Leaving Summer Behind

So I really haven’t been very awesome keeping the blog up to date this year. There’s been a good deal of the standard reasons behind this happening (requires effort, haven’t set out a scheduled time slot just for bogging …too lazy, too tired, too much to do –you’ve heard them all before); however, there’s also been some pretty legitimate reasons as well—well, okay, one legitimate reason: we’ve updated the Imaginary Wars website–not only that, we’ve incorporated a blog page into the store’s website!

!blog moving day

This, of course, means I’ll soon be directing this blog’s traffic over towards the www.imaginarywars.com blog page–or at least I’ll be directing what little traffic still drops by (undoubtedly to see if I’ve yet kicked the habit of being lazy) over to the store’s website. And by soon, I mean this week (shock, gasp).

So that’s a bit of a big change; this blog has been a pretty big part of my life since starting it April of 2009. Sure, times like the last couple of months, it’s been not much of a factor, but for the most part it’s been a dominant part of my life. Now, in a way it feels like I’m shutting the thing down—which is silly, because I’m not. Mind you, I’m the guy who’s never been good at thinking any biggish change was anything but huge, scary, epochal change; so I guess wistful emotions cropping up when I decide to transfer my blog to a different address should come as no surprise. (What makes my wistfulness even more silly is that all the blog posts here have been moved over to the store’s website blog page.)

So, to wrap up: starting ASAP, this blog will be posting a link to the new blog address (still a WordPress site but one linked directly to the store’s website), and we’ll be moving forward from that point.

A Lazy Summer?  

Flooded areas: (to quote Donald Rumsfeld) "all parts north, south, east and west of the city.

Flooded areas: (to quote Donald Rumsfeld) “all parts north, south, east and west.”

So what else have I been doing with myself since my last post, back in the middle of June? Work mostly. Work and some holidaying. Holidaying and recovering from holidaying. Recovering and planning for the fall season.

Holidaying this year took the form of a camping road trip. With all of June’s flooding that had crippled Calgary (and indeed much of southern Alberta and all parts mountainous) , we decided to head away from the mountains visible from any higher vantage in the city and explore the eastern edge of the province.

The sheer size of the province made an impression on us: we traveled from Calgary, mid-way up the province to a lake that practically straddled the Alberta-Saskatchewan border (a six-hour drive), camped for a few days then drove down to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (which ended up being roughly a nine-hour drive) and camped for a few more days.

flatland & hills panorama

Milk River. Southern Alberta’s Sweetgrass Hills and prairies visible in the distance.

hoodoo campground panorama

Writing-on-Stone campground area, nestled in a small valley between hoodoos and Milk River.

hoodoo & family panorama

A brief rest while exploring all the myriad pathways laced amongst the hoodoos.

FSSF road pic

Other highlights included driving on the Veteran’s Memorial Highway (Hwy36) to the small town of Warner. There’s not much in Warner beyond the gas station, the main street (most its buildings vacant) and the town’s civic building. The civic building is Warner’s main attraction: a dinosaur museum and a settlers museum. The pride and joy of the museums: the fossilized dinosaur egg (with a nearly complete baby skeleton inside) and the section of the Settler’s museum dedicated to the First Special Services Force–The Devil’s Brigade (Warner sits on the junction of the Highway 36 and Highway 4; Hwy 4 was renamed in 1999 to commemorate it having been the route the Canadians joining 1st FSS used to get to Fort Harrison).

Hobby Laziness? Only Partly.

Speaking of World War II:  my summer activities that didn’t involve traipsing across the province included putting some more work into my mid-war Canadians. I finished painting up my first platoon and managed to get them on the Battlefront urban rubble bases (they are, after all, in Ortona!) and now I just need to paint those bases. And add snow.

No good shots yet exist of the whole platoon in one frame; and even though all the squads are now on rubble bases, no pictures yet exist, so these will have to suffice. Updated photos (hopefully) soon to come!

With the first platoon mostly finished, I also started on the second and third infantry platoons (platoon #2 is the photo below). But I’ve ground to a halt and have been derailed by a different Flames of War project.

