I was totally stoked when I heard about Gygax magazine, and then when I saw the pictures on the web site at the unveiling, hey - it was the old Dragon trade dress! Nostalgia demanded I purchase this immediately.
It showed up today, and I read it, and here's what I think.
First off - when I opened the envelope, the magazine was so very thin. In another product I wouldn't have noticed, 60 pages is still a good count, but with the trade dress, it invites comparison to Dragon. No 90+ pages here. So, sort of a sad reminder of the decline of our hobby.
They are not targeting old school, or if they are, they didn't do it very well with this issue. They replicate the old-school Dragon trade dress, which is kind of annoying, because there wasn't a lot of old-school content in there. So it's a nostalgia play, but I think the publisher wants to market to everyone with a big-tent magazine. Let me be clear: I hate big tents, because there's so little in those tents that interests me. I like focus.
The magazine has lots of authors with old-school cred - two Gygaxes, a Kask, a Ward, a Lakofka. Most of that was fluff though (except the Lakofka article which went into some crunch on AD&D bonuses) - a lot of talking about the good old days. The other articles were also fluff, or crunchy articles for newer games that I don't care about. The exception is Gnatdamp, a swamp town by Michael Curtis, which was good. It was statless and thus system-neutral, but clearly D&D.
Writing this, I'm feeling this post isn't much of a review - but that's because there was very little I could judge on its usefulness. It was mostly fluff, and several articles on stuff I don't play.
I am tepid on the magazine right now. I understand why there are fluff articles, everyone wants to reminisce, but there were so many... I think a better approach would have been to spread them out across more issues, and have a lot more focused content. A higher page count would also have been nice too, as it stands it's like staring at terminally ill patient when sitting side-by-side with the early 80's Dragon magazines I've got on my shelf.
Overall impressions - love the trade dress, too much fluff, wish it was more focused on early edition D&D - something more like the soon-to-be-departed Fight On! magazine. Presumably there's not enough of us in the OSR to support Gygax magazine as a business entity though, and they'll keep their big-tent approach.