And Then There Were 4: WS&S Folds

Final WS&S English Issue No.53 April 2010The various UK Distributors of Wargames, Soldiers, & Strategy (WS&S) sent out word that the magazine’s English Edition has ceased publication (the first word came in late May but I’ve only had confirmation directly from my distributor in late June) – somewhat ironically as it turns out as I had just finally signed up for a subscription at the start of the year (having previously just bought individual issues as and when I saw articles of interest). There was however some sign of a risk of this in recent months as the April issue was over a month late, and there had subsequently been nothing since (so only 1 issue in about 4 months – the first announcement in late May was well past the May issue’s due date). There has been a brief discussion of it at TMP for more information (apparently it was thought the May Issue No.54 would be coming out as the final issue – but looks not to be the case).

WS&S did suffer from editorial issues in the english-language version, some articles did end up nearly unreadable – and this seems to have put some gamers off it in recent years.

So that means (with the U.S. HMG gone 18 months ago), their are just the 4 ‘english-language’ commercial publications now AFAIK; Battlegames, Dadi & Piombo, Wargames Illustrated, and Miniature Wargames. And only two of these are monthly, with Battlegames being bi-monthly, and Dadi & Piombo quarterly.

Currently I am subscribed Battlegames and Dadi & Piombo, and have transferred the value of my WS&S subscription back to Miniature Wargames (rather than getting a refund). I had been subscribed to MW for several years but dropped my sub mid-2009 a few months after the new owner completed his revamp of the format, layout, and appearance. The revamp improvements were all positive, but I found the content still a bit inconsistent and the graphics quality, while improved, was still not always up to the standard of Battlegames, WS&S, or Wargames Illustrated – and 50% of the reason I buy commercial wargaming publications is for the photos and visual inspiration. Many a photo in Wargames Illustrated and WS&S has given me ideas for terrain and modelling projects.

I recently dropped my Wargames Illustrated subscription (in May just before the WS&S news), and while the improvements under Battlefront were great and the article content quality looked like it was picking up (always a weak point with Wargames Illustrated – the text quantity & quality never equalled the photos), the fact is that 25% to 30% of each issue is now devoted to Flames of War (or related material) and that  gives it the very look everyone suggested it would get at the time of the takeover (i.e. a Battlefront Catalogue) – I think it’s great Battlefront are doing well, but owning a magazine is always going to result in a trend to promote the owner’s products – and unfortunately while I think it’s great that FOW (Flames of War) is so popular I personally don’t play and don’t really have an interest in it. If you add in the Osprey/Slitherine content (e.g. FOG, Field of Glory, related which again I have no interest in) then it’s nearly half the content – making the balance a very expensive publication for someone with my interests to subscribe to.

For now I’m happy just to buy the occasional odd issue of Wargames Illustrated if any particularly interesting articles show up… And as mentioned I’ll use the value of my WS&S remaining sub to get Miniature Wargames for a while to see how things are there 12 months on from the last issue I saw, in addition to my regular Battlegames and Dadi & Piombo…

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