SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 71

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.

Since writing a few articles about the old Shadowspear single-pose Phobos Marines, they’ve gone back up for sale. While Suppressors and Phobos Lieutenants are available to the teeming masses once more, I still stand by the notion that Imperium was, and continues to be, the most affordable way to get them. Also that big ol’ box set from GW doesn’t have any exhaustive D66 naming tables included, so who’s the real winner here?

The Magazine

Lychguard. Credit: Rockfish
Lychguard. Credit: Rockfish

Lychguard get point of pride this issue, featuring on the front cover, the earliest pages, and in the all-important modeling section. These royal robot bodyguards are among the best of the Necron legions, better trained and equipped than any standard Warriors. Of course said training happened aeons ago, before biotransference, but their programming remains intact. Of course, no new unit would be complete without a Battle Record:

With a dramatic flourish, practiced since the very beginning of time, Zankh The Glorious, Scourge of the Living and Regent of the Corinth Nebula, swept back his cape. The strange dust kicked up by this motion formed a small orange cloud around him. Had he olfactory senses, he might even say this battlefield smelled of victory. With a second, somewhat less dramatic flourish, he summoned forth The Gilded Spearhead, his personal retinue of Lychguard. In unison, the shieldwall stepped behind him, their armor plate seemingly corroded. At some point during this battle for the so-called “Doritorium”, a vat of orange dust had exploded and affixed its sickly powder to the Necron invaders. Zankh could not even see the diamond-encrusted crests he had personally installed on each of his beloved retinue, so covered were they in dehydrated dairy powder. Annoyed, Zankh the Glorious swept back his cape once more, summoning a horde of janitorial microscarabs to clean his personal guard before their next engagement. No Overlord worth their Living Metal would march to battle with their hands covered in so much orange dust.

After learning about our newly-minted murderbots, we turn the clock forward into the Age of the Dark Imperium. We reviewed the book of the same name on The 40k Badcast long ago and weren’t too wild about it. Instead of focusing on any big main characters, this piece paints a broader picture of this most grim of darknesses. The Imperium is divided, and if they weren’t so superstitious, ignorant, and xenophobic, they might actually be able to improve their situation and defeat the forces of Chaos. Instead the war grinds endlessly on, every soul yet more grist for the mill. Ignorance and hate are justified by the Ecclesiarchy and Inquisition, as if the people of the Imperium know that hell was real, in space, and somehow worse than where they already lived, they’d probably go mad. This patriarchal system dictating what people can and can’t know is foundational to 40k, reinforcing the notion that this is not a place anyone in their right mind would want to be. Hell, I’m medically diagnosed as not being in my right mind, and even don’t want to live there.

High Marshal Helbrecht. Credit: SRM

We next get an article on High Marshal Helbrecht, he of incredible model and dubious novel. He is the archetypical Black Templar: pious, zealous, and merciless in equal measure. His rise through the ranks was meteoric, quickly earning his place in the Sword Brethren before unanimously being appointed High Marshel Kordhel’s successor after the former High Marshal’s death. Helbrecht has a sword with parts of Dorn’s own weapons forged into it, and a longstanding rivalry with Imotekh the Stormlord. Imotekh took his hand, so Helbrecht blew up Imotekh’s space ship. Fair trade.

Merek Grimaldus, High Chaplain of the Black Templars and Hero of Helsreach, gets the next boxout. He’s the other guy who had a character development-bearing building fall on him, and now he carries parts of said ruin with him. Well, his servitors do, anyway. It’s a living.

This Templar Crusadefest continues with The Emperor’s Justice (emphasis theirs), a short story about the Heldt Crusade that sees the Black Templars taking the fight to the Orks. It begins with Brother-Sergeant Keller’s ascension to the Emperor’s Champion, a role dictated by visions the day before battle. I’m not a lore stickler but I thought all Templar “sergeants” were Sword Brethren. The studio and I both paint em that way anyway. There’s a typo or two, the wrong instance of “it’s” and awkward lines like “punching with armour fists” throughout. Despite these quibbles, I did enjoy the story. The language is evocative, with heads splitting like ripened fruit and bodies being sucked into the cloying mud of the battlefield. There’s even some tension over whether or not the Emperor’s Champion will take down the Ork warboss, something I spoiled for myself by reading the eyewitness report from Skiznog Wagrot, Ork Kommando. The surrounding quotes and tactical map of the general battlefield set the scene, and it’s one of the more enjoyable stories yet published in Imperium.

