Friday, 16 November 2012
Ravage Magazine has been somewhat of a French institution for quite some time now. Indeed, whenever I found myself in France walking past a news stand I'd always look to see if they had a copy. Mainly so I could look at the pretty pictures, but also to try and translate the articles myself. Normally with quite comical effect. I don't mind admitting my French skills are not up to scratch. I'm OK with German, and I've been able to guy by in Scandinavian nations, but chuck me in at the deep end with the romance languages and I struggle. True I can order a cheese sandwich and a beer, but I'm not exactly able to communicate too successfully. So when I heard that the guys at Cool Mini or Not were looking to produce an English version of the magazine I have to say I was a little bit excited. After all Ravage magazine is one of the few hobby print publications that seems to be able to survive, if not thrive... so an English language version is an interesting proposition and one many hobbyists should be happy to see.
So is it any good? Well yes and no, early doors there have been some 'unique' and 'special' translation issues, which has led to some awkward syntax and phrasing. However, despite the odd sentence hiccup, which has caused my defective dyslexic brain to do more than the odd double take, it remains a riveting and informative read. I was very happy when I saw Maelstrom Games were stocking it, and readily gobbled up the first two issues. However, there was a problem with me acquiring issue 3 and 4, I'm pretty sure you can all guess as to the reasons why that was the case. Luckily for me and all you lot I have managed to find at least one other store here in the UK that stocks it, Valiant Games. Now this isn't a ringing endorsement, considering recent occurrences I won't be giving any of those out, some of you may have noticed I've removed the service score from my reviews. What I will say though is that David who runs Valiant Games also runs Basecraft and I've had no major problems, plus he seems like a decent chap... he could of course be a serial killer, I just doubt it. So what do I think of each issue so far:
Given this is the first English language version of the magazine it isn't a surprise that it is also the magazine with the most typo's and translation issues. Despite that it still has some really interesting articles, I really enjoyed the Infinity article on the Shasvastii Sphinx by Nod and Gutier Lusquiños unsurprisingly I'm given it's an Infinity article I enjoyed it. There were a number of reviews for boardgames I found really useful, although the two games I was most interested in Gears of War and Mansions of Madness I already owned and had reviewed. But, no doubt it's really useful to have reviews of product by fellow gamers. There are interesting articles on Warpath and Dust Tactics, including new scenarios for Dust Tactics, which if you are a fan of that game you should be really interested in. However, my favourite part of the magazine is from page 51 onwards, it's called Technique and it contained some really handy painting tips / recipes as well as some exceedingly inspirational pieces. My favourite being the Forge World Lord of Change painted by Julien Casses, some very cool tips and some really nice pictures of a fabulous miniature stunningly painted. My tip top fave article though was an interview by Bryan Steele with Raphael Guiton about the rebirth of Confrontation, a game I'm really eager to see come back.
There were more articles in the first issue that really grabbed me from the off. Issue 2 was perhaps a bit of a lull, mainly because I had raised expectations perhaps. There was a follow up to issue 1's Warmachine Wrath article for Domination for Hordes, but honestly I didn't find either all that useful or interesting to read. There was another article or two for Infinity about Post Humans and the new Harris Fireteam rule, interesting again, but didn't grab me as much as the article from issue 1. There were however some more interesting reviews, including one for Zombicide and Dust Tactics Revised Edition, both of which I enjoyed reading and found really useful. There was also a large double page spread on Codex Necrons, but as you can guess given my current feelings on Games Workshops core games it too left me just a tad cold. Yet again there were more scenarios for Dust Tactics, that actually got me getting my card tiles out again and dusting off my rulebooks to give it another go. However, it was the painting sections that once again got me most interested, there was a diorama that used the faery from Raging Heroes that I really took a lot of inspiration from. But it was the article on the Crystal Brush 2012 competition that I really enjoyed. I loved looking at the tip top entries in a nice glossy magazine as opposed to have to look at bleary photographs on various Blogs. Yep it sort of saved issue 2 for me.
By the time issue 3 came along many of the translation 'oddities' and weird syntax were gone. True there were still the odd mistake, but it was close to being a highly polished product and the content this issue really pleased me. The magazine also came over less as one big advert and more like a genuine magazine that was trying to inform me, I really appreciated the subtle change in tone. I think of the issue 3 articles I really appreciated the look at Bushido, and Dungeon Run, both games I'm really interested in. I'm already heavily invested in Bushido, what with owning a large contingent of both Prefecture of Ryu and Cult of Yurei miniatures, and being in for all of the Ito miniatures too (hurry up GCT I'm waiting). There were also big articles on Empire of the Dead and Shadow Sea, two games more and more people are asking me to look at, so I got some easy research in on those. there were some MERCs articles, which also got me wanting to look at that game again, and as Steve at Sarissa Precision has kindly offered to walk me through a game or two I'll have to take him up on the offer. Of most interest though was a Wrath of Kings battle report, 1) because I love battle reports and 2) because again Wrath of Kings is another game people have asked me to look at... you're a demanding bunch you really sodding are. So yep, more cheap research and I have to be honest it sounds like fun. Hell there was even a piece of Relic Knight literature written by John Caddice, which hit just at the right time for me as I was wandering whether or not to back the Kickstarter. Nope issue 3 convinced me I'd need to start collecting Ravage on a regular basis.
If Issue 3 was the catalyst to me deciding to continue buying the magazine, then issue 4 was the reinforcement of that decision. Yet again the higher standard in translation of articles was maintained and syntax and weird sentence structure and phraseology were kept to a minimum. I was particularly pleased to read articles on both Dust Warfare and Hell Dorado, two games the magazine convinced me to pick up again and play some games, I'm still yet to get the game of Hell Dorado in, mainly because people think it is dead again, but I'm glad I played Dust Warfare again. Sure it's flawed, but I still had fun. But the magazine also landed just at the time I got my copy of Zombicide, and there are a lot of resources in the magazine for the game including a useful review and an exclusive scenario that genuinely found fun to play. There were also some added play tips. There was some more Infinity stuff, which I of course approve of, this time focussing on the new faction the Tohaa, which was great because I'd not yet got the Paradiso book in my hands so it calmed the night terrors. Again more MERC's, which reminds me I really ought to email Steve... but to top things off and confirm the magazine as my new bestest friend there was a Heavy Gear Blitz article about the Field Guides. Sold!
Personally I think the translation is starting to get significantly better. I personally feel there was a jump in quality around issue 3 that showed perhaps maybe the English speaking editorial team were starting to get on top of things. The magazine despite the odd and comical sentence and phrase is undeniably a good read. A damn good read, and for me is significantly better than many other independent magazines. Hell it gives the company specific publications from Games Workshop, Privateer Press and Battlefront. It's genuinely interesting, informative and has good painting guides and tips, plus is packed with resources for games like Dust Tactics, Zomicide and their ilk. If I were to design the sort of magazine I'd like to read it would look something like this, and although this isn't a review as such, I would urge you all to go and grab yourself the latest copy of Ravage and any of the back issues you may have missed. It's well worth a read. Peace out!