Steve Kingsbury As ever it was a pleasure to receive Sumo especially after the long wait. However the gap did remind me that most zines print on the back the amount of sub still remaining. With the long gap this time I began to wonder whether my money had run out - in fact I rang you as you recall. So I think it would help if your policy on sub money was clear. Will you keep sending them but note more money is required or some other alternative?
MS: Partly because of the large numbers of the magazine that now go out and mainly because printing, collating and envelope stuffing are done out of house, I am not in a position to individually mark up the magazine itself. Even if I were, I probably wouldn't do it. It would take hours of none too exciting work and I never have held with that. However, each and every mailing label has 'Last Issue: Sumo x' where x is the last issue you've paid for. I also highlight pen this when your sub is low. Clearly though, as lots of you haven't spotted this information, it has far too low a profile!
Ed Austin As a new subscriber I am interested to know whether you play family and 'general' board games exclusively or if you are involved in any other gaming fields? If so, why don't you write on those as well?
MS: Good question. Although Sumo type games do probably now account for a majority of my gaming time, I also play sports games, wargames, the very occasional postal game, odd stuff like backgammon and recently, Carrom and Go. I keep my eye in on role playing and figure gaming, though neither is particularly active at present; I just read the rules. I would gladly play Call of Cthuhlu, Bushido, Ars Magica (misogynist latin for Great Buns) or perhaps even Runequest if I had access to keen players and my 25mm Napoleonics are steadily building up again after a break of ten years or more. I actually rather like the figure gaming hobby at the moment; some of the figures are excellent, I enjoy the therapeutic benefits of painting, the gamers are enthusiastic, there are a lot of them and I find some of the magazines and shows inspirational and exciting. But then I always have been a model soldier fan. I have been known to play the odd computer game and would play more if the quality was there. I have no involvement with professional PBM or, predictably, rubber swording, Host a Murder, freeform RPG or any of that tosh.
When you get down to it, Sumo is essentially a magazine that I would very much to read myself, but that no-one else is producing, so I do it instead. Odd logic I know, and costly in time. I suppose I don't write about the other subjects as they are amply covered in other places, whereas very little is written on the games covered in Sumo. In that respect I aim for a niche. My gut feeling, perhaps wrongly, is that board wargames wouldn't fit too well in the magazine (even Sierra Madre, Axis & Allies and possibly even Dambusters this time are iffy) and figures and roleplay even less so. Computer games have been discussed recently and all but excluded. I think Strategy Plus covers this area well enough. Basically, I am open to suggestions if I am misreading the market.
Norman Cook I believe that you have set yourself against small adverts in Sumo which is a pity as I am anxious to get the packs of cards that make up the game Card Cricket described in Games & Puzzles.
MS: Not me, sir. Per the masthead, any reader is permitted, nay encouraged, to insert short, non-commercial adverts in the Sales & Wants section, free of charge. This includes gamekits. Consider yours in - I presume you want the original set as Michele Montagni's desktop published set is in the Rules Bank?
Name Withheld (6th May 1993). On the 15th April I sent you a cheque for the best of 'Sumo's Karaoke'. On the 26th April I sent you a letter asking you if you received the money and to let me know one way or the other. You have ignored both communications so far as I can see and I consider this to be the height of ignorance and bad manners. How you manage to keep your publication going when you treat customers in this shabby manner is beyond me.
MS: Doesn't it just give you a warm feeling inside? Considering the two later letters arrived when I was on holiday and the whole episode took three weeks from initial letter to delivery of a Sumo Retro, I don't feel too bad about this one. What does sadden me is the attitude - perhaps there could be a misunderstanding in thinking Sumo a professional magazine, but even then I don't think the delay is exceptional. Just to re-iterate the sentiment of the editorial, Sumo is done in my spare time, a commodity that is increasingly rare. There are nights when I come home so knackered that I can do little else but watch tv, conk out with a book or go to sleep - the thought of sitting down and sending out rules, back issues or doing sub requests is the furthest thing from my mind. I will do them, just give me some time.
Malcolm Smith One thing I always look for in Sumo is solitaire games. One of the problems of being a mobile ex-pat is that I never find, nor have time for, a games group. Therefore, unless there is a brilliant game on the market I will buy only games that can be played solitaire. That's why I scour the pages of your periodical for such games - please publish more reviews.
MS: I think this is due to my seeming inability to play these games and that virtually none of the European games are designed to be playable solo. I think, by default, you are pushed towards computer games, replay games (Statis Pro, Lambourne, Lionel etc) or wargames such as RAF, Ambush and Hornet Leader, to name but three. I haven't yet had anyone offer to review a solo game but will of course publish a review should something suitable come along.
Trevor Deadman-Spall Obviously I'm still enjoying Sumo but can I be terribly insular and awfully British and request that you desist from such ugly phrases as 'a turkey' and 'upcoming'. Should you insist on the vernacular then of course there is a huge range such as 'well wicked' or 'well bad' or 'what recession' but then again I am probably out of date and out of touch. Then again, we are in Europe and not the 51st State. Still, communication's the game and it is one we can all play and the rules are always changing.
MS: Yo Trevor! Kickin' comments. There really isn't much I can say to this. I use phrases such as 'most bodacious' or 'Not' because I think they are funny and a suitable parody of adjective overuse, and 'upcoming' or 'turkey' because useful words such as this have long been part of my vocabulary. Perhaps I have just watched Wayne's World too many times. As I said to a letter writer in an early issue, the writing approach is relatively set and if anyone really can't stand it, I suggest switching reading matter to the SFCP or perhaps The Times. It is not as if I do it all the time, after all (I have tried hard to curb my adjectives) and much of the time if I say something is excellent, I now mean it. Respect. PS Sorry I missed you off the database!
Keith Shapley Why not put the reviews at the back of the magazine - reading it from page one to the end would then remove the annoying comments like 'XYZ game is a good one which I hope to review this issue' having read the review already. Am I the only person who reads the magazine from front to back and doesn't pick and mix?
MS: Good point. It is odd that you don't spot these things sitting here in Sumo Towers, like those Type IV spelling errors that only appear after posting. In future I'll run the Essen Report as the lead item, as I will with Gamer's Notebook in issue 13, so you can get the feel for what is happening and then if the review appears, fine. Thanks Keith.
Pete Birks One small suggestion - can you state where it is possible to buy games which you review? I'm sure Just Games can't stock all of them.
MS: I thought I was quite good on this but obviously not! Shop guide is again included this issue along with notes on the two big German suppliers. The stock varies between the shops listed but in general one of them will have it. You do need to shop around a bit for these games.
Keith Rapley How about a letters section on the game we would most like to see reintroduced? My vote would go to Chaos Marauders - I've been looking for a copy for ages to give to friends.
MS: I would give the Games Workshop mail order section a call. They were selling these off cheap at Whitsun in London and must still have hundreds in their warehouse. My vote would probably go to Election.
Garry Lloyd I was dismayed at the length of time it had taken (ten issues) to actually unearth Sumo Towers and its treasures. Perhaps there is a game idea in there somewhere. Sumoroads - incorporating some worthless dead ends - GRiM being the most deadly of course.
MS: I print this excerpt because there must be half a dozen letters a month saying much the same thing. After three years, no nearly four, I find it slightly surprising that gamers are still discovering Sumo. Of course I am not going to complain about this but I have done what I can think of to alert everyone (short of getting into Virgin) and would have expected anyone interested to have spotted it by now. Perhaps not though - living in London, I have a skewed view of gaming - attending a number of cons and always visting shops and being on the lookout for new stuff. So, if anyone can suggest where I might go next to advertise, I'm open to offers. I do however wonder what the actual market is without newstand presence. I would guess at around 500-600 possibles, which leaves 100-200 to track down. There are clearly more gamers than this who fit the Sumo game playing profile (around 1,000?), but there are some who haven't yet found it, some clearly aren't interested, some who read someone else's copy, some who just don't read much on their hobby (they just buy and play, I suppose, which is fine) and a hopefully small group who I have failed to impress or have cheesed off - the three sad people who voted Sumo 1 or 2 out of 10 in the Zine Poll for starters. Get a life, gentlemen.
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Sumo - Mike Siggins - Legal Notices and Other Information