SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 2

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.

Issue #2 was in the same package as the first. From gazing briefly through the clear plastic wrapper I could see a miniature care package worth of hobby supplies, plus the promise of a painting guide and a new scenario to play. I must admit, there is already a strong “opening a pack of Pokémon cards” thrill to receiving and opening each of these issues.

The Magazine

As we are still in early days here, much of the fluff material is laying the groundwork for who these factions are and what they’re about. There is about a page each for the Szarekhan Dynasty and Ultramarines, as well as some info on what they’re each fighting for. For the Necrons it’s the restoration of their ancient empire by telling these upstarts to get off their lawn, and for the Marines it’s protecting their divided Imperium and Macragge in particular. It’s nothing the experienced Warham hasn’t seen before, but for newcomers its useful context, and the art and photography is evocative.

Ultramarines Intercessors. Credit: SRM

Once again, this issue contains a cute little Battle Record you can fill out for your models. I adore this inclusion and can certainly say I did not expect it for your rank and file troops. There are a quartet of D6 tables to roll on, plus some open spaces for you to write your own Glorious Task and Record of Battle. With a smidge of die rolling and some high school-level creative writing, I came up with the following for this trio of mechanized skeletons:

The Solar Stalkers, a trio of Necron Warriors, had suffered greatly over their aeons of war. Acid burns and radiation scarred their corroded bodies, and even still they crackled with electrical force. Their kin were reduced to slag by an Imperial melta beam, yet they advance ever-onward, tasked by their Overlord to secure their dynasty’s future on the battlefield. Unfortunately, they were utterly annihilated on the world of Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV by Lieutenant Caestus Ignus.

So long as the Imperium team keeps including these, I will continue rolling them up. They really sell the idea that each warrior has their own story, which is something easily lost on a battlefield containing hundreds of models.

As this issue is the first to contain a pot of paint, it is also the first to contain a painting guide. Unfortunately, a painting guide with just one color is going to be limited in what it can teach you, despite the best efforts of the writers, painters, and designers involved. They try their absolute gosh-darnednest to teach you as much as possible with a single brush and pot of Runelord Brass, including the thing I think every new painter needs to learn: Thin your paints! The painting guide shows you how much paint you should get on the brush, how to properly open and close Citadel paint pots, what the paint:water ratio you need for thinned paints is, how to use a palette, and some photos detailing the difference between 1, 2, and three thinned coats on your model. This is all great stuff, and extremely useful information for the beginner hobbyist this is so clearly aimed for. They also teach you how to use the same techniques on the previous issue’s Royal Warden, and I appreciate the continuity.

Credit: PierreTheMime

There is something here which I find offputting though. Even at a young age, despite some dubious safety measures taught to me by my wargamer father, I knew the value of undercoating my models. Priming your models is important to both give paint something to adhere to, as well as make paints flatly look better – paint is semi-translucent after all. This magazine illustrates paint being applied directly to bare plastic. I understand that aerosol spray primers are costly to manufacture and ship and present their own logistical problems when it comes to postage. They also involve a whole extra skillset to use properly, as well as safety concerns when used by children. However, teaching painters to paint directly over the plastic is something that will have to be untaught later, which could form bad habits in new hobbyists. Not to get too greedy here, but I think including a pot of black paint as well as a tutorial on undercoating by hand would have been a worthwhile inclusion, as it has been covered by their TV team in the past.

The rest of the hobby advice about keeping a tidy working area, what materials to have on hand, and what techniques to use are all lovely. The assembly instructions echo those from the previous issue, going into more detail than your typical instruction pamphlet. While again they omit any information about scraping moldlines or cleaning flash on your models, they are certainly adequate first-timer instructions.

The Models

Necron Warriors
Necron Warriors. Credit: Pendulin

This second issue contains within it three Necron Warriors with Gauss Flayers. I apologize for lying to you with Pendulin’s differently armed Warriors above, but the models are virtually identical and I like his paintjob, so you will have to pardon my deception.

These are the same Warriors available in the Warriors + Paint set from Games Workshop, and included in this issue is the same Citadel Starter Brush. Said brush is an okay synthetic brush and nothing special, but a step up from the craft store brushes I started my hobby journey with so many years ago. Synthetic brushes are great for metallic paints

These roboners go together without glue, although I really would recommend you use plastic glue if you want them to stick together long-term. The painting guide recommends taking them off their bases to paint them, which is a bit wild to me, but it’s as good a time as any to teach new hobbyists about the merits of subassemblies.

I thought it pertinent to gather the input of a new hobbyist in this series, and fortunately a friend of mine has only just begun his hobby journey with a Necron army of his own. When I asked said first time hobbyist friend how he found building and painting these Warriors, he said that gluing the hand to the gun while keeping the shoulders in place was kind of tough. Fortunately if you’re going with the push fit method, any assembly mistakes are pretty easy to reverse, so he was able to figure it out before committing with plastic glue. 

I do appreciate his service, as casting my mind back to the days of VHS rentals and the Nintendo 64 to reminisce on my own early hobby journey was proving less than fruitful this particular week.

The Gaming Materials

I am coming to understand that each new issue contains some new mechanic of the greater 40k experience to be layered atop the previous mechanic like rules lasagna. This issue introduces the Advance rule, wherein a D6 is added to the movement of a model in lieu of shooting. The scenario herein uses the same Martian mat as last time, but with a new objective: escape the board edge.

Rainbow Warrior Bladeguard Lieutenant by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen

The Necron player deploys their three Warriors along one long edge and the Marine Lieutenant from the previous issue deploys on the other. The Necrons win so long as one Warrior escapes or the Lieutenant dies. The Marine wins if they kill the three Necron Warriors. Like with the previous issue, the scenario is practically single-player in its simplicity, with the Marine being functionally a stationary turret. It’s possible they could move around to run some football-style interference against the Necrons, but their role is largely a passive one.

At the end, this scenario suggests the players switch roles and try again from the other side. I endorsed this idea last issue and think it’s important, especially when the missions lean so heavily on one player’s agency over the other’s. By clearly defining a win condition in the event of one player’s models all dying, it also tidies up my problem with the first scenario. There are also multiple avenues for victory, making it significantly more fun for the Necron player.

Final Verdict 2/80:

This issue, while not quite as lavishly illustrated as the first, contains hobby advice both solid and questionable, and a more enjoyable scenario to play out. The included paint, brush, and models are all useful and will likely continue to find a home in any Necron player’s army and toolbox. I am curious how Imperium will broach the subject of undercoating, but that will come another day.

See you next issue, warhams.

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