October White Dwarf review

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Having not bought a copy of White Dwarf in over 10 years prior to last month, I decided to break that run and give the much heralded ‘new format’ ago.  As you will see form the review I wrote for that issue, my feelings were that, overall it was a step in the right direction but it still had many problems to deal with and a long way to go until it was back to its absolute best.

Another month has gone by, and with it another has come another instalment of the venerable White Dwarf.  Has it managed to maintain the momentum of last month’s issue, or slipped back into the bad old habits of yestermonth? Let’s have a look…

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In case you have been living in a warp storm for the last week, yes Genestealer cultist are back

The September issue built up a lot of good will with readers old and new through a much vaunted and celebrated marketing mechanic – free stuff on the cover!  It was hard to argue with a magazine that offered a free miniature that was worth three times the cost of the magazine, and so most peoples criticism was filtered through this fact and almost certainly benefited from an optimistic appraisal (especially from me).  Rumours had proceeded the re-release of White Dwarf that the first four ‘new’ issues would all have something free with them, to help break in the change as well as entice new readers to flock to its pages.  It appears these rumours are well founded, as the October issue also comes with a seemingly handsome freebie, namely a new 40K comic.

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So very, very angry

I confess I am not a fan of comics – I dabbled in graphic novels when I was younger, and I much appreciated the efforts of the ABC Warriors and Aliens universes, but the comic genre is something that has never really hooked me.  However, I like to think I am open minded about being down with the kids, and so was looking forward to giving this 40K comic a fair shake of the stick.

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Prologue, take 1

It started off well, with the semi-gloss A4 format emphasising the quality of the illustrations inside.  Indeed the action comes thick and fast, as the somewhat ropey storyline (in the best 40K traditions) of the ‘prologue’ develops at a frenetic pace, with lot of BOOM’s, KRAKOOM’s and BRRRAPPA’s thrown in for good measure.  And then it ends.  12 pages into a 32 page comic.

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Prologue, take, um, 2?

And then it starts again, for another prologue (er, what?) of even briefer action. This one lasts 3 pages, before the comic descends into a series of snippets showing how the cover was developed, some excerpts from the script, developed of drawings from pencils to final colouring, and then a collection of alternative covers.

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My favourite is the blank white one.  It’s intense.

While I did find these later bits interesting, they are not what I wanted to find in the comic. Indeed, these would have gone rather nicely in a related article within White Dwarf (preferably in place of the bland interview with the comics creators). However, making up over half of the comic itself just left me feeling a bit short changed.  Sure, I know they want me to buy the comic and are therefore only teasing us with a tasty morel, but this treat was so small it barely registered on the taste buds.  It’s like being promised pizza and being shown some grated cheese and a tube of tomato puree. I may or may not give the comic a chance, but given the small impression it has made on my short attention span I would imagine the chances of doing so are slim.

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Oh great, now you expect me to read word without pictures?!  Oh, the ignominy!

So, on to the magazine proper. First thing to note is that there has been a change at the top. The new Editor has been installed after a successful ‘transition’ issue, and Mr. M. Keefe takes the reins.  He has a beard, so we are probably in good hands.

In an issue that coincides with the release of Genestealer Cults, you will be unsurprised to learnt that they dominate the content.  And I mean REALLY dominate it.  If you are not a fan of the faction or the fluff behind them, you might want to give this issue a miss as they are almost impossible to avoid.  In the news section alone (aka Planet Warhammer) they get eight pages alone.  They also get the Ultimate Guide section (6 pages) and Designers Notes (6 more).  If, like me, you are interested in them but not likely to buy the Codex then these pages are good as they give plenty of interesting info on the models & their development as well as fluff.  If you have the codex however, it may we be just rehashed material from within and of very little interest to you.

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They also dominate the Modelling & Painting Section, taking the hole of the Sprues and Glue section (interesting enough though, seeing how the cultist conversions work from Cadians)  and share Paint Splatter with their old nemesis the Blood Angels.  There is also a great section here about painting faces – if you have always struggled with this like me, then it is a great read and worth the price of the magazine alone – no longer will I fear the final faces step of painting my models!

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I said smile Marine!

The final section in which the cultists also appear is of course the Battle Report.  Here they face off against last month’s release, the Deathwatch.   The return of the Batrep has probably been the single biggest talking point of the new WD format, and the thing most fans were looking forward to.  Last week’s AoS offering was a bit of damp squib, and not well received even by AoS fans, so I was looking forward to see how a 40k offering sized up.

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Batrep V 2.0, this time with added fold out pages!

