White Dwarf 393 Review Dark Vengenance Edition

There's no escaping the release of the box game this issue, with it getting almost solid coverage for the first 77 pages out of the 120 page issue. That's almost 65% of the whole magazine. Hard luck if you're not interested in Dark Angels, Chaos Space Marines, or 40K. Lets dive right into the grimdark. I've tweaked the scroing system slightly, so look for an overall score at the end of each section.

Just to prove the issue is over stuffed with Dark Vengeance  content, here's a count of how many separate pictures of the models there are. I make it around 48, and that's erring on being a bit generous about counting full page articles. 

Cover. There's not a lot to say except that the muzzle flash looks out of line, and the chain on the book seems to be a hasty addition to an otherwise impressive piece of art.

Inside Front Cover - Pg 1. Dark Vengeance double page splash. This includes some of the CV models in the foreground, with the Chaos force backed up by more DV miniatures painted up in Black Legion livery, while the Dark Angels are backed by a wide selection of models, including good old fashioned robed marines.

Pg 2 - Editorial. Unsurprisingly the focus is on Dark Vengeance. But an editorial needs to talk about more than just the articles in an issue. That is, after all, what the contents is for. I want something more from these. Certainly I don't want outright lies. "But that's not all of course! This is a rather hobby packed issue too." No it isn't. It's got a light dusting of hobby, nothing more.  (-2)

Pg 3 - A page wasting intro to the new releases using the same damned artwork that is on the cover (-2)

Pg 4-10 Six pages on picture of the content of the Dark Vengeance  box, followed by a page advertising the Dark Vengeance  Custom Figure Case that I've yet to work out the use for, apart GW wishing it was Battlefoam andmissing the point. It seems strange there's no mention of a none Limited Edition copy of the game.

Pg 11 Sternguard Veteran Weapons. If you're going to show off an upgrade pack then I want to see the damned upgrades on their own, not attached to Marines, and especially not two pictures of the same set of Marines from slightly different angles. (-2)

Pg 12-17 Three more pointless finecast double page spreads, for Blood Angels, Eldar, Brets, and LotR. Print a damned list, on one page, like you used to do years ago. It worked then. It'll work now. Stop wasting space. (-6)

Pg 18 The Black Library gets in on the Dark Vengeance act, pushing a book and an audio drama tied to the game.

Pg 19 A whole page tease for the next Horus Heresy release with the tag "The Khan rides to war." I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt, put pulling this again would not be cool.

Pg 20-21 A double page spread flogging the apparently incredibly difficult to sell Black Library weekender in November. Sadly I'm going to be busy.

Pg 22-27 Dark Vengeance  A note on inconsistent fonts, as so far in thes White Dwarf I've seen the name in at least three different styles. Just pick one.This article gives a description of the box contents, and some quotes from Jes Goodwin about the thoughts behind the box. It's a real shame not to have any of the concept art shown, but instead have two pages taken up by pictures of each force, that we've essentially already seen once, and that will occur again later in the issue. The article is tiresomely heavy on pictures and could have taken up half the space. (-2)

Pg 28 Claim Your Vengeance - An add for Dark Vengenace events in store.

Pg 29 Dark Angels Art. Another filler, this time with the picture we've seen grow on the spine of the magazine this year. Had it been a picture for Chaos I'd be more impressed, but it's still a waste of a page (-1)

Pg 30 - 31 The Hellfire Storm - A bit of fluff on the background of the game. It'd be nice to get more background on the Crimsion Slaughter, formerly the Crimsion Sabres who seem to have appeared out of nowhere for this set. A scant four inches of background is followed with an extract from the Dark Vengeance  novel. Written in first person, with the feel of an painstaking after action report it isn't easy reading.  (-1)

Pg 32-35 The two forces get a splash page each with a large picture of each army, that we're already seen laid out twice already, with a tiny bit of background for the two sides, and for individual models and squads. This should have been in the previous article to avoid repetition of text, and the whole layout of the issue should have been changed to accommodate this so as not to see the armies laid out again. At least the background provided is interesting, if bloody stupid (-4)

Pg 36-39 'Eavy Metal - Another four pages showing the Dark Vengeance  models off individually. It;s an unnecessary retread of the New releases page essentially, with only a couple of alternate schemes for Chaos lightening the repetition, and the occasional comment from the painters.  What is clearly missing is a painting tutorial though (-5)

Pg 40-63 The Battle For Bane's Landing. The 23 pages of Battle Report gets off to a bad start with a pointless full page picture of the Dark Vengeance  models facing off against each other. The article plays through the six missions from the Dark Vengeance  How To Play book, and starts by going to great lengths to repeat itself, and parts of other articles that came before it this month. It does feel like there was a need to fill space rather than provide consistent interlocking articles.