Earliest photo

The local Flames of War club decided to do something a little different that got me inspired and motivated: themed gaming. The theme they chose was recon armies using modified Tank/Infantry Aces rules as the backdrop. Armies would be small: no more than 600 points. List structure is intentionally more loose: the 600-point armies must be made up almost entirely of reconnaissance platoons (with up to 150 points of non-recon platoons being allowed). Even better: all games will be played with different missions (which helps overcome the malaise that sets in after a lot of games have been played: when they all start to feel sort of the same).

No pictures yet, but I’ve started building a Late-War German Panzerspahkompanie (armoured cars & mechanized scout vehicles). I’ve opted to go the horde route and rather than take a few hard-hitting scout vehicles such as the Panzer II Luchs or the Puma armoured car, I decided to take a lot of lighter reconnaissance vehicles. We’ll see how things go.

Maybe I Haven’t Been so Lazy…

I’ve also managed to progress more with my Heavy Gear collection. My first cadre is pretty much finished, needing only decals; and I’ve also got my Sagittarius strider to the same spot (though it still needs to be transplanted to its permanent base). I’ve even managed to hit the half-way mark on the second cadre for my Southern army!

Somewhere along the way I managed to stop posting progress shots of my ‘gears, so here’s some progression shots of my first cadre’s Black Mamba and a couple of shots of my Sagittarius strider.

Black Mamba

Base coat of Vallejo's Middlestone and Secret Weapon wash (can't remember the exact concoction of colurs in the wash though).

Stage 1: Base coat of Vallejo’s Middlestone and Secret Weapon wash (can’t remember the exact concoction of colours in the wash though).

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Stage 2: base coat cleaned up so only deeper shades and black lining is visible.

Stage 2: base coat cleaned up so only deeper shades and black lining is visible.

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Stage 3: Camoflage pattern started on lower leg (after which, I decided to use a sand colour with less green in it).

Stage 3: Camouflage pattern stippled on lower leg (after which, I decided to use a sand colour with less green in it).

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Stage 4: Camouflage complete and gun painted. Base is pretty much done.

Stage 4: Camouflage complete and gun painted. Base is pretty much done.

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Stage 5: Model essentially complete. Only unit markings and decals remain. (Base changed as well.)

Stage 5: the Black Mamba, essentially complete. Only unit markings and decals remain. (Somewhere along the way, his base was changed as well.)

Sagittarius

Sagittarius strider. (Striders are 'Gears with a crew compliment larger than one.)

Sagittarius strider at the same point of completion as the Black Mamba.

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The Sagittarius is spilling over the base it comes with. It will soon be on a 50mm sculpted resin base.

The Sagittarius is spilling over the base it comes with. It will soon be on a 50mm sculpted resin base.

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Revelation

I guess it’s not so much that the store has taken over my ability to still have a hobby life. And really, I did, find time to play some Warhammer last week, some Star Trek Attack Wing the week before and the Star Wars: X-Wing game the week before–all while staying caught up with of my “to read” pile of comic books!

This is my Empire army at 1000 points ...about to get thoroughly pantsed.

This is my Empire army at 1000 points …just before it got thoroughly pantsed.

It’s that I lack the discipline (energy?) to blog regularly about it that’s problematic. Or, hopefully, at least that was the case for the summer. With the store’s website a lot closer to what we want it to be (for now), I’m planning on blogging about the other store-related things that interest me, namely board games and comic books on top of miniatures, leagues and tournaments. I may even be able to get our new guy to write a sporadic blog post about Magic the Gathering.

But this is where I sign off, reminding anyone who still comes here that this will be the final blog post at this address. All future blog posts will occur at:

http://www.imaginarywars.com/blog/

March’s White Dwarf Reviewed

This would be Issue #398 if White Dwarf was still being numbered,

…and this issue –unlike the last two– arrived right on time!

As is the new reality with the White Dwarf, the figures shown on the cover denote what the current month’s issue focuses on. This month, it’s demons Daemons.

This issue is the second in a row for “the new ‘Dwarf” to come poly bagged despite there being no “extras” included with the issue.

White Dwarf 2013 March Front Cover

WHITE DWARF: MARCH 2013

Inside CoverThe White Dwarf Team.

Page 1: Opening Salvo: Jes Bickham’s editorial. Double-dip month! Daemons for 40k and for Fantasy! …plus they have some birthday celebration ideas in mind for next month’s issue –perhaps something extra to include with the magazine, thereby warranting poly bagging the future issue?

