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October 24, 2009

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Mission From God Issue 24

The directory of magazines that run games by post

Flagship

Flagship, 14 The Hollows, Exmouth, Devon EX8 1QT (Tel: 44 (0) 1395 276632)

E-mail: editor@flagshipmagazine.com

www.flagshipmagazine.com

Issue 101, A4 magazine, litho with full colour cover, 56 pages, bimonthly, 3.95 inc. postage. Send a large SAE for a free back-issue of the zine.

Runs: Occasional demonstration pro-PBM games
Waiting Lists: Nothing

This is the only publication that caters for the entire PBM community. It has expanded its coverage of zine games, and now has a regular column, written by one of the most respected figures in the zine hobby (He means me! - JH), dedicated to zine PBMs. It also has other fine articles and reviews, and is well worth looking at if you are interested in the wider hobby.

(Allan Stagg, December 2002)

Has always been thought of as an organ only of interest to those who play "pay per turn" Play By Mail games, despite the best efforts of the editor to get the zine-based hobby on board. Recently there have been signs of colonisation within its pages by zine-based PBM luminaries such as, er .... me, Paul Evans and Allan Stagg. This has coincided with a branching out of the magazine’s coverage to include table-top games (you know, what we would call board games) and pencil & paper role-play games. Whether this is because the market for PBM is dwindling and they therefore need to conquer new areas of the gaming market, or whether it is simply a case of filling the void left by the apparent demise of Games Games Games, I don’t know.

What I can say (and you’ll have to bear in mind that I write for the mag and am so I am hardly disinterested) is that the zine is an excellent read. The standard of writing is generally equal to that of most news-stand magazines but with the added advantage of there being a genuine sense of community among its readers. Although I don’t play any "pay per turn" style PBM games I do find the reviews and discussions of the games fascinating, but then I am the sort of person who enjoys reading reviews of computer games I will probably never play.

(John Harrington, November 2002)


Flights of Fancy aka FoF

Philip Honeybone, 28 St. Michael's Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7HG

E-mail: phil@melly98.freeserve.co.uk

Issue 75, A5 booklet, 5-6 weekly, 28 pages, 60p including postage

Runs: Adel Verpflichtet (2), Bakschisch, Breaking Away, Civilization, Dungeonquest, Golden Strider, Guillotine (2), Hare & Tortoise, Lift Off, Maneater, Mystic Wood, Railway Rivals (10), Scrabble, Steeplechase, Talisman, Trawling, Triple Threat, Wizard’s Quest
Waiting Lists: Acquire, Carcassone, Diplomacy, Eat Me, Golden Strider, Hare & Tortoise, Necromancer (Diplomacy variant), Railway Rivals, Sopwith

I can only describe this as the best zine I get that I'm not actually playing in. Dunno why I haven’t got involved with any games yet, because there's loads of great stuff in there. He's given the PBM treatment to loads of board and card games that you don't see elsewhere (Guillotine, Dungeonquest, etc.). Sometimes it looks like it's been screen-printed through a pair of old pants and the font is Illegible Sans Serif, but it's a full Christmas stocking of treats, with 2 cracking subzines to boot. Very interesting.

(Howard Bishop, November 2002)

Recent acquisitions have expanded the zine, yet it still seems like a cozy little place to play games. Philip runs an efficient zine, which usually seems to turn up on time, with a bit of chat and, nowadays, quite a lot of games. The editorial tends to be in a font that’s hard to read when reduced, and some of the games I’ve never heard of, but it’s pretty good, really.

(John Marsden, November 2002)

Philip Honeybone's zine is a small and friendly zine which runs a number of interesting games. The presentation is sometimes questionable, as Philip persists in using a different font for each game, with varying degrees of legibility. Another feature of the zine is the front cover photo, which, depending on the quality of the printing (and the amount of dark to light in the photo) can have the clarity of a Rorschach ink-blot. But the zine's strength lies in its games and its readership. Subzines have been added recently, which may help to round out the zine.

(Allan Stagg, December 2002)

This neat A5 size zine has recently passed the 75 issue mark, and shows no sign of slowing yet. Philip Honeybone (editor) compiles a zine with many games not found in many of the other zines around, including Guillotine and Robo Rally, just to name two. The cover always carries a photo for a caption competition open to all readers, the prize being a free issue, and the Editorial is always interesting, usually telling of Philip and Jen's exploits on holidays, or at a games con, or of their recent house move. The font Philip uses is not to everyone's taste, and can be a touch difficult to read - especially after a night out with the lads - but after reader comments he's increased the font size a little which does help.

