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.
The cover art game on Imperium is something I haven’t given enough love to. There’s a lot of information on there, from the giant logo to some huge piece of 40k art, to the physical contents of the magazine, all laid out in a graphic designerly hierarchy that makes this information overload legible. By no means would I accuse it of being “minimalist”, but it’s instead appropriately Warhammer, by which I mean boy howdy is it loud. If I was a kid and I saw this at a newsstand, I would go absolutely feral, reverting to whatever prehistoric ancestor of mine first saw a shiny rock and knew they needed to have it.
This issue’s cover is the classic cover to 2001’s Inquisitor, a remarkably dense and weird 54mm 40k RPG/skirmish game that would never be made today. Appropriately, the Ordos of the Inquisition are the focus of this week’s issue. The Inquisition is somewhere between secret police and Spanish Inquisition, hunting down and destroying real and perceived threats from within the Imperium. Not everyone knows about the Inquisition, but everyone’s terrified of them, as they have carte blanche to imprison, torture, and interrogate anyone they please, or condemn entire worlds to death.
There is also a great in-universe boxout by Governor Theodus Glyndale, with art of an A-tier Imperial weirdo. It describes the cold fear one gets when looking at that wax-sealed envelope from the Inquisition, knowing that nobody save the Emperor is above suspicion. The fact that this quote is attributed to “Theodus Glyndale, former Governor of Weirgard” implies that the missive was for him. It’s the kind of darkly ironic humor at the heart of 40k, and no story about the Inquisition is complete without it.
Each of the main Ordos also gets some fleshing out so readers can find out what the respective steez of each one is. The Ordo Hereticus monitors the Imperial faith, ensuring that everything in the Ecclesiarchal Wars of Faith is above board. They also root out Chaos cults and dole out punishment to any other seditious or blasphemous individuals out there. The Ordo Xenos deal with aliens, similarly hunting down their own cults or halting black market dealings in xenotech. Lastly, the Ordo Malleus hunts Daemons. While they’re the smallest of these ordos due to the rigorous requirements of the job, they work closely with the Grey Knights. Speaking of…
Our Inquisition Cup World Tour next takes us to Manask, home of the Ebon Sentinels Chapter of Space Marines. The Chapter had been censured under mysterious circumstances, but had bounced back in time for their next performance review and were back in the Imperium’s good graces. A Torchbearer Task Force was on the way to deliver them some shiny new Primaris reinforcements, only to be halted by the Grey Knights. Turns out those Ebon Sentinels were hanging out around a planet with a giant daemon trapped in its core, and had since fallen under the sway of Chaos. The Grey Knights wiped out the chapter, erased any trace of them, and called it a day. As for the Torchbearer Fleet, I guess they just went home or found some other Chapter in need of slightly taller bois.
Our Grey Knight story hour continues with The Festering Hordes (emphasis theirs), a piece of short fiction unrelated to the previous one. This story sees a squad of Grey Knights going through a Nurgle-infested station to do the whole daemon purging thing. The prose are enjoyable, with some suitably gross details and descriptions like the unsettling feeling of walking on a floor of flesh. There’s not a load of narrative tension here, as Grey Knight Paladins vs. Poxwalkers is functionally the same matchup as Lawnmower vs. Lawn. The intent is clearly to show the Grey Knights as being especially good at hunting daemons, and I’d say it’s a success on that front.
The Hobby Materials
This week we finally complete our unit of Tomb Blades – initiated in issue 36 and continued in our 57th week on this adventure, this unit is finally finished. My notes on the model remain unchanged, much like the unyielding, unwithering plastic before me. The painting and assembly guides are not demonstrably different from their previous iterations. Selfishly, I think it would have been cool if this issue instead had a squad of 5 Grey Knights to tie into the narratives, but Imperium can only cast so wide a net and still be useful for building a cohesive army.
The Gaming Materials
I’ll start from the back here, as we have a foldout Veteran Mission Pack. It opens with some background on Kjalma’s Skull, the empty deathworld where a bunch of Imperials were Fucking Around, and a bunch of sleeping Necrons were waiting to help them Find Out. A smidge more fluff lays out the major players (all the armies from Imperium, imagine that) and we’re off to the big pants rules for Warhammer 40k. These lay out some basic Imperium-specific detachments (roughly equivalent to the 9th edition Patrol and Battalion detachments) and their respective recommended Power Level limit and Command Points allotment. There are also some secondary objectives and the core rulebook stratagems to play with. At this point, you’re basically playing 9th edition 40k as it was at launch, just with a far less lethal variation of everyone’s favorite coronavirus floating around.
Following this is a dizzying number of extra pages of rules – it really is like proper 40k! Cryptek Arkana are here to power up your Cryptek units, giving them a Quantum Orb they can ponder. There’s others here, but I’ve gotta hand it to the Orb based on shape alone. A tutorial explains how a few of these work. We also get the equivalent Blessings of the Faithful for Sisters, which are upgrades applied to Canoness units. I’ve been on the receiving end of a few of these, often knocking my killer melee unit into Fights Last-land. Lastly, we have a spread on how to Battle-Forge your army, how units fill out detachments, and so on. It’s all well laid out and explained clearly.
Now, we finally come to our mission this week, Scout and Engage. Imperial Forces are assaulting Kjalma’s Skull, a hostile, Necron-held world with such beautiful tourist destinations as the Irradiated Dust-Wastes and scenic Temporal Minefields. This hostile, barely inhabitable world is the site of our next batch of battles, and this first mission sees the Imperials trying to establish a foothold against the Necron defenders. In this 25PL mission, each side must cross a longways battlefield to capture a pair of objectives. In addition to secondary objectives, chosen at each player’s whims, there is an additional secondary objective to get your units into the opposing deployment zone. It’s a simple, straightforward mission, with some room for those secondary objectives to really flourish,
Final Verdict 61/90:
If your goal was to purchase a trio of Tomb Blades for cheap, you could have just bought issues 36 or 57 thrice. It ends up being $13.95 for a $20 model, so that’s a decent enough savings. The painting and modeling material is redundant with ones you already have as a collector, but the included material about the Inquisition is a fun little crash course on some of the evil theocracy’s most evil and theocratic jagoffs. While the gaming material is now outdated, in the context of 9th it would have been really lovely to have. Altogether I find this to be a pretty strong issue, and if you’re a Tomb Blade Enjoyer, that goes double for you.
See you next issue, warhams.
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