White Dwarf Review – October 2017

20170925_103009-1.jpg
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.

Advertisements

September 2017 White Dwarf Review

20170915_230112-1

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.

Underestimation

Do a White Dwarf review each Month I thought.  It’ll make for an easy blog, I read it anyway.  Unsurprisingly I was wrong, it’s not even slightly easy.

It takes at least double the amount of time to read an issue when notes need to be taken and I hadn’t realised how much of each issue I just skipped over because it didn’t interest me, or I didn’t feel like I needed to read it; I’m looking at you Lord of the Rings articles.

When I’m reading with a review in mind I need to read every last smidgen of content, or it’s just not a proper review.  For example, I’d usually skip over a lot of the Planet Warhammer section, just stopping at the bits that piqued my interest.  Now however, I need to take it all in.

It does have its advantages though, as well as drawbacks.  Some of the articles may be ones that I would’ve jumped past previously, but now I read them for review purposes and I find them to be thoroughly decent reads.  It makes me wonder what good stuff I’ve missed out on in the past, due to prejudging an article.  It doesn’t always work out that way.  Sometimes I’ll read an article and it’s about as much fun as going to the dentist. *  Still, I can’t write a review without taking in the good and the bad.

One thing that has come of this is the realisation that my handwriting is bloody awful.  I’m making my notes in a nice, swanky pleather journal that I’ve had for a year or two, as it’s easier than doing it in a Word document while I’m reading a magazine.  My writing is incredibly messy and has a lot of scribbled out words.  Being left handed probably doesn’t help, pens and whatnot, but that’s a blog for another time.

I mentioned up at the top of this blog that it takes a fair bit more time to read White Dwarf when I’m reviewing it.  The current issue is a prime example of that.  I was expecting to have my review ready sometime over the weekend, but it’s far more likely to be Monday, or Tuesday.  I seem to be making more notes this time, hopefully that’s a good thing.

I packed in for the night to write this because I couldn’t face the next two articles without a break (Age of Sigmar and Lord of the Rings respectively) and I realise that I should’ve pressed on because now they’re the first things I’m going to have to read in the morning, but I just couldn’t do it.

The review should be here in a couple of days.  Until next time take care of yourselves, and each other. **

 

*My Dentist is a hecka nice guy, but it’s still a trip to the dentist.

**Channeling my inner Jerry Springer.

White Dwarf, July 2017 Review

 

20170723_192926-1

I enjoyed writing the review of White Dwarf so much last Month, I thought I’d make a regular thing of it.  Also, it’s nifty little bit of writing practice, which can never be a bad thing.  So here it is, White Dwarf review, number two.

There’s another nice cover picture.  Space Marines doing their Space Marine thing.  It’d be nice to see one of the other Chapters on the cover, but it’s a good cover nonetheless.

I’d thought that they’d done away with the issue numbers, this is not so however, they’ve buried them in the small print sidebar on the White Dwarf team page.  Since they’re still keeping track of the numbers, I don’t know why they don’t let them find their way back to the cover again.

The editor intro is pretty by the numbers stuff, but I wouldn’t want to see them get rid of it; it’s a pretty essential part of the makeup of the magazine as far as I’m concerned.

Two pages for the contents is a bit of an ongoing bugbear for me.  It’s not needed and one of the pages could be used for absolutely any bit of meaningful content they’d care to put on it.  It’s a small thing but it really bothers me.

Planet Warhammer.  Not a lot to say really. It’s got all the latest releases, well presented, with a nice eye-catching selection of pictures.  There’s a nice bit of the latest Forge World stuff, a little interview with Phil Kelly and a look at the awesome Magnus the Red and Leman Russ diorama.  All in all, the section does what it sets out to do and I can’t say fairer than that.

Sandwiched between this and the letters page is a two-page advert for the upcoming Path to Glory game.  Interesting.

Speaking of the letters page.  There is a little bit less glowing praise this Month.  Nothing I would call criticism exactly but there are a couple of interesting letters there.

Temporal Distort is one of my favourite articles and always sends me on a nice little nostalgia trip.  The Battle Report in the featured issue was, I believe one of the last, before they really started messing around with the format of them.

