SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 11

Imperium is a weekly hobby magazine from Hachette Partworks. In this 80-week series, our intrepid magazine-receiver will be reviewing each individual issue, its included models, and gaming materials. A Premium subscription was provided to Goonhammer for review purposes.

I was recently informed that the two-ring binder supplied with Imperium is standard for British students. In America, we have a three-ring binder, often bedecked with Star Wars characters, the neon daydreams of Lisa Frank, or a cool dirtbike. I find the three-ring system to be far more stable and kinder to the pages therein, while this two-ring system seems to cause no small amount of wear and/or tear. What I’m getting at is that American Exceptionalism even applies to British products and inconsequential details, and as my Irish great granddad would have probably said, “Those limey bastards can hit the bricks” moments before smoking some lead cigarettes or whatever they did in the 1940s.

The Magazine

Phobos Librarian. Credit: SRM

This issue proudly opens by describing the Librarian in Phobos Armour as a “STEALTHY PSYCHIC WARRIOR”, something I can’t read outside of the cadence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It describes what psychic hoods and cameleoline cloaks do, why force swords are so neat, and what the deal is with all the keys on their belt. Turns out: it’s to open doors. They’re not so different from us after all!

We next come to a Battle Record page which boasts but a single D3 table for determining the rank of our new Primaris trenchcoat kid. It also invites us to use the existing name tables for their name, title, and equipment, and has little write-in spaces to detail their achievements with each psychic power. Personally, I find saying these powers in a Skeletor voice to be hugely entertaining. That’s my second 80s cartoon reference in one article; I wasn’t even alive when either show was airing but I got cargo culted into watching them anyway. God I’m old.

“Protector of Ramasus” chuckled Epistolary Alessio Vespater. The title always felt theatrical and unbecoming of an Astartes of his station. “Are they still calling me that?” he asked the comparatively diminutive member of the Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV PDF. Shaking in his boots, the trooper made the sign of the Aquila. “Y-y-yes sir! My sergeant said your blade is responsible for the deaths of a thousand traitors!” Again, the psychic giant chuckled and hefted his force sword. “Emperor’s Enmity, you mean? If it accounts for a thousand dead, then my mind is responsible for more. So many more.”

After the activity section of our magazine, we get an article on the Librarius, the organization within the chapter that houses Librarians. It details these warrior-mystics as stewards of the chapter, archivists, and killers in equal measure. I think it’s easy to take for granted how weird the idea of these guys is, and the grimdark as hell artwork really sells it. Overleaf is a much less cool, off-model illustration of a Primaris Librarian who looks, let’s be honest, a little thicker around the middle than I’m used to a Marine looking. He stands alongside the ranks of the Librarius, from Chief Librarian down to the pencil-pushing Lexicaniums who have to write detailed battle reports, assumedly for White Dwarf. There’s a bit about Psychic Disciplines and some fiction attributed to Lieutenant Lucian Calsius about a Librarian “…unleashing a bolt of witchfire that burned the heretic’s eyes from his skull and sent him screaming into oblivion”. It’s accompanied by a classic piece of what I think is Karl Kopinski artwork, every bit as metal as that quote above.

Following all this info about book-learnin’, brain-blastin’ buckaroos, we get a bit of info on Necron wargear. It lets us know that these are the most advanced weapons in the universe, and they predate the human race by longer than we can comprehend. Reading about weapons that can flicker in and out of existence or vibrate across dimensions, it does give the reader a sort of “Humanity is boned” impression. There is a bit of flavor text from an Adeptus Mechanicus Magos, utterly confounded at how advanced these weapons are. This is in stark contrast to a translated missive from Szalkar, a Necron Cryptek dunking on Imperials for having crummy gear. You love to see it.

The Models

Phobos Librarian. Credit: MasterSlowPoke

The Tactical Wizard is a striking model, with his fingers poised so that it looks like he’s trying to squish something in the middle distance. The leather armor over his power armor is extremely cool and stupid in equal measure, which is some peak 40k aesthetics. Building him is easy and intuitive, and he is designed in a way that hides his seams perfectly. His head can be left separate, so if you’re willing to shave the neck down and a use a different, probably less cool head, you certainly can.

The included instructions for building this fella are extremely helpful, pointing out specific places to use different parts of the mould scraper. The bit-by-bit breakdown of how to clean and assemble your models in these guides continues to be handy and well presented.

All this is followed up with a painting tutorial, from an Abaddon Black Undercoat all the way to blocking out the armor, cloak, and metallic details. In my experience this model can be a little tricky, as reaching that power-armored grundle is no easy task. Personally, if I was painting another of this model, I would pin the foot to a paperclip or something so I could get all up in that psyker groin.

Lastly, this issue contains a Citadel Medium Drybrush. Citadel’s brushes have ranged from poor to decent in my experience. Given how poorly they tend to hold a point, I think a drybrush should be fine, and it’s a good size for drybrushing bases. It’s odd that at no point in the hobby section of the magazine do we actually drybrush anything, but it’s a fundamental skill that I’m sure will be expanded in a future issue.

The Gaming Materials

Raven Guard Phobos Librarian
Raven Guard Phobos Librarian. Credit: Dan Boyd

This week’s mission is The Psychic Assault, which pits the included Phobos Librarian against a group of Necron Scarabs and a Royal Warden. I never see those two units together; do they hang out? Anyway, this mission teaches the player how to use Fly with the Scarabs, but more importantly how to use psychic powers and cause mortal wounds. The only ability usable is Smite, but as the most basic power, it’s a great place to start. The mission is simply one where the two sides need to kill each other. Without any terrain on the big mat, I think it’s quite likely the Royal Warden can gun down the Librarian before he has a chance to do much, but if the only Space Marine with an MLS degree can close in, he’s basically got it. I’ve noticed that in missions where they introduce major new mechanics, they don’t tend to complicate things with anything beyond “Kill dudes” and that’s fine by me.

Final Verdict 11/80:

Did you know someone thought I was giving these issues a numerical score in this section, and that said numerical score happened to match perfectly with the issue number in this 80-issue series? Wild, right? The only rating system I can think of that isn’t out of 5, 10, or 100 is Famitsu, and they at least have a reason for using a 40 point scale, with 4 reviewers adding up their cumulative 0-10 scores. I am but one humble reviewer, and that would just be nonsense. I see where the mistake could initially be made, but come on bud. Let’s get through this together.

This issue is a pretty astounding value prospect, as the Phoboi and drybrush total up to $42.50 at time of writing. For a $13.95 magazine you can occasionally find at Barnes and Noble, that’s extremely hard to beat. There’s also tons of info in this issue to flesh out these mystical weirdos, and a whole new gameplay door has been opened with psychic powers. The issue with the issue (rimshot) is that if you’ve been in the game for a minute, you probably don’t need two of this guy, but for a newcomer he’s a stylish and brainy alternative to your typical bald shouting Space Marine.

See you next issue, warhams.

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