Friday 23 October 2015

Looking at Necromunda

With people playing Gorkamorka at the club, it got us talking about other old specialist games and the topic of Necromunda came up. Out of the specialist games I only played inquisitor and Mordheim, both of which I though were brilliant. With this in mind I decided to look though the old rules for Necromunda, after purchasing the hardback rules for the first edition of Necromunda. In our discussions it appeared there was very little rules difference, but a few people preferred the first edition over the second. As I have never played Necromunda I though it could be a fun game to play in the future, especially if its any where near as good as Mordheim.

For those of you who have never header of Necromunda before I though I would have a quick run down of the back ground and the game.

On the world of Necromunda there are three Hives, each with a massive population more akin to a plant than city. The rest of the planet is ash waste, with very little living there apart from a few bands of nomads. The Game of Necromunda is set on the most important hive of the three, Hive Primus (or hive one) but I will get to that in a second.

Hive Primus is a massive hive reaching into the lower atmosphere of Necromunda (stated as 10 miles high) in the shape of a cone. The lower down the hive you get the wider it becomes until you reach the bottom of the hive which is believed to be many miles long. The Hive is separated into 3 main sections, at the top you have the Spire, which is controlled by the Noble families (the richest people in the hive) and the traders (commonly called guilders). They control dealing with other worlds, and make the most money. The goods they sell to other worlds come from the next section down of hive, called hive city. Below Hive city you have the underhive, which is so old its fallen apart and abandoned by Hive city. The reason its been abandoned isn't just age, its toxicity. The higher up the hive you are the better your life, the cleaner your air and the purer your water. Each level of the hive gets the recycled wast of the section above it, so the further down you go the more unpleasant life is and rather more toxic. Eventually everything becomes so poisonous it can't be lived it and gets filtered down into to under hive and eventually makes its way to the bottom of the hive into a toxic sea called the Sump.

Hive city is controlled by 6 houses, each responsible for the manufacturing of something different. These 6 houses are all constantly trying to one up the other as they fight for the contracts from the noble houses which will earn them credits. Each house is very different from the others and have their own identity and customs. This division has been going on so long that its it deeply ingrained into the people who live under the jurisdiction of the houses that they are all totally dedicated to their house and its customs. This can lead to great tension between houses, but very little comes from it. If war was to brake out between two houses it would just give the other 4 a chance to gain the Nobles houses trust while diminishing their own houses worth.

The 6 houses of Hive primus are:

Goliath, whos territory is lowest in the hive, making the people there tough and hardy folk.
Escher, a house with a genetic flaw meaning 90% of their population are Female, and the men are weak imbeciles.
Van Saar, a technological house where things are created in a more sturdy and reliable fashion.
Orlock, the miners of the hive (well their version of mining).
Delaque, a secretive and balding people who focus on espionage and information. The spys who sell information for the right price.
Cawdor, these religious nuts don't accept any one who doesn't follow the religion of redemption, they set fire to things.

Example of an Escher Gang

Now the Underhive is where we focus our attention for the game. This area is where people from the houses go to try and either make a name for them selves, expand their houses power or seek their riches. As in all things 40k related old technology is best and even though the under hive is toxic and dangerous, with caves ins and mutant wildlife, old tech can be found here. And if you rummage though the old domes and hall ways you might just stumble upon an old something or other to sell so you can live the rest of your life higher up in the hive. The reason you can find old tech still is because the way the hive was built up over time, each section build on another, parts have broken and caved in, covering lower sections. But with all of the strain on the hive from the sheer size of it, hive quakes can occur as parts shift and cover yet more domes, but some times old forgotten ways open up allowing for the brave (or stupid) to explore and discover lost tech. Now its not just technology people are after in necromunda, with so many people food is scarce, so edible fungus and such things are sort after to live. The way the toxic waste moves down the hive it can sometimes filter out important elements such as iron, as it moves down, leading to vains of metal to be dug out and sold. So there are many reasons to go searching the depths of the hive for money.

Now at the bottom of the hive mutants live, some have created their own strain of humanity such as the ratskins, who are akin in look to native Americans, living off the hive and knowing the land well enough to not be bothered by it. These guys are tough and resourceful, but are viewed as savages by the people of hive city. Other mutants are less stable and can have extra arms, wings, spikes or just have blue skin. These are thrown out by humanity and are generally useless, unless they form into marauding bands to terrorise and pay back the hivers for how they have been treated.

The actual game of necromunda is set in the under hive where gangs form to try to get rich. Each gang is made up of a single house or one of the outlanders (mutants, ratskings et...) as they are still tied to where they came from. Loyalty to others from their house is strong so you can not have mixed house gangs. If people from one house come across those from another in the underhive, it generally leads to a shoot out. Indeed its the only way to be when you are trying to gain territory to improve your wealth.

