Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #23

White Dwarf, Issue #23
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $3.99
Page Count: 93 (Digital)
Release Date: 07/05/2014
Get it Here: The Black Library

I had to go on a trip up to North Dakota of all places this weekend, so I decided to pick up a digital copy of White Dwarf to read on the plane since I enjoyed issue #21 so much. This was my first taste of the digital version of White Dwarf and I have to admit it might be the worst magazine for the Kindle Fire right now in terms of visual appeal, layout and design. This is odd because the physical copy of White Dwarf is stunning with high quality materials and top notch production values. It’s like there isn’t a single person at Games Workshop that knows how to make .mobi or .epub documents correctly. Most of the magazine is just white space. Text is enormous, you can’t zoom in on the pictures (which are much smaller than the physical copies) and the layout is easily the most horrendous I have ever seen for a magazine like this. Some pages only have a paragraph of text or a picture and the rest is white space. One page is just a picture of a WD editor with his signature! I can’t believe there aren’t more people crying out about how tremendously BAD the digital version of White Dwarf looks and it’s definitely sworn me off ever purchasing a digital copy of this magazine again. My wife and I get several magazines designed for the Kindle Fire like Rachel Ray, National Geographic, Allure and Organic Gardening, and this thing honestly looks like it was put together by a person who had never done magazine layout before. It looks like a middle schooler’s first attempt at using InDesign or something. It is that ugly and badly done. I cannot empathize this enough: BEWARE THE DIGITAL VERSION of WHITE DWARF!

Now layout and design issues aside, content is what really matters. Unfortunately, issue was extremely hit or miss with me. You had articles that talked about the new book releases of The Red Waaagh! and Evil Sun Rising, along with the compilation of both know as Sanctus Reach Volume 1. This basically felt like a very long ad for these books and as I don’t care about either Orks or the Imperial Sanctum, it’s not something I will purchase. Just think, the last review I did of this magazine, I happily mentioned how GW got away from disguising ads as articles. The next few articles are surprisingly short and uninformative. You get two paragraphs on the Mek Mob, but no actual content or details. It’s just a paragraph of fluff and a paragraph of what comes in the set.

The next article is also the best. It’s entitles “War Stories” and it is about how time is such a foe to the wargaming hobby. Battles are long and painting takes forever. It’s about how to deal with the real world preventing you from making time for Warhammer in any form and to remind gamers that the journey is its own reward. I really felt this one as I have so little of my figures painted (I just finished the Garden of Mors though, and it looks really good!). THIS is the kind of stuff White Dwarf needs: actual articles about wargaming rather than sales pitches.

The next few articles talk about the updated Planetstrike rules…which can only be found in The Red Waaagh!. While Planetstrike rules are always interesting, putting the updates into a book only a fraction of the Warhammer 40K audience would be interested in, is really uncool. This really should have been its own supplement or released digitally. This kind of business practice ensures I won’t be purchasing either. The article is followed up by a list of famous Planetstrike style encounters from 40K history. Meh.

“‘Eavy Metal”‘s article this week was one I had a love/hate relationship with, if only because it was one of the few Warhammer Fantasy sightings in this piece. As my main army is a Lizardman one, I loved seeing the article focus on the paint job of a Skink Priest. Unfortunately the article doesn’t actually talk about how to achieve the paint job in the picture shown, but is really just praise for the piece and its painter. Sigh. The same problem happens with Valkia the Bloody. DETAILS! That’s what people want to see!

“Armies on Crusade” was the second best article of the issue. It was a long look at how to run a campaign with your friends or fellow wargamers. You get personal recollection, looks at different types of campaigns, advice on how to run them and more. It’s exceptionally well done and it’s one wargamers of all skill levels should really take a look at.

“Paint Splatter” talks about the usefulness of glazes, now to apply them and even how to make your own! That’s another awesome article. Unfortunately this is followed up by “Knights of the Household” where the authors just talk about their “awesome: paint jobs for Imperial Knights, but they don’t really discuss how they did it. It’s several pages of people tooting their own horn, which very few people actually want to read. Yuck.

“The Rules” is an oddly titled piece as the article is actually lacking any rules for the game. It’s mostly a discussion of a squadron of tanks and their Preferred Enemy rule. There’s nothing about stats, point values or mechanics to be seen here. After that is “Designer Notes’” which is another thinly veiled attempt to sell you on The Red Waaagh! and Imperial Knights. Finally we have “This Week in White Dwarf” which is the usual rigmarole of assorted crap and this is where the magazine looks its absolutely worst digitally.

So although the digital version of White Dwarf might be the worst (and most overpriced) digital magazine I’ve ever seen, several articles like “War Stories” and “Armies on Crusade” were top notch. These are the types of things Games Workshop needs to be writing on a regular basis. No one needs ads for Warhammer products when they already know what is coming out via the web and gamers have already decided well in advance what they are going to purchase. The bad really outweighs the good here, especially with the digital version. I was hoping White Dwarf‘s digital copy would be as sleek and stylish as the dead tree edition, but this was the most amateurish looking digital magazine I’ve ever seen. Maybe I would be it for a dollar or two per issue, but more than likely, I won’t ever pick this up again. Since I rarely get to an actual GW store, it also means I will rarely ever pick up White Dwarf again. Too bad GW, you lost yourself some more money. I guess I won’t see WD again until there’s something on Lizardmen, Tomb Kings or Guardians of the Covenant…and we all know how likely that is.



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3 responses to “Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #23”

  1. Kilkrazy Avatar

    That is a very good and well written review.

    GW seem to be very bad at digital generally. The new “webstore” is very lacklustre. They probably didn’t bother to train their staff on how to make an epub file. Not that I know how to myself, but I have enough experience in digital publishing to know that just spoogeing a file through a convertor into a new format never works without optimisation and correction.

    WD of course has been to some degree a sales pamphlet since the late 1980s. I am only glad to hear that there are still a few good articles in it.

  2. Dain Q. Gore Avatar
    Dain Q. Gore

    Great review. I totally concur about the digital edition–I bought the first issue that way and will never do it again. I can’t imagine them doing this with their Ipad edition painting or rules guides, would it have been so hard to do the same for their mainstay WD?

  3. […] maybe someday Games Workshop will get up to snuff in that regard. Now, the last issue I reviewed, #23, I mentioned how after weeks of 40K, the magazine was so focused on the army of the month that I […]

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