Lamenting limited time and gaming space. What to do?

We all know or have first-hand experience with the struggles of limited time and gaming space. While the goal for grognards is looking forward to retirement and having the chance to play more and bigger games, many find this goal unattainable. The time commitment needed for larger, more complex games seems to be a fleeting aspiration, especially when balancing family commitments. Given life's demands, the days of having unlimited time and resources to game have become a fading memory of what once was during our youth. Tabletop games have shifted towards digital gaming thanks to VASSAL, which solves the tabletop space problem, but many still long for the tactile experience of playing games on their tabletop. Consequently, gamers find their gaming tastes shifting out of necessity towards smaller, less complex games that can be learned quickly and completed in a single sitting.

While this may be a downer for some that they won't be able to commit to playing larger, more involved games, it doesn't mean you are leaving or becoming separated from the hobby you enjoy. Consider this an opportunity to 'rediscover' the hobby in an area that has received scant attention to this day.

Create a resurgence by rediscovering all those great magazine games published over the past few decades. Rarely do they receive more than cursory notice compared to boxed games. But why? Now with limited playtime, it's the perfect time to rediscover some great magazine games that can be learned quickly and completed in a single sitting. There are hundreds of games to consider, and nearly all that are out of print are readily available at reasonable prices on the aftermarket like eBay or CSW Marketplace. As a bonus, almost all of these magazine games also include historical articles for a quick-and-easy read into the game's background.

So if time is short, you still have a lot to rediscover about the hobby through magazine games. Nearly all award-winning game designers have had one or more of their designs published in magazine games. I, for one, know there are plenty of such games I still hope to play, and it's also interesting to see how game design has evolved since those first issues back in the '70s and early '80s. These are still very enjoyable games that can be completed in a single sitting, so throw some long-overdue love towards magazine games because there are plenty of great titles out there.

For now, I'll close with my personal top 5 on magazine games I have enjoyed over the years, including several which appeared in the early years of Strategy & Tactics magazine and one in particular that appeared in Wargamer magazine:

  1. Stonewall: The Battle of Kernstown, 1862 (SPI, Strategy & Tactics #67, Mar/Apr 1978) My very first S&T subscription game that I played to death solitaire as a kid, so I had to include it.

  2. Kharkov: The Soviet Spring Offensive (SPI, Strategy & Tactics #68, May/June 1978). Yes, I know I should have listed Panzergruppe Guderian, but I have to give the nod to this design.

  3. The Desert Fox: Rommel's Campaign for North Africa, April 1941 - December 1942 (SPI, Strategy & Tactics #87, 1981). Berg doing North Africa right and without the Italian Pasta rule.

  4. Decision at Kasserine, Rommel's Last Chance (3W, Wargamer #23). One of my all-time favorite games by Vance von Borries.

  5. 48th Panzerkorps (Pacific Rim, CounterAttack #3, 1991). A hidden gem of a game by James Zoldak. Wish there were many more games using this system...I believe Chris Harding Simulations published 57th Panzer Korps.

So if you are short on time or table top space, give these magazine games some well-deserved and overdue attention! You'll be glad you did.

John Kranz