Apart from the change of cover format on Slingshot 258, you'll notice something perhaps more controversial, which is that it has a 28mm miniature on the cover (kindly provided by Warlord games, so even more controversially, it's a plastic miniature). Are we going down the Wargames Illustrated route?
At the point I took over Slingshot, there were relatively few of the trademark pen-and-ink illustrations available for cover duty. In fact, by "relatively few", I mean none. The cover of 256, Nik's last issue, is actually a re-use of a previous illustration. For 257, we attempted to process a relatively low resolution picture from the Ermine Street Guard (a British group of Roman army re-enactors) to make it work for black and white, which I think worked reasonably well, but isn't ideal.
258 gave us a further issue, because the potential quality of picture is very good - the covers are (or should be) photo quality, and protected with laminate. And, as the first colour picture, we wanted to make a splash. I looked through the stock of illustrations we have, which were apposite to the material. I have some pictures of museum artefacts which work in colour, but none that matched the content in the magazine. I've been promised some more re-enactor photographs, but none arrived in time. We did have some miniature photos which were very good indeed. The one which most fit the cover format was the Warlord picture, and the Warlord miniatures are reviewed in the magazine. Having been through the exercise, it makes sense as to why Wargames Illustrated, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, etc, use miniature shots on their covers - the artistic focus in the wargames hobby is primarily on painting figures, not drawing illustrations.
This isn't an apology for using miniatures on the covers; I intend to use them again moving forward. But to reflect the magazine's range of content, covering both pure historical articles as well as gaming, I plan to rotate the covers between historical and museum material, re-enactment shots and pictures of figures (and for that matter illustrations if they're good enough). The design is intended to allow use of "un-colourful" content such as marble statues - the background colour for the cover will also be rotated so hopefully that compensates for the sometimes reduced colour in the cover shot.
I'm including here a draft cover which I'm unlikely to use. The picture is of a statue of Augustus, and the photo was taken by me in the Berlin Pergamon Museum, on a recent visit (more shots shortly to be available in the website gallery, when I finish setting it up). Anyway, it shows the intent for the other types of cover we may use going forward.