Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #32 (Warhammer: The End Times/Warhammer: 40,000)

White Dwarf, Issue #32
Publisher: White Dwarf
Cost: $3.99
Release Date: 9/6/2014
Get it Here: The Black Library (Digital)/Your local Games Workshop store (Physical)

Well, here we are with the third issue in a row focusing on The End Times and the new Undead Legions, led by the return of Nagash. The previous two issues have been quite good and a return to the glory days of White Dwarf as a publication, so I definitely wanted to pick this one up, especially for a look at the new models and the Battle Report between a massive Empire and Undead Legions blowout. I’ll admit that The End Times has me more excited for anything Warhammer since the days of 5e when I picked up the Bretonnia/Lizardmen boxed set. Now with rumours of 9e returning Bretonnia to prominence and even a possible Brets/Undead boxed set, I find Warhammer Fantasy has captured my imagination more than any other tabletop product line this year. I would have probably laughed in your face had you said that to me before August, but it is in fact so. Has Issue #32 of White Dwarf kept the momentum going? Let’s take a look.

First up, of course, are the “sales pitch” articles. If you’ve been reading my White Dwarf reviews since the magazine switched over to a weekly format, you know that these have gotten a lot better. Sure, these articles showcase the new models for sale and definitely try to sell the reader on buy them, but before, that’s all these were – little more than ads. Now they contain useful info, background fluff and more. So even though the new model pieces do have that “BUY BUY BUY” feel to them, they also feel like real articles. If that isn’t indicative of a jump in quality, I don’t know what is.

So let’s talk about the new models. We have a new model set that can be built as two Morghast Archai or two Morghast Harbingers. Physically, the only difference between the two versions are the head (skull) and the weapon choices. Archai have glaives and Harbingers have a weapon in each hand. You get a lot of neat background information about each piece, such as the Archai being undead hammurai of Ptra, so it’s nice to see these giant models aren’t just another bone giant. Although the pictures in these articles showcase the Morghast nicely, and I appreciated the background text, these are the first new Undead models that haven’t wowed me. I can’t put my finger on it, but nothing about these pieces make me want to buy them unlike, say, Nagash, Arkham and Nefertata.

The other new model is a brand new version of the Spirit Host. I never cared for the original Vampire Counts version, but man, I want to pick up a bunch of these just to paint, because they look fantastic. The original Vampire Counts version was just kind of a generic and dull looking set of ghosts. The NEW Spirit Hosts, however, look like malevolent spectres. Almost Daemonic, in fact. From the fact they appear to be living evil whisps of smoke and fog to the fact they are rising out of corpses on the base, I absolutely love these pieces. My Undead army might be pure Tomb Kings, but I definitely want to see the stats for these guys. Even if they suck, I’ll happily paint them and just put them in my Garden of Morr for the snazzy visual. They are $26 compared to $18.25 for the original, but the new spirit hosts are bigger and you get three sets of them for their price tag, compared to the one set with the original. Games Workshop actually gave you a deal here. When was the last time that happened?

Other sales articles include a hardcover reprint of Prince of Crows, which pits the Night Lords against the Dark Angels, and a showcase of the new limited edition novel, Rebirth, which is the latest 40K Salamanders novel. Speaking of Salamanders, we get a Forge World article on the new Firedrake Terminators. I have to admit, they look neat, but are very reminiscent of the Deathwing Knights in style and weaponry. Still, if I see them on sale somewhere, I might consider picking up a set for my Guardians of the Covenant.

The big mechanics article this issue is “Rules of Engagement,” where 40K Tactical Objectives are turned on their head with the introduction of Tactical Priority. These new rules for Malestrom of War matches place a higher emphasis on some Tactical Objectives than others. The player gets to choose which Tactical Objectives are the more important ones, and thus can field a team specifically geared towards the goals they have chosen. Of course, there is also a stiff penalty if you choose to ignore objectives in play, which should be interesting. Do you specialize in certain TOs, ensuring you will achieve in spite of handing over some TOs to your opponent, or do you try to be a jack of all trades, master of none? Essentially, you get an extra victory point for each TO of your nominated type that you achieve, but you also lose one for each TO you actively discard. It’s not a gamebreaker by any means, but it does add a new aspect to play.

