Following on from my list of amateur magazines last time, I thought I would round it off with a summary of some of the professional magazines I see.
I have to thank Ron Stewart and Ellis for introducing me to this excellent magazine. If I were editing it myself I doubt there would be a better mix of articles. The text is informed and well written and seems to offer a new angle on subjects that, in Baseball Digest, were always turgid and dry spacefillers. Coverage of baseball games and software rounds it out. The latest issue has an excellent in depth season preview and surprised as I am, I think it rates as good or better than Street & Smiths which is my usual guide. Highly recommended.
Virtually worthless these days but useful for ads, new magazines and UK baseball news and fixtures. The writing is still as poor as when it first appeared and the entire production lacks any merit. A journal of record and a poor one at that.
The best of the cycling magazines and essential if, like me, you are into those colour pictures of the European races. The writing here is top notch and the photography is to match. This and the Miroir du Cyclisme are the ultimate photographic sources. If you are going to be a poseur, you may as well do it in style.
This fine little magazine still isn't available over here which I find surprising given its increased coverage of the ST, Amiga and IBM PC. The subject matter is purely strategy, adventure and sports games - arcade games are completely ignored. Each issue concentrates on a specific area and the sports and wargames issues always make for good reading. As it is an American publication the games featured always amount to advance previews as they don't appear here in the UK for some time. Despite the excellent news coverage of games, the writing leaves a lot to be desired and is rarely critical. The latter really needs to be rectified to bring it up to top notch.
Having finally relegated Personal Computer World to occasional purchase status, Byte now becomes my only contact with the general microcomputing marketplace. While the useful contents usually amount to just a small percentage of the 300 odd pages, those pages are among the best going. Best column of all is Jerry Pournelle's who, dodgy politics aside, ranks right up there in having the best grasp of the user's requirements together with Guy Kewney and the excellent Michael Bywater. Essential reading.
Possibly losing its way slightly after a brilliant first two years. The photography and writing remain as sharp as ever but the topics, always 'green' in content, have become commonplace thanks to the growing awareness movement in the general media. The magazine needs to move on to new subjects and provide new slants on the ones that appear almost daily in the newspapers. It must be quite galling to have been churning out relevant material for all that time only to find that it is the flavour of the month and and get swept away in the rush. However, still a fine magazine and with the addition of the freebie Environment Now represents very good value.
Having once been termed the 'Yuppie's Bible', by no less a person than Janet Street-Porter, is a stigma of some consequence. But despite our Janet's trendy ranting, this is a magazine that, together with the Economist and the FT, I regard as an essential read. I happen to have one of those jobs that requires awareness of not only the financial markets but also a fair amount of background detail which Business provides admirably. Regardless of my job, I like to think I'd read it anyway. Business provides exactly the right balance of serious analysis, general articles (especially the excellent city guides) and light-hearted topics. It represents journalism of the highest calibre.
A consistently excellent magazine that continues to provide in-depth coverage for the Avalon Hill line of games. The production values are first class and under the editorship of Rex Martin it has begun to expand its horizons. Whatever you think about the company's current direction, it is the only one to provide ongoing support and enthusiasm for its older games as well as the very latest releases. The latest issue available is the 25th Anniversary special and contains an excellent section of comments from a distinguished list of former and current contributors. In my view, best of all these was that by Jim Dunnigan who has always been aware of the current game market and has enough savvy to see what's coming. Even Rex Martin shows he is at least a part-time mensch. A model magazine tainted only by the occasional one-sided political article.
This magazine has gone through so many owners, editors and quality changes that I have all but lost track of it. However, I do now have almost a full set and, dodgy middle period aside, in retrospect it must be considered an important magazine in the history of the hobby. The most recent incarnation is showing signs of improving and the latest two issues have been quite acceptable apart from the grotty paper. It is a good source for news and should at least be frequent from now on. Probably worth getting on balance and it can only get better.
Already up to issue ten, it has never really got up to the standard of Moves, its historical predecessor and presumably its role model. My personal view is that I will buy it for the news, forthcoming games notes, reviews, SL scenarios and the articles (and the errata!) but I rarely get any mileage out of the variants and extra scenarios. Most of the time I haven't even got round to playing the main game more than once, if that, let alone variants for them. This is why I find the level of variant coverage in GI useful and about right, but do not bother with Battleplan. Either way, it is a quality effort and is worth your time and money.
It's difficult to review a magazine that has appeared twice in the last nine months but when it does appear I enjoy reading it and in many ways, excepting the General, it is the best pro boardgaming magazine going. More issues please.
Well, what can I say? It is tough to say much about a magazine that I am actively involved with so I will simply say, impartially, that it is the best of the two. It is also, I think, performing an important role in increasing awareness of the more unusual games and acting as a central reference for the somewhat fragmented hobby. Where it may be on thin ice is attempting to cover all types of games under one cover, but given the handling of the 'niche' RPG section by Paul Mason, even this seems to be under control. Paul was always good at being a 'crossover' person who was, and is, at least willing to talk to non- roleplayers. My view has always been that, as with figure gaming, there is a lot to gain from the rules and concepts of the other groups. Jeez, I was even tempted to part with cash for Ars Magica after Paul's review. The other area to watch in my view is the reviewing of games that aren't easily available. This is fine for the likes of me who will search them out but others may give up more easily. Apart from the gratuitous insults about yours truly, the classic pomposity of the style sheet and the diabolical French in the last issue ('J'propose l'menu Americain' - I ask you, it's not even grammatically correct), I have to strongly recommend a subscription.
Err, the other one. Again, remaining impartial, it is the worst of the two but is getting better very gradually and it does come out more frequently (now up to issue seven). There seems to be a reluctance to slam a bad game even if it deserves it which does smack of keeping the advertiser's happy, something of which you cannot accuse GI. The paper is pretty poor, the print quality is not best and overall there is the problem of them having very few good regular writers. Oh, and that forced humour is reprehensibly tacky. Keep at it lads, we need the inspiration.
I have to admit that I only buy this for the pictures and the ads. That's it really. The text is 80% dire and concerns ever more obscure subjects - I only read the pieces by the Wargames Developments boys and the general design/philosophy articles. Lovely pictures though and they are a lot easier to look at than to make the effort of doing my own figures. Cheaper too.
Mike Siggins. 30/4/1989.
Sumo - Mike Siggins - Legal Notices and Other Information