White Dwarf #398 Review
By Kyle Bordage
This would be Issue #398 if White Dwarf was still being numbered,
…and this issue –unlike the last two– arrived right on time!
As is the new reality with the White Dwarf, the figures shown on the cover denote what the current month’s issue focuses on. This month, it’s
This issue is the second in a row for “the new ‘Dwarf” to come poly bagged despite there being no “extras” included with the issue.
WHITE DWARF: MARCH 2013
Inside Cover: The White Dwarf Team.
Page 1: Opening Salvo: Jes Bickham’s editorial. Double-dip month! Daemons for 40k and for Fantasy! …plus they have some birthday celebration ideas in mind for next month’s issue –perhaps something extra to include with the magazine, thereby warranting poly bagging the future issue?
Pgs 2-3: Table of Contents: Break down of this month’s issue.
Pgs 4-5: New Releases: “Beyond the material realm, the Dark Gods plot…”
Pgs 6-7: New Releases: Epic gate-fold pages shows off a giant Daemons army while the “magazine side” talks about the Plague Drones of Nurgle.
Pgs 8-10: New Releases: The Burning Chariot of Tzeentch. Cool enough model….but probably not cool enough for it to sell.
Page 11: New Releases: The new Herald of Tzeentch (on a chariot) makes me think it’s just a set of alternate pieces inside the Burning Chariot kit.
(…I really should have read this issue before going through with this page-by-page breakdown; I then wouldn’t wonder about such trivial matters.)
Pgs 12-13: New Releases: The Blood Throne of Khorne comes ridden by a (new) herald. Okay, this one is totally an alternate build from the new Daemons of Khorne kit, which is:
Pgs 14-15: New Releases: The Skull Cannon of Khorne. Two Bloodletters stand atop a Khorne-plywood sheet , manning their toothy version of a pirate ship deck gun, all done while cruising around on an awesome manga-motorcycle that’s driving backwards. At least that’s what it looks like to me.
Pgs 16-17: New Releases: The new FINECAST(TM) Herald of Nurgle. After seeing the Heralds of Khorne and Tzeentch, it looks like Nurgle players are getting the short end of the stick with this release. Good.
Pgs 18-19: New Releases: A second Herald model for Khorne! Does this mean the Khorne daemon rules are so spectacular that GW projects Khorne stocks going up enough that model sales will follow?
Page 20: New Releases: The new Herald of Slaanesh. This looks to be an awesome plastic kit ….unless it’s in fact a FINECAST(TM) model, in which case this is GW completely NOT making a model that embraces the resin medium’s advantages over the plastic and metal mediums.
Page 21: New Releases: Battleforce/Battalion box, the Battle Magic and Psychic Power decks for Daemons in Fantasy and 40k. Nothing to read here; move along, move along.
Pgs 22-27: New Releases: The cover paintings to the Daemons Warhammer Army book and the 40k Codex, followed by two pages dedicated first to the fantasy book and then again to the 40k book.
Pgs 28-29: New Releases: The Hobbit: Dwarf Warriors of Erebor. These are nowhere near as awesome as the Dwarf Grim Hammers from last month. I wish I could be more excited about the Hobbit range, but GW seems set on making the line bland and pricey: $40 for 12 single-piece plastic models? No thank you. Games Workshop, you can charge me the $44 for ten Space marines because I can build/pose and equip them as I see fit (and with bitz left over!); these Dwarves offer me none of that. I sometimes feel like GW is running with the Hobbit license just so that no other company can.
Pgs 30-31: New Releases: The Hobbit: Warriors of Dale. I honestly don’t remember seeing any of these guys in the first Hobbit movie, but okay. These models I can at least respect, despite their price point and dollars-per-miniature ratio being the same as the Erebor Warriors kit. Plus I could use these for both player characters and NPCs in The One Ring role-playing game. (GW: please take note of how Cubicle 7 properly handles a license for Lord of the Rings!)
Page 32: New Releases: The Hobbit: Dwarf Grim Hammer Captain. He doesn’t look as cool as the regular rank-and-file Grim Hammers …and, being made in FINECAST(TM), he also clocks in at half the price of the whole box of Grim Hammers. For one middle-of-the-road model. I say skip this one.
Page 33: New Releases: The Hobbit: The Dwarf lord, Thror. Despite being set at the FINECAST(TM) price point of $25 for this single model, at least it’s cool enough to tempt me. He really is cool.
