Thursday, 13 June 2013

Wargames magazines vs blogs

Let me draw your attention to a very good post by Keith Flint on wargames magazines. I think Keith is entirely correct when he writes

"there are far too many trivial posts and comments out there that contribute very little to our hobby, and which fail to communicate very much in terms of ideas or inspiration. Indeed, some forum posters seem to have quite a lot of trouble spelling words properly and grasping the basics of punctuation, let alone having anything worth saying. Far too many blogs make do with battle reports featuring no maps or scenario outlines, thus giving no idea of what's going on, and support this thin fare with a series of badly lit and/or out of focus photos."

There is a lot of low quality stuff out here (including mine) that is only relevant to a few people that know me well. On the other hand, that's the essence of a blog. It's a trade of between personal and immediate and objective standards of quality. That is also the reason why there will always be room for magazines (in paper or digital form).

On the other hand, it was a long time ago that I was subscribed to one of the glossies and I frankly lost interest because of the indifferent quality of the articles. I'm glad that the both revamped Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy and Miniature Wargames seem to be improving on that.

For me Keith's crie de coeur is a good reason to think about what I can do to improve my blog, without it becoming an online magazine.

The front of Keith's own blog

Keith's criticism is not limited to the blogs however. He is also critical of the 'rather bland and forgettable' contributions of 'prominents figure in the hobby' like Rick Priestly and Richard Clarke. And he engages the debate about the quality of painting shown in magazines and
"articles that purport to pass on their 'secret' of producing wonderful figures in record time. [...] Unfortunately, amongst all the tips and wrinkles, one does not have to read between the lines of such articles very much to discover that the real 'secret' is to spend every waking hour painting figures, often with as much shading and general fiddling about as possible."
 Also Keith argues that
"The emphasis on painting creates a distraction from the task in hand, which is of course to get some wargaming in."
 So by all means, read Keith's blog and take up his recommendations to read the magazines involved.


  1. Surely a 'blog' is an abbreviation for "Weblog". It's not a magazine, it's a log by the blogger. If they have something to say, fine. But its not the BBC, a blogger doesnt have an obligation to inform, educate, or even entertain. Some do of course, and they are ones that I subscribe to. I do find wargames magazines in general to be overpriced and pisspoor of content. If one looks back to the early days of MW et al the content was actually worth buying. Now, for almost a £5er Id rather put the money to a decent history book. But as regards Bloggin g (and Vlogging) I appreciate the time and sometimes cost that a blogger invests to share his world, and wouldn't criticise anyone who has a go.

    1. It is surprising how much time it takes to keep a blog going. If you do a bit of research, include pictures and try to structure your arguments etc. it adds a lot to the post, but combined with distributing it across several web platforms, it can take hours.

      I subscribed to WSS out of interest together with Ancient and Medieval Warfare, but I find myself short of time reading them. While I keep up better with blog posts.

  2. Hmm a blog is free and a magazine is not I think is pretty big distinction. I enjoy both so it's not that important to me as to what's better or not as I find things I like in both.


    1. Hi Christopher,

      thanks for the reply. I guess the money makes a difference, but accessibility and choice means even more to me. I don't have to go out to pick up a copy, or accept a lot of uninteresting stuff when I read blogs. And some blogs are competitive when it comes to eye candy.

  3. I stand more chance of finding something that interests me across the blogs I follow than I do in a magazine. Once you've read one article about Waterloo or Gettysburg, whatever, you've read them all, as they rarely offer anything new and often rely on outdated research to boot.

    I'll accept that blogs vary in quality, but the point is that anyone can maintain one, while not just anyone can get an article published in a magazine. Okay, there is bad grammar and punctuation out there (and sometimes in magazines even!), but someone's lack of skill in English doesn't quantify their intellectual capacity...

    1. Hi Jim,

      Do you think there is a high cost involved in sifting through the good and bad blogs? That's effectively the best offer a magazine brings: they do the selection and quality assurance for you.

    2. Hi Jur,

      Devil's Advocate huh? :-)

      Do they do quality assurance though?

      In a recent magazine, I read one of the most appallingly inaccurate articles on the Wars of the Roses ever. I don't claim to be an expert, nor is this opinion based on 'my views' of the period being different... but clearly the writer had not read up on his topic.

      It got me wondering then about how many articles I have read, on topics I know nothing about, which have misinformed me in the process, in the same way as that one would have to someone else in that position.

      As for 'cost', is skimming through several magazines in the store before deciding to buy, any more costly than skimming through a number of blogs, having filtered your search by using key words?

      Magazines have their place and generally, to my belief (and I hope I am right!), generally have good content. However there are some equally good and reliable blogs too!

    3. I wasn't trying to play devil's advocate, but if magazines don't offer higher quality through the editorial process, what is their added value compared to blogs? In which case mags would be dead.

      So I was interested to see how you felt about that.

      Not surprising to find many proponents of blogging on a blog though ;-)


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