White Dwarf (magazine)
Cover of White Dwarf issue 1, June/July 1977
|First issue||June/July 1977|
White Dwarf is a magazine published by British games manufacturer Games Workshop. Initially covering 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.
Originally scheduled for May/June 1977 but first published one month later on a bimonthly schedule with an initial (and speculative) 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 to 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, 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.
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. It has carried the tagline "Games Workshop's monthly gaming supplement & Citadel miniatures catalogue" for a long period.
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, and is regularly featured in the interior artwork as well. The image was also used on the character sheet for the Dwarf character in HeroQuest.
White Dwarf today
In December 2004, White Dwarf published its 300th issue in the United Kingdom and North America. 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 Lord of the Rings SBG), with roughly equal amounts of page space devoted to each, although The Lord of the Rings SBG usually has the least amount of space with usually only 1/4 to 1/5 of the magazine.
The monthly battle reports have arguably been White Dwarf's most popular feature for many years, as acknowledged during various White Dwarf editorials. Battle reports used to be blow-by-blow accounts of a battle between two or more forces, usually with their own specific victory conditions. The reports followed the gamers through their army selection, tactics and deployment, through the battle to their respective conclusions. The format has gone through several changes in recent years - ranging from a simplified, generalized style in the 2006-7 editions, to a return to a more detailed and visual style from October 2007.
Although White Dwarf has always served as a promotions and advertising platform for Games Workshop and Citadel products, some of its longer term fans have noted that the current incarnation seems to be more geared towards sales and promotion of new releases than it was in the past.
In June 2010 Andrew Kenrick replaced Mark Latham as editor. Kenrick 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 again 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.
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
|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|
iAs of July 9, 2013.
- Haley, Guy (December 2004). "The History of White Dwarf". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (300): 6–11.
- firstname.lastname@example.org. "A Brief History of White Dwarf". Retrieved 2007-03-31.
- Livingstone, Ian (April 1977). "White Dwarf". Owl and Weasel (Games Workshop) (25): 6.
- 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