White Dwarf, July 2017 Review

 

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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.

The Big White Dwarf Review 1

20170703_214531-1It’s been out for a couple of weeks now but I thought I’d have a stab at doing a review of this Month’s White Dwarf.  I’m planning on doing this every Month, hence the rather hopeful number one in the title.

The cover has a cool picture of a Space Marine’s helmet, which I’m fairly-sure is the cover to the new rulebook.  I always prefer proper artwork, rather than a photograph of the model of the Month for the cover.  It’s not that I have anything against GW’s photography, in fact it’s rather nice to look at, but there’s enough inside.

The contents are spread over two pages. Two pages for contents seems a little unnecessary, but it would feel like nitpicking to say it’s a negative; it is undoubtedly page filler though.

The section on this Month’s stuff is, as you would expect, pretty 40K heavy, however there is a reasonable spread of other stuff too.

Some Bloodbowl rules, which felt a little out of place in a section of the magazine usually reserved for new release news, but it was nice to see nonetheless.

Then there’s the new Age of Sigmar skirmish game and although it’s not really for me, at least for the time being, I can see it being popular AoS players.  Releasing it in the same Month as new 40K does seem like a bit of an odd choice though.

There’s some nice-looking Forge World stuff and a few pages about comics, books and games and that pretty much rounds off the whole this Month section.

The letters page is okay, but it’s all glowing GW is awesome kind of stuff.  When they relaunched the Monthly WD, there was a bit of mild criticism, which balanced all the praise out a bit.  I find it a bit hard to believe that every single person that sends them a letter, sends one full of glowing praise.

After this there’s a nice, big 40K designers notes feature, complete with a two page battle scene and an impressive gatefold section, with loads of Ultramarine, Imperial Guard and Nurgle models to look at.

There’s also some nice Imperial Fists artwork lifted from the rulebook, that’s well worth a mention, because Imperial Fists.

A bit about why they felt eighth was needed, nice artwork, bit of a chat about the new rules, wee bit of background.  All in all a pretty good article.

There’s a piece about the new Primaris Power Armour, a smidge about the Death Guard and an ‘Eavy Metal Showcase with some pictures of Primaris guys in assorted Chapter colours.  It’s all a bit light on reading and fairly-standard stuff, but nice enough to look at.

Next there’s an article showing a couple of the GW folks playing a game of new 40K.  Not a Battle Report, but a demonstration of how an average game works.  There’s nothing wrong with it as such, but it comes across as incredibly staged and seems a bit pointless, given that there is an actual 40K Battle Report later in the issue.

Then we have an article about the new Index books.  These are designed for the sole purpose of providing army lists until the codexes are released.  A few guys talk about how well their armies work with each Index and how awesome the new books are.  Despite it being essentially an advert for the new books, it’s a decent read.

It’s at this point that I feel the need to ask a question.  When did the Tau gain an apostrophe and become the T’au?

The Battle Report comes next and is Ultramarines versus Death Guard and minions.  The basic premise is that the Ultramarines are sorely pressed by an inexhaustible horde of Nurgle dudes and need to hold out long enough for the smelly fellers to decide they’ve had enough.

It’s fast paced and an interesting read; a pretty good advert for new 40K.  I wish they wouldn’t spend quite so much time talking about how awesome Roboute is though.  I’m a big fan of the Ultramarines; they’re my main guys in 40K and I’ve got an army of them with models that go all the way back to 1990, but even I’m starting to find it a little wearing.  The battle is generally a pretty good advert for eighth though.

Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors is front and center in their Golden Demon Showcase and a pretty-spiffy model it is too.  I’m not really a big fan of him from a background perspective; I always thought he came across as a bit of a sulky whingebag, but it’s a spectacular paint job.

All the models in the showcase are fantastically well painted and even though some of the painting styles aren’t to my taste, that’s just me and they are all models that deserve to be there.  An honourable mention does go to the Sigismund model though, as I always like to see Fists.

Tale of four Warlords is always a decent enough read, but it seems to have lost something for me since the earlier ones from years gone by, I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Lack of a budget perhaps?  Cool painting guides though.

I find my motivation for AoS to be lacking and just can’t work up any enthusiasm for it, but there are undoubtedly some awesome models out for the system, a lot of which are showcased in this Age of Sigmar armies article.  It’s always a pleasure to see well painted armies, so this article stands up, based on that alone for me.

The Ultimate Guide to Khorne has some nice artwork and is an interesting read, but Bloodsecrators* is an exceptionally silly name.

After this is an article about the GW artists.  It contains some nice insight into how they work and is a really-interesting read.

The Collecting and Painting article is about a Harlequin army.  It’s an incredibly impressive force to look at and the article contains a handy dandy little guide on painting the diamond pattern that Harlequins use so much.

In the painting guide section, there is a guide on Ultramarines and one for the Plague Marines.  I have little use for the Ultramarines one, having painted loads of Team Roboute guys over the years, but it’s well presented and will be useful to a lot of folks.

The Plague Marines guide however will be very handy for me, as I’ve never painted them before, so it’ll be nice to have something to refer to if need be.

I always enjoy reading Temporal Distort, it’s a nice trip down memory lane.  It’s yet to feature a WD that I didn’t read when it was new though, so it can make me feel a bit old.  As an aside, Abaddon is showcased in that particular WD; he really needs a new model, he’s tiny.

The readers models section is always nice to look at and I always cool to see models from people on my Twitter feed turning up there.

In the Bunker is always an interesting look in to who’s doing what and is always a decent read.

Generally, a solid issue.  It could still do with tightening up a bit here and there, but it’s head and shoulders above anything they’d put out for a long time, before the relaunch.  If I was to mark it out of ten, I’d probably give it a nice respectable eight.

*Bloodsecrator sounds like the name of a Dethklok song.

The Golden Age and back … And back again?

I’ve been pretty heavily invested in the worlds that Games Workshop create for over twenty five years now and I love their background.  It’s one of the things that stopped me from jumping ship to another company during the too long period when they seemed to be going out of their way to alienate everybody over the age of fifteen.

They’ve had some pretty strange ideas over the years, ideas that often seemed to run pretty contrary to common sense, but the one that always boggled my mind the most was their attitude to the internet.

Before I get stuck into this, I would like to say that Games Workshop over the past year or two has felt like almost an entirely different company and for the most part I’m pretty happy with the direction things seem to be going in.  There was a substantial slice of time though when this was not the case.

The internet; I think we can all agree that short of a Mad Max type Apocalypse, it’s not going anywhere and that most of us probably wouldn’t want it to.  No internet would certainly make blogging a bit tricky.

There was a fairly substantial slice of time when Games Workshop treated the internet like it was a passing fad that was going to fade away if they ignored it long enough.  This all seemed to stem from a forum they ran for a while some time ago.

It was a reasonably interesting place for a time.  If you’ve been into the hobby for a while you may even have experience of it yourself, but it started to become overloaded with people who were going there to launch personal attacks on the company.  Did the company deserve this and did a lot of these people’s opinions have merit?  Up to a point, yes.  However the forum was there to discuss the hobby side of the hobby and not the business side, so it was never going to end well.

Instead of attempting to address the situation rationally, they threw their toys out of the pram, closed the forum and almost entirely withdrew from the internet.  Sure, they still had the webstore, but I imagine even they could see that closing that would have been akin to company suicide.

Over the next few years they rolled back their online presence more and more, even abandoning a pretty popular Twitter feed.  I don’t pretend to know a great deal about business and the only thing I know about their profits is what I’ve read on hobby forums.  For a while at least making a profit seemed to be problematic for them and part of the reason for this may well have been as a result of them closing themselves off from their fanbase and taking us for granted.

As a company they had been in a bit of a downward spiral for quite a while, at least as far as their reputation was concerned and the internet thing was by no means the first bad decision they made; nor was it their last.

You’d probably get a hundred different answers from a hundred different people if you asked them to tell you what their problem was with the company a few years ago, but most of them probably would have agreed on two points.  The Finecast debacle and the botched Age of Sigmar launch.

Finecast.  It was a cool idea in principal.  Replace the range of metal miniatures with the same models, but cast in resin.  Lighter, cheaper and more detailed.  They were definitely lighter.

There was no difference in price people paid between the metal models and their resin counterparts and in some cases the prices even went up.  As far as the detail was concerned; it was indeed better, if you could get one that wasn’t faulty and that was the problem.

I don’t know how true this is but I heard of independent retailers who found more than half of their stock to be faulty, at least in the initial run.  I have no way of knowing how accurate this is, but from my experience with the early Finecast range, it certainly feels right.

The range must have been rushed out before it was ready and Games Workshop as a company must surely have paid a high price for their haste.  I will say that as far as I know, they accepted returns from people and offered refunds, or replacements to anyone who got in touch with regarding a faulty model.  In my experience, this is one area that they have always excelled in.

Finecast as a brand is so toxic that even Games Workshop have ditched the name now.  They still sell resin models and they seem to be, whilst still not perfect, at least usable in most cases now.  I’ve painted a few on commission, but for my own collection, unless there’s no alternative I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole.  This is no comment on Forgeworld’s resin, they have a pretty splendid reputation as far as I’m aware.

As far as Age of Sigmar is concerned, I believe it’s quite an enjoyable game, with a well-rounded ruleset now and it certainly has a lot of beautiful miniatures.  Although I’ve perused the rules, I’ve never played it; I just haven’t been able to work up the enthusiasm for it so far.

When it was released, it replaced the much-loved Warhammer Fantasy Battle; a game that had been around for an epic amount of time.  It offered an entirely different experience to Warhammer 40,000 gameplay wise and had a rich, well developed background.

While it is true that it wasn’t selling as well as it had, this could have been addressed without killing the whole system and all the background.

Part of the problem with regards to the decline of Warhammer Fantasy, is the uneven coverage it got in White Dwarf, Games Workshop’s hobby magazine.  The coverage often seemed skewed towards the more popular Warhammer 40,000 and while this is my favourite system, it always seemed a little unfair.

Also, as unintentional as it presumably was, when they acquired the licence for Lord of the Rings, from a fantasy perspective they went into competition with themselves.  By having two totally different fantasy ranges competing for the same slice of the pie, they were setting one of them up for a fall.

Whereas Warhammer Fantasy kept a lot of the gamers it already had, Games Workshop didn’t really give itself an outlet to pick up very many new gamers for the system.

It seemed to me though, that Games Workshop grabbed the wrong end of the stick and decided that the reason Warhammer Fantasy wasn’t selling, was that it wasn’t enough like Warhammer 40,000, so along came Age of Sigmar.

As I said earlier Age of Sigmar seems to be perfectly fine now it’s bedded in and things have been rounded off.  On release however, it seemed very bare bones and everything that was there was entirely new.  Quite simply, it may not have been that there was anything particularly wrong with it, but that it had big shoes to fill and on release it struggled to do so.

Despite all the turbulent times, they really seem to have turned over a new leaf.  While I don’t think they’re quite at the stage they were at in what I consider to be the glory days, they do seem to be trying; it’s also a little bit possible that to some extent I may be looking at the past through rose tinted glasses.

They’ve even got their sense of humour back and the ability to have a laugh at your own expense is never a bad thing.