White Dwarf Review – October 2017

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The cover of the new White Dwarf.

This issue seems to have come around incredibly quickly.  It doesn’t seem like two minutes since the last one was out and I can quite honestly say that I look forward to each new issue being delivered. *  Before Games Workshop switched back to the monthly format I think I bought White Dwarf each month out of habit, more than an eagerness to read it and it’s never a good thing to have habit as the only reason to do a thing.

A big, bold picture of a Stormcast guy graces the cover and it’s a nice, eye-catching piece of work that puts me in mind of the type of art you’d get on the cover of a comic.

Contents pages; why do you continue to vex me so?

Planet Warhammer has an awful lot of releases this Month.  There’s a mountain of Death Guard stuff, including the Deathshroud Terminators and the new tank, the Plagueburst Crawler, which I must admit I quite like.  Also, Shadespire, which I’ll go into a bit more detail about later.  I should also mention the Astra Militarum Codex, a release which seems to be getting a nice warm welcome from all and sundry.  Although no new model releases for them, which is a little disappointing.

There are a few new books out, but the one that stands out he most is the new Horus Heresy book, Ruinstorm.  I’ve fallen behind somewhat with the Horus Heresy series and it’s something I to want to rectify.  I didn’t even stop for any discernible reason and just kind of drifted away from them.

The letters page was a standard barrage of praise, with the only thing to stand out being a smirk-worthy reply to the Ask Grombrindal letter.

I should make a brief mention of the Warhammer Total War 2 feature.  There are loads of lovely screenshots and a fair bit of reading and it does certainly look amazing, but not being able to play it means my interest in it has been lukewarm at best.

Having mentioned my lack of enthusiasm for Age of Sigmar before I’m not going to go into it again, but Shadespire has really caught my eye.  It has a very intriguing ruleset, using elements of deckbuilding alongside the board-game aspect and it seems like it would be a fun game to play.  It’s also very nice-looking and that’s not just the models.  The board sections, all the cards and tokens all have the look of a well-produced game.  Of course, I only have the pictures to go on but I have no reason to believe the same would not hold true in the flesh.

The Death Guard designer’s notes follow the usual format, with an in-depth look at the design process, the models, artwork, rules and Codex.  It’s an interesting look at the development of an army and as such, a good read.

Thirty Years of Golden Demon serves as an intro to the Golden Demon Classic stuff that comes after it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good read and it stands up as an article by itself.

I haven’t entered anything in Golden Demon for years and haven’t even been near Games Day / Warhammer Fest since 2001 and if I’m being brutally honest, what I did enter wasn’t up to scratch.  The Nagash diorama however, is amazing.  It’s difficult to put into words how good it is, so amazing will have to do.

It’s a sign of the quality of this year’s entries that on any other year the silver and bronze winners might have walked away with the Slayer Sword.  I harbour half formed ambitions of entering Golden Demon again at some point, but if I want to be in with a chance of winning anything, I’m really going to have to pull my socks up and put a shift in.  I’d be buzzing about the place like I’d won the sword if I even made it to the final cut (I’m easily pleased).

It’s the last part of A Tale of four Warlords and it’s finished with a battle report, which sees the two Imperial armies defending against the Eldar and The Iron Warriors, both of whom are doing their own thing and it was a hecka entertaining read.

There’s a duo of Battle Reports this Month, thanks to the concluding part of A Tale of four Warlords, but this Age of Sigmar battle, pitting the Skaven against the Sylvaneth is the main one.  It was an enjoyable battle, with models from both sides dropping like flies and the pace was fast throughout.  It certainly wasn’t one that gave you any time to get bored with it.

The Gretchin Revolution is a feature about Maxime Pastourel’s Gretchin army and it’s quite a ridiculous spectacle to behold. ** It’s one of those articles that I’ll keep going back to for a while and it reminds me of the ridiculous armies of old that featured in White Dwarf on a semi-regular basis, many moons ago.  I’d say it’s probably one of my favourite articles of the Month.

As always, Illuminations is a treat for the eyes, with lots of pretty pictures to look at and this selection of Age of Sigmar stuff is no exception, but I must confess to being in no hurry to see a dwarf in his undies, though it’s a very nicely done piece of art.

Blanchitsu is a round-up of some of the warbands that took part in the Pilgrym campaign and covers three different warbands.  As usual they are exceptionally well converted models, with a visually striking paint scheme.

The Clash at Marrowbreak Spire is a massive battle scene, which shows the airships of the Kharadron Overlords attacking mountaintop tower belonging to the forces of the Flesheater Courts.  It’s a visually stunning battle, with loads of cool vignettes playing out across the whole board.  Mention should go to all the little tricks they used to make the airships look as if they’re flying; from clear plastic flying stands concealed by the stuff the made the clouds out of to the airship kept upright by nothing but the boarding ladder that the little blokes use to get in and out of their ship.

The article about creating your own Space Marine Chapter at first glance seems like a bog-standard space filler, and to a certain extent it is just that.  However, it does have some very useful advice on the sorts of thing to consider when putting a Chapter together; Chapter markings, home-world or fleet based, Codex adherent or not, that sort of thing.  Also, it mentions an invent your own Space Marine Chapter competition on the Warhammer Community website and it comes with a pretty spiffy prize.

Paint Splatter has a guide on Typhus and on Death Guard, in pre-Heresy cream.  There are also guides on three different Guard regiments.  The Guard stuff is interesting, as it covers two regiments that are made from converted models and conversions are always nice to see.

Temporal Distort features another vintage issue of White Dwarf that I remember well.  The cardboard Battle Bunker only saw action a few times on our table-top before it met its end; either sat on, or stood on, its true fate forever obscured by the mists of time.

The Reader Models are the usual eclectic mix of styles, awesomely painted and the segment includes a feature on the models from a painting competition held by the manager of the Shanghai Games Workshop.  The highlight of this is a Battlefleet Gothic ship, with some very impressive lighting effects.

In the Bunker is, as always, an interesting little window into what the White Dwarf team are getting up to.  This month covers the second half of their Warhammer 40,000 league and is presented in the same diddy battle report format as last Month.  Also worth a mention is a really strikingly painted Stormsurge battlesuit, showing just how eye-catching grey can be if it’s done right.

In summary; not quite the tour de force of awesomeness that the previous issue was, but still a very solid issue.  I’m willing to admit that my bias towards 40K might’ve coloured my opinion a wee bit, but last month’s issue did set a very high bar.

That said, this issue did have some very high-quality content.  The Death Guard designers notes and the Gretchin army were both favourites of mine.  With regards to the Death Guard, I’m very glad the design team decided to keep the World War One, trench warfare aesthetic, as it’s what I’ve always liked about them.

This issue gets seven and a half picklehaube’s out of ten. ***

 

*That may sound like the sort of syrupy praise White Dwarf gets on the letters page, but it’s true, I do look forward to it.  It’s far from perfect and there is room for improvement, what I said isn’t a fib though.

**Ridiculous in a good way.  The silly armies are awesome.

***As far as marks out of ten are concerned, I aim to keep it as nerdy as possible.

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Keeping Good Company

 

The Ultramarines are my Space Marine Chapter of choice; this is something I think I’ve mentioned here before.  I’ve had an army of them in one form, or another for a very long time and fought my first battles under Rogue Trader rules. So, I’ve liked them for far longer than Games Workshop has been pushing them as the flagship army for 40K, and in fact some of GW’s cringeworthy background choices bother almost as much as they do with the Ultramarine haters. *

My army has always been from the second company, yellow, then later gold shoulder-pad trims.  At first this was because Ultramarines were just painted that way and later it was because I’d always painted them that way and I find it very hard to break a habit once it’s formed.  This has become more and more of an issue for me in recent years though, as every aspect of the second company is mapped out, from their Captain to the name of Squad Sergeants and whether they’re veterans, or not.

It’s something I’ve tried to ignore and have in fact managed to do just that for quite a while, by deciding that I had an alternate version of the second company.  This is something that has never sat quite right with me though.  I’m not a big fan of ignoring canon background, so I was only ever going to be able to convince myself that I was fine with this solution for so long and although I’ve managed to do it for quite a long while, the time for a change has finally come, and it’s a remarkably simple one; change the company that my army is from.

My army leader is now a Lieutenant under the command of Uriel Ventris of the fourth company.  No longer must I have an army that is contrary to canon, with inaccurately named Sergeants and a Captain that has never officially existed.  As long as I acknowledge that Uriel Ventris is the Captain, I can do what I want with my army after that and most importantly, green Shoulder-pad trims look damn spiffy.

 

*That’s probably not quite true, as real haters (the type who’ve been ground down by years of Games Workshop’s ceaseless Ultra-love) can talk at great length about everything from GW’s retconning of the Ultramarines involvement in the Horus Heresy and the codex malarkey afterwards, regarding Rogal Dorn and some others.  To the recent revival of Roboute Guilliman and the quality of the background material surrounding him, and to be fair, their points are not always without merit.

