SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 36

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 lay up in my home, stricken with the latest iteration of Covid-19, my own mortality again rears its ugly head. Whilst it is not at the forefront of my mind, “Who would finish my Imperium column if I succumbed to this disease?” is amongst the many ruminations I have had in this period. Fortunately I’ve been jabbed enough times with anti-Covid juice to survive this endeavor, so that future will not be coming to pass, at least not in 2022. Instead, let us turn to a grim, dark, and (for now) fictional future, and talk about robot skeletons on robot motorcycles.

The Magazine

Tomb Blades and other flyers are are the focus of this particular issue, with all the details you could want about the various flavors of Necron croissant. Foremost amongst them are the Tomb Blades, and this issue contains Un petit Necron Croissant. We learn what the various Tomb Blade weapons can do, and what all the weird doodads that hang off them are for. I don’t know why this set of weird balls sticking off the roof of a hoverbike is called a Nebuloscope and why it ignores cover, but I guess all this is supposed to be beyond human understanding.

The skies over Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV glowed an eldritch hue of green. The Voidborn Phalanx streaked over the manufactory district of Pringalia, prepared to kill its unknowing protectors. This trio of Tomb Blades, each armed with a distinct tool of murder, swept over the Imperial defenders of the city with many flavors of death programmed into their cerebral processing units. The first utilized its Nebuloscope to track a squad of Guardsmen in cover, flushing them out with its twin gauss blasters. The second went high, its particle beamer firing down over the walls and into the fleshy masses below. The final jetbike, armed with a tesla carbine, instead tasked itself with defense, intercepting any who would dare come close to its noble masters.

We next learn about Necron flyers and their various roles on the battlefield as interceptors, ground support, and transport vehicles. I feel like Tomb Blades are shoehorned in here compared to the more traditional fighters available. It’s kind of like one of those structure purist/ingredient radical alignment charts where someone can tell you that a Hot Pocket is a sandwich, or that my 2016 Kia Soul would be a tank if I just duct taped a Glock to the door. I feel like the Necron vehicles would be cooler if they were whole Cryptek-style constructs instead of vehicles a pilot had to get in and out of, and it would make them feel more alien. Nobody should see a Necron and go “he just like me fr fr” with the exception of this one.

In a variation on the flyer theme, we’ve got some fiction about Eldar and Dark Eldar fighter wings duking it out over a maiden world. It’s fine, but doesn’t really “feel” particularly Aeldari-specific. You could have swapped a few nouns around and it could be Imperial Thunderbolts and Ork Fightas, X-Wings and TIE Fighters, Spitfires and Messerschmitts. The only thing that felt especially 40k to me about it was a Drukhari fighter which is described as having bones and flayed skin nailed to it, which I only imagine would get torn right off the moment that thing left the runway.

The Hobby Materials

Tomb Blades w/ Gauss Blasters. Credit: Rockfish
Tomb Blades w/ Gauss Blasters. Credit: Rockfish

This issue contains a single Tomb Blades sprue, with which you are to construct one of these General Grievous-esque hovercycles. The boxed set is 3 of this exact frame, so unlike with the Kataphrons from issue 32, you won’t be using bits from across multiple sprues. I always found the design of this bike to be a smidge clumsy and overburdened with detail; the anglerfish doodlebopper between the pilot and the canopy comes to mind, as do the odd rods jutting out the back. The quality of the kit is commensurate with others of its late-2000s era, but the quantity of ball joints on this model would make magnetizing weapon options a challenge. The instructions are certainly helpful dealing with all the fiddly doodads and even instruct the builder to use other tools like the moldline scraper to nudge some cables around. It also goes on a flight stand, something I would not wish on any new hobbyist. Memories of that benighted 3rd edition Land Speeder came flushing back into my hippocampus, and the trauma thereof flooded into my amygdala. Fortunately, this kit is not quite that old or janky, but easily breakable ball-jointed flight stands are still something I firmly oppose. Modeling up some scenery on the base or whatever to sell the illusion may be beyond the novice-to-journeyperson audience Imperium is marketed to, but I think it produces a more stable and aesthetically pleasing result.

The paint guide is fine, and certainly gets the job done. We’re still missing a few paints to truly complete this model, but the guide will get this thing tabletop ready. It has the helpful tip to change your water between using metallic paints and non-metallic paints, something I wish I knew when I was a younger hobbyist. I figured this out on my own, but only after accidentally getting metallic flecks in a few pots of Badab Black wash and ruining the whole bottle.

The Gaming Materials

Tech-Priest Dominus. Credit: Rockfish
Tech-Priest Dominus. Credit: Rockfish

In addition to a Datasheet for Tomb Blades and a tutorial for how their weapons work, we get some further codified shooting rules for 40k. This is again consolidating much of what’s been written before in Imperium, with the goal of building a more complete rulebook. Where this comes to life is in this week’s mission, Capture the ForgeThis scenario sees the forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus – represented by a Tech-Priest Dominus, a Tech-Priest Enginseer, 10 Skitarii Rangers and a Kataphron Destroyer – defending an ammunition factory. The Necrons, consisting of a Royal Warden, Technomancer, 10 Warriors and this issue’s Tomb Blade, instead seek to destroy it and deprive the Imperium of war materiel. The mission uses the existing terrain we’ve received thus far to make a fairly thematic battlefield, and the players need to hold objectives and score more points than their opponent. It’s a very typical progressive objective, and it works. I think it would have been cute if there was some warzone rule to make stray shots set off ammunition crates or whatever, but I understand not wanting to overload a beginner scenario with silly rules. Credit where credit is due to the Imperium team for not just recycling the exact same missions and layouts week in and week out, as they have a fairly limited canvas to work with.

Final Verdict 36/80:

Tomb Blades come 3 to a box at $55, making this issue’s $13.95 price tag for one an alright value. They seem to show up fairly often in big box sets as they’re an older kit, but from my own experience getting dumpstered at NOVA, I can say they’re pretty effective in-game, and their mobility is welcomed in a Necron force. I don’t feel this is a particularly strong issue, but if you’re in the market for Tomb Blades there’s worse ways to get them.

See you next issue, warhams.

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