SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 30

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.

This morning I stood over the kitchen sink, messily eating a breakfast pastry like someone’s divorced dad. I thought to myself “What am I covering in Imperium this week again? I really hope it’s a paint issue, I can knock one of those out by lunch.”

It was, indeed, a paint issue.

The Magazine

Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii
Adeptus Mechanicus – Skitarii. Credit: Pendulin

As is typical with issues of this particular ilk, there is a hefty variety of lore to make up for a shorter hobby section. Naturally, this begins with a Battle Record – in this case a Cohort Roster to record your entire Adeptus Mechanicus force. There are a few hints at Techpriests and Kataphrons to come here, but more than anything, it’s an excuse to roll on some tables and make up some malarkey for you all:

How does a cohort earn the name “Dust Striders”? Tech-Priest Dominus Alb-511, Surveyor of Mars spared a sole mental process to this wandering thought. Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV had little in the way of dust fields, so where would a Dust Strider Cohort even stride? Perhaps this was an intended slight from Mars. Alb-511 purged the thought as Tov-089 came within noosphere transfer distance. Alb-511 sent their inferior Techpriest a query: “Are the maniples ready for war?” Tov-089 replied, with the whole conversation taking less than a second. “Skitarii Maniple designation ‘Tsiphonian Vanguard’ is prepared. Skitarii Alpha designation Rho-4 reports optimal operations. Kataphron Maniple Tsiphonian Vanguard also reports optimal operations. Query: Why do both Maniples report the same designation?”
Alb-511 cut their noosphere link and stroked their chin, an old human habit. How could a tracked Kataphron unit be a Dust Strider? They had no legs with which to stride. Matters of philosophy are typically outside the purview of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but this question would bother the Surveyor of Mars until their eventual death on the killing fields of Pringalia.

It’s not all Martian cyborgs and tech-weirdos this week, as we also have a large section on Ultramarines successor chapter. In addition to showing off some cool and underrepresented paint schemes, you get a couple sentences per chapter that spell out what each of their whole 1000-strong steez is. Spreads like this are great for newcomers because they show them how broad the setting is, but also opens up opportunities for their own homebrew armies and stories. I’ve always been more interested in “canon” chapters due to my own weaponized nostalgia, but you, as ever, should do you.

Novokh Praetorian. Credit: Beanith

The next section is fleshing out (Necrodermising out? Whatever) the Necron faction by diving into the Novokh Dynasty. They were all about blood rituals before their biotransferrence from flesh to metal, and now they’re all about hating meat-creatures and bathing in their blood. Some bedirtstached teenager is, right this moment, writing a terrible metal song about this on the inside back cover of their prealgebra textbook. It owns. It’s a scheme as cool as it is underrepresented, with only a bit of existing and somewhat off-model artwork to illustrate it. They’re bloodthirsty and reckless, quite different from the comparatively buttoned-up Sautekh Dynasty Necrons we’ve been reading about up until this point. I remember a time when all Necrons were just mindless automatons, so seeing the faction have opportunities for different characters and stories has been a welcome development.

Lastly, we have another article with a dope as hell Warhammer phrase, Remnants of a Dark Age. Aside from sounding like a Pallbearer album title, this goes into the lost technology of the Imperium. It touches on the fear of progress the average Imperial citizen has, and how technology is indistinguishable from witchcraft to most. One of the first questions I remember asking of the 40k settings as a young’un was “why aren’t there any robots?” and this explains the exact reasons why. It’s also a great article for enumerating on why you really don’t want to live in this particular setting. Writing like this defines why 40k is different from other science fiction/science fantasy settings, and I’m glad the authors of Imperium have ensured pieces like this are included in this little weekly magazine.

The Hobby Materials

Ultramarines Heavy Intercessors. Credit: SRM

The two included paints in this issue are ones I have purchased for my own hobby many, many times. Mephiston Red is maybe the first good true red Games Workshop have ever produced, easily covering light or dark basecoats in one or two thin coats. Some of you may have preferred the old Mechrite Red Foundation paint, but I always thought it was kinda muddy and dried like a particularly grody shade of nail polish. I use Mephiston Red as the base for the cloaks and red armor of my Stormcast Eternals, the red weapons of my Black Templars, and the gems, lenses, and doodads of seemingly every army or gang I work on. It’s a 10/10, all-timer color, and I use it frequently. The second, Mournfang Brown, is one I keep purchasing mistakenly thinking it’s Doombull Brown. I can only keep so many fictional critters in the bestiary of my mind palace, and this one unfortunately falls through the cracks on the regular. This brown has a milk chocolate tone to it, making it pretty solid for leather or as a base for some skintones. I use it fairly regularly as a highlight for some warmer leather colors, and it should find its way into your collection for just such occasions.

These two colors are unleashed on the still-in-progress Ultramarines we have been seeing week in and week out. Mournfang Brown is applied to all of their leather details, while Mephiston Red is utilized on the helmets of sergeants and layered up into the Ultramarine Captain’s cloak. Some basics of thinning your paints are explored here, but the instructions are largely “base, wash, relayer” and the models shown are painted to an attainable and appealing standard.

The Gaming Materials

Necron Skorpekh Destroyers
Skorpekh Destroyers. Credit: Pendulin

The barest hint of the Command Phase wafts across these pages like a scratch n’ sniff sticker from days of old. The word “stratagem” is written for, to my knowledge, the first time in the publication of Imperium. This term and its associated Command Point resource are dangled tantalizingly in the face of the reader, only to be pulled away before this week’s mission can be presented.

Said mission has an Ultramarines force of a Lieutenant, 5 Assault Intercessors, and 3 Aggressors attempting to stop the endless Necron advance, represented here by an Overlord, 10 Warriors, 3 Skorpekh Destroyers, and a lone Plasmacyte. Those last two units have updated datasheets in this very issue, which have a slight typo that could break things if you’re a pedantic nerd. You cannot take more Szarekhan Plasmacytes than there are Sarekhan (sic) Destroyer units, so technically you can’t take one, again, if you’re a pedantic nerd. Most people won’t realize this typo of a made-up word, and those who do should absolutely not give a toot about it, but it’s my duty as a reviewer to let you know. That’s journalistic integrity, dear reader.

This mission reads like it has huge stakes for the world of Tsiphos, on which all of Imperium’s battles have taken place. This decisive battle has our two forces fight over some Munitorum Cargo Containers and a pair of objectives along the center of the field. These should provide some line of sight blocking terrain, which is an interesting wrinkle with so many melee and close range units involved. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins, but if you completely destroy your opponent’s force, you win immediately. I like having multiple win conditions, and this one couldn’t be more straightforward.

Final Verdict 30/80:

Ultramarines Primaris Lieutenant. Credit: SRM

I notice I use this photo pretty often in my Imperium reviews, but I painted it and write these things so you can’t stop me. Like most paint issues, this particular installment of Imperium does not represent the best dollar value – $13.95 for $9.10 worth of paint is decidedly not great. The important question is whether the other materials represent a great enough value to make up for that $4.80 gap. For someone like myself who is well-versed in the 41st millennium, I would say that value isn’t there. Though the writing quality is good, it’s largely information I am already familiar with. For a newcomer, however, the painting guides and lore sections would likely prove valuable. Learning about the hobby as a whole is tricky given the depth and breadth of works one can experience, so this wide-ranging approach continues to be a handy way to introduce someone to the setting.

See you next issue, warhams.

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