Page 34: New Releases: The Hobbit: Lindir of Rivendell. I really wish they hadn’t shown me the close-up of the model’s face –never since Shannon Doherty have eyes been so crookedly set on a face (and it’s only rubbing salt into the wound with GW’s caption of “”see the intricate details sculpted onto his face.”)
Page 35: New Releases: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hardcover rules manual. WTF??? THIS IS NOT NEW! I suspect that the sales of this are SO infernally dismal, that Games Workshop has been left wondering if they forgot to advertise its availability back when it came out before Christmas. No, GW, you didn’t forget to mention the existence of this rules manual; it’s just that people know when they’re getting hosed.
40k players take note!! Next time you’re going to grouse on about what a raw deal the 40k rulebook is at $90 for 432 full-colour pages; THIS is what getting hosed is: The Hobbit’s rulebook is $100 for 288 (full-colour) pages. But GW can’t figure out why it’s not selling, so they list it as a new release …again.
Pgs 36-37: New Releases: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Escape from Goblin Town starter box. OR PERHAPS the game hasn’t come out yet! OR PERHAPS I’ve gone back in time and am reliving the world as it was three months ago. …Or more realistically, the writing’s on the wall, and we have front-row seats to see just how well the Hobbit game is performing for Games Workshop. Despite my absolute love for all things genuinely Tolkien, and my persistent desire to want to like GW’s Hobbit range, I can’t.
Pgs 38-40: New Releases: Black Library: Death of Antagonis, a novel about one of the 13th (“Cursed”) founding’s chapters, the Black Dragons. Remember back when White Dwarf published rules to make your very own game-legal Cursed Founding chapter with its own special traits / abilities? Probably not. But I digress; hot on the heels of the Path of the Renegade novel comes Path of the Incubus written by none other than Andy Chambers! …who always struck me as a rules writer, not a prose writer. Also out this month: keeping with the Daemons’ double-dipping theme in this month’s magazine, The Masque of Vyle is a second Eldar novel (okay–it’s a novella) out in March. Lastly, for Warhammer, comes Van Hortsmann and has the tag line “Egrimm van Horstmann is the most promising wizard the College of Light has ever seen, but he harbours a terrible secret.” I’m betting it’s that “Freaky Friday” mirror of his. Just sayin.
Page 41: New Releases: Digital Products: Buy the White Dwarf issue you’re currently reading, the Daemons codex / Army Book –heck, even the 40k Psychic Powers are all available in digital format!
Pgs 42-43: New Releases: Forge World: More Warhammer 30k models: Terminators for the Death Guard and the Sons of Horus that both look like space marines in Mk VII armour that have let themselves go a little bit. Rounding out the releases is the Vulkite Caliver upgrade pack….whatever those are.
Pgs 44-45: New Releases: Licensed Games: And by licensed, they mean iPad games. Warhammer Quest comes out in March for the iPad! Also coming down the tubes is the next battle pack for Warhammer Invasion by Fantasy Flight Games.
Pgs 46-47: New Releases Summary: Full listing of this month’s extensive releases, complete with prices.
Pgs 48-49: Advert: GW Online Store. Surely, after the whole “we own every use of the words Space Marine” debacle, ‘Workshop has proved they firmly believe there’s no such a thing as bad P.R.
…Which makes me wonder why they don’t mention in this advertisement that Games Workshop Online carries items (such as the Death From the Skies supplement) that aren’t available from GW Hobby Centre Retail stores –and they won’t let independent stores order or carry.
Pgs 50-55: Army of the Month: Dave Roberts’ Lamenters Space Marine army. One day I will chart how many Marine armies (versus anything NON marine) get featured here.
Pgs 56-57: Standard Bearer: Jervis tackles how to solve perplexing rules questions. He admits that designers don’t always know how their games will always play out …and then goes on about how normal and acceptable and just generally how good it is to just rely on a random dice roll to solve those tricksy rules dilemmas.
…Which makes me wonder if this solution hasn’t also been applied to other facets of Games Workshop’s business.
