Retro-Reviews: Star Wars Gamer Magazine by Nathan Butler (2001-2003)

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From 2001-2003, Nathan P. Butler penned reviews of all ten issues of the then-new magazine Star Wars Gamer for this site. After years of moving the site around, much of the old content was lost but as I come across old files, I like to repost them as “retro” articles. Nathan’s reviews were fun, entertaining, and truthful. They also bring us back to a time when the Prequels were still being created and give us a different snapshot in time of Star Wars fandom. If you like old magazines or gaming, these reviews might interest you enough to go find some old copies on eBay for nostalgia’s sake. These reviews were originally posted individually as the issues were released, but I’m going to compile them all here into one big review for readability. Unfortunately, due to a technical error, the review for Issue #2 was lost. All apologies. Here’s Nathan…


Gamer #1
Grade: A-

Like most readers of the “Official Star Wars Continuity”, I was not sure what to expect of the first issue of Gamer. I had been a big fan of West End Games’ “Official Star Wars Adventure Journal”, and even if there were different purposes involved in the AJs and Gamer, the comparisons were to be immediate and unavoidable. Compared to the AJs… I, and many others, found Gamer disappointing. But this isn’t supposed to be a retread of the “Adventure Journal,” so any fair review needs to look at Gamer as just Gamer, a separate entity.

So, with the obligatory Boba Fett cover, the Gamer series begins…

The first issue divides into five main sections: Fiction; RPG; Adventures; Deck Plans; and State of the Arts.

The Fiction section this time includes two short stories.

“The Starfighter Trap” (Steve Miller) takes the three-part serial originally presented on LucasArts.com, StarWars.com, and Wizards.com (based on the successful PlayStation game) and merges it into one installment. It’s a decent prequel era story, and gives us some more Official adventures for the “Starfighter” characters, but it’s still old news for anyone who read the story online. Not the best place to start.

“Fair Prey” (Daniel Wallace) picks up on Cecil Noone, a character first introduced in the Adventure Journal, which gives us hope that maybe those old RPG mags and their ongoing tales won’t be ignored by the new RPG mag. But we’ll see on that one, I suppose. At any rate, it’s another decent story.

It’s interesting, and it’s great to see old characters resurface. What both this story and the previous story conspicuously lack, though, are any game-playing statistics for their characters. After over a dozen issues of the Adventure Journals, readers were expecting RPG stats for short story characters. Wizards of the Coast didn’t opt for that. Is it a fair comparison? This time, I think it is. WotC can’t have been ignorant of how much fans were looking forward to such stats with their short stories. To have left them out stings.

The RPG section is a mix of source materials, RPG statistics, adventures, and their ilk. In this, the first issue of Gamer is far less disappointing (if you were one of those disappointed by the lack of stats in the Fiction section).

Understanding the Jedi Code gives us Mace Windu’s perspective on the Jedi Code. We don’t glean much new information from it, but it’s an nice primer for a prequel era Jedi gamer.

“Duel of the Fates” (Andy Collins) is quite interesting, for me at least. It takes the final duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul from THE PHANTOM MENACE and puts it into RPG terminology. For anyone who really wants to see how you are supposed to capture the action of a film adventure through the numbers of the RPG, this article is a must-read.

“Shipbuilding Secrets” (Thomas M. Reid) is not so much secrets of building a ship as finding away to work a ship into a story, along with the important questions that come with it, like the ship’s background, type, etc. It’s a decent article for those wanting to do so, but the title is somewhat of a misnomer. If you’re wanting to know how to build up a ship with stats and such all its own, from an original concept, you’re not going to find that info here. The questions are there, but the numbers aren’t.

“The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Marvel Series” (Rich Handley and Joe Bongiorno) is a terriffic look into various species from the alternate reality encompassed by the Marvel Comics run of Star Wars. We get histories, game stats, and plenty of nifty side comments. Of course, the authors then completely undercut it by pointing out the (somewhat obvious to timeliners) fact that most of the information therein is considered, in the terminology of the Star Wars Timeline Gold, “Apocrypha.” (“Though these stories are not considered canon . . . “) Not bad, but I would’ve hoped that any new information in Gamer would be Official, not tossed out. But given recent events with the `Infinities` label being slapped around in what looks more like laziness than necessity, I suppose we should be glad this is the only article with this blatant of a non-continuity note.

“Tatooine Grude Match” (J.D. Wiker) is not exactly the Podracing details and rules given in Secrets of Tatooine, but for someone wanting a quick and easy way to play a Podracing game without having to break out their N64, this is a good place to start.

“The Anzati” (J.D. Wiker) is a profile on the Anzati species. It’s a very nice look at the species as a whole and Dannik Jerriko in particular, and it provides us with RPG stats for Jerriko. On the other hand, it doesn’t provide general stats for the species, so we only have Jerriko to base other Anzati off of.

The adventures sections features two adventures, one somewhat sparse, and another somewhat deeper.

“Peril in the Ionosphere” (Steve Miller) is the first RPG adventure for Gamer. It’s not the deepest thing in the world, but given the amount of pages in Gamer and the amount of content they are trying to squeeze in, it’s of decent size. It’s set up for relatively low-level gamers, recommended even as a bridge between Invasion of Theed and the regular RPG. I’d recommend it, but only if you like the idea of Naboo-based gaming. Otherwise, you might look for another bridge adventure.

“Rendezvous at Ord Mantell” (Andy Collins) is the second RPG adventure contained in Gamer, and it is quite a bit more in-depth, which brought a big smile to my face. Our heroes find themselves on Ord Mantell in the Rebellion Era, working to help a rebel spy and thwart local ruffians. It is meant for 1st and 2nd level characters, and if you want a place to start, definitely try taking a stab at this one.

“Deck Plans” features two features on the CCG (“The Shaft: Endor’s Game” by Cory Herndon and “This is Some Rescue!” by Michael Mikaelian). The former focuses on specific cards while the latter features a specific strategy with a specific deck. Now, personally, I find the card profiles much more informative than specific deck strategies, since it takes more than just skill to get the right cards in your hand at the right time. However, if you’re a die-hard CCG gamer, you should be able to make good use of both articles.

“State of the Arts” gives us news on “Starfghter”, “Demolition”, and other new and forthcoming games, but the highlight is actual RPG stats for Nym from “Starfighter”. It seems out of place in this section, but it’s a blessing for those annoyed by the lack of RPG stats earlier in the short stories.

