February’s White Dwarf Reviewed

This would be Issue #397 if White Dwarf was still being numbered,

…and this issue was late. I’m writing this review three days after it arrived at the store…with the store’s supply of the issue arriving two days after the local Games Workshop received their copies. Sigh.

As is evidenced by the models on the front cover, this issue focuses on the new Warriors of Chaos release(s) due out the first Saturday of February…today–or rather, yesterday (seeing how I’m posting this on Sunday, February 3rd).

Of note: this issue came poly bagged even though there are no “extras” included in this month’s issue.

White Dwarf Feb 2013

WHITE DWARF: FEBRUARY 2013

Inside CoverThe White Dwarf Team.

Page 1: Opening Salvo: Jes Bickham’s editorial. he talks about the Warriors of Chaos, this month’s battle report and mentions there’s more Golden Demon models in this month’s issue.

Pgs 2-3: Table of Contents:  No surprises: a listing of the articles and what-not in this month’s issue.

Pgs 4-5: New Releases:  For the glory of the Dark Gods, the Warriors of Chaos come from the cursed north in search of bloodshed and exaltation…

Pgs 6-7: New Releases:  Dual gate folds showcasing the Slaughterbrute and Mutalith Vortex Beast versions of the newest super-sized kit for Warhammer.

Pgs 8-11: New Releases:  Dragon  Ogres. Plenty of photos showing how stiffly posed the front legs on all the sculpts are capable of looking.

Pgs 12-15: New Releases:  The new, ALL PLASTIC Chaos chariot. Also shown is the Gorebeast version of the chariot….which I kind of really like.

Pgs 16-17: New Releases:  Chaos Foresaken models shown off.

Pgs 18-19: New Releases:  The Warriors of Chaos ALL PLASTIC Lord. At first I didn’t care for this model, and then I found out he wasn’t a FINECAST(TM) model but one with the same pedigree and price as GW’s other awesome plastic heroes (the Cairn Wraith etc). For a plastic model at the price point he is, this guy is pretty awesome!

Pgs 20-21: New Releases:  He’s hellishly expensive. He’s a FINECAST(TM) model. And yet Throgg is just super cool.

Pgs 22-23: New Releases: Vilitch the Curseling. Cool model and awesome paint job–though I’m a little unsure of that giant spike coming from its shoulder.

Pgs 24-28: New Releases:  Warriors of Chaos Warhammer Armies book, in its newest iteration and given the same treatment as all other new army books and codices: full colour and hardcover.

Pgs 28-29: New Releases:  Battle Magic deck for Warriors of Chaos and the brand-new …Chimera? I thought the Chimera was a new release back when Storm of Magic was new. Mayhaps they’ve made its rules significantly better, thus earning it a second chance to step up to the plate?

Pgs 30-31: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Knights of Rivendell. I think these models are pretty awesome…even though they ARE being released about ten years too late. Also, I THOUGHT THESE ELF-KNIGHTS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE TOUGH; WHY WOULD AN ELF PLAYER WANT DEAD ELF MODELS INCLUDED IN THE BOX SET HE’S BUYING???

Pgs 32-33: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Grim Hammers. Some of the coolest dwarf models I’ve seen GW put out. Mind you, they had an art team from a movie studio design the models for them, so I should hope so. 

Page 34: New Releases:  Elrond on foot and mounted. Cool model in two poses that clocks in at almost the same price as a tank in 40k? It’s like GW is advertising just how good the cocaine is at their executive meetings.

Page 35: New Releases:  Radagast the Brown in FINECAST(TM). I have the plastic version that came with The Hobbit starter box (the store still has two Ltd. Edition starters on its shelves). I’ll take a pass: one hobo wizard is enough for my collection right now.

Page 36: New Releases:  Yazneg on foot and mounted. Cool model in two poses that clocks in at almost the same price as a tank in 40k? It’s like GW is advertising just how good the cocaine is at their executive meetings.

Page 37: New Releases:  Goblin King throwing a minion…in FINECAST(TM). I have the plastic version of the king that comes with The Hobbit starter box. I’ll take a pass: one testicle-chinned herald of Nurgle is enough for my collection right now.

Pgs 38-41: New Releases:  Black Library:  A Gotrek and Felix book not written by Bill King??? INCONCEIVABLE! Also, with the new Yarrick novel, there are now three 40k book series that are written around specifically from the viewpoint of an Imperial Guard Commissar…one of which (Ciaphas Cain) is also released this month. Also out this month: a Gotrek & Felix omnibus, a Mephiston novel and a duo-book with Space Wolves and Blood Angels stories in it. Looks to be a pretty good reading month.

Pgs 42-43: New Releases: Forge World:  Voss Pattern Lighting (flyer) and WH30k Marine Legions Champion and Master of Signals models. It’s very hard for me to tell whether the marine models are painted with extreme field wear on their armour or if the quality of the castings on these examples is exceptionally crappy. Perhaps they were just painting them with chunky paints?

