The newly redesigned White Dwarf is out and I just finished reading it. I tweeted about it while I was going through, but it quickly became apparent that what I want to say about it greatly exceeds 140 characters.
My instant reactions were "Awesome, it comes with another poster for us to hang in the War Room" and "Sheesh, we paid $10 for a 150 page advertisement?"
I'd seen the leaked photos of the Chaos models earlier in the week, but it wasn't until I had the magazine in my hand that I realized they red lit the models. What the bloody hell were they thinking? First of all, they look flat out terrible in that red light and they're too dark. Second, why did you bother to paint them if you were just going to ruin any chance for us to admire the paint job? Please don't ever do this again.
Pages 6-47 were straight ads for the new Chaos models, but also included Forgeworld stuff which I heartily appreciate. I like the little blurbs about each model, but they really told us nothing about the kit itself, other than mentioning over and over again the models are in Finecast. Some more details about what you'll actually get would be apprecaited.
The price list page also bothered me. It's as though they can't decide if they're making a magazine or a catalog. Either list the prices next to the model, or don't waste my time. Speaking of prices, $50 for the codex? Yikes! We're prone to complaining about prices but come on, GW. It's a book. I haven't paid that much for a some dead trees glued together since my college days.
At some point, the prices for the very basic game necessities (like, you know, the rules) are going to start discouraging people from entering the hobby. Hell, ten years ago I was discouraged from starting by the ten years ago prices. And I honestly have zero plans to buy this new book because of it, even though I very much like CSMs.
On a more positive note, I like the cleaner format. The old style was incredibly cluttered and a little too chaotic for my taste. I also enjoyed the Army of the Month, because the painter actually got to talk a bit about it. That's the kind of thing that I am interested in seeing in a publication like this.
Then they devoted 16 pages to a battle report. I'm going to be a little snobby here and say I couldn't possibly care less about it. It was incredibly lengthy but honestly didn't have a whole lot of substance. I can't decide if it's better or worse than the previous format, although it does have some nice close up images.
Nearly halfway into the magazine, they deliver the Horus Heresy tidbits. A tantalizing image, some talk about the evolution of the story, and a bunch of plugs for the related Black Library novels and Forgeworld's upcoming Betrayal. Then they drop Primarch Angron on us. Wow. Just wow. I loved reading about the process going into it from the sculptor and I tried not to drool too much on the magazine.
The Hall of Fame section made me laugh, because a few months back, I did a top 10 of my favorite 40k models, and Nightbringer was on that list. The Parade Ground section didn't wow me and neither did the Kit Bash. But as concepts, I love the possibilities behind both sections and I'd like to see where they go in the future.
The Paint Splatter section left the most to be desired. The section says it "contains a wealth of handy painting tips" but it follows the same step-by-step format in the last few issues, but without much as far as techniques. The paint jobs don't seem up to their usual standard here either, which is odd. What really left a bad taste for me was on that page there is a sales pitch for their How to Paint Citadel Miniatures book.
I love the Design Studio. A lot. Looking at the concept art and getting to read what Phil Kelly and Jes Goodwin had to say about working to update the Chaos codex and models was a real treat. For us, these models essentially spring to life fully formed, so it's nice to peek behind the curtain of how they come to life. Why this section wasn't the very first thing in the magazine baffles me. It would have made for an excellent precursor to the new models section.
Phew. This review got lengthy. Now time for the important questions. Is it better than before? Certainly. Is there still room for improvement? Yup. Will I spend $10 on it regularly? No. Since a full third of the magazine is the same images, advertisements, and pricing I can get from the website for free, I see no reason to subscribe or even buy it at my local store unless there's something really special about a particular issue.
Sadly, there's just too much flash and not enough substance. They're definitely doing some good things, but it's just not quite there yet. However, a lot of the magazine team is new, so hopefully as they grow into their new roles, the magazine will keep improving, too. I'm optimistic about the future direction of the magazine.