Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #17 June 1976

O&W #17 comes to us from June 1976.  The editorial staff are head out for "Ian's & Steve's Crazy US Adventure" so this is the last issue till September.
The editorial tries to be funny, but just isn't.  Nothing against Ian Livingstone, but seriously stick to what you know and off-beat humor isn't it.  They are hosting a Subscriber Article Competition though to get more fresh blood in.  Winners will get their entry published  and goods from the staff  equal to £5.00.  Not a bad deal really for 1976 and a zine.

We start out with a review of "Lose Your Shirt" from Waddingtons.  It is a racing games with pieces, cards and various props.  Ian praises it for it fun and guesswork in not knowing who is backing what till the end.  I want to take a  moment here and reflect one what must have felt like a boardgame Golden Age then.  Looking back we might even call it the end of the golden age, but I am not sufficiently knowledgeable enough to be able to say.  Often I thought that having someone from this time to chat with might help.  To get more of a context into this side of our hobby.

If anyone knows more about this time and wishes to share insights then please feel free to comment below.

More book reviews on board games. They are very brief really.
What I find more interesting on this page is the ad for NOVA Enterprises, a game store (or mail order) in Brooklyn.  What is great about it (other than it is a Game Store ad) is that they boast about having over 30 F&SF games! We are at best 2.5 years out from the earliest D&D could have been published and there are 30 some odd games in the same general genre.  While that is a low number by today's standards it strikes me as being huge for then!  Also all the prices are in $ not £.
Were some O&Ws sold in the States?  Though the ad does ask for $0.25 or 2 IRCs (international reply coupons) so they must be expecting some orders from O&W regular subscribers.

 Ian Waugh has an article on the growth of Fantasy games, though it includes Sci-Fi games as well. Again this makes it feel like it was a boom time for RPGs.  While it predates my personal experiences it was in the experience of people I gamed with.  It did seem (from them) to be a time of endless possibility. Maybe not endless choice as compared to now.  I can see how the DIY spirit infused the game at this time too.  It was the same as the early computer days to me.

Moving on to Letters later in the issue we have yet another "Ripped from the Blog Posts of Today" submission.  This one is an interesting method of reducing the HD, and thus the attack ability, of monsters in combat.  The premise is simple, weaker monsters have weaker attacks. Therefore a weakened monster should also have weaker attacks.   The attacks are refigured based on the monster's current HP with the following formula.  Monster Fighting Level = (Monster HP)/4.  The author, Ian Moseley, also offers a table.  To simple it up every loss of 4 hp results in a -1 to hit.
It is an interesting idea and even one that was flirted with in D&D 4 and something I had used in Unisystem years ago.  But it is easy to see why it never caught on even if it makes a certain level of common sense.   Still though. Nothing new under sun right?

We end with some more alt-rulings on Diplomacy and the ads.

While there is a lot of talk about other games, I have not seen them yet in the pages.  This is still a general games magazine with a board game focus and the occasional RPG, nee F&SF Games, element.

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