Imperium is a weekly hobby magazine from Hachette Partworks. In this 90-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.
For reasons that my young mind could not fully grasp, the original Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and (its sundry expansions) had an extremely active modding scene. These mods ranged from simple cosmetics and maps to new units, factions, and more besides. One such mod I recall from my youth added Bikers to the Space Marine roster, a unit that worked in a charmingly clunky fashion and gave the Marines some high speed firepower. The best part of the mod was the unit’s lone special ability – a button that played the entirety of Steppenwolf’s 1968 chart topping single, Born to Be Wild. For 3 and a half minutes, the game became a painful cacophony as the in-game soundtrack overlapped with the diegetic blare of this classic rock staple. Duke Nukem 3D made the same reference more succinctly and less intrusively, but I do admire the modder’s lack of restraint. I have taken you on this journey for good reason – this week we get to grips with the newest iteration of the Space Marine biker, the Primaris Outrider.
We open on a brand new unit for this magazine, the aforementioned Space Marine Outriders. This opening page explains their squad markings, wargear, and general role on the battlefield as flankers and shock cavalry. There’s even an in-universe quote from our old friend Private Ripley “Ripcord” Vahlen of the 998th Cadian Infantry where the brutality of that Outrider charge is described in detail. Naturally, we have a Battle Record to fill out for our speedy bois.
Sergeant Kalamon gunned the engine of his Raider bike, its growl louder than any produced by the fauna of Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV. His squad, “The Roaring Death”, powered along beside him. Brother Varran was the first to sight their quarry – a Necron Cryptek, and he opened up with the boltguns of his bike. The third member of the squad, also named Brother Varran (no relation) sped forward and drew his chainsword, ensuring the squad lived up to their reputation as shock troops. In mere moments, the Necron Cryptek had been perforated and bifurcated, and Squad Kalamon continued riding onward.
Fittingly, we have a segment on Space Marines Close Support units next. There are some notes on chapter organization and how Marines progress from the assault units of the 8th company before moving onwards. These roles have been expanded since the arrival of Primaris Space Marines, meaning instead of just Assault Marines and Bikers making up the assault company, we now get to include Reivers, Incursors, and Inceptors. As with all fluff about Reivers and Incursors, they sound way more effective than they’ve ever been on the tabletop, but it’s something to aspire to for the Phobois.
We get to read a story about how some of these units work together in this week’s fiction chapter, The Spearhead. This story sees an Ultramarines assault force trying to break through a Necron phalanx and save the Imperials occupying a crater-outpost. A squad of Space Marine Outriders do the Akira motorcycle slide and the sergeant says “Full throttle, brothers” so if you think I enjoyed this story, you guessed correctly.
We next learn about the warzone of Vilamus through a heavily condensed retelling of the excellent book Blood Reaver by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. It’s a story of Red Corsair pirate raids and Chaos-on-Chaos bamboozlement, and the sad, slow decline of the Marines Errant. I think comparing this zoomed out perspective with Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s novel shows the difference between “lore” as it’s understood, and narratives. One reads like a history book while the other is a barnburner of an action novel, with all the drama and character development that entails. I think if folks spent a little less time reading lore wikis and more time reading fleshed out narratives with human perspectives, they’d have a better grasp on the setting and how people fit into it. You may say “the future is now, old man” but without the context of human connection, we’re just saying words.
Lastly, we get a section on Ephrael Stern, the Daemonifuge. She is a Sisters of Battle hero, alternately a saint or heretic depending who you ask and when. She’s come back from the dead at least twice, demonstrates some otherworldly powers that are Definitely Not Psychic, You Guys, and hangs around with her Eldar Harlequin pal, Kyganil. However, she also smites an awful lot of Chaos dudes and protects the interests of the Imperium, so who’s to say if she’s a heretic or not? I’ve never read her comic books, but the art has the sort of gonzo late 90s/early 2000s appeal a lot of old GW art does, and I’d like to give it a read sometime.
The Hobby Materials
This week we get the first part of our Outrider squad, containing sprue E and one Milano cookie-esque base. You can’t actually build this sprue as the squad’s bits are strewn across all 3 sprues, and we will be getting the remaining sprues next week. Until then, all we can do is look at the building instructions longingly, dreaming of what could be. I will review them next installment when I have the models in hand. Yes, I’ve built this kit before (twice!) but I’m doing my best to preserve the illusion and have something to write about later.
The Gaming Materials
This gaming section is denser than some, as not only does it introduce Space Marine stratagems (4 of the Codex’s 34 are represented) with a tutorial on how to use some, but it also introduces true-Macragge-Blue army building. This week’s mission, Prelude to Doom, tasks players with building a 25 Power Level list using a rudimentary Force Organization Chart. There are a number of example lists, but enterprising newcomers could shirk these restrictions and do their own thing if so desired. Players deploy in opposite corners, and there are 4 objectives. These objectives are largely centered, but weighted slightly towards the Defender. The Attacker must complete a Clear Position Action on an objective, and if they can clear 3, they win. I don’t love this sort of all or nothing mission because depending on the list, you can end up all but winning in the first turn or getting completely locked out of victory by the third, but it offers a tactical challenge for sure.
Final Verdict 59/90:
Outriders are currently $60 for a squad of 3, meaning you’re saving a good few bucks with this issue’s typical US cover price of $13.95. At $6.05 savings, you’re gonna save $18.15 off the whole squad, eventually giving you 3 for $41.85. That ain’t a bad price! The rest of the material this month is a load of fun, and I’m happy to see real army building introduced. You might scoff at the soon to be discarded Power Levels, but they serve as a stepping stone from the prescribed early missions of Imperium and the points-based army building you very likely utilize in your own games. I’m looking forward to next week, when I can yammer on about how much I love Outriders, and I hope you are too.
See you next issue, warhams.
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