Pgs 2-3: Table of Contents:  Break down of this month’s issue.

Pgs 4-5: New Releases:  “Beyond the material realm, the Dark Gods plot…”

Pgs 6-7: New Releases:  Epic gate-fold pages shows off a giant Daemons army while the “magazine side” talks about the Plague Drones of Nurgle.

Pgs 8-10: New Releases:  The Burning Chariot of Tzeentch. Cool enough model….but probably not cool enough for it to sell.

Page 11: New Releases:  The new Herald of Tzeentch (on a chariot) makes me think it’s just a set of alternate pieces inside the Burning Chariot kit.
(…I really should have read this issue before going through with this page-by-page breakdown; I then wouldn’t wonder about such trivial matters.)

Pgs 12-13: New Releases:  The Blood Throne of Khorne comes ridden by a (new) herald. Okay, this one is totally an alternate build from the new Daemons of Khorne kit, which is:

Pgs 14-15: New Releases:  The Skull Cannon of Khorne. Two Bloodletters stand atop a Khorne-plywood sheet , manning their toothy version of a pirate ship deck gun, all done while cruising around on an awesome manga-motorcycle that’s driving backwards. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

Pgs 16-17: New Releases:  The new FINECAST(TM) Herald of Nurgle. After seeing the Heralds of Khorne and Tzeentch, it looks like Nurgle players are getting the short end of the stick with this release. Good.

Pgs 18-19: New Releases:  A second Herald model for Khorne! Does this mean the Khorne daemon rules are so spectacular that GW projects Khorne stocks going up enough that model sales will follow?

Page 20: New Releases:  The new Herald of Slaanesh. This looks to be an awesome plastic kit ….unless it’s in fact a FINECAST(TM) model, in which case this is GW completely NOT making a model that embraces the resin medium’s advantages over the plastic and metal mediums.

Page 21: New Releases:  Battleforce/Battalion box, the Battle Magic and Psychic Power decks for Daemons in Fantasy and 40k. Nothing to read here; move along, move along.

Pgs 22-27: New Releases:  The cover paintings to the Daemons Warhammer Army book and the 40k Codex, followed by two pages dedicated first to the fantasy book and then again to the 40k book.

Pgs 28-29: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Dwarf Warriors of Erebor. These are nowhere near as awesome as the Dwarf Grim Hammers from last month. I wish I could be more excited about the Hobbit range, but GW seems set on making the line bland and pricey: $40 for 12 single-piece plastic models? No thank you. Games Workshop, you can charge me the $44 for ten Space marines because I can build/pose and equip them as I see fit (and with bitz left over!); these Dwarves offer me none of that. I sometimes feel like GW is running with the Hobbit license just so that no other company can.

Pgs 30-31: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Warriors of Dale. I honestly don’t remember seeing any of these guys in the first Hobbit movie, but okay. These models I can at least respect, despite their price point and dollars-per-miniature ratio being the same as the Erebor Warriors kit. Plus I could use these for both player characters and NPCs in The One Ring role-playing game. (GW:  please take note of how Cubicle 7 properly handles a license for Lord of the Rings!)

Page 32: New Releases:  The Hobbit:  Dwarf Grim Hammer Captain. He doesn’t look as cool as the regular rank-and-file Grim Hammers …and, being made in FINECAST(TM), he also clocks in at half the price of the whole box of Grim Hammers. For one middle-of-the-road model. I say skip this one.

Page 33: New Releases:  The Hobbit: The Dwarf lord, Thror. Despite being set at the FINECAST(TM) price point of $25 for this single model, at least it’s cool enough to tempt me. He really is cool.

Page 34: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Lindir of Rivendell. I really wish they hadn’t shown me the close-up of the model’s face –never since Shannon Doherty have eyes been so crookedly set on a face (and it’s only rubbing salt into the wound with GW’s caption of “”see the intricate details sculpted onto his face.”)

