Fire & Movement Legacy

 

Fire & Movement (Rodger B. MacGowan, Editor & Art Director); bimonthly.  Fire & Movement is primarily a magazine of reviews.  It has done very well since there are so many new games coming out.  The reviews range from very brief mentions (“capsule reviews”) to lengthy multi-article pieces on one game.  It’s well worth reading if you want to get a better idea of what some of the games coming out are like.

James F. Dunnigan
The Complete Wargames Handbook
William Morrow & Company, Inc.
New York, 1980

 

Here again, there are numerous publications of varying quality and efficiency…frequently recommended, for instance, is the magazine Fire & Movement.

Nicholas Palmer
The Comprehensive Guide to Board Wargaming
Hippocrene Books, Inc.
New York, 1977

 

REVIEW: Fire & Movement, Nr.1

The first thing that strikes you is the graphics.  Then when you start to read and see the excellent format and range of the articles, you find yourself with an excellent zine in your hands.  The art layout is also striking, which is not surprising as the Editor (Rodger MacGowan) is also an Art Director and a first rate artist, so when you add it all together its worth it.  Now if this new zine is sold across the counter then we have nothing to worry about.  Recommended.

John Mansfield
Signal Magazine, Issue #100
1976

 

REVIEW: Fire & Movement, Nr.4

In four issues Fire & Movement has come from being an unknown to a real contender for greatness, and they did this without putting in a free game with each issue.  Hence the writing and graphics are of the highest level.  This current issue runs from well thought out articles on such games as SPI’s Global War and AH’s Panzer Leader, but also 15 pages of information on SPI’s The Russian Civil War.  A personal interview with Randy Reed of AH and a well written report on Origins II convention show how committed they are to the hobby.  An excellent zine.

John Mansfield
Signal Magazine, Issue #112
1977

 

REVIEW: Fire & Movement, Nr.4

Overall, a good issue…Illustrations are of the usual very high standard.  Fire & Movement, over their first four issues, have shown themselves to lead the independent magazine market.

Charles H. Vasey
Perfidious Albion, Issue #13
1977

 

REVIEW: Fire & Movement, Issues Nr. 1 and Nr. 2

Fire & Movement is a new zine out of California showing a great deal of promise.  The format is quite exciting and it reminds me a little of the now defunct Conflict magazine.  The emphasis is on a few games done in depth; reviews of the game, material on actual playing, behind the scenes look at the creators and the time period, and maybe some space on variations. F&M appeals to me because of the friendly tenor of the material, the diversity (no game company is excluded), and the intelligent writing.  Recommended.

Paroxysm Magazine, Issue #41
October, 1976

 

The Roots of Fire & Movement

This issue is dedicated to Rodger B. MacGowan, the founder and editor of Fire & Movement magazine. When I began to implement the idea of republishing some of the landmarks in boardgaming publications, I sent several letters to folks I thought might be able and willing to help me implement my plan…Rodger kindly provided a copy of his Arquebus zine for me to share with you…When you see the quality of thought and effort which went into Rodger’s “amateur” zine, it is easy to see what an excellent apprenticeship proceeded the launching of his Fire & Movement magazine.  Thank you, Rodger

Clifford L. Sayre, Jr.
Cliff’s Colloquy, Issue #11
July, 1979

 

F.Y.I.

John Kisner has been discussing my first magazine “Fire & Movement” and his magazine “ZOC” in the CSW game company folder. We have been discussing these two wargaming magazines in terms of their editorial style/approach, looking at the production of the magazines, etc. One magazine (“F&M”) started in the pre-desktop computer era and the other (“ZOC”) started in the desktop computer era — noting how this difference impacted the two magazines in a variety of ways.

I thought you might find our discussion interesting (below).

Rodger

 

Dear John,

JK:  “…ZOC was good only because F&M had showed us how to be good…”

RM:  I’m very honored to know that “Fire & Movement” was there to help to show you the way to some degree with your superb magazine “ZOC”. Each of us stand on the shoulders of those who came before us in our endeavors.

JK:  “…I had F&M for a model, John Walker (the best editor I’ve ever worked with) for a right arm, and lots of friends who gave me a lot of their time to write the articles…”

RM:  I totally understand and can fully relate to your observations above. Those wonderful friends who help you in the creative process and assist in making your dream into a reality make such a big difference. In looking back you remember all the big and small things they did to help you along the way. That is all a special experience and impossible to forget.

