White Dwarf is a magazine published by British games manufacturer Games Workshop since 1977 that has become deeply influential in the miniature war gaming and role-playing game communities. Its artwork and ideas have also influenced a generation of writers, artists and video game programmers in the fantasy and science fiction genres.
Initially intended to showcase a variety of role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the magazine is now dedicated exclusively to the miniature war game lines produced by Games Workshop, mainly the company's core systems of Warhammer Age of Sigmar (formerly Warhammer Fantasy), Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.
Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone initially produced a magazine called Owl and Weasel which ran for approximately twenty-five issues before it evolved into White Dwarf.
First published in 1977 and focused on wargaming and role-playing games (RPGs), the magazine received a strong boost when the first edition of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, published in the UK by Games Workshop, referred to White Dwarf on its back page. This allowed people who had bought this game to order the magazine directly from Games Workshop, establishing its circulation.
The magazine was hugely influential in the 1980's when it helped to popularise RPGs in Great Britain and much of the English-speaking world, including those American RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons for which Games Workshop had purchased the UK license to distribute. In addition to this, a generation of talented fantasy writers passed through its offices and onto other RPG projects in the next decade, such as Phil Masters and Marcus L. Rowland.
The magazine changed over the years, making a move from being a general magazine focusing on all aspects of roleplaying, tabletop wargames and board games to one that focused almost exclusively on Games Workshop's own products and publications - the changeover being obvious by the publication of Issue 100 in April 1988. 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 means for Games Workshop to publish new rules and ideas for their games as well as a means to showcase new Games Workshop products. It often includes articles on rules updates, 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 war games and thoroughly covers the models, miniatures and hobby material created by Games Workshop. White Dwarf has carried the tag line "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 faction in Warhammer Fantasy, whose rules are published only in certain issues of White Dwarf (being revamped for the most recent, 8th 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 in the Warhammer World. 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 Hero Quest.
White Dwarf Today
In December 2004, White Dwarf published its 300th issue in the United Kingdom and North America. Each issue contained much special free content as well as articles on the history of the magazine and the founding of Games Workshop. The magazine's content is divided between the three core miniatures war games of Games Workshop, including Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, with roughly equal amounts of page space devoted to each. Older issues of the magazine (in the 1980's) included features such as the satirical comic strip Thrud the Barbarian and Dave Langford's "Critical Mass" book review column, as well as a more rough and informal editorial style.
The monthly battle reports have arguably been White Dwarf's most popular feature for many years, as acknowledged in 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 its respective conclusion. 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 in October 2007.
Since the extremely popular Battle Games in Middle Earth magazine finished its series, two members of its team (Mark Latham and Glenn More) have joined the White Dwarf team; Mark Latham later became the editor of White Dwarf in July 2007, starting with Issue 331. It was hoped that White Dwarf's future articles would be improved to the Battle Games in Middle-earth standard, as the then-moderator of the Games Workshop official forum, Steve Hammatt, said: "Hopefully this will mean good things for future LOTR content in White Dwarf." On the 26th of May 2007 White Dwarf celebrated its 30th birthday with celebrations in Games Workshop retail stores around the world.
There is also a biweekly online supplemental free e-zine Black Gobbo that is produced by Games Workshop's US studio. It includes two regular columns, "Rules of Engagement" and "Ask the Scenery Guy," to help answer gamers' questions. Similar to its printed counterpart, it is devoted to the games and hobbies created by Games Workshop. 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 is a retail magazine, is printed on paper, is comparatively longer, comes monthly, is white, and a Dwarf. In the late 1980's, mail-order subscriber copies of White Dwarf also received a small companion magazine called Black Sun, written, illustrated and produced by Tim Pollard (with occasional contributions from other Games Workshop authors such as Andy Chambers). It contained very informal "insider" 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 Games Workshop products also debuted in Black Sun.
White Dwarf (UK) Editors
- Ian Livingstone: Issue 1 (June/July 1977) - 74 (February 1986)
- Ian Marsh: Issue 75 (March 1986) - 77 (May 1986)
- Paul Cockburn: Issue 78 (June 1986; contents page erroneously headed "April 1986") - 83 (November 1986)
- Mike Brunton: Issues 84 (December 1986) - 93 (September 1987)
- Sean Masterson: Issues 94 (October 1987) - 107 (November 1988)
- Phil Gallagher: Issues 109 (January 1989; there is no Editor credited in issue 108) - 116 (August 1989)
- Simon Forrest: Issues 117 (September 1989) - 139 (July 1991)
- Robin Dews: Issues 140 (August 1991) - 189 (September 1995); third longest-serving Editor
- Jake Thornton: Issues 190 (October 1995) - 214 ("Orktober": October 1997); the card section in the magazine comes and goes
- Paul Sawyer: Issues 215 (December 1997) - 301 (January 2005); occasionally called "Fat Bloke"
- Guy Haley (UK editor from issues 302 to 310, international editor to 331): Issues 302 (February 2005) - 330 (June 2007)
- Owen Rees (UK editor): Issue 311 (November 2005) - 333 (September 2007)
- Mark Latham: Issue 331 (July 2007) - issue 364 (May 2010)
- Andrew Kenrick: issue 365 (June 2010) - present
- The Improved and Expanded Exodite's White Dwarf and Fanatic Press Index - searchable and browsable (by game), covers #1-322 (mixture of UK and US editions).
- Index to White Dwarf Weekly - browsable updated index about the new White Dwarf, started Feb2014.
- White Dwarf Magazine
- Haley, Guy (December 2004). "The History of White Dwarf". White Dwarf (300): 6-11. Games Workshop.