Ganging Up On Me

A few weeks back I had a game of Necromunda with my pal Rob (you may recall his excellent hand modeling work in my AT-43 post). Necro-who-what? never heard of it… Well I’m feeling a bit lazy so I’ll pinch the Wikipedia description which does a pretty nice job of summing the game up

Necromunda is a skirmish tabletop war game produced by  Games Workshop Specialist Games.
In Necromunda, players control rival gangs battling each other in the Underhive, a place of anarchy and violence in the depths below the Hive City. As in its parent game Warhammer 40,000, play uses 28 mm miniatures and terrain (in this case a heavily polluted cityscape).

Being a skirmish game, gangs are usually limited to around ten models, but as a result game play can become more detailed. Unlike Warhammer 40,000, Necromunda also allows players to develop their gangs between battles, gaining experience, adding new members or equipment, according to a set of rules. Gangs which frequently win games acquire more credits (money) and fewer injuries and so are able to grow throughout a campaign.

It’s not really supported by Games Workshop any more, but you can still order the models from their site, if you look hard enough, and the rule book is now freely available online

It took many weeks of planning to find a time to play this, and came perilously close to not happening – “so see you tomorrow at my place?” – “Your place? But we’re having the game at mine” – “Oh really? But I thought…” Cue much flapping and last minute replanning.

Rob had made some very nice terrain and scenery for the game, I mean he had seriously put some work in. I knew he had been busy with the cardboard, paint and glue but I was blown away when I saw the table all set out

The battleground for our gang fight, Rob's amazing custom, hand made terrain

The Sewer Rats would advance from this side, the filthy scum

Bloody impressive I’m sure you’ll agree!

Rob’s gang “The Sewer Rats” was from House Cawdor, my gang was one I put together and painted about 5 years ago when I last played Necromunda at SELWG. The “Techno Freaks” (what was I thinking in 2007!) from Van-Saar were ready to fight once again! Rob’s gang outnumbered me 11 to 9 but my guys were better equipped. We played the basic scenario “Gang Fight” which is a standard all out fight with no specific criteria or extra rules.

Getting started, we placed our gangers one by one on the board. Much thought, possibly too much, was put into strategic placement of the guys. See the thing about Necromunda – cover is very important, get caught in the open and you’ll be gunned down in a hail of lasgun blasts in no time. However hide away and you’ll never get a chance to take a shot, so it’s a fine balancing act. The game plays much like an expanded version of Warhammer 40k. When I say expanded, I mean there’s some nice rules which add extra detail and realism. For example pinning – if you’re hit but not wounded, you’re still pinned down by the gun fire. Also dying in Necromunda isn’t as simple as going to zero wounds, as gangers can recover after they go down, rolling on subsequent turns to see if they come back with a “flesh wound” or stay down, or even go completely out of action. It’s quite fun deciding and debating on line of sight and levels of cover (models in partial or full cover) when dealing with such 3D terrain, it can require some squinting and even the use of a laser pointer to decide if your guy could get a sneaky shot in at the shoulder or elbow of a rival gang member, edging across the walkway above him.

Things started well for me, but I misjudged the area in the centre of the board, thinking my gang leader & one of the gang members were well covered, when suddenly they were brought down in a hail of sustained heavy-stubber fire from The Sewer Rats’ heavy weapons guy. He rolled a 6 to hit! But that’s good right? Well not in Necromunda – that means an ammo-check… he fails the check… click-click-click out of ammo! With no other weapons he’s now nothing more than a walking meat shield. Meanwhile positioned high & vulnerable on a giant tank of toxic waste, one of my Techno Freaks makes a lucky shot & downs one of the Sewer Rats on the centre walkways, this causes the nearby Sewer Rat Juve (junior gang member, coming up the ranks of the gang hierarchy) witnessing his best mate take several Autogun shells to the chest, to loose his nerve, he legs it running fast as he can back down the walkway and out of trouble!

Carefully measured range

Cautiously my leader and his right-hand man advance, unaware of the ambush ahead

My leader and his right hand man are down, but they aren’t out, they spend a couple of turns crawling, bleeding on their bellies to safety, where they make something of a  recovery, yes! Back in the fight! Sadly it doesn’t last long and soon they are brought down again, with their flesh wounds they were next to useless anyhow, their shots going wild. Over on the left of the battlefield a Juve and single gang member make a cautious advance. The gang member climbs the ladder to the top of the synthdiet-processing plant (it was an old box 2 weeks earlier) he bravely faces three Sewer Rats with autoguns, but it’s not a fair fight, and he’s quickly brought down. The Juve meanwhile spends a turn lurking behind the “Memorial To The Unknown Squat” before he makes a last suicidal charge, screaming and waving his Las-Pistol and knife he runs into hand-to-hand combat with the ammo less Heavy. Melee combat in Necromunda is pretty brutal, charging and being armed with two weapons (like my Juve) gives a big advantage. The Juve is victorious, one dead Heavy! He follows up next turn and takes down another, could the Juve swing things in my favour?

