SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 31

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.

In my hams-adjacent gaming career, terrain has always come well after models, rules, and the other assorted accoutrements of wargaming. I grew up with scrappy foamcore terrain, held together with hot glue and reeking of pilfered spraypaint from someone’s dad’s garage. Terrain out of a box was scarce at this time, and when GW finally came out with their first modular plastic ruins, it was a hard sell to spend allowance and birthday money on plastic for the common good of the high school gaming group, as opposed to contributing to the teenage arms race and purchasing a then-new plastic Vindicator or what have you. How far we’ve come, when some 17 years later, an accessible and sizeable plastic ruin was sent via Imperium, an entry-level product largely intended for the latest edition of those very teenage dirtbags we once were.

The Magazine

Blood Angels MkVI Tactical Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter

The cover of this issue declares that today, we will learn about the Blood Angels. However, before we get to that cultured crew of crimson cavaliers, we’ve got the star of this issue: The Ruined Factorum. This building, which I will detail further in the Hobby Materials section of this review, essentially gets two pages and two Battle Records to give it context. Rudimentary architectural concepts like “upper floors” and “walls” are boxed out for the reader, and Private Ripley “Ripcord” Vahlen waxes wistfully about the time he didn’t die because he hid in a building. I feel that explicitly outlandish concepts like psykers, post-human supersoldiers, and actual factual daemons from Space Hell are helped by these in-universe quotations, but chances are pretty good you’re reading this from a building, or at least in sight of one. After a smidge of lore about storage warehouses and shipping lanes, we get some Battle Records to roll up:

You may think “it is impossible for a building to have a soul” but that would not strictly be true. While the memories of their human form were long, long behind them, the servo-skull currently serving as the doorbell for Manufactorum Cloister Binharic Designation 8008135-0w0-x69 still held onto the barest scraps of their long-lost consciousness. Time was lost on them, but in recent… years? Days? Centuries? Their rockcrete and steel body had served as an impromptu Medicae Facility for the Imperial defenders of Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV. The fighting for Metropole Gamma had always/never been this fierce by the servo-skull’s recollection, and it barely registered the shipments of bionic enhancements stored within its shell.
One flash of consciousness would see android legions of Necrons marching inexorably towards the door, weapons crackling. Another flash revealed the blazing heraldry of the Adeptus Astartes as they surged past the door. Back and forth, back and forth, time in and time out, Manufactorum Cloister Binharic Designation 8008135-0w0-x69 saw lives end and heroes made, all for this one structure and the goods inside.
“It is so nice to be wanted.” the doorbell thought.

The forge worlds of Lucius and Agrippina each get a page featuring their iconography, a lovely illustration detailing their uniforms, and a smidge of lore each. They also have some of those 40k as hell prayer quotes that are like the prayers we used to say in Sunday school, but more grounded in reality. These two forge worlds read similarly, but some emphasis is given to their preferred army constructions – Ironstriders and Serberys Corps for Lucius, and Sulphurhounds and Archaeopters for Agripinaa. Spelling out the preferences and tendencies of these armies in digestible chunks like this is helpful when distinguishing the red, black, and cream Admech guys from the cream, red, and black Admech guys.

As previously alluded to, there is finally some info about the Blood Angels. In addition to some real He-Man looking artwork (and I do mean that in a strictly positive sense), there is a lightning-quick rundown of what the Blood Angels are all about. The Flaw, The Black Rage, the Red Thirst, and some of their main antagonists are each given a cursory description. Of course, Commander Dante gets a moment to shine as well, funny as his model is older than the target demographic of this magazine. I hope they let him retire, as he is not just one of the oldest models still available in the real world, but the oldest living Space Marine in the setting. If Guy Haley’s next Dante book has the line “I’m getting too old for this shit” in it, I will personally mail him 20 United States dollars. That can probably buy at least 4 Dante models in his home of Hebden Bridge, England, given the relative strength of the Great British Pound at time of writing.

The Hobby Materials

Manufactorum Ruins. Credit: SRM

This issue contains sprue B of the Battlezone Manufactorum: Sub-Cloister and Storage Fane set, which can otherwise be found… somewhere, I guess? Terrain seems to in and out of circulation constantly, so I’m unsure of where else you will be able to pick this up by the time you read this. Warzone Vertigus? Manufactorum Ruins? Are those anything? It’s in the 9th edition Command Edition starter set along with all sorts of other terrain doodads, but unless you get that delicious seven layer burrito of a box set, you’re not getting this anywhere else.

