch the story unfold, etc - but there's no "winning" or "losing" since you're running both sides, making whatever good/interesting moves you like for both sides. (And for every 2-player game, there are some people who say it "solos great" and other people who say it's "not good for soloing"... E.g. some people find it hard to solo a game where both players have secret hands of cards, but other people have no problem soloing such games...) In principle almost any 2-player game can be "soloed" this way, even Chess and Go (and some people do).


Some wargamers strongly prefer one type of solo/solitaire play and dislike the other. Some enjoy both types. But they are certainly different types of experiences (competitive trying to win, vs watching history unfold), so as a new wargamer you might well benefit from trying a bit of both styles to see which you personally find more fun!
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Judd,

I see you put Vietnam and EotS right next to each other in your complexity list. Funny as those are two games I still have yet to figure out, so my list would look similar to yours. It's not for lack of trying to figure it out, just got tired after many months and finally just had to set them down in search of simpler less taxing games.
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The way I see it, wargame magazines are for those who buy a lot of games from the same publisher. I have the three last issues of C3i, because I own a lot of GMT Games. If I didn't, I wouldn't feel the magazines were worth buying, because they mainly have articles about GMT Games. I suspect the same is true for magazines from other publishers.

And I certainly would not buy magazines just for the games. There are a few gems, but you are better served buying top-rated games and trying them to see what you like. Some games don't cost more than a magazine anyway. ASL starter kit #1 is one.

BTW, I would really recommend trying to play online using VASSAL. VASSAL has changed my life. I had all these wargames I wanted to play, and after I started using VASSAL I can. I sometimes use my physical game to learn the game and just try out some strategies, then I use VASSAL to play against other people. I haven't really been hooked by solitaire games, but Barbarossa Campaign and D-Day at Omaha Beach are some of the best. I just can't bring myself to give a solitaire game more than a rating of 7, because an AI is a poor substitute for another human player. But many people disagree with me, and enjoy solitaire play much more than me.
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Jason Theriot
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First of all, thanks everyone for your very descriptive explanations, suggestions, reasonings, and examples. I knew I could find help here, but y'all have gone above and beyond for this newbie. Again, thanks.

Secondly, I guess the overall concensus is to not subscribe to a magazine just yet. I'll try some well-rated games and maybe look into magazines later when I find my niche.

Thirdly, thanks for the game suggestions. I've looked into some that were recommended and am happy with what I saw. I'm also going to look more into VASSAL. I liked what I saw and read about it.
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Wargame magazines typically have less developed games, and therefore the 'hits' are few and far between. The articles are usually very interesting, and add to the experience, but because the game quality is low (and I don't mean physical component quality), the games are usually play it a few times, and then never touch it again - a little bit like fast food wargames. There are exceptions of course, but generally they are pretty lack luster games. For a new wargamer, I suggest finding a game that looks interesting, research it by looking at reviews here on BGG (and other places), and then buy that.

That being said, both MMP and GMT put out pretty high quality mags. They are only really worth the cost if you own several of their games because many expansions and counter errata are included. These are the only two I spend my cash on. I will occasionally buy something else if the game is getting good reviews, press and/or hype.
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Adam D.
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Minden Games

Solo + wargame + magazine.

Try a few and see what you think. Some are out of print, but cheap to get. The Somme game is highly regarded.
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KT_Cobra wrote:
First of all, thanks everyone for your very descriptive explanations, suggestions, reasonings, and examples. I knew I could find help here, but y'all have gone above and beyond for this newbie. Again, thanks.

Secondly, I guess the overall concensus is to not subscribe to a magazine just yet. I'll try some well-rated games and maybe look into magazines later when I find my niche.

Thirdly, thanks for the game suggestions. I've looked into some that were recommended and am happy with what I saw. I'm also going to look more into VASSAL. I liked what I saw and read about it.

Jason, you're being way too rational about this topic! whistle

I just wanted to clarify my post by saying the links I provided were to coolstuffinc where you can purchase a single magazine. You don't have to subscribe, and in my opinion $17.50 for a brand new copy of Soviet Dawn or Unconditional Surrender! Case Blue is a steal. Its hard to find *any* wargame for under 20 bucks these days, let alone one of the quality of these games ... plus you get a magazine which will give you a sense of what wargame mags are about. Read the articles, or don't, throw it in the trash, put it on a shelf, whatever - you're still getting your moneys worth for these specific games.

I agree with other posters that many games aren't great, they almost feel like an afterthought ... which is why I linked you to specific games that have great reviews, and are still available at a very reasonable price.
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Michael Rinella
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War Diary magazine does not ordinarily come with a game but I do recommend it none-the-less.

My three designs for ATO are all well regarded (Not War But Murder, Birth of a Legend, and Circle of Fire).
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I think a BGG ave rating of about 6.5 is a pass mark for a magazine game, and a subscription to S&T, MW, WaW, ATO or PW should score more than 50% passes so it's reasonable value for money IMO.
 
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