A Pirates Life – A Short Story, by Tom of the North

‘The cap’n says you’re to walk the plank, so walk the plank you lily livered swine!’ Belladonna started poking Brock with the tip of her sword, edging him towards the end of the plank and the shark infested waters roiling around the ship. He was beginning to look a little nervous now, all the confidence […]

via Short Story – A Pirate’s Life — Tom of the North

Project Roundup – Dark Imperium Death Guard

I’ve been painting a lot of Nurgle stuff lately; all the Chaos stuff from the Dark Imperium box in fact.  I’ve almost run out of them now and am down to the three Death guard from the Plague Brethren box that was released over the weekend.  This is the first time I’ve ever painted Nurgle stuff, and it turns out that I enjoyed painting them more than I thought I would; perhaps even enough to paint an army of them for myself and not just for work.

For a Warhammer 40,000 starter set the detail on the models is amazing.  I’ve painted stuff from all but one of the 40K starter sets, the one with the crashed Aquila Lander being the only one that I missed out on, and I can say with absolute certainty that these kits are head and shoulders above the rest.

There’s been a noticeable improvement in the quality of their plastics with each passing edition.  When the Space Marines and Orks from the second edition starter set are compared with Space Marines and Death Guard in this one, it’s like the difference between night and day.  Don’t get me wrong, in their day the plastics from second edition were the bees knees, but they haven’t aged well.

Several times with the Dark Imperium Nurgle stuff I had to go back and paint in a detail that I’d missed.  Sometimes it could just be a maggot, whereas other times I missed whole pipes and the buggers would be sat there in just their undercoat, mocking me (I’m looking at you Blight-Drone).  However, if the only thing I can grumble about is too much detail, then I think I’m onto a winner.

Looking back on this entry to my ongoing hobby ramblings, I suppose I can say that of late I’ve been enjoying my job, and I know I’m lucky to be in a position to be able to say that.

 

Classic, or Current?

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Games Workshop are producing some fantastic models, that’s something that surely isn’t in any doubt.  They’re technically close to perfect, due to the sculpting being done on computers.  I wonder if that perfection might have come at the expense of character though. *

I painted a Space Marine Chaplain the other day, that surly looking chap at the top of the page in fact and it’s a sculpt that comes nowhere near the technical perfection of modern GW.  The skulls are basic, the pose is that static stance that anyone who’s been into the hobby for a while will recognise and there are a couple of detail voids in the hard to reach crevices.  Despite all that though, the imperfect little bugger has personality.

There are a few reasons for this I think and the biggest one is the difference between sculpting by hand and sculpting in a computer.  When sculpting by hand all the imperfections come through; the little mistakes and idiosyncrasies of the sculptor.  If you’re familiar with the work of a person, it’s often possible to identify their work without being told that it belongs to said individual.  Whereas that all seems to be erased from the process when using a computer.  Any mistakes are easily corrected and the personality of an individual sculptor just doesn’t shine through in the same way.

I’m not saying that Games Workshop should ditch their computers and go back to sculpting by hand.  The current method allows them to turn out the best plastic kits they’ve ever done, at a rate that couldn’t be matched using traditional methods.  Entire editions of a game could come and go without entries in an army list getting models to represent them.  As far as I know that just doesn’t happen now.

On balance, I think the hobbyist gains more than they lose with modern sculpting techniques, but those old metals were something special.  Never-mind, I can continue to satisfy my craving for classic lead, from Ebay, while going to Games Workshop for my top-notch plastics.  I get to have my cake and eat it and I’m a guy who likes cake.

 

*I’m not going to pretend I have anything but the most basic layman’s knowledge of modern sculpting techniques, but I have opinions and I’m not afraid to use them.

September 2017 White Dwarf Review

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The September, Warhammer 40,000 thirtieth anniversary issue of White Dwarf is a corker. *  Given the copious notes I took while reading it, it’s probably going to be a big ‘un too.

The issue looks like something a bit special straight away, as it comes in a protective cardboard slipcover, that has the highlights of the magazine emblazoned upon it.  I’m not going to lie, it felt a little bit like opening a pressie and I only went back to take a good look at the slipcover after I’d already opened it to get at the contents.

It has an awesome cover by Igor Sid which is a reimagining of the cover art on the Rogue Trader and he’s done a really good job on it.  I still prefer the original, but that’s just because it was emblazoned on the cover of the book that got me into 40K and I suspect there is a healthy dose of nostalgia involved.

There are two free gifts, which is cool.  Okay, one of them is a promo poster for Warhammer Total War and as such it’s essentially an advert, but that’s not the point; it’s a decent double-sided poster.  The other is a massive poster reproducing the cover art in full and it’s glorious.  It’s a shame about the fold lines, but that’s unavoidable with magazine posters.  I’m going to be getting a frame, so I can hang it on my Living Room wall, that’s how impressed I am with it.

