Magazine for Wargamers
Battlegames magazine evolved from veteran wargamer Henry Hyde’s website at battlegames.co.uk that he launched way back in June 1998. As a professional graphic designer and copywriter, it was always his ambition to make the the transition from pixels to print, and it was his involvement in the early days of the Old School Wargaming group that gave him the impetus to take the plunge. March 2006 saw the publication of the first issue to general acclaim.
This A4 bi-monthly magazine was originally aimed at a specific audience — those who mourned the passing of wargaming titles like Practical Wargamer and, before that, Battle for Wargamers and even Wargamers Newsletter and, of course, the marvellous Hal Thinglum's MWAN — but its appeal has mushroomed beyond its initial, most ardent supporters.
Unashamedly text-heavy, Battlegames has a classic, clean layout with easy-to-read type on a white background, with occasional layout and typographical flourishes where appropriate. Most issues have included lavish artwork for free games, and Henry is proud to have been able to bring original, commissioned illustration back into the hobby.
One of the most striking things about the magazine is the quality of content, which ranges far and wide and covers all periods of history and fantasy and sci-fi, too. Henry deliberately went hunting for some of the most established and respected names to provide a level of brain-candy rarely seen in the hobby these days, but delivered with a light touch and occasional wit. Stuart Asquith (previously Editor of Practical Wargamer), Mike Siggins (famous for his long-running Wargamer’s Notebook series in Wargames Illustrated), Brigadier Charles Stewart Grant (famous son of one of the doyens of the hobby), Arthur Harman, Seven Years War Association veterans Bill Protz and Jim Purky, Guardian journalist and Achtung Schweinehund author Harry Pearson, popular dark ages author Dan Mersey, exhibition game expert Phil Olley, League of Augsburg gaming guru Barry Hilton, Osprey author Angus Konstam, micro-gaming expert Bob Barnetson... the list goes on, but is also joined by new writing talent, as Henry is keen to encourage budding authors to take their first steps into print.
Starting from a zero baseline, Battlegames has rapidly become an established title in the hobby, regularly discussed here at TMP and on other online forums. It celebrated its first anniversary in March 2007 by increasing its page count, and the level of business and work it has generated for its creator has come as something of a surprise. With issue 1 having sold out completely and fewer than 50 copies of issue 2 left, it’s clear the magazine has potential that Henry is now in the process of exploiting, with distribution deals being struck worldwide and the latest news that Battlegames may soon be seen in the High Street in the UK.
This achievement has not been without difficulties, for the extraordinary thing is that the magazine is an entirely one-man operation. Henry wears many hats, including that of Editor, Advertising Manager, Distribution Manager, Subscriptions Manager, Photographer, Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Marketing Manager, Administrator and Tea Boy. Add to this the fact that there is still a noisy minority online who shake their heads in disbelief that anyone would attempt to launch a paper-based (or "real," as Henry likes to call it) magazine in the current climate, and it is clear that he has had to overcome a degree of resistance — even downright hostility — that has not made life easy. Fortunately, once people see the magazine 'in the flesh' and recognize the passion and commitment with which it has been produced, they tend to like it and buy it.
Now that Battlegames has become Henry’s 'day job', the potential of the company as a broader publishing venture in the hobby has become clear, so expect to see news bulletins announcing fresh projects aimed especially at helping newcomers come into the hobby, but with plenty for the 'grognards' too. He will also continue to make appearances at shows, camera in hand, staging games or taking a trade stand, or just wandering round to say "hello" to people and take the hobby’s pulse.