A blog about my Space Wolves and any other GW stuff I get my hands on!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

My thoughts on the new magazines from GW...

I know it's been a while since I updated this blog, but today I have something that I really felt I needed to say. As it happens many others have already beaten me to it, and unless you were patient enough to wait for the first reviews to come through to stop you going out to buy your copies you have probably discovered this for yourself as well: Warhammer: Visions is awful. As for the weekly White Dwarf, we'll get to that in a moment.

Visions, to me, seems to fill a gap that never existed in the first place: An overpriced picture book with about as many words as there are pages. The fact that what words there are on the pages are printed in three different languages goes further to making this feel like something you'd be given free when you ordered from GW (speaking of which, what happened to their free shipping over £10 offer?) then something you would go out to spend a considerable amount of money on. It seems to be the sort of thing I might quite like to have if I collected the army that was featured that month, but certainly isn't something I want all the time. To be honest, it just seems to have no purpose whatsoever, if I wanted endless photographs of miniatures I could find them easily online, alongside many more detailed and helpful painting tutorials than the ones featured here. All the articles featured in the old White Dwarf that were apparently continued on in this publication have been reduced to pictures with captions, like the rest of this magazine. I liked the style of the battle reports from old WD where you actually had a clue what was going on, where as now it is just pictures of miniatures which would be about as helpful if they were randomized and hidden between the other articles! The section at the beginning in which they showcase all of last months releases may as well not be there as it was in last month's WD anyway, they even go so far as to use some of the exact some photographs, but with only tiny captions to replace the paragraphs WD had. Kit Bash I also feel has suffered, looking at pictures of a nice conversion is all well and good but what I really want to know is what parts they used and how they made the model look that way, something which can't be achieved with a little caption. The only sections which seem to have benefited from this new style are the showcase bits which are pretty much the same, they don't need text anyway, because the whole point of them is simply to gape at the amazing paint jobs. We all like to see great miniatures and this magazine has plenty of them, but most of them are painted by the 'Eavy Metal team and we see them in WD, in the codexes and army books that we have already spent money on and on the website anyway, so what is the point?

On the other hand, weekly White Dwarf seems to be a step in the right direction for me. It certainly isn't without it's own problems, namely the low page count that the team have tried their best to squeeze as much content on to as possible, but really don't have enough space. I like the little entertaining bits I think that little releases every week like Forge World already does is a fantastic idea as it allows them to support a variety of different armies and games in a shot space of time, which will keep everyone's excitement up and help to increase sales. My initial reaction when I heard WD was going weekly was that the magazine would be crammed full at the start of the month but as the weeks went by they would rapidly run out of stuff to talk about, but because of the new release schedule this won't be an issue. Well, actually I suppose the entire reason WD went weekly was to support this change. While it does have it's good points there is two whole pages devoted to advertising Visions, which seems to me a crying waste of space in a magazine so short on it, especially as it is only available from GW stores, if you went in to buy it they would tell you about the other magazine anyway. Also the two page spread on how to use plastic glue seemed also to be rather pointless as they could teach you that in a GW store anyway, learning the ropes of the hobby really is the whole point they have 'Hobby Centres' and not 'Retail Outlets'.

That brings me to another point, which is how the magazines are distributed. Being someone who really got into Warhammer only after finding an issue of WD in Tesco by chance, it definitely seems to be an important business decision from my point of view that WD is continually sold through 'normal' newsagents and supermarkets to recruit players in that way. However, now you can only get the weekly WD from a GW or some independent stockists, the only magazine you can buy from Tesco is Visions. I can say for certain that had I seen a £7.50 magazine that day I would not have bought it and my 40k obsession would have died along with that sad first box of Fire Warriors that almost made me give up. Don't get me wrong, I can see what GW is thinking, make us go in to the store every week and we are very likely to buy something else, making them more money. But for a magazine which does seem to have some bits obviously aimed at beginners, it seems daft to me not to supply them to anyone else for beginners to find! Especially with that attractive £2.40 price tag which would make it a whole lot more considerable for the parents of said beginner to buy them the magazine rather than have to listen to their moaning!

I think if they increased the page count of WD weekly so there is more for us to read and distributed them to a wider network of stores, and of course offered a subscription service because I really can't get God knows how many miles it is to the nearest GW every Saturday just to buy the magazine and to be honest with you I don't want to; WD weekly could actually be really good. But Warhammer: Visions cant possibly last more than a year. Scrap it and use the pages for white dwarf instead!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Book review: Battle of The Fang

I've decided to start an irregular series where I review the books I read. Normally, I don't read much Black Library stuff, so a lot of them won't really be related to 40k but hell, I'll review them anyway! Conveniently, I literally just finished Battle of the Fang, so what better book to get the ball rolling could you think of? 

Let's start by saying that it is good. I wasn't expecting too much because of the few Black Library books that I've read, I found most to be quite slow and boring, with surprisingly little action for what is meant to be a story about endless war. I also find that the characters really aren't very interesting, which makes the tedious scenes of dialogue before the action starts incredibly dull.  

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading BOTF, as  within a few pages you are sucked into a fast - paced chase scene where you quickly learn a lot about the Space Wolves' animal like senses and 'kill urge', which come up repeatedly throughout the story. 

Another interesting point about this story is that it isn't really 40k at all, being set only in the 32nd millennium, a thousand years after the heresy. This has little effect on the feeling of the book because of the stagnation of society between then and the 41st millennium. This does, however, add a very significant element to the plot which I couldn't possibly discuss here; but which would never happen in the current timeline. 

The story is told from many viewpoints, mainly Great Wolf Ironhelm; Wolf Lord Greyloc; two Blood Claws, Helfist and Redpelt; a scout named Blackwing; and our two mortal friends, a father and daughter called Morek and Freija, both of whom serve as Kaerls (basically the Fenrisian PDF). We also get plenty of coverage from the Thousand Sons side of things, mostly from their 'Leader', Aphael, but also from another sorcerer, Temekh. There are plenty of other characters too, most notably the cover star Bjorn the Fell - Handed, who offers us a startling insight into life as a Dreadnought. 

Wraight does a great job of defining each of the characters, as in novels such as Horus Rising I constantly had to flip back to the front page to see who was who and struggled to tell them apart. Despite some of their animalistic qualities the characters here feel far more human than in Fall of Damnos, for example. You can really feel the hatred both sides have for each other, despite them coping with it in completely different ways. The Thousand Sons are tragic as ever, especially Magnus the Red, who seems to be acting out a sick mockery of the events described in A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns, going so far as to almost make me laugh at one point that I shall definitely not spoil for you. 

The narrative itself was really well done, and despite knowing the general story it still managed to throw complete surprises at me. The plot had good pace, and left nothing to be desired. The way a few key bits towards the end are only revealed once you've assumed the worst and been left long enough to resign to it is very clever. The fight scenes are brilliant, which is lucky as there are many in this book. The author flawlessly throws you into the desperate last stand and really makes you feel like you're watching a movie. I very rarely felt that the description was dragging on too long, yet there is still plenty that is broken up well with dialogue and combat. 

Overall, BOTF is an excellent book that deserves better than to be included in the Space Marine Battles series, which I feel is quite poor overall. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Space Wolves, as well as the Thousand Sons.