Inside Pulse 12

Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #74 (Warhammer Fantasy/Warhammer 40,000/The Age of Sigmar)

White Dwarf, Issue #74
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $3.99
Page Count: 32
Release Date: 06/27/2015
Get it Here: The Black Library (Or your local Games Workshop store)

Well, this is the last issue before the new White Dwarf hits issue #75 and where the ninth edition of Warhammer Fantasy gets its Age of Sigmar setting. So you can expect #75 to be a must-have issue for any GW fan. What, though, do you do with issue #74? There are no real releases next week save for White Dwarf, so how do you kill time with this issue? The answer is with lots and lots of filler. Even though the cover proclaims WARHAMMER! and the solicitation for this issue read like it would be a look back at the history of the game, this issue of White Dwarf is mostly fluff without any real substance to the articles behind it. This is a big disappointment, but it was nestled between the all Dark Angels issue and Age of Sigmar, so something had to give. Let’s show you what is in this issue of White Dwarf, and also why you can safely pass on its purchase.

Good old Games Workshop. It wouldn’t be White Dwarf without the first few articles being soft sell ads of upcoming releases. With no new models being released this week, how would they fill pages? Well, they released a new Eldar boxed set called the Windrider Battlehost. It’s all old models, but they’re bundled together for, well, $160. That’s compared to $181 for buying the pieces separately. So yay for savings! There’s also a look at new fiction pieces coming out next week, like Armour of Faith, which is the third volume of the Plagues of Orath series. There are also new Horus Heresy titles like Deathfire and Forge World’s Tempest. We even get a quick plug for Warhammer Visions. That’s actually it though for the sales pieces, and they take up an all-time low of 13% of the magazine. So what do they fill it with?

First up is “The Endless War,” which is a long but surprisingly substance-less piece on the history of Warhammer Fantasy. All it really does is espouse hype instead of history and sales language instead of actually delving into the rich and myriad lore of the game. It also includes a timeline… that only lists the editions of the games and what came in each boxed set (5th Edition forever!). I was really disappointed that, instead of discussions of the origins, evolution and incarnations of the game, this was a relatively insipid piece with flowery language like “For the White Dwarf team, Warhammer is a way of life.” Obviously! It’s YOUR JOB. This was a perfect time to do something really meaty to win over fans of Warhammer Fantasy. A look back at Kislev or Chaos Dwarves. A discussion on why some armies got squatted and others rose to prominence. A look at the design of the game as a whole. Instead we got something terrible like this.

The next article is “Mighty Champions, Dire Villains,” and again we have something really underwhelming. There’s no discussion of classic characters like the Red Duke, Settra, Khalida, Neferata, Arkhan and the like. Not even a mention. Instead we get (ugh) Archaon, Tryion, Thorgrim, Grimgor, Vlad and Nagash. That’s in. Mannfred also gets his own article as “The Most Hated Villain.” Sure, he’s basically Starscream/Cobra Commander, but he mostly has X-Pac heat, not Brock Lesnar heat. After that we get “The Most Epic Battles of All Time,” and once again, none of the actual huge battles of Warhammer history get a real mention. Look at all the old school Nagash battles that should have been brought up here. Instead… nothing. We get a few pictures, a lot of fluff about plastic miniatures rather than actual battle history content and… that’s it. What the heck?

Next up, Sigmar gets a multi-page article all to himself. This makes sense, as we are entering The Age of Sigmar, but like the Empire, I’ve always found Sigmar underwhelming, uninteresting and rather two-dimensional as a character. Even in The End Times, he was the dullest part of an otherwise highly enjoyable storyline. Finally, White Dwarf wraps up its terrible tribute to Warhammer with a recap of The End Times and a tease of what is coming next week. Many of you have already seen the miniatures through spoilers and the like, and I’ll admit they are very polarizing pieces. Still, we’ll have to wait until next week for any real substance about the not quite Space Marines. Games Workshop let me know they are sending me a secret something, so there just might be a review of some 9e pieces coming your way if you regularly read Diehard GameFAN.

At this point we still have half the magazine left, which means it’s 40K time. Up first is “Courage and Honour,” which is a look at Nick Bayton’s Ultramarines collection. This feels like it should be in Warhammer Visions instead, but hey, White Dwarf has pages to fill this week. Nick’s a far better painter than I could ever hope to be, and at least this piece tells the story of his army, which is far more depth than the poor Warhammer Fantasy articles received.

“Theatre of War” gives you a brand new 40K battle featuring the Dark Angels (Yay!) and either Chaos Space Marines or Khorne Demonkin. The DA opponents have a Fallen hidden amongst them, and the Dark Angels have to snuff it out, even if it means losing the overall battle. It’s a fantastic idea and fits the Dark Angels perfectly. This is followed up by “Hunt the Fallen,” an in-depth battle report showing this new battle being played out between the Dark Angels and an army of Red Corsairs and Night Lords. It was a lot of fun to read and was the highlight of the issue. It’s also the longest article in the magazine which, again, shows poor old Fantasy getting treated like a redheaded stepchild in an issue that is supposed to celebrate the previous eight editions. Sad.

After that we get to “This Week in White Dwarf.” Again, it’s a bunch of second-rate filler, which is par for the course with this part of the magazine. Too bad it wasn’t like Issue #73. This section starts off with six more heroes from Warhammer Fantasy. Why not just put them in the article towards the front of the magazine then? Why break it up like this? Bad editorial decisions here. I liked seeing Thanquol and Skarsnik mentioned, but Marius Leitdorf instead of a Settra, Lord Kroak, The Green Knight or other major characters that aren’t even paid lip service? I swear, it is stuff like this that has lead to Warhammer Fantasy being in the shape it is in. There is no sense of history or respect for all versions of the product. Here’s hoping 9e changes that somehow.

After that, we get a look at some magical weapons, some more Horus Heresy babble, ANOTHER look at the new Eldar jetbike boxed set and then the usual XYZ of the week filler crap. Overall, this was not only a terrible issue, but a real slap in the face to the fantasy side of Warhammer. This really was the exact opposite way to build excitement for The Age of Sigmar that will be shown off next week, while also showing how little the current WD team actually cares about the non-40K parts of Games Workshop. Compare this to how amazing last week’s issue was, and I worry that GW is going to drop the ball with 9e/Age of Sigmar in terms of marketing and treatment of the line. God knows if it is anything like this, Age of Sigmar will fall flatter than Storm of Chaos. Yeesh.

Anyway, don’t buy this issue. It’s terrible and perhaps the worst issue of WD since the reboot.

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  • Bill Garrett

    “It’s terrible and perhaps the worst issue of WD since the reboot.” Which is saying something… since every issue in the reboot has been lackluster at best.

  • A Legalist

    Agreed