The next article is “Battle Gambit” which is a new scenario using the Tactical Priority rules. It’s pretty convoluted, thanks to a special “All or Nothing” rule where you have to achieve ALL of your Tactical Objectives in a single turn, or none of them count. To me, that seems excessive and takes a lot of the fun out of the piece. Not a very good scenario in my opinion, and certainly not one I would ever use or recommend.

“War Diary” looks at some of the entries in the Armies on Parade 2014 that are being done for said competition. You can go to your local Games Workshop store to enter. I have no idea what all the event entails, as I’ve never cared about competitive painting or showcasing my work. I paint as a stress reliever more than anything else. Anyway, in this article are a group of Pink Horrors, some Imperial Fists, a set of Warhawk Riders and a battalion of Deathwing Terminators. It’s mainly people talking about why they chose these models to paint, but there isn’t any insight into the colours or techniques used. As such, it’s a bit of a disappointment.

“‘Eavy Metal” looks at two miniatures painted by the ‘Eavy Metal members, past and present. One is Iron Hands Space Marine Captain and the other is an Adeptus Mechanus Tech Priest. Again, beautiful pictures, but little substance to the article. So far it’s been a bit of a lackluster issue compared to #30 and #31. There just isn’t as much substance or quality to the articles here. Of course, the last two issues were some of the best White Dwarf has put out in years, so eventually something had to give.

“The Night of Endless Death” was the main reason I picked up Issue #32. It’s a battle report featuring two huge armies. One is the Empire, led by Karl Franz himself, and the other is an Undead Legions army, with Nagash and Arkhan the Black. These were impressive armies size wise. The Undead Legion had nearly 200 miniatures and the Empire had over 120. That is a lot of paint hours and setup time. This setup all shows off how The End Times has changed battles. The Empire had six different Lords & Heroes, for example. Anyway, the battle report was awesome. It was pretty neck and neck for a while and both core generals, The Emperor and Nagash, went down before the end of the fifth turn. A lot of pieces fell to the wayside, and it was interesting to see what survived and what didn’t. We also got to see just how powerful the Lore of Undeath was here. It’s definitely going to be a massive gamechanger in Warhammer. I really loved seeing what Arkhan the Black could do, which makes me want one for my Tomb Kings. I just wish we could have seen the other Mortarchs in action as well. Anyway, this was a great article, and well worth buying the issue for. Unless of course, you’re not into battle reports.

“Paint Splatter” is the other article in this issue I really loved. It gives you instructions on how to paint Spirit Hosts and skeletons. Now, usually “Paint Splatter” gives you only a single paint scheme for each. In this issue, however, we get a whopping FOUR ways to paint the new Spirit Hosts models and another FIVE ways to paint skeletons. All of the Spirits Hosts versions are great, but I think I’ll be painting mine in the Luminescent Spirits version. They look the best, and it’s only three steps. Since I have so many skeletons to still paint with my Tomb Kings, I might do a unit with each of the four ways shown in this article. Matt’s Minions and Mouldly Skeletons are my favorite though. This is perhaps the best version of “Paint Splatter” I’ve ever seen, thanks to all the different options provided. I hope this becomes the new standard for this weekly article.

The last fourth of the magazine are the “This Week in White Dwarf” bits. You get to hear from the Morghast model designer about why they look the way they do, as well as some more fluff behind the pieces. You also get a very informative piece on drybrushing and how each highlight paint has a drybrush equivalent and vice versa. I never realized this. This was a really fun piece, and I know it will help me with my painting in the future. It’s so obvious, but something I never put together until I saw this article’s chart. You also get some more fluff on Tactical Priority and the usual bits and pieces that are just filler for the magazine.

So overall, Issue #32 was a bit lackluster compared to the previous two issues. While #30 and #31 were top notch reading from cover to cover, Issue #32 only had three articles I really cared about – the battle report, the Paint Splatter piece and the highlight/drybrush visual. Other than that, much of this was a pass for me. It was still a decent magazine and much better than what White Dwarf was putting out a year ago. Perhaps it is telling that, as the End Times content is drying up, so is the quality of the articles. Here’s hoping this is but a coincidence.


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