SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 81

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.

Welcome to the final 10 issues of Imperium; the extended victory lap attached to the back end of the initial 80 issue run of our favorite 40k partworks magazine. What lies in store in our final issues? Read on to find out!

The Magazine

Credit: Thanqol

We’ve got a new model and a new unit, so it’s time to learn about those pristine priestesses of purity, the Paragon Warsuits. These Celestian-piloted relics of the Adepta Sororitas are heavily armed and armored, and each piece of their wargear is detailed in this magazine. From standard heavy bolters to bigger power swords and hotter flamers, these suits can be kitted out to take on just about any threat. Of course, this unit gets its own Battle Record, which we will roll on now:

The three Warsuits of The Hands of Alectia strode over the ruins of Pringalia. The tall stacks of the factorum had been destroyed, leaving only the ruins of the solanum tuberosum processing plant. Sister Superior Isidora Vayle felt great shame at this; having been raised on Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV herself, the loss of its chief export of flat, starchy sustenance crisps wounded her deeply. Her squad’s specialty of hunting down the enemy elite would be put to the test in the battle to come, and her sisters Silvana Perdita and Viridia Lumina would ensure the Pringalian stacks were avenged.

In a follow up to issue 78, we get a continuation of The Crystal Heart (emphasis theirs.) Before digging into the story, Temporal, a reader on our Discord server, asked about this running gag of mine. If you have not been following along at home and are a Goonhammer-only enjoyer of Imperium, I present to you what I have meant every time I say “emphasis theirs”, which until now was solely a joke for an audience of myself:

Imperium Story Example. Credit: Hachette Partworks

Aside from just enjoying both bold and extrabold title faces preceding all-italic text blocks, I thought it would be prime time to plainly show what the average Imperium article looks like. As for this story, I at first was confused – the previous chapter felt like a perfectly satisfactory open-ended conclusion, where an Inquisitor and his retinue investigated a crystalline mine, only to fight some Daemons and for the final survivors to be trapped below. There was some enjoyable body horror there, which has been expanded in this story, with pillars of flesh and crystal and the titular Crystal Heart pumping black steaming ooze. It turns out the disturbance on this world began when the planetary governor wanted to get more out of the crystal mines and buy himself a bigger palace, so he had the miners dig yet deeper. They dug too far and unearthed a crystalline heart radiating with Slaaneshi influence. This relic started driving the populace mad, leading to the Inquisitorial investigation that we are now reading about. The investigating Inquisitor and his still surviving acolyte do find the heart, as well as a party of Daemonettes and a Noise Marine. The battle isn’t given too much space here; the story is more focused on the environment and effects it’s having on its characters. Said environment corrupts the acolyte utterly, and we’re left with a dangling thread – a Grey Knights brotherhood might be swinging by to clean up this mess. I enjoyed both parts of this story greatly, rising head and shoulders above the typo-laden bolter porn that so often filled these narrative sections. Fun as those could be, they didn’t feel like anything deeper or greater than what you’d find on the packaging of an action figure. This story, while probably not winning any Hugos, was far more effective as it focused more on the human element and 40k setting than the bodycount.

The Hobby Materials

Credit: Evan “Felime” Siefring

This week we are provided with the first of 3 Paragon Warsuits, so expect to see much more of this Nundam Wing in the coming weeks. When these models dropped I thought they looked silly, like a gentrified Penitent Engine. I still somewhat feel that way, though as is often the case, holding the models and looking at them in the 3rd dimension helps build a stronger positive impression. The instructions are thorough, as they must be for a kit this intricate, and walk us fully through the construction of this first suit. Special attention is given to the various weapon options and the specifics of hooking up the sundry cables connecting to each. These instructions will be necessary as, according to my friend Michael, “It’s better than building a Fire Raptor. But not by much.” I fear he may be hyperbolizing slightly, but many of the bits are small and there are quite a few involved in construction. My pal Forest was far more positive, save for some comments on the finnicky nature of their midsections and the general lack of poseability in the kit. The paint guide is similarly comprehensive, and much to my delight even includes instructions for painting hazard stripes on some of the yellow cables. The specifics of that instruction are firmly on the “draw the rest of the owl” level of detail, but your friends here at Goonhammer have got you covered.

The Gaming Materials

Skitarii Rangers on a Magnet Baron movement tray
Skitarii Rangers on a Magnet Baron movement tray. Credit: Pendulin

The obvious inclusion of the Datasheet for Paragon Warsuits greets us this section, with a tutorial solely devoted to picturing the 7 different weapons these things can be armed with. Our mission takes away from the Imperial victory on Rjalma’s Skull and into The Asteroid Belt. An Imperial mining facility on Epsilon-Stagnus 718 is under Necron attack, and the Imperial defenders must drive them back. This is a smaller battle, clocking in at 50 Power (1000 points in modern parlance) and has players deploy in a pair of little bars diagonal from each other, with objectives along a diagonal line between them. The mission is simple – hold objectives and minimize losses for some secondary points – but it leads into the meat of this week’s gaming section.

The Ramasus Campaign is presented to us in a centerfold at the back of the issue, and it provides a simple campaign framework for our next 10 games. Each mission over the rest of Imperium‘s run will feed into this, providing benefits to the victors in various sectors. There’s a cute little galactic map with spots where players can fill in Imperial or Necron victories, and before each battle, players can choose one of the benefits associated with a territory they control. For instance, if the Imperials win this battle for the Asteroid Belt, in any subsequent game they can choose to use its bonus, which grants up to 3 rerolls to hit in a battle. I can already picture in my mind the exact kind of person who insists players would get to use every single one of their campaign rewards in a game. I know because they were me, 18 years ago. In addition to this and a series of relics players can equip, there is also a tracker to determine which faction is in ascendancy. Depending on which player is winning more games, a further effect is applied to both factions. If the Necrons are in Ascendancy, once per game a single unit from their army can get +1 to its Attacks for a turn. The Imperials are meanwhile steeled by these Necron victories and get to automatically pass a single morale test. It’s a dead simple system, and is exactly what I like to see in a campaign. Overcomplication is the chief sin amongst player-designed campaign systems (and 40k’s own Crusade rules) and I far prefer this more basic framework.

Final Verdict 81/90:

A grip of 3 Paragon Warsuits is $75, so the $13.95 cover price here is already a huge bargain. Better still, this issue has some fun narrative material and a campaign system I’m genuinely excited to try out. Hell, I might even try to wrest control of the next narrative my group plans out and use this instead. If this represents Imperium saving the best for last, I’m excited to be along for the ride.

See you next issue, warhams.

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