White Dwarf Review – February 2018

I’ve dragged my feet with this month’s review.  I don’t know why, as I can’t imagine it being particularly bothersome to write.  For some unfathomable reason, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been plagued by a serious case of I’ll do it tomorrow.  So, without further meandering, here it is.

It won’t come as a surprise to most people that this month is a big Custodes month and as such there is a mountain of gubbinz in Planet Warhammer relating to them.  The new releases section in this issue is incredibly busy and it’s also worth pointing out that the Orlocks finally join the Eschers and Goliaths in Necromunda, along with the latest Gang War supplement, which allows gangs to take hired guns; spiffy.

There’s also a Thousand Sons Codex, and a bunch of Age of Sigmar stuff, including scenery, a new background and rulebook and a handful of new characters.  It all has a heavy leaning towards the Malign Portents thingy that’s looming, with the book being specifically for that.

Fyreslayers and Skaven both get warbands for Shadespire and there’s a new Eisenhorn book, complete with super spangly new Eisenhorn model, which I believe is on limited release, at least for the time being.

I seem to be less of a crusty old cynic this month, because I quite enjoyed the letters page and there wasn’t really anything that stood out about it, it was just a nice, pleasant read.

August 2001 is the issue covered in Temporal Distort and I remember this one pretty well, although I thought it was a smidge older than it is.  The main events in this one was a bunch of stuff for the Inquisitor game and the Albion campaign for Warhammer.

Inquisitor was one of those games that I always wanted to get into but never quite managed.  I read the rulebook, a weighty tome, packed with background material and I even played a couple of games in the Liverpool Games Workshop, and also at home with my youngest bro Bob, but I never really got any further than that, which is a shame because, complicated though it was, it was good fun.

Following Temporal Distort is a wee Bloodbowl article, which is little more than a two page advert for the game.  This isn’t such a bad thing I suppose and as long as it’s reasonably entertaining, the inclusion of this sort of thing every now and then doesn’t do any harm.

There’s a feature on the Inquisitor Martyr game which is available on the Xbox and Playstation apparently.  I had no clue it was out on console, I genuinely thought it was a PC only thing, like Dawn of War and the Warhammer Total War games.  Well I’ve certainly been disabused of that notion now and have found out some things about a game that I knew little about.

After this is an interview with Phil Kelly about the new Malign Portents book, which gives a decent look at the book and a few hints about what’s to come.  I might finally be starting to warm to Age of Sigmar, at least its background.  In the past I’ve often found the AoS stuff to be a bit of a chore to read, but I’ve not been finding it to be too much of a slog recently and that’s a big step up for me.

The anniversary of the Black Library is upon us and as part of that there is an in-depth piece about the history of it.  How it started, its first books, the rapid expansion and all that good stuff.  There are little chats with several BL authors and it’s a solid, top notch read.

Given the massive amount of Custodes releases this month, the issue wouldn’t be complete without a huge article about them.  It follows the tried and tested formula for new release articles.  That being a detailed look at the models, how they work on the tabletop and a good look at the design process.

The new miniatures look awesome and if the rest of the stuff is as well put together as the Trajann Valoris model that I’m painting at the moment, it’ll be a great army to collect.  Also, gold is a great colour to paint with these days.  Many moons ago gold paint was bloody awful and I avoided it like the plague.

After the introductory article last month, Tale of four Warlords covers the painting of their initial purchases, with everyone managing to get their stuff done in time.  Although all the nascent armies are well painted, I just can’t take to Andy Keddie’s Daughters of Khaine; the colour scheme is far to weird for my liking.

The Battle Report pits Custodes against Necrons and while it initially seemed like a bit of a random choice of foes, they explained their reasoning behind it.  Apparently, it was simply that the two forces have never faced each other before and Necrons haven’t seen a battle report for ages; that’s a good enough reason for me.

As always, it’s kind of difficult to talk about the battle without spoilering the heck out of it, so I’ll simply say it was a good read and it was good to see the two armies being put through their paces.  I will say though that I was left with some questions regarding the Custodes, so I’m going to have a read through the Codex and see what’s what.

