SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 71.5: Premium Issue 4

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.

Here we are at the final Imperium premium issue. The Primo Imperio. The Impremium. The Bountnfiul Bonus Boi. These four issues have been a delightful ride through the 40k factions not covered by Imperium’s typical allotment of models and materiel, and we close out on the most fun faction of all: Those chartreuse charlatans, those emerald evildoers, those furious fungoid fiends: The Orks/Da Orks.

Note: I realize I basically just did the same bit twice in one paragraph, but I have no desire to change it. 

The Magazine

Ultramarines Reiver Sergeant and far too many Orks. Credit: SRM

We get precious little fluff in this issue, instead needing to refer back to older issues if we want to refresh our knowledge on the galaxy’s most dangerous football hooligans. It’s established that Orks love fighting to the exclusion of all else. Clearly something about their might makes right kultur (my life with the Thrill Kill Kultur? Whatever.) works, as they’ve been a consistent threat for over 10,000 years. We get Battle Records for our new Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun, Ork Boyz, Grot mob, and Runtherd, with pages detailing their wargear and unit composition.

Boss Nob Skulsnick buried his pointer finger knuckle-deep in his pug-like nose, digging out a massive gob of snot. He flicked it idly into the distance, a loud “plink!” signifying its impact with an empty beer can. Skulsnick’s Smashmob Boyz were cataloging their loot, a crashed vessel full of AdMech tech and looted Imperial weapons. “Oi, wait a tick” said Kilzog, one of the brainier Boyz in the mob. “Where’s da metal skellyman bitz!?” he brayed. Skulsnik bashed him out of the way with his ‘Uge Choppa, only to find the spot where their looted Necron material had disappeared. “I fink I got an idear where dey went.” muttered the Nob.

Eadkrusha toyed with the Necron skull in his giant hands. He’d quietly ordered the grots in his care, Da Boomsquad, to fetch some shiny bitz and here was the result. Normally the dok’s assistants, they begrudgingly took on the role of tek-peons after Eadkrusha put the fear of Gork in ’em after feeding one to his squig. Their boss’ boss, Big Mek Kizzog Da Maniak, needed some good bitz for his Shokk Attack Gun, da Bigboom Snazzblasta. Eadkrusha handed over the Necron skull to the Mek, only for Kizzog to jam it haphazardly into the side of da Snazzblasta. It started sparking wildly as the technologies of no fewer than three distinct species fought for dominance, and he gleefully picked up the weapon-shaped contraption. “Now dis is a finkin’ git’s shoota!” Kizzog proclaimed, shortly before it exploded into a localized black hole, sending him, Eadkrusha, and no small amount of Eadkrusha’s grot mob into the warp.

A few minutes later, Boss Nob Skulsnick found the perfectly spheroid crater where once the Ork Mekaniak stood. He scratched his head with one splintered fingernail, gave a shrug of his massive shoulders, and had the thought that would make him a philosopher of his time, up there with Platork and Oiristotle: “Some problems krump ’emselves.”

The Hobby Materials

Shoota Boyz. Credit: Rockfish
Shoota Boyz. Credit: Rockfish

This issue contains 11 Ork Boyz, 10 Gretchin, 1 Runtherd, and 1 Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun. As with previous issues, I will be reviewing each of these kits in chronological order, as I feel my joints deteriorating to dust and my memory fogging over with age. Also, just assume most of these models have some rough moldlines, given their age. Big same, honestly.

The Ork Boyz included are not the recent, semi-single-pose models that have come in many recent Ork bundles, but the classic Ork Boyz from 2007. Many erroneously remark that these are the 3rd edition Orks from 1998, but they are not. They build the same and are nigh-indistinguishable from one another should you place them together, but this version of the kit has far, far more variety. The array of head and arm options is dizzying, as are all the shoulderpads, bits, and other gubbinz you can slap on there to make them unique. Build options also include a Big Shoota, Rokkit Launcha, a decidedly runty Nob with Power Klaw or Big Choppa, as well as options to give the entire squad shootas or sluggas and choppas. For a sprue of its age it’s absolutely packed, with next to no wasted space. I’ve built probably around 80 of these in my time as a fairweather Ork player, and it’s like returning to an old friend whenever I hold the sprue. Like the midsections of our aging readers, the details have become soft with age, but it’s still understandable why folks lament the newer Ork Boyz kit compared to this one. While the new kit has sharper details, more dynamic poses, and even more expressive faces, the split of shooting and close combat weapons is odd and the lack of variety pales compared to this venerable kit. I rarely feel Games Workshop misses, especially with Orkoids of all varieties, but what the new kit gains in aesthetics, it loses in function.

