Tabletop Review: White Dwarf, Issue #59 (Warhammer 40,000/Warhammer: the End Times)

White Dwarf, Issue #59 (Warhammer 40,000/Warhammer: the End Times)
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $4
Page Count: 32
Release Date 03/14/2015
Get it Here: The Black Library
(or your local Games Workshop Store)

Well, The End Times Book V: Archaon and its accompanying novel, The Lord of the End Times came out Saturday, and like most of you, I’ve been nose deep in both. This will probably be the last bit of Warhammer Fantasy until Warhammer, 9th Edition comes out, and I still have no idea if I’ll be picking that up or not. We’ll have to wait and see. I will say that, as sad as I am that the world came to an end and Chaos “won,” I was thrilled to see all of my favorite characters survived. Hell, the last three name characters standing were Khalida, Neferata and Arkhan the Black, so I’m pretty happy. I’m also cautiously optimistic my Tomb Kings will survive into 9e because of this, despite the rumourmongering. Unfortunately, as interesting and exciting as both Archaon entries were, this issue of White Dwarf was a bit dull and uninteresting. Hell, there wasn’t even a paint splatter this week! So you can definitely save your money and hold off on Issue #59. That said, let’s take a look at what was in this issue so you have at least some idea of the contents.

Even though there isn’t much coming out next week, this issue of White Dwarf managed to devote a full third of the magazine to the soft sell. Two pages are for Skarr Bloodwrath. It’s a really ugly piece, like all of the Khorne releases this time around, but it’s also the biggest plastic figurine Games Workshop has ever done. $30 for a single plastic mini, especially one this aesthetically displeasing, is a definite pass for me, but Chaos fans (both Fantasy and 40K) can probably make this work. There’s a page for the new Blood Tide of Khorne box set, which offers no new pieces, but at least lets you get them in a bundle… that costs as much as the pieces individually. Oh, Games Workshop. Two new Khorne based Black Library releases get half a page each. There’s a World Eaters novella and an audio drama. Neither sound interesting to me, but the World Eaters have never done it for me. Three pages are devoted to Forge World’s Horus Heresy. One page is for the new The Siege of Vraks sourcebook. It’s a 288 page hardcover book, and it looks like the production values are through the roof. The two new Forge World minis get a page each. There’s the Deredeo Dreadnought, which is incredible looking. I’d buy one for my 40K army… if you didn’t have to buy the weaponry separately from the core miniature. Sixty quid for a single Dreadnought? Ouch. No thank you. There’s also the Castellax Battle-Automata with Darkfire Cannon, which also looks terrific. Usually I can take or leave 30K pieces, but both of these are gorgeous and will be a great addition to any 30K fan’s collection. The eighth and final page of the soft sell is a look at previously released Khorne based Daemons models and an attempt to sell you on them. I’m really not a fan of most of the modern GW Daemons designs. Chaos Space Marines are definitely better than they used to be visually, but daemons, especially Khorne ones, look awful.

Our first non-sales article this week is the “Hall of Fame.” I never like these pieces, because they are a cheap sales piece and always cover modern GW miniatures. A Hall of Fame should look back at older pieces. Why not showcase something from Rogue Trader or the first few editions of 40K to demonstrate models that still hold up by today’s standards and give newer gamers a history lesson? No, instead, the pieces chosen in this article are the Chosen from 2012’s Dark Vengeance boxed set. Honestly, there were only two or three of the five Chosen models in that set that I thought were decent. So it’s very odd for me to see something that recent and that unattractive get a nod. Meh.

The next six pages are devoted to “Armies of the End Times.” It talks a little bit about the final armies that wage war in Archaon and also how there is no longer forced format of pieces for your army. With the release of Archaon, you can make an army of whatever you want. You don’t have to have a certain percentage of points for lords, specials, standard troops and so on. If you want a 2000 point army of nothing but Stegadons and Grail Knights, or an army of nothing but characters, now you can. This is an awesome and long needed option for the game. Too bad it’s happening at the very end of its existence. The article ends with showcasing four “Armies of the End Times” and giving a list of what makes it up. There’s a Khorne deamon army, an Empire/Bretonnian army, a army consisting of all three types of elves and finally an Orc/Ogre army. It’s nothing but throwaway fluff without any real substance. It’s mostly pictures and an army readout, but one that doesn’t list total points, number of figures or anything remotely useful. Sigh.

“On the Campaign Trail” continues the idea of Warhammer Fantasy campaigns. We’ve seen this in previous issues of White Dwarf, and also in The End Times bookset Thanquol. This article is easily the most helpful and interesting in the issue, as it helps give you ideas for writing your own End Times campaign in addition to giving you a premade Empire vs Nergal campaign that follows The Fall of Altdorf. A fun piece, and again, it’s the highlight of the issue, but one that is still not worth paying four bucks for.

“The Clash of Heroes” is similar to last week’s waste of space. These are several (six to be exact) mini battle reports featuring one on one battles between title characters. In no surprise (which makes one wonder if anyone actually played these battles out), they all had the same exact end result as the confrontations in both End Times books released on Saturday. These battle reports are extremely lacking, with some only being a sidebar long. That’s crazy. I would have liked some actual commentary on positioning, dice rolls, choice of strategies and the like, but you get none of that here. God, I hope this won’t be a recurring thing.

The final article is “The Rules,” which contains all the stats you need to run Skarr Bloodwrath. He’s got a nice statline and a “get out of death free” rule that will annoy opponents. He’s only 300 points too. He’s got a lot of potential. I just wish the mono wasn’t so bloody ugly.

After that comes the usual waste of space that is “This Week in White Dwarf,” full of odds and ends fillers instead of actual quality content. There’s a second Hall of Fame piece, which is ANOTHER Dark Vengeance mini. Ugh. At least it’s Kranon, which is the best in the box. There’s a look at Chosen vs Possessed Chaos Space Marines, and then the Bit/Weapon/Model of the week crap. Man, that’s five pages that could be used for 2-3 real articles, but White Dwarf is never going to use the space as it should.

So yeah, two issues in a row that were really disappointing. There was no real content or anything approaching quality articles. It’s sad because, in 2014, White Dwarf was arguably the best it had been in over a decade. Now it’s returning to its old lackluster self. Maybe it was The End Times that invigorated the staff and now that it is done, things are just sliding back to the lack of substance the magazine developed a reputation for until the change from monthly to weekly. Get it together guys. You can be so much better than what we’ve seen in the past two issues.


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