The team page is usually standard stuff, but this Month they’re all talking about what got them into 40K and it made me realise how young most of them are, with one or two exceptions.  I started out with Space Crusade and moved up to the Rogue Trader.

The Editorial is very much a 40K is awesome sort of affair, which is fine.  This one probably couldn’t be anything else.

I’ll concede that the contents pages are nice and eye-catching this Month, despite my regular grumbles about them. **

Planet Warhammer starts with a two-page mini feature on all the editions of Warhammer 40,000, complete with little slivers of art from the cover of each edition.  It’s a nice little mini feature.

They’ve popped the anniversary Primaris Sergeant in the corner of this feature and I’m really in two minds about this guy.  He’s either understated and cool, or basic and boring.  Will I buy him?  Probably, so I suppose GW have done their job.

As for the rest of Planet Warhammer, there’s a load of new 40K releases, including Mortarion, a bunch of Primaris guys, a couple of Codexes and the Blightwar box for AoS, which I believe is a new starter set, with a bunch of spiffy models in it.

Special mention in the new releases however, needs to go to the big box of skulls.  Games Workshop are finally acknowledging their love of naked noggins.  Also, whoever came up with the cringeworthy Khornetainer pun deserves a prize of some sort.

This Month even has a release for the game that refuses to die, no matter how much GW seem to want it to, The Hobbit.  They even have a couple of scenarios later in the issue, which is probably cool for fans.

There’s the book and Video Game news.  I’ve become a bit detached from the book releases, barring Codexes over the past year or two and this Month’s releases have done nothing to pull me back in. As for the game releases, I don’t have anything I can play Warhammer Total War on and this makes me sad.

The letters page about the same as usual, apart from one letter pointing out the scarcity of women in the GW model range.  I like that they pop the critical letters in amongst the sea of praise every now and then.  As unlikely as it seems, given how vocal the fanbase can be, perhaps they mostly get positive stuff and the amount of praise on the letters pages is representative of the type of missives they get … Maybe.

Next is the 30 Years of Warhammer 40,000 behemoth, because it’s way too big to be an article; it goes on and on.  Not that this is a bad thing, as it’s a really entertaining read.  Appropriately starting with a cool two-page picture of the Rogue Trader cover and a big gatefold picture of the Imperium battling Mortartion and the followers of Nurgle.  It then goes through the history of the game and the intentions behind it, from its humble beginnings, to the juggernaut that is 40K today.

As I was reading the article, it brought back some old gaming memories.  For example, the time in second edition when a Vortex Grenade seemingly developed a personal vendetta against my army.  It wiped out almost my entire army by scattering just the right distance and in just the right direction every turn.  If I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.  Needless to say, I lost that one.

There’s so much content to go over, that it’s tough to cover it all, without ending up with something so large I could put on the Kindle store and call it an e-book.

John Blanche gets a look in and is as interesting as always, there’s loads of lovely pictures.  There are spreads giving a bit of info about some, but not all of the races in 40K.  I should mention the particularly impressive photograph of Eldar, fighting Tyranids.  It’s one to spend quality time looking at.

They cover the evolution of the 40K miniature range, from its very small start, to the gigantic models and how we got where we are now.

There’s a bit about 40K on the tabletop and how it’s always been very much driven by the background.  Although the background hasn’t always been the best, I think this is a fairly accurate point.

It mentions the huge scope for creativity on the behalf of the player within the vastness of the game’s universe.  It touches on the many facets of 40K fandom and how without said fans, that none of it would be possible, which was nice.

I would’ve liked it if they could have interviewed a couple of the creators of the Rogue Trader, but I suppose a lot of them are the competition now, so that was probably unlikely.  Even so, there wasn’t even a peep from Jervis Johnson.

Next comes the Battle Report and this Month’s is a bit of a special one.  It’s two battles linked together, where the result of the first has an impact on when reinforcements arrive in the second.

The first battle is the Ultramarines, led by Roboute, squaring up to the forces of Chaos and it’s an entertaining, fast paced affair, with lots of death, destruction and explosions. While the second is the forces of the Crimson Fists, in a, backs to the wall fight for survival against Orks, on Rynns World and my favourite of the two.

While, in my opinion at least the current Battle Reports aren’t the equal of the ones I used to read, back in caveman times, I am willing to acknowledge that there may well be a bit of a rose-tinted glasses type thing going on.  I do miss the rivalries of old though.  Everybody is so nice to each other now.

The Ultimate guide to the Rhino is a good read and it’s a nice in-depth article about the old workhorse tank, with some nice photography and artwork.