Ork Gretchin and Runtherd. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Ork Gretchin and Runtherd. Credit: Magos Sockbert

The Grots date to a year later, though their sprue bears no maker’s mark. According to the date on “Da Boring Bitz” at the back of my Januwaaaghry 2008 Codex: Orks by Phil Kelly, they were not yet released, as all the pictured gretchin in the book were their previous metal iterations. My copy of White Dwarf 349 from 2009 heralds the release of these plastic grots, so consider that mystery solved. The kit is odd in that it is largely a remake of their metal predecessors, up to and including a number of single-piece models all but recreating their pewter pals. These details too are on the softer side, with some unclear divides between textures where it’s an absolute question mark where pants end and loincloths begin. Even at this lower fidelity, they are exceptionally expressive. These grots walked so the Gloomspite Gitz could bounce, is what I’m saying. They also represented a huge quality of life boost for Ork players at the time, offering a single box solution to this codex entry. Before, you would have to buy blister packs of 3 grots at a time and hope your store had a Runtherd (then regrettably called a Grot Slaver) dating back to the Gorkamorka era. My 5th edition Orks, Da Dezzurt Ratz, had a single mob of these plastic Grots, as they were only $12 at the time and I was a college kid without much money. In one game, they shot my buddy Sully’s Terminators, causing an unprecedented 6 wounds with their dinky Grot Blastas. Sully proceeded to roll 5 1s, losing his entire Terminator squad to the worst troops in the game. Sully doesn’t play Warhammer anymore.

Last but certainly not least is the Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun from 2013. This fella replaced a short-lived metal iteration from 2007, which frankly I like better even if it’s a bear to assemble and keep assembled. It’s a longtime favorite unit, with an unpredictable gun that, in editions past, rolled on its own table of wacky results each time it fired. My regular Ork opponent in high school, Aaron, regularly paired his metal Shokk Attack Gun with his metal Meganobz. He called this formation “SAGging your MANz”, and hoped desperately that he would roll the specific 2D6 result that let him yeet his unit across the board. Sometimes it would happen. Sometimes the whole unit would disappear into a black hole on turn 1. That’s Orks, baby. The plastic model itself is a marked improvement on the metal one from a construction standpoint, no longer bearing a giant pewter fishing weight on a single small arm joint. The details are cartoonish, the mold lines are borderline nonexistent, and while my nostalgia prefers the aesthetics of its predecessor, it’s still a good model.

Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun. Credit: Rockfish
Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun. Credit: Rockfish

The majority of the issue from here is an extensive series of painting and modeling guides for the Orks included. From a historical perspective, which, let’s face it, basically this entire review is coming from, these are interesting. These models predate the CAD-designed era of Citadel models we live in now, yet the instructions show these miniatures in polygon-perfect pieces. I recall no shortage of arguments about hand sculpting vs. computer sculpting in my forum warrior days, and it’s not lost on me that we’ve been building digitally sculpted models for far longer than we thought. The options in this kit are extensively outlined, with freedom given to hobbyists to arm and decorate these models how they choose. The Grots are less exciting, often just gluing a single model onto a base. A few head options and a single swappable set of arms spice up the set. Subassemblies for the Shokk Attack Gun are called out specifically, and I would not wish painting that model fully assembled on anyone.

