This September saw the return of White Dwarf to a monthly, larger format that was promised to be stuffed with great content for both noobs and veteran gamers of 40k and AoS alike. Now I haven’t bought a copy of this magazine in a long, long time – I fell out of the hobby for 10 years while WD was in its prime, and only fleetingly glanced at copies of the more recent weekly format (suppresses involuntary shudder) – but I do have a nostalgic soft spot for the venerable old publication and thought this might be a good time to dip back into it’s revitalised pages.
So, what do you get? Well, lets not pretend that there isn’t one overriding reason to get this magazine, and that is the free miniature on the cover. Much like the Age of Sigmar Magazine before it (which had a free Liberator or some such) the free slaughterpreist model immediately makes the magazine great value. Whether you play AoS or not is irrelevant in my book, as it is a cool miniature that you should enjoy painting at the very least. I’m also sure it can be fairly easily converted to something suitable for 40k with minimal fuss (something I may well attempt in the near future. Dark Apostle, anyone?).
So if that isn’t enough or you, what else is there? Well for me, the second best reason to get this magazine is the expanded rules sets for many of the specialty games that GW have released recently. Now I am a sucker for these games, and have enjoyed them all immensely (yes, even Assassinorum: Execution Force) but they have all gotten a bit stale after a few plays due to the lack of expanded rules. I have even been working on my own expanded rules sets for many of these games, so you can imagine my delight when i saw that GW had already thought of this!
The only disappointment for me is that they seem to have given all the sweeties in the sweet shop away in one magazine. For me, spreading these out over multiple issues with more depth and rules on each game would have had me coming back each and every month, and therefore feels like a missed opportunity. These rules will inject a bit of life back into the games for now and keep them on the tabletop, but I really wanted bit more. Who knows though, perhaps they will keep adding more and more rules for these games in future issues? I can only hope!
But away from the supposed ‘one offs’ above, what can we make of the new ‘regular’ content? Well for starters, the much heralded return of the Battle Report! These were easily my favourite part of the old WD, and for me the report inside this issue is a bit of a let down. I was disappointed to see it was AoS rather than 40k (just a personal preference, nothing against AoS) but also I found the format a bit off-putting.
The write up was perfectly fine and there are some very nice atmospheric shots of the action, but it felt less like an account of a game and more like a prolonged photo shoot. I also miss the old tactical map with symbols and arrows and explosion markers, as opposed to the static photo and arrows approach taken here. While I appreciate the effort made, there is better (and more) content available online, which is probably partially why this feature disappeared in the first place.
As for the other regular features, The Four Warlords article is a nice idea to bring back and I look forward to seeing how it developes over time. ‘Eavy Metal is always easy to be complacent about as we are so used to seeing great painted miniatures in codices and on the web, so it is worth taking a step back and admiring the painting skills on display.
Army of the Month is a nice feature, but I find the pin-up style double fold out pages a bit much (drawing curious glances when i unfolded it from my fellow coffee drinkers at a well-known high street establishment). The army in question is however breathtaking and worth a gander.
Illuminations is a ripping collection of artwork, although if you bought the deathwatch codex I imagine you already have it. Ultimate Guide is in a similar vein – it focuses on Imperial Knights this week, and since I know nothing of them or their background I found it interesting
Army Focus and Hall of Fame give a nice bit of background and inside knowledge into various miniatures (Nagash and the Deathwatch in this issue) while Sprues and Glue and Paint Splatter offer well-intentioned advice on painting and conversions, but again suffer from better content being available online.
Temporal Distort looks back at old issues of WD, reminding you just how good it used to be, while Parade Ground is just an extension of the ‘Eavy Metal section (sorry, not JUST an extension as the models are very good. It can just be a bit much sometimes…)
As of the format and magazine itself, the reduction in adverts is welcome. Sure there are still pages enticing you to go to Warhammer World (thanks but I’ll skip the 14 hr commute from Hong Kong. Yes I know, I’m a lightweight…) but at least it is Warhmmer stuff and within reasonable limits. The choice of paper is also bit odd – there is a nice gloss/matt mixed format cover which makes it feel very substantial, but the feel of the inner pages is slightly tacky. I can’t put my finger on it (no pun intended) but it is somewhere between typical glossy feeling magazine and normal paper, and just doesnt lend itself to browsing very well (but this is probably just reflective of me in some way, or that I need to wash my hands a bit more often).
My initial impression is that the WD we knew and loved is indeed back and headed in the right direction. It is not there yet, but it is hard to argue with 150 pages of (almost) adrt free quality content. A free miniature helps too, and if the rumours of something free coming with the first four issues are true then I imagine sales will indeed improve.
However, in an age when there is so much free content out there (like the many, many excellent 40K and AoS blogs) it is hard to justify paying 6 quid a pop for what you get beyond the presumed one-off treats. The current issue is chocked full of content that I have happily paid for, but it remains to be seen if the trend will continue or whether the magazine will slip into the bad old habits of recycled articles, rehashed fluff pieces, infomercials for GW stuff and light weight filler stripped out of the codices.
Only time will tell, but I will be keeping an optomistic mind well and truly open for now.