Saturday, May 31, 2008

Slingshot 258 Delivery Update

I just got back from a week's holiday in Istanbul, to find my advance copy of Slingshot 258, and a note from the printer to confirm that this issue would be mailed to members on 30 May (i.e. yesterday); I'm guessing the first copies will start arriving in the UK on Monday. Your feedback is welcome. I should add that this wouldn't have been possible without Richard Jeffrey-Cook having successfully untangled the complex web of arrangements around our Royal Mail account, which had to be transferred to the new printer.

Having seen an actual copy of 258, I'm extremely pleased. I think we still have a bunch of stuff to do on the internal aesthetics to bring the look and feel up to date; it's also clear that we need to be careful on what kinds of images take best advantage of the new paper quality. I would expect to see further tweaks on format in July.

Something I didn't mention yet was that the last SoA committee meeting agreed to fund Slingshot at a page count of 60 pages through the end of the year; that's 60 pages of content, with pretty much no advertisements (where "pretty much" glosses over the two boilerplate society information pages, an event notice for Conquest 2008 and a competition notice, so leaving those aside it's about 57.5 pages, and I expect to regain at least one of the inside pages back for boilerplate next issue). So I expect to go round and canvas for more material to fill it shortly. I've been tracking the amount of system specific material (ie how much DBA, how much DBMM, how much WAB material) I've received since starting the editor's job with 257 - I'll pull together the latest statistics this week as I think it makes interesting reading.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Slingshot Covers

Apart from the change of cover format on Slingshot 258, you'll notice something perhaps more controversial, which is that it has a 28mm miniature on the cover (kindly provided by Warlord games, so even more controversially, it's a plastic miniature). Are we going down the Wargames Illustrated route?

At the point I took over Slingshot, there were relatively few of the trademark pen-and-ink illustrations available for cover duty. In fact, by "relatively few", I mean none. The cover of 256, Nik's last issue, is actually a re-use of a previous illustration. For 257, we attempted to process a relatively low resolution picture from the Ermine Street Guard (a British group of Roman army re-enactors) to make it work for black and white, which I think worked reasonably well, but isn't ideal.

258 gave us a further issue, because the potential quality of picture is very good - the covers are (or should be) photo quality, and protected with laminate. And, as the first colour picture, we wanted to make a splash. I looked through the stock of illustrations we have, which were apposite to the material. I have some pictures of museum artefacts which work in colour, but none that matched the content in the magazine. I've been promised some more re-enactor photographs, but none arrived in time. We did have some miniature photos which were very good indeed. The one which most fit the cover format was the Warlord picture, and the Warlord miniatures are reviewed in the magazine. Having been through the exercise, it makes sense as to why Wargames Illustrated, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, etc, use miniature shots on their covers - the artistic focus in the wargames hobby is primarily on painting figures, not drawing illustrations.

This isn't an apology for using miniatures on the covers; I intend to use them again moving forward. But to reflect the magazine's range of content, covering both pure historical articles as well as gaming, I plan to rotate the covers between historical and museum material, re-enactment shots and pictures of figures (and for that matter illustrations if they're good enough). The design is intended to allow use of "un-colourful" content such as marble statues - the background colour for the cover will also be rotated so hopefully that compensates for the sometimes reduced colour in the cover shot.

I'm including here a draft cover which I'm unlikely to use. The picture is of a statue of Augustus, and the photo was taken by me in the Berlin Pergamon Museum, on a recent visit (more shots shortly to be available in the website gallery, when I finish setting it up). Anyway, it shows the intent for the other types of cover we may use going forward.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Slingshot 258

This just went to the printers. We expect this issue to be posted by the printers to society members on 30 May. This issue is 60 pages long, and is published in a new format,  with colour covers, perfect binding and improved paper stock. The contents of Slingshot 258 are as follows. For games articles, I've indicated the relevant rule set where it's not immediately obvious from the title.
  • Macedonian Military Culture and World Impact: Perspective and Impressions, Part I, by David Kurananithy
  • Spartan Spartans, by Jim Webster
  • Charles I of Anjou A Medieval Prince, by Gavin Pearson
  • The Red Snake, by Steve Neate
  • African Revolts: Firmas, Gildo and Mascizel 372 to 398AD,, by Jim Webster
  • WAB Tournament Report I: Havoc XXIV - April 2008, by David Daly
  • WAB Tournament Report 2: Havoc XXIV - April 2008, by Tucker Saglio
  • The Gods of Ancient Wargaming, by John Gibson [DBM]
  • Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World - Review by Gavin Pearson
  • Command & Colors Ancients Club Competition, by Andrew Lawrence
  • Rules Design Round Table, with Phil Barker, Richard Bodley Scott, Jervis Johnson, Rick Priestley and Lorenzo Sartori*
  • Ancient and Medieval Wargaming - a Reply to Graham Evans, by Neil Thomas
  • Zesty Ancient Warfare, by Steve Neate [Neil Thomas rules]
  • DBA Northern Cup 2008, by Martin Smith
  • More Campaigns for DBA, by Gareth Griffiths
  • A Dinosaur Returns to Jurassic Park, by Phil Barker
  • Campaigns for Wargamers 4 - Attila the Hun, by Paul Burton [DBA]
  • The 2008 Welsh DBA Open, by Martin Smith
  • Field of Glory - Review by Nik Gaukroger
  • Dogs of War: Canine Use in Warfare from Ancient Egypt to the 19th Century - Review by Duncan Head
  • Warlord 28mm Early Imperial Romans - Review by Mark Watson
* - note, for the purposes of full disclosure, this is actually a series of interviews combined together. At no point did they sit round the same table. Or if they did, it wasn't mentioned to me.

Also note:
  • The annual incentive game, "Roma Invicta" has also gone to print. The same new printers are being used for both Slingshot 258 and the incentive game, we hope Roma Invicta will arrive with society members in the next couple of weeks.
  • The society website now contains pages which include errata and additional material for each issue. Right now there's neither but in the event material is posted it should appear at