I listened with interest last week to the Meeples Podcast Episode 178, interview with Henry Hyde, the former editor of Miniature Wargames Magazine (MW) now, following his departure from the business, able to discuss candidly the reasons for his decision to resign from the editorship of this longstanding cornerstone of the hobby-news publications.
If you haven't yet listened and are the slightest bit interested in what's going on I would highly recommend a listen to a quite revealing glimpse at the goings on in management behind the scenes and the likely implications of the recent changes in that management and the causes that lay behind it from Henry Hyde's perspective.
It was way back in March 2013 that I welcomed the news that Henry Hyde was taking over the editorship of MW and explored my hope for the new title that would, going forward, not only carry the title of Henry's own publication, Battlegames Magazine, but also seek to encompass the themes and content that his creation brought to the hobby within the new combined magazine.
In that post I highlighted the content of previous hobby titles that for me captured some of the best content in the printed format, focusing on a mix of the history, the modeling, ideas for better gaming, scenarios and the usual hobby news and comment.
I think all printed media faces huge challenges in these days of the Internet with blogs and podcasts and excellent digital photography, to remain relevant and different enough to get us punters to pick up a copy regularly. Not only that but it seems that to get people to commit to a fixed period subscription is getting harder and harder as hobbyists like me pick up magazines only when they carry content sufficiently interesting enough to warrant it.
That said I have included MW in my regular pick up of choice alongside Wargames Soldier and Strategy Magazine (WSS) since Henry took over the show and made it a much more interesting read than what is was before his stewardship. I even had my own three article series covering the Oporto game published in it and was grateful to Henry for his input and guidance in putting that together.
It would seem, based on the Meeples interview, that Warner Group Publications, the new owners of the magazine, don't share the vision that Henry Hyde brought to it, a vision that the original owners, Atlantic Publishing, were only to keen for him to replicate in their desire to turn around the fortunes of their product by making MW more like Battlegames.
This change of vision is only emphasized by the dropping of the Battlegames name from the title page and it would seem, according to the interview, that the decision for this change of direction was made without the input from the incumbent editor and all the experience and knowledge of the hobby he might have been able to bring to it.
The manner of his departure, if as described in the interview, sounds very disappointing and with that and the implied change of direction is going to be an interesting project to manage for John Treadaway, the newly appointed editor, going forward.
If this is a sign of a complete departure from the progress the magazine has made in the last three years, I can only hope that the new plan will be to build on that progress with more content that will appeal to the historical wargamer. However with talk of appealing to a growing science fiction audience that appears to be poorly defined, it leaves me feeling this might not be a magazine aimed at me.
It is only fair to say we have to wait and see what these recent changes will mean for MW. Warner Group may have a great plan to reinvigorate MW still further and issue 403 and future issues will be very interesting to see if fears are vindicated or a new exciting version of an old familiar name is going to be the new norm.
For me, as I imagine for most of us who were happy with what Henry Hyde did for MW, the jury is out and judgment is reserved.