Tag: magazine

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

White Dwarf Issue #1

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.

Dwarf Gyrobomber White Dwarf Detail Shots
Details on the Gyrobomber

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.

The good ol’ battle report

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.

As you can see, it is hard to tell if this was even a real battle (plus, the army lists are almost an after thought).
As you can see, it is hard to tell if this was even a real battle (plus, the army lists are almost an after thought).

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.

The Rules of the new Dwarf Irondrakes
The Rules of the new Dwarf Irondrakes

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.

A Forge World Warrior Priest by Graham Shirley (from White Dwarf #3)
A Forge World Warrior Priest by Graham Shirley (from White Dwarf #3)

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!

As mentioned in our post at the beginning of the week, we have a new format on the blog. And that means today is our first Warhammer Wednesday!

Crazily, this first post coincides with the newly redesigned publications released at the start of February 2014 by Games Workshop (GW) for their line of games. So, we figured, what better way to kick off Warhammer Wednesday than by reviewing these new publications, the weekly and concise White Dwarf and the monthly and lengthy Warhammer: Visions.

As we all know, the old White Dwarf was a hodge-podge of hobby showcase, new release catalog/hype/hard sell, opinions and pretty pictures of models. In hindsight, it really was quite a mess. The issues would start with new releases, then chuck in a battle report, next throw some picture of models, do a focus on a hobby-aspect (usually how to paint some of the new models with GW paints) and then more pretty pictures of other people’s models, with some opinion columns on wide-ranging topics thrown in for good measure.

It really was a bit of a mish-mash.

So, splitting the information into two different publications seems like a good idea, allowing the editorial team at GW to focus their publications to the task(s) at hand. And for the hobbyists out there, it is a solid idea – because they can now disregard anything and everything that doesn’t focus on the game systems they play. Though, I’m not entirely certain that was GW’s goal.

Warhammer: Visions

Courtesy Games Workshop

As mentioned previously, Visions is the now monthly, 228 page multi-lingual picture book.

Now, you may think that previous statement is a gross-generalization, but I promise you, it is not. This magazine has no written articles themselves. Each page is a picture, multiple pictures, or portions of one picture with caption overlays in English, French and German included. The minimalist approach definitely takes some getting used to, and not just for the reader. I think the editorial team is still feeling out the best way to manage the content in this format.

This is a big publication, so it will be best to break this down, old-west style, highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

Increased Focus on the Detail of the Models
With the extra space in this format, GW has the ability to go into more detail on different models. This is most apparent in the Parade Ground section, where multiple images (sometime up to five) are used on one Golden Daemon winner to really focus on the quality job done by the creator of the model. This is also apparent in the Army of the Month, where more pages are now given to displaying the magnificent work done by the Army’s general.

photo 1 (1)

The Idea of a Cinematic Battle Report
Battle reports are a staple of White Dwarf. In fact, it may be my favorite portion of the old monthly magazine. In Visions, they decided to create a more cinematic battle report. Instead of focusing on strategies and the rules surrounding what is happening on the table, they instead followed a game and took dramatic images of the action, utilizing the captions to describe the story of the Chaos Space Marines battling the Grey Knights and Eldar in a Warhammer 40,000 (40K) showdown.

photo 2 (1)

It is an interesting concept, however I think they may want to tweak it some to include more of the game in the captions. For instance, I couldn’t really tell it was an actual game until the final page, when it declared the Chaos Space Marines the winner and showed one of the GW staff members in a series of photos pumping his fists in victory. It was rather confusing, but I do enjoy the concept.

The Bad

Imbalanced Representation of Game Systems
I play Warhammer Fantasy. I know some of 40K, but am not entirely interested in coverage of it since I do not play it. My guess is one of the biggest problems that GW had with the old White Dwarf is that when a specific game system had a new release, the other game systems would only get a passing mention in the magazine, with only a few pages of coverage that month.

When I first heard the announcement about Visions, I thought the main focus of having a magazine that wasn’t beholden to the game systems’ release schedules was to allow it to show a broad representation of all of their properties. Unfortunately, with this first issue, I was sorely wrong.

