My guilty admission: I’ve been a loyal White Dwarf magazine buyer for decades now. And despite my buying the magazine month in and month out, regardless of each issue’s individual merits, I’ve been feeling like a sucker for quite a while now. With each month’s new issue, I flip through, trying to find any content I can use to justify my buying the rag that month. With the closing of Great White, it was definitely looking like I would be capping off my decades-long collection this summer: buying a terrible magazine with my staff discount was one thing; buying a terrible magazine and paying full retail was entirely another.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the only reason why I still get a copy of White Dwarf every month is because I’ve been collecting it for so long that I’m loathe to actually put a stop to my gapless collection. Though I had read quite a few of the preceding issues and had bought all that had anything to do with Eldar in them, the first “new” White Dwarf issue I bought was issue number 114. I’ve been buying the magazine every month ever since.
Had it not been for the fact that I heard the Sisters of Battle were going to be getting a face-lift codex (a-la Blood Angels a couple years back), I would have made the North American July issue of White Dwarf (#378) my last one. Certainly, the article posted by Brent over at Bell of Lost Souls, giving his reasons why he (a long-time collector as well) was fed up with the magazine did nothing but make admit to myself that White Dwarf was no longer worth purchasing…for pretty much any amount of money. But I thought I’d pick up the Sisters of Battle issues anyway, ostensibly because running tournaments meant I’d have to be current with armies people might play.
ON TO ISSUE 379
I picked up the issue and went straight to the Sisters of Battle section to see if this was going to be noteworthy; after a cursory perusal of the information, I then did my usual flip through the rest of the magazine to search for any other small morsels I could use to justify my buying the issue (OR a lack of morsels so as to add ammunition to the argument that I should quit collecting the once-great White Dwarf magazine).As with every issue for the past few years, this month’s magazine comes with what has become the magazine’s regular failings: too many ads and too many pages spent on battle reports. Add to that the sections of the book of debatable worth: Jervis Johnson’s “Standard Bearer” op-ed column…which is used more to shill whatever’s new this month or last (hardly an op-ed column, if you ask me), and the monthly “Citadel Hall of Fame” single-model spotlight article…which has lost its initial almost relevance and is now just a firmly entrenched fixture of the book serving little purpose beyond taking up space to get them closer to (what must feel like an over-ambitious goal) their 120 pages of “content” each month.
More Than Just Crumbs!
Those weaknesses aside, imagine my surprise when I found some real content! Sure, it takes twenty-two pages before we hit it—but real content it is! Pages 22-31 give Vampire Counts players some new official rules and models to go with them! The Terrorgheist monster, the Tomb Banshee and the Cairn Wraith are all brand new models with brand new rules. Following these is a section detailing the new Warhammer scenery piece, the Garden of Morr, giving rules for the new scenery feature as well…sure the new rules simply allow the terrain piece to use several ‘Mysterious Terrain’ rules at the same time, but this beats a simple two-page splash showing the model and the box art of the scenery…and that’s it.
Pages 35-41 give us a five-page article on all the types of cavalry for Lord of the Rings follows the Vampire Counts articles (which I’m FINE calling as such, seeing as how there was some real information in them!). Odd that the article focuses on the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and NOT War of the Ring—when was the last time they showed any love to that game?
After that, things take a turn for the severe waste of time with thirty-five pages of battle reports, Jervis’s Standard Bearer column and FAR TOO MANY ‘pretend’ army lists showcasing different Warhammer armies allying up with evil armies for Storm of Magic…yawn.
Pages 76-79 and 82-89 get moderately better with a showcase of some of the new monster models for Storm of Magic sporting variant paint jobs, and three pages later an article walks you through building and painting the new Dark Elf Black Dragon model kit.
Lastly, pages 90-103 give 40k players the first half of the Sisters of Battle mini codex. My only beef is that Games Workshop decided that the Sisters “codex” should be spread across TWO White Dwarf issues—not saying that I’m surprised, as they followed the same format when they did the Blood Angels White-Dwarf ‘dex; I’m just saying that it’s pretty crappy to intend on requiring players to flip through two magazines while trying to game with their army. (If GW had a history of putting White Dwarf articles into PDF format and available for download in a fairly quick time frame, I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning this criticism.)
It was really upon the second reading of the magazine—or more accurately, flipping through the magazine—that I realised this month’s issue didn’t actually suck (!); moreover, it was emulating, within its current editorial policy’s parameters, the White Dwarfs of yesteryear. They even FAQ’d the much-hated Power Scroll and nerfed it down a bit!
The great thing about those old issues: the amount of energy put into all the articles. Sure, so much energy was put into very specific topics (meaning each issue risked leaving behind players not involved in the games focused on in that issue of the magazine –this was counter balanced somewhat with its ‘Eavy Metal painted models galleries being more eclectic than the ones in current issues).
FUNFACT: the old, excellent issues of White Dwarf, back in their day were widely regarded as being generally not very good by many of the players of GW’s games…exactly like how it’s thought of these days!
White Dwarf #379 wasn’t an excellent magazine by any stretch of the imagination, but it was nice to see the suck dial no longer turned up to 10. As in the “good ol’ days,” this issue will leave some players behind; but as far as I’m concerned, it’s far better that I have passing interest in articles that don’t pertain to what I collect than it is with me having no interest in poorly-conceived and poorly-written articles.
(I double checked last month’s issue, and that issue approached being commendable: it also had a “Chapter Approved” section, complete with new official rules…albeit only new stratagems for the abandoned-in-the-ditch-on-the-side-of-the-road-and-left-for-dead 40k supplement, Cities of Death. Sigh. Humble beginnings, I suppose.)
Though the trend set by the magazine’s last few years of content makes calling this the dawning of a new era clearly too early to call, I am starting to get (kind of) optimistic that future issues of White Dwarf might well be worth the paper they’ll be printed on–hardly a ringing endorsement, I know; but with White Dwarf right now, it kind of is. The real proof in the pudding will come next month and whether there will be more content worth reading other than just the second half of the Sisters mini-codex.