And finally we have random bits like “Light Side/Dark Side” (a comic strip), “Force Feedback” (the letters page), and “Imperial Dispatch” (RPG errata), which are informative and entertaining by themselves, but apparently not important enough for WotC to put in the table of contents.

So, is it worth the $6.99 cover price? I think so. If you’re not into gaming, you might hesitate, but if you’re a die-hard fan like myself, gaming or not, it’s a nice mag. Just don’t let comparisons to the Adventure Journals cloud your reading of Gamer.

 

Gamer #2
Grade: A

Review misplaced/lost over time. Apologies.

 

 

 

Gamer #3
Grade: A

Everyone remember C-3PX from the “Droids” comics? How about C-3PX from “The Fury of Darth Maul”? Yep, same droid, and he’s the lucky character gracing the cover of Gamer #3, which comes in at 114 pages again, after Gamer #2 jumped down to 98 pages for some odd reason.

We have five major segments to the magazine, as usual: Fiction; RPG; Adventures; Deck Plans; and State of the Arts.

This issue’s fiction section features two stories. The first is a new story by Kevin J. Anderson entitled “Bane of the Sith”, which follows Darth Bane in the wake of the “Battle of Ruusan” that is currently being detailed in “Jedi vs. Sith”. This one blew me away. This is the kind of gap-filling, continuity-lover’s dream story that I’d been hoping to find in a Gamer issue since the first issue. Definitely worth the read. As for the second story, it’s simply an excerpt from Greg Keyes’ novel Conquest. I’m sorry, but if we’re paying $6.99 for each issue, isn’t it about damn time that we had an issue that *didn’t* recycle (or precycle, as it were) materials we could’ve found elsewhere? Many readers of Gamer buy it for the fiction and resource information, not for the gaming materials.

Cutting our original fiction short stories for this issue by half was a bad move, only offset by the quality of “Bane of the Sith”. Am I a bit testy on the subject? Sure. But the same rule applies to Gamer as applies to any publication: give us what we want to see, and we won’t gripe. Easy enough.

The RPG section has 9 items this time.

1.) HoloNet Transmission (J.D. Wiker): This is just a write-in Q&A for RPG questions. Not bad, but could just be added to an extended letters page, like the errata already is.

2.) Rogues Gallery: Droids (Joe Corroney): Again, we get a series of photos to be added to the gamer’s RPG stat sheets.

3.) The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: Jawas (Pablo Hidalgo): Plenty of good info about the Jawas, plus more useful statistics than in previous editions of the USGIL.

4.) Scouting Report: Spaceports & Landing Pads (Kyle Stanley Hunter & Michael Mikaelian): Five ready-to-use spaceports for those not wanting to take the time to design their own. For the normal gamer, this is a great resource. For the long-time gamer, it’s an insult to their intelligence. Personally, I found it useful, despite gaming experience.

5.) Look, Sir–Droids (Cory J. Herndon): Currently this is *the* place to look for designing your own unique droid characters, using pre-existing corporations, and creating quirks for Droid characters. Gamemasters take note.

6.) Galaxy’s Most Wanted: C-3PX (Michael Mikaelian): Short and to the point, but it does give us confirmation that the “Fury of Darth Maul” and “Droids” characters are in fact the same droid, and we get RPG specs for the character.

7.) The Smugglers Alliance (J.D. Wiker): Backgrounds and specs for Karrde’s alliance and their cohorts. The old “Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook” from WEG needs to watch its back if this is how good most new profiles on previously existing characters are going to be in Wizards materials.

8.) What Good Are Snub Fighters? Silent Death Starship Combat Game (Erik A. Dewey): Take an Iron Crown Enterprises creation and twist it for Star Wars. This isn’t exactly recycling, so I won’t complain on that end. Basically, this is taking an old game and revising it for the SW saga, which, personally, I like. How many times have we wanted something with great game mechanics altered for the saga we know and love and actually seen it done *right*? This one does it quite well, and players should find it interesting, whether they play the RPG or not.

9.) The Force of Music (Peter Schweighofer): A guide to creating music for your own campaigns, right down to the track and time numbers from the SW soundtracks. One might think this is a blatant attempt to sell more CDs, but I’d recommend trying out their ideas before passing judgement on the article. If you still think it’s bunk, gripe away.

The Adventures section is only one adventure this time (but I suppose the Smugglers Alliance article makes up for it this time). The adventure is “Cloud Cover” by Bill Slavicsek. You find yourself on Cloud City saving civilian Rebel refugees from Imperial scumbags. It’s somewhat of the normal “get in and get out safely” mission, but for a pre-made adventure, especially in Gamer thus far, it’s fairly long and can easily take up a decent gaming session for those looking for an easy adventure to run. It even features Jodo Kast…

The Deck Plans section features two articles. This issue’s installment of “The Shaft” (Cory J. Herndon) features several cards from Jabba’s Palace Sealed Deck and Reflections II, while this issue’s featured deck is called “Feeding Time”, and is found in the article “Disorder in the Court” (Michael Mikaelian). The latter is somewhat amusing to play, given that you’re basically sending your enemies to be monster food.

Finally, we have State of the Arts, with more news about upcoming games, cheats for “Demolition” and “Battle for Naboo”, and a welcome set of RPG stats for two characters (Shayl Le’tah and Nogget) based on the forthcoming “Star Wars Galaxies.”

Is it worth the $6.99? Personally, the “Smugglers Alliance” article, “Silent Death,” and “Bane of the Sith” alone kick the reading value up by quite a bit. I’d say, YES, go buy this one. Be ready to have some events from “Jedi vs. Sith” possibly spoiled by “Bane of the Sith”, though.

 

Gamer #4
Grade: A

Gamer #4 appeared in mailboxes and on newsstands with the most dreaded symbol in Star Wars publishing upon it. Like the A on Hester Prynne’s chest, this issue bore the “Infinities” seal. This has later been clarified to mean stories can take place anywhere in the continuity as well as outside of it, not that stories are automatically Apocrypha, but before that decree from Lucasfilm, this was looked upon with dread. So, beyond just that stigma, how did the issue measure up?

We have seven major segments to the magazine this time: Fiction; Special Features; RPG Articles; RPG Adventures; Deck Plans; State of the Arts; and Departments.