Page 35: New Releases:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hardcover rules manual. WTF??? THIS IS NOT NEW! I suspect that the sales of this are SO infernally dismal, that Games Workshop has been left wondering if they forgot to advertise its availability back when it came out before Christmas. No, GW, you didn’t forget to mention the existence of this rules manual; it’s just that people know when they’re getting hosed.
40k players take note!! Next time you’re going to grouse on about what a raw deal the 40k rulebook is at $90 for 432 full-colour pages; THIS is what getting hosed is: The Hobbit’s rulebook is $100 for 288 (full-colour) pages. But GW can’t figure out why it’s not selling, so they list it as a new release …again.

Pgs 36-37: New Releases:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Escape from Goblin Town starter box. OR PERHAPS the game hasn’t come out yet! OR PERHAPS I’ve gone back in time and am reliving the world as it was three months ago. …Or more realistically, the writing’s on the wall, and we have front-row seats to see just how well the Hobbit game is performing for Games Workshop. Despite my absolute love for all things genuinely Tolkien, and my persistent desire to want to like GW’s Hobbit range, I can’t.

Pgs 38-40: New Releases:  Black Library:  Death of Antagonis,  a novel about one of the 13th (“Cursed”) founding’s chapters, the Black Dragons. Remember back when White Dwarf published rules to make your very own game-legal Cursed Founding chapter with its own special traits / abilities? Probably not. But I digress; hot on the heels of the Path of the Renegade novel comes Path of the Incubus written by none other than Andy Chambers! …who always struck me as a rules writer, not a prose writer. Also out this month: keeping with the Daemons’ double-dipping theme in this month’s magazine, The Masque of Vyle is a second Eldar novel (okay–it’s a novella) out in March. Lastly, for Warhammer, comes Van Hortsmann and has the tag line “Egrimm van Horstmann is the most promising wizard the College of Light has ever seen, but he harbours a terrible secret.” I’m betting it’s that “Freaky Friday” mirror of his. Just sayin.

Page 41: New Releases: Digital Products:  Buy the White Dwarf issue you’re currently reading, the Daemons codex / Army Book –heck, even the 40k Psychic Powers are all available in digital format!

Pgs 42-43: New Releases: Forge World:  More Warhammer 30k models: Terminators for the Death Guard and the Sons of Horus that both look like space marines in Mk VII armour that have let themselves go a little bit. Rounding out the releases is the Vulkite Caliver upgrade pack….whatever those are.

Pgs 44-45: New Releases:  Licensed Games:  And by licensed, they mean iPad games. Warhammer Quest comes out in March for the iPad! Also coming down the tubes is the next battle pack for Warhammer Invasion by Fantasy Flight Games.

Pgs 46-47: New Releases Summary:  Full listing of this month’s extensive releases, complete with prices.

Pgs 48-49: Advert: GW Online Store. Surely, after the whole “we own every use of the words Space Marine” debacle, ‘Workshop has proved they firmly believe there’s no such a thing as bad P.R.
…Which makes me wonder why they don’t mention in this advertisement that Games Workshop Online carries items (such as the Death From the Skies supplement) that aren’t available from GW Hobby Centre Retail stores –and they won’t let independent stores order or carry.

Pgs 50-55: Army of the Month: Dave Roberts’ Lamenters Space Marine army. One day I will chart how many Marine armies (versus anything NON marine) get featured here.

Pgs 56-57: Standard Bearer:  Jervis tackles how to solve perplexing rules questions. He admits that designers don’t always know how their games will always play out …and then goes on about how normal and acceptable and just generally how good it is to just rely on a random dice roll to solve those tricksy rules dilemmas.
…Which makes me wonder if this solution hasn’t also been applied to other facets of Games Workshop’s business.

“Okay, on a 4+ we spend a lot of time crafting good rules that do proper justice to Tolkien’s works, then we really push the technology and see of what we can accomplish in the smaller 25mm scale with plastics and Finecast; on a 1 to 3 we’ll just shill the same old thing but mark the price up another 15-50% over the last edition’s products and act like it’s always been that way. [rolls] Hmmm , I rolled a 2; right, shill it with an inflated margin and damn the consequences, it is!” **

**I have no proof this conversation ever actually took place in a GW executive meeting.

Pgs 58-73: Battle Report – 40k:  Daemons of Chaos piloted by Adam Troke take issue with Matt Hutson’s Imperial Fists. I think I’m more concerned with how Daemons do when up against another sixth edition (or even a late-fifth edition) codex. But what I’m REALLY curious about is how stacked the odds are against the Daemons when they rook up against Grey Knights. However, this battle report tackles neither of those issues and instead goes after the vanilla marines. The Imperial Fists lose their battle as a result. In hindsight, I’m finding that I kind of wish they’d list the points values of the armies in the battle reports. 

