Tabletop Review: White Dwarf #379

White Dwarf #379
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cover Price: $9
Page Count: 120
Get It Here: Your local game shop that carries Games Workshop products

When it comes to gaming, Warhammer and Warhammer 40K are not my first loves but they might be my deepest. I have been a Games Workshop customer for over 15 years and I have several boxes full of White Dwarf back issues. The last few years, my armies of choice, Dwarfs and Sisters of Battle, haven’t been in the limelight, so I have not been inclined to buy an issue in a couple of years. When I found out that issue 379 had the first half of a new Sisters of Battle Codex, I rushed off to my local game store and grabbed a copy. Was it worth the $9 cover price?

As with most Games Workshop products, the cover is captivating: an undead dragon stomping across a rocky outcropping with a vampire knight on his back. While I do not play the Vampire Counts, having an aversion to painting skeletons, the dynamic action on the cover would have piqued my interest on the magazine racks. The paper quality is very high and glossy, with color photographs on every page.

Since White Dwarf is the company organ for Games Workshop and accepts no external advertisements, it is simultaneously free of ads and chockfull of them. The inside cover is a brief editorial, though it is not the most stimulating read, it is a good primer on what to expect from this issue. The first page is a table of contents and is as exciting as that sounds.

The first 12 pages are the New Releases section. Depending on your interest on the line getting the new releases for the month, the New Releases section is either the most interesting thing in the issue or something to flip past in a hurry. This month’s New Releases section really showcases what GW does right. The new Zombie Dragon gets 4 pages of photographs: a full page close up for each of the two variants and a 2 page spread showing both variants on a gaming table. The model, in both of its variants, is a quality sculpt and the Heavy Metal team’s paintjob bring out all the details. A two page spread on the new Gardens of Morr scenery piece is equally striking, making me want to grab one on my next trip to the game shop.

The two page News section that follows is nowhere near as interesting. A page dedicated to the Scourge of the Storm in-store events and a couple short pieces on licensed third-party products do little to stir my interest.

The cover story, a 10 page article on the revision of the Vampire Counts, is exactly what I look to White Dwarf for. There are 3 pages explaining how the Storm of Magic and the newly released miniatures have impacted the Vampire Counts army, broken up by a component by component breakdown of the new Zombie Dragon kit. I remember when the sprue breakdowns first appeared, round about the release of the Black Templars plastics, if I remember correctly, and they do a real service to modelers and converters. A sample 3000 point army list has character, but I have no idea how useful it is, since Vampire Counts armies make no sense to me, as a longtime Dwarf player. The Zombie Dragon gets two pages of description and rules, which show it to be a nasty piece of work. The Tomb Banshee and Cairn Wraith get a similar write up, though they only get a page each.

The six pages given to the Gardens of Morr scenery kit pretty much seals the deal on me buying one. The different components are shown and each piece is darn cool. The design is nice, since it can be used as one big piece or strewn across the battlefield. A table with different table effects that the scenery can have on the battlefield is a nice touch and inspires a couple modeling ideas.

A two page article, At The Walls of Mousillon, is what they call a “ËœBattle Scene’. I suspect this article series is fairly new. Anyway, Battle Scenes are a look-in at a battle in progress, focusing on the fluff behind the battle. The photo of the battlefield is definitely inspiring, covered with models and scenery painted to a very high standard.

A 6 page Tactica article for Lord of the Rings Cavalry is an interesting case. I have not, and likely never will, play the the Lord of the Rings game. That said, this Tactica is well-written and has some useful ideas, even if you don’t play the LotR game.

Sorcerous Pacts is a Warhammer Fantasy article and the star of the issue. Eight pages long, Sorcerous Pacts covers the new Storm of Magic option for wizards that allows them to summon and control magical creatures. The bizarre alliances this allows for are in full effect in the 5 sample army lists. The Bloody Handed are High Elves controlling Daemons of Khorne. No, seriously. The Crown’s Command has Azhag the Slaughterer commanding Tomb Kings skeletons. Once again, seriously. Chaos Unbound is a pretty uninteresting Chaos army. The Dead Shall Rise is a unified Undead army, with the advantages of both the Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts. Then there are the Cursed Riders. Brettonian knights riding alongside Vampire Counts Blood Knights, Ghouls, and a Zombie Dragon might be the coolest thing to ever hit a Warhammer table. This is the sort of goofy, fun, and strange stuff I like to see from Games Workshop, a kit-bashing madness I feared lost to the wages of industry. Sorcerous Pacts is an interesting enough idea that I suddenly want the Storm of Magic. This issue is getting expensive.