This issue’s fiction section features two stories. “Deep Spoilers” (Ryder Windham) features a new racing story with EPISODE I Adventures characters Spleed Nukkels and Neb Neb Goodrow, and even includes some RPG stats for vehicles. Good show, Wizards. The second story, though, made me want to rip my eyes out. How many damn times are we going to have to see Gamer or other publications rehashing the same old stuff and recycling the same old stories to avoid having original materials? I mean, come *on*, people! The second story is a recycled story from “Star Wars Tales” called “What They Called Me” (I call you “recycled crap,” thanks) by Craig Thompson with “Tales” wonder-boy Dave Land (Continuity? What’s that?). Can you tell many of us timeliners are bitter over Land’s treatment of the Continuity lately? Anyway, the story DOES expand a few pages beyond the original from “Tales”, but it’s still just another rehashing. But, hey, if expanding things into Special Editions is good enough for Lucas, I guess it’s good enough for Dark Horse and Wizards. It’s just too bad the source material wasn’t necessarily worth the expansion.

Under the new Special Features section, we have two articles. “Wildlife of Star Wars” (Terryl Whitlatch and Bob Carrau) is a preview of an upcoming book (precycling, as I call it), but it does include some new RPG stats for Naboo creatures. The second story, “Building Tatooine” (H.G. Walls and Bart Armstrong) features some of the most amazing Star Wars modeling jobs I’ve ever seen. Check these out to be amazed, but don’t expect to be able to recreate such works without some pre-ordained skills from the Big Guy Upstairs.

The RPG Articles section has six articles this time.

1.) Starhoppers of Aduba-3 (Pablo Hidalgo): Old Marvel stories finally have their events reshaped into the Official Continuity with this story. It’s told from a retrospective point of view, for an interesting “it might have happened this way” sort of take on the adventures of Han and Chewie on Aduba-3.

2.) Secrets of Kashyyyk (J.D. Wiker and Craig R. Carey): Maybe Kashyyyk isn’t worth its own $15-$20 “Secrets of” guide, but it certainly merits this article, and the article pulls it off well. If you want a guide to Kashyyyk with WotC RPG stats, this is where to look.

3.) Starfaring Jungles (Peter Schweighofer): A profile on Ithorian herdships, but with the perspective looking back from events after Balance Point, which is a breath of fresh air to Continuity buffs.

4.) Ships of the Smugglers’ Alliance (J.D. Wiker): Hot on the heels of last issue’s “Smugglers Alliance” character profiles, we now have stats and info about their ships. Methinks it’s too bad they didn’t just throw all of this with more info into a sourcebook of some kind.

5.) Special Ops Archetypes: The Shaman (Jesse Decker): Like the Privateer, we have a new hybrid class of character to use. Keep these coming, Wizards. The more diversity players are given, the better!

6.) The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Advozsec (Cory J. Herndon): Expect decent RPG stats from this article, but the shining point is a mention of the New Jedi Order era Riflor and Advozsec culture, which I don’t recall having seen in the NJO books themselves. Kudos to Herndon on the info included.

The RPG Adventures section only has one adventure this time, just like in the previous issue. The adventure is “Kashyyyk in Flames” by J.D. Wiker and, obviously, puts players on Kashyyyk. It is made for level 3-5 characters, so expect a decent adventure. The intrigue aspect is fairly decent as well.

Deck Plans features two articles, as usual. “The Shaft” (Cory J. Herndon) focuses on Reflections and chains of command (Thrawn/Pellaeon, Xizor/Gir, etc.), while the second article, “Small World” (Michael Mikaelian) features the Endor/Death Star II closed environment. CCG gamers should find both of these pretty useful, especially the latter if you’re a DS2 fan.

Next, we have State of the Arts, which details info on future and current games. The main focus is a great look behind the scenes of “Starfighter”, along with gaming stats for the Heavy STAP and Police Cruiser from “Battle for Naboo”.

Finally, the oddball articles are now given a specific section listing in the contents, Departments. Under this we have the letters page (Force Feedback), HoloNet Transmissions (reader questions about the RPG), Rogues Gallery: Tree Huggers (another set of images for character sheets), and Chance Cube: Critical Care (a way of randomly setting up wound situations). These are the standard Gamer fare, with little surprises.

So, we come to the question again: is it worth the $6.99. For me? Yes. I’m still thinking WotC and the other licensees need to cut it the hell out with these recycled stories . . . but that aside, the issue is quite good. If anything, the RPG materials in this issue are probably the best in any issue up to this point. If they could combine the great RPG materials of this issue with the quality of the “Bane of the Sith” story from Issue #3, they’ll have a magazine that just might displace the Adventure Journals in fan minds. We shall see . . .

 

Gamer #5
Grade: A

Yeah, I’m excited about this issue. Gamer #5 is the single best issue of the publication thus far, and for good reason. Wizards of the Coast has now raised the bar for all issues to come. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

We have six major segments to the magazine this time: Fiction; Special Features; RPG Articles; RPG Adventures; State of the Arts; and Departments. Deck Plans was bumped to a Department.

We start with two *new* fiction stories. No more rehashed, recycled, “one new and one old” style to the Fiction section. We have two great new stories. The first is “The Crystal” by Elaine Cunningham, featuring Jaina and Jacen’s graduation from the Jedi Academy, the decisions about Jaina, Jacen, Anakin, and their apprenticeships, and a look at Jaina’s personal ship.

Great stuff by the woman who will be writing a Jaina-focused The New Jedi Order novel. The second is “Darkness” hared by Bill Slavicsek, featuring the story of Sith marauder Kaox Krul and the Jedi pursuing him. It’s a great story with a fun twist at the end. You won’t want to miss either of these stories.

The Special Features section is pretty good this time, as well. The first article, “Words to Live By,” is a preview of the Galaxy Phrase Book and Travel Guide, which was recently released. The second is “Silent Death: Rise of the Empire”, an EPISODE I set of rules and scenarios for the “Silent Death” Star Wars variant game introduced in an earlier issue. If you liked “Silent Death”, this should bring a smile to your face.

The RPG Articles section features seven stories this time.

1.) The Emperor’s Pawns (Abel Pena, Juan Schwartz, Pablo Hidalgo): A profile of the Emperor’s Hands, from Mara to Lumiya and beyond! READ THIS ARTICLE!!!

2.) Seeds of Villainy (Jeff Grub): No new story info here, and no new RPG stats, but this is a nice guide to how to set up “evil” characters and play them well. This goes nicely with the “Dark Side Sourcebook” this issue is trying to promote.

3.) The Sith Compendium (Michael Mikaelian): Again, not much new information for us timeline gurus, but as for RPG stats and cool Sith items to toss into your stories . . . oh yeah. Very much so. Bring ’em on!

