Old Soldiers Magazine - Replacing The Boardgamer



My name's Tom Cundiff. I've been a contributing writer to the Boardgamer, a wargame magazine, for the last 5 years, and an author for other magazines for the last 15. Last spring, the Boardgamer announced it was going to cease publication because its publisher had been offered a position with a major wargame company, MMP. Well, since that time I, as one of the last writers for that magazine, have received numerous requests that I either take over the Boardgamer, or begin a new magazine to take its place. It's taken a good 4 to 5 months of repeated e-mail requests to get me to make that attempt. Here then is a description of what I propose. Feel free to contact me with any questions at the e-mail address provided below, or merely to add your name to the subscribers list.

Old Soldiers Magazine is a publication dedicated to the preservation and play of out of print wargames (not just Avalon Hill games as was the focus of the Boardgamer) and to providing an arena for the smaller wargame companies to showcase their work. For 40 years the wargame industry has pumped out game after game and the result is that our shelves are packed with games we do not play. The cause is multiple, but amongst the top reasons is the lack of an arena promoting their play, the existence of opponents, and the continual production of new games upon the subjects covered by the old games. Wargamers have become used to moving to new games upon a subject because that's what is promoted within the hobby press. If one doesn't move to the new games, they're left in their dens playing their old game solitaire. This promotes the sales of new games, but it doesn't promote the play of games or the development of expertise with a specific game or system. In short the genesis of a game's demise is its sale prompting the development of yet another new game upon the same subject. It's a never-ending vicious circle. Old Soldiers Magazine is founded in the knowledge of the coming demise of the venerable magazine 'The Boardgamer", which in turn replaced the much revered and vaunted father of all wargame magazines 'The General". We seek to be as good or better than the Boardgamer, but realize that we will never reach a place in the hearts of wargaming the way the General did. We look upon the Old Soldier Magazine as a vital service to the wargaming community. It is our hope that our old wargames never "fade away". This is the purpose to which we are dedicated.
Old Soldier's aim is to provide the publication in several types of media. For our subscribers outside of North America, the magazine is made available as an e-mail magazine sent directly to your mailbox. This option is also available for the computer generation wargamer who desires a "paperless" magazine. Within North America our goal is to provide a print magazine. The print magazine will be black and white until such time as subscription rates permit multi-color printing. Though the production costs of an e-mail magazine for our overseas customers is small, we intend to charge them the same for the service and use the extra funds to subsidize the production of a yearly die punched counter set. We hope that in doing things this way we will be able to supply the counterset to our subscribers for free, but I cannot promise that there might not be a nominal fee for these. Our ultimate goal is a subscription rate of less than $20 a year (USD) and no more than $25. The ultimate price has yet to be determined and rests upon the number of subscribers and printing costs, quotes of which have not yet been received.

The magazine intends to provide Strategy, Tactics, Variant, Series Replay, and Historical articles. We aim at a minimum of 50 pages per issue to be published quarterly, with hopes of moving to a bi-monthly publication rate. Other types of articles would be those that analyze the literature of specific events such as the Napoleonic era, or specific battles such as Gettysburg or Normandy. There is so much written these days that the casual wargamer or militarily interested individual doesn't have the faintest idea what books are worth reading and which are not. Game review articles would seem to be unnecessary for the older Out of Print games, which are the main subject area of this magazine. Reviews for the games we seek to serve were written in the long years past, and therefore there is no need to repeat those articles. Articles on true wargames are always welcome. Articles upon miniatures wargaming are also welcome, science fiction, sports, and German type games may see print on a case-by-case basis. Fantasy games involving such things as zombies, gryphons, orcs, etc. : are not topical.

If you are interested in subscribing, just drop a note to that effect to tgunslinger@excite.com Feel free to also contact me at that address with any questions

Take Care,
Tom Cundiff
Old Soldiers Magazine

Howdy Everyone,

I've now received printing quotes and am able to set a definite subscription cost. Subscriptions will be $25.00 yearly. The Old Soldiers will be a quarterly magazine printed every Jan., Apr., July, & October. Postage to outside of the United States will add extra, but that shouldn't really be a problem as most of our overseas subscribers have already indicated a desire to receive the magazine in electronic e-mail form, for that there is no extra charge.

A copy of the magazine's coversheet is available for everyone to have a look at. Just let me know and I'll post it to you.

I feel strongly that we will be able to pull off a die-cut counter sheet every year. I have not yet received quotes on the cost for that, but, based upon the cost for the magazine, I don't think it will cost more than an extra $5.00, but don't hold me to that because I am guessing afterall.

