Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New style White Dwarf Review

I have been thinking about how to review the new style White Dwarf, and realized I need to get my thoughts out before a month has gone, and the next copy comes out... 

To recap, the quality of the Dwarf has been declining for a while, and about a year ago, I let my decade long subscription lapse.  Then in the summer, there were some rumors of a relaunched White Dwarf, with new styles and new contents.  The rumors turned out to be true, and I purchased a copy at the FLGS at the new price of $10.  They had a large stack on the counter, and handed out 3-4 while I was in line, so it was clearly something that interested more than just me.

Thoughts on the new model White Dwarf are a bit mixed.  On the one hand, the presentation is improved, and on the other, the actual content is reduced slightly.  Paper quality is improved, but the price has gone up to a level that it will not be just an impulse purchase.  Here are some positives and negatives in no particular order:

Authorial voice - Gone is the bland advertising speak of articles past, and returned is obvious authorial interest in particular aspects of the magazine and new figures.  This was a welcome change, and one that I had not expected.
Prices - the North American version of the Dwarf had for years listed new products without the prices, partly due to their rapid increasing, and partly as a result of some major pricing errors (Realm of Battle and Battle of Five Armies)
Foldouts - having a multi page
Photography - Muddy backgrounds for the chaos figures aside, the photography does seem like it has stepped up a level, and the higher quality paper seems to show it off well.
Table of contents - Strange, but I was most impressed with this aspect of the magazine, which was almost an exploded view of the magazine itself.
Studio behind the scenes - Seeing what various things the studio is working on is always interesting... even if we do not see the end results for years.
Blanchitsu! - Bonkers Inquisitor conversions? yes please!
Reduced advertisements - While there were more catalog pages, there seemed to be fewer of the traditional advertisement pages scattered in the middle of the magazine.
Conversions - Converting is the part of the hobby I enjoy most, and has not featured as much as it used to.  The Ork flyer is a kit that interests me as well, so a conversion article on it was most welcome.

More "catalog" pages - Seeing a new figure from 6 different sides and then having a separate price page later in the magazine seems excessive, particularly since sprue shots are not one of the featured pages.
Store listings - While it is fun to see where stores are in other countries and states, it seems a bit excessive to see all of the GW stores world wide (but not independent stockists, except in North America)
Reduced text content - the new fonts and spacing seem to mean less words per page.
Huge staff photos - I like that they have new pictures, but do they really need to be half a page in size?  Until they hire more attractive staff, there is not much gained from this "feature".
No 'Eavy Metal - A feature from the early days of the Dwarf, and one that should be back.  The painting section was a pale imitation of previous ones, and needs to be improved.
Numbering - White Dwarf has been numbered since it started, and this copy lacks that.  It may be intentional to equalize the numbers between the US and UK versions, as they were one off.  Either way, somewhat annoying for a collector. (and how will we know when it is issue 400?)

In conclusion, I quite enjoyed the magazine, and am looking forward to the next one coming out (next week!).  I was not however, induced to renew my subscription, as the $100 price seems a bit much.  Possibly after reviewing the next one I will be able to separate the nostalgia of reading the magazine again from the quality of its new incarnation, and can make a better determination.

No comments: