Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thoughts on White Dwarf

I have been collecting my thoughts for a while now on the topic of White Dwarf magazine and the overall value. There are many complaints in the community and it has started my brain moving. This is not my intended full post, which will follow at a later date, but I wanted to share a post I recently made on the Dice Like Thunder boards.

From the DLT boards.

Ok, so I know everyone wants to hear my thoughts so let me share them (snig).....

First, I have not read this months issues of White Dwarf yet. Its sitting on my desk in front of me but between work and reading "Courage and Honor" I have not had a chance to open it up. C&H is pretty good btw, but back to the subject of WD. I notice several people talking about a $10 price tag, and I have to assume these are Canadians. Looking at the cover in front of me, the US price is $9. Now, this price seems high to me (who got in on the previous 2 years for $60 deal), but my subscription will be coming up at the end of this year and I am considering if I will renew or not. The renewal subscription price right now is 15 issues for %74, which brings the per issue price to $5. For $5/issue I will probably renew my subscription.

Ok, now for the hard part (admitting I am ga.... a WHFB player as well). I am interested in 2 of the systems GW produces, and have a growing interest in War of the Ring, even though LoTR does not interest me. For someone who only plays 1 system, I would say that the magazine is a stretch on value. For anyone who plays 2 or 3 systems, the magazine is good ALMOST every issue. I will compare this to a number of other magazines I have subscribed to over the years. I have had subscriptions to Wired, PC Magazine, Business Week, Newsweek, and Readers Digest. When I receive RD, I read the jokes and maybe 1 or 2 times a year I read 1 other article that interests me. For Wired, Businessweek, and Newsweek, I read 2 or 3 articles and the rest are chaff. For PC Magazine, well it was a free subscription and they are no longer in print.When I get my WD, I read at least half the articles in there, and usually find a painting or modeling tip that interests me.

Now, having read last issue lets go do some analysis of the magazine.
- 119 pages, full color
- 9 New release pages
** 6 pages on the new Guard releases
** 1 page on Collectors range new releases
** 1 page on Black Library new releases
** 1 page on Forge World new releases
- 2 pages on news covering
** Planetstrike announcement (hints that its coming)
** Website updates
** announcing the price change
** Games Day Exclusive announcement
- 2 pages on Games Day
- 11 pages on design notes on the Guard including a view of the new troop sprues and a sample army list
- 2 pages for in-store calendar of events
- 2 pages of Guard pictures, showing the studio paint schemes
- 8 pages of War of the Ring tactics/overview
- 6 page article on Tournament attendance including tourney lists and how the players/lists did in UK tourneys
- 3 pages adapting new War of the Ring models to LoTR game rules
- 1 page advert for LoTR books
- 28 pages of Battle Report including
** 1 new "innovative" scenario
** 1 Apocalypse battle report
** 1 "Pre-Planetstrike" scenario
** 3 different but legal Guard army lists
** 3 other legal army lists
- 3 pages Jervis Johnson article
- 1 page "Bitz Box" on modeling
- 8 pages of IG vehicles (paint schemes, conversions)
- 7 pages of painting guide, including a tutorial on Non-Metallic Metal painting.
- 5 pages of a profile on a Golden Daemon painter. Mostly pretty pictures of models
- 16 pages of "Frontline" listing stores and a calendar of events

I guess a lot comes down to what you define as "Advertisement for selling you more stuff" and what you define as content. Technically, every Codex and Rulebook is an advertisement to sell you more models, but lets not go down that road. I will assume that we can agree that design notes, tactics guides, rules updates, painting guides, modeling guides, and battle reports can be considered content. I would also propose that we add Jervis's article and the tourney report. Now, we also need to look at a second category, which I like to term Geek Porn. This is the pretty pictures of painted models. Then we have advertisement. This leaves us with the following:
- 67 pages of "content"
- 15 pages of "Geek Porn"
- 32 pages of "Advertisement"

This leaves 5 pages unaccounted for, so lets throw those into Advertisement. This means that on analysis:
- 56% of the magazine is in content
- 13% is Geek Porn
- 31% is Advertisement

I will also note that of the advertisement sections, I personally like the new release sections at the beginning of the magazine.

Overall I guess its a personal choice and a lot will probably depend on how many game systems you play. I would think that the "fluff pieces (tourney overview, Jervis article) are interested in most readers. Add in the geek fluff, painting, and modeling sections and there is some content in every issue for people who only play 1 of the 3 game systems. Add this to the "Geek Porn" and the question becomes, is that worth $5 per month? Compared to other magazines we are probably getting ripped off, as I believe the average subscription price for a Conde' Nast magazine is ~$2/issue.

For me, GW rips me off regularly and I still look forward to receiving my White Dwarf every month. I will most likely renew for $5/month and look for 2 year deals to lower that price.

For those who are interested, I plan to do a deeper write-up on my blog, comparing past issues with current issues and going deeper into my overall thoughts. I also plan to keep going on this discussion, as this is an interesting topic for me.

For those who are interested in Podcasting, Dice Like Thunder is a great podcast. The guys are out of Chicago and are fun to listen to. I plan to head out to Chi-Town in July to hang with the guys, go to Chicago Games Day, and with luck convince them to let me onto the podcast for a night!


  1. I don't deny getting the white dwarf but the content is not nearly as good as it used to be, there used to be more pages (if only a few) less adversing, and much more useful content and yet the price has gone up! I'd expect there to be more pages (adding 50p on the old price and page amount SHOULD mean 15 more pages, but no).

    I'm interested in it the same way as your'self but there are still quite a few naff articles in there even if they are about an Army I own!

  2. I don't have a subscription because I only play 40K, but I'll buy the WD's that are heavily bias towards 40K. While I don't like paying $9 for the magazine I don't complain about it because I consider WD to be a quality added product. Sure there's ads... GW has product it wants to sell. Some people must think this is a crazy idea.

    See, the thing is GW doesn't have any outside advertisements in WD. Sure, GW could cust costs and reduce the price to $5 an issue by adding outside advertising, but then we would all be leafing through whole page Cialis and Bowflex ads. Seriously look at all the ads in other "less expensive" magazines. They're easily 50% ads. I just took my girls SELF magazine... 166 pages and 82 of them are whole page ads. I grabbed one of my car mags... there's an ad on literally EVERY PAGE.

    There aren't many topics that light a fire under my ass, but this is certainly one of them. I'll contain myself and wish you the best with this post.