JK:  “…I also had a Macintosh…it’s easy to forget how much harder it was to write, edit, and do layout in the 70s and 80s…”

RM:  How right you are. It was a completely different world when it came to the actual design and production process. In mid-1970′s I had to layout “Fire & Movement” totally by hand. Working with non-photo-blue grid sheets I designed “F&M” by cutting and pasting with x-acto knives using hot wax from a hand-roller. Once I had edited the articles and marked them by hand in terms of proper format, font style, size, leading, etc. the magazine articles were then typeset using a photo-typesetter which used a photographic processing system. The articles would then printout from the processor in strips of photographic paper which I had to assemble by hand and cut & paste to the layout boards inch by inch. Those boards were then proofed, sometimes days later by my volunteers who could assist me by proofing, then the typos/errors were marked, then the marked sheets were returned to the typesetter for fixing, then those fixes were printed out in a random process, and then I had to go through the layout boards item by item and fix the articles word by word or line by line. After all of that, the page would be ready to be photogaphed (with graphic art, maps, illustrations etc, added) and prepared for printing. And along the way their was always the unexpected. I recall with a number of magazine issues after going through all of the above, the text would fade away — the “fix” in the word processor was old or weak and the text would fade to gray or disappear before we could photograph the pages. I had to start the layout all over again!

JK:  “…Today I paged through the first dozen issues of ‘F&M’. What stood out was the degree of collaboration that I tried really hard to duplicate. For instance, you had the six guys playing “Highway to the Reich” each write about the game from the vantage of their command slot and then brought all that opinion together into one article…”

RM:  I recall the experience of creating that issue most vividly. That was for issue Nr.7 of “Fire & Movement” (July 1977). During that period of time their was great excitement and interest about the Operation Market Garden story due primarily to C. Ryan’s book “A Bridge Too Far”. Ryan’s best selling book had just been made into an epic movie with an all-star international cast and the movie was soon to be released. SPI had published a big “monster game” on the same subject “Highway to the Reich” designed by Jay Nelson. By then my connections at SPI were quite strong, and I called Jim and Redmond on the telephone requesting they send me copies of “Highway to the Reich” as soon as the game was off the presses so we could quickly learn the game, and write a feature article on it for the next issue of “Fire & Movement”. I knew we were pushing the production envelope, but my quest was to make “F&M” more timely if possible. I wanted to try to be the first to cover new major releases with as much depth as time allowed under the circumstances. I then called on all my local (Los Angeles area) “F&M” writers so we could all meet together at my art studio on a Saturday, play the game, and then write our separate after action articles. As editor, I would then assemble all these many pieces, then design the layout and art for of the feature, and go into production on the issue ASAP. That was a major undertaking. The issue was very well received by the readers.

JK:  “…’Connecting’ ideas is really hard to do — John Walker & I were never in the same room, but email allowed us to work through ideas fairly quickly — but my inspiration for what I tried to do in that area came from these early ‘F&Ms’. Thanks again, Rodger, for showing the way…”

RM:  Yes, in those old days (1977) there was no email, no desktop computers, no internet, no Google, etc. Communication was primarily by the post office — waiting usually days or weeks (or more) for any kind of reply to my stacks of “F&M” related letters to authors, game companies, etc. I did all my editorial and graphic work on “Fire & Movement” at night and on the weekends — my day job M-F paid the rent. I worked and lived in West Los Angeles and the “F&M” production center and printer was in East Los Angeles, so I had to travel back and forth at night two or three times a week (2 hours round trip by car). It was all different then when it came to creating your own magazine, but even with all the horror stories and pain along the way, I enjoyed the journey. And to know, 30 years later, that you recall those issues, all the effort, those guys who worked so hard to make “Fire & Movement” a reality — thank you!

