Wow. That was our biggest gap yet and my apologies for it.
Since we last spoke I've shipped yet another (and, for me, the final) release of ClickWise, an Internet ad management package. It was a huge effort for everyone but it took its toll on my energy and enthusiasm, I'm afraid. The company, now styling itself as AdKnowledge, has grown to the relatively enormous size of fifty employees and moved shop, once again.
The company, the product, and my enthusiasm for both reached the point where it was time for me to move on and I am in the process of doing so. No hurries, though. I have several projects underway and am definitely in need of a good long rest. Folks can expect to see me popping up at game gatherings much more frequently over the next few months. Don't be shy - roll up and say "Hi!" but don't be offended if I can't place your name. One of the oddest effects of the stress over the last year has been a worsening of my already spotty memory.
But enough about me, there's big doins afoot!
The biggest gaming news this month is, I think, the merger of Games Games Games (G3) and Sumo, the two largest of the English board gaming magazines. The merger is part of the formation of a new publicly traded company which will both publish G3 and operate Chart Hobby Distributors, an existing UK games distributor which the new company has acquired. The new enterprise will control a magazine with almost 1,000 subscribers and a major distributor capable of servicing both the UK and, no doubt, American appetite for European games. That sounds like quite a powerful combination.
The upshot is that Sumo has ceased publication as of February's number 44. It feels like I should be spouting on about how Mike Siggins is a wonderful human being and emphasizing all that he has done for our hobby and just how integral he has been to the introduction of German games into the English speaking world. But he's still going to be doing all that. G3 will feature at least eight pages of Siggins each month, including the world famous letters column. And the Cabinet will continue to feature Mike's writing. In fact, just about every English langauge games magazine on the face of the planet will continue to feature Mike's writing (excepting the Games Gazette, of course, and one other but I'll come to that).
The only real downside here is that we will be losing Mike Siggins as an editor and he has done a truly wonderful job of that over the last 10 years. Keeping that unruly lot of Brits together for that long was an amazing challenge and Mike carried it off with panache. It will be a difficult act to follow but one man who has already walked a mile in Mike's shoes, and two others who have never been accused of going barefoot (but have been accused of most everything else, betwixt the two of them), intend to try.
Mike Clifford, Stuart Dagger, and Alan How have decided to launch a new board gaming magazine, Counter. Mike Clifford is a historian of rock music, maker of deals, and irrepressable wit. Stuart Dagger is the worthy gentleman who stepped in to edit Sumo during Mike's year long sabbatical from that task and is expert in matters pertaining to rail games and a fan of abstract games. Alan How is an uncontrollable collector of games, an enthusiastic player, and an expert on all things exotic and obscure. Counter will certainly be a magazine to watch.
And please don't forget Britain's other fine board gaming publication, the Games Gazette. Editted, published, and largely written by Chris Baylis, the Gazette covers the full gamut of the gaming world: RPGs, computer games, board games, cards, and wargames all take their turn. The magazine is a very stream of consciousness affair with articles varying in length from a few sentences to a several pages. Despite his differences with Mr Siggins in the past, Mr Baylis gave Sumo a very fine salute as it slipped out to the seas of history. Very nicely done, Chris.
Thanks to that very definition of a bad influence, Ron Clement, my long dormant fascination with miniature figures has reared its ugly head, once again. I'm particularly enamoured of fighting sail, and always have been. Everything about the period and life are fascinating. But I'm also intrigued by De Bellis Antiquatis (DBA), a relatively simple and abstract (say it! say it!) wargame (ah, now doesn't that feel better?). I'm clearly arriving late to the DBA party but the form and structure of the game appeal. The ancient setting also, as illogical as this may be, removes many of my qualms about the subject matter. Although, a more recent and equally violently themed game, Aerodrome, has also caught my fancy. You can read all about these new turns of events in my review of the recent Celebrate History show/convention that took place near San Francisco in February.
I'm toying with offering a cash prize for the best game designed to use miniatures whose theme is neither war nor combat. I'm aware of at least one such game involving mastadon hunting that sounds like good fun. I'll be checking it out while I'm in York (fair warning to the lads at Irregular Miniatures!). Minus points would be awarded for overdone themes such as automobile racing. The real challenge here seems to be inspiring the right level of excitement while leaving the modelers and sculptors enough latitude to do their stuff. In any case, check out the next issue of the Cabinet for more info on the contest and the prizes.
Strangely enough, even though I'm not working at an official job, I've still been kept far too busy. Which is a depressing state of affairs as I think it strongly implies that the problem is endemic. In any case, look for more of this issue to arrive over the next few weeks. I have a truckload of rules translations, several new Domino games from Joe Celko, a list of reviews to write myself as long as my arm, and I haven't even started going on about the Nuremberg releases. But a short word on that last topic.
Given the scuttlebutt and my own itchy nose I think the top four hot picks are Städt & Ritter (the new Settlers expansion) by Klaus Teuber, Durch die Wüste (Through the Desert) by Reiner Knizia, Elfenland (aka Elfenroads 2) by Alan R Moon, and Tonga Bonga by Stefan Dorra. I also suspect that one of the last three will win the German Game of the Year award. Ursuppe and Euphrat & Tigris are both strong candidates, as well, but may be a bit too gamerly to win. Anywho, just my two cents.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell