So... I never got around to finishing several issues’ worth of reviews, and now March’s is six months late...
But White Dwarf never got around to giving us part 2 of the Battle of Tanrak, or the Sisters of Silence Inferno preview, so I’m still better than them, because at least I deliver eventually.
Also I’m not just copy-pasting a massive chunk of something I previously wrote and pretending that it’s new content. So I’m not a dishonest hack. Phil Kelly is a bad editor, and Phil Kelly should feel bad.

There still isn’t a proper editor for March’s issue, because who needs proper editorial staff, so Phil Kelly is pretending to do the job.

There’s a joke in the editorial (‘For the next thirty days, this month’s issue is, without doubt, the latest White Dwarf ever’). Not to over-think it or anything, but March has thirty-one days; and even if we ignore the 1st because that was a Friday, meaning that White Dwarf wasn’t in stores yet; subscribers get their copies early.

- Double page for Contents -

- Double page for ‘subscribe to White Dwarf’ -

Contact – ‘White Dwarf is great! Can we haz moar in-depth articles?’ (no); ‘How do I paint Tyranids?’; ‘Show my models’; ‘White Dwarf is great! I spend all of my money on GW product!’; ‘How are Space Marines funded?’ (The answer given isn’t very clear – rather than explaining that the Imperium is a feudal system, the answer given is taxes, which isn’t true).

- Double page of Readers’ Models -

Worlds of Warhammer (how to draw maps) – Four pages on how to draw a map. Erm... ok.
The ‘War Zone Vigilus’ boxout says that if you look closely at the map you can see where Phil ‘crossed out names and made amendments’. That’s not true. I mean, the picture is RIGHT THERE! Why would you lie about that?!

- Double page introduction for Age of Sigmar section -

Rules of Engagement (points values in Age of Sigmar) – How dumb do you think Jervis Johnson spending four pages (three actually, since obviously what this article needs is a full page picture of Nagash) talking about how they come up with points costs will be? Yeah, it’s about that dumb.

Jervis starts by offering a disclaimer that because Age of Sigmar is so very complex, and because units might be more useful in some situations than others, coming up with accurate points values is basically impossible.

He then goes on to claim that if you want a really balanced game, the best way to go about it is to disregard points values and work together with your opponent to pick evenly matched armies – because that is a really practical solution and not at all absurd – in fact that method worked out so well that Age of Sigmar had to patch points back in after the initial launch because it was a disaster.
Jervis also claims that when Age of Sigmar launched, they did actually want to include a points system, and that obviously explains why one wasn’t included.

So what was Jervis’ method of coming up with points values?

Tournament organisers made their own points systems in order to make the game playable -> Jervis took these values (professional games developer everybody!) -> Jervis made a magical points calculator spreadsheet which would give him values for new units. Because he’s such a big brain genius, he can’t actually demonstrate how this actually works to the likes of us plebeians ->playtesting (if you really want to include a unit in your army but think that it is overcosted, that probably means that it is costed correctly (that’s literally a thing he claims!)) -> the magical points calculator is basically always spot on (80%+) -> because army list optimisation is ’almost impossible to anticipate in advance’ (professional games designer!) changes have to be made in Errata documents -> Age of Sigmar is balanced.

So there: if you thought that Flesh Eater Courts summoning a bajillion free dudes was unbalanced, Jervis’ spreadsheet proves that you’re wrong.

Fiction: Empty Graves – A grave robber goes to rob some graves, but the graves have already been robbed, then ghosts attack the grave robber, then Stormcasts attack the ghosts, then ghosts attack the whole city.
But who robbed the graves? Do you have to dig bodies up to raise ghosts? Can you get a ghost and a skeleton from one body?
It was okay I guess.

Battle Report: Battle for Techuan’s Key II (Age of Sigmar 4-player battle report) – At a mighty twenty pages, this is a relative beast of an article (longer than the remake of Glazer’s Creek...) And yet each turn still only gets less than half a page of text.
I like that the armies used aren’t the standard studio fare, and the new Battleplan is cool I suppose (although I thought that the basic concept of Triumph & Treachery was to play this sort of battle? Is there not already a scenario similar to this? I guess not).

It’s interesting that the introduction specifically states that this is ’not a matched play game or a narrative-driven story...’ yet the armies are built to equal points, and there is a narrative for the scenario... makes you think...

Fantastical Realms: The Realm of Life – January’s offering looking at the Realm of Fire was weak, but this takes it to another level.
The introductory pages are essentially the same template as previously but with fire stuff subbed out for plant stuff; then there’s a page which says to paint stuff green and brown because nature, and to put plants from the basing kit(s) on bases; then a page showing Sylvaneth and Nurgle armies which don’t look like they’ve been specially themed at all (they’re just green). There are two pages dedicated to showing four converted models - the Floaty Dwarf has just had some blobs of clump foliage stuck to him (why would that even be a thing..?) There’s a page of painting bases (one of which is just normal dirt!); and then a page showing cherry blossom-alike trees, which I’m pretty sure we’ve been shown before somewhere.

Realms of Battle: Creating a Battlefield – There’s a page of introduction which is mostly picture, followed by three pages of colour schemes for plastic ruins, another page of introduction (‘buy plastic terrain!’), three pages of not really guides but sort of incredibly basic partial instructions on building mining themed 40K terrain, and then a double page showing a big picture of the terrain on a battlefield.

It would have made a better article to have focussed just on the converted 40K terrain, not assuming that people will need a full page of step by step instructions on removing a length of pipe from the legs of a Haemotrope Reactor, and not to have repeated the ‘drybrush plastic terrain colours’ we get every couple of months.

The White Dwarf Interview: The Maker of Heroes (Phil Kelly) – So Phil Kelly chose you use his tenure as editor to include an interview with Phil Kelly. Sure, okay!

I guess if you really want a very brief surface level overview of Phil Kelly, you might like this. I don’t care. There – I said it – I don’t care about how Phil Kelly likes dinosaurs and wrote the Farsight Enclaves supplement (that explains a lot, actually...).

’...and thought, I need to get really good at this [writing for White Dwarf]. I still don’t think I’m there yet.’ Aint that the truth.

Glory Points – An article about how the rules for Underworlds warbands are developed. There is another magical calculator program mentioned here, which ’takes into account how dangerous a fighter is, looking at their potential damage output alongside their survivability, and factors in the usefulness of any additional abilities (my emphasis). Wow – I sure am glad we don’t get any extra information about how it does that!

It appears that the process for designing an Underworlds warband is: designers make models (no input from rules writers) -> rules writers assign models’ stats -> supercomputer balances stats -> rules writers then decide what the warband’s playstyle will be.
I don’t believe that. Because it’s stupid.

- Double page introduction for Age of Sigmar section -

Echoes from the Warp – Robin Cruddace went to NOVA to work as a judge.

’[watching the top tables] was particularly interesting from a rules writer’s perspective, because I got to see combinations of units and stratagems that I had not really considered before...’ Cruddace is a bad rules writer.

Like most games designers, I wouldn’t class myself as a particularly strong player – probably because I’m mostly interested in seeing if the rules work mechanically...’ The Assault Weapon rules are still screwed three years after release! Cruddace is bad rules writer.

Occasionally, though, I would be beckoned... to a table to help resolve a question. Nine times out of ten, these were all rather easy to resolve by simply reading the rules in question. Sometimes though there was enough ambiguity to require a judgement call.’ Working mechanically, eh? Cruddace is a bad rules writer.

Cruddace wrote these rulings down in his notebook. There is a picture of his notebook. Oh, wait, no, that’s not his notebook; that’s just a picture of a generic Games Workshop branded notebook which has clearly never been written in. Why would you include such an obviously false picture? Why wouldn’t you use a picture of the actual notebook? Why do we even need a picture of a notebook? – we know what a notebook looks like!

Index Imperialis: Assassins – Just hit Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V.

