Wednesday, September 21, 2016

REVIEW: White Dwarf Monthly 1

Unless you've been living under a rock lately then you probably already know about the revamped White Dwarf. Gone are the White Dwarf Weeklys and now we're back to a big monthly edition. So how does White Dwarf Monthly number one hold up?

I have always been a big fan of White Dwarf and have hung onto pretty much every copy I ever owned except from a few years in college when I just didn't have the room. I still remember (and have) my very first issue, White Dwarf 248 which centered all around the Third War for Armageddon. It was also the issue right before the release of the 6th edition of Warhammer and it had everything I remember fondly from those days of the magazine. Great hobby content, interesting articles, and engaging battle reports.

Through the years White Dwarf has gone through several changes in format, some as subtle as what types of articles are included, and others as drastic as the change to a weekly format. I know some people had a problem with the weekly White Dwarfs, but I always liked knowing I would have something to read every week. In fact, I had a subscription to it for the past year. Despite still being an interesting read, there were just somethings they couldn't do with such a low page count. This also saw the release of the monthly Warhammer Visions, which while a cool idea, I lost interest in it fairly quick.

Now White Dwarf is once again back in a monthly format, and even thicker then it was the last time we saw it as a monthly. It seems like GW and the WD team have been listening to all of the customer feedback they have been getting over the past few years, and they have implemented pretty much all of it!

Let's start out with the obvious thing, the free model. This issue comes with a Khorne Bloodbound Slaughterpriest, a $30 model, for free! They promise to have more free gifts in future issues as well, which is always welcome. This is really just icing on the cake since the content of the magazine can definitely stand on its own.

Unlike in past incarnations of the magazine, the new format looks to be mostly focusing on the past month's releases and maybe a few from the start of the new month. We only get a few pages of product advertisement as opposed to in the Weekly format where it was half the magazine. Right after that section we get a cool little interview with one of the 'Eavy Metal painters, Aiden Daly, on some of his more recent contributions. I really enjoy reading stuff like this and hope it's a monthly feature. Maybe we will see the return of the 'Eavy Metal painting guides as well. I know these were a little too complex and un-precise for some people, but I pretty much taught myself how to paint through those. There's also a Hall of Fame nomination in here with Nagash where they talk a bit about that model's design process including some concept art.

A fan favorite makes a return with the Tale of Four Gamers article. Here four different members of the GW staff start off brand new armies for Age of Sigmar by buying a Getting Started box each. They already have all of that painted and will be adding on to it each month. Besides just being a really interesting read it also provides a great basis for other hobbyists looking to do something similar. I love hobby articles like this, and all of their armies look pretty good too.

Taking a page out of Warhammer Visions it looks like we will be getting an army of the month each issue. For this first one we get a really nice looking Biel-tan Eldar army. The army's owner gets to talk a lot about their force and what they like best about it. Of course there are a bunch of really nice pictures, including a fold out to show the whole army in all of its glory. They finish the whole article off with a little bit of a look at the army's backstory in the game, which is a really nice touch. I'm excited to see what armies are coming in the future, especially for AoS.

This issue focuses a lot on the various GW board games that have come out recently such as Lost Patrol, Silver Tower, and even Space Hulk, which is several years older then the rest. Every boxed game they have released since 2009 besides Dreadfleet gets some new rules to expand the game and add more value on to it. It's pretty awesome how much attention they are paying to these releases. I'm pretty sure Betrayal at Calth has already gotten three or so expansions of additional rules at this point. This takes up a fairly large chunk of the issue, so I'm curious to see what's in next month's issue in this same spot.

The rest of the magazine has more cool content like artwork from the new Deathwatch Codex, some of the winners from the Horus Heresy Golden Demon along with an interview with one of them, Blanchitsu, and readers' models. The standout for me though is of course the battle report. This is hands down what I missed the most about the magazine during its weekly incarnation. I love reading battle reports and this one didn't disappoint.

Set during the events of the All-Gates campaign book, a force of Stormcast Eternals were matched off against some Khorne Bloodbound in the Stop the Ritual scenario. This is a classic match up and a great choice for the first ever battle report for AoS. It has everything you could want and remember from older issues; each turn was covered, army breakdowns before the battle, stunning models and a truly awesome table, great photography, arrows, vignettes, everything. I loved it and it was the very first thing I read when I cracked open my issue. I'm already looking forward to more battle reports, both in AoS and 40k, and any other game systems they want to cover. I imagine we will get a Blood Bowl report once that game is out, and maybe we'll see some 30k too.

We also get an interesting deep dive into the heraldry and backstory of Imperial Knights. It obviously doesn't go as deep as the Codex itself but it does give a pretty good overview of them for someone who isn't familiar with them at all. This includes a bunch of lore as well as painted models showing off all of the different heraldry and markings that designate the different member of a knight household.

This part was in Warhammer Visions sometimes, but obviously with less text. They take a look at the new jaw dropping Realm of Life table from Warhammer World in a ton of detail. Not only do we get a bunch of close up shots of it, but they also go over how it was built and the ideas behind it. We even get a few work in progress shots of it which I always find endlessly fascinating. I'm pretty excited to see what tables and scenery they tackle in future issues with this article. Near the backend of the magazine they also have the Sprues and Glue and Paint Splatter articles we know from White Dwarf Weekly, covering 40k Kill Teams and the Grombindal and Slaughterpriest models respectively. We get a look at a handful of example kill teams from members of the studio as well. I really hope Kill Team catches on because I could definitely start getting back into 40k at that level of commitment, especially if the games were played with Zone Mortalis rules.

The last cool thing to cap off the inaugural issue were some designer notes about the new Deathwatch release. This is my other favorite thing from the older issues. I love looking at concept art and reading the designers and artists explain the process they went through to come up with the finished product. They did this a bit when the Silver Tower came out and I'm glad to see it back. This is another feature I hope they carry over to each month's issue.

Clocking in at 148 page long, the new White Dwarf is bigger then some Codexes or Battletomes and at only $9 per issue it's definitely worth picking up. I have a subscription so I can be sure I will get every issue and if you really enjoy it then I recommend doing that as well. It's cheaper then buying them individually, plus you get it a little bit earlier then everyone else. Now they did have some problems with shipping out subscribers' issues this month and I didn't get mine until the second week of September. While definitely disappointing, they have made up for it by tacking on an extra month to everyones' subscriptions who were affected. They said the problem should be fixed now, so we'll see with October, but if it happens again I'm sure they will take care of everyone just like they did this month.

White Dwarf is back and it looks great! Everything inside of it is worth reading and it looks very slick. They have taken the best of the weekly magazine and Visions and combined them back into one super sized magazine. This is definitely a triumphant return to form for GW and the WD team. Even if you are skeptical I think it's worth picking up this first issue to judge for yourself. Worst case, you just got a $30 for $9.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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