After the 40K battle report I certainly wasn’t expecting another one, so it came as a bit of a surprise to see a Blood Bowl match report immediately following the 40K battle report.

The game pits the Elfheim Eagles against the Mongrel Horde (Elven Union and Chaos Renegades, if like me you don’t know a great deal about Blood Bowl).  Although I don’t currently play Blood Bowl, I always enjoy reading about it but not knowing the rules means some of it goes over my head.  Despite this I’m always happy to consume Blood Bowl content, probably a result of the built-in silliness of the game (it makes a nice change from all the unrelenting grimdarkness).

Following this are the concluding parts of the Cinderfall campaign for Warhammer Quest and the final few scenarios showcasing the rules from LotR Battle Companies book.

Tactica Hereticus is a chunky wedge of article, covering Thousand Sons tactics and given that the new codex is released this month, it’s probably of use to new and old players alike.

A Necromunda scenario, The Gauntlet, is slotted in near the back of this month’s issue and whereas it’s not a scenario that’s Orlock specific, I imagine that it’s there, at least in part to give Necromunda players something fresh to do with their sparkly new Orlock gang.

It’s played on the Badzone Delta – 7 board sections, which are particularly deadly, with a fair few special rules attached to them and looks like really good fun.  Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the board took out as many fighters as the opposing gangs did.

This month’s Golden Daemon stuff is from the GD Classic, Blood Bowl and Warhammer 40,000 team and squad entries respectively and all the stuff on show here is truly exceptional.

Picking a favourite from wonderful gatherings of models like these is always incredibly difficult, I can only imagine how hard it must be for the judges at these events.  In this case though, I think the Orc team just about edges it (If Twitter wasn’t fibbing to me, they’re called ‘Da Beastie Boyz, presumably GW wouldn’t name them in print because they wanted to play it safe, from a legal standpoint).  The team, as well as being amazingly painted, gives a look at the zanier, sillier side of the hobby, which is something I’m always happy to see more of.

On the Warhammer 40,000 side of the Golden Daemon fence, I found picking a favourite a smidge easier and that would be the squad of Genestealer Cultists.  It’s a well put together colour scheme; not too bright, or flashy, just a squad of models, well painted in colours that work really well next to each other.

I’ve noticed lately that there has been an increasing amount of talk surrounding colour theory.  I’m not going to lie, although it’s something I’ve always been aware of, I’ve never really paid much attention to it.  I usually just go with whatever feels right when I’m painting.  It’s piqued my interest however and it makes me wonder if maybe I should read up about it.

The Battleforce Challenge, which began last month, reappears in this issue.  I really like this one.  Paint a Battleforce, or similar sized boxed set over the course of a month.  It’s a simple format, but a nifty idea nonetheless.

This month there is a Daemons of Khorne army, Imperial Guard army with a Knight in it and a Cult Mechanicus force.  I must admit though, I struggle to see which Battleforce equivalent box an army with a Knight in it came out of and I wondered much the same with regards to the Mechanicus force.

It’s a good article and I’d like to see more of it, but it’s only two months in and they’re already breaking their own rules for the forces people are painting.

After the awesome scratch-building shenanigans of last month, the modelling article is unfortunately back to its usual format of taking off the shelf kits and doing something a bit different with them.

This is fine I suppose, they have some nifty ideas but I think I was spoilt by the scenery articles of old with awesome scenery built from scratch.

They cover combining the scenery kits with foliage, skulls and the like.  It all undoubtedly looks very nice and the kits do go well together, it just seems a little a little mundane after last month.

I’m not sure how I feel about Paint Splatter covering the basics of painting every month.  Useful as it might be to some folks, surely there are better places for this sort of thing than in a magazine, where space is at a premium (the paint app for example).  It feels like a space waster and they could fit a whole painting guide into the space they squander with this.

I do however like the way the guide is giving folks a minimum amount of painting needed to get their little plastic people onto the table, along with everything you need to know to take your paintjob further; this month the guide covers an Orlock, from Necromunda.

