SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 32

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.

It is an auspicious day when my Imperium package arrives in the mail. For one, it means my next few weeks of this creative writing exercise masquerading as a column have their grist with which I can do some milling. Occasionally, someone will remind me that in their home country, they’re well past the issue of Imperium that I am currently covering. This is where I must remind them – and you, my dear, kind, cherubic reader – that as with all definitions of the word “issues”, the United States often falls behind the rest of the world.

The Magazine

Kataphron Breachers. Credit: Rockfish
Kataphron Breachers. Credit: Rockfish

Kataphron Destroyers are this week’s focus, and as expected we begin with a section on just what these tracked servitors are all about. In the summary of what all their various guns and bits do, Cognis Flamers are remarked on for their aggressive machine spirits, which cause “… the fires they project to burn with flesh-searing fury.” I don’t know if the Adeptus Mechanicus knows this, but the BBQ grill I got second degree burns from in 8th grade didn’t have a machine spirit and it still seared my flesh just fine. I’m just saying, maybe focus less on how angry the gun is and more on where it’s pointing.

A new unit means a new Battle Record, and this issue uses tables new and old to generate a story for our new cyborginators:

One did not deploy the Martian Dreadthralls lightly. The Alpha Fulminatus cohort of the Explorators Lethalis Macroclade were, if not the most elite servants of the Omnissiah, at least the most elite gathered at this particular macro-parking lot on Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV. This casual dining complex, the borderline-heretically named “Torko Borko“, no longer housed hungry workers at the end of their shifts or intoxicated delinquents, but a phalanx of xenos horrors utilizing it as cover. Acting on their programmed orders, Zhu -96.51 blasted a hole in the wall with their massive Plasma Culverin. Startled androids staggered towards the newly created window, too slow to react to Zhu -96.51 and their cyborg comrades. Chu -2918 leveled their own Plasma Culverin on the Necron Warriors in cover, blasting down half a dozen in a superheated ball of plasma. The last of the Dreadthralls, Kappic-Schoelendt  -XI, charged their Grav Cannon and brought the roof down on the remaining Necrons in cover, torching the area with their Cognis Flamer for good measure. Some long-buried human part of their brain stopped their binharic cant to utter just two words to their newly buried enemies:
“Die Más.”

We get to learn more about Servitors, Electro-Priests, Onager Dunecrawlers and Ironstrider Engines next – AKA – all the cool stuff you wish you had. Everything here has the air of the arcane about it, with plenty of body horror thrown in for good measure. While we’ve learned before about servitors and their whole grisly steez, this is the first we’ve read about those Electro-Priest weirdos, accompanied with some art of one doing the whole Emperor Palpatine “Unlimited power!” thing. Ironstrider Engines actually look fairly normal by Warhammer standards, at least until you learn their man-machine-interface is, well, another man, who is basically reduced a sightless pillow of flesh and permanently plugged into the walker like the alternator in your car. Lastly, Onager Dunecrawlers are piloted by hardwired Skitarii who are also permanently installed inside, and are one of the rare inventions of Arkhan Land that he didn’t name after himself. I can’t imagine the restraint of both Arkhan and the authors had to exercise not to call these “Arkhager Landcrawlers” or something similar. Games Workshop, if you want to use that one, have your people get in touch with my people.

Lastly, we learn about the Age of Strife and how the ramifications of that period are still playing out in the 41st millennium. Warp storms and other sometimes upper-case, sometimes lower-case-c chaotic events took place, and made sure nobody in the human race had a particularly nice time. Humanity’s own hubris and technological wonders led to its downfall, leading to the era of superstition and conservatism that is currently seeing the Aquila eat its own tail. This same period saw a psychic awakening (no relation to the 8th ed books) where people started getting cool psychic powers, which led to daemonic possessions and all the other stuff they call the Inquisition for now. Naturally, this resulted in the mistrust and hostility the Imperium has had towards psykers since. In a similar fashion, the Age of Strife saw opportunistic xenos preying on the crumbling pre-Imperial realms of the human race, and that too has since led to the open hostility towards any non-human since. This whole period of time is basically 40k prehistory, but it’s important to learn if you want to figure out how we got to the nightmare future of the 41st millennium.