“Okay, on a 4+ we spend a lot of time crafting good rules that do proper justice to Tolkien’s works, then we really push the technology and see of what we can accomplish in the smaller 25mm scale with plastics and Finecast; on a 1 to 3 we’ll just shill the same old thing but mark the price up another 15-50% over the last edition’s products and act like it’s always been that way. [rolls] Hmmm , I rolled a 2; right, shill it with an inflated margin and damn the consequences, it is!” **
**I have no proof this conversation ever actually took place in a GW executive meeting.
Pgs 58-73: Battle Report – 40k: Daemons of Chaos piloted by Adam Troke take issue with Matt Hutson’s Imperial Fists. I think I’m more concerned with how Daemons do when up against another sixth edition (or even a late-fifth edition) codex. But what I’m REALLY curious about is how stacked the odds are against the Daemons when they rook up against Grey Knights. However, this battle report tackles neither of those issues and instead goes after the vanilla marines. The Imperial Fists lose their battle as a result. In hindsight, I’m finding that I kind of wish they’d list the points values of the armies in the battle reports.
Pgs 74-77: Blanchitsu: John Blanche shows off some models that a fan sent him. The models look like Mr. Blanche himself did them –and the accompanying portraits of each model in the Inquisitor warband look even more like paintings done by John Blanche. I wonder: when John Blanche talks about playing games with the inquisitor warbands he paints up (or in this case gets sent by a fan), what game is he playing? The old Inquisitor game? I’m truly curious.
Pgs 78-79: Hall of Fame: Urien Rakarth. I would argue that inducting models barely three years old into the “Hall of Fame” really makes the hall of fame feel not all that prestigious.
Pgs 80-95: Parade Ground: UK Golden Demon, 2012 …part 3: Despite the quality of the entries, having a third installment of Golden Daemons models makes me suspect that the magazine in general is starved for good content ideas. I’ll say nothing else negative here as the entries are truly inspiring (all except the Space Wolves ones…just because, well, Space Wolves). The Nurglish Ettin on page 95 is absolutely breathtaking.
Pgs 96-101: Kit Bash: The “secret ingredient” this month is Warhammer 40,000 Ork Fighta Bommers. And every model is awesome! I should go on at length about these, but the words will do the models no justice.
Pgs 102-109: Battleground: Coverage of the best entries from the 2012 Armies on Parade competition at the UK Games Day …again. All four are superb. Three of the four are mostly yellow. A repeat of last month’s topic again leaves me thinking the ‘Dwarfers are stretching one article across multiple months in order to bide time. Only one Marine is showcased here, and it’s truly good to see some Tau!
Pgs 110-117: Paint Splatter: How to go about painting up all your Daemons stuff. Warriors of Dale are then touched upon, before this segment then moves on to painting using a GW spray gun, featuring Matt Hutson’s yellow Imperial Fists.
Pgs 118-119: Jeremy Vetock: A list of things Jeremy Vetock doesn’t like. Overall the article is pretty innocuous, in all senses of the word. I’m kinda’ holding out for Jeremy to hit his stride with this column. I mean, if Jervis brings game design (if you will) to the table, and John Blanche brings art design, what niche can Mr. Vetock fill? I know I’d like to see less “opinion of the minute” columns from him and maybe more about the various campaigns/leagues he’s run over the years –heck even if his column tackled designing satisfying campaigns every now and again, that would be pretty nice.
Page 120: Advert: “Follow us on Facebook….and Twitter!”
Pgs 121-124: Advert: Games Workshop Hobby Centres! Also: GW Hobby Centre “birthday” celebrations & upcoming giant games at the Memphis battle bunker.
Page 125: Advert: GW advertises that their products are carried by independent stores, and encourages YOU to encourage your local store to carry GW products.
Pgs 126-135: Advert: Listings of GW Hobby Centres (worldwide) and GW Independent Stockists (North America).
Page 136: Advert: White Dwarf suggests you consider having your White Dwarf magazines mailed to you every month.
Pgs 137-151: This Month In…
-White Dwarf: Details about “The Hobby Challenge” laid down by Matt Hutson: to paint up a new force and battle with it before next month’s White Dwarf. By the sounds of it a “force” is roughly a battleforce-box amount of models (more or less). All three games systems will be represented.
-The Design Studio: John Blanche talks about the history of the chaos powers –from a codex point of view. Aly Morrison, Colin Grayson, Dave Thomas and Mike Anderson all talk a little about the daemons models they’ve sculpted for this month’s releases. Then John Michelbach talks about the map he made detailing the realm of chaos itself.
-Around the Studio: Snapshots of some projects belonging to non-White Dwarf studio staff. The Nurgle-themed Chaos Marine army is the one that truly stands out.
-Forge World: Shots of more 30k models, the Minotaurs chapter Sternguard, two half-finished orc character models and another new tile for the Realm of Battle board, this time Fantasy themed.