The Readers models feature such a variety of models and painting styles, that I find it virtually impossible to pick a favourite, so I’m not even going to try.  If you get the chance, you should certainly have a look, as there is some truly splendid work on display here.

In the Bunker is the usual melting pot of hobby goodness and seems, if anything, to be more of a riot of stuff this month than is usually the case, which is no bad thing.  There are also some pretty pictures of models, which is always nice to see.

In summary, a good but not a great issue.  There are no bad, or particularly dull articles but there are a couple that are blatant filler material and a couple more that could be better put together.  Also, no feature on Eisenhorn?  He barely even gets a mention in the Black Library article and they could have quite easily had a two-page feature, covering a brief history of the character and a bit of blurb about the previous iteration of the model.  It’s an article that would’ve almost written itself and could’ve taken the place of one of the filler articles; it’s a real missed opportunity.

It was largely a decent issue though, so via my not at all rubbish sounding rating system, the February issue gets seven Guardian Spears out of ten, just about; six felt a little unfair.


The Emperor Expects, A Review

Much like the previous entry in the series, I wrote a review for book three of The Beast Arises series on Goodreads and thought I’d post it here for anyone who would like to have a read of it.

The Emperor Expects is the third book in The Beast Arises series and maintains the level of quality set in the first two entries in the series. I will say up front though, that the page count is still an issue for me; at two hundred and twenty two pages, it’s even shorter than the previous book.

The narrative moves between three different story threads. The Adeptus Mechanicus and the survivors of the events of book one, Vangorich and the continuing political machinations on Terra and Captain Kulik, commanding officer of the Imperial navy vessel Colossus.

There was no part of the book that felt like a chore to read but there were some chapters that I looked forward to more than others, with my favourites being any featuring Kulik and the Imperial navy arc of the story.

Again, the action and the intrigue is equally well written but I think what really helped me along with this book, is that I’m a fan of Gav Thorpe’s style of writing. I feel he handles character development and action equally well and seeing that he’s written a book is often a good enough reason for me to pick it up.

Predator Prey, A Review

I recently read Predator Prey, book two of The Beast Arises series and wrote a review of it for Goodreads.  For anybody who’s interested, I thought I’d pop the review here.

I started reading this before Christmas but for a reason I still can’t quite put my finger on, just couldn’t get into it and I ended up drifting away from the book. It’s rare when this happens to me, I never like to leave a book unfinished and it wasn’t a conscious decision this time, I put it down about ninety pages in and ended up not picking it up again for the better part of two months. As a result of this, when I committed to reading it all the way through, I decided to start again.

It picks up up not long after the catastrophic ending to the first book, with the Imperium in bother from a seemingly unstoppable Ork Waagh and after the introductory chapter a new addition to the character roster of the series makes her appearance.

Lux Allegra, a commander in the planetary defence force of the largely marine hive world of Undine is in charge of a unit attempting to lead the rulers and assorted rich folk to safety and she is in the thick of the action right from the start.

This sets up just how difficult even an individual Ork and by extension an Ork Waagh is to stop. It does this by having the invaders dropping from he skies in ships, that in most cases plunge into the oceans, meaning the Orks have to swim and wade to their targets. The Orks make it to shore in their thousands and with even a single Ork being many time the physical match of an average human, you can probably imagine what this means for the defenders of the hive cities of Undine.

After a very well written game of cat and mouse between Allegra and a truly massive Ork, she manages to get herself and her charges to the relative safety of a submarine. This is just the beginning for her though, as she ends up in charge of a make or break mission to halt the invasion of her world.

Allegra is only one of the characters though and it’s not long before we’re reintroduced to Vangorich, head of the Officio Assassinorum and an assortment of other returning and new characters.

The book mainly moves between Allegra, Vangorich, a Black Templars Space Marine fleet and The Fists Exemplar Space Marines desperately trying to defend their homeworld. Whereas the first book largely focused on the actions of the Imperial Fists, book two is much more of an ensemble affair.

Despite my false start when I first tried to read it, it’s actually a very good book, with both the action and the political machinations on Terra being particularly well written and I have to admit I particularly enjoyed the struggle of the Fists Exemplar; probably because I’m a sucker for fights against impossible odds.