First up, the game itself looks amazing.  The models on display are obviously top notch, as is the scenery the game is played on.  The write up itself is well done, although a little schizophrenic in the way it jumps around the page – there are main bodies of text giving a general overview, with little highlighted boxes explaining key events and smaller grey boxes with more details of the game play itself.  While it is nice to have this stratified approach to the write up, it does end up repeating itself and can be quite hard to track what happened and where/when, which leads us back to the general issue of the format with the new bat reps.

On the whole the pages are all over the shop – text, pictures and a confusing number annotation system looks like they were put in a bucket and just thrown at the page.  It is in desperate need of a tactical map with symbols to clear up the mess, rather than relying on large (admittedly beautiful) photos of the whole battlefield with arrows added to show what went where.  There is also another issue here, and that is where the large pictures often overlap the spine of the magazine, making it all but impossible to see what was going on without folding back the pages on a hard surface.

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However, format issues aside I rather enjoyed this batrep.  The game itself looked like great fun, and it was obviously played from a fluffy perspective rather than a competitive one. This makes a refreshing change from the majority of free content available online (deathstars smashing into one another in one of six ITC missions), and it may well help WD batreps to carve out their own niche in the over saturated batrep market, offering something different in that regard.

The list themselves embodied this ethos, one being the Deathwatch formation while the other being and unbound effort.  The players also state in the preamble that no points limit was agreed beforehand, although the fact they happened to both come out at 2500pts mark makes me think there must have been some level of coordination going on.

I think the post game discussion could be a bit more in depth (it currently reads like transcript of a chat down the pub) and I would like to see little things added to the battle report, such as flames and smoke on top of wrecked vehicles (or at least have them flipped over) as well as visible objective markers (not just numbers photoshopped in afterwards).  If they could do this, plus move to a smaller tactical map + more photos format then I think they could be on to a winner.

A further nice touch is the addition of a free mission specifically design for the batrep,  giving us lowly mortals the chance to replicate the epic deed with our grey hordes of proxy masses.  Oh joy!

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So, away from the Genestealer Cults we have a number of other articles worth of mention. Army of the Month is a superb Space Wolves force, this time sans the pin up style fold out (which found its way to the batrep this time – where next, who knows?) while Hall of Fame looks at a great Smaug model.

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I found the ring, can you?

The Interview this week is with Jes Goodwin, a worthwhile read with some decent insights, while four pretty awesome armies are previewed in an early Armies on Parade Section.  Illuminations looks at some good artwork of Champions from AoS – I have no idea who they are but I appreciate the artwork and again as someone who is not that into AoS it is nice to be offered something interesting from that world.  Temporal Distort is nothing of note, while Golden Demon: Classic, Readers Wives Models and Parade Ground offer more painted plastic treats for the eye balls.

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Fair play, mad skillz

Blachitsu takes a slight tangent, this time looking at some Inquisitorial retinues inspired by Johns Blanche’s work.  While the models are beautiful and well worth an article of their own, I do worry that this focusing on the periphery of Blanche’s work might become more common in the issues ahead.

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And finally we come the to the Four Warlords feature.  I was quite excited by this at first, but I find my enthusiasms ebbing ever so slightly this month as it just seems to be more of the same – the painting standard is amazing, and I am shamed by how much they manage to get done in a measly month, but I think this might be the source of my disenfranchisement.  Having initially related to the idea of a ‘to do’ list and setting monthly targets, it just becomes apparent that this is what these guys do for a full time job.  And they not only seem able to make their deadlines, but surpass them with ease.  Gits.

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Four gits more like.  Lucky, jealousy inducing gits.

 

Conclusion

Overall it is not a vast improvement on last month’s issue, but neither has it squandered the good will which it has built up.  It will be interesting to see what they do in an issue that does not coincide with a major release, but for now I am still reasonably optimistic about the future of WD, and despite the freebie flop this time around I will probably go on to buy the next issue.

As long as the wife lets me…

Page Count: 150

Advert page count:  14.  Very respectable, well done GW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “October White Dwarf review

  1. I also found the battle report quite hard to follow. The board was absolutely stunning, but was so busy that it made it very difficult to see the different units on the board. Some sort of map like they used to do would be great, though that would be cutting into my niche 😉

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  2. I definitely have to pick up a copy. I may snag this month’s, we’ll see. I’m interested in the Genestealer Cults, and may start an army at some point, just not tomorrow or anything. So, the big focus on them is fine by me.

    The overall positive reviews I think has finally edged me to giving it a shot again.

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