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Battlegames – The Hobby’s Loss

It was Friday evening when the terrible news about the demise of Battlegames came through on Nick’s Blackberry.  We were sat in the lounge of the Holiday Inn in Antwerp discussing the next day’s game and the mood around changed from boistrous fun to real shock.  It has been said that as a hobby we’ve never had it so good with the selection of figures, terrain, books and magazines, and largely thta has been true.  However the big bonus for wargamers is the think you’re looking at now; the internet.  We can shop 24-7, we can read articles by any number of bloggers, see any amount of wargaming “porn” produced by some of the hobby’s finest artists, and, indeed, by some of its worst.  What the internet does not have is an editor who filters out the chaff from the grain, the good from the bad and indifferent.  Sadly it seems that the skill of only presenting the best is much undervalued, and without a shadow of a doubt Henry did that in spades.
For six years I have subscribed to Battlegames.  Not on the basis that every article in every edition of the magazine was absolutely up my metaphorical street, but because it was instantly clear to me from the outset that here was a magazine that was well thought out, well balanced in its content and without doubt well worth supporting on the basis that if we don’t back it we will ultimately lose it.  Sadly that has proved to be the case.  Having been a wargamer since the 1970s I’ve seen Battle for Wargames, Practical Wargamer and several other short-lived publications all go the same way.  I guess the blindingly obvious moral of the story is that if you want a magazine to survive then it’s no good cherry picking the editions you want to read, you need to really back the product in order to secure its long term future.  There’ll be plenty who don’t like that advice, but it’s a simple fact.
Of course behind this sad loss for the hobby is a personal tragedy.  Henry has lost not only the magazine that he worked so tirelessly to perfect, but also his job and his income.  At any time in life this would be a painful experience, but for a man no longer in the first flush of youth this must be doubly daunting, especially with the economic situation.  The fact is that Henry has been supporting the magazine with what little savings he could amass for some considerable time now.  The fact that the curtain has finally fallen is a reflection of the stark fact that he has no more money to keep the magazine alive.  What is therefore sickening it to hear a tiny but vociferous minority calling him a “crook” as they will no longer be receiving the balance of their subscription.  I hope that they take a few moments to consider that Henry has lost everything by comparison to their loss of a few tens of pounds.  Somehow I doubt that self-centred, selfish and arrogant people like that are capable of such actions.
I wish Henry the very best of luck for the future and would like to thank him for all of his hard work when producing a magazine that had broad appeal across the hobby, that was not just a vehicle for advertisements and adverticles for a clique of companies.  I do hope that some form of e-magazine can continue, but Henry now needs to focus on putting food on the table and maintaining a roof over his head.  Whatever happens next we will look back on Battlegames as a bright star of quality that lit our firmament all too briefly.
Well, hopefully we spoke too soon.  It may well be that Henry has been able to find a solution to his issues.  We have little information just yet, but the news on the steet is that he is in negotiations that may prove fruitful.  If that is the case then we can only hope that this incident will have raised the profile of a great magazine and new subscribers can be found.  If we don’t support hobby magazines we’ll be left with nothing.


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