My main issue with it and the reason I’ve only given it four stars, instead of five, is its length. Two hundred and forty nine pages is not a massive amount for the price of a hardback book and it makes me wonder if the page count has been skimped on to pad out the series with an extra book or two.

This single criticism aside, it is a very good book and well worth a read, as it covers a period of Warhammer 40,000 history not very well explored and it’s always good to have a bit more meat on the bones of the background of a universe.

Focus, Focus, Focus

I lack focus when it comes to painting my own stuff.  I can be happily painting a model on a Friday and then when I come back to painting on a Saturday, I’ll sit down, pick up a completely different model and start painting that.  My painting area is a wasteland of half finished models and it’s a problem I’d rather like to deal with.

It’s weird really because this hobby malady only effects my own models and when I’m doing commissions, I’m not the fastest painter in the world but I’m pretty relentless and usually meet my targets.  When I started out I’d overrun sometimes but thanks to some incredibly understanding customers I had the time to sort that problem out and it’s probably because of those top-notch dudes that I’m still commission painting today.

I think the reason I’m not as disciplined when it comes to painting my own stuff, is that there are no repercussions if I float away from one of my own models, it’s only myself I’ve got to worry about and it seems I’m a very lax taxmaster when it comes to keeping myself on course with my own models.

This is a problem that I touched on in my Pile of Shame blog a while ago and it seems I didn’t listen to myself then, so here I am revisiting it again.  My Pile of Shame has not diminished.  Some of the models have been plucked out of it and painted but others have been added and although the Pile of Shame is not a literal pile of models, it’s how I’ve come to visualise it and it’s not a pretty picture.

So here we are, still in January and the year is still fresh, so I’m going to attempt to demolish the Pile of Shame and get to a point that I can actually buy some new models without feeling guilty about all the old ones gathering dust.

I’m always going to have unpainted models, I can accept that but I want to get rid of all the part finished stuff.  The cleaned, assembled, undercoated and then forgotten for something new and shiny stuff.  So that’s what I’m going to be targeting this year.  Not the things still on sprues, or nestled comfortably in their packaging but all those other poor sods that are, quite literally in some cases, gathering dust.

White Dwarf Review – January 2018

20180102_085302-1.jpgThis issue is packed to the brim with Nurgle stuff, Age of Sigmar Nurgle stuff to be precise and it all kicks off with a super snazzy piece of cover art, featuring a Lord of Blights.  The viewpoint is set at a low angle and I imagine it’s from the perspective of a cowering peasant whose village has been overrun and is about to meet a very unpleasant and pustulant doom.

Codex Chaos Daemons gets its new release this Month and that’ll be one of the few mentions 40K gets because it’s almost wall to wall AoS from here on out.  There’s the Maggotkin Battletome, that serious looking gentleman from the cover, a gaggle of Daemons and my favourite release of the Month, the brand spanking new Great Unclean One.

It’s a very impressive model, packed with detail and character.  There are all manner of ruptured guts, boils, scabs and general grossness.  It’s massive, almost the size of the Forgeworld version I believe, it’s a painter’s dream and I very much want to paint one.

There is another of those cool character Nurglings that comes with the model too and I think those little chaps deserve a special mention.  These cheeky little guys have been popping up in a lot of the Nurgle releases since the current 40K was released last year and they inject a nice bit of humour into the kits; which is kind of appropriate when you consider the carefree lives these little stinkers lead.

The letters page is kind of just there.  Nothing stands out, either good, or bad but it was a decent read nonetheless and I hope it sticks around.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re a little light on 40K content this month but there is a wee getting started article for Orks.  It’s a bit of a light and fluffy page filler but it’s not bad. I would much rather have had the Adrian Wood interview that’s hanging around on the Warhammer Community (if you haven’t already, take a look, it’s a great read) but I’ll take my 40K where I can get it this month.

I’m not too impressed with the latest Temporal Distort.  August 2013 is hardly a classic from the mists of time.  With all the wonderful issues that have come and gone over the years, why pick an average one that’s this recent. I’ve probably got older condiments in my fridge.

