Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New White Dwarf: Thoughts

A little late to game, I'll admit, but I got my hands on the brand new-format White Dwarf today. Just looking at it you can tell something's different; before you even take in the designs on the covers you notice it's glossy, slightly shorter than before, and heavier too. It's gone up in price by a pound, which may not sound alot, and in my opinion isn't when you consider it's 150 pages long, as opposed to the 120 page volumes of yester-edition.

Outer Design; well I've already mentioned its glossy, the image of the new chaos space marine models on the front and back shimmering reflectively as you move the issue around. This makes the centrepiece stand out, and the same goes for the headlines; they're all shiny too! Speaking of the writing, the layout has changed as befits a new edition of our monthly geek-fest. Not too much of a change, it's all still there; the headlining articles written in stark bold underneath the name of the magazine, but the differences are there. Overall thoughts so far - not to shabby.

Flick-through; There's ALOT of colour in there. Not just multi-coloured fonts and such, pictures. Hordes of them. Like an infestation. There seems to be a nice variety of things covered from the brief glance I've had, and the pictures seem good-quality and well placed. They don't seem to be present instead of text, rather alongside text, which is a plus for us - it doesn't look like we're missing out on anything in leiu of the illustrations. So far - so good still.

Opening sections; Essentially the first fifty pages is a catalogue of recent (or coming soon) releases, which is something I personally hope to see less of in coming issues. I don't mind seeing what new products are up and coming, or just released, but in essence I'm paying £5.50 for something that's already one-third sales-dedicated, all of the information of which I could have gained for free on the internet or in-store at my local GW. So long as this is a one-off or infrequent occurance (for instance only when there's a major new release like the up-and-coming Chaos Space Marine Codex), I can overlook this.

Next comes an 'army of the month' section, spread of a few double pages, complete with the glorious pictures that we find across the whole edition. I think this is a nice little piece, and hopefully a regular one - it shows a lovingly crafted army (Skaven, in this case) from a dedicated tournament player. It gives the featured army's player a  chance to discuss both the tactics/playability of their army and the collecting and hobby aspect of the force. It's refreshing and nicely presented, and a thorough thumbs up from me for this bit. After a brief article from Jervis Johnson (a veteran who always offers some interesting insight into the hobby), we come to the battle report.

Now this issue contains only one report, a nice 16-pager which focuses on the primary topic from this issue - Chaos Space Marines. Ranging from the usual blurb of how each player chose their forces, through the meat and potatoes of the actual battle and an afterword both from the participants and (supposedly) unbiased observers, it does its job well. As a minor disclaimer at the start of the piece, they say they intend to look at the new Chaos model's strengths and weaknesses tactically, and thus this is how the report is directed. I think they manage to do it very well, including alot of helpful pictures, although some of them could have been closer to the subject in my opinion.

Then comes a short and new piece called "The Rivals". This basically is a debate between two players over how their army lists would fair against each other, followed by input from other people. Whilst it is interesting to a certain degree, I think it is largely irrelevant, as you never can tell what will happen on the day, and what way the dice'll roll. Though no doubt, some of you will find it very interesting!

As a large part of the recent hobby-world news, Forge World have wrought their first installment of Horus Heresy minatures. This edition of White Dwarf features a short but sweet entry on this, with a couple of lovingly-taken pictures displaying the miniatures in both painted and unpainted glory, and some brilliantly insightful articles. For instance it gives a small piece on the history of the Horus Hersey - how it has developed from a mere hearsay mention to what it is today, how the series of books started off (as a  novel trilogy!!), and a great informative mini-article on how the Primarch Angron model was developed and produced. I would heartily encourage more of these sort of sections.

Blanchitsu is an extremely small piece this month, though quite interesting; as usual very thought-provoking as is its aim. Following this is a new piece, or rather a conglomeration of old pieces under a new name - the Hall of Fame. Basically a gallery of selected units/models/armies from around the world; some nice pictures but ultimately the same as the catalogue at the start - it's all stuff I could see for free on the Games Workshop flickr page. That said the final part of it, Battleground, features an awesomely-made game board, which I think is a nice broadening of what White Dwarf encompasses - including the avid scenery/board sculptor/creator.

Paint Splatter is the next piece, basically an old system (instructional painting techniques) under a new name, and focuses on the models displayed within the issue. Not bad if you see something that catches your eye/inspiration as you are perusing your new issue. After 8 futher double spread sheets of adverts and Games Workshop store/stockist addresses, we come to the last part of the magazine - the new "This Month In" section. This area is dedicated to whats happening in GW HQ this month, with mixed results in my opinion.

So there you have it; a very mixed reaction to the newest incarnation of our monthly geek-fest, but to be fair to them I think it's very good. Aside from the few speedbumps I mentioned (namely the mass of product sales pages at the beginning), I quite liked it. And as long as they keep the page count high (and drop those product pages) I'll be a happy White Dwarfer.

NB: It did seem very 40k-themed this issue. I know the Chaos Space Marine release is the "in-thing" at the moment, but it did seem very thin on the ground for anyone who plays Warhammer, and practically non-exsistant for those who play the Lord of the Rings platform.

NB2: I liked the inside-back-cover Warhammer World calender - handy.

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