The Letters page is usually well filled, and the games are many and varied, especially as Flight of Fancy currently carries two subzines - 'Meet the Enemy' from Conrad von Metkze, carrying Railway Rivals and 'Elephants Never Forget' from Kevin Lee which contains Talisman, Civilisation and Man-Eater.

Whatever your gaming tastes, there will be a game in Flights of Fancy that you would enjoy, so drop Philip a line (or e-mail) for more information. You won't be sorry you did.

(Bruce Edwards, December 2002)


For Whom The Die Rolls

Keith Thomasson, 14 Stepnells, Marsworth, Nr Tring, Herts. HP23 4NQ

E-mail: keith.thomasson@virgin.net

Issue 90, A5 booklet, monthly, 88 - 96 pages, 1.50 including postage to anywhere

http://www.fwtwr.com

Runs: 18xx (14, Acquire (5), Battle!, Bus Boss (6), Carcassonne, Diplomacy (2), Dungeonquest, Golden Strider, Lancashire Railways, Mainline, McMulti, Mystic Wood (2), New England Railways (2), Outpost (4), Railway Rivals (9), Sopwith (3), Source of the Nile
Waiting Lists: 1830, 1856, 1870, 1899, 6 Nimmt!, Acquire (Standard & special powers), Battle!, Breaking Away, Dungeonquest, Jotto, Lancashire Railways, McMulti, New England Railways, Outpost, Rail Baron, Railway Rivals

The best amateur games zine on the market. No contest. There's a bit of something for everyone here, but the financial and transport games predominate. The cover price is the highest I've seen, but the zine is 90-odd pages long, so it probably barely covers the production costs (let alone the blood, sweat, toil, paper cuts and toner stains). If I was being Mr Quibble, I would say that it's a bit dry, verging on the anhydrous, but I say boo to you Mr Quibble. If you want chat, buy Hello! magazine.

(Howard Bishop, November 2002)

Arguably the mother of all zines — FWTDR is pretty much considered the defacto standard-bearer for the postal gaming hobby and runs a huge variety of postal games to clockwork deadlines. Keith has painstakingly converted most of them to some form of computer moderation to assist him in the smooth running of same, and the polished look and feel of this zine cannot be underestimated — it's slick, tidy, and very very big (regularly 90+ pages every month) and worth every penny.

Somewhat at odds with most other zines, Keith charges a standard game-fee of 1 for each game you start, and this money is used to subsidise the cost of producing/publishing the zine itself. Alas, Keith has probably never put a value on his computer programming feats, and when all is said and done the fact that you get a darn sight more than you pay for remains unquestionable.

This is the best of its kind, and a model for many. As long as you are interested in the games on offer, I don't think you'll find a more efficient place to play them, to be frank.

(Alex Bardy, December 2002)

State of the art zine from Keith Thomasson, running loads of games to a very regular deadline. The zine is not quite so dominated by railway games as it used to be, and has been running some Diplomacy games. Usually two or three games start each issue, which suggests that players are happy to pay the game fee involved. This can be attributed to Keith's efficient service and the quality of the zine.

(Allan Stagg, December 2002)

Monster zine, stuffed full of game reports on a huge variety of games. The sign of success is the length of time games have to wait for space in the zine, after the waiting list has filled. The efficiency and commitment are huge, and for that there can only be praise.

(John Marsden, November 2002)


For Whom The Web Rocks

Keith Thomasson, 14 Stepnells, Marsworth, Nr Tring, Herts. HP23 4NQ

E-mail: keith.thomasson@virgin.net

Web zine, daily updates, 1 a game,

http://www.fwtwr.com

Runs: Acquire (5), Carcassonne (6), Durch die Wuste (2), Euphrat & Tigris (4), Puerto Rico (6), Ra (3), Samurai (3), Sopwith (2), Torres (3)
Waiting Lists: Acquire, Carcassonne, Durch die Wuste, Euphrat & Tigris, Puerto Rico, Ra, Samurai, Sopwith, Torres

The web complement to Keith’s zine, offering a similar range of games but played to swifter deadlines.

(John Harrington, January 2003)


Games Games Games aka G3

E-mail: subscriptions@sfcp.co.uk

http://www.sfcp.co.uk

Missing, presumed dead. Strong rumours at MidCon that it would be reappearing in reduced form under the editorial guidance of Andy Merritt.


