The Last Province is a new RPG magazine which with RPI below represents the first two of three announced launches this Autumn, with the other one yet to appear. Why do I bother mentioning them all? Because I am interested to see if they survive, what the standards of writing and design are and also to try and establish whether there is just more enthusiasm in RPGs to get these ventures going or if there really is a market large enough to sustain them. The Last Province isn't at all bad. A bit Interzone-ish in layout, meaning bland yet professional with lots of classy artwork, the writing is well above the norm for this market and they seem to be targeting the adult player. Minimal rubber sword coverage, high on clever ideas and advancement of the hobby without 'RPG as Zen Artform' overtones. Actually, very good indeed.
Role Player Independent Snappy title. I think a lot of the GMI or Gamesman crew have ended up here, along with a Jonathon Turner - the same one as GI, we wonder? The result is a packed magazine with some reasonable reviews and some pretty basic layout mistakes, but I'm sure they'll improve. Certainly not up to TLP in writing quality, it could well score over its rival with its very striking cover design (er, just got TLP 2: scrub that). At £1.75, like TLP, they are excellent value for the pagecount. You'll find both of these in your local gameshop.
Win No 127 - Special Edition Win is the most frequent games review magazine anywhere but sadly, for us non-linguists, is written in German. However, I can see the appeal of this new departure for the prolific Ferdinand and Dagmar de Cassan. The idea was to provide a professionally printed set of reviews on games that would suit the family gamer or perhaps the relaxing adult gamer. Launched at Essen, it seemed to be going down very well. When I quizzed Dagmar (as the one who does all the hard work) on why there were no negative reviews, she responded that the idea was to get people playing new games and enjoying them, so why bother mentioning bad games? Fair comment. Out of interest, the games were: Um Reifenbreite, Das Spiel Buch, Schweinsgalopp (available over here as Pig's Trotters - an excellent children's game), Die Verbotene Stadt, Donnerwetter, Entenrallye, Gold Connection, Palermo, Quo Vadis, Razzia, Schraumeln, Tabu, Tal der Koenige, INvers, Herr se Schwertes, Turf (aka WP&S), Corsaro, Geisterschiff, PC Logomax, Flying Dutchman, Die Liebkoeche seiner Majestaet, Papua and Avanti Spaghetti!
Spielzeit Essen was punctuated (a small comma, since you ask) by the news that the major German review magazine Spielbox is to fold despite a subscribership numbering between 7,000 and 9,000. My personal reaction to this was give me 5,000 subbers and I'll make big money, let alone 9,000. However, Spielbox seemingly ran as a mass market magazine with staff, salaries and all the associated gubbins. As Mr Walker will ruefully tell you, it doesn't always work out that way. Following the collapse, there is likely to be a flurry of old and new magazines eager to fill the vacuum. The charge will be lead by the excellent Fairplay, which from next issue will feature regular translations of the 'best' of Sumo, and Die Poppel Revue, but others will be there as well. The first new contender is Spielzeit, and it is an impressive start. Chock full of reviews, articles and showing a striking turn of DTP, it is promising to say the least. Perhaps lacking a house style as yet, I have no other adverse comments on this one.
Zone of Control Not one but two new UK board wargaming magazines in the space of a year may be a little hard to believe, but here is the second, launched by Grayde Bowen. With Perfidious Albion thankfully back on the streets, they'll be fighting for market share next. We now have one magazine representing each of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales; Andy Daglish tells me of Tactique (covering ASL) from France, which gives us the Five Nations. Warbling again Siggins. ZoC is a small magazine at the moment, but shows signs of strong and interesting opinions, some well structured, lengthy reviews (at last) and a penchant for 6mm figure gaming. Suits me. Above all it was enthusiastic, made me want to play the games and is definitely worthy of your support. I'd recommend a sub (or an SAE, it may still be free) to this new magazine asap, as it represents the better of the new boys.
World Game Review I have now received the complete set of back issues of this magazine and can confirm my initial thoughts. It is indeed very interesting and is full of unusual game systems, reviews of all sorts of games, articles by well known game experts and more abstract games than I would have imagined existed. There is a pronounced slant towards two player abstracts and puzzles, and as such it must represent the ideal complement to Sumo given my weakness in these areas. Highly recommended.
WIN, Ferdinand de Cassan, RaasdorferStrasse 28-30, A 2285
ZOC, Grayde Bowen, Post Office, LLanfaethlu, Holyhead, Gwynedd. LL65 4NH.
WGR, Michael Keller, 3367-I North Chatham Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042, USA
The Greatest Games of All Time (John Wiley, about £7) This is a recent book by Matthew Costello, an American journalist, that aims to set out and rate the very best games ever. As with all these books, the criteria and the final choice are debatable, but this is really not a book of lists, more a browse through various categories of games that Mr Costello has found interesting over the years. We are therefore treated to not only board games such as Triv and Monopoly but also sections on computer games, chess and Nintendos. In each chapter, which reads more like a short piece for a newspaper, there is a run down on game mechanics, a few anecdotes and some personal views. Overall, it is rather disappointing, not because it doesn't specialise, but because no real conclusions are drawn and the book lacks conviction. It feels very much like a 'what can I do my next book on' project and even his undoubted enthusiasm for games of all types doesn't drag the product above average. One for completists only.
Surrealist Games (Bedfont Press, £14.95) is not one you should even think about buying. Fish. Fish. Fish. Really just a little book full of very weird snippets and not relating to games as we know them. Definitely one for the Dali fans out there and likely to gravely disappoint any gamer on Christmas morning. In the words of the advert; I didn't buy it. I just browsed at Just Games, meeting place for the Bohemian set.
On to cc Office Of Fair Trading or back to the review of Nippon Rails.
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