SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 35.5: Premium Issue 2

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 time again for our quarterly capital-P Premium assortment of warhams to be reviewed. As the postman gingerly placed this box on my doorstep, sealed with the gentlest of butterfly kisses, I felt my pulse slow and my blood pressure drop. Finally, it was time again for another massive smattering of models that I was ill-prepared for to find their way into my home.

The Magazine

The narrative section here is extremely light, not dissimilar from how most snack crackers and cookies I would purchase at the grocery store are now “___ Thins” when all I want are “___ Mediums”. I instead figured this would be the opportunity for the Imperium authors to go full Double Stuf with one F, but here we are with a single double sided page. We learn that Tyranid everything is alive, from their guns and ammo to their spaceships, with a brief sketch of how they do battle and what a sampling of their bio-weapons can do. The short version is: nothing I’d want done to me, and probably nothing you’d want done to you either. This slim section is followed by a trio of Battle Records for the kits included in this Premium box, each of which further fleshes out what these units do and where they fit in the Tyranid swarm. They also helpfully point out what each of the modeled upgrades are, so you’ll know that scrotal lump under the Genestealer’s mouth is an Acid Maw or whatever.

Trooper Kopick slurped another spoonful of cyberbeans from his ration can. “There I was, trousers down, lasgun in hand, surrounded by a whole swarm of them Blasterbugs!” His regional colloquial term for Termagants was lost on the troopers from the other regiments. “They’d been drawing our fire day in and day out, but I tell you what, they drew plenty of MY fire that day, ahuh huh huh” He pantomimed shooting a lasgun, full auto from the hip. Troopers Gaela and Torrin knew he was full of it.
“You’ve never fired a shot in anger in your life, Kopick.” Snorted Gaela, a combat engineer from Scott’s Adult Brother’s Apartment VII. “Let me tell you about the time me and the boys and girls of the Pringalian 69th took on the Severswarm.” Kopick grumpily took a seat, only shortly before raising his right hip and letting out a weak cyberbean-fueled toot. “Those bladed curs were making hit and run attacks on our supply lines all season, cutting us off. They weren’t called the Severswarm for nothin! Their burrowing claws had em digging out from behind our defenses like some kind of Taurellian megamoles, and we were in danger of losing our whole operation. That’s when we figured – what if we stick some local grox-meat onto some blasting charges and rig up a trap?” The other two troopers waited for her to continue. “Well, turns out ‘stealers don’t really want grox-meat, and a bunch of untrained troopers handling raw meat and explosives means you lose as many soldiers to unplanned explosions as you do to salmonella. Anyway, that’s why I’m here with you idiots.”
Torrin waited a respectful moment and finished chewing his own cyberbeans before adding his own threads to this narrative tapestry. “You ever hear about the Screeching Doom?” “That Pound Band from Destralia?” chimed in Kopick. “No you butthole” retorted Torrin. “Was a big one, one of them Broodlords. It’d killed every psyker in our entire regiment, maybe it was making a psychic beacon for its buddies or somethin. We couldn’t see the damned thing on account of its natural camouflage, and it buggered off right after munching on the brains of each of our eggheads.”
“Is that it?” said Gaela. “Yeah.” replied Torrin.
“There was no narrative tension and the ending was unsatisfying. Two stars.” Muttered Trooper Kopick. He farted again.

The Hobby Materials

Tyranids Broodlord
Tyranids Broodlord. Credits: That Gobbo

Included this issue are 12 Termagants, a Ripper Swarm, 8 Genestealers, 4 Infestation Nodes and a Broodlord. I will be reviewing these models in chronological order.

First up are the Termagants, the shooting variety of Gaunt and the skittering horde that makes up much of a typical Tyranid army. There is a very real chance that this kit is older than you, dear reader, as the copyright date on the sprue reads 2000. These launched with the 3rd edition Tyranid codex, and while they’re far better than their contemporary plastic Catachans and Dark Eldar, it’s a kit that has aged quite a bit. They all have these straight tails that are fairly unconvincing, and their heads are two halves that leave a nasty seam right down the middle. They’re fairly flat models, and their moldlines are a bear to deal with. They’re also one of the few 40k models still sold that use classic slottabases, with a slot where a tab attached to the model’s foot fits in to stand up. Options are plentiful – they have a load of weapon options that your average player will not be able to distinguish, and there’s plenty of fleshy bits to model various upgrades that have faded in and out of the game over the editions. Lastly, they come with the parts to make a single Ripper Swarm as well. I do like the Gaunt design and find it foundational to the Tyranid aesthetic, but these models are overdue for a new kit.