The short stories that used to crop up in White Dwarf were always something I enjoyed and it’s nice to see a couple this month.  They’re part of the lead up to the Malign Portents thingy that’s coming for AoS and they’re quite good. I hope this becomes at least a semi-regular feature.

Reading is a passion of mine and one of my favourite pastimes.  I was frustratingly slow to learn, I’m told, but once I picked it up, my appetite for reading was voracious, but that I think is a blog for another time.  My point, I suppose, is that I read a lot and as a result of that, and my love of 40K and 2000AD, I’ve read an awful lot of Dan Abnett’s stuff.

The interview with Dan Abnett is the highpoint of the issue for me.  He’s one of my favourite authors and I’ve read a lot of his stuff.  Not all of it, I’m not superhuman.  He’s written so much that there may be two of him; human cloning perhaps?

He spoke at length about Gaunt’s Ghost’s.  A large part of this was about continuity and how tricky it can be to keep everything straight and also quite a bit concerning character development.  I could go on about the interview for far longer than necessary but suffice to say, there’s a fourth Eisenhorn book coming, which is apparently old news.  Well, old news it may be but it’s new to me and I’m super stoked.

I’m really liking most of the new Nurgle stuff coming out, so I found the Nurgle Designers Notes to be an interesting read.  The names of some of the characters are a bit wide of the mark, but I suppose you can’t have everything.  I particularly like the way that since Dark Imperium was released last year, they’ve been plastering their models with nurglings.  Nurglings are some of the most characterful models that Games Workshop have ever produced, right up there with snotlings and it’s good to see them being embraced in such a big way.*

This cheeky chappy isn’t one of the most recent batch but he’s a good example of the new wave of nurglings.

They also seem to have re-connected the fantasy and 40K worlds.  There was a time that Warhammer Fantasy shared its continuity with 40K.  I can’t remember the exact details but the Old World was in an impassable warp storm, or it was trapped in the warp, or something like that.

Over time they rolled that back, presumably because it would’ve been a continuity nightmare to keep it all straight and as far as I know it was no longer the case.  Well now they’re re-linked, sort of.

They mentioned in the designers notes that the Chaos Gods and daemons of Age of Sigmar are the exact same gribbly nasties that plague the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  As it stands it’s not a game changer for both sets of background, but it’s kind of cool.

The review of the year does exactly what it sets out to do and reviews the year, doing it quite well.  It’s a nice read and there’s not much more I can say really.

Something I wasn’t expecting is the Imperial Guard mutation health warning advert.  It’s slotted in between two articles with no mention and is just sat there with no context.  I love little surprises like this.  It’s silly, smirk-worthy and I hope we see more of this sort of thing.

Despite not playing Age of Sigmar, at least thus far, I can get on board with a good battle report and this month it’s Fyreslayers against the Maggotkin of Nurgle.  An interesting pair that I don’t recall seeing match up against each other previously.

I can say nothing about how tactical, or balanced the armies were, except to say that two Greater Deamons seems like overkill.  Both forces did look cool though.

There’s a good bit of back and fourth in the scrap for the first couple of turns and it looks like it could go either way for the first turn, or two but it becomes obvious early on who’s going to win and by the end of the game, the result is so one sided there is only a single army on the table, with not a shred of its opponent left.  Whereas this does happen on occasion, this time it felt pretty overwhelming, as if one side was totally outclassed and never stood a chance.

The Ultimate Guide covers the undead, with a bit about all the assorted minions of Nagash and a wee bit about the big cheese himself.

I was unsurprised to find that the undead work much along the same lines as they did in Warhammer, with the background even being quite similar.  Personally I have no problem with this because as an Age of Sigmar background rookie, it was nice to have something familiar place into context.

New stuff is always good and this month there’s a scenario for Necromunda, a quest for Warhammer Quest and the first two scenarios of a campaign for LotR.

Barring one game of Necromunda, I haven’t had a chance to get stuck into any of these games yet and whereas it seems unlikely that I’ll ever play LotR, I can see myself playing Warhammer Quest, even if it does lack the depth of the original.  As for Necromunda, I’ll definitely be playing that; I just need my pennies and my spare time to catch up with my itent.