Twenty percent (11 pages) of the inaugural first issue has been written and laid out. I have included in this first issue an article which is a collaboration of myself and two other authors. I wanted to include something of my own, but not something that was solely my own. I do not want the magazine to become a "showcase" for my own articles. I will write articles for the publication, because that is what I do best, but I don't want to emphasize my own work. The first two articles so far are:

Advantages of Interior Sea Lanes in Conquistador (Avalon Hill) By: Forest Cole
The Fabric of Belgian Skies: Scenarios for the Airforce/Dauntless System (Battleline/Avalon Hill)
By: Mike Rowles, Tom Cundiff, & Colin Lynch

This is just a beginning. I've been promised many more. I hope to have this first issue ready for transmission before the end of September. This first issue will be solely electronic in format. This is because I do not plan on requesting subscriptions until people see the first sample issue and can judge for themselves the quality of the work and the value of the magazine. IF, later on, I receive enough requests to actually have the first issue printed, I will take up separate collection from those so desiring printed copies and have it printed and mailed.

We've reached 60 committed subscribers. That's not bad for having been at this for approximately 16 days. Keep up the good work. Post whatever notices about the magazine you desire at websites you know to be frequesnted by wargamers, afterall I don't know them all that's for certain, and the efforts of all of us are what will make this venture a success. Keep up the pressure on your friends, twist their arms, challenge them to a game and if you win they have to subscribe

Also, I think it would be a good idea to set up a website for the magazine. However, I don't know how to do that. Don't have the faintest idea. So, I'm asking one of you to help me out there by building such a site for the magazine. I know there's plenty of free places for this purpose. I do like the design described by the Boardgame Players Assoc. The design and construction of that site is exactly what I desire. It's very functional. So, if one of you would do this for me, or help me to do it, it would be much appreciated.

I promise to keep you all informed of any progress we make.

Take Care,
Tom Cundiff
Old Soldiers Magazine

Howdy Ladies and Gents,

This week has seen some interesting developments. After initially being willing to discuss allowing Old Soldiers to use copyrighted material for illustrative purposes, Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast/Avalon Hill tersely denied that permission. Fortunately they do not own all of the artwork associated with the old Avalon Hill games. I've been reliably informed that Roger McGowan still owns all copyrights to artwork he did for Avalon Hill, several of the old AH games have been returned to their designers, and a few have even had their copyrights expire. So, to get around these problems, it would be nice, if those of you who know about a specific game(s) could post me a note so we can build a list of what games have copyrights owned by whom. As far as Old Soldiers is concerned, Old Soldiers will simply not publish illustrations on games the rights of which are owned by Hasborg.. We will continue to publish articles on those games, but any artwork to be published, the rights of which are owned by Hasborg, must be 100% new artwork. There's more than one way to skin a 'Borg'.

The same methodology can be applied to other games from other companies which present the same problems.

The Free Sample Issue is continuing apace. There are now 5 articles written and laid out. Sixteen pages of the 50 allotted are completed. The articles so far are:

Advantages of Interior Sea Lanes in Conquistador (AH) By: Forest Cole
The Fabric of Belgian Skies: Scenarios for the Airforce/Dauntless System (Battleline/AH) By: Tom Cundiff, Mike Rowles, & Colin Lynch
Variant Rules For Panzer '44 (SPI's) By: Steven Bucey
A Change of Scenery in B-17 Queen of the Skies (AH) By Steve Dixon
The Sequence of "The Draw": Ordering The Card Draw in Gunslinger (AH) By Tom Cundiff and Ruben Rigillo

This week has been slow for subscribers. We've not reached 65 from last week's 60. So, keep up the pressure on your friends. Get the word out at your favorite forums. The Boardgamer had 200-250 subscribers and I am certain, restrictive as its scope was, there are people out there who would like to see articles on old games other than AH titles. There's more people out there, we've just not reached them yet.

Also, I was reminded that game store owners sold the Boardgamer and at least one of those is waiting to review the first couple of issues before he commits. These types of venues for the magazine result from individual gamers talking to their local game store owners. I did the same for the Boardgamer. Though, these types of contacts will not help us reach that initial publication goal. It will help us to maintain the magazine's production. So, feel free to talk to your local game store about the magazine.

We've had a wide variety of offers for articles. I'm just waiting for them to arrive. There's plenty of space left for them, at least 34 pages. The Sept. 30 deadline to get out this first is reachable, it can be done.

Keep up the good work everyone and I'll keep you informed.

Take Care,
Tom Cundiff
Old Soldiers Magazine

US Print Subscriptions $25.00 annually
Canadian Print Subscriptions $25.00 + postage difference
Overseas Subscriptions e-mail only $25.00
Overseas Print Subscriptions (available upon request, price dependent upon postage)

(Feel free to post this notice to any forum you believe fits the purpose.)

