White Dwarf - May 2013 (401) Review




Another month, another issue of White Dwarf.  We're starting to see some bigger changes from the format that has pervaded the last seven months, with tweaks made in the 400th issue being expanded upon.

Cover   
There are two problems with the cover to my mind. Firstly the glaringly obvious joint on the Phoenix, which is a real shame given the quality of the rest of the model, and the paint job. Secondly there's the background, which though it sets off the model, is too indistinct. I'm caught up more in wondering what it is than anything else.
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Opening Salvo 
Still mostly talking content. Give us something interesting.          
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Contents            
Unless something happens with this, I'm not mentioning it again.            
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New Releases  
26 pages of High Elves, 2 pages of Hobbit (wholly focused on Radagast on that ridiculous sledge, 2 pages on the LE t-short of the month (is this a thing now?). A 2 page Games Days ad, that seems incongruous amid the other content, 4 pages of Black Library news, the first thing I actually want to read (rather than flick past, having already seen pictures online). The three pages of Forge World stuff seems really dated, with the Abaddon vs Loken piece released in Feb. Digital Products takes a page, and we round off with the two pages of release dates and prices, which include an out of place piece of Space Marine art.           
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Army Of The Month      
A truly gorgeous Blood Angels force this month, from the brush of Mark Bedford. Look near the page hold for some tech adept conversions. It's disappointing that this is only 6 pages long, and contains only three paragraphs, as I could quite happily read more about the conversions, painting, and background of the army. There isn't anything in the Paint Splatter either. 
                6
               
Jervis Johnson 
Jervis puts pen to paper for the second and final part of his piece on GM'd games. I can't help thinking that the two parter would have fitted into one issue with a smaller font and a photo of Jervis that doesn't take up half a page.          
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Battle Report    
We are getting more distant shots to give an overview of the battlefield, as well as a deployment photo (weirdly coming before the armies are detailed). I think we might be seeing a slow improvement to things. Half marks. 
                8
               
Armchair General           
A new feature that boils down to a single page piece padded out to four pages by photos. It has promise, but we need more words.     
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Blanchitsu          
A focus on the ladies of 40K. It's getting redundant to saw that the conversions in this section are glorious, but they are.                
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Citadel Hall Of Fame      
The Hellbrute takes the stage this month and it is a truly lovely model.  
                2
               
The Time Of Dragons    
An eight page feature on Dragons, with a look at the background from Mat Ward, and Trish Carden talking about sculpting and model design. It's a nice feature and something it'd be nice to see more of.               
                6
               
Parade Ground
Dreadnoughts, and, nope, just Space Marines Dreadnoughts. 8 pages of th hulking things. These are becoming a bit too homogenous.   
                4
               
Kit Bash               
6 pages of conversions, ranging from Warshrines, to Elves to Cultists, with a good range of conversions, from subtle to huge and imposing.   
                6
               
Parade Ground (2)         
Back to machines with two legs. This time Titans.             
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Golden Demon
2 pages on GD models from Japan          
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Paints Splatter 
6 pages of High Elves, and 2 pages, oddly, of horses of different colours.              
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Jeremy Vetock 
A ramble about getting models from plastic to painted this month.         
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The Month In...               
               
White Dwarf     
Battles and models from around the studio.       
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The Design Studio          
Surprising no one it's the High Elves in the spotlight this month, with the design studio talking at length, and Mat Ward taking a page.  I like this piece, but it feels like it ought to be in the main body of the magazine.
                6
               
Forge World     
One massive tank, a bike, and some very well painted Marines.               
                2
               
Black Library     
Guy Haley talks about Baneblade.           
                2

Parting Shot      
The Goblin King in all his horrific glory.   
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Calendar             
At last a redesign, with things all lining up nicely.              
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Back Cover         
More elves on the icy backdrop               
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                68
               
There have been some obvious alterations to some sections of the magazine this month, and all for the better I think. There's still a lot more change I'd like to see, with the New Releases section shortened, so the magazine isn't spending over a sixth of it's page count on the army of the month. The gatefold page could fit a hell of a lot on it, rather than just the army picture. There seems to be a lot of wasted page space, with a feeling that photos are being used to pad out the magazine to 152 pages, rather than articles, if that makes sense. It'd be interesting to do a word count between a new issue and an old one, and see if this is a case of rose tinted reading glasses.

Infinity - April Release

It still throws me that the Infinity releases come at the back end of the month. Here's the latest set in the order Blogger's chosen to put the images up. 

Scots Guard


We saw this model last month. I really like the cloak, but it's ruined by having the big, non camouflaged, shoulder pad being so obvious.

Kirpal Singh, Akalis Major Sergeant


 A great model, the basics are all there, accentuated by the little details. The pose is solid and commanding, the armour is well detailed, and the face really draws the eye. I really like the helmet hanging from his belt. I really can't fault this model.

Domaru Takeshi “Neko” Oyama


Another fantastic character model, it'd take way too long to list the good points. The bad however is limited to two things. The sword grip being so low, and the manga stylings of face/hair. Otherwise it's a perfect model.