Pgs 44-45: New Releases:  Digital Products & Fantasy Flight Games:  Download the new Warriors of Chaos codex or this issue of White Dwarf. 

*puts on conspiracy hat*

I for one, am curious how many more months the paper edition will suffer “delays” before GW starts making mention that the e-version of the magazine won’t ever be late or held up. As for Fantasy Flight Games, another Talisman expansion and adventures for two 40k RPGs: Deathwatch and Only War. 

Pgs 46-47: New Releases Summary:  Full listing of this month’s extensive releases–with their prices listed!

I should mention again how I REALLY NEED to use Games Workshop for converting my US funds into Canadian funds: I’d make 17-25% more money than when I follow the actual currency exchange rates! (Because that’s what GW calculates the value of the US Greenback being over the Canadian dollar…even though we’ve been hovering around parity for a few years now–and it’s not the same as Australia where GW has infrastructure and manufacturing present in the country (and following that country’s wages and taxes etc). GW Hobby Centres in Canada are nothing more than company-owned importers, and independent stores are just foreign purchasers….but I’ll stop my rant here.

Pgs 48-49: Advert: GW Online Store.

Pgs 50-55: Army of the Month: Paul Gayner’s Crimson Heralds Space Marine army.

Pgs 56-57: Standard Bearer “You should do what you want to do, and don’t let others tell you what you can’t do.” Very good advice from Jervis this month…though it does come off as a bit rich–but I don’t blame Jervis: there’s a disconnect between what he says and how GW the company acts.

Jervis eschews the homogenisation of the hobby (and strongly hints that the serial tournament players shoulder most of the blame…I’m not so sure he’s wrong about that either), yet Games Workshop continues to cast their baleful eye on all things Space Marines: there was a time where most people had one marine army in their collection and some who played none; these days, most people play one or more marine-flavoured armies exclusively …and some people might own just one marine army. If that’s not homogenisation of the game, I don’t know what is.

But this matter is a topic for another rant entirely.

Pgs 58-73: Battle Report – Warhammer:  Warriors of Chaos versus Orcs and Goblins, featuring Hidden Deployment! Awesome! I’m a great believer in adding elements to games that remove the predictability of army lists. The best generals adapt and overcome. All the list builders who try to make their armies as reliable as possible should just accept the fact that they cannot emotionally cope with the fundamental tenet of these dice & miniatures games: players have to roll dice. Perhaps a switch to chess, where all the terrible randomness has already been removed, would make their lives less sorry…but that’s a rant for a different post entirely and doesn’t really belong in the paragraph where I’m talking about the battle report where despite having a new book out this month, the Warriors of Chaos were defeated by the Orcs & Goblins.

What I also liked about this battle report was the post-game ruminations by not only both players (Andrew Kenrick and Jeremy Vetock) but also two ‘Dwarf staffers and the Warriors of Chaos army book author, Robin Cruddace.

Pgs 74-77: Blanchitsu:  John Blanche brings on awesomeness that simply drips what 40k’s grimdark should be:IG by Blanchecreepiness combined with an overriding sense of hopelessness. John Blanche excels at this, and a customer who was flipping through this issue at the store even off-the-cuff remarked how he didn’t care for Blanche’s models because of the dark and unsettling tone they possess! The Factotum Eraxaus Parnor (click on thumbnail to the right) model on page 77 seals the deal for me.

Pgs 78-79: Hall of Fame:  Space Marine Sternguard Veteran.

Pgs 80-95: Parade GroundUK Golden Demon, 2012:  Last month’s issue (which I haven’t even had a chance to read yet!) covered Golden Demon winners across the world, while this month’s fifteen pages of Golden Demons are focused solely on the UK’s 2012 Games Day. Astounding works, all of them.

Pgs 96-101: Kit Bash:  Iron Chef style, the “secret ingredient” this month is Warhammer 40,000 Command Squads. I originally said it back with Kit Bash‘s first article, I’ll say it again: I really do appreciate that all the conversions are presented as expertly painted creations foremost and the work-in-progress shots are added only for extra detail. This month we’re presented with a Tau Battlesuit and its Bodyguard plus examples of command squads for WH30k Sons of Horus Legion, Dark Angels, Imperial Fists, Solar Hawks and The Remnants Space Marine Chapters.  What’s that about the danger of the hobby becoming very homogenised, Jervis?

Pgs 102-109: Battleground:  “Four of the best entries from the 2012 Armies on Parade competition at the UK Games Day.”  And they are indeed all fantastic! Interestingly enough, each is also rather…tall and features a LARGE building as a prominent vertical features on the display boards. It looks like if you want to place at your GW Hobby Centre’s next Armies on Parade competition, plan on a board that’s at least sixteen inches tall….more likely twenty-four.

Pgs 110-117: Paint Splatter:  All things Warriors of Chaos are covered before branching out into painting litanies of faith on 40k battle flags (etc) and how to paint this month’s Hobbit releases, the Grim Hammer Dwarves and the Knights of Rivendell.

