Aardevarque Comment: Dragon #229
Date Reviewed: 05/03/1996

Just got DragMag #229 yesterday.  IDHIIFOM, but here's a (not-so-)quickie 
summation, without any real spoilers whatsoever.

Wu-jen!  Wu-jen!  Wu-Jen!  And by Zeb himself, nonetheless!
Some really useful Illusionist spells, and tips & tricks (from the 
  *characters* POV rather than the *player's*)
Paraelementalists & other fun wizard types
The hard-copy paper confirmation of the answer on how Contigency 
  officially works, so that the non-line gamers can know, too.
A bunch of other articles that <gasp> might actually be useful to most 2nd 
  ed. campaigns
After all the kender stories, we now get to read about a dragon attempting 
  to take over/destroy/whatever Mt. Nevermind.

Wyrm's turn editorial labors a little much on the D&D player=nerd bit.
The article on magic items from the Indian subcontinent fell flat-- a 
  couple of them might actually prove useful in an Indian campaign, but 
  the article read like a treatise on the life cycle of pond algae, thus 
  killing for me what might otherwise have been a decent article (since
  I have liked the other material they've presented for Indian campaigns)
After all the kender stories, we now get to read about a dragon attempting 
  to take over/destroy/whatever Mt. Nevermind. (What's next on the list of 
  *really* annoying DL races?  Gully Dwarves?  Oh-gee, fun.)
Was it *really* necessary to include the cover art three times in one 
  issue?  (Cover, op-ed, and contents page thumbnail)

Color choice for words on cover bites the big one--you can't read most of 
  the article titles.  The now-constant polybagging prevents browsing for 
  those that like to make educated decisions about whether or not to buy 
  a given issue (but the inserts polybagging allows have been good--until
  this month, anyway; I mean, a Highlander card?!) and an inability to
  read even the cover blurbs *really* made me think twice about getting 
  this one.
Typefaces on article titles are *really* difficult to read at times.  
  There's one in particular (and now I'm blanking on which article it was, 
  though I can picture the typeface--I *think* it was the illusions one, 
  but it might have been the one on survivability of 1st level mages)
I *really* don't like the new layout for the "TSR Preview" pages--I have a 
  hard time telling the article from the ads, and the wacky perspectives 
  on the artwork, large typeface, and wide spacing spread it out way too
  far.  Go back to the original format, expand it to 2 pages (no ads), and 
  add *normal* pictures.  And a 2-line description of each product 
  couldn't hurt either.
A few too many of the articles have breaks and are continued elsewhere in 
  the magazine.  This gets really annoying after a while, especially if 
  you for example, skip the fiction for reading later, and then 
  accidentally stumble across the denoument elsewhere in the mag, spoiling 
  the ending for you!
It's getting really difficult to tell where some of the ads leave off and 
  the articles & associated artwork begin.  It also feels like there're 
  more ads than articles on most of the pages, especially the pages that 
  are split vertically.  Articles get dragged out by having a couple 
  paragraphs on each page accompanied by a 2/3-page spread of ads; per 
  page of article beyond the first.

All that said, though, I liked it; the mag is pretty much back to teh 
level of quality I expect of it, and I have more beefs with layout & font 
choice than with article & artwork selection & quality.  And if I have to 
pick one, I think I vastly prefer quality content over pretty content.  

My advice: pick it up.  For most people, there'll be information worth the 
cover price in there.

Aardy R. DeVarque
Feudalism: Serf & Turf

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