Greetings one and all,
Today marks the beginning of a new series featuring the game that got me into the Games Workshop specialist game genre, Necromunda. (Which my audio dictator actually managed to spell correctly first time!) So keep your credits close, a weapon closer, and let's dive into the underhive.
What Is Necromunda?
To quote the Necromunda main Rulebook “Necromunda is the tabletop skirmish wargame of anarchy and violence, where players control rival gangs of fighters battling each other for supremacy in the nightmare depths of the underhive”. This perfectly sums up the feel of the game and if you are a fan of Judge Dredd, Mad Max, or the post-apocalyptic genre in general, this game could be right up your alley.
To play Necromunda you only need a couple of things: a space to play the game, the rule books and some models (and of course friends to play it with, but we assume you have those already).
The gameplay itself is somewhat in-depth, but it’s based on some simple core rules. Each player takes it in turn to activate a ganger which then makes their actions; these can be move, shoot, aim, charge, make a close combat attack, or even a good few more. Once that’s done, the other player does the same with one of their gangers. See, simple. Where the game gets interesting though is in the slightly deeper rules. Take the firepower dice for instance. Every time a ganger uses a gun, you also roll a firepower dice to see if, after this shot, you still have ammo remaining for it. If you roll the out of ammo symbol on the dice when making your shot, then an ammo check needs to be made. The weapon can’t be used again until a successful reload roll is made. For some weapons like lasguns or autoguns, running out of ammo isn’t a big deal. They can just reload. But for weapons like a plasma pistol rolling an out of ammo result is awful, because you won’t be able to reload those weapons for the rest of the scenario due to the rarity of the ammunition. This, therefore, takes that particular weapon out of the game entirely. Necromunda is full of little things like this that can completely change the flow of the battle in an instant, and it’s this fast-paced high-octane gameplay that makes it very different to 40K, AOS, or even Kill Team.
You can’t just jump in and play Necromunda though, like any other Games Workshop game you need to pick and design your gang of unique and interesting characters. Only then can you pit them against your opponent's gang of soon-to-be corpse starch. Gangs are made up of a range of characters, starting with the Juves (the new bloods so to speak), then the Gangers, the Champions and finally a Leader (there can be only one). On top of this, your gang has access to a number of what are called ‘Brutes’; specialist units that each bring a select set of skills and abilities to your gang. And we’re still not done; a gang can also have allies, hangers-on, and bounty hunters. As you can see the sheer variety of models is astounding.
Once your gang has been designed, you and your opponent have a huge range of scenarios to either pick or roll for, with scenarios being everything from a chance encounter with the enemy gang, to plunging deep into the underhive to harvest the narcotic ghast, and pretty much everything in between. Each scenario bequeaths its own rewards, not just credits and XP for your fighters, but sometimes gear and other loot too. None of this is without risks though, of course, and the underhive is full of them. Fighters can be captured, injured, or even killed. So play smart, and your gang might avoid becoming food for the rats.
The game can be played in two main ways; as a skirmish, or as a campaign. Personally, I find the skirmish games a good starting point if I wish to test out a gang's loadout and how well it plays. It’s exactly how it sounds; a one-off game that's very much like a standard game of 40K or AOS. Where the game really shines though, is in campaign play. During campaigns, you will lead your gang from a bunch of nobody's to potentially the most important gang in your section of the underhive. Or, you'll die trying. It gives you the opportunity to develop your gang as they gain experience and gear. Each member of your gang becomes a memorable character (I have many fond memories of my Juve Stablean carving her way through pretty much everyone who stood in front of her). Campaigns can last a number of weeks or even months, and at the end, whoever holds the most turf wins.
I've spoken a lot now about the gangs in Necromunda, and as they really are the central crux of this game, it only seems appropriate that I go over them and explain a little of who they are and what they do. (I will though be going into more detail about each gang in future articles that will make up this series.)
The gangs, in no particular order, are; Esher, Cawdor, Orlock, Goliath, Van Saar, Delaque, Palatine Enforcers, Genestealer cults, Chaos Helots, Ogryn Slave Gangs, and the Corpse Grinder Cults.
Each House can be effectively summarised by The Following;
Esher - A house of psychotic women that use toxins and poisons to kill anyone who even looked at them funny.
Cawdor - The biggest house, consisting of religiously fanatical murder hobos who can, and will, use an obscene amount of fire to cleanse the wicked in the Emperor's name.
Orlock - Basically the bikers of the 40K universe. They're all about family. And shotguns.
Goliath - A house that exemplifies brawn-over-brain. They're big, they’re meaty, and they will crush your skull like the Mountain.
Van Saar - A gang of technophiles looking for the cure to the extreme amount of radiation that their technology poisons them with.
Delaque - Information brokers and spies extraordinaire. If you have a secret, they probably already know it.
Palatine Enforcers - They, are, the law. There is no such thing as innocent until proven guilty, because if you are innocent, then you’re simply guilty of wasting their time.
Corpse Grinder Cults - Did you ever wonder where all the bodies go to and where the corpse starch comes from? Oh, and they might be worshipping chaos.
Genestealer Cults - Damn that’s an ugly baby! A family that has gotten way too close with the Xenos and is trying to call the great devourer here for a little visit.
Chaos Helots - These guys are Chaos Cultists, simple as, and will bring their highly mutated friends to rip your face off.
Ogryn Slave Gangs - A bunch of abhumans that are bigger and dumber than Goliaths, and in combat they’re just a great big wall of walking muscle and bad tempers.
If you are a fan of small-scale skirmish games, like the setting of the grim dark 41st millennium, and feel like making some really good memories, I honestly think you should give Necromunda a go full stop. Personally, it was the models themselves that originally drew me to the game. I was going to use my Esher as Imperial Guard, but after looking into the game and getting a couple of friends interested, we all agree this is probably one of the best and funniest games in the Games Workshop specialist games range. So I’d say give it a go. And what with the new Ash Wastes expansion on the horizon, this might just be the perfect time to get started.