Remember Me How I Was

WD82

This is the cover of WD82. It contains a Traveller adventure, a great article on running an AD&D Discworld game, a Judge Dredd article, a Warhammer article, an article about cartography, and all the usual columns–Open Box reviews Jorune of all things, Dave Langford’s Critical Mass considers Donaldson’s The Mirror Of Her Dreams, and there’s Gobbledigook, Thrud, ‘Eavy Metal, all the other good bits. There’s also a very nice pull-out for the original 1e WFRP.

WD141This is the cover of WD141, the last one I have. It reads like a sales catalogue. There’s a piece on epic scale WH40k, a piece on wood elf armies, a piece on the forthcoming Golden Demon awards, a “battle report” of someone else’s war-game (ooh, exciting) that lasts 14 pages, a big section on GW’s Space Fleet line, and seven pages of unpainted minatures with serial numbers in the back. There are some nice glossy photos of painted minis, and a couple of full page illustrations and… lots of adverts for GW.

I don’t begrudge GW making money out of a glorified product brochure, or choosing to refocus their business firstly in-house and later by dropping RPGs entirely.

Oh no, wait a minute, I do. I begrudge the hell out of GW for turning a punky, irreverent, quintessentially British RPG magazine into a shill for their cynical, youth-focused product line. And that goes double for their RPG product lines. This may be unreasonable of me, but what the hell: towards the end of the era of GW as a RPG brand, they produced British imprints of BRP titles as well as WFRP which was a decent British competitor to the US staples of D&D and Runequest. Black Industries‘ resurrection of WFRP was a noble effort (and short lived) but by then the punk spirit was gone. The latest incarnation (and its siblings) are pretty things but they don’t have the heart of the WFRP1e/WH40k Rogue Trader mashups we cobbled together in the 80s.

British gaming is like British Hi Fi. It does its thing and it doesn’t compromise; it has texture and flavour; it’s great value for money. GW is no longer any of these things. We need an OSR for the British Old School. I guess Zweihander may have to do, for now.

Now that GW has taken the step of trademark bullying over “Space Marine”, my last mote of sympathy for the brand is exhausted. I hate to sound like an old git, but that logo used to mean something to folks around here, once upon a time.

Interestingly there’s a letter from a certain Davis Morris of Wandsworth in issue 85, which concludes:

No. It’s you people at WD that I’m griping about. You are the cause of the rot. You shove in a whole mess of junk to help you sell more copies and more game, never mind if it’s giving all those newcomers a useful start.

What we’re seeing in WD now is a sellout–like a photography mag shoving ‘glamour’ pics into its pages to boost circulation. Any blaming or sneering I have to do is directed at the commercialism that motivates this, not at the readers and gamers who are forced to suffer the consequences.

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p>Dave called it.

5 thoughts on “Remember Me How I Was

  1. If I might be permitted to quote another, perhaps slightly lesser, 80s gaming luminary, writing in WD 76’s letters page some several months before the esteemed Mr Morris climbed on the bandwagon 😉

    “I am writing to complain about a disturbing trend in recent issues of White Dwarf. In WD74 we have an article covering two pages on what is no doubt a very interesting game, Superpower, the latest offering from Games Workshop. In WD73, two pages on Warrior Knights, another non-role-playing boardgame – produced by Games Workshop. And in WD72 there were two pages on an expansion set for Talisman – no prizes for guessing which wonderful company makes that game.
    Now I know that WD is owned by GW, but at least in the old days you used to pretend to be fairly objective; at the moment you appear to be turning into a Games Workshop house mag.”

    • Ah, splendid! Who was this visionary? The voice sounds familiar.

      Sadly my collection is spotty and misses that issue (as well as issue 83, which Morris and others are responding to).

    • There’s a load of scans as PDFs here: http://www.lski.org/pictures/TableTopGaming/GW/WD%20Magazine/ useful resource!

      In hindsight it was quite an interesting period in GW’s development: them realizing that, hold on, maybe there was a way that they could actually make serious money at this business, if they were dedicated about it.

      (And Superpower was a rubbish game. Although admittedly Warrior Knights and Talisman were pretty good. But eventually they got killed off by Warhammer too.)

    • That’s a rather wonderful collection. Nice to read the letters page again and realise it’s the same old argumentative so-and-so’s turning up time and again. Plus ca change…

      Always fancied Warrior Knights and never got around to playing. SuperPower on the other hand never appealed, so I didn’t take much notice. However…

      http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3549/superpower

      “The object of Superpower is to control as much of the Third World as possible by the end of the game”.

      Eh. 1986.

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