Pgs 74-77: Blanchitsu:  John Blanche shows off some models that a fan sent him. The models look like Mr. Blanche himself did them –and the accompanying portraits of each model in the Inquisitor warband look even more like paintings done by John Blanche. I wonder: when John Blanche talks about playing games with the inquisitor warbands he paints up (or in this case gets sent by a fan), what game is he playing? The old Inquisitor game? I’m truly curious.

Pgs 78-79: Hall of Fame:  Urien Rakarth. I would argue that inducting models barely three years old into the “Hall of Fame” really makes the hall of fame feel not all that prestigious.

Pgs 80-95: Parade GroundUK Golden Demon, 2012 …part 3:  Despite the quality of the entries, having a third installment of Golden Daemons models makes me suspect that the magazine in general is starved for good content ideas. I’ll say nothing else negative here as the entries are truly inspiring (all except the Space Wolves ones…just because, well, Space Wolves).  The Nurglish Ettin on page 95 is absolutely breathtaking.

Pgs 96-101: Kit Bash:  The “secret ingredient” this month is Warhammer 40,000 Ork Fighta Bommers. And every model is awesome! I should go on at length about these, but the words will do the models no justice.

Pgs 102-109: Battleground:  Coverage of the best entries from the 2012 Armies on Parade competition at the UK Games Day …again. All four are superb. Three of the four are mostly yellow. A repeat of last month’s topic again leaves me thinking the ‘Dwarfers are stretching one article across multiple months in order to bide time. Only one Marine is showcased here, and it’s truly good to see some Tau!

Pgs 110-117: Paint Splatter:  How to go about painting up all your Daemons stuff. Warriors of Dale are then touched upon, before this segment then moves on to painting using a GW spray gun, featuring Matt Hutson’s yellow Imperial Fists.

Pgs 118-119: Jeremy Vetock:  A list of things Jeremy Vetock doesn’t like. Overall the article is pretty innocuous, in all senses of the word. I’m kinda’ holding out for Jeremy to hit his stride with this column. I mean, if Jervis brings game design (if you will) to the table, and John Blanche brings art design, what niche can Mr. Vetock fill? I know I’d like to see less “opinion of the minute” columns from him and maybe more about the various campaigns/leagues he’s run over the years –heck even if his column tackled designing satisfying campaigns every now and again, that would be pretty nice.

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

Pgs 121-124: Advert:  Games Workshop Hobby Centres! Also: GW Hobby Centre “birthday” celebrations & upcoming giant games at the Memphis battle bunker.

Page 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:  White Dwarf suggests you consider having your White Dwarf magazines mailed to you every month. 

Pgs 137-151: This Month In…

-White Dwarf:  Details about “The Hobby Challenge” laid down by Matt Hutson: to paint up a new force and battle with it before next month’s White Dwarf. By the sounds of it a “force” is roughly a battleforce-box amount of models (more or less). All three games systems will be represented.

-The Design Studio:  John Blanche talks about the history of the chaos powers –from a codex point of view. Aly Morrison, Colin Grayson, Dave Thomas and Mike Anderson all talk a little about the daemons models they’ve sculpted for this month’s releases. Then John Michelbach talks about the map he made detailing the realm of chaos itself.

-Around the Studio:  Snapshots of some projects belonging to non-White Dwarf studio staff. The Nurgle-themed Chaos Marine army is the one that truly stands out.

-Forge World:  Shots of more 30k models, the Minotaurs chapter Sternguard, two half-finished orc character models and another new tile for the Realm of Battle board, this time Fantasy themed.

-Black Library:  Ben Counter talks about his new novel, Van Hortsmann.  Also snapshots of models inspired by some Black Library releases, all of them space marines.

Page 152: Parting Shot:  If last month’s parting shot picture of the Necron flyer could be seen as heralding the Death From the Skies 40k supplement, I really do wonder what a picture of Space Wolves on their Thunder Cats Cav fighting a Tyranid could possibly portent. Perhaps Workshop has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and is about to release a new Tyranid codex? Probably not.  Still….

