SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 65

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.

Did you know I write more than just this column? It’s true! When Rob lets me out of the Imperium Posting Pit, I get to do stuff like review video games and go to tournaments! It’s true!

Rob: Okay, back into your pit.

The Magazine

Ultramarines Phobos Lieutenant. Credit: SRM

The star of the show this week is the Lieutenant in Phobos Armor, who I will interchangeably call Lieutenant in Phobos Armor and Phobos Lieutenant. This of course is different from the Phobos Lieutenant with Combi-Weapon in the Leviathan set, but I feel like jokes about the proliferation of Primaris Lieutenants are well past played out at this point. This section opens with a quote that goes hard from Ultramarines Lieutenant Domenico, which ends with “After all, what good is honour to the dead?” It’s a great way to set these sneaky lads apart from their Tacticus brethren, while also implying that sometimes people can be a little more reasonable than your classic bald dude with a chainsaw standing on a battle pile. We get to learn about all his sneaky wargear and a little bit about Vanguard formations before launching into this week’s Battle Record:

Lieutenant Calu Vento was plummeting towards the surface of Derek’s Mom’s Dining Room Table IV. The HALO (not the video game, look it up) drop from the Thunderhawk had kept him below enemy sensors, and the storied Protector of Megaria wasn’t about to get spotted by a Necron defense pylon. His grav chutes fired off at the last possible moment, breaking his freefall and delivering him safely to the surface. On landing, he checked over his wargear for any problems in the drop. The function rune glowed green on Vindictus, showing his Bolt Carbine to be operational. Vehemence and Foeseeker, his twin knives, were secure in their scabbards. Muffled thumps came one after another, as his attendant Reiver squad dropped in around him, performing their own ammo checks and drawing their blades. The last elements of the drop came in with a shuddering thump – a squad of Suppressors in their heavy ceramite boots signaled the end of the drop, and the attack could finally begin.

From here we’re in Amon Amarth cover band territory, as we launch into a section on some Space Wolves special characters. We’re skipping over the Lukas-come-latelies here and going right to the big man himself: Viking Space Santa, Logan Grimnar. He is, without a doubt, the very best of them – a brilliant tactician, supremely skilled fighter, and a charismatic, beloved leader. He also has a sick as hell reforged Khorne battleaxe. If you want to read about how he’s a Cool Enough Dude to Save the Imperium, I heartily recommend The Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. It’s a great book, and establishes that the Grey Knight main character has a massive dong. Hell yeah.

The next page has the other end of the Space Wolf spectrum, Ragnar Blackmane. Instead of being old, wise, loveable and smart, he’s a ferocious himbo with a sword made of kraken teeth. The Space Wolf bonanza closes on a blurb about the Prophecy of the Wolf boxset and Ragnar’s rivalry with Ghazgkhull Thraka. I couldn’t tell you how well they hold up now, but the old William King novels about Ragnar Blackmane were fun when I read them in college. An Ork pees on a Space Wolf and then they steal his trukk, I think? There’s some Wacky Races action then Ragnar throws Russ’ spear at Magnus and sends him back to hell? It’s all a bit blurry at this point, but I enjoyed them well enough.

Black Templars Redemptor Dreadnought. Credit: SRM

Our next section is about Space Marine vehicles. Most of this section is just naming vehicles and giving readers the short version of what they do, but there is an explanation for all the little reliquaries that come in your Impulsor and Repulsor kits. Space Marine vehicle Machine Spirits (like AI but cool, don’t think about it) are notoriously cantankerous, and only through praying and performing rituals at those shrines do Marine vehicles chill out enough to be controlled in battle. The two vehicles spotlighted here are of the bipedal variety, and have some accompanying photography and sketches to illustrate them. First is the Redemptor Dreadnought, that 40k as hell walker where they put a nearly dead guy in a war machine and make him keep fighting til he dies for real. I’ve always thought these were the coolest fucking thing in Warhammer, and I hope new generations reading this series will agree with me. Second are Invictor Tactical Warsuits, driven by living pilots but built on a very similar frame, and engineered to be sneaky despite being 15 foot tall mechs with flamethrowers.