It’s fine – nobody will notice.
It’s not like anybody who might review this in a timely manner will have any idea that it’s recycled content, or the inclination to check something so simple.

There are some new stratagems therefore it’s great! Never mind that this is basically the entirety of the meaningful content for this month’s issue, so you’re paying six quid for two pages of rules.

And you know what – the painting guide for the Vindicare is taken wholesale from White Dwarf Weekly #65 as well!

You lazy, lazy hacks.

But Lord Damocles, you’ve previously advocated for re-publishing old content in White Dwarf. Aren’t you being a bit hypocritical by now criticising this?
Well, dear hypothetical reader, I would never advocate re-publishing material without acknowledging that it is recycled content. A paragraph or a boxout, perhaps, but whole articles? That’s awful. The only reason I can see for not highlighting that this is old material is to deliberately lie by omission.
And being lied to leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Also, this article doesn’t need a double page of pictures showing different colour schemes of Assassins.

Also also, because it’s just recycled from a couple of years ago, the background makes no mention* of anything relating to new background. The Cicatrix maledictum has split the Imperium in two; how do assassin temples in Imperium Nihilus operate now that they don’t have contact with Terra? The Sisters of Silence are openly harvesting female pariahs now. How does that effect Culexus recruitment? What do the two organisations think of one another? Do they work together with any frequency? Pft! Who cares!
What’s the point of having such massive background upheavals if you then just ignore the ramifications of them?
*besides the three sentences of new material talking about Noctilith, which have basically nothing to do with Culexus assassins.

Fiction: Before The Storm – I’m not sure that a short story really needs to be split across two issues. This half is only a tad over three pages of text.

The Warlords of Vigilus (A tale of Four warlords) – You’d think that this would be themed around the Vigilus campaign, but they’re... not really. Pearson’s Genestealer Cultists are an expansion of his existing army, Gallagher’s Black Legion don’t make any reference to Vigilus (he’s got Haaken, I guess?) Bedford at least references the Speedwaaagh!, Karch picked Raven Guard for unrelated reasons.

There are no restrictions, and no real format beyond adding stuff on a bi-monthly basis. What’s the point of this series? How will this be better than a series of simple army showcases?

Guards of the Emperor (Imperial Knights army showcase) – It’s interesting that the army is themed around the Armageddon war, with Ork wreckage on the bases, and this is highlighted in the text of the article, but the enemies on the double page spread are... Death Guard. Huh.

As usual, the amount of text present isn’t really warranted; and having so many pages devoted to relatively few models (six pages, four Knights) feels somewhat unnecessary.

Wrath & Glory (Wrath and Glory RPG) – I like how by the time this issue was released, the publisher had already been ditched from Ulisses to Cubicle 7. ’It was a perfect fit for our team, our ambitions, and our future plans.’ Oof – that didn’t age well, did it?

Blood Bowl: Green is Good (Goblin tactics) – Looks ok. The first couple of pages seem a pretty basic list of what is available and what special rules they have, but it gets better as it goes on.

Black Library: The Buried Dagger – There’s a bit about how James Swallow has basically the same backstory as Phil Kelly and the guy from the Wrath & Glory article (I don’t care!), and then it just becomes a puff piece for The Buried Dagger. I find it weirdly horrifying that nobody seems to be trying to hide the fact that Swallow authored Deus Encarmine/Sanguinius and Hammer & Anvil.

Then there are four pages (as long as the rest of the article) which lays out the reading order for the Horus Heresy series. Except despite stating at the start that there are 54 books, it only lists 32 of them... and then... ’To be continued in next month’s issue. Ha ha ha. You sicken me.

Inside The Studio – Some people have done some things for two pages. Somebody stuck a realmgate to a forest. Much wow.

Well that was awful.

I didn’t think that White Dwarf could get much more insulting than the May 2017 anniversary issue - which just openly said that the magazine was rubbish in the past and if you don’t think the new version is better you have rose tinted glasses on - but here we are.

Or were six months ago. Whatever...