Tactical Wargamer's Journal
(ISSN 1918-9729) covers topics of interest on all aspects of the world of commercial tactical wargaming, with its focus set on warfare at the man-to-man, squad and platoon level in the 20th Century and contemporary era. Tactical Wargamer's Journal (TWJ) places emphasis on both military history and the history of tactical level gaming itself, with a spectrum encompassing serious depictions of military conflict at the lowest levels through the mediums of miniatures, military role playing, board wargaming, console and PC games.
The premiere issue kicks off with articles on the history of tactical wargaming, a look at tactical board wargame packaging and box art in the 20th Century, a glance at the immense assortment of Advanced Squad Leader components described at the online encyclopedia at Desperation Morale as well as background on how the site came to be, a feature article on the Red Army in the Second World War and their depiction in board and PC wargames, a look at the depiction of Soviet tanks in various miniature, board and PC games, an article on the history and organization of Soviet tank units, and a set of After Action Reports comparing the Eastern Front games Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin and Panzer Command: Kharkov.
The initial issue is thus intended to set the groundwork for what will come, with a collection of:
a) two feature-length articles, one on the history of tactical wargaming, and another on a historical subject
b) an article giving background information and casting light on one of the hobby’s leading websites
c) an information article aimed at collectors
d) a “platform comparison” examining how two different games tackle the same subject
Why another periodical? The product is not intended to compete with the existing forums for sharing information; magazines like Fire & Movement or Against the Odds already exist to discuss historical wargames and game design. Web forums such as gamesquad.com or boardgamegeek.com draw audiences to discuss gameplay and design. TWJ will have a unique focus and will endeavour to offer something tangible and not currently available on the market. While many periodicals have focused their gaze on combat at the tactical level, they have always been narrowly focused, either on a particular genre (i.e. miniatures) or a particular game (i.e. Advanced Squad Leader). Some genres have had little or nothing rendered in hard copy publications, notably computer gaming, perhaps understandable by the nature of the medium. TWJ is an attempt to offer gamers, designers, collectors, and all members of the hobby/industry something new from a different perspective.
As a Journal, TWJ will include scholarly cites and draw on existing literature; commercial board wargaming has been in existence for over 50 years and tactical wargaming, depending on one’s definition, can be said to date back to the 19th Century, or even to antiquity. Miniature gaming of “modern” tactical themes predates boardgame depictions of same which began in the late 1960s. Once the modern gaming scene got rolling, a hobby press – both professional and amateur – quickly followed to promote (and, coincidentally, document) the activities of the various groups. As a consequence, there are currently millions of words in print, in thousands of issues of magazines and fanzines and website pages and possibly millions of electronic bulletin board messages and forum postings. Researching the history of the hobby can be as involved a task as researching the military actions that inspire the games themselves. The focus of TWJ will be on helping document, interpret and re-evaluate how the current “state of the art” in various games and genres came to be. This can include interpretations of history, studies of game mechanics, or comparisons of game designs, for just three examples.
There is no set publication schedule; that gives the editor great flexibility, obviously, but the Print on Demand system also means that back issues can’t go “out of print.” Frequency will depend on popularity and the willingness of contributors to submit articles. There has been discussion to date with Steel Beasts scenario designers, a third party Ambush!variant developer, a discussion with a Canadian Forces geomatics technician for an article on real world military mapping (recent discussions at boardgamegeek reveal that when the majority of gamers get a new board game, the first thing they do is open up the map to check it out), and a number of other ideas in development for future issues.
TWJ is not an inexpensive investment of anyone’s scarce hobby dollars; the print on demand distribution system unfortunately keeps costs high. However, the product is a professionally bound, full-colour, full size (8-1/2 x 11) volume devoid of advertising (save a half-page mention of the publisher’s other available work). The first issue contains previously unpublished photos, wartime images of Soviet armoured fighting vehicles, original artwork including a dozen maps, colour coded chapter headers for easy finding (repeated also on the back cover so that as the library of issues grows, looking back for favourite articles will be made easier), and a number of tables and charts. James Dunnigan noted in his Wargames Handbook that gamers are “information junkies” and TWJ will be replete with images of rare games, high quality maps, wartime photos, and easy to read charts. And, hopefully, it will look good on your shelf when it’s not sitting open on your lap or desk.
The URL for ordering is http://www.lulu.com/content/7556013
There is a free download preview at the same URL.