4.) Campaign Guide to the Centrality (Michael Kogge): Remember the Lando Calrissian Adventures trilogy? Those events are finally being referenced beyond a few side comments. Expect lots of new information, including info from the NJO era.

5.) The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Chiss (Pablo Hidalgo): A guide to Grand Admiral Thrawn’s species, with backgrounds, language comments . . . lots of great stuff. This issue just keeps on kickin’ tail . . .

6.) Special Ops: The Slicer (Patrick McLaughlin): A new class for players to use. Good choice, though. Personally, I find the Slicer more fun to play around with than the previous Shaman and Privateer character types.

7.) Special Ops: The Charlatan (Jesse Decker): Don’t just play a Jedi. Play someone pretending to be a Jedi. This should provide some amusement for gamers, presuming the GMs don’t let other players in on the fact that the characters are faking it.

The RPG Adventure section has two adventures (after two issues of only one each.) The first is the “Hutt Hit” (Jeff Grubb) for Dark Side characters (a nice twist), and the second is “Talnar’s Rescue” (Sterling Hershey), which feels a bit longer and deeper in terms of the thought put into it than we are used to. Good show.

State of the Arts gives us the usual new info on games, but also gives us a profile for Starfighter’s Freefall and Battle of Naboo’s bomber for the RPG. Again, nice to see stats in what could be a boring news section.

Finally, we have the Departments. Force Feedback and HoloNet Transmission are the usual fare, while the Rogues Gallery is a bit better than usual with Darksiders as the focus. Deck Plans, formerly its own section in the contents, takes a look at cards using Tatooine, and then a look at a Han Solo theme deck for Jedi Knights, our first non-SWCCG Deck Plans article.

Is it worth the money? Do you even need to ask? Bring on more like this, Wizards!

 

Gamer #6
Grade: A

After Gamer #5 blew us away with its great Dark Side themed content, I had hoped that Gamer #6 would continue to uphold the high standard #5 had set.

I guess everyone has to be disappointed once in a while.

Gamer #6 is certainly a decent issue as Gamer issues go, but compared to the previous issue, the momentum seems to have died down a bit.

The issue breaks down into seven sections: Fiction; Special Features; RPG Articles; RPG Adventure; Deck Plans; State of the Arts; and Departments.

Going backwards, we can start with Departments. As usual, this is just Force Feedback, HoloNet Transmission, and a Rogue Gallery. All standard letters page and character sheet image stuff. Nothing new here.

State of the Arts provides us with info on the video game genre as usual. On the minus side, there are no new RPG stats in the section. On the plus side, there is plenty of new info about Racer Revenge, Jedi Outcast, and other forthcoming games.

Deck Plans consists of two articles, as normal, one on the Death Star II closed environment and one somewhat intriguing one about creating a swoop gang deck where the gang members are Aurra Sing, Darth Maul, Mara Jade, Darth Vader, Watto, and the Emperor. Crazy stuff, but they were, to me at least, two of the better Deck Plans articles thus far.

The RPG Adventure section is disappointing. We are only given one adventure. The adventure, “Welcome to the Jungle,” does have some interesting points, especially in that it uses keyed, random, and specific story events instead of just one straight path through the adventure, but having only one RPG Adventure diminishes the magazine, in my opinion, especially when coupled with only one fiction story, which I’ll get to in a moment.

The RPG Articles section features six articles this time around.

1.) “How the Other Half Hunts” features information on Zuckuss, 4-LOM, and Dengar, to supplement Boba Fett, Bossk, and IG-88 information in the Rebellion Era Sourcebook. Was this an oversight, an opportunity taken advantage of, or a marketing ploy? Only Wizards knows for sure…

2.) “Bounties to Die For” features a listing of various bounties for players to go after. The idea is nice, and akin to the old Wanted by Cracken profiles, but the lack of a specific date for when the bounties were posted is a downer for continuity buffs.

3.) “Combat Tactics for Survival” was quite useful. How do you survive battles in the RPG, and how can you visualize combat more thoroughly? Read this article for the answers. I can’t stress how much this can help the relatively new RPG gamer.

4.) “Usual Suspects” features game stats and bios for characters from Dark Horse’s Star Wars Tales and Underworld comics. While the choices of characters to profile and which to leave out seem somewhat arbitrary, it’s nice to see comic materials getting more attention in Gamer.

5.) “University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Nikto” was decent, if disappointing in the wake of the Chiss article last issue. This profile focused more on the different species or races of Nikto rather than history and culture, but, for what it’s worth, I found the explanations enlightening.

6.) Finally, we have “Special Ops: The Freelancer,” another new archetype. While I don’t like this as much as some of the previous ones, I can’t complain. I love seeing Wizards give us new archetypes and prestige classes, and I think any GM could stand to have resources like this nearby when characters first begin play.

The Special Features section consists of two items. The first is “The Battle of Hoth,” a standalone game using an included playmat, which recreates the Hoth battle with tokens and the like. It’s a decent little game, and I think the more we see of these standalones in Gamer, the more the mag will find its own place in fans’ minds, instead of being seen as an Adventure Journal imposter. Keep it up, Wizards.

The other Special Feature is “Model Citizen: The Death Star,” featuring info on creating model Death Star segments. While I think it can be interesting for the model enthusiast, I really don’t see why it has a place in Gamer. If this is to be “the Force in Star Wars gaming,” then why cover this outside stuff? While we’re at it, let’s have sections about merchandising, or posters, or perhaps interviews with the cast and crew. Oh, wait! That’s what the Insider is for! ::ahem::

Finally, we come to the fiction section. This was disappointing in several ways, but heartening in one major inclusion. The story itself, “Rebel Bass” by Kathy Tyers, was not exactly her strongest work. I found that I cared just as little for the events and characters in the end of the story as I did in the beginning. Sorry, but after seeing Tyers other work, this was disappointing. Might as well have had some random writer do a story instead. Furthermore, the section included only this story. For those of us who buy the magazine specifically for new fiction stories, this was a major letdown, and if Gamer keeps this up, I predict that they’ll start losing readers down the line. On the plus side, though, this article features RPG statistics for the major characters! Finally, we have half of what we had been missing from the Adventure Journal. Now they just have to start providing us with little background dossiers with the stats and we can really consider Gamer fiction to be on resource par with the old AJs. Take the hint, Wizards. We’re counting on you.