The Golden Demon stuff is, of course amazing. From the wee LotR single miniatures, to the massive 40K behemoths, they’re all top drawer.  My favourite this month though is the Nurgle Dreadknight, for its pure retro coolness.  It looks like it’s stepped right out of one of the early to mid-nineties Golden Demon awards and that’s a period of the hobby that I loved.  There was some really crazy and imaginative stuff floating around then and obviously that’s still the case now, to a point but then, you couldn’t move without coming across a model, or army converted to within an inch of its life and it was awesome.

After the GD stuff there’s an ‘eavy Metal article about painting Nurgle stuff, both daemons and people.  It has contributions from several painters and covers why they chose particular colour schemes and which colours compliment each other, as far as the assorted ways you can paint Nurgle stuff is concerned.

As a painter, it’s always nice to read this sort of article and I’ll always be happy to see more along the same lines.

A new Tale of four Warlords begins this month and even though it’s Age of Sigmar, I’m determined not to rashly pre-judge this one, as I did the previous 40K one.

Barring the last couple of parts, I just skimmed over large parts of the last one and now wish I hadn’t because I really enjoyed those last couple of parts.  Well, I’ve learnt my lesson and this time all the words and pictures are going into my noggin.

The armies this time round are Maggotkin, Witch Aelves, Malignants and Ogor Beastclaw Raiders and since they’re all just starting, there isn’t a great deal of content to it, barring them all having a bit of a chat about their chosen colour schemes and what they bought to start them off.  There’s nothing about why they chose what they did, which is a shame but you can’t have everything.

The modelling article this month gave me a real feeling of nostalgia.  It was proper scenery building, drainpipe offcuts and bits box junk.

Dan Harden needed some scenery for his Tau, Armies on Parade board and he built a tower, a water tank and a shield generator and they all looked really good.  Okay, so most people don’t have access to such amazing bits boxes but it’s a really good article and a massive step in the right direction.

The big army of the month in the collecting section is a massive Ork Horde, by a guy called Iain Gonzalez.  It’s an impressive beast of a force that has been put together in chunks over the course of a few years, using simple, but effective painting techniques and it really captures what I think an Ork army should look like.

There’s also a piece featuring a bunch of Blood Bowl teams that folk have painted and it’s a bunch of models that makes me want to paint my own team and play.  It’s one of those games that I’ve always thought looks super-fun but just never seem to quite get around to it.

The Battleforce Challenge is, unsurprisingly, exactly what it sounds like; a boxed army, be it a Battleforce, or one of the larger Talons of the Emperor style boxes, painted to completion in a month.

It’s a design studio challenge but one that could be easily adapted by a gaming group, or even an individual looking to set a painting target.  It’s sounds like a lot of fun but I’d certainly need to focus myself, as I’m a bit of a painting butterfly as far as my own stuff is concerned.  I paint a heck of a lot of stuff but find it hard to stay pointing at any one thing.

As would probably be expected the modelling and painting section is Nurgle all the way this month.  It’s got a guide for painting Plaguebearers, Beasts of Nurgle and a more general painting guts guide.  There’s a lot of good content here and personally, I’ll find the bit about painting guts particularly useful, as I’d like to step up my gut painting game.

I don’t have a favourite from the readers models this month.  Every single one of them are very well painted indeed, but, for me at least, there’s no one model that has that extra bit of wow that would push one ahead of the others.

In the Bunker, much like the rest of the issue is very AoS heavy, with the only concession to Warhammer 40,000 being a look at some of the little yella fellas from Matt Hutson’s Imperial Fists army.

The main feature is the continuing Firestorm campaign, which this month takes the form of a wee, four-way battle report.

As seems to be becoming the norm, a solid issue.  A little light on 40K for my liking, but it can’t be bolters and battle-tanks all the time I suppose.  The Nurgle stuff all looks awesome, although as mentioned earlier, I’m not really taken with most of the names; a lot of them sound daft, daft in a bad way.