The Hobby Materials

Kataphron Breachers. Credit: Corrode

We receive the first of our three Mutoids Man this week, with helpful instructions on how to build and paint our new betracked friend. The kit is from 2015, when Games Workshop bewilderingly released Codices Cult Mechanicus and Skitarii a month apart. I’m not usually the conductor of the cynicism train, but it was a particularly brazen move in a particularly brazen period of Warhammer history. The common lore is that it was due to how White Dwarf was structured and how that overlapped with a post-Chapterhouse lawsuit “don’t release rules without a model” edict, but these are real Uncle at Nintendo rumors and I can’t authenticate their truthiness. I doubt they’ll ever be verified, as no one will ever write a tell-all book about the Chaos Black box that surrounds the Warhammer studio, so those ancient rumors and hearsay are all we’ve got.

As an aforementioned 2015 kit, the Kataphrons are right from around when GW really nailed the digital sculpting and sprue layout process. The details are crisp, the moldlines are manageable, and the model assembles without altogether to much fuss. The included instructions are helpful, breaking the model down into subassemblies and marking out what bits will be used in future issues, as parts of the Kataphron kit are spread across a trio of sprues. The painting instructions aren’t anything too special, but they’ll get these betracked jerks looking suitably Martian. I like that they’re introducing subassemblies, as that is one of those skills that never was really pushed when I was starting out in the hobby all those years ago. I personally don’t feel like this model necessitates them, but that’s up to the hobbyist to decide.

The Gaming Materials

A Tech-Priest Dominus
Tech-Priest Dominus by Zuul the Cat

While the Kataphron Destroyer included in this issue is not game-legal in a typical game of 40k where their minimum unit size is 3, we do get to roll the single servitor out in this week’s mission, The Overlord’s Advance. The full rules for the unit are included, as are tutorial pages for Blast weapons, how the more esoteric Kataphron weapons play out, and most juicily, the Adeptus Mechanicus Canticles rules. These are those real 5-Dimensional Chess, galaxy brain-requiring rules that every Adeptus Mechanicus player will invariably fuck up. Maybe it’s a thematic thing, where you need a computer for a brain to actually remember and play them properly.

The mission, however, can be grokked by even my cannonball-smooth brain, and I’m here for it. Our new Kataphron Destroyer is joined by 10 Skitarii Rangers and a Tech-Priest Dominus, and they are facing down a Necron Overlord, 5 Immortals, and 10 Warriors. If the Overlord gets into the AdMech deployment zone by game’s end, it’s a Necron victory – otherwise, the game goes to the Mechanicus. The battlefield favors the Mechanicus slightly with the previous issue’s building to hide behind, but they’ll need it since they’re comparatively squishier. I like asymmetrical missions and outside of secondary objectives, you don’t get a ton in Matched Play 40k. It’s a decent enough mission, although a canny player will do their best to assassinate the roboss of the Necrons and win the game fast.

Final Verdict 32/80:

A trio of Kataphrons will set you back $60, and my American public school education tells me that 1/3 of that is $20. At $13.95, you’re saving about 30% off the MSRP for these guys, which is pretty decent. Kataphrons aren’t a no-brainer Troops choice, but I can see them finding their way into a lot of AdMech armies as backfield objective sitters and fire support. The expanded rules this week are huge for budding AdMech players, and the lore sections go hard into Mechanicontent while still touching on greater Imperial history. How much mileage you’ll get out of this issue will be directly proportional to how much you like Cyborgs from Mars, and if that trio of words – Cyborgs from Mars – doesn’t stir anything in you, I don’t right know why you’re reading this column.

See you next issue, warhams.

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