What a week it has been. We actually now have a hobby magazine that is worth reviewing. I have often thought about the doing reviews of White Dwarf, but failed to generate the necessary enthusiasm to actually make it happen. The problem has always been, White Dwarf being nothing more than a monthly catalog that cost nine bucks instead of the free ones I got at Ikea.
In the beginning of 2012 White Dwarf started to change, the Imperial cogs at long last started moving. It started with hidden spine art and developed from there; suddenly new units, rules, missions moved White Dwarf to something representing a real hobby magazine.
The culmination of all this work has now crystallized with October 2012 release of White Dwarf. A top to bottom reimagining.
The first thing you will notice in the latest White Dwarf is the boost in overall quality on every level.
The modern fonts, the glossy raised cover, and the additional 30 pages are just the start. Right off the bat and throughout you will notice Games Workshop putting the White Dwarf staff (new and old) front and center.
After you stop staring at Bethan you will move on to the real meat of the new White Dwarf. Even looking at the table of contents, you will notice just how professional White Dwarf has become. With large block lettering and clean thumbnails for content.
Here, is a comparison between the old and new.
The new White Dwarf is an adult focus on constancy of style. Oddly, White Dwarf's style constancy is similar to topflight publications like the Economist, but crossed with something like Wired. The combination is aesthetically pleasing, but can in some cases be harder to navigate. In the old White Dwarf, the content was broken up by colored graphics used on the top of pages. Before you could easily find the content you wanted, now it takes more time because the look and feel is so uniform. This could be by design: I found myself more engaged by the content even if it was for armies or games I wasn't invested in.
Part of my greater engagement had to do with the improved photography and presentation of the miniatures.
Here, is a comparison between the new and old issues.
On a technical level, it is clear. The lighting and backgrounds are more polished and models are shot at a higher resolution. It clearly ties in with the new adult feel of the magazine. Gone are the attempts at pretend time, no more faux narrative content from the actual universes of Warhammer. Instead, we have a focus on letting the models and set pieces tell that story.
Here, are some spectacular shots showcasing the vast range of Games Workshop products. (Click to Enlarge)
Well we all know that White Dwarf has (at least) always had pretty pictures, but what about the actual content?
One way I might throw away $10 bucks a month is if I get information I can't get anywhere else. Even before the new look, the leak lock down Games Workshop developed quickly made White Dwarf the perfect mechanism to bring content directly to there customer base.
As a strict marketing tool, Games Workshop has succeeded. It is the first place you will find new models and releases, I am sorry, but blurry pictures a few days before doesn't cut it. Even the rumor monger machine that I am part of cannot compete with the company that designs the game. Closing the gap between the White Dwarf and new releases brings an authority to the publication-- like it or not.
The good news though is besides showcasing the new and shiny, White Dwarf has turned the corner on worthwhile content that isn't just about selling more models. If you look at other magazines (big stretch here) like from the fashion and home interior design industries it's not only about selling products, but more importantly its about selling a lifestyle. When you can sell a lifestyle you have a customer for like that will not only just buy the dress, but the shoes, and even the handbag.
With that in mind, White Dwarf is the knife's edge for selling the Games Workshop lifestyle. There is a conscious effort to have content that gives equal treatment to everything in the Games Workshop arsenal.
To get an idea, think of the table of contents in terms of selling you the complete Games Workshop lifestyle. You will see it is from painting, to design theory, to dare I say something as random as fantasy tactics. Each aspect of the Games Workshop lifestyle is represented and each with close to equal treatment. That is the thing, before you saw only token nods to the Black Library and Forge World now they have their own sections. Better yet the information is from primary sources and not a White Dwarf editorial sales pitch. Just because, you say something is awesome, buy, buy doesn't mean squat, but when writers or designers treat the reader like an adult and give a unique perspective one is more likely to listen and be converted to go all in.
Interesting as well, is Games Workshop is actually asking for feedback, just check the corners of many articles, and you will see a request that asks for your two cents.
Oddly, White Dwarf's style constancy is similar to topflight publications like the Economist, but crossed with something like Wired.
Overall my impression is that from the look to the content Games Workshop has hit a home run. Don't get me wrong this isn't a return to deodorant Landspeeder. Games Workshop is only going to sell you something that makes them money directly.
Can we blame them really? Have you looked at any other magazines these days? Time magazine has whole sections that are designed to blend in, but are just advertisements for things like medical equipment.
Before I let you go and get the new White Dwarf I want to say something about digital White Dwarf.
The digital version of White Dwarf is unbelievable!
Not only is it two bucks cheaper, it gives you added content like video and enlarged pictures. It is easy to use and beautiful to look at. Not to mention if you subscribe you get four issues free-- making the overall cost of each issue about $5.50. Of course, the only problem is you need an Ipad, still if you have one this is a no-brainer.
I look forward to next months issue and see if Games Workshop can keep up the quality of content, at the very least it could still trick by looking pretty.
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