#1 – Why I picked up the January 2013 White Dwarf
I do not normally review the White Dwarf magazine. Neither do I intend to make White Dwarf reviews a regular feature on my blog. I simply do not read them (often enough).
Nevertheless, I did pick up the first of the “new” White Dwarfs on Games Day last year. With some interesting debates around the interwebs on the value of the Dwarf in its ‘new’ form, I thought I’d give the ‘state of the Hobby Magazine’ a spin on my blog this month.
What better place to start than, if not the latest White Dwarf fresh from the store?
White Dwarf January 2013
- £ 5.50
- 151 full-colour pages
- 1 fancy ‘The Hobbit Strategy Game’ poster
#2 – Why I split this into multiple articles
I didn’t plan to do it, actually. This is no cynical “The Hobbit/Twilight-ploy” to wring more content out of a slim publication than is healthy.
Indeed, I started writing this article as a “single-post” about the White Dwarf. But my musings on the Battle Report got the better of me, leaving it with a rather uneven article. So I decided to split my thoughts on the White Dwarf into different posts!
Here is what’s been on my mind with regards to the battle report: ‘Hunt for the Fallen’, which makes up – with all comments – about 16 pages of the January 2013 White Dwarf.
#3 – The Battle Report: Show, Don’t Tell!
The most recent White Dwarf battle report received a lot of flak on the internet. I didn’t enjoy it either, though perhaps for different reasons.
The main thing that seems to upset people is the decision of the writers to dispense with point-costs and the Warhammer 40K FOC to have a big, “narrative” clash of mayhem.
Sometimes it is fun to play without worrying about small details – just gather up your models and share a great game.- White Dwarf, p. 63
The result are rather lopsided armies. The Dark Angel force, for example, fields no less than 5 Elite and 5 Fast Attack choices (which, conveniently, allows them to show off all the new terminators and Ravenwing goodness).
They also added a little custom “Hunt the Fallen” mission (one random Chaos HQ character gives bonus victory points) to make the game more “narrative”.
I know that this rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but I am (in theory) fine with that. Having a ball with whatever models you have lying around, especially the shiny new ones? Check.. let’s get started! I also liked that they used a non-studio Black Legion army.
Ultimately, this “narrative battle report” did not work. At all.
The main reason I did not like this battle report is because throughout, the authors kept telling the reader (i.e. me) with annoying persistence how great this narrative game was and how wonderfully cinematic combat X or Y happened to turn out.
It felt a bit (actually a lot) too much like being fed the party line.
You want to show off the fun-potential of “narrative gaming”? Great, I am all for it. But if that is the aim, the White Dwarf team should show the awesome narrative they enjoyed, not tell me about how much they enjoyed it!
- Why is there no background-snipped, not even a name for the pivotal “Fallen” at the heart of the mission?
- Why aren’t there a few more visualizations of the final, dramatic chase the authors harp on about?
- Why isn’t there even a fleeting mention of “this is how the story/campaign/scenario could go on“?
I think I can see what Games Workshop is trying to do with their emphasis on “narrative gaming”. Not only in the White Dwarf of course, but also in other recent products, such as the Crusade of Fire Campaign Book. In general, it seems like an idea that could work.
Wow. That was brilliantly cinematic!- White Dwarf, p. 72
But it doesn’t work here. And, frankly, it doesn’t feel like these guys have their heart in it. As said, it feels far too much like being fed the official company policy (or reading a battle-report by people being fed the official company line).
We played a hugely enjoyable game that also told a thrilling story; there’s nothing better.- White Dwarf, p. 76.
Ironically, the “narrative angle” fell by the wayside right after the battle concluded.
As soon as we get to the “post-battle-musings” of the two combatants, the chatter is all about how “the Land Speeder Vengeance feels like it’s a precision tool” or how “The Nephilim [is] a marvellous anti-aircraft unit“, etc.., etc..
- So what about that thrilling story? What happened and how does it continue?
- And your tactical assessments come from a battle that was, quote, “quite deliberate” in throwing all tactical considerations into the wind?
Am I alone in feeling that this was all a bit uneven?
What did you think of the latest White Dwarf battle report? Or the White Dwarf more generally?
I am looking forward to your comments…