Games Gazette

Chris Baylis, 67 Mynchens, Basildon, Essex SS15 5EG

E-mail: gamesgazette@blueyonder.co.uk

Issue 128, A5 booklet, bi-monthly, 48 pages, 12.00 (inc. postage) for six issues

http://gamesgazette.topcities.com/

Last issue Chris wrote me a threatening letter after I wrote of his "determination to use every font in his collection". The threat was that he has a shed-load of fonts in reserve that he has not used yet, and sure enough in the last year he has continued with his policy of using a different font on almost every page, even if the font used in the body text remains much the same. Somehow the melange of fonts works because it is in keeping with the rest of the zine which is a stew of reviews of different styles of games - board games, role-playing games, computer games, table-top miniatures, collectible card games. Sometimes it takes me until the second paragraph to work out whether I am reading about a computer game or table-top game, and this could be easily remedied by Chris putting such information in the review heading, but perhaps this interferes with the stream of consciousness style of the zine.

My other quibble with the zine is the reprint of press releases from the games companies as these generally make boring reading, but the rest of the zine performs the invaluable function of keeping me apprised of developments in gaming areas in which I have only a peripheral interest.

(John Harrington, November 2002)


Gemini

Tony Wilcock, 74a College Road, Colliers Wood, London SW19 2BS

[Season 10, therefore about issue 100], 7 A4 pages, 5 weekly, 6 per season including postage.

Runs: A football game
Waiting Lists: As above

I believe this one is still going. The football campaign has an unusual set of rules and the production method - a typewriter and parchment - is not so much a throw-back as a throw-up, but only a former zine editor would get so high and mighty about such a thing. I am allowed to be snide because Tony Wilcock resigned from my zine 17 years ago after we published a scathing pre-election attack on the Labour party (and a similarly scathing attack on the Tories). Tony does not come across as the card carrying Trotskyite so maybe it was a different Tony Wilcock.

(John Harrington, 1 November 2001)


Geneva

Runs: Diplomacy
Waiting Lists: Nothing

An RSPCA home for stray Diplomacy games. Stuart does a great job by picking up games from folded zines that would otherwise just have ended up like another Latics visit to Selhurst Park, i.e. full of promise, but ultimately empty-handed.

(Howard Bishop, November 2002)

This 'subzine without a zine' is run by Stuart Eves, and currently has one game of Diplomacy, which was rescued from PiMS. If Stuart was interested in running more games and expanding the readership this could become quite a respectable little zine.

(Allan Stagg, December 2002)


Gentle Art of Making Enemies aka GAME

Nic Chilton, 21 Nowell Street, Harehills, Leeds LS9 6HS

E-mail: GAME@Cryogen.com

http://www.gamezine.co.uk

Issue 53, A5 booklet, 5 - 6 weekly, 20 pages, 65p plus postage

Runs: Diplomacy, Gunboat, League of Gentle Managers, Acquire, Primary Colours, Pole Position, Breaking Away
Waiting Lists: All of the above

Deserves more subscribers and more players (hint, hint), being a pleasant zine with a few pages of chat and some well-run games, and waiting lists that take for ever to fill. Give it a try.

(John Marsden, November 2002)

Nic Chilton's zine continues to notch up the issues in its modest way. Nic runs a variety of games, and the zine is well-produced.

(Allan Stagg, December 2002)

A flyer enclosed with another zine I subscribe to led me to contact Nic Chilton about a sub to this A5 zine. Nic's recent editorial covered his recent canal boating holiday, and there is also a letters page. The games carried are mostly Diplomacy or Gunboat Diplomacy (where the players use pseudonyms) but the other main game is the League of Gentle Managers - which is a United game, but with extra bits. I've just taken over a team at the end of the season and they haven't won a game in the Cup competition yet, so the task is to try and get a get at least a point from the remaining games... but after that, there's another season to look forward to, and I've got a team to work on.

