Battle Bros Season Four, Chapter V: The War for Winkie World

THE BROS ARE BACK and they’re not alone. See which innocent souls they’ve dragged into the foolishness of Necbromunda. Battle Bros is an ongoing bi-weekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) taught his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 and now is being hoisted by his own petard as he learns Necromunda. 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, slowly realizing the horrors he has unleashed upon himself.


CHRIS: Once again we’re back to blather on about our foray into Necromunda. And you are here, albeit in dwindling numbers, to bear witness. Welcome, and strap in because this week we start a CAMPAIGN!!

We volunteered Josh and Allan (who we swear are real people and not just names we made up to make it seem like we have friends) into this, mainly so it wouldn’t just be my Goliaths dunking on Drew’s Eschers every game like the first reel of Space Jam. While this would be extremely satisfying, I’m told it would not be “good content.” Whatever. Allan decided to bring Corpse Grinder Cult and Josh took Ironhead Prospectors – a good mix of gangs.

I stepped forward as Arbitrator for this, not because of my vast experience with the game but because I’m a control freak, and also it would give me a chance to learn the campaign system. Most of the games I’ve played so far have been skirmishes with the exception being Primaris Kevin’s outstanding Necrolympics campaign at last year’s Goonhammer Open which didn’t follow most normal campaign rules. A whole bunch of this game is tied to the campaign model of advancement and developing lore for your little plastic idiots, so I had to give it a try.

DREW: To be fair, the alternative would be to have me do it. The combination of “no relevant experience or skill” and “lack of any true desire to do so” is the same combination that’s responsible for any number of DIY home and automotive repair attempts which left me screaming into a folded-up towel in incompetent rage so it’s probably better that you handle this.

CHRIS: There are a bunch of different campaigns published in various Necromunda books. The Dominion campaign seemed reasonably well regarded and not overly complicated so I figured I’d start there, plus it’s the one in the new core rulebook. We also chose to avoid Ash Wastes stuff for now. Baby steps for baby brains. The concept of a Dominion campaign involves your gangs fighting over a number of Territories, each of which gives a different benefit such as making certain weapons easier to obtain, or recruiting free fighters, or just generating money. There’s no real “winner” at the end; instead everybody receives a participation trophy for things like “most territories,” “most enemy fighters taken out of action,” etc. This game was created in 1995 which makes it a Millennial so this checks out.

I should note there’s a whole series of excellent articles right here on this lovely website, The Lost Zone, on modifying Dominion or even running a campaign exclusively using the Lost Zone rules. It would have been sensible for us to just use that so of course we didn’t. I pulled some pieces from those articles (mainly the much more interesting Loot Casket tables and the Tactics Cards selection rules) but for a first campaign I didn’t want the more restricted advancement and Trading Post rules offered by the Lost Zone. I wanted bonkers. We also decided to double the number of loot caskets in each scenario. More boxes equals more loot (or bombs), and either way would be more fun!

Other house rules we settled on up front were banning the Overseer skill and a few Tactics cards (…Click, History of Violence, and Dangerous Footing). These are generally accepted in the Necromunda community as Not Fun Stuff. Overseer got toned down in the 2023 rulebook so that it now requires a Leadership test, but the model who has it can give two free actions to another model within 6”, even if that other model has already activated. That may not sound bad but it has incredible potential for abuse. Imagine if I could give my Stimmer two more activations, how’s that sound?

DREW: It sounds like the editors would have to redact what I would say to you.

Judge Barbie, who will become very relevant in today’s episode for many reasons.

CHRIS: …Click makes an enemy’s gun fail an ammo check. Not the end of the world but very frustrating, especially if played on a weapon with Scarce ammo that can’t be reloaded. History of Violence is played during the pre-game and lets you block an enemy fighter from being brought to a scenario. Again, frustrating, even before the game starts. Worse if you only have a small number of surviving fighters and can’t just choose someone instead (that’s foreshadowing, folks!). Not frustrating, just pure bullshit.

As noted last time, I also decided Drew could start off with Chem-alchemy and an Apprentice Clan Chymist at gang creation, to help the Eschers keep from falling too far behind. Of course, neither Corpse Grinders or Squats have special bonus rules like Chem-alchemy or Gene-smithing but I didn’t throw them any bones. Let those chumps write their own column.

DREW: Because I am a very smart person I did not take advantage of this. You can lead a very stable genius to water but if you want me to drink it you can kiss my ass. This pattern of behavior has made me “popular” and “successful in relationships.”

CHRIS: We decided on a standard Dominion schedule – three “weeks” of the Occupation phase where you can only vie for uncontrolled territories, then Downtime to allow fighters to revolver and level up, followed by three more “weeks” of the Takeover phase in which we murk each other to steal those hard one territories. And then a final big four player mashup finale, possibly ganging up on the leader or maybe on Drew out of sheer spite. Hopefully the latter.

