Initial impressions are a delightful ramble through a fellow gamer's head... starting with a muse from Robert Hemminger about the start of his gaming obsession (somewhere about the same time I began role-playing), and moving on to talking about the history of the micro-game concept beginning with things like Ogre and Melee (oddly enough I picked said games up in the past week, the originals having long vanished!).
Next is what's promised to be the first 'Map of the Month' - a fine tower just waiting for a wizard to move in. Unfortunately, while it looks good the 'map' is just a cut-away sketch, if you need an actual floorplan of the place you will have to make it for yourself. This is followed by a comic strip called 'Junkyard Wars' - not quite sure what that's all about.
Things look up a bit then with the opening of a story which it is intended will be serialised in future issues of this magazine. The Coral Thrown is a fantasy novel, and while it is a bit reminiscent of work done in a creative writing class, it has sufficient appeal that I'd like to know what happens next. No author is credited, alas.
Next, continuing the theme of a collection of material about games of all sorts, comes a battle report from an S&G miniatures skirmish. A well-detailed one, following the action play-by-play, lacking in analysis but describing what transpired clearly.
Sometimes it's a bit unclear what is article and what is advertisement - the next page explains how PaperMakeiT's onscreen map generation program works, but I think it's a ad from them rather than an article about them. You see, next comes some equally detailed explanations of a new character card for Battle Axe, the Avalon Game Company's table top skirmish game, but the main clue that this is an article rather than an advertisement is by checking who publishes this journal!
Next comes a piece about another Avalon Game Company product, the Arcana Fantasy RPG World... which would be easier to follow if not written in white on a very pale background. Even my usual trick with a spot of inverse video doesn't get further than eye-strain, an improvement on illegible but not by much. Pity, it seems to be a nice cavern system to explore... This is followed (in black type on a darker background of course) by a good review of a miniatures skirmish game from Wyrd Miniatures, best known for making miniatures but making a successful foray into game design, and an article about podcasts in true pulp style from the Canadian group Decoder Ring Theatre - quality productions with good voice talent and scripts.
Next is a rundown on new and forthcoming product from Avalon Game Company, chiefly the Arcana Fantasy World and a new minigame - monster steam-powered 'land ships' to send out to do battle... sounds fun! There's also some clip art, Orcs for Battle Axe and a couple of rather good-sounding books about fantasy sailing ships. Just in case you are still bored, there's also a solo game Armageddon Hour where you play a mutant-hunter prowling a complex looking for a mutant about to set off a mutation-inducing bomb, with one hour and minimal equipement to get the job done... and more, a board game where aspiring mages set their own victory conditions and attempt to achieve them to win the game.
Ahhh... and now comes what was mysteriously labelled 'Free Section' on the contents page. Bigger and better copies of maps shown earlier - including better pictures of that wizard's tower (although still no floor plan!), the map for the cavern-exploring Arcana adventure, and a Goblin Fetish Maker for Battle Axe complete with several cards for the items he can supply to your troops. The whole thing ends with a comprehensive round-up of Avalon Game Company product lines, which should help you decide which are of interest depending on your gaming tastes.
A (mostly) well-presented and visually appealing mix of personal reflection and company brochure, with enough to hold the interest, several goodies if you already play their games and sufficient to let you decide if you want to play the ones you haven't tried yet. Promising start, keep it up...
[3 of 5 Stars!]