Battle Bros Season Four, Chapter VII: See the Man Behind the Primer

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.


DREW: You may recall from last time we were in the middle of a double-header. It would be entirely on-brand for us to interrupt this series by pivoting to something else completely unrelated – god knows we’ve done it in the past – but we decided to stick with “tradition” and actually have continuity between columns like the cowards we are.

CHRIS: It was time for Drew and I to throw down. This would be a real match; the Ghast Harvest game was just a learning game. Despite my overwhelming victory I don’t think it really “counts,” as Drew was not yet aware of some of the big gotchas of Necromunda: standing within half an inch of a ledge, falling damage, being within 11” of a Goliath Stimmer with paired pulverizers…

My roster didn’t change much from the previous game, since that was only an hour and a disappointing burrito prior. But I did manage to make 130 credits in that game. And 130 is the price of a SUMPKROC!! Hell yes I recruited that good boy, it would be unethical not to. Exotic pets are attached to a particular ganger so Boss Jubb became the proud owner of Cap’n Smiley.

I completely forgot to use the benefit of PROF. WINKIE’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF SCIENCE!, the territory I’d gained last game. This would have let me add the Blaze, Rad-phage, Seismic, or Shock trait to any number of weapons used by my crew, but those weapons would also gain Unstable. That list of good traits is really good.

DREW: Whoa whoa whoa. Stop the presses. Let me see if I understand this right: good things are good?

CHRIS: Fuck, now I can’t edit out a stupid typo. Such is my dedication to The Bit. But to go through the good list of good things: Blaze lets you set people on fire which makes them run around randomly – always good when there’s vertical terrain. Rad-phage has a chance to do an extra Flesh Wound. Seismic lets you bypass things like the Nerves of Steel skill which would let a fighter avoid being pinned when hit (as the one with Nerves of Steel, I particularly hate this one, so I was glad I was the one holding the territory). Shock auto-wounds if you roll a 6 on the hit roll. All good stuff. Unstable, however, not so good. If the Ammo symbol comes up on the Firepower dice it has a 50/50 chance of overheating and just taking the ganger Out of Action. Definitely not something to put on a Rapid Fire weapon where you’re rolling multiple Firepower dice! But otherwise, the Ammo symbol is only on one face of the die, and then you need to roll under a four to blow up. I’m no Primaris Kevin but I calculate those odds somewhere around “probably not gonna happen.” I already have one fighter with an Unstable weapon, and following “lightning never strikes twice” logic the more Unstable I have the less likely it is to happen, right?

Drew won the roll to see who the challenger would be, and decided we were fighting for the WONDERFUL WORLD OF DRUGS!, at which point I realized I’d named two territories “WONDERFUL WORLD OF” something and am a complete hack. Also this territory gives a special bonus for Eschers so it makes sense he would pick it, and I was motivated to deny him.

DREW: Nothing has changed in decades.

CHRIS: The scenario was “Forgotten Riches.” Dan Badcast had listed it as his favorite scenario and it had a chance to deliver a lot of cash, so it seemed like a good one. You deploy a bunch of loot caskets scattered around the board, and if you schlep them back to your deployment zone you earn lots of credits for each one. To liven things up there’s some kind of Watcher in the Water lurking out in the darkness and if any ganger starts more than 8” away from anybody else they have a chance of being dragged away and ‘et. The scenario uses a Zone Mortalis setup, which Drew hadn’t dealt with yet, so what better time than now?

I should probably clarify what Zone Mortalis means since it applies to something like four different game systems. For Underhive scenarios (meaning not Ash Wastes stuff) there are two terrain setups in Necromunda. Sector Mechanicus is the way we’ve mostly been playing so far, with lots of vertical terrain to fall off and some unfortunate open spaces where you will be shot if you move there. Zone Mortalis is a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. Doors and corners, confined passages, similar to Boarding Actions in 40k or Into the Dark in Kill Team.

Okay, here’s the plan, we all stick together and… wait, has anyone seen Pug?

DREW: In fact, we used the Boarding Actions terrain set to put this together and if I’m being honest I really liked it. Not only did it make photography much easier and kept me from forgetting there were models behind the terrain, but it made the whole affair feel much more like one of those old board games which served as the lure for my unwitting entrance into the wallet trap craftily set by James Workshop.

CHRIS: Anyway, this one didn’t go so well for me. I’ve now learned the “joy” of Escher gas weapons.

DREW: Let’s be fair on this. I also lucked out immensely by having such a discrepancy in our gang ratings thanks to my dead gangers that the game essentially went into “pity mode” through the use of the Underdog bonus, which gave me a bunch of free pseudo-credits to spend on a host of different options to try to even the odds. I ended up with two major results from this. The first result was hiring Necrana, an Escher House Agent who is basically an ultra-tanky Death Maiden – very good at inflicting Toxin hits on an enemy and even better at no-selling incoming damage. Somehow despite all of that she’s really not important to this game nor this story. The second result was that I drew a card from the Underdog deck which gave me yet another free hire with its own pool of credits. I opted for a Bounty Hunter, outfitting him with decent armor and a boltgun, and gave him the only name possible for a dude in my gang.

CHRIS: I split my crew into pairs to go try to recover the loot caskets, which in hindsight was a mistake because it allowed the Eschers to pick them off with limited fear of retaliation.

One of the things in this game I always forget is Group Activations. Leaders and (some) Champions can let one or more other gangers activate during the same turn as them. You lose out on your total number of activations that round, but sometimes being able to activate two models back to back is really helpful. If you remember to use it. I don’t know that I ever had before this game, and then I promptly did it wrong.

