Monday, January 22, 2007

Bringing the White Dwarf to heel.

I'm sitting here with a cuppa, listening to the Editors, feeling slightly guilty because I'm not at work. I finished early today because I eventually got my physio appointment (after a three month wait). Predictably, the problem I initially had has largely cleared up, while I have acquired another. It started last summer when my heel seized up overnight and I nearly hit the ceiling when I tried to walk on it. The doctor thought it was a tweaked Achilles heel and reckoned it would fix itself over time. She gave me some anti inflammatories to dull the pain. Four months later it was worse so she referred me to the physiotherapy department.

It isn't an Achilles problem at all - it is because I waalk funny (try saying that in a Geordie accent and you'll get the pronunciation). I roll over on my right heel and because I have been on my feet more with my job, and going to the gym more often, it has become a problem. My calf has stiffened and it has even affected my hip. The cure is to try and correct my gait by doing some exercises and if that doesn't work I'll need some inserts in my shoes. Fortunately I don't need the special shoe just yet!

So I trundled in from the hospital to find the latest issue of White Dwarf on my doormat (UK 326). I, like many other readers, have been dissatisfied with WD recently as it has ditched new rules, chapter approved and other such content as the focus of the magazine has shifted. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is going for a younger market of new gamers. To many people this is simply dumbing down. I thought I'd run a small review of WD and maybe do another in 6 months time so I can compare and contrast it over time.

The magazine is 130 pages long and has a Lord of the Rings cover, advertising The Ruin of Arnor supplement. The soldier on the front looks worryingly like Zinedane Zidane. The models accompanying the release look good - I especially love the Rangers models (who doesn't like Strider?). The Gulavhar and Troll Chieftain both look mean and moody but the Warriors of Arnor are pants. The best thing about the LOTR models is the price. £15 for 24 Rangers? Sweet. WD proper has design notes on the Arnor supplement and a large battle report.

Next up is the Dark Angels army set. I'm not entirely convinced by these power armoured Marines in dresses but the Company Master looks like a surly bastard and I may have to steal some of those hooded heads for my Blood Angels.

Warmaster gets some love in the form of an Araby army. I've always fancied a Warmaster army and if I ever do, this will be the one. Camels, elephants and flying carpets in the same list? Count me in.

The Harlequins are trailed, too. Jes Goodwin has sculpted these beauties but it is unlikely I'll buy any as I have 30 of the originals. Despite being 20 years old they still stand up to the new models.

The Warhammer section explores the Empire, with painting guides for the provinces. My own preference is for Ostland - Black and white, you see. There is also some weird and wacky scenery including a chapel built from a ship!

Jervis explains the thinking behind allowing special characters into games and tournaments (apparently they are all tested and balanced now. Yeah? So what about Thorek, than?). He also clarifies the Rules As Written philosophy introduced a few issues ago. I guess his thinking is that ultra competitive players won't exploit this approach. I hope he is right.

Phil Kelly has written a tactica on using reserves. Although this is clearly aimed at newer players I still thought it was worthwhile. At six pages it was more in depth than previous efforts and may halt some of the whinging about escalation (one of the best things about 4th edition in my opinion).

The article on modelling the Leman Russ tank was also useful to me. Some of it was obvious - I am a veteran after all - but there was still enough in it to make it worth reading. The organisational insignia makes me want to revisit my vehicles straight away.

Painting is covered in four separate articles and a free booklet. The first is a showcase of Empire models, while the second is on painting the Arnor Rangers. The Masterclass is on Mike Anderson and his stunning 'character portraits.' And finally there are some Bloodbowl figures (what a classic game that was).

The booklet is packed with sumptuous pictures of the Golden Daemon winners from 2006.

Overall, I'd say this was a fairly decent issue of the Dwarf and an improvement over previous months. I hope the trend continues.

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