Well, this seems pretty much a staple feature of the amateur press and having avoided it for twenty two issues, I feel not an ounce of guilt in producing it now. Shame I couldn't think of a decent title. The following is pretty one sided I'll admit, because basically unless I enjoy a magazine, I don't buy it. Pretty obvious really. The outcome is that it gets to the point where you run out of nice things to say, but here goes.
Cut & Thrust. Editor - Derek Wilson. Still a very enjoyable read and an excellent source for some up to date news and reviews. One of the few zines, along with TTYF, in which the game reports (except the En Garde & Diplomacy) make interesting reading. My personal preference would be for the content split between reviews and reports to be reversed, but I am just dreaming. I also really enjoy David Watts section, I hope he has forgiven me for my review of Slick in Games International. Worth subscribing to for the hilariously earnest Music Column alone. From Derek Wilson, 6 Caldbeck Drive, Woodley, Reading, RG5 4LA.
E.C.U. Editor - Simon Billenness. I always have enjoyed Simon's writing, from the days of 20 Years On and Flame onwards. I suspect the main reason is that he and I share some tastes (especially in music) and that he is a contemporary of mine whereas most of the other editors mentioned here are fogies, or even crinklies in some cases. Simon hasn't lost his knacks of organising or of going into print on controversial topics and, deliberately or otherwise, it never fails to produce a very active letter column. I like it, the topics and sentiments are generally spot on-ish and Simon still writes well. Another one to sub to through the ISE. Simon Billenness, 630 Victory Blvd, Apt 6F, Staten Island, NY 10301 U.S.A.
The Electric Monk. Editors - Andy Key & Madelaine Smith. A new one on the scene having recently gone independent from the WILT camp. Having enjoyed their WILT columns, I instantly subbed and was not disappointed. Monk is my sort of zine; plenty of chat and reviews on books, games, cons and people and with a very nice, though slightly faded, presentation. The only drawback is the continued coverage of that awful Diplomacy game. The latest issue has the start of a potentially revealing 'discussion' between the rival pro games magazine editors and it should be worth watching - we want all the gory details. The last issue also represents The Monk's 'coming of age' and I predict that it is going to be extremely good in the near future. More book reviews please. Andy Key, 70 William Street, Kingshill, Swindon, SN1 5LE.
Greatest Hits. Editor - Pete Birks. The first postal hobby zine I subscribed to all those years ago and still one of my big favourites. GH is basically a chat zine these days, covering books, food, films, computers, betting (I never understand this) poker and life in general. Pete is very much on song at the moment, though the last issue has a few strange comments, and when this happens just about anything he writes about is rivetting. I have particularly enjoyed the recent letter columns wherein various subscribers, including myself, submitted lists of their favourite modern novels. This in some cases became dangerously close to a parade of individual pseudery but it is a testament to GH's quality that this was neatly avoided. The letter column remains one of the best going mainly because Pete will always offer a firm view on any subject and is nearly always 'right', even if he knows absolutely nothing about the subject. For various reasons, GH is now appearing very regularly and is better for that fact. Unbeatable and an essential read. Pete Birks, 38 Highlands Court, Highland Road, London SE19 1DS.
Home of the Brave. Editor - Geoff Challinger. Newsletter of the Gaming Fundamentalist Front. Despite reports to the contrary, this one went very quiet but never quite folded. I have been one of the privileged few who have stuck with it through Geoff's thin phase and who are now starting to see sparks of activity. There was even a letter 'column' last time. I have always enjoyed Geoff's work and he has the knack of writing an editorial and thoroughly covering most of the angles before concluding within a page. I usually seem to conk out after a paragraph. Very low key and plenty of excellent baby chat but still running Diplomacy. What we get now is very good, and if it should expand, the more the better. By far the best cover header in the business. Geoff Challinger, 42 Mulberry Close, Hawthorne Park, Notts NG2 7SS.
Hopscotch. Editor - Alan Parr. Considering that some years ago Alan 'cut back' on Hopscotch, I hate to think what would be dropping through the letterbox these days if he hadn't. The trouble is, with the photo-reduction, Hopscotch looks quite small but when you count the pages there are always at least 12 sides of A4. This is going some when you consider it includes a six division United game. Alan is someone who very obviously enjoys life, his hobby and everything that he does and this certainly comes over in his writing. I have also found him extremely generous in sending books, articles or whatever to interested readers, especially me. It is hard to imagine Alan being flustered about anything, and having met him recently I can see that this assumption is probably correct. Hopscotch has surprisingly up to date news, is well written, superbly paced and Alan has a great knack of conveying enthusiasm for a news item or a game within just one sentence. An excellent, underrated zine and my only complaint is that it isn't bigger and that it doesn't appear often enough. Alan Parr, 6 Longfield Gdns, Tring, Herts HP23 4DN.
