SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 35

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.

As I was digging out my old Techpriest Enginseer model for this review, a memory forced its way to the forefront of my mind, a gust of sensation and remembrance rattling the shutters of my psyche. In November 2016, I was looking longingly at the shelves at Boston’s newly established Warhammer store, right near the hollowed remains of my favorite burrito place in Brookline. To my right was a stranger standing beside me, also looking at the well-stocked racks of models, paints, and rulebooks. A relatively recently released box on display contained both a Leman Russ and a Techpriest Enginseer, and while he did not need a Techpriest, I did not need need yet another Leman Russ in my own Imperial Guard army, the Valhallan 32nd Rifles. We shook hands and split the box; me taking the world’s most audaciously dressed mechanic and him taking the main battle tank, with both of us saving a few bucks in the process. Wherever you are, dear stranger, I hope your tank has served you well. If you are reading this, know that the Techpriest I acquired with you that day has spent many a game hanging in the back of my own Imperial Guard parking lot, keeping my guns firing and hulls intact for many a game. I also may have subjected my opponents to an insufferable Dawn of War Techpriest impression, which itself is not altogether too different from my Monarch impression. I have a lot of friends.

The Magazine

Techpriest Enginseer and Servitors. Credit: SRM

Some wonderful art of a Techpriest Enginseer is on the cover of this issue, and this humble support unit gets to take center stage, furiously tap dancing for all the world to see. Here we learn about all their equipment and what they do on the battlefield. It’s written that in times of war (which is all of 40k – There Is Only War, after all) they perform field repairs in the armies they’re attached to with their various tools, all of which are also weapons. Most perplexing is the unusually generic name for their sidearm – Mechanicus Pistol. While I do enjoy the naming convention of Army Gun, this was news to me as the gun on the model is holstered, and was previously assumed to be a humble laspistol.

Valfurion Siraxus, Master of Automatons, always liked to surround himself with his own creations. Servitor Designation Kas-66.75/mk98, of the Pringalia mk98s, was an especially nuanced creation. Valfurion even let his favored servitor act as his personal arming servitor, a task as honorable as it was radioactive. With battle on the horizon, Valfurion keyed his wrist-cogitator and began the equipping sequence. First, his servo-arm, Cognitic Divinator, whirred to life, its jaws testing their crushing capacity and its drills finalizing their ideal level of torque and RPM. Next, Servitor Designation Kas-66.75/mk98 presented their master/creator with his relic Omnissian Axe, Mk. 3 Blade. It had broken enough times that Valfurion would no longer deign to give it a proper title, and its machine spirit was as fragile and temperamental as its Martian steel. Finally, with a rapid clicking of his Geiger counter, he unholstered and thumbed on his Mechanicus Pistol, Mk. 4.XII Annihilator. This too had broken many, many times, but it had kept its proper title. When Valfurion was still a child mostly of flesh, he thought the name “Annihilator” sounded, in his youthful words, “cool as hell”. Now, as a borderline ancient adult, he still knew it to be true.

After defining just who our new plastic friend is, we get to learn about a few more forge worlds. First is Stygies VIII, “The Ever Staring Cyclops” in the parlance of this magazine. As far as subtitles go, “The Ever Staring Cyclops” goes harder than most. These black and red-clad dudes are all about xenos technology, and have a borderline heretical interest in utilizing and studying it. In a very Warhammer bit of irony, their forbidden studies are the only reason the Imperium understands Blackstone as well as it does, and yet they are shunned and investigated by the Inquisition for actually trying to learn and better understand the universe. You know, that thing the Mechanicus is nominally supposed to be doing.

Stygies VIII and Agripinaa Skitarii – Credit Beanith

Graia is the contrasting forge world overleaf, who, well, again just wear red. They kind of all just wear red. Graia’s deal is defeating their foes with facts and logic, and they’re so rational that they can even resist psychic powers. These guys sound like they’d be insufferable to hang out with.

