Runestone Top Ten
the uninitiated, the Runestone Poll is the USA's postal Diplomacy hobby's answer
to the Zine Poll in the UK. Zines are ranked from 0 to 10 by each voter, as are
subzines and GMs. There are some technical rules about how the scoring is done
and which zines are eligible, but you don't care about that, do you? I didn't
the top zine of 1995 is Maniac's Paradise, published by your very own DW editor
Doug Kent (6151 Royalton Drive, Dallas TX 75230). This zine has been at or near
the top of the zine rankings for several years now, and for good reason. This is
really the only zine currently in the hobby with a heavy game load, lots of good
reading material, and that comes out frequently and faithfully. Doug's
commitment to timely issues borders on the insane, but it is a wonderful bonus
to what is already an excellent zine. I have never played in MP, but I certainly
enjoy the political and hobby discussions in there. Recently, Doug has included
a fair amount of real life stuff about his move to Dallas and so forth which has
been quite entertaining. Another bonus with this zine is Doug's monthly
"Zinc Recap" feature where he reports on the contents of zines he subs
to - an excellent way to keep your finger to the pulse of the hobby.
second place finisher was also no surprise. Pete Gaughan's Perelandra has shared
the spotlight with MP for the past several years, with the two being
head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field. The strength of Perelandra has
traditionally been its letter column, which since the demise of Benzene has been
the best place for the hobby's political discussions. Pete (1236 Detroit Ave.
#7, Concord CA 94520) is also an excellent writer on his own account, as the
issues of the Zine Register under his editorship have shown. Pete also runs a
variety of games, particularly of the non-Dip variety, that have been a big draw
for subbers. The zine has fallen off in quality just slightly, which is why MP
took top honours, but is still a wonderful read. The only minor quibble is the
$1.50 issue price, but that long-standing price is now becoming closer to the
hobby norm then it once was.
in third this-year was CDD Medical Journal, published by Tom Pasko. I have never
seen this zine, but know that its primary focus is Avalon Hill's newly published
Dip variant Colonial Diplomacy. Some have found the variant to be an exciting
way to rediscover the pre-stalemate line fluidity that Diplomacy used to have,
while others have complained of the variant's imbalance. I don't have an opinion
on that, but at least the zine devoted to the game has proved popular.
three most involved hobbyists right now are probably Doug Kent, Pete Gaughan and
Andy York (PO Box 2307, Universal City TX 78148). It is no surprise, then, that
Andy's zine Rambling Way took fourth place in the 1995 Runestone Poll. This zine
has a very large circulation, and is reported to be an excellent place to play
Dip and variants. I am myself playing a game of Acquire by flyers though that is
not in the main zine. For reading material the zine is a little inconsistent.
There have been some great subzine articles before, particularly by
correspondents outside the US, but other times the non-game material is sparse.
Andy's zine is very regular, though, which makes it a good place to sign up for
a new game. He also has one of the most complete convention listings out there,
and keeps it updated. The list also reflects Andy's interests in other areas,
such as Star Trek.
Ozog has been in the hobby for a very long time, as has his wife Cathy Ozog.
When his fifth-place zine Ramblings by Moonliqht first started, it was sort of a
modest effort to run a couple of orphans from Cathy's defunct Cathy's Ramblings
and maybe a new game or two. It has grown into a charming zine full of
Eric/Cathy tales, environmental articles and general reading material, along
with several games with VERY LEGIBLE MAPS. (I believe good maps and printing
player addresses each issue are the marks of a good game report.) I have played
here and can attest to the good GMing and timeliness that Eric puts into the
games. Eric (PO Box 1138, Granite Falls WA 98252) used to publish Diplomacy by
Moonlight back in the early 1980s, so it's no surprise he knows what he's doing
Burgess (664 Smith St, Providence RI 02908) publishes what I believe to be the
only three-weekly Diplomacy zine still out there. The Abyssinian Prince, which
came in sixth this year, not only runs several Diplomacy games, it also serves
as host to the hobby's only discussion column that is both by mail and Email.
For a window on the mail world (that is fast eclipsing the traditional
"snail mail" hobby), TAP is a very useful addition to the zine scene.
Many of the issues discussed by Emailers are the same ones that used to be
discussed in postal zines, from crossgaming to the ethics of letter-passing. Jim
also features a lot of music chat and a fannish style that is not as prevalent
as it used to be in the hobby. Heck, Jim is an outright dinosaur with his
three-weekly deadlines - that is a holdover from the hobby of ten or twenty
lost count how many times Conrad von Metzke has published, ceased publishing,
and again started publishing the seventh-place zine Costaguana. Conrad (4374
Donald Avenue, San Diego CA 92117) has been doing it for about as long as the
hobby has been around. He is truly one of the hobby's most distinguished
old-timers, and his zine is usually the source of good reading material and
decent games service. At one point Conrad was running games of Railway Rivals
separately, but I believe all that has now been consolidated into Costaguana.
(Have you noticed that the two big sub hobbies of the early 90s, United and Rail
games, have both started disappearing from the postal scene?) I have not
received Costaguana for some time, but that is something I need to remedy. It
was always a good zine to get, and I'm sure it still is.
of the freshest zines of the 1990s has been Tom Howell's off-the-shelf. The
zine, which finished eighth, is primarily a place to read about Tom's life in
the woodlands of Washington state, and to read about his interests, from dancing
to geography. Tom is an excellent writer, and when I was playing out a standby
position, was a good GM as well. I have not seen this zine in a few issues, but
it is worth a look.
in ninth was the only Canadian offering in the top ten, Making Love in a Canoe.
For years editor Brent McKee (90l Ave. T North, Saskatoon Sask. S9L 3B9) was a
frequent and prolific contributor to other zines, and his talent for writing has
been carried over to his zine. It is a wonderful place to read about Canadian
events, much as Passchendaele and Northern Flame used to be. Brent also writes
on naval history and hobby matters, so it is quite a read when it arrives. He
has had some trouble on the GMing end, as he himself has admitted in times past.
But this one is truly worth getting for the reading material alone (although the
digest format and poor reproduction sometimes makes it difficult to read).
out the top ten is a zine I am particularly fond of, Dave Wang's Metamorphosis.
One reason I like it is the tremendous amount of Star trek discussion (the same
thing which makes Doug Kent gag I am happy to announce). It is full of good
writing, on this and other subjects, together with games galore. Dave (PO Box
1325, Summit NJ 07902) has had some problems with regularity in the past,
though, so don't expect the slavish attention to deadlines that you would get in
MP or Carolina Command and Commentary.
those are my thoughts on the top ten zines. I can't let this article go without
commenting on the devastating losses suffered in the zine ranks over the past
couple of years. When I saw the full list of only thirty zines in the poll
results, I could hardly believe it. It wasn't that long ago that thirty would
simply have been the top half of the listing. There is no question that the
postal side of the hobby is ebbing, and the zines are one bellweather of that
change. The big challenge facing our hobby is not the perennial fight over who
is going to hold Dip Con, or how World Dip Con is going to rotate around the
world, but instead how to attract Diplomacy enthusiasts, postal or not, to our
conventions in general, and how to get them involved in the hobby's lettercols
and other events. Let's put our heads together on this one.
from Diplomacy World No.75