As I hoped in a previous issue, we get more Rogue Trader misadventures this week. A mishap-laden meeting between Captains Sonara van Hardt and Linus Sloan is ambushed by Drukhari raiders, and things go very bad, very fast. Sloan and his fleet are gone without a trace, and van Hardt and their ship have to fend for themselves, limping away after losing hundreds of crew members in the attack. It’s all presented in little journal entries, pictures and profiles, and does wonders to fill in the margins of the 41st millennium. This setting is not all galaxy-spanning wars killing billions of people. There needs to be room for little border skirmishes, scuffles between unaffiliated groups, piracy and smuggling that can stand in contrast to the major plot stuff. Coloring in the black-and-white parts of the setting, Captain Sloan had associations with Drukhari raiding parties, and it’s theorized that maybe he gave up Sonara van Hardt as part of some kind of deal with the xenos. Even this minor character has some gorgeous art associated with him, likely taken from some of the Fantasy Flight Games RPG books. All of these stories are, as far as I’ve found, original to this magazine series, and I’m absolutely here for them.

Lastly, we get yet another pair of character profiles, starting with Orikan the Diviner. After his boss, The Silent King, ignored Orikan’s warnings about biotransference and trusting the C’tan, Orikan has decided to quit the whole Necron hierarchy thing and become his own boss. We love an entrepreneur here at Goonhammer. Orikan can see the future, and time travels regularly to tweak the future in his favor. The fact that there isn’t a Back to the Future II reference here represents no small amount of restraint on Games Workshop’s part, as well as my own.

Anrakyr the Traveller gets the next profile, a Necron character I had completely forgot existed. Anrakyr and his legion, the immaculately named Pyrrhian Eternal, are crusading across the stars in an effort to unite the Necron race. Said unity sometimes involves piracy, extortion, and astral projecting his consciousness into the vehicles of his enemies, but it’s a small price to pay for unity. Believe it or not, the petty faction lords of the Necrons aren’t wild about him. When you’ve hated your neighbor for 10 million years, you won’t take kindly to a big skeleton in a metal skirt telling you to be friends.

The Hobby Materials

Credit: Wings

With only 50% of the required sprues to build these Lychguard/Triarch Praetorians, all we can do is longingly gaze at the instructions and think about what could be next week. The included instructions only teach hobbyists how to build the Lychguard half of this combo-kit, and I reached out to the Badcast community for some hot tips:

“The lych guard are less of a pain to build. Make sure you don’t clip the guiding post on the spines but other than that it isn’t a problem. The annoying part is working with the flat on flat join point for the sword arm and the weird angles they want you to pose some of the shields and swords in” – Atomic Collins

The other general advice I heard was that leaving the shields off for some subassemblies is totally doable, and makes the painting process easier. Instructions are given for both weapon options, with the warning that the upcoming paint guide will only teach you how to paint the two handed warscythes. They’re good looking models and emblematic of the 5th edition 40k aesthetic, which isn’t a bad thing. As I have mentioned before, xenos tend to age more gracefully than human factions, as you don’t have skeleton mummies and dinosaur bugs in real life to compare them to.

The Gaming Materials

This week it’s a War in the Dark, with the Imperial attackers attempting to scour the Necron tombs of Kjalma’s Skull. I was hoping this would be represented with some limited visibility rules, but alas, it’s just a pretty standard hold 1, hold 2, hold more mission. There is a unique Stasis Banks action you can attempt, wherein a unit needs to hang out from your movement phase til your next command phase, doing an activity on an objective for 3 victory points. At only 50PL, I can’t imagine taking one of my limited resources and having them hang out for a full turn instead of shooting or moving around the table. It’s kind of a weak mission this week, and a missed opportunity for a more thematic scenario.

Final Verdict 71/90:

The Emperor’s Champion. Credit: SRM

 

Split across this $13.95 issue and the next, the Lychguard are going to run you $27.90. At $60 for a pack of 5 from GW, that’s saving you just over 50%. If you want some swords and/or boards in your collection, this is a mighty cheap way to do it. The mission isn’t anything special and the building instructions are as good as you could hope, but the real draw this issue is the sheer breadth and depth of narrative material. There’s some rather good bolter porn, some grimdark context for the 41st millennium, and even some space pirate hijinks. What more could you want?

See you next issue, warhams.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.