SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 29

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 write this as I am at the tail end of my 31st year on this planet, and yet it will not see your eyes until my 32nd at least. Think of this as an extremely low-yield time capsule from the past, to be opened by you in my future but your own present. Three trillion six hundred thirty billion of my cells will have changed in that time, and while that may sound like an awful lot, it’s not even a 10th of the meat Gundam I pilot on a daily basis. Thinking about the proverbial Ships of Theseus we all inhabit has occupied much of my mental space whilst reading Imperium, with such trademarkable vocabulary words as “biotransference” and “servo-skull” cohabitating with more general sci-fi ideas themes like transhumanism and cool robot parts. Maybe I’ll get some of those next year.

The Magazine

Black Templars vs. Genestealer Cults. Credit: SRM and Max

In lieu of a Battle Record section (which was already covered last week), this issue has an even wider breadth of narrative content than normal. The first of these concerns the Forge World of Mars. Martian machines and personnel (and combinations thereof) find their way into every corner of Imperial space, from battlefields alongside the ground forces of the Imperium, to the Imperial fleets that sail the stars, and even on other Forge Worlds. Of these, Mars is the largest and most influential, hence why they get to be on the box art. The bulk of their lore is pretty generic for Adeptus Mechanicus types, as they suffer from being the poster bots for the faction. “Generic” lore about vat-grown cyborgs and holy rites just to start the engine on your 1997 Jeep Cherokee are pretty cool though, so take “generic” with a marble-sized grain of salt.

Inquisitor Gallius Shaarn blows up our inbox once again this month, giving a brief presentation on what Genestealer Cults are all about. I first read about Genestealer Cults and their whole situation when I was the wee-est of bairns, poring over the musty, black and white pulp paper rulebook of my dad’s first edition of Space Hulk. That lore was more phantasmagorical but less comprehensive, spelling out the differences between each generation of hybrids in somewhat grody detail. This time, most of the work is done by professional illustrations and not by the imagination of a precocious 7 year old. Here we have a better overview of what the whole faction is all about, how wide they spread into Imperial society, and how their hierarchy works. They’re a cool faction, though little link is made between Genestealer Cults and the Tyranid hivemind, and the punchline of the faction (“Tyranids arrive, everyone dies”) is left out.

Space Marine Fire Support units, fittingly, back up these first two articles. The Magic the Gathering flavor text-length descriptors of Hellblasters, Eradicators, Eliminators and Aggressors provide the fluff that backs up each unit’s respective crunch on the tabletop. Some efforts towards force organization are made here as well. I will admit, as a 30something with one foot dangling daintily over the grave, I miss the more defined chapter organization of the pre-Primaris era, but I understand that there is a freedom to not having a chapter’s forces be delineated so rigidly. Basically two squads per company are going to be one of these Fire Support squads, or they’ll be lent out by the 9th company. It’s the kind of thing that can make your force feel more “real” if you want to think about it, but can also easily be ignored. My article Nobody Cares How You Paint Your Space Mans was written to expound upon this specific point, even with its more derisive original title of Nobody Cares How You Paint Your Space Barbies. Rob rejected that title, for reasons I cannot myself fathom. Maybe when I’m his age I’ll understand.

Blood Angels Assault Terminators With TH/SS. Primaris Scale. - Credit: Colin Ward
Blood Angels Assault Terminators With TH/SS. Primaris Scale. – Credit: Colin Ward

Into The Swarm (emphasis theirs) is one of the rare short stories to appear in Imperium. This one pits Blood Angels vs. Tyranids in a battle that desperately needs an editor. The word “above” is used three times in two sentences within seventeen words. Sentence fragments are abundant. Words are capitalized in places where there should have been a period, but no punctuation was inserted. There is a run on sentence that spans an entire paragraph. In one sentence the Tyranid Hive Tyrant notices Named Character Captain Arenos Karlaen, in the next it doesn’t. It’s a poorly written bit of bolter porn scribed solely to describe how cool Terminator armor is. I’m not gonna say I’ve read better on Wattpad, but I’ve certainly read better on

Lastly in this fatty ham steak of a lore section, we have a foldout on the Forge World of Amontep II, and the battle between the Necrons and Adeptus Mechanicus there. This is largely info from the old Forgebane box set, and the photos and art also date back to that particular collection of plastic and cardboard. I purchased Forgebane at Comicazi in Somerville, Massachusetts in May of 2018 after drinking several beers at Five Horses Tavern right across the street. My now-wife, then-girlfriend and I stumbled into the store, killing time before seeing Deadpool 2 at the Somerville Theatre, and I was able to make the case that no, seriously, I needed this box of robots. She was likely paging through X-Men comics, trying to find what particular color of X-Men she was reading at the time; either X-Men Gold, X-Men Blue, or X-Men Red. As I would find out sometime after the credits rolled on David Leitch’s second best directorial work, and then again now, it turns out the Forge World of Amontep II was built on top of an existing Necron tomb complex. The forces of Mars and the Sautekh Dynasty – both broken down here and included in that old box set – would proceed to fight over the planet’s precious Noctilith reserves.

The Hobby Materials

Necron Warriors. Credit: Wings

This issue’s hobby section is a painting tutorial concerning the Necron Warriors received in this issue and the last. It should look familiar to a reader at this point. These are not an exact reprinting of the instructions from issue 10, but contain broadly similar information and photography. This should come as no surprise, as these are the exact same models. They are good models, if limited in their options, and any Necron player will probably need a veritable buttload of them to build an effective army.

The Gaming Materials

Canoptek Spyder. Credit: Rockfish
Canoptek Spyder. Credit: Rockfish

The rules section gets nitty and/or gritty, going into rules sequencing, specific terminology with regards to unit strength, modified characteristics, degrading profiles, and more besides. This is capped off with updated Phobos Librarian and Aggressor Squad datasheets, which reflect a few of these newly reestablished rules. Lastly, I think we have the first appearance of Light Cover in Imperium, with a little diagram showing some dudes shooting the Librarian. It might come in handy this week!

This week’s mission, Valkyrie Down, has a “covert force” of the Librarian and charmingly unsubtle Aggressor units attempting to extract the crew and cargo from a downed Valkyrie gunship. Meanwhile, a Canoptek Spyder, 6 Canoptek Scarab Swarms, and 5 Necron Immortals are trying to break through the Space Marine line to get to said cargo and crew. The crashed Valkyrie does not appear in this issue for somewhat obvious reasons, though it would have been cool to have a card cutout for it. Instead, it is represented by an objective held at the edge of Marine territory where Necrons are trying to break through. Importantly, the Necrons need to come to the Marines here, and Flamestorm Aggressors are one of those units you don’t generally want to close with. Whoever holds the objective at the bottom of turn 5 wins. It’s a straightforward mission but the narrative is a cool one, and is somewhat backed up by the terrain layout.

Final Verdict 29/80:

Necron Warriors
Necron Warriors. Credit: Pendulin

This issue was packed, osmium-dense, with lore, rules, and more besides. While the short story was, frankly, bupkis, the rest was fun and informative to read through. The models remain strong, the rules continue to flourish, and the higher quality of the rest of the content healthily outweighs the weaker material. I broke down the cost last week, but if you’re just in it for the models, this isn’t a bad issue for the price either.

See you next issue, warhams.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at