The Dragon in Review, Issue Forty-Four

By Keith Senkowski
On November 17, 2015

This issue is just straight up weird. The early days of The Dragon are filled with issues like this where you have to stop and ask yourself, did they actually print this? Yes Little Timmy, they certainly did. It was the early 80’s kid. Shit was weird.

Phil! Phil is Back Everyone!

Oh Phil, how we have missed you. The childlike joy you put into every piece. The sound composition. The little narratives you tucked into every nook and cranny of the canvas. We love you Phil. We really do.

Food Fight is, well it is a game in the issue I address later in this micro review. Regardless of the merits of that game this cover evokes what it needs to do. You could keep the title off the magazine and people would know what the issue is about.

This issue also continues the trend of the boxed presentation on the cover. In general I think it works well when the artwork is strong enough to support it and when there is consideration given to the color of the typography. When the cover art is week, the box seems out of place, particularly if they choose the wrong color.

Honestly, if you don’t appreciate this man’s work, I don’t want to know you.

So This Is a Thing We Do Now?

So I know this is pretty tongue and cheek, but the debate has been raging in The Dragon for some issues at this point. The fact that we, as a subculture, find this shit funny is so weird to me. We joke about these weird esoteric things, like sending imaginary wizards to rescue the hostages in Iran…

Wait. Did I read that right? Yes. Yes I did. Reality slipped into the magazine, something that in my time reviewing it here and reading it for years only happened maybe once or twice. Here it happens as a part of a joke.

To be clear, wargaming arguments about tank divisions are as divorced from reality as sending fighter-mages to Iran is. Don’t let the very serious discussion outlining troop movements in these issues fool you into thinking otherwise.

Culturally, gamers are a insanely strange bunch.

The Dwarven Genome Project

So this little nugget of weird is just one entry in an entire issue dedicated to fantasy race genomics and creating half… well half everything. Basically everyone is sleeping with everyone else in this issue and making little half and half babies. It is such a strange issue.

When you couldn’t think it could get any stranger…

I call this particular bit out because it matches my dwarf theme to start us off and it reads so seriously. I feel like the writers of this issue in an effort to pull their joke off well did a little too much research into how genomic research papers are written. It makes the joke work, but damn isn’t it a little creepy.

SANTA! I KNOW HIM!

Seriously. I know him. He and his wife come to my town every year and ride the fire truck to the park district where they meet all the kids, give them a little advice on how to con their parents into buying them stuff with fake innocence, then gets out of Dodge when the sugar rush kicks in from the cookies.

Only gamers try to stat out everything…

At first you might be thinking, dick move Santa. You get them hopped up on the go juice and dreams of running the long con on their parents, then poof, out the door you and your old lady go off to enjoy a night of shaking the headboards. You might think that is a dick move, but you are wrong.

See Santa is really just a grandfather. His job is to teach kids the best way to con their parents, what sugary snacks are worth ingesting, and how to create innocent mayhem, then disappear. It is practically written into our cultural DNA that is what he is supposed to do.

Santa. Grandfather to us all.

Food Fight?

So Food Fight is a game that they dumped in this issue. We have seen this before, only this game is huge (23 pages not counting the map and counters). Having never played it I can’t argue the merits of it, but I can tell you from reading it it is probably not very good.

I am pretty sure this is art from Bill Willmingham, the creator of the Elementals and Fables, two fine, fine comics.

Why is that you may ask? Well it does that simulation dance that sucks all the fun out of something like a game about food fights. There are line of sight charts that make the eyes bleed, stats for weapons… I mean the food, and overly complicated movement rules. No one needs any of that.