Monday 3 February 2014

Spinning Compass...

Welcome wargamers and hobbyists, to a quick post slotted between the weekly Sprue Cutters Union topics, and really it's just my thoughts on a hot subject for discussion at the moment - what on earth is going on with White Dwarf?

Anyone who buys White Dwarf will know by now that with the February release the magazine has undergone its most significant change since I began in this hobby with issue 160, way back in February of 1993, so I guess it's 21 years this month: White Dwarf has gone weekly, lost a whole chunk of it's usual 'content' to a new publication which is released monthly called 'Warhammer Visions', and in many ways taken my beloved hobby magazine and split it in twain.

The new weekly magazine appears to comprise all of the new releases, reviews, designer interviews associated with the new stuff, and sprinkled in are a few gaming and other articles (including some new rules!) by established White Dwarf contributors, like Mr Jervis Johnson. Warhammer Visons is pretty much just that -  230ish pages of photos of models (in many cases the same miniatures photographed from five or more different angles), but including articles like Blanchitsu, Army of the Month and Kitbash, all of which I like. It also does appear to contain what is certainly a much condensed and picture based battle report, but at least it's still there, even if it is in a new form.

As a long time subscriber, I personally am yet to see how swapping my fairly balanced (if somewhat advert heavy) monthly White Dwarf for a magazine full of photos is meant to be a good thing. Is it meant to inspire me to paint more models? Buy more miniatures? Play more games? What? After all, I can see boat loads of photos of models online, and not pay a small fortune (as magazine prices go) for the privilege. As yet, I haven't gone right through Visions with a fine tooth comb, but I will, and I will give it a couple more issues to amaze me before I decide to cancel my subscription...

These pretty huge changes have really got me thinking: with all the online content available, all the painting guides and modelling tutorials, all the great paint jobs and video battle reports, and all the myriad blogs, plogs and campaign logs out there, which direction is a magazine like White Dwarf meant to go in? It's as if old Grombrindal is lost in the wastes and desperately trying to get his bearings so he can find the path again, hence the 'spinning compass'.

I have thought over the last few years that what White Dwarf needed was marketing disguised as actual content. Give us an escalation campaign to show off the latest batch of army releases, or the classic version of A Tale of Four Gamers - the version that allows the participants a budget each month so we can see how much they are spending and what they're getting for their money, to prove that Games Workshop aren't ashamed of their pricing.

I guess with the release schedule over the last twelve months or so, it stands to reason that White Dwarf felt like one big advert, with battle reports we could predict the results of nine times out of ten. When every issue is dominated by a new book and army release, and the end of every year by a new film related game release, it's no wonder every page is advertising something.

Light your beacons wargamers, let's see where the next few issues take us...let's see if Grombrindal can find the path again. I have no plans to start buying the new weekly magazine, but I'm not prepared to write the old boy off just yet either...

Thanks for reading.

Picture from the Games Workshop website:

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