Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #21

White Dwarf, Issue #21
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $4
Page Count: 32
Release Date: 06/21/2014
Get it Here: Local Gaming Stores Only

This is my first issue of White Dwarf since they changed the format from a giant monthly release to a small, more cost-effective weekly edition. I always enjoyed picking up the old White Dwarf – if the articles actually pertained to an army I liked to collect and/or paint. Otherwise they were mostly fluff and thinly veiled advertisements wrapped in beautiful pictures, full color glossy pages and other high production values. The switch interested me because it meant I could just get a streamline issue with the articles I care about. Of course my armies are Guardians of the Covenant (Dark Angels), Soul Drinkers (Chaos Marines), Bretonnia, Lizardmen and Tomb Kings, so the series magazine really hasn’t covered anything for me yet. Besides, I rarely go to a brick and mortar store these days and the new version of White Dwarf is only sold there. I couldn’t get a mail subscription even if I wanted to. You can the Warhammer Visions though, but that holds absolutely no interest for me. Since I was actually at some brick and mortar stores this weekend due to Free RPG Day 2014, I decided to pick up the latest issue of White Dwarf and see if the format change was the better. Sure, I have utterly no interest in orcs, which is focus on this month’s issues due to all the new releases for that Warhammer 40K army, but I was more concerned with the format, article quality and to see if once my armies do make it back around in circulation if I will be making regular trips to get this or not.

The first thing I noticed is that the magazine is smaller in size as well as page count. The quality of the materials the magazine is printed on are still top notch and I actually like the harder, thicker cover to these issues. As well, flipping through the magazine I noticed most of the articles were actual content instead of straight up product placement. I was surprised that the only ads were for Warhammer Visions on the back cover and then three half page articles about new ancillary releases like some datacards or the ebook, “How to Paint Citadel Miniatures: Orks. I did notice the magazine was completely bereft of anything Warhammer Fantasy related, which made me a bit sad, but that game does always get the short end of the stick, even compared to The Hobbit, which apparently sells like crap. Ah well.

I do feel the overall quality of the articles have improved too, even though admittedly, I haven’t picked up an issue of White Dwarf since 2012, so maybe this happened before the conversion to the new format. Because of the focus on Orks, nearly every article is about them. The first two articles are both two pages long and each takes a look at a new figure. The first gives us the Ork “medic,” Painboy and the second the “Mek.” The articles are uniform in style. You get a half page of text and a half page picture of the new miniature. The second page is a series of shots focusing on the detail of the piece and some notes to correspond to each picture. These are well done and informative. I’d have liked some mechanics info, but I always want that and White Dwarf does rarely provide that.

The next article is a two page look at the Codex: Orks that just came out. You get two pages of pictures from the book as well as information about it. This is followed up by a further two pages on the expensive limited edition “Warboss Edition” of the codex. Previously, the limited editions really just had a different cover. The Warboss Edition however comes with a second book, one that will not be released to the general public for some time, which details the history of Ghazghkull. You also get eight prints, one for each of the previous Ork book covers (so, eight Codexes in seven editions? Christ, that’s a lot.) and six markers. Hey, at least it’s a better deal than previous limited edition codexes and I actually learned something from this article, so it was informative as it was a soft sell. Better than how White Dwarf used to do things, that’s for sure.

The next four pages were devoted to army battles. In this case it was Orks Vs. Tyranids. Although it got four pages, it was far less detailed and informative than previous battle logs that I’ve read in White Dwarf, so this was a bit disappointing. It was still interesting, as these are my favorite articles in White Dwarf, but I would have preferred a lot more detail to this, especially since it’s covering new figures and new rules in the new codex. That’s a lot of new in that previous sentence, which highlights the importance of explaining things better to people who want to learn about the changes to the game. After that we get a two page article on “Ork kultur,” which was really fun to read. I found it entertaining and informative, and I usually could care less about Orks. It’s primarily a fluffy/background piece and it’s something White Dwarf has really needed more of. Great choice!

The next article was “Escape From Goblin Town” and it was four pages detailing the events of three scenarios from The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey. I get Games Workshop is really trying to sell this game and that very few are actually biting and a real play write-up is a great way to do so. Unfortunately, like the Ork/Tyranid write up, there wasn’t a lot of detail to this piece. It was better than the Warhammer 40K one in this issue, but this would have been a perfect time to explain actions and choices instead of just referring to characters and aspects of the game like Might, Terrifying Aura and the like. If you want to sell the game, you need to explain it. Still, it was a fun article, like much of this issue, even if it didn’t feature anything I would buy or normally care about.

After that came “Paint Splatter” which is an extremely detailed look at how the Ork Paintboy was painted. You get a big picture of the final product and then six areas broken down layer by layer, which a list of the paints used for each. It even tells you what type of brush they used. It was very detailed for only a two page spread, but I’d have loved to know even more, like consistency and some tips on how to achieve the effects they created. I’ll never be able to be as detailed or as good at painting as these guys, but I always love getting tips from the experts in hopes it might make me a better painter.

Holy crap – we have mechanics information in this issue. We get a two page look at Looted Wagons, which are kitbashed vehicles from other armies like a Space Marine Rhino. This is great and something I really want to see more of in the magazine. I was really impressed by all the provided detail and the points style breakdown. It’s also laid out in the new Codex: Orks format, which I really like.

The final full article was “Designer Notes” where the sculptors of the Painboy and Mek talk about why they did what they did and some neat information on the sculpts. Again, very informative and I enjoyed it, even if I have no plans to ever purchase any GW orks.

After that, the magazine concludes with a bunch of short pieces of fluff under the heading “This Week in White Dwarf.” You get an army report for the Ork/Tyranid battle, the model of the week, an advice column and some tips on Tyranid painting. It’s all pretty interesting. The last page of the magazine is a look at the upcoming Armies on Parade competition, which will be pretty, but hopefully those articles will be in Warhammer Visions, letting White Dwarf be more meaty and less “Look what I can do and you can’t.”

All in all, White Dwarf, Issue #21 was great. With only a four dollar price tag, I feel I got my money’s worth. The magazine feels less like one big advertisement and more like actual information about Games Workshops’ various titles. It was a solid issue and I’d consider a subscription but hey, it’s brick and mortar only now. This means I’ll only end up picking it up if it features miniatures I care about AND I’m near a store. Still, it’s great to see a really noticeable rise in quality since the changeover to the new format and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the armies I care about get attention sooner or later. Of course, I prefer Warhammer Fantasy and so it’ll be later – much later, I’m sure.

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