by John Marsden
By Stephen Agar
will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that at 138 issues Ode is the
longest running UK Diplomacy zine without a break.
NMR! did keep up for 136 issues until the recent fold, but now John has
the stage to himself. Ode has been running that long that I even reviewed issue 1
of Ode thirteen years ago in Pigmy 31.
is in an A5 photo-reduced booklet format, with 32-36 pages (8-9 sheets of A4).
Presentation is fairly good, although some of the headings used push the
capability of the dot matrix printer creating them to its limits.
Since Manorcon the cover of the zine has modestly proclaimed the fact
that the Ode team won the Manorcon championship in 1990 and 1992, even including
a drawing of a winners plaque. A
feat to be proud of, no doubt.
relies on several external GM's in order to increase the variety of the games he
has on offer, Steve Jones GM's Mercator, Andrew Poole and David Watts adjudicate
Railway Rivals and Bus Boss, Steve Froud GM's Origins of World War II, Graham
Lee and Dave Erridge handle 1830 and 1829 respectively and try as I might I
can't work out who GM's Empires of the Middle Ages as he never seems to get any
credit, but simple elimination suggests Simon Cradock.
I wouldn't quite call Ode a fully-fledged multi-games zine, but it does
offer more variety than most. This
gallimaufry of GM's means that Ode's appearance can be a hotch-potch of
typefaces as an inevitable consequence of several people providing camera-ready
copy, but so what.
Marsden holds the zine together, providing an "Oditorial", a letters
section and hobby news. John's
strong personality does come through, particularly when he is preaching the
Liberal and green message and describing Richard Williams as an "autocrat
and a Fascist". Perhaps John
doesn't realise it, but he does sometimes come across as extremely patronising,
especially when he decides not to refer to people by their christian names and
starts calling them "Mr. Agar". Well,
recent issues, the letters pages have been dominated by Guardian politics (Rio
summit, Greenpeace, education, re-distributive taxation, solar-power), which is
probably a fair reflection of John's views and interests.
Politically John says a lot I would agree with and a fair bit that I
would not agree with, though with the notable exception of Richard Williams (the
said alleged "autocrat and Fascist") most of John's readership seem to
be on the same wavelength as him. Ode
does have a flavour and a personality - I don't mean to sound snide when I refer
to liberal politics because the hobby is enriched by having zines that express
all points of view, though there are precious few left-wing zines about (which
probably reflects the social class from which most Diplomacy zine editors are
drawn). I certainly can't be
bothered to spout left wing politics in Spring Offensive just to even things up.
what I've seen, Ode does indeed seem to be run efficiently, running to 5 week
deadlines and turning round in under a week.
I would certainly agree that it would be an excellent place in which to
play and I have already put myself down on one of John's waiting lists.
from Spring Offensive 5