No – is the short answer! The Sewer Rats’ that lost their nerve on the walkway spent several turns legging it, followed by cowering behind some barrels, before they managed to regain their composure. And a scrap ensued with my heavy and another of my Juves. Things didn’t go in my favour, a spectacular miss by my Heavy Plasma gun nearly took out my own gang members, and before long I was two more men down.

Once 25% of your gang have gone down, you have to make a break test at the end of all of your turns to see if the guys bottle it and run off in face of certain death. I staved off the inevitable with some good rolls on my bottle tests for a couple of turns, but it was just a matter of time… in the end my guys bottled it and I lost the game

In summary – Necromunda is a great game, and despite losing I really enjoyed it! It’s worthy of a lot of the praise it gets, it’s not just rose tinted nostalgia for the good old days of Games Workshop. This game was originally released in 1995 when GW were on top form, and it shows even today. The rules are detailed without being heavy weight and considering Rob had never played and I’d only played it once before, it flowed really well. I reckon you could have fairly quick battles in a couple of hours, which for a table top wargame is impressive. We didn’t even touch on the campaign aspect where you take your gang forward onto the next battle, buying new equipment, checking to see what happens to the injured, etc. which is where I think a lot  of the depth is. If you’re after a skirmish type wargame or even an introduction to Warhammer 40K but don’t want to paint 400 models, I’d highly recommend Necromunda

Filthy stinking Sewer Rat scumbags. aka Rob's gang

One of my Juves considering making his suicidal death charge

Surveying the battlefield

Hiding at the base of the ladder, while the Sewer Rats advance over the bridge

Author: Ben Coleman

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7 Comments

  1. looks awesome. Always loved the more narrative aspects of any table-top play, and remember reading some Necromunda reports in White Dwarf about 8 years ago, thought it sounded cool then.
    Also, (showing how long it is since I played 40k etc) never thought of using laser pointers to clarify line of sight, very cool.

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  2. My gang are the SUMP DRAGONS you disrespectful cur! Never heard of fact checking? :/ Great write up though and a very enjoyable game. We both made rookie mistakes in our initial set up (not putting our Heavies on the highest thing around, not positioning our close combat guys somewhere with a clear route to some close combat!) and were fairly hesitant in the first couple of turns but it soon started to come naturally – and the extra level of detail over standard 40k does make
    it a more involved, narrative experience.

    Having Ben outmanned 11 to 9 definitely gave me an edge – spending my creds on extra bodies rather than fancy grenades was a canny move for a one off encounter. But still Ben perhaps hasn’t conveyed how close it really was: at the point when he failed his bottle test his gang had three ‘down’ on the board, however I had four gang members ‘out of action’ – ie off the board as confirmed casualties – including my gang leader and both heavies! So we were both on the ropes… and I guess the Sump Dragons just wanted it more :)

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  3. Oh bollocks! SUMP DRAGONS! Where the hell did I get Sewer Rats from!?

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    • Been watching Aladdin?

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  4. Necromunda rocks. A lot. I might be having a game later today, as it happens. Anyway I noticed you guys made a few mistakes with the rules:

    -If you roll a 6 to hit you do still hit, even if you subsequently fail your ammo roll.
    -Bottle tests happen at the start of your turn. You get to either voluntarily bottle out or test to see whether your gang’s nerve holds.

    With the amount of rules involved, it’s inevitable that some get misinterpreted. Hell, I still make mistakes with Gorkamorka’s rules and I write the damn things!
    I really hope you carry out a campaign though. One-off games are like listening to the radio commentary for paint drying compared to campaigns. Stories emerge, juves become mighty warriors, heavies hold off waves of enemies, rats chew your gang leader’s face off… It’s awesome!
    One last thing – get some verticality in that terrain!
    Once you’ve played with 3+ levels (or more!) you’ll see why. It really enhances things.

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    • We knew a roll of 6 is still a hit, perhaps I didn’t make that very clear in the post.

      Re the bottle test – this whole report was written from memory several weeks after the game so a few inaccuracies crept in.

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