New Publication Announcement: Tactical Wargamer's Journal


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.


Contents

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

Quality

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.

Style

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.

Schedule

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.

Expense

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.

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Comment by Eric Walters on November 8, 2009 at 2:03pm
Wrote a blog on this--see either the lulu ordering site or here in CONSIMWORLD Social Website.
Comment by Gunnyhighway on November 5, 2009 at 8:20am
I just got it and it is a very high quality publication. I started to go through articles and ther are detailed and well illustrated. I read so far a thorouh article about the Red Army Tank diversity and a platform comparaison between Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin and Panzer Commander : Karkov. Very interesting, it was worth it for me so far. Then for a bonus I got to have access to a who's who of the tactical war gaming community. This way, next time I comment on someone else blog, I won't make a fool out of myself....Kinda useful sometimes!
Comment by Michael Dorosh on November 3, 2009 at 7:48pm
I appreciate the well wishes, Jon. Thanks for the interest.
Comment by Jon Compton on November 3, 2009 at 10:14am
I like the idea of the journal, but I gotta be honest, there is just no way I can justify spending that much on it. Best of luck.
Comment by Michael Dorosh on November 2, 2009 at 7:44pm
Once some of the feedback comes in from those who take the plunge, I hope those concerns will be allayed. If anyonehas my Scenario Designer's Handbook, the publishing is the same format. It will have a "book" feel to it - i.e. it is really a softcover book with full colour photos and images throughout. There are no advertisements taking up space. The individual authors have done a great job addressing some interesting topics and I've tried to edit the whole thing so that the topics flow into each other. I actually say in the Introduction that my intent had been to originally write a "history of tactical wargaming" book, but it seemed to make more sense to do it as a periodical-style, because that way other authors can chime in, and it can be interactive - and ongoing, because really, (we hope) the story never ends. So it is priced like a book, but I think it definitely has the value of one as well, while still retaining the style of a magazine in having a number of different, but related, topics and authors. Maybe a better description would have been "anthology" but that never occurred to me, and I'm not sure that would have done anything but confuse people! Including me...
Comment by Roger Morley on November 2, 2009 at 7:07pm
I have to admit, at £28.21 it is a little steep for 142 pages, especially for a periodical-ish magazine
Comment by Michael Dorosh on November 2, 2009 at 7:44am
Thanks for the comments, guys.

The price is a legitimate concern to me, too, John. Hobby dollars are scarce things. I won't be offering an online option at this time, however. The "good news" is that the publication won't be going "out of print" as it is a Print on Demand product. Bit of a Catch 22, as that is one of the contributors to the price to begin with. However, it means that when your situation changes, it will always be there.
Comment by Eric Walters on November 2, 2009 at 5:55am
With the recent proliferation (with more to come) on modern tactical wargaming, it's good that there's a publication like this one!
Comment by John Kantor on November 1, 2009 at 11:08pm
Can't afford this price - and I don't want more paper. Give me an online option for $20.
Comment by Gunnyhighway on October 29, 2009 at 12:11pm
Sounds fascinating!...Just ordered a copy!....

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