White Dwarf (magazine)

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White Dwarf
White Dwarf 1st edition.png
Cover of White Dwarf issue 1, June/July 1977
Editor Jes Bickham
Categories Wargames
Frequency Monthly
First issue June/July 1977
Company Games Workshop
Country United Kingdom
Website www.games-workshop.com
ISSN 02658712

White Dwarf was a magazine published by British games manufacturer Games Workshop serving as a promotions and advertising platform for Games Workshop and Citadel products.

On launch it initially covered a wide variety of fantasy and science-fiction role-playing games (RPGs) and board games, particularly the role playing games Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), RuneQuest and Traveller (which were all published by other games companies), the magazine underwent a major change in style and content in the late 1980s and is now dedicated exclusively to the miniature wargames produced by Games Workshop, mainly the core systems of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40,000 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Strategy Battle Game.

History[edit]

Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone initially produced a newsletter called Owl and Weasel, which ran for twenty-five issues from February 1975 before it evolved into White Dwarf.

Originally scheduled for May/June 1977[1] but first published one month later on a bimonthly schedule with an initial (and speculative)[2] print run of 4,000, White Dwarf continued the fantasy and science fiction role-playing and board-gaming theme developed in Owl and Weasel but, owing to the increase in available space, began to produce reviews, articles and scenarios to a greater depth than had previously been possible.

The magazine was hugely influential in the 1980s when it helped popularise role-playing games in the UK. This included material for the 'big three' role playing games of the time: AD&D, RuneQuest and Traveller. For a time White Dwarf also contained material for those American RPGs for which Games Workshop had the UK licence,[citation needed] competing directly with TSR's own UK publication, Imagine, and various other mainstream UK and imported fantasy and science-fiction gaming magazines.

In addition to this a generation of writers passed through its offices and onto other RPG projects in the next decade, such as Phil Masters and Marcus L. Rowland. One huge attraction of the magazine was its incorporation of mini-game scenarios, capable of completion in a single night's play, rather than the mega-marathon games typical of the off the shelf campaigns. This would often be in the form of an attractive and interesting single task for either existing or new characters to resolve. These could either be slipped into existing campaign plots, or be used stand-alone, just for a fun evening, and were easily grasped by those familiar with RPG rules.

Cover of White Dwarf issue 90, June 1987 (10th anniversary issue).

During this period the magazine included lots of features such as the satirical comic strip Thrud the Barbarian and Dave Langford's "Critical Mass" book review column, as well as a comical advertising series "The Androx Diaries", and always had cameos and full scenarios for a broad selection of the most popular games of the time, as well as a more rough and informal editorial style.

In the mid-late 1980s, however, there was a repositioning from being a general periodical covering all aspects and publishers within the hobby niche to a focus almost exclusively on Games Workshop's own products and publications. The last Dungeons and Dragons article appeared in issue 93, with the changeover being relatively abrupt and obvious by issue #100. In this respect it took over some of the aspects of the Citadel Journal, an intermittent publication that supported the Warhammer Fantasy Battle game. The magazine has always been a conduit for new rules and ideas for GW games as well as a means to showcase developments. It often includes scenarios, campaigns, hobby news, photos of recently released miniatures and tips on building terrain and constructing or converting miniatures.

Today, the magazine focuses exclusively on miniature wargames and thoroughly covers the models, miniatures and related paraphernalia created by Games Workshop.

Grombrindal the White Dwarf is also a special character for the Dwarf army, whose rules are published only in certain issues of White Dwarf (being revamped for the most recent edition of the rules). It is never stated who exactly the White Dwarf is, but it is implied that he is the spirit of Snorri Whitebeard, the last king of the Dwarfs to receive respect from an Elf. The image of the White Dwarf has graced the covers of many issues of the magazine. The image was also used on the character sheet for the Dwarf character in HeroQuest.

White Dwarf today[edit]

In December 2004, White Dwarf published its 300th issue[citation needed]. in the United Kingdom and North America.[1] Each issue contained many special "freebies" as well as articles on the history of the magazine and the founding of Games Workshop.

The magazine's content is divided among the three core games (Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40,000 and The Hobbit SBG), focussing on that month's new releases from Games Workshop.

The monthly battle reports are a regular feature. Battle reports detail a battle between two or more forces, usually with their own specific victory conditions. The reports follow the gamers through their army selection, tactics and deployment, through the battle to their respective conclusions. The format varies - ranging from a simplified, generalized style to a more detailed and visual style.