Haqqislam Support Pack


Unusually for the support packs, the Doctor and Engineer have been re-sculpted. The Doc looks good (apart from the bare midriff), but I can't shake the idea that the Engineer is sitting on an invisible stool.

Chaksa Auxiliaries


I'm really not a fan of these models. There's something disappointingly retro about them, and it's just not working for me. I'm not sure if it's lack of detail on the flesh, the chunky armour plates, or the shoulder mounted missile launcher.

I think Kirpal Singh is the model of the month, with other releases fallig short in one way or another. We really need to see another Tohaa push or their forces are going to stay a long way behind the model pool of other factions.

Specialist Games Winding Down Along With Collectors Ranges




Games Workshop are winding down Specialist Games, along with Forge World's tie in models, and the metal models in the Fantasy and 40K Collectors ranges. This post focuses on the Specialist Games, but many of the points transfer over.

I'll let that sink in, on the chance you're unaware of this. Not that there's a reason you'd be aware of this unless you have your eyes on the online community. Certainly GW have not put out any official word that this is happening. The main source of information is people ringing Customer Service and being told that model aren't being replaced.

The mechanics are brutally simple, in that as regional stock is run down models aren't being replaced. Instead you get this on the product page:


 On the main page you'll see that the "Add to Cart" button is missing from certain items.


Things are pretty much up in the air as to what's happen with rules or boxed sets. The rules are available in PDF format online through GW, and hopefully they'll stay like that officially, so the games don't wholly die out. 

I wonder how much this is a perfect storm of declining sales and the replacement of metal models with Finecast. Although there doesn't seem to be the big push that the was to move the main ranges over to Finecast.

Different games are going to be affected to different degrees. Necromunda, Mordhiem, and Gorkamorka are all going to see players either simply using models from the big two systems, or moving to other suppliers.

Blood Bowl is probably the game with the most specific non GW models available, so it's very dependent on how much you like GW's models vs those made by others

Inquisitor is a special case as that has already got a following using models outside the 54mm scale models specifically provided by GW, as part of INQ28.

Epic seemed to have its hayday before I got into the hobby, but it's always been outside my interest, so I can't really comment with any certainty on that. Likewise Battlefleet Gothic, which is facing stiff competition from Spartan Games and X-Wing I imagine.

Warmaster has always been an odd thing, and I never got the impression it was doing well even shortly after release.

Battle of Five Armies has had its card marked since the Hobbit really, and I couldn't tell you when it was pulled.

There's a whole issue of how none standard games (well, none 28mm) require different terrain etc, and the extra hoops they create for themselves, but that's a whole other post.

There is a lot of noise on the internet about this at the moment, although stocks don't seem to be vanishing as fast as might be expected. 

Putting aside the damage done to the gaming community there's an issue of transparency. We only know that the SG range is winding down because it was actively chased up. How is that a good way to run things? You'd think there'd be   a warning, and something like a few weeks to let people get the models they want. This seems especially bad in the week Feait 212 goes dark (I'll be posting about that shortly).

GW abandoned the Specialist Games range a long while ago. Somewhere I have a White Dwarf that charts the studio Necromunda campaign that was run in an effort to raise interest. I don't know the issue number off the top of my head, but it was many years back now. Certainly there's been no active promotion, online, in White Dwarf, or in stores, leaving the games to live and die on their own merits, and the power of the various communities off and on online to keep things going.

I wonder if we'll see White Dwarf rules for skirmish games under the two big systems of if GW is moving to just selling big armies? Or are we going to see an expensive plastic revival in the form of Limited Edition box sets.

There is going to be a lot of fall out from this. Here are my thoughts in a very vague order.
  • Run on popular models on GW, be it for personal use, or for resale at a layer date.
  • eBay prices are going to really ramp up, as people hold on to model rather than sell them, and we'll see big bidding wars over SG models, and probably books.
  • Increase in fakes, as people try and take advantage of the situation by casting copies of the OOP models.
  • Increase in non GW models - there are already firms producing models that can be used in Blood Bowl, Necromunda, etc (although not for other systems (Inquisitor springs to mind first, then Gorkamorka), each for different reasons I imagine), and this is only going to rise to fill the vacuum.
  • The above is also going to lead to people moving away from GW as they are exposed to other companies, be it for models, or simply because of moving to a totally new/different system.
  • Turning players away. This is going to be the last straw for some, as GW turns its back on their game. I can't help feeling they'd be somewhat justified. 
  • Increase in plastic set sales. This is going to depend on a lot of things, especially the situation with the sale of bits, but people are going to want more conversion bits to make model x that they can't get otherwise. This is going to be limited to the 28mm games obviously, and may not be noticeable in the grand scheme of things.
What I can;t see is players going back to the big two games if that wasn't what they played anyway.

So, to finish up, get what you want, while you can, and we'll all hold or breath to see what happens next.