White Dwarf 382–Reviewed!

Despite Games Workshop’s never really making an honest go with their White Dwarf magazine, I’m still trying to make an honest go with my idea of reviewing each new White Dwarf issue upon its release.

I think the back cover of this month's issue is more compelling than the front cover (but I have minimal patience for minimalist covers).

(For those keeping score, I only managed to review #381—the October 2011 issue—after half the month went by, I entirely missed reviewing #380, and  my review of #379 came about solely because I couldn’t believe it didn’t suck …so that review was about five days after the magazine hit the shelves).

Finding fault with the White Dwarf magazine is akin to getting teenagers depressed; it’s like shooting fish in a barrel (tho’ it could be argued that getting teenagers depressed is like finding fault in White Dwarf because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel). But I digress. I’ve decided to NOT find all the reasons why this issue isn’t up to snuff and instead try to see why it could be a worthwhile purchase (well, that’s the theory behind the review).

I found out with the last issue that it’s easier to not editorialise if doing a page-by-page account of the magazine’s contents; so here we go:

.

Page 0: Editor’s message—soaked (as always) in GW’s own “Jonestown punch.”

Page 1: Table of Contents.

Pgs 2-20: New Releases: (fifteen of those are spent on Necrons).

Pgs 21-23: New releases: the White Dwarf subscription’s new model unveiled and Black Library features / releases.

Pgs 24-29: Necrons: They Rise! (And their history gets ret-conned).

Pgs 30-39: Necrons: ‘Eavy Metal gives painted examples of various Necron …“factions”

Pgs 40-43: Necrons: How the new Necrons will play & some example new rules/stats.

Pgs 44-45: Advert: GW Hobby Centre Grand Opening in Denver, CO.

Pgs 46-65: Necrons: Necrons face off against a Marines & Eldar allied force…for twenty pages.

Pgs 66-67: Advert: 40k Necrons range (and highlighting three of its plastics sets).

Pgs 68-69: Standard Bearer: Jervis talks about how horrendous bad luck is no reason to be a poor sport.

Pgs 70-73: Warhammer: Feature on new terrain piece, Skullvane Manse.

Pgs 74-75: Warhammer: “Snapshot” of a battle in progress: Ogre Kingdoms vs. Empire.

Pgs 76-77: Advert: Forge World.

Pgs 78-83: Lord of the Rings SBG: Infantry Tactica (how to use infantry in the game…?)

Pgs 84-85: Citadel Hall of Fame: Tyranid Carnifex.

Pgs 86-91: Warhammer: Ogre Kingdoms tactica.

Pgs 92-93: Armies on Parade: Mark Bedford’s Space Orks.

Pgs 94-101: Warhammer 40k: Sisters of Battle “Army Workshop” (a staffer goes over what’s in his army, complete with painted examples).

Pgs 102-103: Advert: Dreadfleet.

Pg 104: Advert: Hobby Centre Birthday Celebration locations.

Pgs 105-119: The “Augury” (store and event info) even with the announcement of Games Day 2012 being in Chicago next July, this would be ultimately forgettable except for one notable thing on page 114 (discussed below in my “Street Beefs” section).

Thoughts on This Issue

This issue is poly-bagged; I almost want to believe that GW did so because they wanted to keep all the Necron-release info that extra little bit mysterious as part of GW’s new policy that ensures us customers will never see line-ups of new releases any earlier than two weeks ahead of releases’ on-shelf street dates. I almost want to believe that …except of course there’s been that whole debacle with Beasts of War and Wayland Games; so if the issue was poly-bagged for “secrecy” reasons, it really only makes GW look like it truly is run by monkeys.

Alternately, I might be sucker enough to buy into conspiracies like GW now wanting people to buy White Dwarf blindly instead of being able to give the issue a cursory flip-through before purchase (I know Cryptic’s Champions Online suckered me in that way with their ‘buy-a-lifetime-membership-only-before-the-game-goes-live’ scheme…quickly succeeded with their “who needs content in an MMORPG?” policy and eventually followed by “the game is now free to play…2 months before your lifetime membership had paid for itself” policy).

This issue comes with a (lame) Christmas catalogue / wish list booklet which merely needs to be kept from falling out of the magazine,  so I’ll put these “sinister” theories my sleep-addled brain has concocted regarding reasons behind poly-bagging a sub-par publication to rest.

My “Street Beef “

Up until the Road to Glory campaign information (page 114) in the rarely read “The Augury” section, my only real editorial thoughts were that this month’s issue was a little on the schizophrenic side: despite this being the issue featuring the new Necrons, there’s a LOT of extra stuff in this month’s issue–but the page-by-page account of the rag’s content makes it feel like the book’s content is shooting out randomly in every direction.

Page 114

This was an add on page 114 for the Road to Glory 40k Campaign coming our way in November and …well… FOR  GOD’S  SAKE, to all the “writers” in the USA GW studio: rouge is not the “close-enough” spelling of the word, Rogue. “Rouge” is the French word for “red.” I know you’re not bilingual–nor do I expect you to be–but this is a stupid rookie mistake (and you made that mistake TWICE!!!).

Rogue Trader - the first edition of Warhammer ...

Not knowing the difference between a rouge trader and a Rogue Trader is a very lazy mistake–it’s a term that, essentially, YOU GUYS at Games Workshop, invented! This kind of mistake showing up in your own in-house magazine speaks to me more of arrogance and utter ambivalence towards your customers; and I know I shouldn’t get this bent out of shape by a mere typo, but it’s insulting to me as your  customer, that not spelling the name of your own products and having it slip past you feels like just one more corner to cut to maximize your profits …off me.

Whenever a company blatantly shows me I’m not worth their effort (because that’s the message such lazy mistakes send me), not only does it get my hackles up; but I also start looking at where else I can send my purchase dollars (have you seen all the Flames of War, Strange Aeons, Firestorm Armada, Heavy Gear and boardgames that have been swelling my hobby collection over the last couple of years?). 

I guess I’m this agitated because, for a moment, I got excited to see GW embarking on a new month-long BIG campaign (in hopes that it might be something akin to the Eye of Terror or Storm of Chaos international campaigns that were run via the internet back in the early 2000s).

Then I saw the typo…then I saw the campaign was for (presumably only) Independent Stores to run for one month, starting next week, this ad being the first I’d heard of it. From all that, I draw two conclusions:

(1) The campaign is going to be a gong show: if the GW guys doing the write up can’t be bothered to spell check—or know the difference between rouge and rogue—what are the chances that much of this campaign will be well thought out, well made or at all innovative? (These are the things that make narratives interesting and engaging to players.)

(2) The campaign is likely going to be poorly run: handing off a campaign to independent stores—who either don’t care enough about The Hobby™ or are spending all their time trying to keep their stores from going under—is NOT going to result in a good experience for players (unless some veteran players and do-gooders step up and run the campaign themselves…which will mean the campaign will be inconsistent–even from store to store in one city).

It’s funny how quickly I went from excited about this campaign to having all my confidence drain away. Am I alone in this, or is everyone else looking forward to the Road to Glory on Aardvaark IV?

Yes, Aardvaark IV (ugh) is the name of the planet this campaign takes place on.

So… Is #382 Worth It?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Well, if you’re not a Necron player jonesing to get any info you can on the new shiny releases, there’s still a lot of different stuff crammed into this month’s issue; but with most articles (or what-have-you) being only two or three pages in length, each article feels shallow to say the least.

The only unlooked-for thing I saw in the book that was kind of cool was the part of the Army Workshop article (pages 100-101) showing some of the organisational structure behind the Sisters of Battle. It detailed which Orders come from / are tied to which Convent Worlds (I tend to be a sucker for this kind of back ground information, so whereas I think it’ pretty neat, I’m sure I’m in the minority!)

My verdict: not a bad issue–especially if you’re a Necron player–but I might suggest putting your purchasing dollars towards a publication with a bit more depth…or product that would be of more use to you.

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8 responses to “White Dwarf 382–Reviewed!

    • You know it’s funny: I went into this review totally NOT wanting to be a hater (my one-or-two paragraph preamble was originally three or four big paragraphs, going through how I really was trying to find the silver lining in the issue). And I think I did a pretty good job–thanks mostly to the format of just listing the contents of the magazine–that is, up until I saw the twice-done typos of “Rouge Trader.”

      It’s funny, I was really hoping with issue #379 we were beginning to leave the dark of the forest behind. The last few issues have done nothing to convince me that the book is heading in the right direction. (I talk a little bit more about that during my guest-hosting stint on the Jaded GamerCast podcast I was on this week–the link is on my front page under the ‘Dietary Staples’ heading, and the pod cast’s date is October 31st: “Chapters Approved”).

    • That’s true…curiously, the White Dwarf has been avoiding covering War of the Ring. Hmmmm…..

      As for this article, I haven’t read it fully, but it reads as more of a “how to play LotR SBG” than giving sneaky hints on the possibilities infantry bring to the game–not terrible, just kind of surprising.

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  3. Thanks for doing the review. It was really helpful for me to decide if I wanted to pick it up. I also agree with you about the cool Sister of Battle fluff. I like that stuff too.

    • Thanks for checking out the review! Do you like the way that I’m going about the review? I ask because it works for me on the writing side…but I feel a little lazy giving a review of a magazine when I won’t read it word for word, cover to cover first (doesn’t feel like, by definition, what I’m doing counts as “reviewing”).

      White Dwarf is a tricky beast for me: I may have mentioned this before, but for as long as I’ve been selling the magazine (so, since about 1993) people have always complained that the magazine not only sucks but is getting worse with every month. The last two years of the magazine has generally had me feeling that way too–which is a first: apart from my first few years collecting the magazine I became heavy proponent of the White Dwarf around 1998 (when I first decided to NOT be part of the crowd whinging about how terrible the book was and instead focus on what was good about it.)

      Like I said the last few years have been considerably trickier: in the past when things went south, the magazine ended up just feeling like a pushy salesman, showing lots of flashy new things, lots of adverts and lots of talk that pushed towards a sale; nowas things have been going south, it feels like GW can’t even summon up enough caring to give us a sincere hard sell; they phone in so much of the magazine.

      I’m trying to go back to focusing on what’s good in the magazine, but ‘Workshop is making that a real chore.I don’t want to be a bile-filled reviewer, so I thought instead I’d just give more of an honest table of contents than anything else (and hopefully bite my tongue enough so that not too many horrible things spilled out).

      I’ve always felt the fairest way to view GW was to give credit where it was due, get over-the-top excited whenever the effort put into their products and marketing warranted, BUT never shy away from holding GW account for their actions. Unfortunately, with the way they’ve been doing things the last little while, I seem to be trying to hold them accountable more often than I am heaping praise and getting all frothy from excitement.

      thanks again for checking this out!

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