Friday, February 18, 2022

REVIEW: The Imperium Magazine - Issues 1-3

Living on the wrong side of the pond, I've been jealous of the partwork magazine subscriptions they've had in the UK for 40k and AoS these past few years. Well, it's finally our turn, with the Imperium Magazine subscription now available in the US! What exactly is the Imperium magazine and what can you expect from your subscription? Let's find out!

Hachette, the company producing the Imperium magazine in collaboration with Games Workshop, was kind enough to offer me a free Premium subscription to check out and review, and my first 3 issues of the magazine arrived the other week. Before I go into my thoughts on the first issues of the magazine, what exactly is a partwork? This isn't something I had seen at all until they started launching these for Warhammer over in the UK. It's essentially a weekly magazine that has a set number of issues. In the case of Imperium, it focuses on 40k and each issue comes with either some models, paints, tools, or a combo of the three. The idea behind it is that you slowly build up your collection over the course of the subscription, with each issue teaching you a little bit more about the setting, gameplay, and how to paint.

Over the course of the subscription you'll amass a fairly large Necron army, as well as a combined collection of Space Marines, Adeptus Mechanicus, and Soritas, and a bunch of scenery to fight over. The combined arms approach for the Imperial side is where this iteration of the magazine gets its name; Imperium. The first version was called Conquest and featured Space Marines and Death Guard, while the first version for Age of Sigmar, Mortal Realms, was Stormcast and Nighthaunt. Imperium is the first version of these partwork magazines available in the US though. The first issue of Imperium is $6.95, with each issue after that costing $13.95. 

When you sign up for the subscription, even though they're "weekly" you actually get them delivered to you in a monthly bundle. The first month you get the first 3 issues, and every month after that you get 4 issues at a time. Some months also come with free gifts, like hobby tools. There are also binders they send you, the first of which is free, and each one after that is $9.99. I'll get to the relevance of the binders here shortly.

So, now that you know what it's supposed to be, how does it hold up? I of course only have the first 3 issues so far to draw conclusions from, since that's all that's out so far. The first issue comes with the magazine, a playmat, a poster, a ruler, 6 dice, and a Primaris Lieutenant and a Royal Warden model. These are the ones from the starter sets. The second issue comes with the magazine, 3 Necron Warriors, a starter paint brush, and a pot of Runelord Brass, while the third issues comes with the magazine, 3 Assault Intercessors, and a pot of Macragge Blue. The models are all push fit, so you don't need glue, but you will need clippers still to remove them from the sprue.

Looking through the contents of the magazines as well as what they come with it does a pretty good job at being a starting point for complete newbies to the hobby. Each issue explores a little bit more of the background when it comes to the Space Marines and Necrons, with plenty of awesome artwork. The layout and design of everything is great as well. There's nothing new in here if you already have the new Codexes for these armies for example, but like I said, it's geared towards new players. 

Each issue also contains an instruction guide on how to put together the models it came with. Starting from the second issue it starts showing you how to paint them. Since you only get a single paint brush and the two main base coats for each army, as you might have guessed, these issues focus on how to apply a base coat. It shows you which parts of the models to paint, and how you should do it in three thinner coats. The examples have the paint being applied directly onto the bare plastic, which makes sense since there is no primer included. The premise, as you get more paints in future issues, is that you'll build on top of this, adding more colors and techniques as the subscription progresses. In fact, it shows you what you're finished Lieutenant and Warden will look like at the end if you follow all of their guides, and it's to a pretty good table top standard as well!

Alongside this, each issue also slowly introduces different elements of the game using the models that came with it. You'll have to cut out some objective markers and wound trackers that come with it and put together the models, but then you're ready to go. The first issue, for example, has the Lieutenant and Warden facing off, with 3 objectives between them. The Warden is attempting to reactivate some Necron tech, which he does by going to each objective and rolling a dice. On a 5+ it's successful and the game ends in a win for the Necrons, otherwise he has to move onto the next one and try again. You can also just win by killing the other model. Both models have some very simplified stats to start with. This includes how far they move, their Ballistic skill, their wounds, their armor save, and how many shots their gun gets. There's no melee, no AP, no morale, etc. It reminds me a lot of running demo games when I worked at my local GW back in High School. You're just trying to get across the basics and the feel of the game. For a lot of people, this will be their first time rolling dice and moving models on a table, so there's a lot of really basic stuff that more experienced players wouldn't even think about. 