Irrespective of its questionable origin, this ruin is a compactly designed little kit and remarkably simple to clean up and put together. I got through building mine in about half an hour of background noise YouTube videos where somebody made themselves sick eating everything on a B-tier fast food restaurant menu. There is a vestigial tailbone in this model, an evolutionary dead end I have not found on any other GW terrain kit. There is a unique tongue-and-groove system for attaching the two halves of the walls. Resultantly, there’s no modularity with these, and the interior of the columns are hollow with some pipe detailing. This assembly system at first delighted and then disappointed me, as it made it exceptionally difficult to achieve a snug fit between the walls of each ruin section. I didn’t strictly dislike building this model, but I was somewhat frustrated with the end result. Perhaps if it wasn’t shipped in a mylar bag, prone to bending and warping, the fit may be closer to exact. I think the larger gaps along the halves might be a problem with the kit itself though, as even the pictures in the magazine show a noticeable gulf between the walls that is only a smidge cleaner than mine. Pushing the two halves together also meant jamming my fingers hard (and I do mean hard) to work through the grandma’s homemade sweater-snug fit of the tongue and groove system. The detail is largely fantastic, with all the rivets, skulls, and twisted metal you would hope to see on a piece of 40k ruins. The only disappointment is the underside of the floors. This building looks great from above, but the veritable grundle of the second storey floor undersides have this goopy, unfinished, inside of a 3D model sort of look. You’re most definitely never meant to look at this part, and you seldom will, but it’s rare for the company that fully details the interior of its tanks you glue shut to leave something so muddy and seemingly incomplete. One less thing for me to paint, anyway.

The instructions to build this piece of terrain are brief, as it’s only 7 pieces with no options or leftover bits, and you don’t even need glue. Painting takes up a significantly larger percentage of this hobby section, and while you’ll end up using a whole pot of Nuln Oil to get the effect they show, it’s a decent standard of terrain painting. There are as many ways to paint terrain as there are people who’ve painted it, but I went with something between our own Manufactorum tutorial and our Fronteris tutorial to get a decent look, with drybrushing, Contrast, and some sponging to taste. Once upon a time I individually painted and highlighted every single skull on a piece of Cities of Death ruins, and I’m still using that piece of terrain in almost every game of 40k I play to justify the hours spent edge highlighting eye sockets and nasal bones. This is my way of saying not to sweat the details. Just vibe, wash, and drybrush your terrain.

The Gaming Materials

Black Templars Assault Intercessors. Credit: SRM

Fittingly, terrain rules are fleshed out this week, with concepts like Obscuring, Defensible, Submissive and Breachable all defined for the reader. A helpful tip is to make notes for what traits a piece of terrain has, which I have seen done with little street signs and other, less immersive markers. A helpful diagram says this Manufactorum may as well have a No Vehicles Allowed sign out front, as the Canoptek Spyder is rudely refused entry.

Urban Warfare is the name of the game as well as the article, as this week’s mission is to Capture the Factorum. A Primaris Lieutenant leads two combat squads of Assault Intercessors against a defending phalanx of 10 Necron Warriors, 5 Immortals, and a Royal Warden, with the mission of holding this issue’s included ruin. The battle is designed to be played in a 3-game microcampaign, with the winner of each round deploying in and around the ruin, and whoever holds it at the end of game 3 wins. The Necrons start by controlling it, and are definitely better suited to hunkering down and shooting out of cover than rushing in and taking ground by force. Defending as the Marines might be difficult since they’ll rely on bolt pistol potshots until the Necrons get close, but I think they’ve got the leg up on this one. I like linking games and introducing that concept to new players is great, even in a way as lightweight as this one.

Final Verdict 31/80:

Ork Kommandos. Credit: SRM, Jake, and Games Workshop

When it was still widely available, the Sub-Cloister and Storage Fane kit retailed for $60. At $13.95 for half of that kit (with the other half to be delivered in issue 34, should we believe this very magazine) you’re looking at over 50% savings on a kit that you can’t even buy on its own anymore. That’s phantom savings! The rest of the material here – the microcampaign, the lore sections, and the more detailed terrain rules – are all going to be valuable to newcomers but less so to old fogeys with one foot in the grave like me. I think the ruin alone makes this issue worth it, however, and even with my misgivings about its construction, I think it’s a valuable and highly functional piece of terrain at a bargain basement price.

See you next issue, warhams.

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