The Battle Reports rely on pictures rather than maps padding itself out horribly, and while that's suited to the smaller engagements, it doesn't help with the larger battles. It's especially useless though when the picture is of something the text never mentions, for example the Chosen assaulting the Hellbrute in Scenario 1.

Interestingly Scenario 1 & 2 are solo battles, to allow the player to get to grips with the rules by themselves, and gives time to get to know their force. This is a nice touch, and something I'll talk about more when I review the boxed game.

While the reports themselves are written well we only get a few sparse paragraphs of conclusion from the two gamers after 12 games, and it feels a bit of a let down. (-12)

Pg 64-65 Apparatus Of War. In light of everything you need to play coming in the box game, two pages of advert for buying things separately seems a waste (-2)

Pg 66-71 Scenery Showcase - Bane;s Landing. This amounts to little more than an advert for terrain kits, with no modelling content whatsoever. (-6)

Pg 72-75 Painting Showcase Dark Vengeance. Showing a double page of the Chaos force painted in Alpha Legion colours, including two of both the Cultist and Chosen squads. This loses some of the interest when the following page shows the same models again without any comments from the painters. The last page has models painted in the livery of a range of legions, but still lacks any real written content. (+2)

Pg 76-77 Another double page spread, with some of the DV forces integrated into larger armies of Dark Angels and Black Legion, to act as an advert for the larger forces. This could have been done less invasively elsewhere (-2)

Pg 78-81 Modelling Workshop Space Marines - IT feels wrong to be only seeing painted miniatures in an article like this, especially when some are ones we've seen before. For every good conversion idea, there seems to be a mediocre one. I don't see that swapping parts between Space Marine kits counts as a conversion, as they are designed to do this anyway. Yes there are some nice effects to be had, but it's not mind blowing. (-4)

Pg 82-83 Space Marines - A two page add for all the plastic Space Marine kits. Everything is too small for anyone not already familiar with the kits to get an idea of what's in them and wouldn't a focus of Dark Angels, or Chaos be more appropriate this month (-2).

Pg 84-87 Armies on Parade - Joseph Oliver's Space Wolves. While the feature includes some nice models and conversions, and a good chunk of writing from the owner, it'd have been really nice to see the squads in more detail (+3)

Pg 88 - 89 Citadel Hall Of Fame - Slann Mage-Priest. At last, what feels like the first page not to include Space Marines of one flavour or the other. The reasons for entering the model are well put forward, and Juan Diaz provides a bit of an insight into the sculpting process. (+3)

Pg 90-91 Golden Daemon Gallery - A selection of Daemons from various Golden Daemons from around the word, that feels like it rreally should have been in last month's White Dwarf. It includes a Forege World Lord Of Change that was recently featured in Ravage, so that's a little disconcerting. (+2)

Pg 92-93 Standard Bearer - Jervis looks back over six years of writing Standard Bearer articles, with a bit of perspective on how the tone has changed over time, and how they are written. (+2)

Pg 94-95 The Forge World pages this month focus on a complete army rather than just showing off models, and showcases phil Stutcinskas' Red Scorpions. It's a shame this feature only gets the two pages. (+2)

Pg 96-101 Ancient Rivals - Showing off two lovely armies, Vampire Counts and Bretonnians, the article suffers from a lack of text, and from not taking a closer look at the models. Three double page spreads does not a good feature make. The armies are nice though (+3)

Pg 102-103 Citadel Paints/How to Paint Advert. This feels horribly marooned in an issue that otherwise says nothing about painting. (-2)

Pg 104 News - Once again feeling like an article lost down the back of the sofa we get three text boxes on disparate topics.

Pg 105 The Hobbit. Martin Freeman is looking worryingly young as Bilbo, and as excited as I am by the film, this looks like an advert for Quaker's oats. Hopefully GW will find a different way to stir interest for the game in the coming months.

Pg 106-120 The usual mix of  Club and Stores articles, Games Day pug, and Warhammer World events,

Inside Back Cover - A picture of a Dark Angels Company Master titled with the words "The Battle Rages on!" does little to whet my appetite for next month.

Back Cover - This month's issue leaves you with another shot of the Dark Vengeance  miniatures.

The finial score : -38.

For the sake of comparison, here're the previous scores.

WD 391  -19
WD 392  +31

Ravage #2  +16

And as a benchmark WD 226 +59

So a deeply disappointing White Dwarf this month that suffers from its usual problems, and then compounds them by layering on tedious Dark Vengeance  content with a trowel. The issue feels like it was hammered together out of disparate articles, and fails at being the launch issue it wants to be. Hopefully next month will see an improvement, but I dread to thing what sort of crushing weight of coverage the Hobbit launch will bring.