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C3i Makes Me Look Fat

posted Aug 6, 2012, 1:53 AM by Douglas Sun
Originally posted: March 12, 2009

Just thought I’d put in a quick plug for C3i’s spiffy new website, which you will find in my blogroll under “Allies.” It went public a few days ago, and it’s a wonderful piece of work, even though the pic of me on the staff page manages to make me look both dorky and kind of fat (not that hard to do these days, admittedly, but still...).

Seriously, it’s an essential destination for anyone who enjoys GMT Games. The centerpiece is an archive of articles from issues of C3i that are out of print and no longer available for purchase from GMT, dual indexed so that you can find them by either issue or subject. All of the content is, of course, evergreen in that anyone interested in GMT games will find the scenarios, variants and strategy articles from the early issues just as useful now as when they were first published. I’ve already used it myself, printing out one of Dan Fournie’s early SPQR scenarios because I was too lazy to track down my back issues, which are scattered throughout my house.

As I said in an earlier post, C3i has built up some serious mojo in the last couple of years and it shows no signs of slowing down. It has become, I think, the perfect in-house wargamer magazine, supporting and publicizing GMT’s titles with a lot of substance and a minimum of fluff. It does exactly what a publication of that type can do well, and avoids what it cannot do well.

For instance: Ever since the heyday of Strategy & Tactics, it seems to have been an article of faith that a wargaming magazine must have a stand-alone game in every issue. But as fondly as I remember SPI’s work during its Dunnigan-guided golden age, it always seemed like quality of the S&T issue games was uneven, and not really their best work. Anyone remember Dixie? If so, I’m sorry to have reminded you of it. One may conclude that combining proper design and development with a strict periodical publication regime is a high-wire act at best. SPI’s other in-house mag, Moves, concentrated on articles relating mostly to strategy and game design, but it always struck me as a little dry because of that. When a grognard lays out his money, he wants something where he can stick his hands into it and get them dirty.

C3i does not try to be a forum for stand-alone products, nor does it wrap itself in meta-gaming concerns; it focuses on serving as a support structure for GMT’s product lines. There are articles about strategy and occasional collections of thoughts from the designers themselves, but the heart of the magazine is the scenarios, campaigns and variants — usually accompanied by player aides and extra counters — for existing GMT products. These are red meat for a gamer, things that you can actually punch and play; and not only do they justify the cover price and add value to the original game, but they may also inspire previously skeptical players to give the original game a second look. They are also things that you can accomplish within the limits of the magazine format, and on the unforgiving clock of a periodical publication schedule, and C3i does them with substance and style.

Rodger MacGowan is also using the C3i site to exhibit his past work (which includes some of Avalon Hill’s signature box covers), and the online gallery is well worth a look. Thanks to him, GMT’s titles are more visually pleasing than those published by any of their peers. The house style that he established for GMT helped draw me to their games when I returned to historical wargaming in the early ‘90s, and it remains a major attraction for me today. Rodger’s best work has a Classical sense of elegance to it, clean and just in its proportions, and yet evocative and expressive at the same time. His game boxes feel like art objects. Take a look at any of his GBoH box covers, or the box covers from the Battles of the American Revolution series, and I defy you to tell me that they don’t pretty up a game collection something special. You can’t. ‘Cause they do.