SRM’s Ongoing Imperium Review: Week 90: The Final Issue

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. 

I’ve been pushing this boulder uphill all day and boy are my arms tired! Welcome to the final installment of this 80-then-90-week series, where I’ll begin by doing my normal thing then meander for entirely too many words about philosophy or grief or something else only tangentially related to Warhammer. You knew what you were signing up for, if not in week 0 then at least by week 10.

The Magazine

The narrative section for this final installment is among the scantest in Imperium‘s entire run, consisting of a single Battle Record for Illuminor Szeras. This is paired with the phrase “Szeras is first and foremost a scientist” next to a picture of a dude being turned into goo by Szeras’ murder stick.

Atomize. Analyze. Only through the hyperscopal macular process could the universe truly be understood. Fortunately, Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV would provide ample organic material for this destructive scientific procedure. Mayhaps he could even discover why the tuber-wafers of Pringalia were so well regarded by those who could still masticate. “What a disgusting concept” he thought.

The Hobby Materials

Illuminor Szeras
Illuminor Szeras Credit: RichyP

Illuminor Szeras is the focus of this issue, and the hobby section is where week 90 shines. Assembling him is finicky; he’s all spindly bits, easily broken wires, and precariously balanced limbs. The process makes a gorgeous model, but not without some work. Said model gets a genuinely lavish 20-page painting tutorial. This tutorial even has painters mix colors to get the right shade of pink for the flesh goo (here described as a “stream of organic material”), and use it for a glaze! How far we’ve come since the first issues of this series, where we’d paint some dudes blue and call it a day. The only critiques I have are ones I’ve had several times before – priming your model by applying bottle paint over bare plastic isn’t great, and the glazing technique they have for Necron weapons looks kinda janky to me. Everything else though, fantastic. You could also follow along with Goonhammer’s own guides to painting this multi-limbed murder robot scientist, should you wish for a different approach.

The Gaming Materials

Szeras. Credit: Wings

Listen, I was running out of Szeras pictures at this point and all that’s left is Wings’ lovely take on “be careful who you call puny in middle school” Szeras, so it’s what we’re getting. Szeras has a 9th edition Datasheet here as you might expect. The specifics don’t really matter, but the broad strokes of him being a support hero who is also pretty dang good at killing things remains true. What’s more important is our final mission: Assault on the Pylon. A Noctilith Pylon is being constructed, and should it be completed, the effects of The Stilling will affect the entire Ramasus System. A final, desperate assault by the Imperials is the only thing that can stop its activation, and this is represented adequately in the mission. While we’re working with standard objectives and scoring, the mission has a significant twist to reinforce its narrative. The Imperial player has 100 Power (2000 points in modern parlance) against the Necrons’ 85 (1700) but the Necron Pylon is gradually growing more powerful. Each turn a new stacking debuff is applied to the entire Imperial army, starting with leadership before moving to movement, advance/charge moves, melee attacks, and toughness. I’m glad they were able to make something characterful and asymmetrical for this final battle, even if the primary objective is so ordinary. Genuinely, I do think narrative scenarios benefit from being on the simple side with one fun twist just to make things more interesting, and this hits.

Final Verdict 90/90:

Credit: PierreTheMime

Illuminor Szeras is a $60 model, making this issue’s cover price of $13.95 over a 75% savings, and the best individual deal in all of Imperium. I somehow doubt you’ll need more than one Szeras at any point, but should you need to stock up, this would be the way to do so. I won’t be the first to say this, but the general price of character models is kinda wack much of the time. If 10 Intercessors are $60, a single Captain who is the same size probably shouldn’t cost $40. However, Szeras is big. He’s on an 80mm base, just a smidge smaller than a Redemptor’s. The rest of the magazine is great this week, even if Szeras isn’t quite as climactic a finisher for this series as Roboute Guilliman was back in issue 80. The paint guide is excellent, the mission is fun, and I’ll take the slim narrative section if it means the rest can be so lush.

