This Friday (September 2nd) will see the relaunch of White Dwarf magazine. First released in 1977, it’s been the lifeblood Games Workshop-related news for nearly 40 years. In recent years, it’s been a weekly periodical, and one I’ve had zero interest in. Now, however, White Dwarf is to return to a monthly release schedule. Once again the numbers are to be reset, so for the third time in 39 years, gamers can pick up White Dwarf issue 1.
Branded as “The Ultimate Warhammer Magazine,” this debut issue come with a free miniature (a Slaughterpriest) and comes in at a whopping 156 pages. The front cover promises rules and support for a whole host of GW products and looks to be harking back to the halcyon days of the magazine. Columns include battle reports, army of the month, and the slightly worrying “Reader’s models.”
I have my preorder in already, as I’m going through something of re-ignition of my love affair with Games Workshop. The magazine will cost $9 (£6), and subscriptions are available.
To celebrate, and liberate the nostalgia running through my veins, here are few of what I consider to be the greatest White Dwarfs in history.
Issue 60: I must confess, I remember very little about this issue apart from the cover. This was my first ever copy. At the time, I think I’d played D&D, and owned Traveller. Whilst this was the first issue I bought, the earliest I ever tracked down was issue 40. I also managed to find…
Issue 53: This is comfortably, easily, by far and away the best issue of White Dwarf I ever owned. Why? Joe Dever’s “Minas Tirith,” A Warhammer 1st edition scenario for playing the Battle of Pelennor Fields. I was Tolkien-obsessed at the time, and I spent hours poring over this. Later I would convert it for third edition, and play the game with six friends over two days. It was the pinnacle of my geekdom. I remember, I needed 60 Rohirrim models, of which I owned about three. Instead, I substituted my dad’s Napoleonic cavalry. Fun Fact: I had no idea that this article had been written by the great Joe Dever until starting to write this paragraph.
Issue 82: This issue marked the beginning of my real enjoyment of the magazine. It commemorated the publication of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, a game I would play avidly for years to come. Over the next few years, the magazine would carry loads of stuff about the game, and I collected it all. There was also an excerpt of The Light Fantastic. These were the days when almost nobody knew who Terry Pratchett was. On top of that, there was a piece about playing AD&D on Discworld, the sort of off the cuff rules without licensing that just can’t happen in the modern era.
Issue 90: Included here mostly because it was the tenth-anniversary issue, and it came with a free model of a White Dwarf, which I’m sure I still have somewhere. (There was a spate of freebies around that time. Anybody else remember “Blood for the Blood God”?). Issue 90 was also the first to be bound, rather than stapled, with a proper spine that had the name of the magazine on. I was quite taken by this! There were articles on female characters in roleplaying and about GMing Paranoia. I’ve never played a single game of Paranoia but still carry around some of the tricks outlined in the piece. The review section also carried a review of Games Workshop’s first army list book, Ravening Hordes. Possibly my favorite Warhammer Fantasy Battle book ever.
Around this time, Games Workshop released new editions of Fantasy Battle and the first edition of their, now showcase, game Warhammer 40,000. With the company taking on the hobby on all fronts, their house magazine dropped everything from outside and focused on their own products. A decision that made sense commercially, but for me saw the finest days of the magazine left behind. Yes, I liked GW products, but I don’t think you will ever beat the melting pot of systems, ideas, and enthusiasm.
Issue 100: This special commemorative issue, contained everything I loved about Games Workshop at the time. Strong support for its fantasy strands, including a focus on Warhammer Seige, a book I was desperate to get a hold of, but a game that was far more fun in theory than it turned out to be in practice.
It’s peculiar, but I struggle to remember great issues after No. 100. I’m not sure why this should be. Looking at the dates, it would have been a few years before my love of the hobby waned. I’ve returned on two of three occasions, and started buying White Dwarf again, and enjoyed doing so, but I can’t remember one particular issue that captured my imagination.
This is probably because a) I grew older and b) the magazine became more and more advertorial for stuff you needed to spend money on. It was no longer filled with discussion and ideas for the hobby I loved. As games like WFRP fell away from being supported, there was less in between the covers of White Dwarf to keep me interested. The rise in popularity of Warhammer 40,000 inevitably meant it garnered greater focus, but I never played or found it particularly interesting.
With the release of The Lord of the Rings films, and Games Workshop’s associated strategy game, I did start collecting White Dwarf again. My Citadel collection began with its original Lord of the Rings miniatures from the early ’80s. It was like the circle had been completed.
But what about this latest reissue? I hope it works. Despite the wealth of great material on the internet, I love the tactile feel of print media; I find it more absorbing. Whether this is true of the newest generation of gamers, remains to be seen.
What White Dwarf used to do for me was enable me to tell stories, whether as roleplaying adventures or titanic tabletop battles. Love them or hate them, Games Workshop still makes great miniatures to tell great stories with. A monthly magazine with their undeniably excellent production values is still a great way to inspire enjoyment in the next generation. I hope my children enjoy this incarnation of an old favorite as much as I did.
Are there any issues of White Dwarf you particularly remember? Any that tied you into the hobby, or were Dragon or Dungeon more your thing? Let us know in the comments.