A four player campaign of Dominion starts off with twelve territories: four which give specific benefits to each participating gang and the remaining eight selected randomly. I generated the list of territories, and pondered on it for a while, hoping some kind of narrative theme might emerge. I could have just left it generic without any connecting idea (this is the “Refuse Drift,” that’s the “Tech Bazaar”) but where’s the fun in that? Eventually my addled brain latched onto two territories specifically – the “Sludge Sea” and the “Toll Crossing” – and I realized what we had here. This is an abandoned amusement park! A weird mashup of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and Disney World/Land, but with a distinctly grimdark future spin. Thus, a thousand words into this article, the meaning behind the article title finally hoves into view. We are fighting for control of Professor Winkie’s Funtime Factorum!

DREW: The details of the campaign and territories are available in this incredibly sexy PDF if for some very bad reason you want to play along or peek even further behind the curtain.

With all that out of the way, let’s get on with the bloodshed!


CHRIS: We looked for a thematically interesting scenario (once again, these people from this goonhammer dot com site have done a lot of great work in this area. You should check it out) and settled on “Toll Bridge,” where we fight for control of a bridge over a lethally toxic river. To complicate this, after the third round the bridge might rotate ninety degrees, potentially knocking gangers into the muck and cutting off access from more fighters moving onto the bridge. There were rules for hopping across on pieces of flotsam, but those required Initiative checks and after a quick survey of our gang sheets we lol’ed and didn’t bother even reading that section.

The narrative here is that the Squats have unearthed this abandoned theme park where rich folks from uphive would vacation (whatever the heck that means) a long long time ago. Why did they stop coming? Will this be relevant later in the campaign? Who can say?  The Goliaths have heard about this find and want a piece of the action, so they’re laying siege to the one way into the park (which is where the ticket booth will eventually be erected).

This photo has been digitally enhanced using an actual color sample from the Cuyahoga River, circa 1967.

Chris’s Goliath Gang – The Sparty Bois (which may seem largely familiar from last column but has been tweaked slightly for the campaign)

  • Boss Jubb: Forge Tyrant (Leader) with a combi stub/plasma pistol, a power axe, some attribute-boosting Gene-smithing abilities, and the “Iron Will” skill;
  • Pizz: Stimmer (Champion) with paired pulverizers, “Overdeveloped Musculature” Gene-smithing, and the “Nerves of Steel” skill;
  • Honcho: Bruiser (Ganger) Specialist with a grenade launcher (frag, krak, smoke);
  • Fizz: Bruiser (Ganger) with a spud-jacker, combat shotgun, and smoke grenade. He has the “Genetic Ancient” Gene-smithing, which means he’s a little smarter than his fellows. A pretty low bar, but there you go.
  • Mumps: Bruiser (Ganger) with a boltgun;
  • Wet Dog: Bully (Juve) with a spud-jacker;
  • Pug: Bully (Juve) with a stub gun and dum dum ammo. Pug is the only one of the lot who does not have furnace plate armor.

Josh’s Squat Prospectors Gang – Local Union 77

  • Granite: Chapter Master (Leader) with a power pick, Ironhead bolt pistol, and mesh armor. Skill: “Stubborn to the Last” (fight or shoot on death);
  • Obsidian: Drill Master (Champion) with an Ironhead boltgun and mesh armor. Skill: “Dependable Like Kin” (reroll ammo checks and ignore the Unstable trait);
  • Anthracite: Drill Master (Champion) with an Ironhead flamer and mesh armor;
  • Slate: Drill-Kyn (Ganger) Specialist with an Ironhead autogun and mesh armor;
  • Mica: Drill-Kyn (Ganger) Specialist with an Ironhead autogun and mesh armor;
  • Shale: Drill-Kyn (Ganger) with an Ironhead bolt pistol;
  • Pyrite: Prospector Digger (Juve) with an Ironhead stub gun and mesh armor.

We each started with two loot caskets on our side of the death river, and of course went directly for them. And they had the same thing for each of us! One of them had Drugs (a stim-slug stash for me, ‘slaught for Josh) and the other had a Frag Trap! Neither fighter was hurt but we were off to a great start. We exchanged some fire across the bridge leading to Wet Dog falling in the river and immediately going Out of Action. Poor kid.

DREW: Nominative determinism at its finest. This is why I named my children Olympic Fencer and Billionaire Gigachad. One of these days that’ll pay off.

CHRIS: At the start of round two I had Pizz (you remember Pizz, my Stimmer who ate Drew’s lunch last time?) on my end of the bridge, and he had a bunch of his gang, including his prone leader and one of his champions, on the other end. Pizz popped the Thundering Charge tactic (doubling his Move on a charge) and took a lot of really cool drugs. At the end of his activation, strangely, there were a bunch fewer squats there. Uh, sorry Josh?