So, is Gamer #6 worth the cover price? I say, yes. I also would warn readers of #5, though, that this issue will not, by any means, live up to the standard the previous issue set. If #5 raised the bar for the publication, this issue slammed into the bar head-on and fell on its butt. It’s still an “A” product, and I still recommend it, but I guess Gamer #5 spoiled me. I want more of that caliber of issue.

 

Gamer #7
Grade: B-

Star Wars Gamer #7 continues the publication’s preoccupation with “theme issues,” this time taking on a theme of “Living on the Fringe.” Sounds somewhat like it’s time for Mardi Gras or bad spaghetti Western to me, but “fringe” it is!

Again, we find another issue that doesn’t quite live up to the standards set with the Dark Side theme issue (#5), but they can’t all be perfect, I suppose. This issue, as with the others, features various sections. This time, the sections divide up as follows:

The Fiction section finally includes a story we can get into. Red Sky, Blue Flame by Elaine Cunningham gives us our first work by the author of the forthcoming Dark Journey with a focus on Jagged Fel, son of Major Baron Soontir Fel of the X-wing comic series’ fame. While the story is somewhat generic (the old “protect your secret base from uninvited guests” template), we finally have a chance to see Jag in action and see that the events of Vision of the Future did have consequences beyond the destruction of the Hand of Thrawn on Niruan. It’s not a story with the importance of Bane of the Sith, but it’s certainly better than other recent Gamer offerings like Rebel Bass, which fell flat with most readers.

The Special Features section this time includes another installment of the starfighter combat game Silent Death. This time, the game brings in the Yuuzhan Vong to expand the scope of the game. If you have the previous issues of Gamer that introduced Classic and Prequel era Silent Death rules, you should love this new addition, if only for the fact that now you can use Coralskippers and Yorick-vec Cruisers in battle. Beat that with an amphistaff!

Deck Plans, as always, is somewhat small, rather obscure, and easy to miss. Unlike early issues, though, this issue’s articles are divided between the regular Customizable Card Game (featuring a look at the Tatooine Expansion Set) and the oft-overlooked Jedi Knights card game with an excellent Vader theme deck design. Sure, you need the cards they mention to play the deck, but if you do, this is a very nice deck for those who like themes, but don’t want to take the time to design their own. Cory J. Herndon has these themes down, it seems, and his comrade Doug Taylor, author of the Tatooine Expansion Set article, seems on the ball as well. One can only hope that interest in these games can somehow catch up to the enthusiasm these gents put into their articles. As of late, the games seem to be declining in popularity. ::sigh::

We then have our regular sections: State of the Arts; Force Feedback; Jedi Counseling; Rogues Gallery; and Jedi Mind Tricks, which are simply small department issues.

State of the Arts gives us a treat this time with early concept drawings for the Knights of the Old Republic game, plus some great coverage of Galactic Battlegrounds, Obi-Wan, and a bit of Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.

Force Feedback and Jedi Counseling answer reader mail and reader RPG questions, respetively. In here we have the normal, everyday banter of fans and the staff that we can’t really put a positive or negative connotation to. If you happen to share the same opinions or questions, these sections can be great. If you’re totally uninterested in hearing the same praises over and over, or you get the magazine for something other than playing the RPG, the sections are a wash.

As for Jedi Mind Tricks (a crossword puzzle) and the Rogues Gallery (which features pictures of Fringers this time), they’re also standard fare.

Where this issue leaps into the heavyweight category is in its primary section, RPG Articles. We’re talking one heck of a huge section this time, including eight separate articles, two of which are somewhat, uhm, huge for this magazine. These eight can be divided into regular series entries, sourcebook “holdovers,” and a campaign setting.

The “regular series” that I refer to are the Special Ops prestige classes and archetypes series that we have seen in the past few issues, and the regular University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life series. For this issue, the archetype featured is the Dilettante. This is a scoundrel mixed with a noble as a multi-class character. With variant abilities like Resource Access and Inspire Confidence, this could be the way out for characters wanting a more refined “Han Solo”-esque character. Our prestige class for the issue is the Vehicle Ace, much like you would expect of a podracer or swoop jockey. We’ve had plenty of starfighter aces and such in the RPG, and now we are given specs to help create the same type of piloting genius for land-based vehicles. Finally, we have our USGIL entry, featuring the Anx (the cone-headed dinosaur looking buggers from Episode I), which features some interesting insights into the Gravelex Launchworks, plus an interesting side reference, barely noticeable, about the fate of the Chimaera between the time of Gilad Pellaeon’s joining with High Admiral Terradoc and his later promotion to Imperial Supreme Commander and Admiral. Again, the issue has come in with excellent entries for these regular features.

The “sourcebook holdovers,” as I call them, include a set of four articles that seem to have been left out of the sourcebooks they should have been included in. The first is Secrets of Mos Eisley, a more detailed guide to the spaceport than that given in Secrets of Tatooine. This is more of a guide to the establishments in the spaceport than its history, per se. Second, we have Harbingers of Doom, a guide to the ships used by IG-88, Bossk, Dengar, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, and Boba Fett. Since Slave I is covered in the Rebellion Era Sourcebook, where these others should perhaps have been covered, we are treated not to a rehash of those specs, but specs for his Slave II, seen in the Dark Empire series. Third, we have Galaxy’s Most Wanted, featuring three Tusken Raiders and their RPG specs. This is interesting for those wanting to play as Tuskens from the films, but given that this could’ve appeared in the Tatooine sourcebook and that the images harken back to the characters’ cards in the CCG, I was not very impressed with the two-page article. The real treat of this bunch is the fourth article, Alien Anthology Addendum, which is, as its name implies, an expansion of three new races that were left out of the Alien Anthology. The content here is as good as in the guide itself, but the Defel, Sarkan, and Tirrith might well have simply been included in the sourcebook to begin with instead of taking up Gamer space.

Lastly, we have the two gems of the issue. This issue features a polybagged-in map of a place called Bartyn’s Landing on Lamaredd. What the heck is that, you ask? Well, it is a full-fledged campaign setting with a rich history of economic exploitation that is covered in the immense article entitled Bartyn’s Landing, early in the magazine. The massive 17-page article lays the foundation for the history, denizens, locations, and general nature of the Bartyn’s Landing settlement (located, amusingly, around a purposely downed Neimoidian vessel). The article is rich in details, as its length implies, and could make a great addition to any campaign . . . but what’s more interesting is that the folks behind Gamer have already taken the time to create a starting adventure for us to begin a Bartyn’s Landing campaign with. The adventure, entitled Reckonings, spans 18 pages (holy menacing Menahuun, Bartyn-man!), and takes players on a mission to stop conflict between the residents of the Landing and the sentient native Menahuun, but also provides several routes out of the story, setting up plenty of different ways for players to continue this campaign on their own.