The Dan Abnett interview was my favourite thing in the whole issue, as you may have noticed, I’m a bit of a fanboy in that respect and I would quite happily have read it if it had been twice as long as it was.

The January issue gets four out of five jolly little Nurglings.


*Not literally.  That would be rather messy.

White Dwarf Review – November 2017

The November issue of White Dwarf is out and has been for a few of weeks, so my review of it is a little later than I intended; time seems to have got away from me a little bit this month.  Anyway, late or not, here it is.

It can’t have escaped the attention of anyone with more than a passing interest in Games Workshop products that a Necromunda release was coming, GW haven’t exactly been quiet about it.  I love this about Games Workshop as a company now.  They don’t deny that releases are happening anymore, they shout it from the rooftops and unsurprisingly it seems to be working for them.

A lot of folks have been getting hecka excited about it and I’m one of them.  Necromunda was a pretty big deal for me last time around and I played hundreds of games of it.  This may sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t; I love that game and I got really invested in the lives, and deaths of my gang members.

The wraparound cover of the new White Dwarf (the box art I believe) tells you what you need to know; Necromunda is here and there’s loads inside to read about it.

Planet Warhammer has the boxed game and everything that goes with a new release.  Scenery, gangs (just Escher and Goliath so far), cards, dice and an expansion.  I don’t know what the general feeling on the expansion is but given the contents of it, it feels a little cash grabby to me.

Playing over terrain, Juves for your gang, looking after your territory and gang progression itself are all locked into what would essentially be day one DLC if this were a console game.  To me, all these things are what made Necromunda great and are why I loved it in the first place.

That said, when I can afford the base game. I will probably buy the expansion too, as the core game seems a little pointless without it.  What’s the point of playing endless one-off skirmishes with no repercussions?  It is a bit of a cheap move on GW’s behalf though.

There’s plenty more Necromunda content further into the issue and I’ll cover that in a bit, as there is stuff that’s not related to it in the release section and I should probably give that a bit of a mention.

Shadespire has a couple of new releases in the form of expansions featuring Orruks and Undead respectively.  I don’t own the game but I’ve been lucky enough to get a look at the models from both of them and they are pretty damn fine miniatures; the Undead in particular have a very Jason and the Argonauts sort of look to them.

The breakneck pace of codex releases continues this Month with Tyranids and Craftworld Eldar, and there’s a spiffy little chat with Jervis Johnson and Robin Cruddace covering how they went about putting the Eldar codex together and it’s an interesting little read.

Also, the Eldrad Ulthran model from the Deathmasque box is finally available separately and it’s certainly not before time, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on it since I missed out on Deathmasque.

There’s also some nice looking 40K themed playing cards, with art by John Blanche and a bunch of new hobby supplies, with the standout among them being the painting handle, which is proving to be very popular, if my Twitter feed is anything to go by, with some people buying five of them for batch painting purposes.

After that there’s the usual spread of book and video game stuff, with nothing particularly jumping out at me from either section this Month.

The letters page is fine, if a little bland and immediately following it is Temporal Distort, which is a nice enough read but I consider anything North of the year two thousand to be fairly recent, nevermind two thousand and ten.

As might be expected there is a fair old wedge of Necromunda content this Month and it kicks off with a hefty designers notes piece, which is immediately followed by a comprehensive background section delving into everything you need to know to gain a decent overview of the world, the hive and the gangs.

The Necromunda goodness doesn’t end there, as following all this is a battle report, featuring a clash between the Eschers and the Goliaths.  Mechanically it seems to move a lot quicker than the original version, although whether this is a good, or a bad thing I really couldn’t say.  Personally, I always liked the micro-management style of play in the original, although I know that wouldn’t be for everyone.

The Seasons of War, Firestorm campaign pack seems like it will add a lot to games of AoS, allowing players to link their standalone games into an ongoing campaingn.  Although I don’t currently play AoS, this is the type of thing that piques my interest and time / money permitting, I could see myself getting into the game.

As part of the article, they cover the first part of a campaign and although there’s not much to the battles, the battles themselves aren’t the point of this article and it gives a nice feel for how it all hangs together.

