As a long time Savage Worlds player and GM I've always had a special affinity for the Savage Insider. Until now, though, it's never been a publication that I've really considered a "must buy" (but I was all over the free issues). With the shift to Obatron I finally decided it was time to put a little money where my game was... and boy was it worth it!
Since my last free (ie, cheapskate) issue, V1I9, there is a noticeable change in layout. Between in-place art, backgrounds and watermarks there is color splashed all through the magazine. It gives the overall product a very polished look and made the visual experience a real joy, starting right there on the cover.
Linked Table of Contents!! In the age of tablet reading an active TOC is practically a must these days. Coming right after the gorgeous cover, this feature alone was enough to make me feel secure in converting over to a paying customer. But it didn't end there. With a State of the Savage from Clint Black, himself; several articles geared toward GM advice; multiple adventures, maps, and even figure flats(!); and a High-Space Designer's Diary (one of my own, personal, favorite Savage Settings)... this issue really has a little something for everyone.
I'd love to get my magazines all advertisement free, but am willing to accept the financial realities of them. This issue really impressed me with its ability to keep the total ad space low (a lot lower than most eZines I read) and keep those ads very specifically tailored to the target audience (not one eCig, "legal herb" or "enhancement" ad in the bunch). Because of the appropriateness of the ads, I actually prefer having them in there over paying a higher per-issue or subscription rate to have them removed. Well done, Obatron.
Room for Improvement:
A review without critique is only half a review, so there are a few things that I'd like to see in future issues.
- It may just be the device I was reading on, but I found that font-widths and line-spacing tended to vary a little between articles, and sometimes even between paragraphs. While the ability to read the text wasn't impacted, it did give many pages an overall "word-processed" appearance that really stuck out when compared to the rest of the production value. This is really the only thing that stopped me from giving a 5-star rating (even though I readily admit is purely a style-over-substance issue).
- The overall content definitely has its balance toward the GM. Players that aren't as interested in mechanics tips or running adventures may find themselves a little short on content (though certainly not left out). I wouldn't presume to dictate any specific percentage balance, as everyone's tastes and interest are their own (and the balance was great for me, as a long-time GM who also enjoys being a Player), but it may be something to keep in consideration for new readers.
- It's apparently the hardest thing in the world for me to think of the publisher as Obatron and not Orbatron.