So, is this an issue you should drop about seven bucks on? Well, I guess that depends. If you are a New Jedi Order fan, you might pick it up for the Jagged Fel story. If you’re a Silent Death fan, this is a must-have for its Yuuzhan Vong expansion. Beyond that, the issue severely depends upon whether or not you are a fan of the RPG or simply a regular reader. This issue is geared specifically toward the RPG crowd, so those not into that game will be sorely disappointed in the lack of further fiction, source materials, and the like, but those who do enjoy the RPG should be overjoyed to see how much space was dedicated to the game. If nothing else, the Bartyn’s Landing materials make this a treasure trove for the gamer looking for a new campaign setting or starting point. Gamers will love this one, but casual fans may find it falling flat. As Kenobi said, it all depends greatly on your own point of view.

For me, it was worth it though. For what that’s worth.

 

Gamer #8
Grade: A

When I went out to the mailbox the other day, hoping to see some things I ordered online sitting in there, I was surprised to see Gamer #8, which I’d thought still had a bit to go before release. That was a pleasant surprise by itself, but when I looked into the issue, I was in for another. For the first time since the great Dark Side theme issue, we finally have another theme issue that lives up to its predecessor. This time, the theme is the New Jedi Order novel series’ era and the Yuuzhan Vong.

As usual, we have the Departments: Force Feedback; Jedi Counseling; Rogues Gallery; Jedi Mind Tricks; Deck Plans; and the return of Light Side Dark Side.

Force Feedback is the standard fare of letters to the editor, but this time we see a response to a previous comment made by the Gamer editor to reader concern for the amount of fiction being presented in the issues. Personally, I found myself wanting to strangle the gent writing because, hey, fiction is a big reason why about 80% of the Gamer readership bother to pick it up. This gent, whom I shall dub “Sparky,” didn’t seem to get that. “Your defense of the inclusion of fiction is especially specious.” If you’re gonna try using big works, Sparky, try to at least make an argument that isn’t inane.

Anyway, I digress . . .

Jedi Counseling this time answers questions regarding two-handed blaster use, the double-bladed lightsaber, and other items focusing mainly on the Dark Side Sourcebook. It’s nice to see them moving their coverage away from just the Core Rulebook.

Rogue’s Gallery this time features 14 images of various Yuuzhan Vong for use with the RPG. Personally, I don’t like how artists outside of the NJO cover artists have been portraying the Vong, but, hey, where else are we going to find 14 ready-to-use Vong images?

Jedi Mind Tricks, this time, is a word puzzle. Imagine a crossword puzzle where you aren’t given any clues, just the words that you have to plug in. This one’s a PAIN to do, but once you get on a roll, it can be quite amusing.

Deck Plans features two articles, as per usual. The Shaft by Cory J. Herndon features a CCG deck set up to make use of Naboo and lots of bloodshed. It’s an ass-kicker deck. Or, as Joshua Lyman on The West Wing said in its premiere episode, “Screw politics, how ’bout that?” The second article, Doug Taylor’s Fury of the Dark Lord brings in Reflections III for a major Darth Maul deck. One has to wonder, though, how easy the common player could find some of the cards that Taylor puts in this deck template. Maybe it is easier to find the rare Maul cards now than it was to find the mains back in the days when I was playing every weekend, but a deck with five versions of Darth Maul? I sure hope people don’t go out and start buying singles to create this deck. That’s quite a price tag for a simple theme deck.

And, of course Light Side Dark Side gives us our Star Wars comedy for the issue, although the punch line of this one falls short of the previous LS/DS appearance.

Outside of the Departments, the issue features Fiction, Special Features, Roleplaying Game, Adventures, and State of the Arts sections. I’ll hit these in reverse order.

State of the Arts is about as impressive as it has ever been in this issue. Instead of the normal bits and pieces articles on multiple games, this one gives a series of strategies for Obi-Wan for the entire game, then does the same for many Galactic Battlegrounds scenarios. This is the kind of game info that could make Gamer into a real contender with other gaming publications.

The Adventures for this issue were hit or miss. First, we have Topside Infiltration by Peter Schweighofer. 5th-8th level characters are trying to break into a private treasure trove, of sorts, on Vaynai. While the concept could make for a great adventure, the article is essentially a room by room walkthrough of the complex, not a true adventure outline. The beginning GM who would use these articles as guides while they become better GMs may not find this all that useful, nor that interesting. Second, we have Hive of the Infidel by David Noonan with Schweighofer. This one has a bit more meat, and is the very first one we have been given that is specifically geared for players playing as the Yuuzhan Vong, but even though the story (chasing after a supposed Jedi aboard a Druckenwell refugee ship soon after Jedi Eclipse) is a decent one, this adventure, again, falls into the same trap as the previous adventure in that it is not so much an adventure plan, but a very rough outline with shuffling locations. I prefer my pre-planned adventures to be just that–planned.

The Roleplaying Section, I’m sure much to Sparky’s delight, features 8 separate articles.

1.) Spaceport Guide: Vaynai Archipelago ties into Topside Infiltration and provides us with a comprehensive guide to the Vaynai Archipelago region. It’s a pretty good descriptive piece, but those looking for the depth of the Bartyn’s Landing article of the previous issue may be disappointed.

2.) I, Yuuzhan Vong (a creative tip of the hat to I, Jedi, I suppose) is excellent. The article, by Daniel Wallace, gives us a look at several pieces of Yuuzhan Vong biotech, some creatures we Official Continuity readers can drool over that we haven’t seen much of yet, and outlines for how the Yuuzhan Vong should work in the RPG. My only complaint about this article is that it could’ve been longer. And I’m sure Sparky will agree with me.

3.) Faster, Starfighter! Kill! Kill! takes SW:RPG fighter combat into a grid-based system that, to all accounts, makes the game easier to follow and is the first major starfighter combat change to be issued since the game was released. If you are a GM who uses starfighter combat frequently, this alone is worth the price of the magazine if you use it properly.

4.) Galaxy’s Most Wanted features stats for (dum dadda DUUUUM!) Luke Skywalker in the NJO era, with Battlemind Jedi techniques to boot. ‘Nuff said!

