Friday, 19 February 2010

White Dwarf 75 March 1986

In my earlier post, I reviewed issue 362 of White Dwarf, the most up to date release. The comments in reply and my own memories of how great a magazine WD used to be got me thinking! How would I review a pre-Games Workshop only White Dwarf, compared to a modern edition? Here is the result.

White Dwarf issue 75 March 1986 - 95p

I choose this issue, purely at random - having climbed in to my attic and picked up a box file of old White Dwarf magazines. At first I was tempted to change it for another - but that wouldn't be right or give a true representation of how good (or bad) these earlier editions were.

The cover illustration is not one of the best I have come across, in fact I would say it was poorly executed, but does hint at the Call of Cthulhu themed edition.

68 pages,a full colour cover and some 12 full colour inside pages with a few more showing spot colour, the rest are black and white. What I found most surprising was that a full 28 pages were adverts, thats 40% of the magazine taken up with adverts! But onto the review -

There are six main feature articles and eleven further departments, they consist of;

A full page of thoughts on the (new) Runequest 3. Not a great start as I found the comments vague and much too general.

Superhero Gaming (or how to save the universe)
Three pages of gaming notes on how to roleplay Comic-book Superheros. OK, but again very simplistic and the very personal views of the author.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (gamesmanship or gaining experience)
Posibly the best article in the whole magazine - three pages by Martin Hytch giving views and tips on 'putting the mystery back into AD&D. I really enjoyed this discourse and thought the points that Martin put across were well written and as relevant today as they were back in 1986.

An article on communication breakdowns in the game Traveller.

Nightmare in the Green
An AD&D adventure - five pages of a very well written fantasy adventure for AD&D. Very good.

The Heart of the Dark
A Call of Cthulhu scenario adventure story that was very well written by Andy Bradbury. More of a story thread than a full blown story, but enjoyable and offering alternative endings to a very detailed scenario.

In addition there was two pages of painting - however this issue was detailing the equipment needed for painting with oil paints and given the developments in acrylic paint, the article was not relevant to me. There were product reviews, two pages of letters and two pages of 'small ads'. In addition there were three very well drawn cartoons - Thrud the Barbarian, Gobbledigook and The Travellers.

So what have I learnt? Firstly that the 'old style' WD had loads of adverts and as a percentage maybe more than the modern issue (although the modern issue hides these adverts, as new releases or short reviews of GW produced or owned products).

The six main articles or features were a 'mixed bag', with three of the six entertaining me, while the remainder were OK - to poorly written. The letters pages and small ads, were a waste and the painting article was not of any real interest to me.

In summary the best part was the (rose-tinted) reminiscing, checking through old adverts for figures and games I once owned or longed for. It was also very disappointing to see how many great stores no longer exist and most disappointing of all, that I am not sure I have come to the right conclusion - that The Modern or New edition of White Dwarf, maybe a glorified catalogue, but in value-for-money terms it may win against the older style magazine! I will leave it to someone else to work out what 95p in 1986 is worth in 2010!

What do you think? And NO not through nostalgia filled memory - go back and try an older issue of White Dwarf as I have to see if your memory of how great these magazines were, holds true today!



BigLee said...

Oh WOW...I Had that issue! What a blast from the past. I don't often buy the 'new' WD. Its got plenty of eye candy but I don't play any of their games. I do buy GW models occasionally and might pick up an issue as a painting guide. But more often than not I'll save my money for a different publication.

Great pair of reviews btw. Good to get another perspective on these magazines.

Rob Alderman said...

My opinion is that the mid-90's ones were an improvement.
This is because I played most of the other games workshop games ('munda, 'morka, Epic, Blood Bowl) and those issues covered all of those usually in one way or another.
They had little to no advertisements in them barring the mail order section at the back!
I find anything before those a bit boring as I am in no way a roleplayer!
The new WD is too specific to the releases of that month. I suggest it to the diehard who can afford (and are mad enough) to buy every army, game and supplement released.
e.g. I bought the Space Hulk and Space Ork related ones as I play both of those. I wouldn't buy the Beastman one as I have no interest in them.

I used to love the vibrancy of Games Workshop and it's link with the customer through grand openings, one off sales, tournaments and things like that. I think GW is missing all that now.

Bah, nostalgia is a wicked mistress.


Colonel Kane said...

"I will leave it to someone else to work out what 95p in 1986 is worth in 2010!"

Interesting question - anything between £2.09 (using the RPI) and £3.52 (using share of GDP) apparently!

Great review - thanks!

Phil B said...

You can download nearly all the 'old' White Dwarfs from the internet (I got from 7 to 150-ish). It does take a chunk of memory but its a great nostalgia trip!

Hendrid said...

Quite agree that older White Dwarfs were much more value for money, I've been buying WD since issue #1 but missed some early 90's issues when everything went spiky and I had young children. But back 'then' they were supposed to be, a different animal from the sales/marketing/shiney picture mag you get nowadays.
When was the last time you actually 'used' an article from WD, though some of the painty stuff can be interesting. Still buy them though for the shiney pictures.