Ares Magazine: sci-fi and fantasy gaming in the 80s (free games inside)
December 2, 2013 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Ares was a science-fiction and fantasy-oriented game magazine that only lasted for 17 issues and two special editions in the early 1980s. Each issue included a short story, game reviews and designer's notes, plus a complete game. The magazine was first published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI), then TSR when they acquired SPI. TSR folded Ares into Dragon magazine, and finally killed off the line all-together. Recently, One Small Step Games has been talking about resurrecting Ares, but until then, can take you back to the '80s, with scans of those issues to view and download.

You can read about the twelve issues published by SPI, and see the entire run from SPI to TSR on an archived view of a fansite, though the fan didn't have issues #6 and 9, but you can fill those gaps with the SPI-specific coverage.

Here are the scanned issues on
  1. Worldkiller
  2. The Wreck of the BSM Pandora
  3. Barbarian Kings
  4. Arena of Death
  5. Citadel of Blood
  6. Voyage of the BSM Pandora
  7. Rescue from the Hive
  8. Ragnarok
  9. DeltaVee
  10. The Return of the Stainless Steel Rat
  11. Albion, Land of Faerie
  12. Star Trader
  13. Damocles Mission, First Contact
  14. The Omega War
  15. Nightmare House
  16. The High Crusade
  17. Mongoose and Cobra
Special Edition 1. First Contacts
Special Edition 2. NEW WORLDS of the Solar System
posted by filthy light thief (16 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

One parting note: some of the scanned game materials look odd in the online viewer (edges cut off, incomplete images), but render just fine as downloaded PDFs.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:44 AM on December 2, 2013

It was a true fool's errand to try to go up against Omni (previously). Maybe today... no, wait, magazines are dead, even Omni Reboot is all online.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:53 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

That Hive game in the Rescue from the Hive game looks awesome!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:55 AM on December 2, 2013

Oh! I think I am going to try out Citadel of Blood some time. That'd be fun to print out and make. Check out a review of Traveller in the same issue!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2013

Ares issue reviews at Grognardia.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:09 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

SPI on Board Game Geek, where you can find more pics of these games in action, along with SPI's other publications.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:14 PM on December 2, 2013

So many of the games looked so great in concept, but played weirdly. Albion, as I recall, had an attrition mechanism that made it fairly likely for your armies to just kind of... dissolve... without actually making contact with the enemy. Setting up the board was excellent "lonely fun," though.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:19 PM on December 2, 2013

Wow, somebody didn't like Krull very much...

And now all I can think about is Ralph Fiennes from In Bruges shrieking, "It's a fairytale movie, isn't it? How's a fairytale movie not somebody's fucking thing?"
posted by Naberius at 12:30 PM on December 2, 2013

Thanks, I love the feel of old SPI stuff. Very different from the D&D art that followed it and always with a foot in hex wargames.
posted by steinsaltz at 1:08 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

somebody didn't like Krull very much...

The slap at James Horner is harsh too. In his score from "Krull" you can tell he is pulling out all the stops to make it seem as exciting as the Enterprise leaving spacedock when the fantasy heroes from Krull are gradually negotiating a cliff.
posted by steinsaltz at 1:40 PM on December 2, 2013

Worldkiller? Oh, that sounds horrible! Why can't you place a nice game like gin rummy? /mum
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:04 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of game designer / prolific freelance writer Greg Costikyan, so it's always nice to see some of his many articles in old back issues.
posted by Gelatin at 3:10 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Comparing Ares to Omni is kind of like comparing baseball to cross country skiing - the shop that stocks the one can order you the other. Maybe.

Ares was more like Strategy and Tactics, or maybe Metagaming's microgames. They probably had some readership overlap but they were hardly in direct competition.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:59 PM on December 2, 2013

Looks very cool. Maybe now I can play Star Trader as well as Star Traders.

Also interesting to note: there was an Ares center pull-out section of Dragon Magazine for quite a few issues after TSR took over SPI. There were some interesting things there -- one of the few non-FGU supplements I've ever seen for Space Opera, for example.

Are the uploads actually legal, though?
posted by jiawen at 6:19 PM on December 2, 2013

"place"? Jesus.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:44 PM on December 2, 2013

It's a window into a less lucreative, yet happier, age of gaming. Although I have to say, I once had a boxed set reprint of Costikiyan's Barbarian Kings, and we never could make enough sense of it to play. Shame.
posted by JHarris at 9:42 PM on December 2, 2013

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