Merchant Of Venus. Was I wrong about this game? I found it far too fiddly, but seem to be in a minority. I intend to re-test this with Senor Sigfuentes, and will report in due course.
Guerilla seems to get better with each playing. Normally, this would be attributable to the assimilation of the card possibilities (whatever that means). In my case, you can lose with honour. Incidentally, doesn't ``Guerrilla'' have two ``rs''?
Phantoms Of The Ice is a terrific game with one problem. In a three-team league, and with one player streets ahead, the final match could be delayed interminably by trading ad infinitum. Alan?
Maharaja. Okay with three players, but turgid with more. I'm not sure that the Britannia crowd will bother. Incidentally, doesn't ``Maharajah'' end with an ``h''?
Rette Sich Wer Kann. Although the initial impetus has died, this is still a great ``closer'', particularly if there is someone you would like to eject permanently from your games group!
Mike Oakes -- Re Speculate. The memory does play tricks. I had been praising Totopoly to the hilt for some months, and when we actually got down to a session, it seemed to last a lifetime. If you're looking for a decent trading game, try the underrated Flutter (Spears), which is excellent. Speculate's narrow financial band is far too restricting.
Falsche Fuffziger. I acknowledge the positive noises, and intend to invest in a copy ASAP.
Stuart Dagger and I have been corresponding about the shaky subject of ``cliques''. My attitude to Sumo is that is a largish club in which we are all members. And, like any club, there will be those more active than others. When I mention specific names in this column, it is purely because they have become a focal point, whether it be as designers, critics, frequent correspondents, etc. If you wish be insulted on a regular basis, then PLEASE air your views.
Richard Breese has reviewed the UK Toy And Hobby Fair elsewhere in this issue. Personally, I was very disappointed. Apart from the tried and trusted Gibsons Games, whose line of sports games looked interesting, I found nothing inspiring. ``Death Row'' was populated by the same old glossy Monopoly variants, none of which have a hope of hell of cracking the big time. I noted with interest Steve Jackson's comments in his regular Daily Telegraph column a few weeks ago when he observed that most large games companies are no longer interested in unsolicited material. These should now be filtered through agencies which will attest to the potential future of any game, without unneccessary expenditure. If only those participants at Olympia had read that first.
May I sign off with a plea? The latest update ('94) for that classic cycling game The Tour is now available for the ridiculous price of £3.95 (including p&p). Write to Mike Clifford, 48 Maberley Road, London SE19 2JA. Is there any better value on the games' market?
SWD: To save you all scurrying to the dictionary: The Shorter Oxford gives both spellings for Guerrilla/Guerilla and Maharajah/Maharaja, though like Mike it prefers the first in both cases. The story behind Mike's comments on cliques is that, conscious of the fact that a couple of years back the yokozuna was having to use his editorial to defend Sumo against (unfair) charges of cliquishness, I have been ultra cautious on the matter. So ultra cautious in fact that last issue I spiked half of young Clifford's column on Essen, an act that provoked a phone call from Highly Amused of Buckhurst Hill. ``Boy, are you in trouble!'', he said. ``Nobody edits Clifford and lives.'' ``No, it is OK'', I replied. ``I'll soon put the old buzzard's feathers back in place. He is a softy at heart.'' At least, I think it was `buzzard' that I called him. Must have been: he wouldn't have had feathers otherwise. Mike's vision of Sumo is exactly the same as mine, and the boss's, Sumo itself is a club. If you read it, you are a member; if you contribute in any way to what appears in its pages, you are on the cast list.
Olympia sounds as though it was a depressing place for a gamer to be. Richard thought so, both Mikes thought so and, after reading the account in Games and Puzzles, I thought so too. All of which makes it pretty odd that that publication ended its article with the words ``The overall impression from Olympia was that British games inventing is in a healthy state''. I have deliberately avoided commenting on G&P so far in Sumo, because I didn't want to embarrass Mike and because I want the magazine to succeed. However, if that is really what Paul Lamford (the editor and publisher of G&P) thinks, he is obviously not operating from the same page as the rest of us. In which case, I am left wondering whether I care if the magazine succeeds or not.