Lastly, we get a brief summary of the Imperium after the Horus Heresy, and after the internment of the Emperor in the Golden Throne. Hope, reason, and enlightenment died, and in its place the Imperium lived on as an ignorant, arrogant, dogmatic husk. When you think back to how this universe was dreamt up in the depths of the Cold War, Thatcherism, and economic depression, it’s easy to see how one could simply write about the world around them and throw it into space then break for lunch. This section further details how the armies of the Imperium were reformed to keep something like the Heresy from happening again, and also what the traitors got up to during and after the Scouring. Short answer: they seethed and malded and made a bunch of daemonic pacts before raiding the Imperium in what would be known as The Long War. In our actual, less-plastic world, “The Long War” was a term used by the Provisional IRA to refer to their struggles against British oppression in the 70s and onward. The difference of course being that one was the name for a plan to throw off the yoke of an oppressive colonialist power and the other is summoning daemons and wearing human leather in a toy soldier game, but someone more educated on the matter than myself could probably figure what the Games Workshop writers were going for. If you’re ever complaining about politics being injected into your game about a fascist nightmare future, this is my reminder to you that they’ve always been there, if not always coherently or consistently.

The Hobby Materials

Enginseer. Credit: Rockfish
Enginseer. Credit: Rockfish

The Techpriest Enginseer included in this issue, originally part of the Imperial Guard range, is sort of a dry run for the Adeptus Mechanicus range that followed it. While I think the metal models that preceded it had better poses and some slightly more interesting details, it’s still a solid plastic model and one that is enjoyable to build and paint. The assembly instructions are pretty simple – this dude’s got fewer pieces than I have fingers – but it does encourage leaving the backpack off and painting in subassemblies. The only issues I may warn hobbyists of with this model are the relative fragility of the Servoskull’s floaty cable, and the seams where the shoulders of this model join. Some plastic glue or sprue goo should at least take care of the latter.

The painting instructions are okay enough; there’s a lot of little details here that even the dedicated 4 pages of instructions can feel a little scant on. They also recommend basecoating the whole model in Leadbelcher, when I would recommend black, irrespective of what forge world you will be painting him in. There’s a lot of recessed and hard to reach areas around the robes, and priming black will give you some natural shadow to smooth that over. It does at least recommend scraping the contact points off before gluing the subassemblies together though, which is especially important if you’re using plastic glue. I failed to do that on an Ork squad I painted on sprue in college, and if they were so much as nudged they would explode like the Putties from Power Rangers.

The Gaming Materials

Adeptus Mechanicus - Tech-Priest Enginseer
Adeptus Mechanicus – Tech-Priest Enginseer Credit: Pendulin

This is a rules-heavy gaming section, as we are learning how to fight with multiple weapons (in this case, the Techpriest’s servo-arm), getting a new datasheet for the Techpriest, learning about Mechanicus Doctrina Imperatives, and getting the full rules for the shooting phase. Doctrina Imperatives are pretty core to how Admech play, but seem tailor-made to be the sort of thing players will forget at least once a game. You switch on a positive and a negative, and you can only use each one once per game. The tutorial included is helpful, but it’s definitely too much for my smooth brain to track on top of all the other stuff. Admech really is an odd choice to give to new players with Imperium, as irrespective of how well they perform at any given time, they are, at time of writing, a startlingly complex force to play and think about.

This week’s mission, Raise the Monolith, is a bit of a dud for me. While we have a nicely appointed battlefield with all the terrain thus far, the forces at play are a bit incoherent. The Necron attackers have an Overlord, a Technomancer, and 10 Necron Warriors, while the Adeptus Mechanicus have 10 Skitarii, this week’s Techpriest Enginseer, and a Techpriest Dominus. Players score a victory point each turn for holding the objective at the center of the field, and whoever has the most at game’s end wins. The issue is, these two Techpriests – Dominus and Enginseer both – can only repair each other. A good 50%+ of their collective steez is fixing vehicles and other mechanical units, so for there to be no robots or heavy servitors to fix up is kind of a missed opportunity. I think a better mission would swap out the Dominus for the Kataphron Servitor from issue 32, or even have this model come later when there’s more multiwound models for them to repair.

Final Verdict 35/80:

Tech-Priest Enginseer
Tech-priest Enginseer by Corrode

While he is available in the Adeptus Mechanicus Combat Patrol box, the Techpriest Enginseer on his lonesome is a hefty $35. At Imperium‘s cover price of $13.95, you’re saving at least 3 months of Goonhammer’s Nice Patreon tier worth of money here. That’s one of the best savings we’ve seen from this magazine so far, and it’s for a model you could potentially use in both Adeptus Mechanicus and Astra Militarum armies. The lore is pretty foundational this week, the new rules are integral to how the Adeptus Mechanicus plays, and the model is a pretty decent one, especially for its age. The mission is a little too simple and doesn’t really take advantage of the included model, and the hobby tutorials are only serviceable. What we end up with a pretty average issue overall, bolstered by some great savings on a useful model.

See you next issue, warhams.

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