Our final narrative slice of pie this week is the War for Ramasus: Kjalma’s Skull. As far as I have been able to tell, this warzone and its attendant stories are exclusive to Imperium, without so much as a lore wiki post about said locations. Apparently there are a pair of novellas by Tom Horth about this war that you could get in the UK version of Imperium, but here in the colonies we don’t know how to read so all we get is the travel brochure. Kjalma’s Skull used to be a Szarekhan vassal world, and Necrons have been attempting to reawaken the world’s tombs to drive off the Imperial invaders. A blurb from Nemesor Manakhar goes on about how humans can be destroyed with FACTS and LOGIC, and we move on to the forces taking to the field on this world. The Ultramarines, preceded by their Vanguard Marines and lead by Roboute Guilliman himself, have taken charge of the system’s Imperial forces. The Ultramarines have been inspiring and rallying the Imperials, and the terrain of this world is conducive to the Invader ATV and Firestrike Servo-turret we will receive in future issues. The Necrons get a similar, if less specific section with Lokhust Heavy Destroyers and a Command Barge instead. It’s a cute way to tie the escalating conflict of this story with the models we’ll be receiving down the line. Lastly, we get a map of the world, dotted with tomb complexes, warp anomalies, research outposts, and a helpfully named “mysterious site” for us to hang our future battles on. It paints a vibrant picture of this world that I under no circumstances would like to live on.

The Hobby Materials

We continue where we left off in Issue 63 with part 2 of the Shadowspear batch of Phobos armored Space Marines, or “Phobois” as I frequently call them. This week’s issue contains 4 more Infiltrators, 1 more Eliminator, 1 more Suppressor, and a Phobos Lieutenant to lead them. Assembly is what you’d expect from the previous sprue of these guys – no options save for turning their heads one way or another, should you wish to. There are some helpful notes about dabbing away glue if it starts to pool, but it’s a pretty standard instruction page. The painting tutorial is, in a rare move, a sequel to issue 63’s, asking painters to finish that tutorial then begin this one. The new material here largely applies to our included models this week, focusing on visors, the medical bag on the Helix Adept in the Infiltrator Squad, and so on. It’s pretty good, and there’s a solid step by step on how to get a decent lens effect on the Eliminator binoculars.

The Gaming Materials

Imperial Fists Phobos Lieutenant
Imperial Fists Phobos Lieutenant. Credit: Jack Hunter

This week we get a Datasheet for the Lieutenant in Phobos Armor, giving Marine players another cheap HQ to throw into their armies. In 10th edition I think he’s got some real play with Reivers, which is a genuine belief of mine that still sounds funnier to me than any joke I’ve ever written. This Datasheet is followed up with a tutorial explaining his Tactical Precision ability and how Company Heroes works (well, worked) for army construction.

We continue onwards with this week’s mission, Opening the Tomb. While the majority of the Imperial forces battle the Necrons elsewhere on Kjalma’s Skull, a small strike force will be trying to break into the Necron tomb structures in the hope of finding the xenos’ weakness. The Necrons, of course, want none of that. This 50 Power Level (god, remember Power Level?) mission is asymmetrical in nature, with the Necrons defending and Imperials attacking. The Imperials have to perform an Action on 3 different objective markers, starting in their moving phase and completing in their next Command phase. If they activate 2 of the markers successfully, they instantly win. The issue here is that 2/3 of these markers are firmly on the Imperial side of the table, and within 6″ of the deployment zone. While the Imperials may only perform this action once per turn, it’s credible that the Imperial player could move once, castle up, and win the game at the start of turn 3. I played a mission not dissimilar to this at NOVA in 2022 and also won nearly instantly as the attacker. I don’t care for this kind of instant win mission, even if I like asymmetrical missions in general.

Final Verdict 65/90:

White Scars Infiltrators Credit: Alfredo Ramirez
White Scars Infiltrators Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

As with the first installment of these Phobois, it’s hard to calculate an exact dollar value. My previous napkin math looked like $26.66 per sprue, of which there are 3. At $13.95 per issue, I can let you do the math. There is also the opportunity to get Suppressors and a Phobos Lieutenant here, which at time of writing are not generally available. The other material this week varies in quality, with a poor mission but excellent painting tutorial, accompanied by some fun lore sections. I won’t say it’s the best issue of Imperium‘s run, but the models are elusive, characterful miniatures, and the lore is enjoyable.

See you next issue, warhams.

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