Tabletop Gaming – Issue 1

This is a direct copy and paste from my “other” project The Hairy Gamers on Facebook:-

Fathers Day reading at the Mancave.

Fathers Day reading at the Mancave.

So this weekend saw the first issue of a new gaming magazine called “Tabletop Gaming” released by Warners Group Publications. It is priced at £5.25 and has an annual subscription charge of £19.99; a total saving of £1.01 if, as assumed, it is quarterly.

I found my copy at my local WHSmiths but its also available in other places, mainly Forbidden Planet.  If you cannot find it at either of those or you live far away from either then you can always order online:-–First-Issue/_prod3381

With a plethora of online review websites and blogs already in a fairly saturated market it was a very brave decision to enter this realm but is “Tabletop Gaming” any better than what is already out there?

Firstly it is a slick looking publication, a decent size and not badly priced. One could be worried that it would be filled with classifieds and full page advertisements for gaming stores and companies but refreshingly it wasn’t. I think there were about 10 pages of ads in total leaving the vast bulk of the magazine free for reviews and articles.

The cover promises “in depth reviews and interviews” listing a number of games that reads like a who’s who of current games and “101 games you need to play”. You also get some exclusive interviews and articles.

The Editors Welcome by Rob Burman promises much in the future from this publication and a slight change to format to accommodate more play tests, hobby tips, store reviews, club spotlights, etc so only time will tell if this magazine lives up to the promises. I found certain things odd about the content of this magazine but more of that later.

Most of the 162 pages seem filled with little reviews for the 101 games you must play. Given each review is limited to only about 300-350 words they do well to sum up each game in such a short space. Each review gives you some basics to allow you to compare and contrast games against one another, the producer, the no. of players, the price, playtime etc. This is some good work although I’d like to see some kind of rating system or a score out of 10 or 100. I realise this would be subjective based on the reviewer but if I’m looking at two very similar games it would be nice to know which they consider to be better. That aside each review is punchy and to the point and contains a huge variety of games and styles.

The articles are nicely laid out and well presented. They are clear and include exclusive interview with game designers don’t fill the magazine with needless content, each being around the 5 or 6 page mark.

Full page glassy adverts, some with discount codes break up the relentless assault of game reviews. Companies such as Element Games, Chaos Cards and Wayland Games participating give this magazine a feel of already belonging to the industry rather than being some imposter or new kid on the block. The magazine feels like it has been around a while already which is testament to the authors and editor who have clearly worked hard to give it that feel.

I was pleased to see articles on Steamforged Games Guild Ball, FFG’s X-Wing and River Horse’s Terminator:Genisys as all of these games either get played at Hairy Gamer HQ or are being dispatched to us currently. The Guild Ball review gives the new player everything they would need to be able to decide which Guild or Team suited them best which is just the sort of article I’d be looking for as a potential new player converting from Blood Bowl.

I was hoping the X-Wing article would be more of a tactics article in the same vein as Neil Amswych’s articles on FFG’s website or the content shared on State of The Federation by Will Sanchez, Tucker Cobey and David Montgomery. It would also have been nice to get an interview with the current X-Wing UK Champion who would have been crowned at UK Games Expo a few weeks ago possibly even an interview between the two, like a passing of the torch.

The one page painting guide offers the novice painter some advanced tips for improving their style and abilities but sadly falls foul of the exact same problem almost all painting guides do. In most publications I can understand having a single, preferred source of paint….its almost expected in White Dwarf or painting guides released by painting companies but if you’re representing the entire industry you may want to provide alternatives from each or at least the bigger manufacturers. Please, please, please, please when doing painting guides consider that not everyone buys the same range of paints…….Citadel are not the only range out there so if you’re going to do them please refer to p3, Vallejo, Army Painter etc (other brands are available).

I’m hoping, longer term, to see more battle reports and army tactics guides etc. There are already some very good sources of this information out there so some may argue why re-invent the wheel? Well the point is that this game should include content from the complete novice up to the advanced player. Every game has advanced tactics regardless of its type or style. It would be good to see how the pro’s or better players play games that we perhaps take for granted or don’t consider to be “tactical”.

One very strange, almost suspicious, thing is the complete lack of any content or reference to Wizkids or their games. Knowing Wizkids this could have come from their side but given that they produce two of the most popular games available out there currently in Star Trek Attack Wing and Dungeons & Dragons Attack Wing I was very surprised to not see anything at all anywhere about either game. Both Armada and X-Wing get content or adverts and are similar games so hopefully this is a temporary glitch.

It would also be nice to have some kind of Kickstarter Watch feature or article where the next quarters Kickstarters and their end dates are listed and discussed but as this is a first issue I may be jumping the gun somewhat. We’ll see what Issue 2 brings and hopefully it will bring more great articles and features that all gamers can get their teeth into regardless of what they play or do.

I think the magazine could benefit from some regular articles on particular styles of game. Does it cover Wargaming? If so it would be nice to see more content related to that.

As an “in” to tabletop gaming and the sort of thing an interested yet uncommitted party might use as a guide to gaming its a solid start. I could see people who ask me about which games to buy using this as it provides far more information than I ever could. Its a great read for a new player but possibly hasn’t hit the heightss required for the more experienced gamer yet.

On a similar note it would also be good to have a regular feature about gaming on a budget. Not all gamers are lucky enough to have huge disposable incomes to spend £60-80 per game plus expansions so some features about the cheaper end of gaming or alternative gaming on a budget would be a beneficial guide.

I could also see the benefit in having a quick table or feature showing the release dates for various games and popular eagerly anticipated expansions coming in the next quarter.

All in all I think this first issue of “Tabletop Gaming” is a success and I think I will be subscribing at least for the first year. Only time will tell whether the rest of the industry feels the same. Covering such a wide, rich and varied selection of games, styles and content it would be very easy for this magazine to fail on all fronts and be spread a little thin. Other magazines only concentrate on Historical Wargaming or just the games of a certain company, hopefully Rob and Co at “Tabletop Gaming” will be able to keep up the great work.

I’m looking forward to Issue 2 and my subscription is in the post

4 thoughts on “Tabletop Gaming – Issue 1

  1. Cool article, I’ll see if my local store is stocking it.
    Thanks, I was pondering whether to pick it up and you sold me in it.
    maybe next time you’ll be in the magazine rather than reporting on it.


    • Who knows Kit? I did once apply to write articles for another magazine called Ravage but my writing style wasn’t to their taste. I think the main difference between what I do and what magazines or publications or other reviewing bodies is that I only review what I buy and so it gives me freedom to report honestly and say what I feel as a consumer and gamer, whereas others get given products to review and I feel that can shade or colour their articles for fear of upsetting the creators.


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