The issue also includes an Arthurian tale inspired by some lines from Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale. Entitled "Chichevache" and written by Ian McDowell, it involves an encounter with the eponymous creature whose diet consists only of good and noble wives and is thus, according to medieval legend, always hungry. Greg Costikyan ruminates on the design of solitaire games in "You Against the System." Costikyan also reviews several books, most notably Dream Park, which he likes a great deal. John Boardman and Susan Schwartz appear once more with their regular "Science for Science Fiction" and "Facts for Fantasy." Schwartz's entry focuses on matters Celtic, in keeping with the overarching theme of issue #11.
Christopher John reviews Heavy Metal rather critically, proclaiming it "an uneven, empty movie" that he found less engaging than Disney's The Fox and the Hound. I'm no fan of Heavy Metal myself, but that strikes me as both a harsh and ludicrous judgment. Eric Goldberg savages the SF RPG Star Patrol, calling it a "failure." Nevertheless, he also notes that it "displays flashes of brilliance," for which reason it might prove useful as "an accessory for Traveller, Space Opera, or Universe." He goes on to say that
Role-playing is an elastic enough genre to permit a game to fail at its stated goal and to succeed at something else.I think there's some truth to that, which is why I now find myself ever more keen to track down a copy of Star Patrol for myself. Goldberg also looks at Arms Law and Spell Law, deeming both less than ideal, with his worst criticisms saved for Spell Law. I couldn't help but feel that some of his criticisms seemed to stem from the fact that ICE had clearly written its rules with D&D in mind, an affront in the eyes of the designers of SPI, who regularly take potshots at TSR and its products whenever possible -- future events will make this ever more ironic.
Gerry Klug pens this issue's "DragonNotes," and, with the help of Nick Karp, Klug also writes "Designer's Notes."
Albion: Land of Faerie is a lengthy wargame, taking up 16 pages, not including its map and counter sheets. The game depicts a battle between the Fomorians and the Faeries, whose conclusion ushers in the end of the age of magic and the rise of the age of Man. By my admittedly pathetic lights, Albion seems rather complex, with rules for weather, attrition, and refits, in addition to the expected rules for movement, command control, and combat. The game also treats magic items and enchantment, as one might expect. The game definitely looks intriguing, but it's also pretty intimidating to folks like me.
I didn't enjoy issue #11 as much as issue #10, perhaps because I'm not as enthusiastic about Celtic-inspired fantasy as I am about science fiction, but, even so, this was a well-done and presented issue and closer to the kind of thing I'd have liked to see in a gaming magazine back in the day.