Update 11 Sept. 2004

Howdy Everyone,

It's been a hectic two weeks since school began, I beg your forgiveness for being 'tardy' with news of Old Soldier's progress. As many of you know I am a substitute teacher, I tutor students outside of school, and I am going back to college to obtain my teaching license. So, school beginning these last two weeks has been pressing on my free time. Our membership has reached 65, please continue to place notices about Old Soldiers on whatever wargame sites you believe best suits the purpose of getting the news out. And continue twisting the arms of your wargaming buddies to subscribe.
We now have 18 pages of the first issue laid out. I was reminded that when we go to printing we need to have a page total that is equally divisible by four. That's not 50, so I've moved it to 52. More is always better if it's sustainable.
A word about article submissions. I recently discovered that MSWord permits people to use a format called "html typewriter" which is a virulent format. It attempts to convert all subsequent openings of MSWord as the same type. I discovered this early and killed off one submitted article. Please guys, don't use any type of fancy formatting for your articles. The simpler the better. Better yet, a straight paste from your articles to my page layout would be Times New Roman 12 point font in "Normal" style.
Also, I've been asked about editorial columns. Do I intend to have any? Well, that isn't something I'd previously considered, though at least one subscriber did offer to author one such column (he wasn't the one who asked the question). I personally am not inclined to write editorials. Not my style and I'd end up sounding like "Dr. John Becker", a character not only can I identify with and like, but who is almost always correct J If you don't watch Ted Dansen's show you won't get that one. On the other hand I'm not averse to the idea. I even like the idea of columns if they serve a purpose, just as long as I am not the one writing them. I think a column similar to the old General columns for Squad Leader advice would be great. Columns which support the discussion of tactics and strategies for specific popular games would indeed be a good idea. I was even asked about such a column for computer games. Well, computer games are not exactly the focus of 'Old Soldiers' unless that is you're writing an article discussing how to get your old Atari game to work on your new computer. The magazine's format is the discussion of older games, so discussions about new computer games doesn't exactly fit.
Speaking of computers. We need a website. I've had offers to host webpages, but no one has stepped forward to build such a site. I'm not computer literate enough to build a web page with forums and the like. So, it's going to take the efforts of someone who is and who is, like me, dedicated to old wargames. I need someone to step up to the plate on this one.
Since this first issue is to be free and in electronic format only, I've told those wargame companies that have been supportive that I'd be more than happy to run free adds. Oddly, not a one has taken me up on that. I do intend to sell advertising space as a means of subsidizing things like new counter sheets.
Speaking of new counter sheets, I've received a quote for small print runs. They're going to be more expensive than I had any idea of. Unless we receive some moderate amount of advertising, I feel counter sheets may not be immediately possible. We'd need to have a sizeable number of subscribers to pull that off, with nearly all of them buying the sheets. We've been in touch with Critical Hit/Moments in History to produce counter sheets. They're more than willing to do this for us. Ray Tapio, their owner/manager has also been most cordial and helpful with his advice. I'd like to thank him for that.
Also, one wargame company suggested that any attempt to produce counters that had the same "look and feel" as original game counters, even if the new counters represented units not in the original game and not possessing the same artwork would be considered a copyright violation. On the other hand, I've had reliable counsel on that matter indicating the said "look and feel" argument is nothing but smoke and mirrors, BS in other words. Afterall, if that were true then Parker Brothers would owe the makers of Parchese for tokens, and Avalon Hill would owe the makers of 'Checkers' tons for the use of round tokens resembling Checker pieces. Simply put, the "look and feel" argument is as bogus as it gets, but it does represent rattling of sabers by one company's lawyers. I'm hoping they have better sense than to do more than complain.
Well, keep up the good work, and do your best to get the word out about Old Soldiers. This month's main focus is the publishing of our first free issue. So, authors please make a concerted effort to put fingers to keyboards and bang out those articles. I'd like to have them before the 25th so I can have them laid out and ready for transmission to the readership by the 30th. The size of the magazine's first issue is running to about 3.5 mb in it's first 15 pages, so extrapolating the total size of the first issue will probably run to about 12 mb. So, I may take advantage of Jonathan Arnold's "TheWargamer.com" page to post the first issue for free download sending you only the link to those pages. This will beat receiving a 12 mb download in your mail box (which of course many of you would be unable to receive because most mail boxes are limited to a 1 to 10 mb per mailing download limit). Anyway, I am hoping to receive more articles quickly, not only for this issue, but to begin to build a stock of articles for future issues.
I'll keep you all informed of future progress.

Take Care,
Tom Cundiff
Old Soldiers Magazine