(Bruce Edwards, December 2002)


Graustark

John Boardman, 234 East 19th St, Brooklyn, New York, NY 11226-5302, USA

Issue 710+ (sic), 11" x 8.5" photocopies, monthly, 12 pages, $15 for 10 issues ($25 for non-US non-players)

Runs: Diplomacy ($100 sub for duration of game for non-US players)
WaitingLists: Diplomacy

Started in May 1963, this zine is still going (as of February 2003). Somewhere in John's attic is a picture of Dorian Grey. The nearest thing we have to it in the UK is Dolchstoss, except I don't think Dolchstoss's editor, Richard Sharp, would ever fill his zine with anti-war commentary and other attacks on the moral minority

(John Harrington, April 2000)


Greatest Hits aka GH

Pete Birks, Top Flat, 4 Lewisham Hill, London, SE13 7EJ 

E-mail: pbirks@btinternet.com

Issue 260, A4, bi-monthly, 28 pages, 1 including postage

Runs: Nothing
Waiting Lists: Diplomacy, E-mail Diplomacy

Now once again game free and it is not entirely clear whether Pete is interested in running games within its pages as the future of the zine is in doubt. Personally I suspect I’ll be writing a similar sentence in the 2010 issue of Mission From God, for the need to communicate remains strong within Pete. The major problem with the zine seems to be that since Pete got a job that involves sitting in front of a computer and writing all day long, the last thing he fancies doing when he gets home is sitting in front of a PC and writing all night long.

If he does end up in front of a screen at home it is most likely to be so he can play poker online and occasionally when he tears himself away from this he writes Poker strategy articles. These seem to have usurped his cooking articles - from chips to poker chips - hah!

As everyone correctly observes, this is one of the most literate zines in the hobby and when he is on song Pete generates strong feedback in the letter column. My gut feeling, however, is that he is not generating as much heat in the letter column as he used to when his life was a wreck and he was drinking steadily. Yes, I know it is selfish of me to want Pete to sacrifice his liver for the sake of my reading enjoyment, but what are friends for?

The jewels in the crown of Greatest Hits are the hobby history articles in which Pete raids his files to do a highly detailed, well researched history of a zine from long ago. These are fascinating and not just because of what they tell us about the hobby 20 or 30 years ago; the real fascinating stuff is the ephemera and throwaway comments from real life of 20 or 30 years ago. Just as Bill Gates allegedly once said "640k memory ought to be enough for anyone" so it is conceivable that people once thought Right Said Fred would become the biggest band of the nineties.

(John Harrington, November 2002)

Settle yourself in an armchair in a comfy but rather seedy pub, and listen to an aging bachelor rabbit on for ages about his life, the books he has read and music he’s listened to, the events of his youth, and discuss the e-mails he’s received from his old friends. That’s how GH feels to me, which is fine if you’re comfy with it. Not much to do with playing games in the 21st century, though.

(John Marsden, November 2002)


Hopscotch

Alan Parr, 6 Longfield Gardens, Tring, Herts, HP23 4DN

E-mail: alanparr@dial.pipex.com

Issue 198, A5 (reduced), 16 pages plus lots of game report supplements, 81p plus postage, 8 issues a year

Runs: United, Grand National, Tribute (2), Spell Merchants, Plot Counterplot, Middleman, Railway Rivals, Nrich Central, Run For Gold, By Popular Demand, Bobsleigh
Waiting Lists: Plot Counterplot, Tribute, Middleman, Run For Gold, Spell Merchants, United, Eat Me, Powerplay, World Record, By Popular Demand, Bobsleigh

Hopscotch continues its steady progress towards the double century, doing its bit for the opticians of Britain with its small typeface and cramped lay-out but doing far more for the games players of Britain with its cornucopia of mostly original designs. It’s no accident that some of the country’s best games players are to be found within its pages. It’s not that the games are especially challenging or tough, more that they punch above their weight, in that the games are simple but often absorbing in terms of outguessing one’s opponents.

(John Harrington, November 2002)

To call this just "the United zine" does it a serious injustice. Now in the 200 issue arena, it's a bit like the product of a very busy ant farm. Loads of people conspire to put the thing together. Even the paper feels like it's been chewed, regurgitated and reassembled by a hive of insects. It has the lowest white space ratio of any zine that I've seen. A multiple-division United league is the main feature, but there are some cracking games in the various subzines. You want Postal Bobsleighing? You got it.

(Howard Bishop, November 2002)

One of the hobby's hardy perennials, Alan Parr's Hopscotch continues to offer a number of varied and interesting games. The format of the zine appears to have changed little from the previous century, but this is a zine for gamers. It also hosts a subzine, John Walker's delightful The Walker Touch.

(Allan Stagg, December 2002)

 

WORDS

Postal gaming

Published in January 2003

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