Major League. Editors - Mike Clifford & Roger Seaman. Amazingly, this frequent newsletter is already up to issue 16. I say amazingly because it doesn't seem so long ago that this excellent little publication appeared from almost nowhere and to say it has filled a gap (partially left by Punt & Pass) is an understatement. I now look forward to receiving it every month as it is a godsend for the sports gamer. Major League is very well composed and has articles, reviews, news, league reports, and, recently, a lively forum section which is actively debating the future of the hobby. The main plus point is that Mike and his contacts are shrewd cookies who are actually making some progress for the hobby. The first major result should be a national sports game convention early this year and to get that sort of thing going takes no little effort as Ellis will attest. If Mike (and Ellis) don't mind me saying, Major League is the perfect complement to Sensation and is essential reading. Available for an SAE from Mike Clifford, 48 Maberley Road, Upper Norwood, London SE19 2JA.
North Shore Game Club Newsletter. Edited by the insufferably excellent Alan Moon who gets more name checks in Inside Pitch than I do. This is THE newsletter for news and reviews of the latest games (including European ones) and inside info on game companies, cons, clubs and personalities. The text is witty, informed and occasionally accurate. Because Alan is an inveterate game collector, the newsletter is also ideal for those like-minded loonies amongst us. I like it. The food lists are worth the sub alone, so subscribe now via the ISE to Alan Rudolph Moon, 11 Broadway, Apt £1, Beverly, MA 01915 U.S.A.
Perfidious Albion. Editor - Charles Vasey. Still the doyen of all the boardgame magazines I see and one that has given me more enjoyment (and decent phrases; 'Kiss my Anorak' is notable) than any other. Once famous for his MilMod column (now ghost written by a Spectrum AI program), Charles writes unmatched reviews backed by an in-depth knowledge of history and a fine eye for a turkey. Even if I don't agree with the conclusions all the time, PA is still essential reading for the boardgamer who wants that little bit more from a game. Charles is an incurable ligger and a tad abrasive, but he puts on such a fine show of decency during our frequent trips to El Vinos, you just can't fault the man. P.A.? Could do better, too enthusiastic by half. More analysis Vasey. Available from Charles H. Vasey, 75 Richmond Park Road, East Sheen, London SW14 8JY.
Replay Report. Editor - Terry Goodchild. An excellent though very specialised publication for fans of Terry's range of Lambourne sports games. It includes updates and news on the range and Terry seems to have a good knack for encouraging writers. I suppose if you buy and enjoy the games you will get this anyway and it probably has limited appeal otherwise. Either way, a valuable forum for some of the best independent sports replay games around. An SAE will bring a sample copy from Lambourne Games, 8 Waters Avenue, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 8BJ.
Sensation! Editor - Ellis Simpson. Runs only football games. Once quite a passable zine but Sensation has been a bit thin of late and Ellis and his crew need to put in more effort if the zine is to avoid relegation from the Zine Poll Premier Division. Ellis' main problem is that he is largely intolerant of other people's views and does little to encourage involvement in the zine or the hobby. After Mike Saul's neo- fascist column and the spoof music column that appeared a couple of months back, the worst part is the egoboost section written by Mike 'Sumo' Siggins. Ellis Simpson, 95 Ormonde Crescent, Netherlee, Glasgow G44 3SW. Scottish money only.
Take That You Fiend. Editors - John Harrington and Kevin Warne. Still churning out issues like the world depended on it, this is easily the most witty and humorous zine I see and it still runs lots of games that you won't find elsewhere. I am still not really sure how they motivate themselves to do it every five weeks, but John and Kevin between them never fail to produce a brilliant issue, especially in the editorial and reviews departments. Even the games make for good reading and my personal favourite is Steve Duke's Flatten that Mutha which surely has the best game reports of any postal game. The latest issue has a superb piece on the tendency for zines to produce lists (exactly like this one) as spacefillers, an excellent quiz and the infamous TTYF Review of the Year. Woefully tacky and really funny. Not much more can be said really, except try a subscription to John Harrington, 30 Poynter Road, Bush Hill Park, Enfield, Middx EN1 1DL.
Mike Siggins. 16/2/89.
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