With the January new release of Tyranids for 40K, it ended up monopolizing the entire magazine. In fact, 40% of the magazine was devoted to Tyranids alone (91 pages to be exact) and 40K made up 56% of the magazine (129 pages). Now, 56% seems like a reasonable percentage. But, take into account that there was only one, 14 page article devoted to Warhammer Fantasy (6% of the magazine), it creates a very large imbalance for people who have specific interests in GW’s product ranges. And, it leads to those that were “slighted” to feel like they wasted their $12 – I know I felt that way.

Multi-lingual Captions Over-complicate the Pages
Warhammer: Visions - Tyranids in three languages
I can completely understand the reason why GW went in the direction they did with making the magazine multi-lingual – it allows them to put out fewer versions of the same magazine to save costs. And while this gives me an opportunity to start to learn a bit of French and German (did you know Tomb Prince in French is Prince des Tombes), at some points, the words tend to over-complicate the page and take away from the images. Granted, this is probably the most nit-picky of criticisms, but that is what I felt while reading through the magazine. Over time, I believe it will be easy to get used to this.

The Ugly

Background Graphics on Pages
One piece I did like was the 52 pages devoted to the models (and hobbyists) that earned Golden Daemon Awards at Games Day in Memphis, TN last fall. However, for some reason, it was determined by the graphics designers that the models themselves were not interesting enough and instead of having a solid background, they included a set of blue background images behind the models.

Warhammer: Visions - Dirty Background Images

Now, it is possible that this looked fantastic on a computer screen. But, on the printed page in the magazine, it is just sloppy looking and can affect the way the reader views the models. In my opinion, it really distracts the eye from seeing the details in some of the images and draws the readers attention away from these wonderful creations to blurry background stock images of space marines and battle scenes.

Page Folds and Page Size
The biggest criticism by far that can be made about this magazine comes down to the size of the pages and how that affects the images displayed. For a magazine that was created to showcase the hobby with beautiful images of fantastically painted and created miniatures, I am not sure why it was determined they should make the magazine about 3/4 the size (closed) of the previous and newly designed White Dwarf. Other than more apparent cost savings, I guess I just do not know.

Warhammer: Visions - Smaller Page Size

The size of the pages also leads to some images being ruined by the page fold in the center of the magazine. Having more pages that are smaller makes it that much more difficult to open up the magazine to see the details at the center of the image – which in some cases is the focal point of the picture displayed.

Warhammer: Visions - Page Folds are Terrible

Now, my guess is that these issues are completely nullified on the iPad version, which I have heard has fully zoomable, high contrast images. And it may turn out that format may be the best way to view this content. Unfortunately, I am unable to confirm this hypothesis as I do not have an iPad available to demo. Plus, I am not extremely willing to spend another $12 on this issue.

I had heard Visions marketed as being a focus on the hobby. In my mind (and also how I heard it explained) there were to be more features in this magazine about the process of building, converting and painting GW’s miniatures from their skilled staff. However, other than the few pages of the pre-existing Kit Bash segment and a Tyranids-focused Paint Splatter article, there wasn’t anything else other than a showcase of a job well done. Granted, that can serve as good inspiration for future projects, but it fails to fill this need.

Now, I do need to say, being an entirely new publication, Visions will need some time to find its legs and figure out exactly its purpose in the whole GW publication scheme. Given a few months, I am sure the editorial team will be able to address some of these criticisms. Ultimately at this point, the magazine is unable to fully realize its main focuses and does a poorer job at fulfilling its purpose than similar portions of the old White Dwarf magazine.

With time, Visions could get better. It has potential. Unfortunately, gamers are a very passionate and judgmental bunch and if the overall reception of the publication is poor, it may never be given much of a second chance, especially when it is asking a premium price.

Rating: 2 out of 7 – Terrible

Next Week on Warhammer Wednesday: We take a look at the first three issues of the other publication for Games Workshop, the new weekly White Dwarf.

Spoiler Alert – I enjoy it much more than Visions.

What are your thoughts? Have you read Warhammer: Visions? Tell us what you think in the comments below.