-Black Library: Ben Counter talks about his new novel, Van Hortsmann. Also snapshots of models inspired by some Black Library releases, all of them space marines.
Page 152: Parting Shot: If last month’s parting shot picture of the Necron flyer could be seen as heralding the Death From the Skies 40k supplement, I really do wonder what a picture of Space Wolves on their Thunder
Cats Cav fighting a Tyranid could possibly portent. Perhaps Workshop has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and is about to release a new Tyranid codex? Probably not. Still….
Inside Back Cover: March Events Calendar: I very much enjoy how this calendar also includes February 23rd –when the advance orders for all the early March releases first go up on GW’s website. Just seems kind of redundant to me.
Thoughts on the Issue
I don’t know what’s up with this issue. I think, for the most part, I liked last month’s issue (especially the irony of Jervis Johnson speaking against the homogenisation of the hobby while working side-by-side those whose goal is to homogenise the Warhammer hobby!); and yet, this month’s ‘Dwarf has left me feeling, to be blunt, a bit pissed.
Beef #1: For the second month in a row, this issue came poly bagged –despite the utter lack of anything extra being included with the magazine to make poly bagging it a necessity.
Beef #2: The worrying possibility that I mentioned in last month’s Street Beef, that the White Dwarf can’t keep up the creativity momentum established in the new format’s first few books, sure looks like it’s coming closer to being actualised: not only is there no bonus content included with the magazine but 15% of this month’s book (the page count of the Golden Demon entries and the Armies on Parade spotlight) are, creativity-wise, the exact same as last month’s issue
Then there’s what has transpired in the last month: Games Workshop deciding that the term Space Marine has never existed prior to 1989 and the advent of Rogue Trader (I tell you, it’s a good thing Tolkien has such good, long-serving lawyers…otherwise Amazon might be considering yanking Tolkien’s books too!). BUT, too many people have written about this already, so I’m not going to say much more.
Lastly, there’s the GW’s handling of The Hobbit. I may not be the biggest Tolkien nerd, but I am a huge fan. I may not own everything ever made for gaming in Middle Earth, but I own more than my fair share: I’m closing in on having a complete collection of Iron Crown’s Middle Earth Role Playing system, I have everything except the starter box for Decipher’s Lord of the Rings RPG (based off the movies) and have everything so far for Cubicle 7′s The One Ring RPG. I also own several different board games based off of Tolkien’s books as well as the co-op Living Card Game being made by Fantasy Flight Games. As far as GW’s products go, I didn’t bother with The Battle of Five Armies (I owned Warmaster already), but I’ve avidly collected GW’s Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and have actively played it for years; I’ve made my own campaign system for their Battle Companies free expansion For LotR SBG, and I still think that GW’s War of the Ring game is one of the best miniatures games GW has put out (it is not without its flaws, but it remains one of the more satisfying games to play that GW has made).
So when I start saying only bad things about GW’s The Hobbit game, it’s not because I’m a hater. And yet I was barely able to say one good thing about the Hobbit new releases in this issue. As a fan, I feel completely bent over the barrel by the stranglehold GW has on this game. The price-point of all the models is noticeably higher than the GW products many already consider “already too expensive;” the decent level of detail the models do possess is betrayed by their simplistic design (single cast, not multiple components and options that promote customisation) –which is only worsened by the fact that the quantity-of-product versus price-point ratio feels worse than anything else Games Workshop makes.
So I guess that boils down to my Beef really is with this issue: that White Dwarf has me actively disliking GW’s Hobbit releases.
The guy who defends The Hobbit movies being done as a trilogy; the guy who still points out that the sixth edition of 40k and the eighth edition of Warhammer Fantasy both have the War of the Ring game to thank for having their mechanics reinvigorated; the guy who still really wants to play more games of GW’s War of the Ring; the guy who’s planning on getting back into playing/running/GMing a role-playing game (thanks to The One Ring rpg) …or at the very least, to play more Middle Earth Quest and the Lord of the Rings living card game. Of all the hobbies I have been passionate about since my mid-teen years, it’s the Lord of the Rings I’ve liked the longest. It’s been one of my hobby mainstays for over twenty years now –I mean, I barely touch video games at all, and yet I’ve got a lifetime membership for Lord of the Rings Online.
And here’s White Dwarf, on Games Workshop’s behest, convincing me to hate it.