Friday, March 23, 2012

Strategy&Tactics Magazine: A Review

This post does not deal specifically with the American Civil War, but you may find it interesting.

It has been several years since I have even played a conflict simulation game, and I really was not expecting a game related magazine amongst the junk in my mailbox. Imagine my surprise in finding a complimentary issue of Strategy&Tactics. I remember playing war games when I was younger and they often induced me to dig further into the who, what, and why of a particular battle, campaign, or a war.

I must admit however that Strategy&Tactics was not my cup of tea. It was not because it was poorly written or that the games inside were necessarily bad, but the broad range of subject matter rarely held much to interest me. My taste in history or historical games was and remains rather narrow. I enjoy things from the 18th century onward, mostly US history or the role the country played on the global stage. After a while of looking at the magazine containing things pertaining to the Renaissance, the Byzantine Empire, or the Crusades, I quit looking for it. They would still have short articles on other eras within the pages but most of the content was centered around the current game inside the issue.

Not much has changed.

The issue I received was number 274 for May- June 2012. And as I suspected when I looked inside, it had a wide variety of material. It had “The Sun Never Sets”, an article on the British Colonial wars of the 19th century, and an article dealing with the game “The Sun Never Sets, II”, by their game company, Decision Games. Both articles were quite good, so I was not terribly disappointed but they did not make me want to run out and buy the game.

The magazine also had an article on the military mapmakers craft, and gave a brief history of the symbols and the drawing of the maps. It also included the modern unit symbols which I found surprising since I had no idea what some of them stood for! Now I do!

An article on the Khmer Empire was out of my league, and an article on the Russian Brusilov Offensive of 1916 was also featured.

The “Departments” kept my interest better than the main articles with things ranging from US vs Canada conflicts, a short article asking whether or not Buell saved Grants bacon at Shiloh, and a very good piece about the Spanish conquistadors. They were not lengthy but very well written and I enjoyed them tremendously.

One thing I found while perusing the magazine was the fact that now you can get a non game issue, or a premium issue which does have the game, at a higher price of course. You can also subscribe to either version if you are a non-gamer. That way you can save some money until you see a game that strikes your fancy. Then you can run to the game store or order that issue on line with the bucks you saved.

The complimentary issue held a nice introductory offer, six issues of S&T or World at War, a sister publication focusing on WW2 onward, for $19.95 (USD). This offer also can be mixed between the two, and if you prefer and feel sporty, you can throw in a couple of issues of a third sister titled Modern War. I like that idea as it allows people with broad interests a way to mollify their appetites. At $6.00 (USD) per single issue this offer is great.

On the whole I think Strategy &Tactics is a good magazine which fills a need for historical commentary as pertaining to simulation games. Its content is well written, the layout of the pages is clean and easily read, and the paper it is printed on is top quality that should last for years in your library. For those interested in a variety of era, S&T is a good choice if you have the money to subscribe. The non gamer will enjoy it as well. Another good thing, S&T uses source citation. Not all magazines have them, but given the range of history covered within the magazine, they should have them. I want to know where the information came from so I can explore the topic further and they fill the bill!

The downside is the price unless you take advantage of the special offer, and the very broad content may leave one feeling let down after a while. That is how S&T started out 40 some years ago, and it has worked well for them but it is not for everyone.

If you have a wide interest in military history then I would say yes, by all means subscribe. There should be enough inside each issue to satisfy you.

If not, I think you should keep it in mind and look for it in the game store or online. At some point there will be something that appeals to you, and then it will be well worth the price paid for that issue.

You can subscribe to or order the latest issue of Strategy&Tactics as well as back issues at:

***A quick check of their back issues revealed some interesting articles and games!

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