Fire & Movement Magazine

Fire & Movement: The Forum of Conflict Simulation was founded in 1976 by Rodger MacGowan and published by Diverse Talents, Inc. DTI also published BattlePlan and Space Gamer, a science fiction gaming magazine.

MacGowan had started wargaming in high school in the late 1960s; after a hiatus (caused by the Vietnam War, and, in his words, "girls also had a major impact") he returned to the hobby in the 1970s with his old playing partners, now located in different cities. They started correspondence with each other about gaming, and MacGowan started to detail the games in a format he referred to as "Battle Report". He included maps and analyses of his games - AARs, in other words, which proved so popular that he expanded his concept to create Arquebus, an amateur magazine. Many of the concepts that F&M would later use successfully were included, such as game reviews, game reports, hobby news, and reader feedback analysis. As his involvement with Arquebus deepened, a friend suggested "going professional." His background as a professional graphic designer, in both advertising and magazine production, served him when he approached Baron Publishing Company who expressed interest in printing the magazine - as long as MacGowan did the work.

MacGowan next contacted Mark Saha, who wrote for The General  and Moves, and obtained access to information about Avalon Hill's next big release, Tobruk, then being playtested. When a copy of the review for Tobruk was sent to the actual developer of the game for fact checking, and it was decided to publish his reply word for word. The technique of having developers respond in print to reviews, in the same issue, would be repeated many times over the years.

The title "Fire & Movement" comes from the standard military expression; MacGowan noticed it as a chapter heading in a military manual and realized it would be more appropriate and recognizable to the average reader than Arquebus.1

MacGowan's quest to find a publisher had begun in February 1975 and the first issue saw print in May 1976.2 MacGowan served as editor and art director for two years, while earning a living as a TV graphics director, giving up editorship in June 1978, and resigning as art director in June 1979 after a dispute over advertising policy.3 He later went on to found C3i Magazine for GMT Games. Baron Publishing was the original publisher of Fire & Movement, producing issues 1 to 25. Steve Jackson Games went on to publish issues 26 through 42.

When World Wide Wargames (3W) acquired Diverse Talents Inc. (DTI), they acquired F&M and Space Gamer from Steve Jackson Games. Despite owning the rights to several former competing propererties, 3W opted to continue publishing F&M and Battleplan as well as Strategy & Tactics and The Wargamer. In 1991, 3W was bought out by Decision Games (Cummins Enterprises), and Battleplan and The Wargamer were combined into a revival of Moves.

The new trio of magazines were described in a full page ad in the premiere (Issue #61) of the revived Moves:

Fire & Movement: Helping you decide which wargames to buy

  • close-up reviews of new wargames

  • profiles and player's notes

  • guide to computer wargaming

  • annual year in review issue

Strategy & Tactics: Exploring decisions which made history

  • wargame in every issue

  • game design forum

  • articles on historical and current events

  • professional wargaming column

  • media notes

Moves: Helping you decide which strategies and tactics to use

  • analysis, strategy and tactical tips

  • variants and new scenarios

  • art of computer wargaming

  • annual index and mini-game

  • previews of upcoming games by their designers

Editorship of the magazine passed to J. Bernhard (Jon) Compton. In an interview in 2005, he stated that he had been in the industry for "15 years", citing Miracle on the Marne as his first design.4 He had previously worked as editor and publisher of Gamefix Magazine and his designs also included Foxhole, a "grand-tactical" (platoon level) game (or microgame) which was originally published in Gamefix. In the Spring 2009 issue (Issue 149), Compton revealed that he planned for Issue 150 to be his last, citing a new job, relocation, family commitments, and recent automobile accident (in which his computer containing his F&M files) as being demands incompatible with delivering a quality product in a timely manner.

 

In response to conversation at the Consimworld social networking site, Compton responded to an allegation that the layout of the magazine had become "bush league" towards the end:

 

The entire budget for the editing, art, layout, proofing, and contributor issue shipping was all of 550 dollars per issue. I did what I could with what I had. That said, by any real standard the layout was not bush league, although the printing and over-saturation of everything certainly was. I'd dare say that more attention was put into the layout of F&M than any other DG pub. No trapped white space, solid widow and orphan control, even margins, and no broken-up articles in any issue. But the graphics were what they were since we had to take what we got and had no budget to do anything more professional. DG starved F&M of resources until it just wasn't possible to continue. The printer continued to cut the pages wrong until I finally gave up complaining about it.5

Cover Gallery/Issue Listing


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Notes

  1. "F&M's First Decade", by Rodger B. MacGowan and Friedrich G. Helfferich as told to Stephen M. Newberg. Fire & Movement 10th Anniversary Issue, Number 49 (Jul/Aug 1986)

  2. "Founders & Memories: Looking Back On The Genesis Of Fire & Movement", by Richard deBaun with Ray Lowe and Rodger MacGowan. Moves, Number 59 (Oct/Nov 1981)

  3. Ibid.

  4. National Gamers' Guild interview, accessed online ("Twenty-Some Questions: A Moment With Jon Compton, Decision Games/Fire & Movement Magazine")

  5. http://social.consimworld.com/profiles/blogs/the-end-of-fire-and-movement?commentId=2011369:Comment:106720&xg_source=msg_com_blogpost

  6. Sincere thank you to Paul Wittine for the image of F&M 119 from his collection.

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