Inside Back Cover: March Events Calendar:  I very much enjoy how this calendar also includes February 23rd –when the advance orders for all the early March releases first go up on GW’s website. Just seems kind of redundant to me.

Thoughts on the Issue

I don’t know what’s up with this issue. I think, for the most part,  I liked last month’s issue (especially the irony of Jervis Johnson speaking against the homogenisation of the hobby while working side-by-side those whose goal is to homogenise the Warhammer hobby!); and yet, this month’s ‘Dwarf has left me feeling, to be blunt, a bit pissed.


 

STREET BEEF

Beef #1: For the second month in a row, this issue came poly bagged –despite the utter lack of anything extra being included with the magazine to make poly bagging it a necessity.

Beef #2: The worrying possibility that I mentioned in last month’s Street Beef, that the White Dwarf can’t keep up the creativity momentum established in the new format’s first few books, sure looks like it’s coming closer to being actualised: not only is there no bonus content included with the magazine but 15% of this month’s book (the page count of the Golden Demon entries and the Armies on Parade spotlight) are, creativity-wise, the exact same as last month’s issue

Then there’s what has transpired in the last month: Games Workshop deciding that the term Space Marine has never existed prior to 1989 and the advent of Rogue Trader (I tell you, it’s a good thing Tolkien has such good, long-serving lawyers…otherwise Amazon might be considering yanking Tolkien’s books too!). BUT, too many people have written about this already, so I’m not going to say much more.

Lastly, there’s the GW’s handling of The Hobbit. I may not be the biggest Tolkien nerd, but I am a huge fan. I may not own everything ever made for gaming in Middle Earth, but I own more than my fair share: I’m closing in on having a complete collection of Iron Crown’s Middle Earth Role Playing system, I have everything except the starter box for Decipher’s Lord of the Rings RPG (based off the movies) and have everything so far for Cubicle 7’s The One Ring RPG. I also own several different board games based off of Tolkien’s books as well as the co-op Living Card Game being made by Fantasy Flight Games. As  far as GW’s products go, I didn’t bother with The Battle of Five Armies (I owned Warmaster already), but I’ve avidly collected GW’s Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and have actively played it for years; I’ve made my own campaign system for their Battle Companies free expansion For LotR SBG, and I still think that GW’s War of the Ring game is one of the best miniatures games GW has put out (it is not without its flaws, but it remains one of the more satisfying games to play that GW has made).

So when I start saying only bad things about GW’s The Hobbit game, it’s not because I’m a hater. And yet I was barely able to say one good thing about the Hobbit new releases in this issue. As a fan, I feel completely bent over the barrel by the stranglehold GW has on this game. The price-point of all the models is noticeably higher than the GW products many already consider “already too expensive;” the decent level of detail the models do possess is betrayed by their simplistic design (single cast, not multiple components and options that promote customisation) –which is only worsened by the fact that the quantity-of-product versus price-point ratio feels worse than anything else Games Workshop makes.

So I guess that boils down to my Beef really is with this issue: that White Dwarf has me actively disliking GW’s  Hobbit releases.
Me.
The guy who defends The Hobbit movies being done as a trilogy; the guy who still points out that the sixth edition of 40k and the eighth edition of Warhammer Fantasy both have the War of the Ring game to thank for having their mechanics reinvigorated; the guy who still really wants to play more games of GW’s War of the Ring; the guy who’s planning on getting back into playing/running/GMing a role-playing game (thanks  to The One Ring rpg) …or at the very least, to play more Middle Earth Quest and the Lord of the Rings living card game. Of all the hobbies I have been passionate about since my mid-teen years, it’s the Lord of the Rings I’ve liked the longest. It’s been one of my hobby mainstays for over twenty years now –I mean, I barely touch video games at all, and yet I’ve got a lifetime membership for Lord of the Rings Online.

And here’s White Dwarf, on Games Workshop’s behest, convincing me to hate it.

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.

November’s White Dwarf (#393?) …Reviewed!

First off:

I admit it: yes, I missed reviewing last month’s White Dwarf–though thanks to Games Workshop getting rid of printing the issue number on each month’s magazine, had I not bothered mentioning it here, it’s likely no one would have been any the wiser!

