Battle Bros Season Four, Chapter I: Necbromunda

Battle Bros is an ongoing bi-weekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) taught his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 and then they disappeared into the woods like cryptids. Catch up on their past adventures here.

Meet the Battle Bros


The older of the two brothers, and for once the more experienced in what is to come.


The younger brother, unsuspecting of the horrors he will unleash upon himself.

DREW: It’s February 2022. The ongoing health and safety concern of the last two years causes us to hastily scuttle our plans for a grand ending to Battle Bros Season Three. This turns out to be a good decision anyway, as a massive ice storm imperils at least my travel to the event venue where our match against two other Bros would serve as the capstone to the season. We promise to play that fateful match and write the True Ending some day, knowing deep in our hearts it has the sincerity of a Los Angeles “let’s do lunch.”

It’s July 2022. Over dinner with my wife a baleful sentence sludges its way out of my mouth and I instantly blame you for planting the thought that spawned it: “What if we did a Road to Necromunda leading up to GHO Boston for Season 4?” Within hours the gimmick for a McDonaldland-themed Corpse Grinders gang solidifies in my mind and on the page like the world’s worst gelatin dessert. A text manifests: “I hate you for this. I’ll start the Google Doc.” You send me a copy of the fan-collected rulebook which takes some of the shine off this idea, and then for a host of other reasons we quietly abandon it like 90% of our other projects.

It’s August 2023. Over beers with folks at the Goonhammer Open in Baltimore I realize it’s been over a year since our last collaboration. The people I’m with don’t even know what Battle Bros is despite our banner plastered across my shirt. My fingers start to itch with the need to Produce Content. I tell myself it’s just the unwise combination of Malört and Natty Boh and eventually head back to our hotel where you are already in bed by 9 PM because you were born during the Caesar administration.

It’s November 2023. You come to me with a Black Friday deal too insane to exist in this world. A webstore (which shall not be named) offers a Strike Force level army for a pittance – think something along the lines of three or four combat patrols for about the price of a Knight. We posit that these must either be absolute garbage that they’re trying to clear out of stock or stuff that’s going to be Legends’d in moments. We conceive of buying these as a way to push “learning 10th edition” for Season Four. The idea fizzles… for now.

It’s December 2023. We have convinced Rob to pay for these armies with the understanding that we will not keep them and will instead add them to the GHO charity auction. We open the boxes and realize there has been some mistake as there’s only a third of the advertised points here. After some back and forth with the retailer we realize we’re not getting the deal we thought we were and we refund the purchase, burying the thought of Season Four and the entire first article we had written introducing the concept. It’s so over.

It’s December 2023 again. I win a box of Eschers in a raffle at my local game store’s holiday party. We are so back.

So you see, that’s where the trouble began. That smile. That damned smile.

CHRIS: It’s January 2024. I am tired of the Earth. These hams. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their rules. I have tried 10th edition and didn’t love it. I want a game with interesting, well thought-out rules that cleanly cover every conceivable in game action. But because we live in the stupidest timeline and because you hate me I guess we’re playing Necromunda instead.

It’s June 2020. I see the Underhive box on sale at a store (the same one where a few months earlier I somehow won a raffle for a bunch of Space Marines and started this whole accursed nonsense). I have been Necro-curious for a few years but none of the gangs really appealed to me aesthetically. But the world has gone to shit and other than my wife and child I haven’t seen the lower half of anyone’s face for four months. The madness has taken me. I buy the box, arranging to split it with Josh – he will take the Eschers and I’ll take the Goliaths. I will then wrestle over a paint scheme and dumb name for my very large small adult children for several months. Eventually I find some Spartan style helmet heads that I think look decent and decide to go full fluorescent on them.

It’s, I don’t know, somewhere in 2022 and I’ve bought the Escher half back from Josh, because I am a complete putz and one gang is never enough. I begin customizing a Munster Mobile for a goth girl gang for Ash Wastes. They remain assembled and half painted in a box somewhere. I’ve also sold the Squats that I picked up to Josh, because he has a Problem and has to Pokemon all the gangs.

Dig through the ditches and burn through the witches and slam in the back of my Munster Mobile, because that’s NOT the Dragula, dammit!

DREW: Wait, hold up, go back. One gang isn’t enough? I don’t like the sound of that. I’m pretty sure I can exercise caution on this one although if this was a video this would be where the camera would pan to the four separate 40k armies in my closet and the 30k army that’s gathered dust there since 2017. It does seem to square up with my initial foray into the Necro scene, in which I asked several different Discord channels how to make a solid gang out of just the basic box and every single one of them told me about all the extra models I should buy.

CHRIS: You really should buy more models.

DREW: Et tu, Goon? Nevertheless, that is my goal: to use the basic box and only the basic box. Between budgetary concerns thanks to the cost of living rising sharply and the fact that I’m just not really as invested in this game as I am in 40k proper I want to avoid spending money on it if at all possible. This is, after all, a game that does not have Big Tank and I would prefer my discretionary income to fund Big Tank particularly as my Tank Count is currently – and shamefully – zero.

But we have Big Tank at home. Credit: Warhammer Community

CHRIS: That’s the great thing about Necromunda – it can be exactly as stupid as you want it to be.

As for sticking to the basic box, there’s nothing wrong with that. But like all good games the later stuff is cooler and stronger. The Escher Death Maidens in particular are just brutal. But as I’ll be the one playing against you, sure, just stick with the core box. Should be fine.