Speaking of painting, the instructions are similarly extensive, instructing painters how to work through every detail on these exceptionally varied models. I can only imagine something was missed given the huge variety of textures and materials represented on each model, but the final results look pretty good. I only say “pretty good” because the skin is drybrushed, a time-saving technique for sure, but not one I generally find to look great on smooth musculature. Instead, I would recommend painting the skin with the included Warboss Green then washing it with the included Biel-Tan Green Shade as instructed. I’d then layer up the skin again with Warboss Green, leaving the shaded areas in the recesses alone. Finally, I’d use Skarsnik Green (also in this issue) to highlight the sharper edges of the model like the knuckles, nose, ears, and brow. I also think basing the models with green is a mistake, as while the green skin of orks take up a good portion of each model, there’s usually more clothing, weaponry, and straps to work through first. That green skin looms large in the mind’s eye, but it’s maybe 25% of the surface area on the Boyz, and less on the Big Mek.

The Gaming Materials

Gretchin mob. Credit: Charlie Brassley

We get Datasheets for the Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun, the Boyz, the Grot Mob, and the Runtherd. These are fine, if obsolete at this point, but I do wish there was space to define the Dakka rule. It’s somewhere in the mountain of rules I have forgotten at this point, along with Salvo, Zealot, and a million special rules besides – but if one were to play with these rules, these Dakka 3/2 weapons would be a mystery.

The mission in this issue is simple: Grab Da Loot! The included Orks go up against an incoherent Necron force of 1 Royal Warden, 5 Flayed Ones, and a pair of 3-strong Canoptek Scarab Swarms in a mission to grab a single central objective. This objective, representing a Necron Power Unit, can be grabbed and carried, with points awarded each turn for holding it and again at the end for whoever is closest to it. It’s a straightforward mission, still living in my mind as 6th edition’s The Relic, but it’s fine. It’s quite easy for the Orks to just shoot the Necrons off the table, and any Necron unit will get munched in a round of combat by the Boyz.

Final Verdict 71.5/90:

Five orks with musical instruments laden with explosives
The Morky Morky Waaaghtones. Credit: head58

In Premium reviews past, I established that you’re paying about $60 each for this quartet of bonus installments. If you combine the cost of the classic Boyz, Gretchin, and Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun, you’re coming to $110 worth of models alone. While all of these are older models, this is still a hell of a value, as these are all units an Ork army generally will want to contain. Now tack on the extra $16.90 for the included bottles of Skarsnik Green, Warboss Green, and Biel-Tan Green, and your 60 Biel-Tan Greenbacks are going exceptionally far. I do wish the force was led by a Warboss for a more cohesive grouping of Orks, but the SAG is a fun model so I ain’t gonna complain. The rules don’t really matter at this point and the mission isn’t anything special, but the included assembly and paint guides are quite a few levels above anything you’d ever see in a Codex or instruction booklet.

Lastly, I’m glad I could Trojan Horse a nostalgic retrospective into this review of a magazine for young hobbyists. Orks have been my favorite army to play against in every flavor of Warhammer for as long as I’ve been playing games in Games Workshop’s ecosystem, and I have painted not one, but two Ork armies at different points. Crucially, many of these models date back to a particularly formative part of my life. thumbing through these pages and holding these sprues in my hands let me cast myself back to my youth, playing 4th and 5th edition 40k until sunrise over Summer vacation. I think about the time my Devastators killed 3 of Aaron’s Flash Gitz with their missile launchers, only for the Gitz to fail morale and run off the table. I think of Russel’s Lootas plinking 30 shots off my Crimson Fists Rhino, stunlocking it and blowing off the spare Stormbolter I added just to keep it from getting immobilized. I recall Austin’s Napoleonic marching column of 20 Boyz and my warning that my Thunderfire cannon would remove them instantly if they didn’t spread out. My warning was unheeded, and the Orks were un-personed. I think of the delicate dance I had with Mike in college, my Battlewagon full of Nobz and his Land Raider full of Deathwing Terminators circling each other like sharks, waiting for the other to overcommit. All of these boys are men now, or, more fittingly, these boyz are nobz now. Some of them are fathers. Some are married. Some drifted away and their semi-active social media accounts lurk in the “Suggested for You” columns next to former coworkers and exes I have no need to reconnect with. These memories, and countless more like them, are tied to these miniatures for me, and I cannot extricate them from one another. I hope people feel the same way 10, 20 years down the line about the current range of models, each an inch-tall totem empowered to hold their own memories of a long-ago someday.

See you next issue, warhams.

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