I did think, when the new version of White Dwarf showed up without any issue number on it, that they might have made a mistake, seeing as at no.394 they were coming up on this milestone. No one buying White Dwarf as a new customer is going to have any idea that this was coming.
As the cover says, it's a "Giant" issue, which translates to having an extra 16 pages. Quiet a few of which feature the cover star, the new Tau Riptide, as main feature in an image, or a page with close ups of its parts, meaning we get to see it 10 more times this month, which doesn't quite feel value for money.
It's a good cover this month, although it does lack any obvious proof about being the 400th issue, not having an actual issue number on it (Have I mentioned that enough yet?). This is fairly fitting, seeing as the fact it's the 400th issue gets fairly scant attention within the magazine itself. Otherwise, I like the colour balance of the cover, and the Ripetide certainly looks good. I wonder how many issues have been sold on dint of someone liking the big mecha looking thing this month.
Given that this is the 400th issue, you'd expect the editorial to talk this up. Instead we get half a paragrpagh, directing us to a feature later on in the magazine, and then another run down of the contents.
The layout remains unchanged, taking a page more than it needs. I may eat my words and find this really useful, years down the line, when I’m looking back for a specific article, but I'd rather have the extra page of content.
34 pages of new releases, including the odd limited edition release of the Ten-Tailed Cat t-shirt (I wonder if this will become a regular thing, or if it's a 40th issue special offer, it certainly gives no obvious indication of being such). The Black Library section reviews 3 new releases, and the Forge World segment takes a look at the Fall of Orpheaus book, and associated new releases. Digital Products advertises the digital Tau Codex, and the digital White Dwarf (I wonder if the digital edition advertises the paper copy?). Licensed Games takes a look at the new Only War supplement, Hammer of the Emperor. It's a section that I'm continually surprised to see still included, although I suppose the money all flows back to GW after a fashion. The full release list fitted onto two pages seems oddly short compared to the pages and pages that proceed it.
GW Online Ad
This really doesn't need two pages.
Army Of The Month
It's Beastmen taking the stage this month, in the standard, picture heavy 6 page feature. Sadly they don't appear in Paint Splatter (which at least gives the paints used) so good luck trying to replicate the colour scheme.
Jervis begins a two part feature, focusing on games run by a Gamesmaster .
I'm not warming to this style of battle report, although this month the peculiar sub goals to be tested by the two players have mercifully been left out.
No sign of this for the second month running. Have GW run out of ideas for it. Certainly in the "Giant" 400th issue there's room to fit it in.
Four pages focusing on John Blanche's own INQ28 models.
The Rise Of The Battlesuits
This is the first time in the seven month's that the new style of White Dwarf has been with us that there has been an article that breaks the structure set up in the first issue, or that focuses exclusively on the army released. It's a bit of the content that has been missing to my mind, or pushed to the back of the magazine into the Design Studio section (although that section does feel foreshortened it, so maybe nothing has been gained). It's a good dig around the design of the Battlesuit, and a bit of information about them in universe.
Citadel Hall Of Fame
The Khorne Lord On Juggernaut thunders into the Hall Of Fame this month.
The fourth part of the Golden Daemon round up covers France Italy and the UK, with 16 pages of coverage. Years ago this used to be done as a separate (and a few years, free) booklet, and I can't help but wonder if that was a better way to do it, rather than take up a lot of space in White Dwarf. If it was slayer sword winners talking about their models that would feel more fitting. It is all gorgeous to look at though, so I don't think I can drop the page score.
Six pages of conversions, ranging from the monstrous to single figures. Unlike the Parade Ground feature, there is at least a smattering to text to accompany each model.
That's not a typo on my part, there really are two parade grounds this month (filling up the extra pages of the "giant" issue), with this one being 6 pages wholly focused on monstrous creatures from Fantasy. One of these pages features readers models, so that's all for the good.
Eight very photo heavy pages detail the construction of The Agrellan Refinery, the setting for the month's Battle Report. Years ago the focus of terrain articles used to be on making terrain out of whatever you could find, in a charming, Blue Peter like manner (putting Tracy Island to shame). The focus these days does seem to be upon using GW's terrain kits as a starting point.
The terrain article above essentially gets another four pages, with painting details included here, alongside painfully short guides for the Tau (and a very lonely Kroot, wondering what's happened to his mates). There is at least a bit of background mixed in for the Tau, regarding rank designation and the like.
Jeremy takes it upon himself to answer some of gaming's eternal questions this time around.
What's On, blah blah, Store List
Do we really still need this? Especially when it comes with a warning to check online for up-to-date listings. There are 11 pages of addresses and telephone numbers. In this case, 11 is not 1 better than 10.
The Month In...
Four pages of the standard look in on the Team's hobby this month.
400th Issue Feature
This doesn't get its own title, or its own mention on the contents page. It's two pages long. Two Pages! In the "Giant" 400th issue, the history of White Dwarf is limited to this tiny thing. There's a brief bit from Ian Livingstone (which is good to see), and some of the Editors of years past. Conspicuous by his absence is Fat Bloke (Paul Swayer) IMHO, the best editor White Dwarf had. The most glaring omission is that of Grombrindal himself, being seen only on the cover of White Dwarf 300. There's also a lack of any sort of freebie with the issue.
The Design Studio
As mentioned above this feels as though it's been foreshortened to make the Battlesuits piece. We do get a look at the thoughts behind the Tau Codex from Jeremy (although I imagine that if you buy the Codex you'd be just as interested in this, and it's going to be unlikely that you'll read it unless you know it's here and see it now), and a page about the Sun Shark Bomber kit, that's been rather overshadow this issue by the Ripetide. Lastly a brief page on the design studios own models
There really is an urge to just throw money at this page, with the previews of so many lovely models. Forge World really do need their own section to really go to town about the models they create, and the way they deepen the little pockets of each system passed into their care.
Black Library round things off with a page interview with Chris Wraight, and a glorious Fallen Contemptor Dreadnought conversion
Oh the image that launched a lot of blog posts that ended in disappointment. Including a Thunderhawk seems a bit of a dick move GW.
Nope, still dislike this layout with a passion.
Commander Farsight looks the business, and provides a nice balance against the front cover.
For an issue that runs to 169 pages a score of 65 is very bad indeed. This is compounded by the apparent brushing under the carpet of being a 400th issue, and not making any expectional use of the extra 16 pages. I do like the new White Dwarf, but it does seem slightly empty of meaningful content beyond lots of pictures, and gets something wrong for each thing it gets right.