Saturday, 19 January 2013

White Dwarf (397) - January 2013

I was mega excited about this issue, from all the leaks I knew it was going to feature the Dark Angels, and they are my most recent new army project! (On a side note, I never meant for any of this to happen. When I got back into 40k I had every intention of collecting a company of Ultramarines, with supporting extras and that would be it. It's just somehow spiraled out of control to the point where they're updating so many armies with such beautiful models that I can't help myself, I blame you GW!)... Let's get into it...

Opening Salvo - Jes has toned it down a lot since last issue. Obviously he's still going to big up his own companies wares but it's no way near the other the top gushing of last issue.

New Releases - Woop woop it's Dark Angels time! Since I'm so late in writing this review I won't bore you with an in depth look. Let's just say everything looks cool. The Deathwing Knights looks suitably badass, and I personally love the excessive gothicary on the new models. It's great that Belial looks like a cathedral, and that the Dark Talon has 'that' design feature. Even the Darkshroud and Landspeeder Vengeance are nice models, and the actual photos in WD rather than the shoddy leaked snaps, should hopefully have changed some of the doubters minds.

There's also some Hobbit stuff, a couple of Black Library novels and Forge World show off what they'd released over December from the Legion Command Upgrade packs to the Death Guard and World Eaters Contemptors.

Army of the Month - Jes Bickham shows off his very impressive Tyranid army. It's packed with huge gribbly monsters and the paint scheme is rather striking. There are hints of background and conversion ideas but with a force as impressive as this I'd be able to fill pages and pages with details about it to inspire others.

Jervis Johnson - Archery and painting skill are the topics covered this month. It's nice to have an article that has an outcome and isn't left open-ended.

Battle Report - The two stars of the moment, Dark Angels and Chaos Marines duke it out in a no points value war to capture/destroy some Fallen. The custom scenario is cool, the idea of just taking all the cool shit is cool. What isn't cool is how the report is written. As GW keep reminding us it's all about 'forging the narrative'. Well please lead the way and give us a narrative with a story rather than who rolled what. That can wait for the post match analysis. I want to be engaged by the prose of the combatants, I don't want to know how you rolled three 1's to wound.

The Rivals - It's Tactical Dreadnought Armour time with Thunder Hammer storm shield terminators up against Grey Knight terminators. It's an interesting concept and does outline some of their capabilities, however I fail to see how it is a genuinely useful article since you would never have to make the choice between them when building an army. What would be a lot more interesting would be a match up between shooty and assault termies, that way you can have the pro's and con's weighed up and it would help a lot of newer players with their army construction.

Blanchitsu - More inspirational models from hobbyists who follow the same ethos as John. It's as cool as ever but I'd love to know why they did what they did!

Hall of Fame - Same as the Mangler Squig last time, it's a good model, but surely it's too new to be a classic. The cynic in me thinks that it's a ploy to shift a slow selling line. The believer in me wants to think that Alan Perry really does believe this stands up there with the best of the best. I can think of countless Jes Goodwin's that would fit the bill much better. They talk of how a John Blanche illustration informed the design but then fail to show us what they're talking about. Surely there's space over the double page spread to squeeze it in somewhere.

Parade Ground - Now this is amazing. A look at some of the Golden Demon winners from around the world this year. The stand out for me is the Blood Angels space hulk terminators by Ruben Souto and the Nurgle Lord by Mark Soley.

Kit Bash - A look at how to convert Citadel Terrain and scenery. I've always thought that the plastic buildings and such that GW produce are fantastic value for money. They are big kits with plenty of detail and endless scope for customisation. I really like what Andrew Kenrick has done with his Wall of Martyrs, Nurgling it up to fit in with his army.

Battleground - White Dwarf Daily had previewed this and I was anticipating this eagerly. Once again, highly inspirational stuff and only a couple of skulls! It looks a lot more practical to play on than the Star Fort, and there's talk of other building materials!

Paint Splatter - More Dark Angels, and I was happy to see that the method I'd worked out for my DV models matched what was here almost exactly. The scheme on the Deathwing was interesting and unexpected, and the tip about adding a little grey to your black for the Ravenwing was a stroke of genius. totally obvious now that I know it but not something I would have thought of.
Then there's some tips on how to replicate Jes' Tyranid paint scheme and a quick guide on the Hobbit stuff.

Jeremy Vetock - Instead of giving us an insight into how he went about creating the Codex of the month we get his thoughts on playing games at 'home and away'. While the article was interesting, and the talk of custom missions (and another mention of disregarding points) was great, but I want to know what he thought about the Dark Angels.

This Month In - A look at the Dark Angels again, this time from the designers. They talk about their influences such as work by John Blanche, but then fail to show that in the pages! Instead of yet more pictures of the models they could have easily added some art or, dare I say it, some more writing. When talking about the Vengeance and Darkshroud they mention some of the questions they ask when they begin to design a new kit, but then fail to follow on with how that informed the design choices. Instead they just talk about nothing much at all. While it's great to see designers notes in WD again I feel that it's too little content, too much superficial information.

From Forge World there's more excellent sculpting for the upcoming Warhammer Forge tome, and a look at how their impressive Games Day display was built. Black Library have a couple more interviews/glowing reviews and that wraps it up for another issue.

On the whole it's a great issue, covering a wide array of topics, however I can't help the feeling that it's a bit too shallow. All show and no tell. After reviewing countless issues I fully understand the need to show clearly the latest releases to build up excitement, I just wish they would back it up with meaningful content, doesn't have to be earth shattering, but maybe with nine staff working on it at least one of them could've come up with a full battle mission or something.

The whole magazine does feel very inspirational as I've mentioned several times throughout my review so I'll award it a solid 7. It's up there with previous new dwarfs, but with signs that the new shiny ideals could so easily slip away again if Jes and co don't maintain all the hard work that they put into it.

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