I have to admit, I was working on more important (dare I say exciting?) things when last month’s issue came out–as I talked about a little in my last post …not to mention that when I wasn’t too busy building a weekend 40k tournament or preparing for a bunch of Black Library authors coming to visit my store, I’ve also been busy trying to stay on top of the (at times) mountainous pile of paperwork that comes with running one’s own business. And I do have to admit it: once I’ve dragged my feet for a couple of weeks on a review, it becomes very difficult to motivate myself to get the thing done–I mean what’s the point of “reviewing” an issue that’s been out for several weeks and is on the cusp of being replaced by the newer issue?

Being that I haven’t had much chance to fully go through last month’s issue, I didn’t realise until I was well past the half-way mark of doing this month’s review (or whatever it is that you want to call my coverage of the magazine) that the magazine has undergone a subtle, yet fundamental change in the manner it’s organised: it has moved away from being a conglomeration of “articles” about each game system and moved towards being a publication comprised of  themed, regularly occurring columns, with each column then focusing on a different game system (or what-have-you) each month. I think this is a change for the better.

This subtle change has had me rethink how I present my review; before I used to label which system each listed article was for–and colour code it accordingly–but I’ve decided with this review to colour code each article’s title according to the system it’s covering (white is used to show that article isn’t geared to any single system). I do feel a bit silly writing about how I’m going about doing things, but I thought I should try to explain why my page-by-page rundown of the magazine is so multi-coloured.

And now, without further ado…

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White Dwarf #391 Reviewed!

As has been my trend over the past few months of White Dwarf issues, I’m reviewing the magazine well after its release…and well after it’s likely sold out everywhere—which feels like an odd thing to say about the White Dwarf.

So I’ve been saying for a while that it’s felt like White Dwarf has been trying to make some changes (that would stick) to the magazine to increase its readership. Well, this month is the third month in a row that the magazine has sold out across town (as far as I can tell); and I think the editors have stumbled upon the secret behind selling White Dwarf to the masses: exclusive content. This month sees the release of a bunch of new chaos daemon model kits, some being plastic re-sculpts, some being entirely new models. More importantly there are new rules—and updated rules—for all the models released this month, and the only way to get those rules is by purchasing this month’s White Dwarf issue to get the separate Daemons Army Book / Codex booklet that comes poly-bagged with the issue.

I’ve decided to not review the daemon rules that accompanied this month’s magazine as I know there’s plenty of people out there on the internet that have already done reviews of the booklet—heck, even I helped review the 40k portion of it on Jaded Gamercast!

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One Month and Six Days: Imaginary Wars Store!

I was over at the BaneLegions site the just yesterday and realised that:

(a) the link to us that listing us as a retailer carrying their excellent models leads people not to our website but instead to my hobby blog;

(b) the last post on my hobby blog is all about how Imaginary Wars is not yet open for business; and

(c) I haven’t posted a blog update in over a month! (So much for my goal of trying to post every week!)

 So I decided to rectify what I can.

“Rectifying” includes having a picture of Krull, on this post as it’s easily the most awesome of all the BaneLegions models!

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White Dwarf #384 Late Review

Okay, so first off, I’m only doing a White Dwarf review this late in the schedule because I wrote most of it up within the first couple days following its release–and then store set-up tasks went into overdrive, forcing me to abandon most things in my life except the items I’m eBaying to help keep food on the table (as it were) until the new store is set up…and running…and giving me a pay cheque.

Plus there’s all the stuff that comes with being a parent…suffice it to say that when “something’s gotta’ give”  hobby time and blog duties will likely always be the first to suffer when being a parent and opening a business are on the table.

That said, I have a friend who’s giving me some help with the formative part of the store  and it just so happens that I’ve gotten him into Flames of War. Anyway, he and I have had several late-evening bull-pit sessions where we’ve talked about elements of the new store,  setting up the  new business…and the rules in playing Flames of War. Needless to say, a lot of good ideas have been developed–and we’ve also begun to learn how Flames of War works! At the moment, my mid-war Loyal Eddies (Canadian Infantry) are undefeated in their struggles against the Hun….not that we’ve been playing proper missions or anything like that. (At first I was terrified of his Tiger…up until the thing got into the sites of my 17-pounder anti-tank guns!)

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