Armies on Parade is, of course, always chock full of lovely looking models and this Month is no exception.  I do have a favourite though, and it’s the Khorne Warband; it’s amazing.  I’ve only ever painted a smattering of Khornate models over the years, never an army (mainly due to procrastination), but They make for eye-catching forces, whatever games system they’re hanging around in and I always enjoy seeing them.

To say that the Golden Demon Classic winners featured next are amazing would be an understatement.  Every single one of them is a masterclass in painting awesomeness and they’re a joy to look at.

They’re not the type of paint-jobs that make it easy to pick a favourite, but if I had to it would be between the Orruk Megaboss by David Soper (who won for the first time many moons ago with a characterful Nurgle Predator) and the Vanguard Palladors by Chris Clayton.  If you get the chance you really need to soak in work that’s gone into these things.  It may sound a little pretentious, but it’s painting like this that makes a case for model painting being art.

‘Eavy Metal Masterclass is a new article, which is essentially an interview with a member of the ‘Eavy Metal team and this Month they chat with a guy from the team called Tom Winstone and show off a lot of his beautifully painted models.  It’s a format I can really get on board with and I hope it sticks around.

The Tyranid designers notes are an interesting look at what went into making the new codex what it is.  With a wee bit about the background and how the Hive Mind is adapting to the Great Rift.  They also go into a bit of detail about the rules and the things they feel they got wrong last time and what they’ve decided to do to rectify these issues.

This Month the featured army in Collecting and painting is a 40K Knight Household, by James Perry and it goes into a fair bit of detail concerning his collecting and painting process and is a genuinely entertaining read.  It’s a good article, with a nice, solid format and even when it’s an army that doesn’t interest me from a background perspective, it’s never wasted space.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of the next article.  I’ve never been invested in any of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings stuff and often find the articles to be a bit of a chore but it’s a shame for all the remaining fans of the game that coverage has become so lacklustre in recent years.  That said, it’s hard to doubt the enthusiasm of the writers of the new Battle Companies supplement, as they really seem to care about the game and its source material.

It says something about the level of commitment that GW have to the LotR, that in the Month the game gets a release that could conceivably breath new life into it, it gets four pages of coverage in the arse end of White Dwarf.

For what it’s worth, Battle Companies seems to be a pretty cool idea, and if GW could be bothered with it, the game could have a bit of a resurgence.  They seem quite content to let it wither away though.

The modelling and the painting articles largely cover Necromunda, as is to be expected, but also has a variety of guides for an assortment of Eldar and mini guides on techniques such as different skin tones, which is something that a lot of people will find interesting.  It’s always a good read, but it’s an article that always makes me buy another pot of paint, or two, or three, but I suppose that’s kind of the point, so well played GW.

Blanchitsu covers what, unfortunately looks like being the last we’re going to see of stuff from the Pilgrym campaign.  Blanchitsu is always on the extreme edge of the hobby but Pilgrym has made this the weirdest part of white Dwarf for quite some time and I’m sorry to see the end of it.

For something a bit more conventional, the Readers Models has, as is always the case a wide variety of nicely painted models to look at, but the thing I like most about it, is that it’s a great showcase for non GW painting styles.  There’s nothing wrong with GW’s house style, it’s very eye-catching but a bit of variety is always nice.

Lastly, in the Bunker is a bit more wee than usual but they manage to fit a lot into a compact three pages.  An awesome Deff Dread conversion, a Necromunda game board, a bit about Shadespire, a spangly Lord of Change paint job and a few bits and bobs besides.

There’s a lot of Necromunda coverage in the November issue but I think they would have been remiss if they’d done anything else, given how long folks have been waiting for it.  That said, they haven’t done too badly as far as balance is concerned.  It’s a little light on non Necromunda stuff but they do manage to shoehorn a little bit of AoS, 40K and even LotR in there.

I love it because it’s so Necromunda heavy, but looking at it objectively it’s not perfect and if I was to be tough on it, I could say that a lot of the non Necromunda stuff feels a little token, but Necromunda! So, I’m going to give it eight Underhive Scum out of ten.

White Dwarf Review – October 2017

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.