The second issue with the Necron Warriors has them trying to escape from the Lieutenant by running off the opposite side of the playmat and introduces the ability to advance. All of the stats are still just as simplified, and each model moves as its own unit. The final issue in the first three teaches the basics of melee combat, with the Assault Intercessors getting a weapon skill stat and a melee weapon, though no pistols. The Necrons are trying to reach a distress beacon the Marines set up, and they can advance and shoot, but not fight in combat. It's an interesting way to slowly teach you the mechanics of the game, stripping everything away and then slowly adding it back in. If I was a new player I feel like I might want to learn at a faster pace and go out and get one of the starter sets or rulebooks on my own after a few issues. Though, I guess if that happens then the magazine subscription was successful in getting them interested enough in the game!

One of the things I like the most about how the Imperium magazine teaches the game though, is that it wraps the whole thing up into an ongoing narrative. The first issue comes with a pullout page with an overview of the war for the Ramasus system in the Pariah Nexus. This is where all of the fighting is taking place. Specifically, at least so far, it's all on the moon of Megaria. There are a lot of cool maps and snippets of story in each issues before the rules section, setting up what's going on. They even come up with a narrative reason for why you only have three Marines to start with; heavy casualties and cut off from the rest of their force. I love good narrative hooks. Campaign books are some of my favorite, so I can't wait to read more about the war for the Ramasus system. This does a great job of showing why you're fighting with your models beyond just playing a game.

Along those same narrative lines, each of these issues also has a page to help you develop your own personal narrative for the models that came with it. There are spots to write unit names, individual names, honorifics, weapon names, etc. Each of these also has a table you can roll on to help generate these for you instead. I went ahead and filled out the one for the Royal Warden. Even from a regular 40k perspective I think these are pretty cool. I may use some of these table to flesh out the narrative of my own Necron army.

One thing you should know about these issues, is that they all have holes punched in the side of them so that they fit in the binders that you get. They're meant to be pulled apart, and put in the binders in fact. They don't have a staple bind or anything on the side, just some glue, so that the pages come apart easily when you want them to. One thing I've noticed though with these first three, is that they also come apart when you don't want them too. I believe the first binder comes with month 3, so that won't be a problem for long, but until then you'll want to make sure you don't accidentally lose any pages.

If you plan on collecting any of the armies included in this subscription, purely from a cost saving standpoint, it's a really good deal. You're going to save a lot across the whole collection, and it gives you a pretty good and varied selection of models and units. I also think it's a pretty good way to gradually introduce someone new to the hobby, which is one of its main aims. If you're familiar with AoS already, or past editions of 40k, then the pace of learning the rules will probably be too slow for you. BUT, I still think you'll enjoy learning all of the new lore with each issue. Instead of being an introduction to the game aspect of it, it'll be more of an introduction to the setting. There's a ton of amazing art in these.

The subscription starts at $20.90 plus shipping and handling for the first month, which is these three issues, then $55.80 plus shipping and handling for each month after that. You can always cancel it at anytime too if you decide that it's no longer for you. Looking at what will be coming in month 2, you'll get a unit of Skorpekh Destroyers, Aggressors (the Easy to Build ones), an exclusive (and pretty awesome looking) Space Marine Captain, and four paints. That's $159.75 worth of models and paints if you bought it all on the GW site (I used the normal Aggressors and Primaris Captain for this calculation), all for only $55.80! That doesn't even include all of the content in the magazines themselves on top of that.

You can also do a Premium version of the subscription which starts at $26.90 plus shipping and handling for the first month, which is these three issues, then $67.80 plus shipping and handling for each month after that. In addition to everything you normally get there are also 4 bonus bundles scattered throughout the subscription, one for Chaos Space Marines, one for Tyranids, one for T'au, and one for Orks. Again, if you want to try out a little sampler of whats out there for 40k, this is a great idea.

So would I suggest getting this? I think it's a great idea!

- Are you looking to collect either of these armies? Then it's great savings.
- New to 40k or a returning 40k player from an older edition? Ease into the grim darkness of the far future and learn a little bit more about the setting each month.
- Completely new to tabletop gaming in general? Then it'll teach you everything you need to know from the ground up.

I could also see this being a great gift for someone. I know in the UK there was the option to pick up individual issues at certain physical stores. In the US individual issues will be available at GW stores, independent hobby stores, Barnes and Noble, and Diamond stores. Some of those will only carry the first few issues, while others will carry it for a longer time. This would be a great way to bulk out certain units. I'm really looking forward to the Flayed Ones which should be in month 4. You can read more about it and subscribe on the official Imperium Magazine website here.

What are your thoughts on the Imperium Magazine subscription? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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