The buyer’s guide to Fantasy Wargaming

I’ve posted a lot about my love for Fantasy Wargaming, the (in)famous book that dared to challenge D&D and made it into mall bookstores and the Science Fiction Book Club. The fact that it had such wide distribution means that copies are still pretty plentiful on the used book market, but I’ve noticed that the listings can be rather confusing.

There were three editions of Fantasy Wargaming, each with some interesting features. They vary physically and in content. I’ve included photos of my copies, which you can, as always, click to embiggen.

The UK edition, published by Patrick Stephens Ltd., in 1981, is identifiable by the fact that it has a unique ISBN (international standard book number) — 0850594650. Physically distinctive are the extent (222 pages, 25 cm tall) and the comparatively dark printing of both text and illustrations. The dust jacket also has the most vivid color of any edition.

Cover of the Patrick Stephens (UK) edition

The UK edition

Two editions were produced in the USA by Stein & Day. The US “trade edition” or “first US edition” (I use scare quotes as it is not a named edition) is a bit larger, such that it is about the same size an AD&D book. It also had an ISBN (0812828623) for ease of distribution. The extra height and width meant they could spread the content over slightly fewer pages — xii, 208 pages, 28 cm. The cover boards are printed with the jacket design, and it has the well-known tag “The highest level of all” included on the cover. The US publisher also took the trouble to index it, and introduce a few errors. The text erroneously states that the animal table at the end of the bestiary follows on the overleaf. More importantly the first printing (1982) lacks the second page of the weapons table and instead repeats the armor table; second printing (1984?) corrects this though. Otherwise the content is mostly the same. The publisher did change British spellings to those customary in the US, and made some revisions to the explanation of money conversions which I understand introduces some inconsistency because the editor didn’t understand the references to modern British coinage. From what I can tell, at some point Henry Holt & Co. must have been involved in the distribution, as used booksellers often list them as the publisher.

Cover of the first US (trade) edition

The US trade edition as seen in Waldenbooks, B Dalton, etc.

The “book club edition” also appeared in 1982. It has no ISBN, which is usual for book club editions. It is closer to the size of typical novel, at 300 pages and just 22 cm tall. Like the UK edition it has a dust jacket, and like the trade edition it has an index. There are several internal typos, such as sentences repeated or lines reversed here and there, but as far I as I can tell all printings are complete in terms of the tables. The print is noticeably fainter than that of the other editions, and the paper is rather thin. The dust jacket has the title in a box that takes up comparatively more “real estate” on the cover and Baphomet’s horns are covered by it (intentionally, perhaps, to downplay the image’s satanism in a time of Satanic panic?). Many popular magazines carried Sci Fi Book Club ads, and a thumbnail of the cover featured prominently for a while in the two-page spreads next to familiar fantasy, horror, and science fiction novels.

Cover of the Sci Fi Book club edition

The Science Fiction Book Club edition

When FW is offered for sale, the sellers may not be especially careful about which edition is on offer, at least between the US editions. It will be worth your while to ask for the page count or a photo as the speediest identifier. Otherwise note whether a dust jacket is mentioned, which points to the UK or book club edition, and the presence of “Highest level of all” either as part of the title or in the description will tell you it’s a US edition. Note also that booksellers may use the 13-digit ISBN, which technically would not appear on any printing as 13 digits were only adopted in the 21st century. But the US ISBN-13 is 9780812828627 and the UK ISBN-13 is 9780850594652. Most frustratingly, the ISBN may be on listings for the book club edition, perhaps because the seller can’t find an ISBN on it but sees the trade ISBN in some other source. (Here’s where I could write more about the dismal practices of used booksellers but that’s depressing.)

Prices vary widely. Right now the US editions can be had for under $10 but you can pay much more if you want. The UK edition is scarcer, at least in the US, but can be had for under $30 at the time of this writing. [These prices are based on a quick search at Bookfinder, an aggregator of Amazon, eBay, and various larger used book dealers. Depending on how saturated the market is, these prices can easily double or triple, at least temporarily.]

In my opinion the trade edition is nice to have as it uses larger print and some tables are more readable, but the UK edition has the most careful layout of the three.

Published in: on October 25, 2022 at 6:00 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags:

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://mikemonaco.wordpress.com/2022/10/25/the-buyers-guide-to-fantasy-wargaming/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I have several copies of the U.S. trade edition and a much smaller hand size version. Used them for years but haven’t played now for almost two decades. I like the idea of individual character role playing that could also ramp up to mass combat and historical battles. All within the same set of rules.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Wayne's Books

Game Gallery ~ Photo Blog

Ann's Immaterium

Mostly physical culture but also writing, gaming, and other dark procrastinations

Skarloc´s

Collecting, modelling, painting and wargaming in 28mm

Dragons Never Forget

What were we talking about again?

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Tabletop games and adventures

Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Hey Did You Know I Write Books

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

POWER WORD KILL

Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

booksandopinions.com

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

hosercanadian

Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.

Cirsova

Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Dagger and Brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides

Fractalbat

A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

tenfootpole.org

I bought these adventure and review them so you don't have to.

9th Key Press

Maps, supplements, and inspiration for roleplaying games.

The Rambling Roleplayer Archives

This site is no longer being updated. Check out the new site at www.rpgrambler.com

The History Blog

History fetish? What history fetish?

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

Yesterweird

A catch all of books, games, and sundry other interests

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

%d bloggers like this: