White Dwarf #390 Reviewed

It’s a full-blown week since the release of Warhammer 40,000’s Sixth Edition rules…and two weeks since White Dwarf #390 hit the shelves. For some reason, I still feel compelled to (a) keep getting the magazine every month; and (b) keep reviewing the magazine every month—despite the fact that it’s often a chore to find content that feels satisfactory to a long-time GW hobbyist™ such as myself. (Admittedly—though I’m sure White Dwarf doesn’t admit it—the magazine is really only geared towards those who have been playing/hobbying for less than two years…and, I guess, those whose recollection capability tends to max out around the two year mark.)

Clearly, my decision to go forth and still review what is close to becoming last month’s issue of White Dwarf has to be because I’m trying to lay some sort of sad claim to being a GW-internet-hobbyist “maverick” by actively avoiding talking about 40k Sixth Edition. (I mean, seriously, everyone is talking about the new 40k and the ramifications of its new rules and whether they should pull apart all their old models for the new rules and how they can use Rhinos to limit the field of fire of their missile launchers so they can snipe individual models…everyone but me, that is).

It’s no surprise that, with new edition of 40k being unleashed upon us, this month’s issue focuses on Warhammer 40,000. And I’m okay with that and am not going to harp on about equal coverage or any such garbage. I’m really just curious to see if the magazine’s editor, Andrew Kenrick, decided to allocate the information regarding the new releases as though they were Easter eggs like he did in last month’s issue …because nothings better than flipping through 100 pages of their magazine trying to figure out if there are any new novels or Warhammer models coming out this month.

All that complaining aside, I am kind of enamored by the thought that the layout of each month’s magazine is kind of like the FOX Network and how they go through their roster of mid-season replacement shows: each one holds so much promise but is really there just to be thrown away to make room for the next replacement next month. But I digress; on to the magazine!

White Dwarf #390

Pgs 0-1: Two-Page Spread: 40k: Blood Angels and Imperial Guard—fighting side by side??? Plus plenty of air cover in the photo. With the new rules out, we all know the portents of this two-page spread.

Page 2: Table of Contents & Message from the Editor: I see we’re back to both these things being on one page. Andrew talks about how *gasp* Warhammer 40k: 6th Edition is being released in just 7 days time…and how he’s starting a new army to commemorate the occasion.

Page 3: Advert: Warhammer 40,000 Sixth Edition is a New Release. Also, this advert is like the title page for this month’s New Release section of the magazine.

Pgs 4-8: New Releases: Warhammer 40,000 Sixth Edition book cover and open book proudly on display; as well are included shots of  the 6th Ed. Collector’s and Gamers’ editions and the new 40k template set and the kinda-super-awesome-kinda-super-goofy Servo Skull tape measure.

Page 9: New Releases: The new 40k Munitorum Dice Set, Battlefield Objectives Set and Vehicle Markers set. IT SHOULD BE NOTED: these sets are all presented here in the magazine like they will be regularly available items, purchasable from now on, in whatever quantities you might desire. GW has already told my store that there are only five of each set available to each independent game store in North America.

Page 10: New Releases: The Psychic Power Cards set. Say what you will about 40k bringing more Warhammer Fantasy Battles into its game, these cards look slick and the packaging / case for them is just as slick also!

Page 11: New Releases: Tanglewire (meh) and the two new Necron special characters. (Though I would argue that the way the new books really encourage players to use named characters—a la Warmachine—as opposed to providing in-game means for players to create their own named characters, over the past few years special characters are becoming anything but special.)

Pgs 12-16: New Releases: A selection of this month’s newly re-released miniatures brought to you by the Fine™ folks at FINECAST™.

Page 17: New Releases / Advert: Gamesday 2012…and a new sourcebook for the Black Crusade RPG (Tome of Fate). There’s also a notification that there’s new downloadable content for Relic’s Space Marine and Dawn of War II games.

Pgs 18-19: New Releases: Black Library releases for the month of July….plus a three-question interview with Bill King, the author of this month’s new book, Angel of Fire. Honestly, guys, what’s the point of this “interview”? I think it would have been cool to use this three-question snippet as a way to direct people to the GW website to read the rest of this interview. For being such an inspirational company, the marketing in White Dwarf is certainly LESS than inspired.

Pgs 20-27: Warhammer 40k: Exposé on the new edition! Cool photos abound, but I won’t go into my thoughts on the newest edition of 40 as the game’s already been out for a full week at this point; and the internet has already done a pretty thorough job of giving you, the player, all the meat concerning this new edition.

Pgs 28-29: Advert: A two-page spread on GW Hobby Centre grand openings. Filler, at best.

Pgs 30-55: Warhammer 40k: Armies of the 41st Millennium. Twenty-five pages of armies and completed army projects of GW design and art studio staff members. Represented are: Black Templars, Blood Angels, Chaos Word Bearers Marines, Chaos Daemons, Chaos Night Lords Marines, Dark Angels, Dark Eldar, Eldar, Grey Knights, and ….more Grey Knights, two different Imperial Guard forces, two different Necron forces, Space Orks, and …more Space Orks, Ultra Marines, Imperial Fists Marines, Space Wolves Marines, and …more Space Wolves Marines, Tau and Tyranids.

On a nerd-raging side note: As if the internet wasn’t bad enough, this portion of the magazine reinforces that we’re really no longer playing Warhammer 40,000; we’re all just playing “Space Marines in the 41st  Millennium…plus the smattering of enemies that only suckers play are still alive to fight them.”

Pgs 56-57: Advert: Warhammer 40k battleforces at your disposal to purchase.

Pgs 58-69: Warhammer 40,000: Battle Report: “The Scouring of Kasr XV.” Chaos Marines & Chaos Daemons versus Imperial Guard & grey Knights. Hoo boy…the two armies commonly seen as the best in Warhammer 40,000 against the two armies commonly held as among the worst. To lend the battle report some “street cred” the forces of Chaos wipe the board and win 9-0 against the coalition of Imperial guard and Grey Knights.

Pgs 70-75: Warhammer 40,000: Battlefield Terrain. Four pages of a thinly-veiled attempt to shill their terrain kits on their readers. Still, the dioramas being presented (if you will) are all quite nice and certainly inspiring, so I’ll do no complaining.

Pgs 76-77: Advert: Remember how I said the Battlefield Terrain “article” was a thinly-veiled attempt to shill terrain kits? Well that veil has been stripped away for these two pages.

Pgs 78-83: Warhammer 40,000: Battle Report: “Assault on Fellstorm Airfield.” Space Orks versus White Scar Marines using the models that were presented as just being painted up last month while simultaneously going through the way flyers work in sixth edition. The Orks win.

Pgs 84-91: Warhammer 40,000:  Tau Cept Hunter Cadre. More importantly, how to paint up such Tau stand-bys as Tan Fire Warriors, red Stealth Suit armour, and Tau-centric skin tones (Tau blue & Kroot green).

Page 92: Advert: The Citadel paints used in the previous Tau painting article.

Page 93: New Releases: Tau models being re-released in July, thanks to the Fine™ folks at FINECAST™.

Pgs 94-97: Forge World: Exposé on all the Forge World kits that are now extra usable thanks to the sixth edition of Warhammer 40,000.

Pgs 98-101: Warhammer 40,000: The new psychic powers in 40k; an article where Matt Ward explains “how to get the best out of the power of the Warp.” Basically, it’s an army-by-army break down of the lores he feels each army should take.

Pgs 102-103: Standard Bearer: This month’s Standard Bearer is written by Jeremy Vetock, co-writer of the new 40k 6th Edition. Generally, it’s a pretty inoffensive, pretty forgettable article this time around. No new ground is broken and no players will take issue with anything written here.

Pgs 104-105: Armies on Parade: Dave Taylor’s Empire army! If you pay attention to his blog, you’ve likely seen some (or all) of the progress reports he’s done on this project. It’s also really nice to see his stuff back in a White Dwarf (not to mention some acknowledgment).

Page 106: Advert: GW Hobby Centre birthday celebrations.

Pgs 107-119: The Augury (and Events Diary): I’m going to forego saying anything bad about this section of the magazine this month. So I guess I’m just not going to say anything. (Actually, that’s not very fair of me; it IS very nice of GW to dedicate some space so that independent stores can advertise the events they run…at no cost for advertising, no less.)

Page 120: In Next Month’s Issue: Looks like Chaos Marines…and a LOT of Chaos-Chaos Marines at that! Paving the way for a new codex, perhaps?

Thoughts on the Issue

Apart from the few quips I’ve already thrown in, I don’t think I really take much issue with this month’s White Dwarf. Surprising, n’est ce pas?


This month’s Street Beef is less about the magazine and more about how Games Workshop handled the release of sixth edition. I feel it’s not only safe to say (I’m also compelled to say) that the release of this edition was handled with retailers in a pretty ham-fisted manner; allow me to illustrate:

  • They sent me (as a retailer) three emails saying I should sell the White Dwarf  THE MOMENT it arrived at my store because it had something important to all 40k players inside the issue—and I’d definitely want to “rally my 40k community around it”…and then the issue showed up later than it usually does.
  • Within a day of the magazine showing up on my store’s door step my trade sales rep from GW was phoning me and asking me for the specific number of books I would need…you know, within 48 hours of the official admission that 6th Ed. was indeed being released for the end of June.
  • After I came up with a (large-ish) number for them and paid for all the June 30th releases, I got another email saying that the tape measures and templates were sold out…but no refund for unfilled items was given, nor was any time frame for their arrival given.
  • Then I was told that I should just give them my payment information for the Collectors’ and Gamers’ Editions of the new rules—even though they had NO way of telling me whether there were any actually available. Even five days later, they were unable to give me a firm ‘no’..or ‘yes’ as to whether I could get these much-sought items for my customers. It was eight or nine days later when I was finally told that the copies I tried to preorder weren’t available. You know, GW, (a) by the nine-day mark, I had already kind of figured it out; and (b) I hear there are computer programs out there that are capable of monitoring your company’s stock levels…and there’s this thing called the internet that will let the computers in your warehouse talk to the computers in your trade sales office (I’m not even going to bring up the fact that the distance between the GW Memphis sales office and the GW Memphis warehouse is likely one hallway.)

It’s one thing to give people only seven days notice about a newly-released miniature and another thing entirely to use that marketing model for a re-launch of an entire core game. Still, GW ultimately values peoples’ dollars not the people themselves; and little will change until peoples’ dollars start acting differently…meaning ‘Workshop will likely continue being handsomely rewarded even when doing things half-baked. .

So despite the disingenuous teasers (“The letters “VI” in front of a 40k Imperial Aquila and the date of the 23rd of this year…WHATEVER COULD THAT MEAN???” How very mysterious, of you, Games Workshop!), and despite the continuing annual price increases (does this year mark year TEN of the annual price increases? I think it does!); and despite FINECAST’S™ continuing to establish its trademark as being NOT extreme quality & detail but instead one of less quality control at an increased price point, we all still keep flourishing GW with our dollars. 

Clearly we’re not getting the game company we want but the game company we deserve.


6 responses to “White Dwarf #390 Reviewed

  1. Excellent review as always. Johnny LaRue says “40K is still a B Grade ruleset. Heh heh heh. Punk!”

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      Despite the undertones of the review (I’m scared I’m coming across as angrier than I actually am….but this is always my fear when I criticize in my blog); I really DO like what I’ve seen so far of the new 40k. I even predict that I play this edition more than I played of 5th edition (not the hardest record to beat: I think I played fifth edition, like, 20 times!).

      Because 40k has always been my “first love” in gaming it will always come with a certain level of forgiveness on my part, as B-grade as it may be, I’ll always kind of want to be playing it–if only just an odd game every now and again. (First love in miniatures gaming as opposed to first miniatures game: Battletech has lay to that claim.) I certainly play enough other games–board games and miniatures games–but I always come back to 40k: I feel if you don’t bring its parent company’s actions into the picture, it’s an extremely likable game, B Grade or not, if you and you’re friends all play it with the same attitude.

      • That’s true. Good friends = good games. You’re insinuating I’m being too harsh – and you’re right. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone that plays 40K “casually”. Keep up the good work dammit.

        • ahaha I’m less insinuating that YOU’RE being harsh and more just trying to keep my bases covered.

          As for casual 40k, I agree: casual 40k gaming is a disappearing thing (as it is with a LOT of miniatures gaming now!); I’ve come to realise, casual or not, the most important part is that everyone be on the same page when it comes time to game. THe way I play tends to be VERY casual…and thus I get very few games in as I know playing with some people will feel like an utter waste of both our times…or rather our times would be better spent having a beer and a burger for two hours than it would having me set up my army and then remove it model by model (without ever partaking in the game in a very meaningful way) over the course of a couple hours.

          But yeah, I totally get where you’re coming from.

  2. I totally agree with your Street Beef, my local hobby store couldn’t get any information in regards to Collectors Editions and I’m sick and tired of price increases and model count decreasing. I can say this year so far, I have brought a lot less from GW, resorting to ebay for second hand models. Finecast is just terrible as well, I’m yet to have a decent finecast model, very disappointed in GW indeed!

    I am enjoying reading your blog, keep up the awesome work 😉

    • Thanks!

      Yeah, I’m flabbergasted every single time I get to witness GW’s ineptness at understanding how to communicate with customers (and as a store, I’m one of their customers!). I still can’t believe that my sales rep can rarely answer my questions when it comes to their stock levels–you should see when I ask him if he can send me a list of all the product that counts as “current range”!

      The joke I often make is that, giving them a few more years living amongst human beings, Games Workshop might actually start to understand us. Until then, I guess we’ll keep seeing annual price increases determined by particularly good cocaine.

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