Then came the Battle Report! What made me a Warhammer player, all those years ago, wasn’t the brightly painted miniatures. It was the Battle Reports. Reading the blow by blow accounts of a tabletop war made me want to play these games I love now. “ËœAn Infernal Alliance’ is a big time Battle Report, featuring two 3750 point armies duking it out. On one side is a Vampire Counts army with some summoned monsters to do the Count’s bidding. The resistance comes in the form of an Empire army with summoned Daemons fighting alongside them. While I don’t want to spoil the results, the 20 pages of battle are as epic as I remember Battle Reports being. The twitch in my eye after reading this makes me wonder exactly how many Dwarfs I need to paint before I can have a battle this big.

Jervis Johnson’s 2 page Standard Bearer column this month is very well-written, so well-written that I dare not try to summarize his thoughts. Jervis operates on a different level than I do, so I’ll just leave it at this: dude knows his stuff.

The Heavy Metal Showcase has 4 pages of monsters from the Storm of Magic book. As with most Heavy Metal stuff, this can either inspire you to try harder or drive you into the pits of despair. Being a veteran painter, I am pretty comfortable with my lack of talent, but I remember how these articles used to inspire me to paint and then remind me how bad I was at it. Your mileage may vary.

This month’s addition to the Citadel Hall of Fame is the Corpse Cart. A big, gnarly plastic kit from only a couple of years ago, the Corpse Cart is deserving of the honor. That said, I am not sure I could paint that thing in 6 months. So many pieces, so little time.

The 8 pages on assembling and painting the Dark Elves Black Dragon really show off what White Dwarf can do. Nice, tight close-ups detail the assembly can only help with putting such an intimidating piece together. Even as an experienced modeler, I would definitely use this article if I was putting one of these bad boys together.

The piece de resistance is also the only Warhammer 40K article in the whole magazine: Part One of the new Sisters of Battle Codex. This is the 5th Sisters of Battle army list. The first was in the 2nd Edition Sisters of Battle Codex, which made me fall in love with the power armored ladies in black. The second was in the 3rd Edition Big Black Book, though it was not the most inspiring thing in the world. When the Chapter Approved book came out, the list was refined a bit. The 4th version of the Sisters came in the Witchhunters Codex. There was a bit of controversy amongst Sisters players, myself included, because suddenly there were Inquisition elements bolted onto the decidedly non-Inquisitional Sisters of Battle. The only real additions to the Sisters were the Sisters Repentia, which did not exactly fit in with the Sisters. One of the real attractions of the Sisters of Battle is that they are a female army that isn’t half-naked, so tacking on a bunch of half-naked Sisters with chainswords did not inspire me to add them to my army.

Being only the first part of the Codex, this article spells out the statistics for all of the Sisters of Battle units, but not the points values, which are being saved for Part Two. Without points values, the only two things that can be commented on are the new Faith system and the differences that removing the Inquisition from the list make. The Faith system has changed drastically and is now less reliable than it was prior. While I cannot comment on what that means on the table, I suspect it will mean Sisters players will need to be more reliant on their wits than on supernatural powers. The removal of the Inquisition means the end of using Inquisitional Stormtroopers to fill out the Troops requirements, the end of bulking out the numbers with Imperial Guard platoons, and the end of using Inquisitors as HQs. It also means I can use my Penitent Engines without shoehorning in a Priest. Whether the strategy my personal army list was built around, a 15 Sister foot unit reinforced by mobile units, will remain viable. Well, as viable as it ever was.

If this is the standard White Dwarf is hitting every month, I will have to start picking it up on a monthly basis again. The Battle Report is a great read, irrespective of which system you use. For a Vampire Counts player, this issue is a no-brainer to pickup. For a Sisters of Battle player, this issue is a must buy. For every other Games Workshop player, the utility of this issue is pretty dependent on your own tastes. I’ll be picking up the next issue, as well, so I can have a complete Sisters of Battle Codex. I will have a better idea if I will keep buying what used to be a monthly purchase.






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