Welcome back to Warhammer Wednesday! Last week, we discussed the new monthly magazine from Games Workshop entitled Warhammer: Visions. If you remember, it only received a 2-out-of-7 rating, mostly because it didn’t seem to accomplish what it set out to do for various reasons.
This week, we look at the newly streamlined and redesigned White Dwarf, which has replaced the previous monthly version. Is it better than the new monthly mag? Has it improved on what the former White Dwarf did, or is it lacking in its ability to deliver the content readers need?
White Dwarf Weekly
With the first three issues of Weekly White Dwarf in the hands of hobbyists everywhere, it is apparent that Games Workshop’s main goal with the redesign is to focus on the new releases, how they change the game, and how to include that into your gameplay.
And for the most part, the White Dwarf editorial team succeeds brilliantly in producing interesting content in a nice, short burst of information.
Similar to the previous edition of White Dwarf, each issue of the weekly magazine focuses on the new releases for the week, with two pages devoted to each new unit/character model being put out in a given week.
One benefit of the new format is that they have added a couple more photos showcasing the details in the design on the models. White Dwarf used to do this, but a few more images helps to show even more of the painstaking detail being put into the models by the GW designers.
Ultimately, this section still remains a glorified catalog/advertisement for their new toys, but, GW is a toy company and White Dwarf has always been their avenue to show off what new toys they have for sale.
Similar to the previous White Dwarf, the new releases round up with two-to-four pages outlining new Black Library books, digital releases (like the new Battlescrolls and Dataslates) and other related GW properties that are seeing new content this week. This content, as before, will appeal to you only if you are interested in the subject matter (if you love the Horus Heresy series, then you will like to see what new 30K books are out).
The middle of each issue contains a focus article for that week. These articles have varied in the first three issues. The first issue focused on Tyranids and what unit types are most useful in the new army book from a few of the GW editorial team members as well as a couple of the games designers themselves. This helped to add some fodder for 40K fans out there, as the other two issues were completely fantasy focused. I found that this article gave some interesting insights from the “experts” about what they think will work best in the army. I hope that in the future, they continue to include more articles which focus on the strategy and concepts of the game and philosophies surrounding that.
Issue #2 included the regular summary of the newly released army book of the Dwarfs from the games designer for the Dwarfs, Jeremy Vetock. This article is the same as those that appeared previously in White Dwarf with new army book releases and I believe it is interesting to see some of the thought process that went into the creation of the book and the “fluff”/ back story included within.
The third issue included a battle report featuring the newly redesigned Dwarfs against their much hated Skaven. This article was the biggest letdown for me in the redesign. My favorite part of the previous White Dwarfs as of late has been the battle reports. They did a phenomenal job of outlining each list and why the player went in the direction they did. Then, they split the game into three parts and described the pivotal moments of each portion while including images that diagrammed the strategy within. It was brilliant.
Unfortunately, the new battle report was a huge step backwards. Instead of at least a page each to discuss the two players’ lists, it is crammed into a sidebar and listed out without much explanation.
But, the biggest let down is the description of the action itself. Instead of focusing on the strategy of the game, as the previous battle reports had, the report focuses instead upon the story of the battle. And while I will say, I do enjoy that part being peppered in, I would also like to be able to follow the game more closely, instead of through vague descriptions written like a poor action story.
Even the images are focused in on small pieces of the action, instead of showing a wide sweeping shot of the battlefield, which lost all aspect of there even having been a game played. Which is unfortunate. It is never good to make a great thing worse and that is what the editorial team did here. I would rather they took out the next four pages – which included adding a model to the hall of fame and how the dwarf army was themed – and instead added more to fleshing out the battle report.
While the battle report left much to be desired, I do have to say I enjoy the flow of the rest of the magazine. Monthly columns are included each week from different GW staff members, including Jeremy Vetock, Phil Kelly and everyone’s favorite, Jervis Johnson. These are usually pretty interesting material as they were in the old magazine and usually discuss the hobby as a whole (though Kelly’s was much more focused on Tyranids). These opinion pieces from people “inside the dungeon” are always interesting.
“Paint Splatter” also makes its triumphant return, going through and showing some paint schemes to use on the new models. A new segment, called “Sprues and Glue” focuses on the model building portion of the hobby. Ultimately, these two sections will probably be fly-over country for the more experiences hobbyists, but these two sections include some important information for players that are new to the game, which are very helpful indeed.
Ultimately, my favorite addition to the new magazine is “The Rules” section, which lays out the stat line and special rules and equipment for a new unit or model. I find this to be a very welcome addition as it helps to explain a bit how these new units function. Now, this may be interesting for people playing the army, but it ends up being of more importance for players of other armies. Many people don’t have the ability to buy every army book that comes out. This allows other players to understand how the new units work and how they might affect the meta game.
Another interestingly redesigned piece is the “This Week in White Dwarf” section, which delves into a potpourri of different items, from back story and supplemental information about armies (in these issues, mostly Dwarfs) to showcasing a reader’s model of the week. The latter part is especially cool as readers can submit their models to be ogled and envied (or critiqued) by all other hobbyists. My personal favorite so far is the Forge World Warrior Priest model painted by Graham Shirley.
Overall, I have to say I enjoy the redesign quite a bit. The shortened version is more focused and to the point compared to the sprawling previous iteration of the magazine. The benefit of releasing weekly is it continues to build interest throughout the month at GW and other hobby stores. Also, it keeps a consistent flow of new product to stores, which spreads sales out throughout the month, instead of concentrated on the week a codex is released.
One negative is that with a $4 price point, to purchase every issue each month is a $16 investment in the magazine, up from the $10 investment of the previous edition. Some may view this as another grab for extra cash. And, it is a valid question as to whether these collective issues add $6 of value over the existing version.
Another negative is some issues of the magazine, if they are focused on a game system that a player is not interested in, really aren’t worth the asking price. If GW hopes to get a majority of folks to purchase each issue, they will want to try to balance the content a bit more. Also, as of yet, a subscription is not available for the weekly magazine, which makes it difficult for those who live a significant distance away from a games store to keep up with the game as much as they could before.
With all of that said, I do say that it is an interesting read. The shorter, focused issues are enjoyable from cover to cover for the most part. I just hope that in this feeling out period, the editorial team continues to tweak pieces of it, hopefully striking a better balance between the game systems covered and fleshing out the format of some of the weaker sections of the magazine – such as the battle report – in order to make it a better product.
Rating: 5 out of 7 – Good
What are your thoughts? Is there anything else you would like to see changed in the new look White Dwarf? Let me know what you think of the new magazine in the comments below.
Next for Warhammer Coverage: Tomorrow on Toss-up Thursday, we take a look at this coming weekend’s Warhammer Fantasy U.S. Masters Tournament: what to expect, where to get more information and how to follow the action!