Pgs 118-119: Jeremy Vetock:  I think I really like Jeremy Vetock, and I think he does (and brings) a lot of good for Games Workshop. So it’s kind of sad that this month’s article comes across more as him shilling the company’s terrain kits than anything else. I don’t doubt his sincerity–and I myself love their terrain kits, but this article read like how late-night infomercials watch.

Page 120: Advert: “Follow us on Facebook….and Twitter!”

Pgs 121-123: Advert:  Games Workshop Hobby Centres! Also: GW Hobby Centre “birthday” celebrations.

Pgs 124-125: Advert:  GW advertises that their products are carried by independent stores, and encourages YOU to encourage your local store to carry GW products.

Pgs 126-135: Advert:  Listings of GW Hobby Centres (worldwide) and GW Independent Stockists (North America).

Page 136: Advert:  …Have you considered having your White Dwarf magazines mailed to you every month? Or just paying for them now and picking them up at our Hobby Centre?

Pgs 137-151: This Month In…

-White Dwarf:  A fairly banal run-down of what each staffer at White Dwarf was painting / playing in the month leading up to this issue (so, what they were doing 4-5 months ago). The highlight is the megabattle run by Jeremy Vetock. I’d certainly entertain the idea of running something similar in the store…

-The Design Studio:  GW design staff talk about what went into making the Warriors of Chaos new releases for this month.

-Around the Studio:  Not much more than a few snapshots of things mentioned elsewhere in the book (such as Jeremy Vetock’s purple-themed Orc & Goblin army). Ho-hum.

-Forge World:  Shots of the new Garviel Loken and Ezekyle Abaddon models being put out by Forge World. Also some shots of the half-completed (possibly more) Necron-themed tile for the Realm of Battle board.

-Black Library:  Adam Troke interviews the Chains of Golgotha and Mephiston author, David Annandale.

Page 152 & Inside Back Cover:  Parting shot: a picture of the Necron croissant-shaped flying vehicle with the quote, “Superior technology does not guarantee victory unless wielded by a superior being.” Well, judging from the amount of Necron Flying Circuses I’ve heard were present at many top tournaments, I’d wager having superior technology still helps out a lot. The inside back cover is a “hobby calendar” for the month of February; though generally bare, I think this is the better place to list all the GW Hobby Centre “birthday celebrations” rather than full-page adverts in the magazine.

Thoughts on the Issue

As I’ve said elsewhere in this post, I didn’t have enough spare moments during the Christmas retail season I was able to dedicate to reading the December and January issues of the White Dwarf. So really, this issue is only the second one I’ve read since the “big format change.” But this issue being the fourth month of the new format, I’m really able to see how well all the new changes have stuck.

All in all, things seem pretty good; I can tell they adopted set themes for set articles (for now)–which is good! I’m glad to see the Kit Bash article going the direction it’s going; I’m glad that John Blanche is continuing with the miniatures painting and converting articles he’s doing. I even like that Jervis Johnson’s article happens quite early in the magazine; it sets a nicer tone to read his musings just after all the new releases are covered, rather than what felt like an “in closing” column, back when it was nearer the end of each issue.

As for making each month strongly themed towards the game system that gets the Big Release for that month, I’m still on the fence: doing it this way means there’s almost no reason for a 40k player to pick up this issue with its focus right now being on Warhammer’s Warriors of Chaos–and certainly there’s NO reason at all for a Hobbit / Lord of the Rings player (if such a beast even exists) to buy this issue at all. That said, perhaps it’s more fair to players of each system to give them a full issue of content followed by a one or two month break from the magazine–unless they so choose to buy it. Thinking of it that way, it sure does seem like a smart and fair way of doing the magazine.

Which of course begs the question, “So why would Games Workshop being doing that then?”

 

STREET BEEF

I said it at the start of this review: this issue is poly-bagged….and yet there are no “extras” included with the magazine –hunh??

I’m clearly too lazy to dig up where I read it, but I seem to recall a boastful comment being made that the NEW White Dwarf would include a cool thing with each month’s poly bagged issue. Now, considering that it was a poster-checklist of product (debatable value) being included with the last two months of White Dwarf, I’m not too upset by the lack of a prize with this month’s magazine. However, the concern that I voiced back at the first month of the new format was that the cynic in me has decided each issue is being poly bagged so consumers must buy the book before knowing what’s inside each issue. Which, if true (will we ever know?), just reaffirms the sense I keep getting: that while GW may talk about how awesome all their stuff is, their actions show far less confidence in the superiority of their product.

It’s not a big beef, but it does point to a worrying possibility: that White Dwarf can’t keep up this creative momentum. If they run out of ideas for prizes to include with the magazine in the poly bag after only three months, how much longer can any of its more creativity-demanding articles last? Hopefully I’m just paranoid.

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