Final Final Verdict (Verdict?): Imperium

I said at the outset of this series that I would total up the cost of everything here and weigh it against the cost of subscription or the weight of a feather or your sins or whatever and see how they compared. I won’t be doing that with anything resembling precision. However, I will total up the price with the addition of these last 10 bonus lap issues, which bring the cost of this collection to $1403.40. That is quite a bit of money, even spread out over 90-ish weeks. Almost every issue offered a savings around 40-60% off the MSRP of the hobby materials inside, save for the occasional paint issues. It’s fair to say something is a good deal while still being expensive, though I believe the financial blow would be lessened if you were splitting this with at least one person, or maybe even your entire gaming group. Knowing myself, were I a tween, this would have been absolute catnip for me. Also knowing myself, I would have lost patience with the dripfeed of rules half a dozen issues in and begged my parents for a rulebook. Some decades removed from that target demographic age, I was still delighted each month when a pack of issues would arrive on my doorstep. It’s nice getting treats in the mail.

As a means of slowly introducing models, lore, and paint techniques, I think this system works beautifully. I have some recurring criticism – namely that I really wish they’d address that spray primer exists – but the hobby sections do what they set out to do well. What I think is most impressive is how far they’re able to stretch the selection of paints supplied. What I’d rather have from the gaming side of things is a shorter leadup to teach the basic rules, then having each week’s gaming section focus on that week’s new unit, with a mission written to show them off.

Last but not least are the narrative sections. Much of the time, these artfully summed up stories and events from the 41st millennium, usually accompanied by some artwork from the GW archives. Sometimes these were pieces I’d seen a million times, others were strange, old, off-model or obscure. These were laid out with consistency and panache, presenting an immersive reading experience. The short stories were usually fairly dull bolter porn affairs, but a few later issues actually did interesting and enjoyable things with the short story format. I enjoyed the two part story about an inquisitor investigating a crystal mine, the first person entombment in a Dreadnought, and the ongoing Rogue Trader narratives the most. I’ll roll Battle Records in here too, and if you couldn’t tell, I absolutely adored these. Coming up with names and stories for your models is so much fun, and I’ve made a point to save all of the name tables for future endeavors.

Ultramarines Primaris Lieutenant. Credit: SRM

Bonus Round: On Reviewing 90+ Magazines Primarily Intended for 12 Year Olds

If you have read every one of these, I have two things to say:

  1. Thank you
  2. I don’t believe you

Rob Note: It me, the editor. I read everyone of these. You’re welcome, Campbell.

This review will drop two years and 5 days after my very first entry into this series, Week 0. In a way, this is that many years and days in the making, a novel-length review of a hobby product for people decades my junior with markedly less hobby experience than I. It also represents a project unlike any I’ve taken before – a 95 week endeavor (don’t forget the 4 Premium issues!) to stick to deadlines, write an absurd amount of new material, and gently place, Jenga-like, a bushel of models and hobby supplies atop my backlog. I won’t say it’s changed me or anything quite so grand, but it’s been a reliable thing I could pour myself into, one week at a time. In that time I’ve gained a job, lost a job, acquired a cat, lost a parent, and seen an entirely new gaming community bloom in my little mountain town. As unmoored as I’ve been over the past 735 days, this column has been an anchor I could focus on and feel better for having done. I probably felt this hardest when my podcast, The 40k Badcast, was on hiatus and I needed an outlet, and Goonhammer was kind enough to afford me this corner in which to wild out.

If this is where we part ways, then thanks for riding along with me on this absurd journey. If you want to continue this trip, I’ve been covering Stormbringer, the recently released Age of Sigmar equivalent to Imperium. I can also hear a whistle blowing, the distant chugchugchug of a freight train in the distance carrying news of Combat Patrol, a follow up to this series focused on the titular Combat Patrols of 10th edition. It’s getting trialed in the UK and Ireland soonishly, so should fate conspire to, you may be seeing a return to Derek’s Mom’s Dining Table IV in the future.

See you around, warhams.

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