The page count of the US and UK publications was substantially different (for example, bearing in mind the US/UK numbering difference: issue US #319, 156 pages; UK #320, 132 pages) with substantial differences in actual amount of content (for example in the same issues: US, 114 pages; UK, 71 pages) and each magazine had substantial overlap with the other as well as unique articles.[3]

In June 2010 Andrew Kenrick replaced Mark Latham as editor. Andrew had previously been sub-editor, as well as sub-editing other Games Workshop material such as the most recent edition of Codex: Space Marines.

On 26 May 2007, White Dwarf celebrated its 30th birthday with celebrations in Games Workshop stores around the world.

As of the October 2012 issue, White Dwarf has been redesigned with a new 9 member production staff with Matthew Hutson, Kris Shield and Andrew Kenrick continuing from the previous version and 6 new members including Jes Bickham as the new editor. Jes has previously edited the Battle Games in Middle-earth magazine.[4]

On 1 February 2014, White Dwarf moved to a weekly release. The final monthly issue of White Dwarf was issue #409 released in January.[5]

Spinoffs[edit]

In the early 1980s, mail-order subscriber copies of White Dwarf also received a small (A5, black and white) companion magazine Black Sun edited by Steve Williams, with contributions from White Dwarf regulars such as Ian Marsh and Games Workshop staff - it offered parodies, extended reviews, humour and gaming news.

During the late 1980s the "Black Sun" was rekindled, this time written, illustrated and produced by Tim Pollard (with occasional contributions from other GW authors such as Andy Chambers). It contained very informal 'inside' information from the Citadel Mail Order Department, news, game reviews, articles and competitions as well as a short lived cartoon serial. Some new rules for then current GW products also debuted in 'Black Sun'.

GW's US studio also ran for a while a biweekly online supplemental free e-zine Black Gobbo. It included two regular columns, "Rules of Engagement" and "Ask the Scenery Guy," to help answer gamers' questions. Similar to its printed counterpart, it was devoted to the games and hobbies created by GW. Just like its printed counterpart, Black Gobbo also has its own character, published on the web with its own article, rules, and modelling tips. The name is a pun. Gobbo stands for Goblin, which is hated by the Dwarfs. Dwarfs are, likewise, hated by Goblins. Black is also the opposite of white, hence Black Gobbo is the exact opposite of White Dwarf; one being free, electronic, short, weekly, black and a Goblin while the other one cost something, printed, comparatively long, monthly, white, and a Dwarf. The e-zine was cancelled in 2008 during the revision of GW's online strategy.

White Dwarf global editors[edit]

Editor Period No. of Issues
Ian Livingstone 1st 1 (6/1977) - 74 (2/1986) 74
Ian Marsh 2nd 75 (3/1986) - 77 (5/1986) 3
Paul Cockburn 3rd 78 (6/1986) - 83 (11/1986) 6
Mike Brunton 4th 84 (12/1986) - 93 (9/1987) 10
Sean Masterson 5th 94 (10/1987) - 107 (11/1988) 14
Phil Gallagher 6th 109 (1/1989) - 116 (8/1989) 7
Simon Forrest 7th 117 (9/1989) - 139 (7/1991) 22
Robin Dews 8th 140 (8/1991) - 189 (9/1995) 49
Jake Thornton 9th 190 (10/1995) - 214 (10/1997) 24
Paul Sawyer 10th 215 (12/1997) - 301 (1/2005) 86
Andy Stewart 11th 302 (2/2005) - 310 (10/2005) 8
Guy Haley 12th 311 (11/2005) - 330 (9/2007) 19
Mark Latham 13th 331 (7/2007) - 365 (5/2010) 34
Andrew Kenrick 14th 366 (6/2010) - 393 (9/2012) 28
Jes Bickham 15th 394 (10/2012) - present 10i
Uncredited n/a 108 (12/1988) 1

iAs of 9 July 2013.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Haley, Guy (December 2004). "The History of White Dwarf". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (300): 6–11. 
  • gonding@cs.odu.edu. "A Brief History of White Dwarf". Retrieved 2007-03-31. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

^ The USA publication number is one less than the corresponding issue for the UK publication.

External links[edit]

  • Index to White Dwarf — browsable index by topic, covers #1-100, The Best of White Dwarf Articles #1 to #3, and The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios #3
  • White Dwarf Weekly index — browsable updated index about the new White Dwarf, started Feb2014