In previous reviews I’ve mentioned how the current Tale of four Warlords hasn’t really been doing much for me and have speculated as to why this might be.  Well it turns out that the real reason may be that I was being a negative Nancy and I haven’t been giving it a fair shake, because I really enjoyed it this Month.  So much so in fact that I’ve been thinking about going back to the start and reading it again.

The new Generals Handbook is out for AoS and while it isn’t really for me, it seems like they’ve done a lot of work on it and it should be very useful to Age of SIgmar players.  I will say though, that AoS continues to have a model range that is knock your socks off awesome.

There’s a Hobbit article that I mentioned earlier and having zero knowledge about the game, I can’t really add anything to what I’ve already said.  Nice for the long-suffering fans though.

Next is a cool little two-page feature on Mortarion and what went into painting him.  I was initially a little on the fence about the new model.  My retro mind was finding it hard to accept him as the same guy as the old Epic Grim Reaper type dude that used to exist.  I’m satisfied now though, that with an appropriate colour scheme he could be thematically very close to the style of that classic model; all I need now are the quids to pay for the pricey bugger.

The Generals Almanac is all about playing your army leaders in your games of Age of Sigmar in character.  Although this is an AoS article, it’s a mindset that lends itself just as well to Warhammer 40,000, or any number of other games.

Kitbash is always a particularly interesting article, but this Month there seems to be more to look at than usual.  There are quite a few that are just simple head swaps, or similar, but even something as basic as this can radically change a model. Then there are the more complex ones, but even these feel achievable, with instructions on how each was done.

There isn’t a lot to say about Armies on Parade that I haven’t said before, but it’s always worth mentioning anyway.  There are some splendid armies on some awesome display boards and it’s never a bad thing to feast your eyes on such splendiforousness. ***

The special Primaris Sergeant is the subject of Paint Splatter, with a nice helpful guide on painting him as a Crimson Fist, which seems fitting.

Modelling and painting features some advanced basing techniques for the new Creeping vines.  There are some snazzy ideas on show here and I find myself inspired; I need some of these, they’re cool.  Although I must mention that Touch of Chaos base, because cool as it is, it must’ve been a pain in the bum to paint.

Next, we find out what the painting team are putting the brushes to in their spare time and I particularly like the Bloodcrushers, by Jay Goldfinch.  Juggernauts are my favourite model that I’ve never painted and that’s something I really need to rectify and they look fantastic in black.  Everything here is a joy to look at, but if I rambled on about everything that deserves a mention, I’d probably still be going next September.  What I will say though, is that James Gallagher’s Witch Aelves, Natalie Slinn’s Kurnoth Hunters and Tom Moores Gutbuster Ogors are all lovely looking models that deserve more than this brief mention.

The Readers Models section is always good to look at, as it’s nice to see well painted models done in styles other than the GW one.  Variety is the spice of life, as somebody who was probably quite clever once said.

In the Bunker has the results of a White Dwarf team Warhammer 40,000 campaign, which amounted to a series of very wee battle reports, which came as a nice surprise in an issue already packed with content.

In summary, it’s a solid issue, with a lot to recommend it.  it’s very 40K heavy, but given that it’s the 40K anniversary issue that was always going to be the case.  With this in mind, it was perhaps not the best Month to release the new Blightwar boxed set for Age of Sigmar, as it seems to have been rather overshadowed and doesn’t even get a mention outside the Planet Warhammer section.  It has some great looking models in it too, so this is a real shame.

Also, no Temporal Distort.  It’s one of my favourite articles, so I hope this is just a one off, due to space constraints; although if they only had one contents page?

So, considering that this is a Warhammer 40,000 heavy issue, I will give it eight and a half Primarchs out of ten. ****

 

 

*Also, a bit of a mouthful when I read that sentence back.

**Grumble not retracted.

***Definitely a word.  The spellchecker doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

****Eight standard Primarchs and one Alpharius.

Review Incoming

After the absence of my August review of White Dwarf, for no one good reason, but lots of mediocre/rubbish ones, the review of the September issue is definitely a thing and it’ll be here either today, or early tomorrow.

It’s a big ‘un, as there is an awful lot of interesting stuff packed into this issue, giving me an awful lot to talk about.  I don’t think I’ve rambled, or digressed too much in it, but it is a review with a fair old amount of wordage. *

That’s about it really.  I just wanted to let folk know and if you’re reading this, then you are one of those folk and now you know, which is nice. **

 

*A real word. I thought the spellchecker was going to disapprove, but it did not.

Also, thanks very much for taking the time to read this; it’s much appreciated.