The White Dwarf I remember

With all of the talk about White Dwarf now that the new versions are out, I’ve been thinking back to when I used to buy it as a kid. A quick internet search later, and I’ve now got quite a few PDFs that I’ve been looking through with my teenage eyes. Well I say teenage as the period that I remember most seems to be 1988 when I was 11.

Issue 105 was a particular favourite. I remember spending a whole school term (10 weeks or so) drawing harlequins. My drawing skills were good enough for me to do a pretty decent copy of what was in the magazine but weren’t good enough for me to create anything of my own.

I’m not going to get into replicating the issue here, but the whole thing is jam packed full of rules, and amazing articles. It’s a really fun magazine made by people that love games and the games hobby. The sheer number of words is astounding. Pages and pages just full of words, tables and the odd illustration. Fantastic content across a really broad range of games. Enough that I got interested in everything. It was around this time that the Eldar/Elf in me came out as the Eldar imagery really stood out for me against a backdrop of dungeons and fantasy.

For me in particular, I loved this issue as there is a lot of Blood Bowl content including sections from the Blood Bowl Companion (Red) book that you can cut out of the magazine and add to your 2nd edition rules book. The pages even have the little hole-punch marks on them!

I’m going to go back and try and work out the time frame that I would have read the magazine but Blood Bowl 2nd edition was released in 1988 and 3rd edition was 1994, so that’s probably as good a guide as any. Especially since not long after I went to university and I had left the scene by then.

I’m going to keep reminiscing now 🙂

WD105_a

WD105_b

WD105_c

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Ssshh! I have a secret…

…Don’t say this too loudly on the internet but I think I actually like the direction that Games Workshop are taking their main two games systems in.

Remember that this view is coming from the point of view of a hobby-focused gamer. I am not a tournament player and am in no way ‘hardcore’ and nor do I have any experience of how these games played over the last several years. In many ways I am probably the kind of new(ish) customer that GW wants to attract…but with the baggage of having played as when all this was new and shiny.

The internet wargaming forums are full of rage and hate about GW and any changes that they look to make. The recent slew of new supplements and formats for both gaming systems and the demise of the monthly White Dwarf have intensified the anger and comments. Of course these comments only represent a vocal minority of the GW customers, the hardcore who believe that they own the IP and path of the product.

‘People’ are saying that these games are now broken, that they are unplayable, that they won’t play again. But these are supplements. They don’t have to be used. They are optional. Yes, there are decisions that tournament organisers must now make, but there are so many tournaments being played all over the world, so many that if you don’t like a rules pack  that you don’t have to play it. The decision to attend is yours at the end of the day.

I think that these supplements help to extend the possibilities of the games for gamers either on their table at home or in their local gaming club. They extend the boundaries of the rule books and put imagination and story telling at the heart of the games. Why do armies and rules have to be balanced? Battles are fought with lopsided armies and different objectives for each force. Let’s play those games.

Given that these games are likely to be played outside of the tournament environment then there is more chance that proxies are used for some of the larger models now available just so that they can make the tabletop.

All in all I think that these changes are a good thing.

On to White Dwarf. Now nothing is confirmed, it is just on the rumour forums but the talk is that the January issue will be the last and that going forward there will be a new weekly magazine and then a larger monthly companion. We’ll wait and see how the content of each is divided but White Dwarf has not been a good publication for some time and despite a revamp it needs a new direction. If it allows GW to trickle releases out over the year, rather than once a month then I think that this can only be a good thing for players and the company.

Similarly if rules and addons can evolve over time and not be tied to new books every few years then I think this will benefit everyone. Even tournament players will benefit if rules can be fixed/corrected more frequently.

Let’s wait and see, but I for one don’t see doom and gloom. I see a company evolving and putting fun, collecting and narrative game play at the centre of the hobby.

Blood Bowl mentioned in June 2013 White Dwarf!!

Yes, Blood Bowl. Yes, White Dwarf. Yes, June 2013.

I’ve only just got back into the games hobby, but have done my fair share of internet and forum reading in the last few months. Over that time I’ve seen that 1) GW seem to focus on three product lines – Warhammer 40k, Warhammer Fantasy and Lord of the Rings, 2) they’ve recently just shut down the Specialist Games division that had been the home of some of my favourite old games, and my beloved Blood Bowl and 3) White Dwarf is the glossy monthly catalogue for the new products (codexes, miniatures etc).

Odd then that we should have a mention of “..an individual obsessed with Khorne Berzerkers painted in classic shiny red suddenly began a High Elf Blood Bowl team I felt compelled to find out why…in this instance a league was starting up and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a furious Blood Bowl season..”.  The mention is in the middle of a 2-page piece by one of the regular contributors about the collecting aspect of hobby. But for me just seeing mention of Blood Bowl in White Dwarf was enough to do a double-take.

With the forum rumours of a September release of a Blood Bowl anniversary box set, it got me thinking. The rumours are of a 4 team set. Are High Elves one of those teams? Why would the editor allow mention of a non-core product army? Are GW staffers busy getting teams ready for the White Dwarf issue that would likely support the release of the boxed set in the same way that it has the recent 40k codex releases? Probably nothing, but it got me wondering. I’ve put £100 aside for September…just in case 🙂

Here’s how it appears in the magazine (p119).

What do you think?

White Dwarf - June 2013, p119

White Dwarf – June 2013, p119

When did we lose sight of the game?

Now that I’ve got more of my old gaming things out on display, I’ve been spending some time flicking through the various rule books and looking at the miniatures and it strikes me that something has changed. The game has gone. The fun has gone.

I’ve got the new Warhammer 40k 6th edition rulebook and I’ve got the 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle rulebook. At some point in the last 20 odd years something has changed.

Now, I’m not stupid. I know this change has happened. I’ve picked up enough from various podcasts and blogs and I can see with my own eyes how much Games Workshop has changed. But it really makes me sad that money has taken over what should be an enjoyable hobby. The old books included cardboard representations of units and special weapons for you to cut out, copy and use in battle. The Blood Bowl Companion book includes various templates and even includes a +2 bonus if y0ur cheerleader models are painted. This to me says that the important thing was to play the game, not buy the models. The best 40k or Fantasy Battle player shouldn’t be the one that can afford to buy and paint the best models or afford the most Codex supplements. In part that’s why I love Blood Bowl and why I think it is perfect. I need a minimum of 11 miniatures up to a maximum of 16. The rules are simple, I don’t need special terrain or carry cases to carry flyers. This isn’t about Blood Bowl though it’s the principle of gaming. Right back to D&D where you didn’t even need minis – the rules, a few dice, paper, pencil and you were away. I’m starting to explore the brave new world of tabletop, card and roleplaying games in the hope of finding some new loves. I know they are out there.

I don’t know when this change happened, but I know it’s not one that has made this a better world. I wonder how the original designers of these games must really feel now…deep down. Not in the glossy brochure that is White Dwarf. Looking at the pictures of them in the old rule books these are not people that needed miniatures to have a good time with tabletop games. The game is in the skill and imagination of the players.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle rule book

Warhammer Fantasy Battle rule book

Warhammer Fantasy Battle cut outs

Warhammer Fantasy Battle cut outs

My old Blood Bowl Orc team

As a kid I was an orc guy. The 2nd and 3rd editions of Blood Bowl came with plastics minis of both teams and were great starter teams. I’m not sure why but I gravitated to the Orcs and my brother was left with the humans…it was MY game after all. In other games in always picked the orc characters and I always picked the humans or elves. But that’s for another time.

The plastic minis were all a standard lineman and it wasn’t long before my pocket money was spent on metal minis. Every Saturday morning we’d take a family trip into town and we always had to go past the toy shop. It was an old fashioned toy shop with all kinds of toys and games on the bottom floor and upstairs it had a wall of miniature blister pack on one side and Tamiya models and RC cars along another. It also had jars of dice by the counter. One of the first complete teams that I managed to collect was orcs. My painting wasn’t up to much so my dad asked a mate of his to paint them for me. I’m not sure what else he painted or collected but he seemed to do a lot of ‘hobby’. I only went round there once to collect them once they were done. I remember being blown away by them. Looking at them now, they are good but not great. They played really well though and that was all that mattered. The scheme was taken from the orc reference card that came in the 2nd edition box. Unfortunately my card has disappeared and a quick internet search doesn’t show one (I’ll keep looking though).

Here’s the team complete with two minotaurs and one troll, again they were based on pictures from one of the books or from old copies of White Dwarf. It was from the days when orcs had positional catchers and all teams had a kicker introduced. I think kickers and kicking rules came in with the red Companion book.

Orc team

Orc team

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At some point in the future I want to try out the orcs again, but I really want to paint them as well. My current thinking is to strip these minis and to give them a new paint job before playing with them. I’m in two minds though. I could always use the plastics minis from 3rd edition. I don’t really want to mix plastic and metal minis in a team.

It’s not pressing as I’ve got lots to be getting on with 🙂 I’ve got enough figures to be able to create a complete orc roster as per LRB6/CRP. For now I’ll put these in a little display case and decide what to do with them.

The cupboard is open! First reactions.

So the cupboard is open and I have mixed feelings really. Part of me is disappointed that more of the action figures and cars weren’t there. But I am the guy that sold his entire Star Wars collection for £50 at a car boot sale, so that chances are that I got rid of these many years ago and have since blanked it. The bigger part of me is really pleased with the haul. Blood Bowl is my new fixation and there is loads of it. I’ve now got metal teams of Elves, Orcs, Humans and Halflings(!) as well as several assorted Skaven, Goblins, Dwarves, Snotlings, Ogres, Trolls, Treemen, Chaos, Star Players, Mutants, Referees and Fans. I think that I must have had a chainsaw fixation too. Then there are the complete Human and Orc teams from both the 2nd and 3rd editions. I’m really pleased. Add to that a big box of Lego and a well stocked Hornby train set and Frank and I have hours of fun to come in the years ahead.

I’ve decided that a life rule is the more dice you own the bigger the geek you are. I am a massive geek 😉 I also found White Dwarf 173 which is the issue to go with the release of Blood Bowl 3rd edition. There’s a great turn-by-turn match report of the Orcs versus the Humans using the then new rules. I had forgotten that they used to have mail order pages in the back of the magazine. Mail order?! You were meant to cut out the pages and hold punch them to make your own catalogue. Mail order?!

I have a feeling that there is some stuff missing and that there may be another stash of toys somewhere. I’m basing this on that fact that only the red Blood Bowl Companion is there and not the yellow Star Player book. Both were equally loved and well-thumbed so to have one and not the other is a puzzle.

For now I’ve got several busy days ahead of me sorting, recording and photographing everything that I got. Then there’s going to be a lot of paint stripping as the paint jobs aren’t very good; which I did expect. I’ll post pictures and details when I have them.

Must get back to it now as I’m too excited.