Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #44 (Warhammer 40,000/Warhammer: The End Times/The Hobbit)

White Dwarf, Issue #44 (Warhammer 40,000/Warhammer: The End Times/The Hobbit)
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $3.99
Page Count: 32
Release Date: 11/30/2014
Get it Here: The Black Library (Or at your local Games Workshop Store)

This week’s issue of White Dwarf really just focuses on Shield of Baal: Deathstorm, the latest boxed set for Warhammer 40,000. I decided to pass on it, but it was a hard decision. On one hand, I have Blood Angels and Tyranids in my Space Hulk board game, and this set could combine with those figures to give me two new armies (I currently have Guardians of the Covenant and Chaos Space Marines). On the other hand, I don’t really play Wahammer 40K, I haven’t finished painting Dark Vengeance yet and I could get a Mega-Army from the Kings of War Kickstarter (that will only have a few hours left by the time this goes live), which would give me between 80-130 figures instead of just twenty-five. In the end, I’d rather have fantasy figures than sci-fi ones, so I passed on Deathstorm. Still, I wanted to at least read about the set, so I picked up this issue. I was also hoping for some more End Times articles, but alas, there weren’t any in here. What is in this issue is pretty fantastic, especially for those picking up Shield of Baal: Deathstorm, so let’s show you why this issue is worth your $3.99.

As always, the magazine opens with the quasi-advertisement articles, which try to sell the reader on next week’s releases. However, it takes a very different turn with this issue. Of course, Deathstorm gets top billing, but instead of a quick fluff piece, the new 40K boxed set gets a full six pages of text and photos devoted to it. You’re given a brief overview of what comes in the set (twenty-five figures, a full rulebook and a campaign supplement) along with a lot of pictures of all the goodies sealed inside. The two exclusive minis in this set (Captain Karlaen and The Spawn of Cryptus) each get their own page, which gives you background information and pictures of how the finished products look after being painted by professionals. I have to say, the exclusive minis actually helped me to not buy this product. Captain Karlean looks cheesy as hell, and the Spawn of Cryptus looks just like my Space Hulk Broodlord with a different base. I will say that I enjoyed the information, even though I’m not purchasing the set, which tells you the article was actually a quality one rather than a heavy handed sales pitch.

Besides the Deathstorm article, you get another six pages devoted to the OTHER new items coming out next week. There are four new three packs of miniatures for The Hobbit coming out, in addition to a two-pack of Thorin and Bilbo. Each of these five sets gets half a page devoted to them (only two paragraphs of text per group though – the rest is a giant picture). Of course, these figures are in… ugh, Finecast, so unless you are a big fan of the game you’ll probably pass on those. That said, I’m looking forward to next week’s Smaug figure. At $490 dollars, it’ll be the biggest and most expensive figure Games Workshop has ever put out. Here’s hoping it is jaw droppingly awesome. Three 40K books get the next page and a half. Two are Blood Angels/Flesh Tearer novellas, so I’ll be passing. The one written by Josh Reynolds is about Deathstorm, and I loved his Return of Nagash novel, but I’m not going to pay $24 for a 128 page book about 40K. I made that mistake with the terrible Dark Vengeance novel. Never again. Anyway, the final two pages of sales articles are devoted to Forge World products. One is the Iron Warriors Legion Contemptor Dreadnought, which does nothing for me, and the other is the fourth Horus Heresy supplement – Conquest. Fans of 40K will probably want to pick that up but, again, as I’m a Fantasy player, this is another pass for me.

Now, we’re finally done with the sales articles for this week (which take up the first 13 pages of the magazine). We can move on the other articles. First up is “Codex: Apocrypha” which is a biography on an insane Necron Nemesor named Zahndrekh. It’s interesting, even for someone who doesn’t play Necrons. After that, you get “Heroes of the Blood,” which is a two page article telling the history of the Blood Angels and the vampiric curse. It also has a sidebar about Captain Karlaen. It’s a fun, informative article, and I enjoyed it for what it was.

The big article of the issue is another one entitled “Deathstorm.” Like the sales article by the same name, this one runs six pages and focuses on the new boxed set. What was really cool about this article is that it gives you the story background for adventures you’ll find in the Shield of Baal: Deathstorm boxed set, and then it proceeds to run through all three adventures with some truncated battle reports! The first mission gets a page devoted to it, while the other two get two pages each. These were a lot of fun to read, and in essence, White Dwarf has given you a good chunk of the campaign for free. Sure, you don’t have the exact stats and the exclusive minis for the campaign, but you have the objectives and parameters of the missions, so you can run them on your own with your own armies if you don’t spring for the new boxed set. Very cool. This six page article alone was worth the $3.99 price tag. It’s also worth noting that the Blood Angels won all three missions – but just barely.

After that, we get “Adapt and Conquer,” which is a two page article (one text, one photo) about turning the Tyranids in Deathstorm into the start of a full Tyranid army. It talks about some figures to add to the set, but it’s very shallow and doesn’t give any true information of note that would help someone make an army. There’s no mention of stats, point values or anything that would actually help someone build an army. This was just terribly done. It’s too bad too, as some articles on army building would be a fantastic addition to White Dwarf. This would help newcomers out a lot and give them a good idea of what to purchase. The final article is “Paint Splatter,” and as always, it’s a favorite of mine. Here we get info on how to paint Captain Karlaen. Sure I don’t have the figure, but the advice and pictures were great, especially on how to do Blonde Hair really well. I would have never thought to start with Zandri Dust for that.

After that we get the usual “This Week in White Dwarf,” which is essentially five pages of crap. You have the usual terrible Weapon/Figure/Bit of the Week pieces, along with a terribly useless “Ask Grombrindal” bit. There is some more Shield of Baal selling here, and then it ends with a look at someone’s paint job of Chaos Marines and a triad of Dark Eldar Bikes. I really hope they eventually dump this section for pages of actual quality articles, but it has yet to happen. Sigh.

Overall, aside from the Tyranid Army building article and the “This Week in White Dwarf” crap, this was a fantastic issue of White Dwarf, even if it was 99% 40K related. Again, I’m a Fantasy fan and I still loved all the great information and pictures in this issue. So even if you are passing on Shield of Baal: Deathstorm, you’re probably going to want to pick this up!


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