Over the rest of round two Josh managed to shoot Pug and Boss Jubb, causing both to fall into the river. At the end of the round both gangs failed their Bottle checks and Josh, down half his force and seeing Pizz on his side of the river, voluntarily bottled to avoid further casualties.

None of our lasting injuries were horrible (Wet Dog and Granite were both Enfeebled, so will have to deal with lower Toughness going forward, Mica picked up some sweet scars). We initially rolled that Anthracite had been Captured, but since we didn’t feel like going through rescue missions and because being down his most costly fighter would have been potentially crippling for Josh so we decided he escaped. I got credits for winning the mission and claimed the Ticket Booth for the Sparty Bois.

Everybody got some XPs, Pizz somehow ending up with eleven which he immediately spent on the most awesome Skill in the game: “Unleash the Beast”! Now he can perform a Flex (Simple) action and push models which are in base to base d3” away from him. It’s dumb and potentially detrimental as he might knock folks out of melee range, but motherfucking HERO OF THE BEACH!

If I post DC Comics intellectual property here then both Goonhammer Legal and Warner Entertainment will remove my kneecaps so instead here’s my final piece of evidence that Dan is in fact an Orlock.

Lastly, the Settlement territory yielded me a free Juve. Based on what models I already had assembled and painted, I chose a Forge Born, a special type of Goliath juve who might eventually get promoted to a Champion. Odds aren’t great, however, as I purchased a Storm-welder for this kid – a great Rapid Fire (3) weapon… which also has Unstable, which means that every time he triggers an Ammo test there’s a 50/50 shot the gun explodes and kills him. Good luck, kid! I’m calling this guy “Tommy-1.” We’ll see how many Tommys we run through by the end of the campaign.

NOTE: It was pointed out to me that Forge Born are classified as “Prospects” not “Juves,” and thus can’t be picked up from the Settlement benefit. Oops. I paid out the 35 credits for Tommy later, on learning of the mistake. 

DREW: Not nearly enough, is my prediction. Let’s move on to our other half.


Descartes the Destroyer, Allan’s CGC Butcher. I am gonna snap my brushes in half…

The Eschers got ambushed by the Corpse Grinders while investigating the employees-only backstage areas. Those of you who wonder why this corresponds to the “Corpse Farm” territory have clearly never worked at an amusement park before. The scenario for this was The Trap which in hindsight felt a little disappointing; our last scenario, Ghast Harvest, required us to actually attempt to take objectives, while The Trap is basically just a beat-em-up with a few little first turn twists.

We didn’t assemble quite as thematic a terrain setup for this as you did and I feel slightly bad about that but my disappointment was blunted by the realization that we had to build our own battlefield. Last time we showed up and someone had left a pretty great Necromunda table already set up; this time we arrived at the tail end of a Magic release event so the tables had been cleared off which left us to our own devices. Folks, I should go on record here with an incredibly “hot” take: the concept of player-placed terrain can drink hot diarrhea out of my ass (and I will eat the One Chip Challenge ahead of time to make it worse for all parties involved).

CHRIS: uhhhhhhhh

DREW: I said what I said. The Necromunda variant of it is more acceptable as you both just keep jamming in terrain until one of you decides to stop, but in general it tends to lead to some wildly imbalanced setups and our game was no exception.

Let’s drop some hot lists on your faces and then we’ll go to the tale of the tape.

Drew’s Eschers Gang – Barbie World

  • President Barbie: Gang Queen (Leader), plasma pistol, shock whip, mesh armor, Spring Up;
  • Judge Barbie: Gang Matriarch (Champion), combi-weapon (bolter/needler), fighting knife, flak armor, Dodge;
  • Weird Barbie: Gang Matriarch (Champion), plasma pistol, laspistol, flak armor, Dodge;
  • Proust Barbie: Gang Sister Specialist, ‘Nightshade’ chem-thrower, stub gun, flak armor, chem-synth;
  • Journalist Barbie: Gang Sister (Ganger), lasgun, flak armor;
  • Writer Barbie: Gang Sister (Ganger), lasgun, flak armor;
  • Lawyer Barbie: Gang Sister (Ganger), lasgun, flak armor.

