SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 3

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.

You know when you remove the plastic wrap on a GW box and open it up, it has that hard to place but nonetheless distinctive GW factory smell? Opening up each issue of Imperium is like microdosing that. This is the part where, legally, I have to inform you that you shouldn’t wear the plastic bag around your issue of Imperium like a diving helmet.

The Magazine

Assault Intercessors. Credit: SRM

The cover proclaims, in blocky, sans-serif, capslocked font, “DISCOVER ASSAULT INTERCESSORS”. Buddy, you didn’t have to yell at me to do just that, I would have volunteered. In fact, I kind of did by accepting this assignment.

If you couldn’t guess, this issue is all about introducing what Assault Intercessors are, how to paint them, and how to game with them in the slowly expanding Warhammer 40,000-adjacent gaming experience Imperium has hitherto been publishing. It begins with a solid page showing all the disparate wargear, markings, and rudimentary lore to let the reader know what these guys are about. It even has some context for why there’s only three dudes on the sprue instead of the usual five in a squad: they’ve taken casualties, and only three remain. Fortunately, they too have a Battle Record page, and if you’ve read any of these before you know I’m all about rolling up those D6 naming charts.

The three surviving members of Squad Mortan, Brother Uros, Brother Cyros, and Also Brother Cyros, had been deemed the Lions of Varakyr in their last battle. The fierce street fighting of Pringles Canburgh on Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV had cost them their sergeant and another battle-brother, yet still they fought on. Uros, a consummate duelist, tasted the battle in the air. Cyros, the most zealous of his brethren, prayed for good fortune before their next engagement. Also Cyros, meanwhile, was checking the payload of his grenades. He had an eye for sending a grenade to the right place at the right time, and he wasn’t about to disappoint his brethren.

Following this dice-based creative writing exercise, there are a few pages on what Tomb Worlds and the greater Imperium are, plus some galaxy maps and boxouts on Imperial and Necron cultures. It’s basic, foundational stuff, and nothing an experienced ‘ham wouldn’t already know. I particularly enjoyed the Assault on Drakthyr short story that follows these pages. It’s a straightforward two-page tale describing what is essentially a charge and fight phase between some Assault Intercessors and Necron Warriors. Short fiction like this is important for newcomers to get a picture of what these dudes do. All this is, of course, dressed up with some lovely product photography and art. Most if it I’ve seen before, but it does make for an appealingly designed magazine.

This issue, in a parallel to the previous issue you will continue to see, also contains a pot of paint. In this case, it’s a pot of Macragge Blue. It’s a good paint! It covers nicely and is an appealing, slightly purple-toned and slightly desaturated shade of blue. I already go through the stuff like it was candy, and let me tell you: I have one sharp sweet tooth. Perversely, this issue’s painting guide again tells a prospective new hobbyist to paint directly over the plastic. I had quite a few thoughts on this in the previous entry in this series, and I will reiterate the key one here:

…”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.”

There’s some logistical reasons for why this shakes out the way it does, but it’s still frustrating. The rest of the painting advice on keeping your pots clean, using a palette instead of painting out of the pot, basic brush care, etc. are all valuable and useful info that I wish I knew as a wee one. It again encourages three thin coats instead of a single goopy one, which is good advice, and runs through how to paint the Assault Intercessors from this issue as well as the Lieutenant from week 1. Painting directly over plastic though, not a fan.

It stops at “getting them blue” and I am curious how stretching the painting process out like this would affect a new player’s engagement. Then I think of my friend who I have been hitting up for new player perspective, and his horde of 2/3 completed Warriors that he is waiting on the right technique to finish, and I no longer worry.

The Models

WIP Assault Intercessors. Credit: SRM

Much like the trio of Necron Warriors in issue #2, this one contains a trio of Assault Intercessors. They have sculpted close support and Ultramarines markings, and are in a trio of poses somewhat distinct from the other varietals of AssIncesto available in the starter sets or their own standalone box. In another echo of the previous issue, these are models available from the Assault Intercessors + Paint Set, sans most of the paints.

Some folks, namely those with less refined tastes and worse fashion sense, might decry the sculpted-on Ultramarines iconography. As the owner of no fewer than three 40k-scaled Ultramarines armies, I can say without a hint of bias or doubt: these details own. They are slightly shallow yet discernible, and for the new painters these models are aimed at, they provide a defined canvas to practice detail work on. Said iconography also means new painters won’t have to struggle with transfers, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone without Micro-Set, Micro-Sol, and varnish.

Assembling these Assault Intercessors is a fairly simple process. Not to any% speedrun here, but I built the trio of them in about 20 minutes with some light cleanup. There are some weird crunching points on their feet that seem to be an artifact of the 3D sculpting process and but the details are otherwise crisp as any modern Citadel miniature. I would recommend reading over the instructions and dry fitting them on their bases though – it can be kind of hard to predict how the hex-shaped pegs on their feet will fit into their bases. It would also be trivial to either snip off the guides on their necks to reposition their heads, or leave them off and use different heads from your bits box. Their wide-open poses are particularly inviting to new painters, and the dude tossing a grenade is pleasantly distinct from my serried ranks of extant choppy bois. I do wish they were closer to a minimum sized unit of 5, but it’s not exactly hard to source a pair of Intercessor bodies.

Also a quick note on the starter brush from the previous issue. Over the course of painting a squad of infantry models and doing a fair bit of work on a Repulsor Executioner, it is starting to fray and the brush currently has a capital Y-shaped tip. It has been relegated to my metallic basecoat brush, as it is no longer especially suitable for detail work.

The Gaming Materials

Necron warriors close-up
Necron warriors close-up. Credit: Chris Cowie

This mission, Hold Them Back!, entails the Assault Intercessors defending a locator beacon from a Necron attack. This mission’s intent is to teach how charging and fighting in melee work; unsurprising given the included models. The Necron player can move and shoot in the simplified manner of previous issues, skipping the wound roll and just trying to hit a 3+ on their two shots a piece. Melee works much the same, although only the Space Marine player gets to do that. Instead, they get to roll a pair of chainsword attacks, again looking for a 3+. The Necrons don’t get to participate in assault, preferring instead to be wailed upon like so many Bozo Bop Bags. Their only recourse is to fall back and hope they don’t get charged and murdered, but with the tiny space of the playmat, I doubt they’ll get far. Interestingly, much in the way the Space Marine player can’t shoot, they also can’t fall back. I’m glad the included rules represent my favorite Space Marine mantra, And They Shall Know Bravery Mode. The game is finished when one side’s models are destroyed or the Necrons reach the locator beacon.

This scenario is pretty firmly in favor of the Marines; between a 6″ move and a 2d6″ charge roll, they’re all but guaranteed to get into assault right from the get go. Necrons do have one turn to shoot them up and potentially could hold an Intercessor in place long enough to get to the objective, but it’s an uphill battle for the roboners. It does encourage players to swap places and try from the other perspective at the end, which I do like. Asymmetrical scenarios are always fun to play as “score attack” games where two people can compete to see how well they do or how quickly they achieve victory. I’m glad that time-honored tradition is encouraged here.

Final Verdict 3/80:

Again, this issue contains some genuinely useful stuff for an aspiring warham. Assault Intercessors can find their way into just about any varietal of Space Marine army, and Macragge Blue is a great basic color that every painter should have in their toolbox.

As for our fourth excursion into Imperium, I am waiting on a shipping notification on my next box. At time of publication, its whereabouts are a mystery.

See you next issue, warhams.

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