Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Bargain Hunting - White Dwarf 78 and 84

Clydesdale Bank sits on Queen Street where the first Glasgow branch of Games Workshop used to.... amusingly, there's a new nerd shop next doo.
I've been nerding for a fair chunk of my life.  My first ever issue of White Dwarf was number 145, way back when Games Workshop's Glasgow branch was situated on Queen Street.  Many a weekend I'd go along that street, past my cooler classmates queuing to go into underage disco Archaos, to go pick up my latest White Dwarf and a blister of High Elves.

I do own some older White Dwarfs, though , mainly collected from trips to various collector fairs, car boot sales or charity shops.  When one is a nerdy like myself, these kind of places one frequents in search of bargains - and because, pre-eBay, they were your only hope of finding anything at all.  Nowadays I take it as a given that I can purchase Blood Bowl paraphernalia from the comfort of my smart phone - back in the dark days, I greedily snapped up every relic of dead games I could find.

Anyway, this long rambling intro is all to say I got two old copies of White Dwarf from a local charity shop.  At a pound a pop I was quite happy to get the oldest issues I now own - 78 and 84.  These date from the mid 80s and are almost as old as me.

Front covers.  That Santa Cthulhu is ace.

 Reading these is a time machine, in the manner of my earlier post about enjoying older editions of games.  At this stage White Dwarf is principally a magazine for roleplaying and board games as stocked in Games Workshop stores, as likely to have been imported from America as designed in-house.  Adverts and articles do exist for wargaming but it's just one of many strings to their bow.   Notably we're a year or so away from Warhammer 40,000 and the total transformation this will do on a hobby which at this point is very fantasy heavy,

Below are five of my favourite pages from each issue with some comments about what this says of the era.

First, let's look at issue 78.
Green and mean (and the inspiration for my colour scheme)


Chaos Dwarfs!  As much as I love the 4th edition "big hat" Chaos Dwarfs, here are the original style which are more "short chaos warriors".  Each figure is given a unique name and seems as likely to be a unit leader or RPG character as they are a generic line infantryman.

Note the advert that comes complete with some statistics for immediate use - we're almost going back to that with some current GW models coming with wargaming rules included in the box.

A different age

A selection of adverts for nerd shops around the country.  (Well, maybe not ALL the country.)  Rather than an index of places that stock GW products this is more general and the adverts include mention of other services.

The advert for Lesiure Games made me chuckle as it's still on the same street to this day - I've ordered online and visited them in the flesh before, definitely worth a journey if you're in London.

"Funk to funky..."

This is the first of a two page article on D&D and Raise Dead.  To this day this is something that is included in D&D for gamist reasons - people don;t like their characters dying randomly and want an escape clause - but the true ramifications for the player mindset and the campaign world don't always sink in.  In my final D&D adventure of a six year campaign, I specifically removed resurrection as an option to give the thing some bite: and the fact it didn't work was a big part of the plot

Despite the evergreen nature of some of the arguements, though there's some artifacts of the era.  Different races being raised from the dead differently is one of the oddities of 1st Ed we mostly don't talk about, as well as trying to differentiate "souls" and "spirits"

God, I want this terrain
 Check out this Judge Dredd terrain, designed for a Games Day I believe.  Using a bunch of mundane objects they've built a great looking hab-block - plastic containers for buildings, the bottom of a soda bottle for the burger bar and everything in the bitz box to make the starship.  Inspiriting stuff

This advert is approved for Clearance ORANGE citizens.
 I have a mixed reaction with Paranoia, an RPG which is nice to read but not always fun to play.  Perhaps more so than other genres, this sort of black comedy really needs everyone on the same page nad the GM in particular to strike just the right tone.  I was lucky to have such a GM in Philip J Brown, whose Paranoia campaign was a lot of fun

Anyway, this advert is for an early supplement of Paranoia and one I own having found it for a song in a second hand bin in a local games shop.  It's a really smart supplement with a grab bag of everything - new secret societies, adventures short and long, some additional rules for medical drugs and all sorts.  The secret societies are worth the price of admission for me!


Anyway, that aside, what's in the christmas issue numbered 84?

More wargames stuff
Well, there's another Warhammer miniatures advert, this one more explicitly for Warhammer Battles.  However, this is still a small part of the magazine and White Dwarf feels much more an RPG magazine.  (In contrast, by the 98/105 issues I own, it's definitely changed this attitude)

"Describe, using formulae were appropriate, the application of De Burgh's theory of thermal induction in porous circuitry."
In a spot of Christmas levity, there's a christmas quiz attached that a GM is supposed to give his players.  This includes some trivia questions, some essay questions and then an actual "practical" in the form of a session.  The whole thing is meant in jest, but note the fact that it's the questions are aimed at RPGers rather than wargames.  In just a few years time this will be nothing like the magazine I start buying.

Pre-Craig's List
Small ads in the back of White Dwarf is something I have no recollection of, but the early magazine had them.  A lot of them seem to be buy/sell or gamer seeking gamer type affairs. This is the kind of thing one takes the internet for granted now, but if you're in Leicester or Aberdeen in 1986 you may well think that you're the only D&D player in the surrounding 50 mile radius.

Not so fantastical as in 2009
The Price of Freedom is an awesome RPG and seeing the advert made me smile.  The rules are a little clunky - much more mechanically "crunchy" than the D6 system that West End Games used elsewhere - but the premise touches my 80s nostalgia.  The communists have taken over the world, the red flag is raised over Washington and London and Paris and Tokyo... but you guys play rebels who will fight back against it, in full on Rambo glory.

When I first heard and read this game in 2008 or 2009, it sounded fun but it seemed just a bit too difficult a sell to my group.  Alternate history is one thing but the communist state was clearly on it's last legs in the mid to late eighties and it's hard to put oneself in the situation of "the red meance".  However, modern politics has managed to tick the doomsday clock a little closer, so maybe this won't be so hard to convince my group on after all.....

After that grimness, let's end with something happier.  Happier for having, er, grimness, actually, but go with it.

The dawn of a new age

This is part of a two page spread of artwork by one artist.  "Illuminations" was an occasional piece in White Dwarf even when I were a lad, spotlighting the work of an artist or artist and giving them a chance to talk about making their art.  These were almost always reprints from earlier works so I imagine it was cheap padding but enjoyable nonetheless.

However, this particular spread is very interesting because pieces from Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are interspersed with a picture of an Imperial Space Marine and The Emperor.  What you have here is a preview appearance of some of  the artwork that the very first Warhammer 40,000 book will feature, along with the names of some concepts that are now taken for granted but were new and exciting at the time.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a tipping point.  They don't know it yet, but they're seeing the start of something big.

No comments:

Post a Comment