White Dwarf has changed a lot since the old days. I noticed that:
- Although they still have battle reports, they are breathless, chaotic affairs where you don't have a clue what the fuck is going on - except that everybody is dying. In my day the battle reports were quite drawn out and considered. The players would describe their tactics in some detail, and although the reports were written with verve, they were relatively easy to follow and contained detailed maps showing the locations of the units each turn with their movements. Apparently they don't do that any more. The battle in the February issue is Chaos versus Night Goblins and a "slaughterbeast" was involved, but I couldn't tell you a great deal more than that.
- There is actually more than I expected on how to paint and customise the models and rules. Far more than in the old editions, at least as I remember them. I was surprised by this, because in my conception of things Games Workshop had gone down the route of Wizards of the Coast and increasingly frowned upon people doing anything remotely resembling DIY. Not so: it seems actively encouraged. (There is even an editorial from the still-active [and still alive!] Jervis Johnson explicitly telling you to do whatever the hell you want with the rules, the models, and everything else.) The how-to-paint articles are detailed, useful and extensive.
- In the same vein, they've freed up Space Marines. In the old days everybody made up their own Space Marine Chapters, but that seemed not to be encouraged by GW: I remember all the codices and articles in WD being about the Space Wolves, Ultramarines, Blood Angels, Dark Angels or nothing. Now it appears having and designing Your Own Chapter is positively encouraged.
- Far more ads - but I could just be misremembering the extent of ads in 'the old days' because I never paid attention to them.
- I was surprised to discover a lengthy section detailing the model conversions carried out by the great John Blanche and his friends. One of their creations is called "Deposed Planetary Governor Daven Kel-Rosber, penitent and executioner". I love 40k sometimes.
- There is oodles more model porn. Particularly Space Marine porn. There are metric shit-tons of photos of people's Space Marine designs, conversions, kit-bashes and paint jobs. A lot of it is incredibly impressive.
- It's amazing that I was surprised to discover there is no longer a catalogue to order models from at the back of the magazine. Of course there isn't. In the years since I was reading White Dwarf, this thing called 'the internet' has come along.
- Warhammer, and 40k, remain brilliant, compelling, dark fantasy creations - among the greatest in the history of the genre, without question, despite their ruthless pilfering of ideas from elsewhere. This issue details a 40k chaos warrior called "Vilitch the Curseling" who is a weak, stunted child who forged a pact with the chaos gods: he now controls his big, strong older brother while attached to his shoulder, from which he sprouts like a hideous growth, and he has become a mighty chaos wizard. The dark creativity of Games Workshop is as strong as ever.
- They have a girl working for them now, and she's actually kind of cute.
I enjoyed reading the magazine and found myself getting genuinely excited about the thought of buying some of the new models and maybe even collecting an army. Then I looked at the prices. £30 for 10 plastic chaos warriors? Fuck me.