I also need to make clear here that I am terrible at Necromunda. This should come as a shock since my competitive record in every other game is so stellar. I’ve only played about a dozen games and half of those were at the aforementioned Goonhammer Open. And I may have won one of them, although I can’t conjure up which game exactly.

DREW: I believe you came in third, which is nothing to sneeze at. Sure, it was out of three players, but a medal is a medal and there are so few people who can say they medalled in Necromunda at GHO.

CHRIS: Sir, I won three medals at GHO. I also took “most casualties.” As in “most of my dudes taken out” not “inflicted the most casualties.” I will refer you to above where I stated that I’m very very bad at this game.

The medals don’t lie. They also don’t tell a particularly positive story.

I also got the Best Painted, which is not exactly true, but they were the Stupidest Painted and I guess that counts. What I lack in talent I make up for in schtick.

DREW: I thought we agreed that talking about our sex lives would be too inappropriate?

CHRIS: Say what you will, the “aOOOga” clown horn gets results, son!

The appeal of Necromunda to me is A) small model count. I think the Orks killed painting and playing large armies for me. Just let me push around a dozen little dolls, tops. My aged brain can’t handle more than that. And B) as noted above, it’s a game where incredibly dumb things can and will happen. It’s not quite as much of a chaotic mess as Adeptus Titanicus, where your Titans are required by law to explode and take out a number of other enemy and friendly Titans at least every other game. But have a ganger get shot, fall off a third-story platform in full Homer at Springfield Gorge mode, hit the ground and survive, only to die when making a recovery check at the end of the round? Yes. Yes indeed. This is a game of cartoonish violence. And the good cartoons from when we were kids were they actually blew people up, not this namby pamby Bluey crap kids watch these days.

DREW: It’s good that you’ve managed to stay young at heart all these years. Someday you’ll have to share the secret with us.

It occurs to me, paragraphs deep in the word mines, that it’s possible that not everyone reading this is familiar with Necromunda, so let’s do the thirty thousand foot view. (Forty thousand foot view?) Necromunda is a skirmish game set on the eponymous planet in the 40k universe, in which various weirdo gangs war against each other in the depths of the planet’s massive hive cities. Think Dredd (God why has there never been a sequel) mixed with The Warriors and you’re most of the way there. And yes, I did consider trying to make the Baseball Furies as a gang – I’m not an animal.

CHRIS: The Judge Dredd comics were definitely a big inspiration for the game. There’s a hefty dose of British punk culture from the 1970s/80s in there as well, especially in the obligatory dyed mohawk haircuts on two of the original six Houses. The first edition came out in 1995, and I’d like to think there’s a dash of Max Headroom in there as well

You basically have the Houses all locked up inside the lowest levels of a megacity on an otherwise inhospitable world. Some of the Houses have access to decent technology and weapons, but most are stuck using big wrenches (“spud jackers” in Necromunda parlance) or pipes as crude melee weapons, or slug guns, lasguns, and very occasional bolters for ranged combat. Everything is grimy and industrial and toxic. The big six original Houses were Goliaths (muscle bois on space steroids), Escher (women in combat heels who were really good with toxins), Orlocks (gear-heads who look like Dan Badcast), Delaque (those creepy guys from Dark City), Cawdor (religious zealots who really love trash and fire), and Van Saar (the guys who have the Nice Stuff).

This is just the first of three different pieces of evidence on the matter.

GW let Necromunda lay fallow for a while in the late aughts / early teens, bringing it back in 2018 with the current version. They kept the core Houses and added some more gangs over the years – Enforcers (cops), Corpse Grinders (cannibal berzerkers), Ash Wastes Nomads (Tusken Raiders who ride bugs), and Squats (Squats). In 2022 we got the Ash Wastes expansion, which gets us out of the megacity and into the barren radioactive deserts. This included adding a major aspect to the game – vehicles! Now you can be Mad Max, (or the guy strapped to the front of the Kill Rig, whichever floats your boat) and tool around in highly customizable vehicles that you can’t use in the Underhive. And yes, every single Necromunda player gave serious thought to making the Doof Warrior’s amplifier truck with Bluetooth speakers inside.

DREW: It’s my understanding, pieced together from vague memory and the rantings of others, that some of those new gangs are replacements for ones that were thematically as tasteful as a clown parade on 9/11. There were the Adeptus Arbites (don’t ask me to pronounce it) which were literally the Judges from the 2600 AD comics but also were the equivalent of an FBI SWAT team inexplicably showing up to handle an inner city gang fight. Or how about the Spyrers, who were jaded and bored One Percenter kids slumming it to kill the poor in the hopes of impressing mommy and daddy. And then there were the Ratskins, which were a heady blend of all the “noble savage” tropes about Native Americans pieced together with the kind of unthinking racism for which a bunch of white dudes in England in the Nineties could have earned doctorates. In other words I’m glad they’re gone and they really should stay gone.

CHRIS: Again, the key thing to know about Necromunda is that it is an incredibly stupid game. I don’t mean that the rules or the setting is bad, I mean that incredibly stupid things will happen during the course of a game, and they will be glorious. Although the rules are highly detailed and cover almost as many edge cases as they create, it’s best if you don’t approach this game too seriously.

DREW: Waaaaay ahead of you, hoss.

Next Time: Maybe Learn How to Play, Idiot

Drew maybe learns how to actually play the game instead of skimming list advice articles and getting excited to paint mohawk muscle mommies.

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