Allan’s Corpse Grinder Cult Gang – La Maison Sauvage

  • Descartes the Destroyer: Butcher (Leader), paired butcher’s chain cleavers, plate mail, Commanding Presence;
  • Devigne the Devourer: Cutter (Champion), paired butcher’s chain cleavers, cutter’s mask, plate mail, Slaughterborn;
  • Robuchon the Reaver: Cutter (Champion),  rotary flensing saw, Corpse Grinder Cult icon, cutter’s mask, plate mail, Rain of Blows;
  • Aquitaine: Skinner (Ganger), plate mail, paired butcher’s chain cleavers, skinner’s mask;
  • Gaston: Skinner (Ganger), plate mail, paired butcher’s chain cleavers, skinner’s mask;
  • Pierre: Initiate (Juve), boning sword, smoke grenade, stub gun, initiate’s mask, flak armor;
  • Etienne: Initiate (Juve), boning sword, smoke grenade, stub gun, initiate’s mask, flak armor;
  • Macher: Initiate (Juve), boning sword, smoke grenade, stub gun, initiate’s mask, flak armor;

What we’re looking at here is a pretty simple matchup: one side has lots of long range guns and the other one has terrifying melee weapons and skills. It’s even more of a skew than the Goliath/Escher matchup because most of the Corpse Grinders don’t even have guns. For those of you not in the know, Corpse Grinders are what happens when the folks responsible for turning the dead citizens of the hive into Spam for resale and consumption love their jobs a little too much and end up worshiping a deity that’s just Khorne wearing a funny hat. Accordingly their weapons tend toward various industrial saws and blades and less toward plasma guns or heavy stubbers. Allan’s gang in particular is apparently themed toward haute cuisine which is why they’re all Frenchified.

CHRIS: We all know this is exactly what the French would do if they thought no one was watching.

DREW: Given how much of our ancestry is French on both sides, this tracks. After everything was laid out we ended up with a two-story building in the center and a one-story not too far away. This was particularly great for me because the scenario requires me to set up at least some of my models within 2 inches of the center so Judge Barbie and Lawyer Barbie set up shop with their long arms on top of the taller building like Los Angeles store owners in 1992 and Weird Barbie took the one-story.

Pretty much the setup you never want to see when going up against Eschers.

This all proceeded more or less as it sounds it would, with the gun-havers popping people from up on top while praying that the cultists would die before making it to melee range. I managed to pop one of Allan’s Champions on my first activation with Judge Barbie’s bolter which boded well even if I immediately ran out of ammo. Allan also made an incredibly good move the first turn by throwing a smoke grenade directly into the middle of the board which meant that I couldn’t shoot through the smoke cloud. The cloud effectively divided my forces and hung around for a few turns before dissipating at a wildly dramatic time (more on that later).

Would you be shocked if I told you that things went very badly for both of us in two completely different ways? You shouldn’t be, since that’s pretty much the story of every shooting force taking on a melee force since forever. I did a great job of shooting the Corpse Grinders to pieces but Robuchon’s Corpse Grinders Cult Icon meant that he and all his pals within shouting distance got a little extra movement every turn and before you know it they were up on top of the two-story and in the middle of the board making Escherloaf. Unfortunately for the one on the ground floor this is about when the smoke cloud evaporated and he realized he was surrounded by Eschers with plasma pistols and chem-throwers.

The bigger problem for the Cult was one bad roll which started a chain reaction. After the first turn he had to make a Bottle check to see if his gang would freak out at the fact that a third of their number was already gone and Allan failed immediately. This meant he had to start checking at the end of every turn to see if each individual cultist would turn and run, and with only four gangers left every single one lost was a hell of a blow. Ultimately it became too much and he voluntarily conceded. In prime Drew fashion, this moment of victory is when the tables turned on me.

While you’re technically supposed to roll Lasting Injuries resulting from fighters being taken out of action during the game ultimately it doesn’t really matter and so we handled those afterwards. Allan’s downed fighters made off relatively well, with one of them missing the next fight and his Butcher gaining the Fearsome ability as a result of some gnarly scars. This means that on top of needing to make a Willpower test to shoot or fight him, opponents would need to make the same test in order to even Charge him. It’s some pretty rough stuff.

CHRIS: Love that. Exactly what he needed. Thanks, Necromunda!

Feels very Dawn of the Dead, and just about as sustainable a plan…

DREW: Oh, as for me: two of my gang straight-up died. As in – hand over your character sheet, Marcie, Black Leaf is dead and you don’t exist anymore. Technically only Judge Barbie died immediately; Journalist Barbie suffered an injury that meant she would die if she didn’t get medical treatment after the battle. Medical treatment costs 2d6x10 credits and I only generated 30 credits for a total of… carry the 1… 30 credits in my bank so needless to say she died of poverty. I thought I played these games to escape reality?

CHRIS: Well, on the bright side you won the Corpse Farm so you can turn those dearly departed loved ones into cash. As you say, a little too close to our modern day zombie-stage capitalism, but Necromunda is nothing if not social commentary.

But that’s a hell of a lot of Words, and God only knows why anyone would actually read this far, so we should put this to bed. Next time it’s my Goliaths against Allan’s Corpse Grinders, and Drew’s Eschers take on Josh’s Squats. Two exciting matches (well, matches at least) to further establish control over this wonderful, wacky theme park! Join us, won’t you?

Next Time: Back to Back “Champions”

We can survive a doubleheader game day of Necro without killing each other, right?


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