Golden Journal No. 25:
Ha ha, you fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia,” but only slightly less well-known is this: Never publish a wargame magazine.
Vizzini didn’t actually say that in The Princess Bride, but he might have, because it’s true. Wargame publishing is really hard, but magazines are even harder. Even so, I always wanted Avalanche Press to have its own magazine, but also, to never have its own magazine. I worked at wargame magazines long ago and I remain permanently scarred by the experience.
I intended our Golden Journal to partially fill the role of a magazine, to spread word of our wonderful games and provide cool additional scenarios, pieces, maps and that sort of thing. But it wouldn’t be a magazine; instead, we’d publish it when we damned well felt like it.
Well, after “publishing” two dozen of them as home-made little rags pumped out on colored paper by the office printer, we have our first new-model, magazine-like Journal. It has the same style of die-cut, silky-smooth pieces as our games and books, and it’s a small booklet just like the books we make. This time, with Number 25 the Golden Journal is for real.
It turned out to be a whole lot more work than I anticipated; I should have remembered Vizzini’s warning. Yet it also turned out to be a whole lot better than I thought it would be: this is a really fine little product.
The Journal itself has a full-color cover just like those on the books we make, and inside are sixteen pages. Our theme is the T-35 Land Battleship – the coolest tank ever made. I’ve wanted to publish something devoted to the T-35 since before there was an Avalanche Press. So we have the story of the tank’s development, a thorough description of its strange five-turreted features, the story of the 34th Tank Division (the only formation to operate the T-35 in combat), and two huge scenarios befitting the huge tank.
The theme game is Panzer Grenadier: Fire in the Steppe, and you’ll be able to play the scenarios with just that one game. Fire in the Steppe has plenty of playable scenarios with a reasonable playing surface and reasonable playing time; I figured it was time to use all eight of those maps in the game and send lots of troops into battle either alongside or against the hordes of T-35’s.
Of course, there actually were no massive tank battles involving battalions’ worth of land battleships: most of them broke down on the way to battle. So these are battles based on the sort of battle the T-35’s designers and early commanders had in mind, riding them into action against fortified German positions or against masses of enemy tanks. Other than that really vague guidance, I just made them up (which, let’s face it, is the standard for a lot of “historical” wargames; well, that or Wikipedia which is pretty much the same thing).
We have some other cool extras for Fire in the Steppe; an analysis by the developer, and a Random Events Table. Early Panzer Grenadier games had Random Events tables, and I hated them from the start. But players asked for them, and now they have one for Fire in the Steppe, though I’ve altered it to make it considerably less stupid than the early versions.
As for the pieces, we have eight of them for the modernized T-35B, a proposal that almost came to fruition to upgrade the armor, suspension and engine to make the tank more reliable and a little faster. And then we have the proposed T-35C upgrade, a considerable increase in fighting power with new armament, better armor and a considerable upgrade in engine power so it can waddle forward slightly faster than a duck (but still, not much faster). There are also four T-28C medium tanks with the same main armament upgrade (the T-28 and T-35 shared the same main turret), and four of the SMK prototype that was in the running to replace the T-35 as the Red Army’s heavy tank (a simplified version, the KV, was ultimately chosen for production).
The Golden Journal is only available to the Gold Club (that’s why we call it the Golden Journal). It’s free when we first offer it; afterwards it costs $9.99 because we want to encourage everyone to order right away but we want to be able to keep them in stock for late arrivals. Number 25 has already had a price tag stuck on it, but Number 26 (Armored Cruisers, for Cruiser Warfare) is still free to Gold Club members (as of June 2018, anyway).
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