Another magazine review, not least because I sort of promised the folks on Man At War's forum, but also because I happen to rather like the magazine.
So - Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. Rescued from the ashes of its previous English-as-a-foreign-language incarnation by the good folks at Karwansaray (try saying that after a few), who are the publishers of Ancient Warfare and Mediaeval Warfare magazines as well. They've kept going with the same title and issue numbering sequence, at least in part, I understand, to keep their distribution deals with folks like WH Smiths going. Not that I mind, since good old Smiths is where I bought it, right next to Wargames Illustrated and under the last copy of this month's Miniature Wargames, for £4.20.
Right at the start that makes it pricier than an electronic subscription to Battlegames, but having said that, I do find myself on the horns of a dilemma in that I love the convenience of reading magazines on the iPad, but I do also enjoy physical paper magazines. Still - production quality is top notch: unusually the cover is satin-finish rather than out and out glossy. Minor gripe in that the colophon on the contents page (the list of things you don't really care much about like ad rates and publisher contact details) is grey on black and almost unreadably small, but the rest of the magazine has a beautifully clean layout. The graphic designer in me (he keeps trying to get out!) wonders if the page margins are a bit wide on the article pages, but otherwise - lovely look, easy on the eye to read.
Content-wise, plenty of ads, from most of the usual suspects. Each issue has a theme, to which maybe 40% of the articles stick - this time out it's Napoleonics, with a focus on the Austrian campaigns. Several good articles, with almost universally well-composed and taken photos: the one that interested me, perhaps unsurprisingly, was the comparative reviews of various rulesets, including Napoleon At War and Warhammer Historical's Waterloo set. Good set of reviews, in which all the sets came out well. None of his complaints about Napoleon At War actually seriously affect the playability of the rules: I don't really think it's fair to criticise them for the fact that the tournament rules restrict you to 6 turn games. We're all intelligent people, and I can't remember the last time I actually stuck to (for example) WAB turn limits just because The Book Said So. Equally, while Man At War have specifically designed the rules to suit their figure sets (like Battlefront, they have a vested interest in selling them!), it's not rocket science to figure out the core concepts behind the rules (infantry move == effective musket range == infantry line frontage) and scale all measurements for standard 28mm figure basing to within pretty close tolerances. That aside though, I found it a useful comparative review.
Outside of the themed articles, we have a mix of reviews, painting guides and other articles. The ones that grabbed me were an excellent set of skirmish rules for the hospital fight at Rorke's Drift (must not buy the Warlord box set, must not....), and a set of tweaks to the Warhammer Gladiator rules, which I most definitely will be making use of. In general, I find myself wishing I had figures for a number of their little one-off scenarios, as they'd make great participation games for a club night.
There were also a couple of opinion pieces, one from Rick Priestly on IGOUGO systems, which seems to have provoked some debate, if not outrage, on the TFL list, and one from the Lardies' own Rich Clarke on what he calls 'snack pot' gaming (the next size up from skirmish). On top of that there's an interview with the Lardies about I Ain't Been Shot Mum 3.
And that rather sums up where WS&S gets it right - it's not afraid to stray away from the mainstream rule sets (oh, come on, you know the ones I mean!), and it's not afraid to get stuck into meta-discussions about the hobby. My kind of magazine, very much like Battlegames. I think my long-term plan will be to subscribe to these two, and pick up WI and MW when the contents pique my interest.