Enjoy the Magazine,

Rodger

 

“Fire & Movement” magazine, subtitled The Forum of Simulation Warfare (later, The Forum of Conflict Simulation), was founded in 1976 by Rodger B. MacGowan, its editor, director, and guiding hand.   The first issue revealed MacGowan’s motivation and philosophy:  “Some readers will ask why Fire & Movement, when there are so many other wargaming magazines.  The answer is quite simple – to date, the hobby still does not have a magazine with the capacity to cover the entire field.  There is no single major publication able to cover games published by all the game companies.  This situation constitutes a need and Fire & Movement will work to fill this need in the hobby.  Our publication is designed to provide coverage in an independent fashion.  Fire & Movement publishes no games.  We have no games to ‘push’.  Our concern is with the hobby, and YOU are the hobby.”

“Fire & Movement” contained review articles by many well-known gaming personalities, and in a major innovation, also included responses to those reviews by the game designers themselves.  Although the appearance of F&M “was greeted enthusiastically…the enthusiasm was reserved, for few people within the industry gave F&M more than a fighting chance.”

Charles S. Robert’s fling had grown into a hobby, and now the hobby had become an “industry”.  But the industry insiders were wrong when they predicted an early demise for “Fire & Movement”.  Despite some inevitable unevenness in the quality of its reviews, F&M became a tremendous influence on gamers and designers alike.  Reviews and designer responses were supplemented by “Forum” articles, which allowed designers, critics, and just plain wargamers to present a variety of viewpoints about many new or potential design innovations or any other issue of interest to the hobby.  The magazine did indeed go through some difficult financial times, changing publishers and editors several times.  Through all its travails, however, it survives to this day because it always met the hobby’s burning need for the kind of free and open forum of ideas and opinions it provided.

Peter P. Perla
The Art of Wargaming
US Naval Institute Press, 1990

 

For my purposes, “Fire & Movement” under Rodger and Fred really was the best wargaming magazine ever.  Those issues taught me a great deal about wargames, effective play, and even the history covered by the games.

A BROG review was usually more entertaining (but Ralph Vickers in “F&M” was a pretty amusing guy, too), but I always came away feeling that I learned as much about the reviewer as the game, or the history. I thought of “F&M” as wargaming’s answer to the New Journalism.

Peter Pariseau

What stands out in my mind concerning “Fire & Movement” was the quality of the thinking, the clarity of the writing, and the enthusiasm for the hobby. Each F&M issue covered a lot of games, but there was still room to dig deeper into a couple of featured games. Great stuff!

A few writers may have “faked it” to some extent (that is, they might not have really played the games enough, or thought about the game enough to have anything important to say about it), but I never really noticed it the way I have with man y other review publications. I think this speaks well of the writers that Rodger assembled, as well as the editorial hand of Fred.

Let me also say that Rodger was breaking some new ground in terms of illustrating a review: the pictures really helped tell the story.

My F&M collection remains my primary reference for the “golden oldies” from the days when playing something different every week seemed as easy as skipping afternoon classes to play games at the student union. Sorry to wax on, but F&M was by far the smartest and best magazine this hobby has ever seen.

John Kisner

 

“Fire & Movement” is, was, and has always been one of the cornerstones of this hobby, one of the facets upon which we have all built. As a magazine it was brilliantly published, unusual (then) and professional in all respects, especially in its editing (something too many magazines seem to feel is a dirty word). I was a regular, steady reader (and I think I made the Contributing Editor list, briefly, but got tossed for good reasons . . .it’s all a vague memory). “F&M” deserves all the kudos, recognition and veneration it receives.

What I did NOT like about “F&M” – and one can like something in toto and be less than enthusiastic about some of its parts – was that the game reviews were often dreary reading. Yes, they were “well” -written, in that they would not have popped up as “Correct this paragraph” exercises on an SAT . . . but they evinced no sense of style (other than being far too often repetitive in the Ludlumesque sense of appearing to be the same review, with the original names and components crossed out and replaced by others), little (if any) wit, and nothing that made ME want to read them for reasons other than purely informational. For some (probably many) that was all that mattered. As you are most aware by now, for ME that was a serious flaw.

It was because of that type of review, in “F&M” and other media, that I started publishing, on my own (as opposed to doing a column every so often in whatever it was SPI was putting out) “Berg’s Review of Games”, a grantedly highly individualistic approach to game reviews, one that insisted that the information that was provided (and that information was as insightful and cogent as that in any other medium, including “F&M”) was Entertaining. Not every one agrees with that viewpoint . . . but it is how I function. And it appears to be what others wanted, too.

Richard H. Berg