Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Draconic Archeologist - A Final Look at the Strategic Review

ChicagoWiz asked in my comments to my previous post for my opinion on the Strategic Review run, now that I've read them.  My feeling is this:  it makes for a very telling snapshot of TSR during the time period.

Over the course of 7 issues, it goes from 6 pages to 20 pages - and it about to be reborn as The Dragon.  Initially, it was little more then a newsletter.  In the end, it was a magazine.

It gave us first view of new classes, races and magic items.  At the same time, it shared space with war games.  As TSR saw that D&D was turning into it's cash cow, they needed a magazine that could be devoted to it (and have a name that was a bit more reflective of it's contents).  Strategic Review was a fine name for a war gaming magazine but not really appropriate for a magazine devoting more and more space to Dungeons & Dragons.

First and foremost, one must remember that EGG was the primary voice of the company, and when he felt vocal on a subject, he surely let himself be heard. As an example, here is a snippet from the editorial of issue 2:  Donald Featherstone once said in WARGAMER’S NEWSLETTER that he believed Arnold Hendrick’s chief talent and claim to fame lay in his “pinching” of Fletcher Pratt’s Naval Wargame — alluding in all likelihood to similarities between Mr. Pratt’s game and the set of rules for naval miniatures authored by Mr.
Hendrick. I concurred with what was said in WARGAMER’S NEWSLETTER, and when the good Mr. Hendrick “reviewed” CHAINMAIL in a highly uncomplimentary manner I ignored what was written, for surely most hobbyists could be assumed to be able to read this “review” for what it was worth and in light of Mr. Hendrick’s talents otherwise. As an example of the comments he made regarding CHAINMAIL, the most amusing was his assertion that heavy cavalry was rated too high, imagine! In a period where the armored horseman dominated the field of battle, heavy horse are too strong! Anyway, the learned Mr. Hendrick subsequently “reviewed” DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, again in a very uncomplimentary manner — after all, he had gone so far as to play a game of D&D as a Cleric, completely armed with such edged weapons as spear and arrows . . . Again, this so called “review” was so obviously inaccurate and biased that I ignored it completely, although numbers of letters and telephone calls from irate D&D fans who had read the comments and wished to let me know that the “review” outraged them assured me that Mr. Hendrick would not escape totally unscathed. Eventually the magazine which retains Mr. Hendrick as a “reviewer” did print a contrary opinion — how could they ignore a counter-article written by Mr. James Oden, President of Heritage Models, Inc.? This brings me to the point of this editorial. The axe that Mr. Hendrick has been grinding so loudly and long has been exposed.

I don't think you can get more Gary Gygax then the above piece.  Classic.  Simply classic.

I enjoyed my reading of the Strategic Review.  It was like reading a piece of history.  The fun kind of history ;)

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