I built these very Genestealers during my brief tenure attempting to be a YouTuber, when I reviewed the game Lost Patrol. As they are from 2004, they too have some of the hallmarks of the Gaunts – loose fitting ball joint limbs, harsh mold lines, and small slotta bases that they are far too large for. There’s a real Barrel of Monkeys thing that happens whenever two or more of these models get within an inch of each other. Like the Gaunts before them, they’ve got bushels of upgrade bits to model various glands and sacs that may or may not still have rules depending when you read this. Their details are still pretty good and their designs are iconic, I just wish they were a little more user-friendly to clean up and assemble.

Lastly is the Broodlord. This kit is from 2013 and the most recognizable as a modern character kit. I prefer the look of the Space Hulk one from a few years before or the more recent Genestealer Cult Patriarch from the Broodcoven and Deathwatch Overkill boxed sets, but this is still a decent model. There’s some fiddly bits – separate dewclaws, fingers, and a tongue – that will require thin plastic glue and a deft hand, but the details are crisp and he has a commanding presence among your other skittering friends.

Credit: PierreTheMime

The instructions to build all of these are, if anything, a welcome update. It’s been a minute since I cracked open the box sets for these, but last I checked the Termagant instructions were still photos of the plastic bits. The instructions are thorough and walk hobbyists through everything from spinefists to toxin sacs, though I personally would leave off most of those grody doodads. I personally think they break up the silhouette of the model in an unappealing way but I’m an old man yelling at clouds over here.

The painting instructions are some of the best in Imperium yet, working up from a Rakarth Flesh basecoat to finish with a Hive Fleet Kraken scheme. The methods used utilize everything Imperium has taught the reader so far, from washes and drybrushing to new techniques heretofore unexplored. Edge highlights are used extensively, as are some markings applied by stippling. It really elevates an otherwise standard paintjob and means that a hobbyist following these instructions could get some pretty great results. Kraken Genestealers do all look like they’re wearing chitin sweatervests though, so maybe that element of the paintscheme could go back to the drawing board.

The Gaming Materials

Genestealers. Credit: Rockfish
Genestealers. Credit: Rockfish

We get fresh new Datasheets for each of the four units in this issue, and while it is recommended you have a bunch of advanced rules that have not yet been included in Imperium, I think anyone who has been playing along up til now should do just fine. If you have the juiced-up hyperbrain required to remember half the Admech rules, you can probably figure out “bug go forward and kill guy” and all the rest.

The mission this week takes us to planet Tragis; I’m unsure if that’s pronounced tra-jiss like tragedy or tray-gis/tray-jis like the part of your ear. This mission, Secure the Archeotech, sees this new Tyranid menace taking on the Adeptus Mechanicus. The lore justification is that these ‘nids are part of a splinter fleet and not part of the greater hive fleet, cut off from the hive mind and driven mad by the psychic dampening effect of some Necron ruins. The Mechanicus forces – a Techpriest Dominus, Techpriest Enginseer, 10 Skitarii and 3 Kataphron Destroyers – have to burn the four Infestation Nodes included in the Genestealer kit, using an action in their movement phase. Meanwhile, the Tyranids have to use their Broodlord, 8 Genestealears, 12 Gaunts, and Ripper Swarm to defend them. No terrain is used on the deployment map, which means this could be an extremely short game provided the Mechanicus forces get a single turn of shooting, which they very likely will. The Mechanicus has 5 turns to burn 3 out of 4 of these objectives, so unless you Forge Your Own Narrative and slap some terrain down on this board, you’re all but guaranteeing a Mechanicus victory. I doubt the authors of Imperium intended for the Tyranids to be the jobbers in their own dedicated issue, so let’s assume you’re supposed to use your imagination and, at this point, fairly decent terrain collection.

Final Verdict 35.5/80:

Assorted Ripper Swarms. Credit: Kevin Genson

As I established what feels like a lifetime ago in the previous Premium review, the Premium issues amount to about $60 for each, plus the odd tools and bits you occasionally receive. The Broodlord is normally $42 alone, the 8 Genestealers are $35, and the Termagants too run $35 new. At $112 worth of models, you’re getting nearly 50% off with this package. Now, many of these are some of the oldest models Games Workshop still produces and have some hallmarks of their Y2K vintage, so that may affect how much personal value you place on this largely ancient palette of plastic. The mission is weak from a gameplay and thematic perspective. Tyranids always strike me as an especially aggressive faction, so having them play defense in a mission without enough terrain feels wrong to me. The included lore is thin on the ground as well, although there’s been at least some writing about them in Imperium proper, so anyone reading along thus far shouldn’t be wholly lost. What we have here is a less compelling product than the previous Premium issue, but honestly a very strong start if one wanted to get into Tyranids. The units included are staples, and if you can get to grips painting these basic hordes you’ll be good to paint anything and everything short of a Hierophant Bio-Titan, as the textures remain consistent from bug to bug. I wish the written materials were stronger this quarter, but you’re basically getting a Combat Patrol for peanuts here, even if some of those peanuts are 22 years old.

See you next issue, warhams.

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