SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 40

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.

Welcome to the first Imperium review of the year, our 2023rd in the Era Vulgaris. In addition to sounding Warhammer as hell, Era Vulgaris just means common era and is also the name of a certified banger of a Queens of the Stone Age album. I’ve seen them on 4 separate occasions and was kicked in the face by a crowd surfer at their End of the Road show in Los Angeles, but it was a good fucking time.

What were we talking about again

The Magazine

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Abaddon the Despoiler is on the cover this week, but he really only plays into a single story in the background section. Heck, he doesn’t even feature in the first of these, which is a feature on Unsanctioned Divergences amongst the Adeptus Mechanicus. These are Mechanicus extremists who picked up an alien gun and went “this thing is cool, actually” before pursuing knowledge at all costs. Think of it in puritan/radical Inquisition terms if that’s more your bag. Naturally, these are paired with some tables to roll on, so it’s time for a new Battle Record:

Tech-Priest Dominus Dak-2918, Sage Extremis, stroked their cyberchin, a sturdy replacement for the flesh they lost in a long-distant hunt for archaotech. Their personal Skitarii guard, The Dauntless Scythes, had been enhanced with forbidden xenos technology, as after all – what curious individual wouldn’t mind a smidge of heresy when there is greater knowledge to be discovered? Many secrets were buried beneath the surface of Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV, and by the Omnissiah the Sage Extremis would find them all or be damned in the trying. They were joined by a similarly divergent Tech-Priest Enginseer in the form of Dox-371, who found the flesh of man to not just be weak – but inferior to their own blessed chrome. They tended to The Indomitable Scythes, a flock of Kataphron Destroyers, whose engines screamed in agony every time they trundled forward. That these two maniples shared similar epithets was likely a case of imitation serving as a sincere form of flattery, but as for who was flattering who, that would remain a mystery.

Abaddon at last makes his appearance in a section on The Gathering Storm – most specifically, the Fall of Cadia. This comic book crossover event saw named characters new and old from all across the 41st millennium – Abaddon, Saint Celestine, Trazyn the Infinite, Belisarius Cawl, Inquisitor Greyfax, and even more who aren’t named in this article – fight to the not-death on a doomed world. There’s also a bit that’s funny here where it opens with Abaddon being a once-honorable warrior who respected the defenders of Cadia before dropping a Blackstone Fortress on it and killing the planet. This is one of the more iconic pieces of modern lore – even casual warhams will know “Cadia broke before the Guard did” – and it’s a good thing to include here. The art’s lovely, and it’s important to show the Imperium losing once in a while. If the Imperium always achieves victory, pyrrhic or not, there are no stakes.

Salamanders Aggressors
Salamanders Aggressors. Credit: Rockfish

We get a Space Marine Chapter article all about the Salamanders, who here are referred to as “Dragon Warriors” for one reason or another. We get a high-level overview of the chapter and their character as master artisans and stubborn, honorable pragmatists. They’re closer to “good guys” than most factions in 40k, and they make flamers that look like the novelty dragon bongs in the back of Spencer’s Gifts at the mall.

Armageddon is our next stop, and tied with Birmingham for the grimmest location name in 40k. The First, Second, and Third Wars for Armageddon are given maybe a sentence or two each, with more space given to Ghazghkull Thraka than anything else. It seems a glaring omission that Commissar Yarrick isn’t included opposite him, as that’s been one of 40k’s greatest rivalries for 30ish years now, but space is limited and there’s cool pictures of murdermen to print. The article ends with the First War for Armageddon, where 100 Grey Knight Terminators died to banish Angron back to the Warp. This is one of those foundational pieces of lore for me, as I read it in an old White Dwarf as a teen (Codicium Imperialis: The First War for Armageddon, White Dwarf 278 in the US, if you’re curious). I’d also recommend reading The Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden if you want a fantastic novel about this whole thing. Dude hasn’t written a bad book yet, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to start.

Our lore section this week ends with an article all about Belisarius Cawl, Archmagos Dominus and Prime Conduit of the Omnissiah. He is the master of masters, Dominatus Dominus, and generally the smartest guy-adjacent being in any given ZIP code. This article also uses the phrase “fearlessly scuttles” which might be my favorite two words in sequence after “mozzarella sticks”. He’s singularly filled a Library of Alexandria with just his own knowledge, and even Inquisitors are like “he’s kind of heretical but he’s alright”. If this dude was hot he’d be in wish fulfilment character territory, but maybe you want to be a cyborg snail millipede guy, I don’t know your life.

The Hobby Materials

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

With this issue, we at last receive our third and final Kataphron Destroyer to build and paint, making for a game-legal unit of Mutoid Men. This third verse is much the same as the second and first, and I refer you to my previous experiences with these models lest I windmill slam the ctrl+c and ctrl+v shortcuts on my Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard.

The Gaming Materials

Kataphron Destroyers
Kataphron Destroyers by Pendulin

This week we finally decide the Fate of Tsiphos in the mission Endgame: Tsiphos. Who attacks and defends was determined last week, and the scenario will play out slightly differently for each player. There are three objectives; two in the center line and one on the defender’s side. The defender has more terrain to their advantage and must set up first, scoring a victory point for each objective they control. The attacker sets up second, and gains a point for each of the objectives in the center of the field, and 2 for capturing the defender’s objective. It’s a straightforward mission that is asymmetrical without being wacky, and I personally would be happy to play it. As for the breakdown of these two forces, the Necrons get an Overlord, 10 Warriors, 5 Immortals, 3 Scarab Swarms, 3 Skorpekh Destroyers, and a single Tomb Spyder. Against this is a veritable kitchen sink of Imperials, with a Space Marine Captain, Tech Priest Dominus, Tech Priest Enginseer, 10 Skitarii Rangers, 3 Aggressors, and all 3 of our Kataphron Destroyers taking the field. It’ll be tough for either army to advance and make it to the defender’s home objective, but I think the Imperials would get a bionic leg up as the defenders.

 Final Verdict 40/80:

Kataphron Breachers. Credit: Corrode

$13.95 for Imperium. $60 for 3 Kataphrons. The math checks out. Results positive. Cheap cyborg Mutoid Men and fun stories. All this has been written and all this will be written again.

note to self: rewrite above section, this is terrible

second note to self: no

See you next issue, warhams.

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