The model of the Year.  Magnus is indeed an awesome model and I’d very much like to paint him, but he wasn’t my model of the Year (the cargo containers, if you’re wondering).  Not that I’ve got anything against the choice, it’s a very worthy winner.

There is also a very interesting interview chat with Matt Holland in the Model of the Year article, which was a good read.

The Interview.  I continue to be impressed with this article.  It’s consistently of a high quality and always seems to be a good size.  This Month they’re talking to a group of the sculpting guys about how they got into the job and the collaborative nature of the process. It’s a genuinely interesting read.

The Tale of Four Warlords still doesn’t really grab me.  As I said last Month, it feels like it’s lost some of its shine. This is a shame, as the participants are always enthusiastic about what they’re up to.  There are as always, some nice little painting guides and a bunch of snazzy pictures of offer though.

The Golden Demon article is headlined by a fantastic looking Warhound Titan, with some mind-blowing freehand work.  It really needs to be seen to be believed.  It almost puts what follows, in the shade; which is a shame as it’s all of the very highest quality.  I like the little bit of blurb about each of the winners.  It’s always nice to gain a bit of insight into another painter’s methods.

Illuminations covers Orcs this Month and although I’ve already a few of the pictures, it’s never a bad thing to look at pretty pictures.  Also, Orcs make a nice change.

Tactica Imperialis covers how the new Warhammer 40,000 rules work, from army building, to the table-top.  It’s a pretty interesting article, worth reading whether you’ve seen the new rules, or not.

The Battle Report this Month is Orks versus Tau, which isn’t a match up I recall seeing before.  It’s still a little light on text for my liking and the little summary bits in the margins are wasted space, as they just repeat what’s already been said.  It’s good to see the return of the little front and back end stories though and there are a couple of amusing orky moments during the battle.  A good read, despite its flaws.

Next there’s an article about the new Age of Sigmar skirmish game, War in the Shadows.  It gives a brief overview of the game and a mini, two-page Battle Report.  It seems quite a bit like Shadow War Armageddon and if that is indeed the case, it’s no bad thing.

The Collecting article covers a Stormcast Eternals army by James Karch.  It’s a really nice-looking army and it looks pretty dapper in maroon.

Painting and collecting follows a few Games Workshop folks as they each begin an army with one of the Start Collecting boxes.  It’s always nice to see ‘Eavy Metal models, but this is a nice chance to see some stuff painted in none GW styles and there is some good stuff here too.  Also, a Taurox Prime with the guns mounted on the roof; conversion?

Paint Splatter has some nice, basic guides on Ultramarines, Plague Marines and Poxwalkers.  Good stuff for anyone just starting out, or looking to get an army on the table quickly.  There’s a more in-depth guide for the new Primaris Librarian.  I’ve got one of these guys and am really looking forward to painting him, as soon as I’ve worked my way through the pile of plastic that I have outstanding.

Modelling and Painting.  It’s an interesting read as far as it goes, but I miss the scenery articles of old, when they told you how to make things from scratch.  This mostly just tells you how to spend your quids and wield a paintbrush, which is a shame.  These things are a real missed opportunity.

Blanchitsu is another one of my favourite articles and I enjoy it without fail every time it appears, it was a real blast from the past this Month though.  There were hecka old models and references to old White Dwarfs a’ plenty.  Some super cool ye’ olde concept art and as usual really nicely painted models too.

It goes without saying that Parade ground has some spangly looking models, but I particularly like the Landraider, the Kastellan Robots and the Onager; they’re all painted in styles that I’m fond of.  There’s a particularly nicely painted Taurox Prime too, unfortunately I’m just not a massive fan of the model itself.

There’s such a variety of models and styles of painting on offer in the Readers Models section and as such it’s always a treat to look at.  The real stand out model for me this Month is the Onager, from Forge World Metallica.  The work that must’ve gone into it is amazing.

I always like reading the In the Bunker piece, near the back. It’s good to see what the White Dwarf folks are up to and it gives the magazine a personal touch that was missing from it for a long time, when everything in each issue was anonymous.

In summary, a solid issue, worthy of a respectable eight out of ten.  There’s some really good articles in here, some of which even have a bit of depth to them.  Most of the Age of Sigmar stuff was a bit of a chore for me, but I suspect this is more a reflection on me and my general lack of interest in the system, than the quality of the articles themselves.