Friday, July 3, 2009

White Dwarf 355 - July 2009

So I decided to add a new feature to the blog, every month (or two in the case of No Quarter) I will go through a copy of White Dwarf, or No Quarter, and give my opinions of it. Though it's not entirely necessary thanks to articles such as this, or this, I thought it would be fun to go through them, hopefully add a second opinion to it, and most importantly generate content. So without further ado:

White Dwarf 355 - July 2009

Now, first off, even though I live in Canada (and for the next two months, Germany), I'll be using the British issue numbering because it was the original magazine, and until Canada and Germany switched over to their own numbering, they used the British one. For the record this would be issue 163 for Germany, 354 for the US, and I have no clue for Canada, as I can't find their numbering on the website (plus I have no clue what's going on with GW Canada these days, as it shut down after I left for Germany). Also, keep in mind I'm going from the German issues until September (I'm gonna try and get a British August issue, but we'll see), so if there's any difference between terms I use, and ones you see in your English White Dwarf, then go with the WD, as I'm going by translation, and it's often not a direct translation.

A big criticism of White Dwarf has been that the magazine is simply an advertising vehicle for Games Workshop. The most telling aspect of this has been the 'New Releases' section of the magazine. Now I have no problem with new releases, as I want to see prices, release dates, and pictures as well, but I prefer the days of the 'Red Period' White Dwarfs (191-227 I think) where each game system had one or two pages dedicated to New Releases as opposed to these days. However, this issue has only 11 pages of New Releases and it goes through all the Planetstrike stuff as well as the subsidiary stuff like Black Library and Forge World. Doesn't look like a single thing for Warhammer or Lord of the Rings, which seems a bit strange; and as we'll see, this issue is rather devoid of Warhammer or LotR articles.

Further on we have the news section, which I rather like. In this one we have an article on the Open House event they had in Nottingham which I wish I attended, followed by a preview of the new board game Chaos in the Old World, that's put out by Fantasy Flight, and a blurb about an audio book by James Swallow called Heart of Rage. Despite being a huge Blood Angels fan I haven't actually read any of James Swallow's Blood Angels books, which this is supposed to be a continuation of, so I don't really have any anticipatory notes on it, but I'm excited as hell by the board game, as it has to do with the Chaos gods, and it harkens back to the time when GW made board games.

There's also three teaser sentences pretty much coming out and screaming that the next Warhammer faction to be redone is Skaven, but I don't know if that will surprise the rumor-forum junkies out there.

To the meat of the issue we have "War on all Fronts" the Planetstrike article, that's your standard fare design article, followed by some sample army lists. As a wannabe games designer, I enjoy design articles, as they give you an insight into the mentality behind design (something you can't always determine from the finished product).

This one seemed okay. It didn't go into anything profound (ie, things left on the cutting-room floor, upcoming products, etc.) instead it just gave a pretty good overview of Planetstrike itself, and gave passing comments about the balancing issues inherent in the new expansion.

The lone Warhammer article was a bit disappointing. I'm sure for a new Empire player, the Empire Tactica article would be helpful (and as much as things like this aren't very useful to us vets, we have to concede space to newer players) to the vets out there. I don't have my Empire army up and running yet, and I wanted to get to Standard Bearer as quickly as I could, so I didn't read this article.

Up next is an article, the likes of which I like to see in White Dwarf. This one's a new one as far as I know, and it's called Dave and Jeremy's Old War Stories. This article has Jeremy Vetock and Dave Andrews, two GW veterans giving alternative ways to play GW games (house rules, strange scenarios, etc). This one has them do a Kill-Team scenario with a handful of Catachans against a whole slew of Orks.

I like this kind of stuff in White Dwarf, because I believe it's using White Dwarf to its fullest, which is to provide alternative ways to enjoy your GW games, in addition to previews, news, battle reports, painting guides, and what have you. This one, in particular I don't think I'll recreate, but it provided me with somewhere to jump from if I want to do a similar thing, such as a Death Korps squad that's pushed too far into enemy lines and needs to regroup with it's HQ, or at the very least broke up the new release monotony that White Dwarfs can sometimes fall into.

Another article I like to see in White Dwarfs is an army list, and in this issue we have one for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. It's the Galadhrim list that appeared in the War of the Ring book, but converted for use in LotR. As if harkening back to the days when White Dwarf introduced new units (Genestealer Hybrids back in Rogue Trader), or full army lists (Legion of the Damned in 2nd edition). This was particularly pleasing to me, as I'm planning on doing a Galadhrim army for WotR, and now I'll be able to use it for LotR as well.

Afterwards we get a battle report between Eldar and Imperial Guard using the new Planetstrike rules. Usually I enjoy reading the battle report(s) in White Dwarf, but whenever a new codex or army book comes out, I can tell you exactly who will win, thus I tend to avoid those ones. This one I haven't read yet.

My favorite part of the recent White Dwarfs is Jervis' column Standard Bearer. Jervis is an industry vet within Games Workshop and has created, and contributed to some of my favorite games (including my favorite game: Epic). In his column he muses over certain aspects like collecting, painting, sportsmanship, points values, or in the case of this month's column: the social aspect of gaming. His very British style, and humor remind me of the days when he had more of a hand in White Dwarf articles, and are always a good read.

Finally we get to the painting articles. In this one we have a couple good ones, and some alright ones. Of course, they have a Planetstrike-themed terrain-building article that gives you some examples of bastions for various factions such as Chaos, Eldar (which looks Eldarish, but not very Bastion-like), and some tabletop setups that look fairly impressive. There's not much on the actual execution of these vis a vis a step-by-step guide, but for an experienced modeler, these provide some pretty neat inspiration.

There's a modeling guide for some new Space Marine stuff that's coming out including the Ironclad Dreadnought and the new Landspeeder Storm. There are no building instructions, but I think the point of these articles is to show you some configurations, and most importantly: every damned piece in the kit. I like the cut-away layouts that show every bit, along with a legend telling you what they are. I find that rather handy.

Up next was a rather, disappointing article on the new paint brushes Citadel is putting out. Rather, it seems to be just a reorganization of their current paint brush line. Anyways, it's pretty much a 4-page ad for their brushes. The only good thing to come out of it is a shot of the workshop where the brushes are made, that thankfully shows that it's not done by slave-labor, but instead by happy-looking women from England.

Finally, my favorite is a competition put on by the 'Eavy Metal team, where they each drew a type of wizard from the Imperial College of Wizardry out of a hat and had to build and paint that wizard. The winner got a neat little certificate, and I imagine some bragging rights amongst the other painters. Besides being a look behind the scenes at the people who work at Games Workshop, it also shocased some very nice looking models, and paintjobs.


So that's it then. My overall impression is that this is a good issue of White Dwarf, and that if you're a 40K player with an interest in Planetstrike, or a LotR player who wants to field the Galadhrim from WotR on your LotR tabletop, then it's worth getting. Otherwise not...

My favorite articles in this were (naturally) Standard Bearer, War on all Fronts, The Wizard contest article, and the Galadhrim army list. My least favorite articles were the rest of the painting/modeling articles, and the Empire Tactica article. All in all a very 40K-centric issue.



Jenova said...

Nice! I like this since I don't buy WD anymore lol. Who won the Wizard painting contest?

Steel Rabbit said...

It was Darren Latham with his Celestial Wizard. He did a pretty cool constellation on its back, so I could see that one winning. I think it would've been tight between that and the Amethyst Wizard.