Tabletop Review, White Dwarf, Issue #43 (Warhammer: The End Times/Warhammer 40,000/The Hobbit)

White Dwarf, Issue #43
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $3.99
Release Date: 11/22/2014
Get it Here: The Black Library

Wow. Anyone else pissed off the Warhammer: The End Times – Khaine sold out in ten minutes? TEN MINUTES? As happy as I am that Warhammer Fantasy is having a massive come back, Games Workshop really should have been prepared for this and made more copies of it. As it stands, I’m going to have to check both my Games Workshop stores (one in Springfield and one in Fairfax) for the book next Saturday if there’s any hopes of getting it and/or reviewing it. Both stores are willing to sell me a copy –IF they get one in. That tells you about how badly GW has bungled this. Even their own stores might not get copies. Sheesh. Anyway, the complete and utter sell out of Khaine makes this issue of White Dwarf all the more important, as for many of you, this and next weeks are the only snippets you will get of the two book set until it gets reprinted softcover style several months from now. The good news is that this issue is an excellent one that should tide you over until you get your hands on the actual Khaine book set and/or the upcoming novel. Let’s take a look.

First up – the soft selling of next week’s items. Besides the Khaine books, there are a lot of new miniatures for The Hobbit. Eight different sets to be exact. White Dwarf gives each one a photo or two, which is then followed by some descriptive text giving background information about the figure or figures. There is also a promise that issue #46 of White Dwarf will provide all the mechanics and rules for these new figures. That’s pretty cool of GW to do this instead of making The Hobbit fans purchase a new rules addendum. The Hobbit miniature selling parts take up a full tenth of the magazine, so be prepared for that.

Other new items in this issue of White Dwarf include Horus Heresy: Templar and of course Khaine. You’re given a nice sell of a book very few people were actually able to obtain, which will just whet your appetite for it all the more. You’re given a nice synopsis of how The End Times will affect the elves, with new alliances and battle lines being drawn. There are some fundamental changes coming for all three elven sects, not to mention specific characters like Tyrion and Malekith. I don’t even play elves (Lizardmen, Tomb Kings and Bretonnians), but the hype for the book and the articles about it in this issue of White Dwarf really has me excited for what happens to them. I’m also very interested in the promised changes to the magic phase of the game. After that, the selling part of the magazine takes a look at the special ultra limited edition of Khaine (only 500 copies) and the novel The Curse of Khaine which is the only item from this week I was able to get. The novel looks like it will contain all the story parts of the Khaine rulebooks also; if it is anything like The Return of Nagash, it will only be a novelization of the first half of the first rulebook. Still, I will definitely be reviewing that novel and am anxiously awaiting to see what happens to the various elven faction and who stands supreme at the end of things.

Finally, the “selling” part of the magazine ends with the Battle Magic cards and two new Imperial Knights from Forge World. I have no interest in either Knights as I’m more a Fantasy player, but they are well made (duh, it’s Forge World) so you might have some interest. The Battle Magic cards are like the other spell card decks out there, but this one focuses on the new End Times spells that can be found in Khaine. Usually these are the first to sell out while they are still available on Games-workshop.com so maybe they overprinted these and underprinted the books. Who knows? Anyway, the “Buy our stuff” section of the magazine is at an all-time high, encompassing THIRTY PERCENT of the magazine, but because there was a lot of informative and descriptive text instead of a straight up hard sell, I actually enjoyed this part. They did a really good job of not being like the old White Dwarf, where the entire magazine was one big ad. Now we can move on to the actual content articles.

First up is “The Legacy of Khaine,” which is by far the best article in the magazine. You get a nice in-depth looking at the precursor to Khaine, and also a sneak peek at some of the events that will unfold in both the game and novel. Wood, High and Dark Elves will all be coming together and form different alliances. You are also shown how Malekith makes his last play for the Phoenix Throne and how Tyrion falls to darkness and embraces the malvevolent weapon known as the Widowmaker, which makes him the Avatar of Khaine (no relation to the 40K model of the same name… I think). You also get some small excerpts from the novel, a top ten list as to why you should read Khaine and more. It’s fantastic and it makes me want Khaine all the more.

Next is “Glory of the Elves,” which gives an example of the wacky (awesome) new armies that can be formed from the three sects of elves due to Khaine. The example provided is called the Phoenix Host, and it has dark elves like Malekith, the Witch King astride his black dragon and some bleakswords, but also some high elven spearmen and some Skycutters. Those are joined by some tree spirits and dryads from the wood elves army. It’s a pretty interesting sight, although from the picture, it would be hard to tell which elves are in which army, since they are all painted so differently. Of course, your own super elf conglomerate will probably be uniform and thus not have this problem. The article ends by speaking of two other elven hybrid armies that will be detailed in Khaine. Tyrion’s group are known as the Aestyrion, and the third army is unrevealed due to spoilers, but it will be the final canon elven army build, promising that Khaine will end the three way dance between the elvish factions and declare an absolute winner. Again, that’s going to be must read for Warhammer fans.

The big (only) 40K article this week is a narrative battle report between a crew of Ultramarines and the Tyranids. Again, it is a narrative, so there isn’t a blow by blow list of tactics or examples of what happened turn by turn. Instead, you get a full list of the figures in each army, and the battle report is done as if it was a short piece of 40K fiction. Interesting way of doing things, but I think most people prefer when it’s an actual account of the two players and their armies. The entire report isn’t done in fiction style. The narrative is broken up at times, such as during the deployment phase, where it lists the objects and goals in the battle. The piece also ends with a normal look back at the events and what unfolded, but between those sections it’s all narrative. So if you are looking for things like dice rolls or some idea of what turn it is, you won’t have them in this battle report. I did enjoy what was here, but not as much as I would have had things been written in the normal fashion. The adventure does show how an army can win via Victory Points, even if their army is decimated by the other side, which is a helpful thing to show. You don’t see that very often, and it was fun to read that in a narrative fashion. Finally, this battle report takes up thirty percent of the magazine, so 40K fans still get a good chunk of the issue devoted to them, but the style of this Battle Report is going to probably be a love it or hate it affair.

The final 19% of the magazine is the “This Week in White Dwarf” section. Usually, this part of the magazine is nothing but forgettable filler and third rate articles, but this issue it’s actually really good. There’s some discussion of the new magic rules in The End Times and the history of the magical vortex on the Isle of the Dead. There’s also a sneak peek at some of the spells in Khaine (twenty-two new ones!) which will be fun. There’s a brief piece talking about some elf character conversions due to the goings-on in Khaine, and a short follow up to the battle report. After that we get back into the same old weekly crap, like model, bit and weapon of the week “articles” which just takes up space. The “Ask Grombindal” piece is actually amusing and useful this week, as it pertains to the anal retentive ruleslawyer types and why they need to remember that Warhammer is a GAME and not serious business. The magazine ends with a piece on “Great Betrayals” in both versions of Warhammer and that’s it for this week.

All in all, Issue #43 was a really fun read. Sure, nearly a third of the magazine was trying to sell you on the upcoming releases, but those pieces were well done and just as much informational as it was “buy our plastic.” The Battle Report was long and an interesting departure from the usual method. All the different Khaine teasers were really fun and the highlight of the magazine. However, there is a lot of grumpiness amongst Warhammer fans about Games Workshop’s low print run on this edition. Hopefully they’ll have a second printing out soon. After all, you can’t play Khaine if you don’t own it. Let’s hope the 40K Shield of Baal set that debuts on Black Friday won’t be as limited…

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