5.) Dice, Camera, Action! by Robin D. Laws is the first in what appears to be a series on how to make RPG experiences more like the films. This will hopefully help the dull GM to get things rolling, and even includes such concepts as the “McGuffin.” (If you don’t know what that is . . . well, that’s what the article’s there for!)

6.) The University of Sanbra Gudie to Intelligent Life: The Priapulin features a look at the worm-like Priapulin creatures in every era of play. In all honesty, this is a decent look at a species’ culture, but who in their right mind is going to play as one of these characters? I would’ve hoped for a species that players would like to use for play like previous entries (the Chiss, the Anx, etc.). Oh well.

7.) Special Ops: The Sector Ranger is this issue’s Prestige Class offering. This makes a great change for those players who want to play law enforcement officers, but want their characters to still retain a great deal of freedom. Reach 10th level and you can even cross jurisdictional boundaries to go after wanted criminals. Maybe you could even set up a new campaign: Star Wars: Legend of the Rangers. (If you didn’t get the joke, pay me no mind.)

8.) Finally, we have Special Ops: The Mercenary, this issue’s archetype. This time, the character is a combination of the scoundrel and the soldier. Not a bad combination, but the emphasis on building up the scoundrel side first would seem to put early level characters at a disadvantage in battle. That may just be my own paranoia speaking, though.

Special Features, this issue, only holds one article, Model Citizen: Chalmun’s Cantina. (That’s the Mos Eisley Cantina, for the uninitiated.) I’m always amazed at the works shown in this section, and I hope there are some model-makers out there getting good use out of it. It doesn’t seem like something the typical fan would get into, though. Then again, where else will the atypical fan, the model builder, find this kind of great information?

Finally, we come to what I feel is the jewel of the issue, the Fiction section. This time, we have two stories, both NJO era, and both written by established NJO authors.

First, we have Battle on Bonadan, the first part of Greg Keyes’ Emissary of the Void serial. Now, I have to admit, having a 6-part storyline when there are only 6 issues per year is a bit of a stretch, but if we can put that aside, the story seems interesting. We learn that Uldir’s last name is Lochett, and we follow his misadventures with Jedi Knight Klin-Fa Gi, as they try to escape the Corporate Sector Authority and the Yuuzhan Vong. Not much happens this issue, but the stage is set for interesting adventures to come.

Second, we have Elaine Cunningham’s The Apprentice. Yes, I know there is already an Official Continuity story called The Apprentice (an old Marvel issue that was included when the Marvel Series was officially brought back into the Continuity), but that’s not that big a deal. The interesting thing about this story is that it takes place during Cunningham’s Dark Journey, the next NJO novel, which leaves us wondering about the events surrounding the story. The story itself brings Jaina Solo, Lowbacca, Tenel Ka, and Kyp Durron on a mission to Gallinore, where not all is as it seems, and Jaina is continuing to tread the edge toward the Dark Side.

These two stories are must-reads for the NJO fans who want to keep up on everything.

So, that takes care of the issue. Is it worth the price? Very much so. In fact, if all issues were like this one and the Dark Side theme issue, I’d say those couple of issues alone are worth the subscription price. The question now, though, is whether or not the next issue, said to bear a Starfighters theme, will live up to this issue.

I suppose we’ll find out soon enough . . .

 

Gamer #9
Grade: C

What goes up must come down. After last issue’s great New Jedi Order Era content, including two NJO short stories (one of which tied directly into the newest novel, Dark Journey), one could’ve hoped that the next issue would keep up the pace. After all, the serialized Emissary of the Void would be continuing, so there was hope.

Yeah, well. Maybe not.

Again, Gamer has shifted gears, skewing nearly entirely into gaming coverage, which is sure to make the huge portion of the readership who are in it for the Official Continuity materials rather disappointed.

The issue features only one short fiction story. Given that it is part two of Greg Keyes’ six-part Emissary of the Void, and we receive very little in terms of shocking or highly revelatory story progress, that makes the fiction section feel pretty much non-existent. Whose idea was it to have a serialized story that ends after the subscription year for original subscribers would end? Cheap marketing ploy alert!

The Deck Plans and State of the Arts sections are rather beefed up. In fact, they are probably the best versions of those sections in a long while. Deck Plans abandons the Decipher CCG (grumble grumble) in lieu of giving us a preview of the new WotC game coming soon. State of the Arts gives us rather deep looks into Jedi StarfighterJedi OutcastGalaxiesRogue Leader, and Galactic Battlegrounds. The video gamer will love this issue.

The Departments are standard fare. Force Feedback and Jedi Counseling deal with the usual types of reader questions. Jedi Mind Tricks gives us a goofy game a la Highlights for Kids. The Rogues Gallery features pilots, while a separate article exists regarding the creation of Corellian names for characters. Nothing all that special there, unless you’re really into Corellians.

The bulk of the issue, though, covers RPG materials. That particular section (actually two sections: Roleplaying Game and Adventures) includes nine articles.

The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life articles continue in this issue with a story on the Nosaurians, the alien residents of New Plympto, the planet wiped out by the Vong thanks to Numa and Alema Rar, the latter of which is a major player in Star by Star. Lots of good Official Continuity info there.

There are two articles featuring pilots. The first, On Wings of Rogues, features a guide to creating your own starfighter squadrons, while the second, Wraith Squadron, features profiles and stats for the pilots of Allston’s X-wing novels. There is some info in there that is new to Official Continuity fans.

Running the Belt, article #4 for our purposes, features a gaming method to recreate events from the middle of Vector Prime.

The Dice, Camera, Action series continues here with another article about the “McGuffin.” One wonders when the articles will move past this particular plot device.

Two Special Ops articles make appearances. The first introduces the Jedi Weapon Master prestige class, while the second introduces the Battle Empath archetype. Both make for interesting Jedi play.

The two biggest articles concern the Moddell Sector. Never heard of it? Well, you’ve seen it on film. It’s the sector that includes Endor. What we get is an article called Endor & the Moddell Sector (very original name, by the way) that gives us WAAAAAAAAY more info on that sector than we will ever need, but which reveals interesting tidbits, like the background of Charal and the Marauders who are seen in Battle for Endor. We also get details about the creation of the Death Star II. That leads into the adventure Race for the Tessent, which isn’t so much a set adventure as it is a series of encounters that the GM is encouraged to weave into an adventure in his or her own way. Both of these are good articles, to be sure, but they take up far too much space for my tastes.

So, is it a bad issue? Not at all. It’s actually above average for Gamer, but given the hopes that existed for this issue in light of the previous issue, it can’t help but fall short, and the reader can’t help feeling let down.

