Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #65 (Warhammer 40,000, Assassinorum: Execution Force, Warhammer Fantasy)

White Dwarf, Issue #65 (Warhammer 40,000, Assassinorum: Execution Force, Warhammer Fantasy)
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $4
Page Count: 36
Release Date: 04/25/2015
Get it Here: The Black Library (Or your local Games Workshop retail store)

Wow, it’s been a while since I purchased a White Dwarf. With The End Times of Warhammer Fantasy being over, and my not being a big 40K fan, there wasn’t much of a reason to pay attention to what Games Workshop was peddling. That all changed with the release of Assassinorum: Execution Force, the new stand-alone board game from Games Workshop. I absolutely love the 40K assassins and I always have. I still have my beloved Codex: Assassins from 1999 and flip through it infrequently. I was tempted to pick up Assassinorum: Execution Force because I could add the figures to my Guardians of the Covenant and Chaos Space Marines armies, but at $125 for only two dozen minis and a lack of any real information on the board game, I didn’t want to take the plunge unless the game was fantastic. Especially when there are Kickstarters like HINT/PIG, Vampire Hunters and Malestrom’s Edge going right now, where you can get a lot more plastic (or metal!!!) for a lot less. That meant picking up this week’s White Dwarf since it was going to be all about this game (and related new products).

Oddly enough, after reading this issue, I decided not to drop the $125 on the game. It sounds like a Warhammer 40K version of the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System games like Castle Ravenloft, The Legend of Drizzt or the upcoming Temple of Elemental Evil release. The articles in this issue, along with pictures of the playing pieces and rules break down made it seem almost exactly like those. I didn’t really care for those games, and so, even though I love the new Assassin minis, they definitely aren’t worth $125, especially when I don’t play 40K – I merely paint the small armies I have. I did, however, preorder the novel based on the game and the audio drama, so expect reviews of them next week as they come out on May 2nd. Now with all that said, White Dwarf, Issue #65, is still well worth the cover price of $4, even if you’re not going to get Assassinorum: Execution Force, because it contains a ton of new information for using Assassins in Warhammer 40,000 in addition to giving you a fantastic look at the board game. Let’s take a look at what all this issue entails and why you should get it, even if you’re a casual 40K fan.

Being that White Dwarf is a house engine, it should be no surprise that most of this issue is devoted to selling you on Assassinorum: Execution Force. The first article, which clocks in at fourteen percent of the magazine, is devoted just to this, as you are given pictures and a detailed description of what all is in the boxed set. You get a nice look at pieces of the board, character cards and information about what playing the game is like. After that, each of the four assassins gets their own overview. Vindicare’s Viktor Zhau, Culexus’ Noctus Kord, Callidus’ Klara Rhasc and Eversor’s Sylas Tor all get their own fifteen minutes, with three pictures of a wonderfully painted final version of their miniature and a paragraph or two of background fluff. It’s a fine soft sell of a very expensive game.

After that, the other items for next week are listed. Forge World’s gorgeous Imperial Gun Emplacement terrain and their new Xiphon Interceptor are featured. I’m actually not a fan of Forge World, but both of these are fantastic pieces. After this brief foray into 30K, we go back to the Assassinorum: Execution Force spin-offs. There’s a look at the book by the same name (which I’ll be reviewing next week). It sounds pretty enjoyable, although I’ve yet to really like a full length 40K fiction piece. I’m not familiar with the author, but for ten bucks I get what I would out of the game without any of the assembly, painting or exorbitant price tag. There’s also a long look at the seventy-five minute audio drama Assassinorum: The Emperor’s Judgement, which I’ll be reviewing next week as well. It’s a prequel to the board game and novel, featuring Klara Rhasc as she tries to assassinate the ruler of a planet named Tevrat. I’ve actually never purchased one of the audio dramas from Games Workshop, 40K or Fantasy but I decided to give this a try because, hey, I love the assassins from the 40K line.

The final three products are interesting ones. Of course we have a piece on Games Workshop’s other house engine, Warhammer Visions, which is just pretty pictures of new models. It’s worth noting the size of the magazine is bigger and there are more pages, so if you’re a fan of Warhammer Visions, you’ll be getting a lot more for the price tag. That’s pretty rare if you know GW. The other two items are Fantasy Flight Games’ Warhammer 40,000: Relic – Halls of Terra Expansion board game and Auroch Digital’s Chainsaw Warrior 2: Lords of the Night video game. Usually the third party releases that license GW products don’t get a mention, so it was nice to see this, even if it was a quick mention in passing. I own both Chainsaw Warrior video games. They’re fun but frustrating. These sales pieces make up 26% of the magazine, which is a lot I grant you, but at least they are informative rather than feeling like a sleazy used car salesman. GW used to take this route with the old version of White Dwarf and I didn’t feel at any time like this was paying for a commercial/ads. I learned a lot about each product and never felt like there was a hard sell.

Now we can talk about the other articles in the magazine. “Parade Ground” is the only mention of the late, lamented Warhammer Fantasy. This is a fluff piece talking about the paint job on two Verminlords and the Thanquol/Boneripper duo. It’s actually a snippet of what you’ll find in Warhammer: Visions, so this is technically another sales article.

Next comes the meat of this issue. “Offico Assassinorum” are the new updated rules for the Assassins in Warhammer 40K. Essentially you’re getting the full $16.99 dataslate as a freebie in this magazine. That ALONE is a reason to purchase this issue of White Dwarf. I can’t believe they did this, so kudos to Games Workshop on this kind of fan treatment. Sure, it doesn’t include the fluff from the dataslate, but you get all the rules for using the assassins from Assassinorum: Execution Force in a 40K game, along with detachment and formation rules for each. This is fantastic! This section takes up 28% of the magazine, which is incredible. Sure, it means that if you don’t care about the assassins, this issue of White Dwarf is an easy pass for you, but fans of the 40K assassins are getting a wonderful treat. These kind of in-depth pieces are exactly what White Dwarf should be doing. I’ll take a few lengthy, meaty articles over a lot of short vapid pieces any day. I will say that I was surprised by the point increase for each assassin compared to my old Codex: Assassins, as each one is at least 20 points more to take now, but with the point increase also comes a range of new abilities. The Vindicare remains my favorite of the four, but the only model I really don’t care for is the Culexus. It looks like the Elephant Man, John Merrick.

Once you get through that article, I hope you’re not tired of pieces on 40K assassins, because White Dwarf still has plenty to say on the subject. “Operation Deathblow” gives us another look at Assassinorum: Execution Force. Here we learn more about the rules of the game, and are even given a bare bones example of the game’s final mission being played. It’s extremely informative, and the WD team did a great job of explaining the game, but as I said at the beginning, it wasn’t the type of game I was at all interested in, so as much as I appreciated learning about the game, I appreciated knowing it wasn’t a good fit for me even MORE. That’s $125 better spent on something else. “Operation Deathblow” is a really great article though, and worth reading if you’re at all interested in Assassinorum: Execution Force.

We’re down to the tail end of the magazine now. There’s a quick crap piece called “Citadel Legends” which is essentially the “Hall of Fame” articles from previous issues with a new name. This is definite filler and an attempt to sell you on the Luminark of Hysh model for Warhammer Fantasy‘s Empire. The article is filler to be sure, but it’s far more in-depth than the “Hall of Fame” pieces. This article even shows you all the sprues, which is a nice touch.

“Paint Splatter” this week shows you how to properly paint the Vindicare Assassin, which is awesome, as I really liked learning about the goggles and highlighting of the figure. I walked away with some new ideas to use on my own figures.

Finally we get to the “throw shit at the wall and hope something sticks” section of the magazine. Yes, it’s “This Week in White Dwarf.” We get a little more info on 40K assassins in general and the importance of teamwork in Assassinorum: Execution Force. There’s yet another attempt to sell you Warhammer Visions, and then the usual model/bit/weapon/ of the week bit that just takes up space. There’s even a “Bit of the year” piece, which really feels like wasted space to me. The only worthwhile piece in the section talks about how to paint something with a glowing green colour. It’s a good explanation and worth trying out, especially for Necron fans.

That’s pretty much the magazine this week. Yes, about a quarter of the magazine is crappy filler, but the information on Assassinorum: Execution Force and the updated rules for using assassins in Warhammer 40K make this issue a must purchase. I was really impressed by everything in this issue, and I had a lot of fun reading this. I’m pretty high on the latest take on 40K assassins, and I’m hoping that next week, I can let you know the audio drama and novel are worth picking up as well. Hopefully you’ll come back and read those pieces as well. See you then!

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