This game is based on the rules for 2nd edition 40k so it works very differently from the current way of playing, more akin to old warhammer fantasy, but with a crazy way to figure out close combat. As a skirmish game it focuses on gangs made up of between 3 and maybe 20 models, so you have a lot fewer miniatures compared to modern 40k. This allows the game to delve into a greater depth of each of those models. Each with have a name, its own equipment which very well may be unique to other models in your gang, and as the gang progresses the models will gain experience and either new skills or increase their stat lines. Necromunda isn't a game designed for one off games, its created as a campaign, so your gang takes on its own personality as you play more games with other people. This can cause great rivalry between players and the gangs themselves. When a model gets shot its not just removed as in 40k, instead you roll to see what happens. They could just be injured, fighting on but to a lesser degree as having a bullet hole in you tends to upset your aim. They could be knocked down and badly injured, coming in and out of consciousness until they can get themselves up. Or they can just be shot and take no further part in the battle. After each game you need to find out what happens to every one who went out of action, they could have taken a bullet to the leg and now have an old injury which slows them down. An arm could get blown off by a bolter round and require a bionic replacement, or they could have got a bullet a few inches from their ear, killing them on the spot. People can get captured forcing the gang to go on a rescue mission (one of the several scenarios) or just hate the model which took them down leading to them seeking revenge.

A Goliath and Van Sarr gang fight it out

On top of that the weapons all have a rather more detailed stat line. Lasguns aren't just the flash lights of 40k, they have modifiers to hit depending on how far away the target it. A laspistol can be very accurate from 4 inches but be hard to hit some one 10 inches away. Plus you can buy different ammunition types for shot guns, lasguns, missile launchers etc... its all much more detailed than 40k and it really does look like something I want to try.

Over View Over

Example of a Ratskin
Now looking over it a couple of factions a couple stand out to me, mainly the Escher gang and Ratskin renegades. They both have rather cool models which I would like to paint and make a gang out of. The Esher models In particular have a lot of character to them which I really like, and its a surprise to see so many female models from a company who really don't make make of them. They are my favourite of the original gangs, so its why I would like to play them. An outlander gang which I like are the Ratskin Renegades, a band of ratskins who have lost their home to gangers and been driven mad seeking revenge. They are rather different to other gangs, being more resilient but with less access to technology. They don't even have heavies making them a gang which can't win a long range firefight, only short range for them. Its very interesting.

However you can't purchase necromunda first hand any more so its the second hand market and its very hard to buy the models with out spending a fortune on a gang. With this in mind I am unlikely to get an original gang, but the rules are quite inclusive so its quite easy to use other models, and its quite handy I have a lot of mutant and renegade guard models hanging around, so I have two possibilities.

If I go with the renegade guard I could quite happily make a standard gang, most likely a Delaque gang based around shooting and stealth. It would fit the models quite well as they would have to operate from the shadows in order to not be found out in the underhive, and I don't really have an models equipped for hand to hand combat, so shooting it is. Alternatively I could use the mutants to make a scavvie gang, the mutants who live in the sump, the toxic bottom, the dregs of the underhive. It wouldn't be impossible to make a horde of them, but I feel im using far too many horde armies at the moment so a small gang would be great. With this in mind, I think I will be going with the renegade guard as a gang.
They could fit into necromunda right?
You can higher models to help your gang on a temporary basis, such as wyrd psykers and ogryn body guards, and as I so happen to have such models for my renegades, it really makes me think I should lean their way.

Again due to the insane cost of trying to by original models it has caused the discussion of what to use instead, and a few of my friends will be trying to use their current collections. One will be using it as an excuse to build and paint his skitarii, as they will make a cool stand in for a Van saar gang, as they are both rather technological and fit the theme. Another will just be using chaos cultists to probably stand in for a cawdor gang, they look pretty much the same which is a bonus.

What I am looking forward to the most though is that games will mean something, yer its fun to have a pick up game of 40k, but when your done, your done. With this it means that after the game my guys get something out of it, I might loose a few people but I should walk away stronger (assuming I haven't played like a fool) and a story will start to develop. I would love it if my gang started to hate anther one and try to get them back for something like killing old johnny or something like that. Plus it uses lots of terrain, I do love using lots of terrain. Also this game came out at a time GW had fun with their products instead of being super serious. An example of this are the Underhive towns of Slag town, and Glory hole. Both of which are fine names, slag town obviously about metal slag (probably...) and the other just a nice place to be. Little things like this make it much more enjoyable.

Anyway, what do you guys think? Have you any experience trying out the old specialist games? What's your take on necromunda?


  1. I love Necromunda, hope you enjoy it as much as I do - the level of immersion in your gang's character is great.

    Try searching the internet for Yak Tribe - it's got links to the rules, new scenarios etc and also has an online game reporting tool to take a lot of the complexity out of the post game sequence.

  2. Necromunda Is a great game, and with the scope of plastic kits available it's possible to make any gang.
    you've already mentioned chaos cultists as a base for Cawdor, add some clan doos and you get redemptionists.
    Catachan Jungle Fighters make great Orlocs.
    Chaos Maruders are a good base for Goliaths.
    Eldar, Haliquins and Dark eldar have loads of parts to do Ecsher.
    Van Saar is trickier but eldar plus Cadians maybe or assassins would give a good start.
    I've contemplated Skitarii for Delaque but these guys do a range of great stand ins.

    If you are looking round for inspiration I can recommend the Necromundican
    A great selection of terrain and tutorials
    The Nick over at
    Has some of the best, if not the best Necromunder table I've seen, and has been sharing a load of Necromunder stuff recently.

    Anyway enjoy your delve into the underhive I look forward to seeing more.

    1. Thanks for those links, its taken me a while to get round to checking them out but they are really helpful.

  3. All the old specialist games are the cream of the crop. THE best.