Next issue, though . . . That looks promising. Attack of the Clones era Coruscant, a new Mara Jade story by Tim Zahn, a complete encyclopedia to WotC’s new card game . . . If I hadn’t learned to control my body so well as a very young child, I swear I’d be peeing myself with excitement. See you next issue!

 

Gamer #10
Grade: B+

Issue #10 of Gamer, better known to some as Volume 2, Issue 4, came with a sense bittersweet loss. This was to be the final issue of Gamer. I figured that there’s no better way to kick off the return of my RPG reviews at the newly relaunched T’Bone’s than with this final issue of a highly uneven publication.

So, first, a breakdown of the sections. We are given seven sections: Fiction; Special Features; Roleplaying Game; Deck Plans; Adventures; State of the Arts; and Departments.

Departments is broken into “Force Feedback,” “Rogues Gallery,” “Jedi Counseling,” “Jedi Mind Tricks,” and “Dice, Camera, Action!” It is, as usual, the most . . . fluffy . . . of the sections.

“Force Feedback” is the same fare we’ve seen before. Letters from the criticizing and the fawning alike. However, this edition carries a few tidbits that place it above the rest in my book: RPG stats for Dash Rendar, LEE-BO2D9, the Outrider, and a new weapon known as a San-Ni staff. The former three get my vote for “Best Additional Stats Without Having to Have a New Sourcebook for an Old Novel Award.” If that’s too long a title, just consider me as having said, “Dude, sweet” in a Cartman voice and leave it at that.

The “Rogues Gallery” this time is filled with “City Slickers,” images of spaceport patrons for use with character sheets. The images are so-so, as usual, but the “Dig some of my other work at . . . ” plug by the artist, Kyle Stanley Hunter, is just plain bad form. Why not put a nice big logo of his website on a character’s tunic? (You’ll note that I’m not including a link to that site here. Shame on you, Mr. Hunter.)

“Jedi Counseling,” by J.D. Wiker answers RPG questions, as normal, and also includes a sidebar about creating high-level characters without starting from scratch. Nothing special here, but decent for tricky situations.

“Jedi Mind Tricks” is a little trickier than previous installments. This time, you’re matching clues to terms you have to pull out of your memory, then you have to take those terms and make anagrams of them to match items in another column. This one’s a headache, but a fun one. Kudos to Mike Selinker for a decent game this time.

“Dice, Camera, Action!” deals with the concept of “The Big Twist,” the plot events that change the characters’ perspective or bring their story to a new direction. It’s a decent article, but, again, for experienced gamers, it’s going to come off as preschool. The author, Robin D. Laws, did a good job writing it, but it is definitely for new gamers. The flow-charting example, though, which helps guide gaming scenarios from plot point to plot point like an old Choose Your Own Adventure style tale, is nicely done.

“State of the Arts” features five items. The first two are previews of Bounty Hunter and Knights of the Old Republic, while the second pair are strategy guides for Racer Revenge and Jedi Starfighter, and the final article is an update on Galaxies. All would be considered old news by the time of this review, but, let’s face it, even at the time it was printed, it wouldn’t have been the big pull of this issue. If you want gaming news, go to a video game feature magazine. Gamer only fills you in on what the companies want you to know. That’s the advantage of being company-owned and “official.”

“Deck Plans” for this issue is just a look at the new WotC SW:TCG. That’s nice and all, but isn’t it just a tad self-serving? Maybe Wizards and Hunter should have a party after this issue sells out in mail-orders?

Alright, now into the meat of the issue (finally) . . .

The Special Features are interesting, if not entirely gaming related. One is a feature on the new board games released for Attack of the Clones, while the other is a new edition of “Model Citizen,” featuring H.G. Walls’ Lars Homestead model that is absolutely amazing, but, to be frank, damned near impossible to emulate.

The “Adventures” section is short and hit-and-miss. The 4th-7th Level adventure, “Standoff on Leritor” is a highly forgettable “any era” adventure. No big shock there. The jewel of the section, though, is a new solo (or solitaire, for old West End Games fans) adventure featuring a Jedi named Nason Laric. I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time: a standalone RPG adventure for one player that can get new people into the game. It isn’t nearly of the quality of the early Adventure Journal solitaire adventures (but what about Gamer actually is up to par with the AJs?), but it’s a decent adventure on its own. Kudos to S. John Ross for giving us a new solo adventure.

The “Roleplaying Game” section is pretty full this time. We get “Galactic Power Brokers,” which is my personal favorite of the issue, featuring RPG stats for many powerful political players from AOTC like Bail Organa. There is a companion to the Revised Rulebook that breaks down a few basic changes from the new release (a thrill for anyone not wanting to pay $39.95 for another starter book). A feature on “Droid Starships” follows those, but only includes a scant three vehicles. (Three pages for three ships? Surely they could’ve crammed a few more stats in there.) And, then we have our quickies: a “University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life” entry for Clawdites (great for those looking for Zam’s species or stats for Zam Wesell herself); a Sharpshooter Prestige Class; a Medic Archetype; and an amusing feature that allows you to use random dice rolls to create Wookiee names. Amusingly, the suffix “nik” (as in “beatnik”) means “jester.” How perfect is that?

And, finally, we come to my reason for picking up any issue of Gamer, the short fiction. This issue featured two short stories. The first is the third installment of Greg Keyes’ Emissary of the Void. Again, not much plot advancement, but by now you’ve been able to read all six installments, perhaps in one sitting, so the pacing makes more sense in the long run. At the time, it was disappointing. The second tale is Handoff, a story featuring the first meeting of Mara Jade and Ghent. It’s a nifty little story of maneuvering, manipulation, and all the things Mara does best, and I love a good origin story for an established character, so this was the prized purple peanut of this issue.

No, I don’t know what the hell a “prized purple peanut” is. Shut up. Heh.

So, is it worth a look? Certainly, if for the fiction alone. Am I sad to see Gamer go? It’s a tough call. Gamer had potential, but loused it up on numerous occasions. I certainly won’t miss the fluff features or the features that were of little use to the hardcore gamer, but I will definitely miss the loss of a venue for what were supposed to be segments of fan-submitted stories, from time to time. Fan writers who wanted to get their stories published into the continuity have lost their one-and-only official outlet, before it was even truly opened to them. And for that, and that alone, I shed a tear.

Alright, so I just had something in my eye, but it’s a loss nonetheless.

 

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