DREW: I want it on record that it’s officially not gloating when I say (Gonzo voice) I did not forget Group Activations, and I did them extremely correctly by splitting my gang into two larger groups and chaining the activations such that no one was ever in danger of being eaten by a grue.

CHRIS: It pains me more than you can ever know to say this but yes, you did a thing good. At least one of us stayed on brand by doing the thing bad though. Pizz and Fizz were on one side of a door, and Proust Barbie with her dreaded chem thrower was on the other side. We were all far enough back that it would have taken both actions – a Move and an Open Door. Whoever opened the door first was going to have a bad time immediately thereafter. I cleverly Group Activated, sending Fizz to open the door so that Pizz could charge through and give Proust the gift of Piping Hot

Murder. The first problem here is Stimmers don’t have the Group Activation ability, despite being Champions. House of Chains (Goliath’s book) includes the rule with Forge Bosses and Forge Tyrants, but not Stimmers. This was an illegal move which we didn’t realize until after the game was done.

The second problem was that it was also a stupid move because now Pizz was just standing in the hallway with his pulverizer in his hand when Ken came around the corner with a boltgun full of fuck him up. A deserved punishment for breaking the rules, I suppose.

My notes are sparse after this point but could be summed up as “everything goes to shit.” Where I won my previous game by forcing Allan’s Corpse Grinders to bottle, the bottle-er was now the bottle-ee. But hey, my leader has a Cool of 4+, he should be fine, right? Lol. Lmao, even. Boss Jubb high-tailed it out of the with his kroc in tow. Sad. Take note of this; it may come up again in a future game.

Turns out Pug was the only one to score any points. Who’s laughing now?

DREW: If bottling out had a snowball effect earlier, it was enhanced to an extreme degree here as not only did some of your gang run away, doing so left a huge hole in your ranks which meant they were suddenly vulnerable to the grasping tentacles of the Horrors in the Dark. Honestly, being dragged off to a screaming hentai death is not particularly likely on this table as the most likely outcomes involve reducing the ganger to either one or zero actions. This tends to snowball somewhat and that’s exactly what happened here, stopping your gangers from being able to deliver the loot caskets to the delivery zone before the game ended.

With the scenario over and done it was time to wallow in my newfound territory which seemed perfect for me. A space meth lab which not only made chem-synths, medicae kits, stimm-slug stashes and Gas/Toxin weapons not only Common but halved their price? For a second I was hootin’ and/or hollerin’. Except… I already had a chem-synth on the ganger who really needed it and I didn’t really plan on buying any of the other stuff. My heart was set on chem-alchemy, the Eschers’ rediscovery of the ancient forgotten tech of duct-taping two syringes together. With a heavy heart I sighed, bought an apprentice chymist who would in fact make the process cheaper, and started throwing credits at truly stupid combos of chems instead.

CHRIS: Would you be at all surprised to learn that the wording on the Synth Still territory boon in the new 2023 core rulebook was cut-and-pasted exactly from the 2018 Necromunda book? Which was from before chem-alchemy existed in the rules. Necromunda, everybody!

DREW: I feel like the most common refrain in this column over the years (besides dick and fart jokes) is me embodying Jack’s lack of surprise. Well, okay that and me being completely and totally wrong about anything connected to GW’s development and release schedule.

Let’s take a look at the other side of the equation, where after a few days (okay, weeks) we realized we should probably ask the people who played that game exactly what happened. We’re professionals.

ALLAN: Josh and I played Border Dispute, which is a simple fist fight as we try to defile each other’s gang relics. The game started well for me, as Josh put down his Prospector (randomly determined) on the center line, and then I drew Descartes himself… and then won Priority. I imagine there was a moment when the two fighters stumbled into each other, with a, “Uh, hi,” and a “S’up?” before the bell went off and Descartes went absolutely ape-shit and renderized (that’s a word, shut up!) the poor Prospector.

The fight that followed was a bloody affair as I hacked, stabbed, sliced, and defenestrated every little Teamster I could reach.* (I think you can guess where this is going.) Said Teamsters decided their best tactic was, “Shoot the bloody zealots in the face” – a reaction I felt was decidedly hostile, but it’s a Tuesday on Necromunda.

No one drops smoke like Gaston

Eventually the weight of numbers and better (okay, any) firepower took their toll and I was down to just Gaston when I bottled out. No relics were defiled (giggity?). Luckily, I was fortunate once again on my Lasting Injuries table until we made a mistake. Descartes rolled a Captured and Josh gracefully offered to sell him back for 105 credits, even though both of us forgot we were about to hit the Downtime phase and he would have been returned anyway. I’m reclaiming my £105 and Josh will earn £120 instead.

DREW: What in the hell? Is this some kind of pretend money? We speak creds down here in the hive, scummer.

ALLAN: My plan is to use the cash monies to buy an Ambot and some flamers for my Initiates. They like their food cooked, the savages.

JOSH: Corpse Grinders are rough between the stupid masks and high armor (when you don’t roll a ton of sixes).

CHRIS: I’d suggest you should roll a bunch of sixes, but we all know that’s not going to happen for you.

JOSH: Eventually I did win as Allan said just because I had twice as many gangers. Basically he’d kill one of mine, I’d shoot everything at one of his and eventually take it out. I got to light 3 people on fire which was fun.

Friend Squat, what do you mean by “on fire?” Oh, you’ll show me? Great!

CHRIS: For his efforts Josh picked up the Pain Street USA territory – our version of the Fighting Pit – so he’ll be able to recruit two Hive Scum for free at the start of every game. Ha ha sucker, enjoy painting up extra models!

So that wraps up the Occupation phase of the campaign. Going into Downtime the dispensation of the territories is as follows:

  • Chris: Ticket Booth (Toll Crossing) and Prof Winkie’s Wonderful World of Science (Archaeotech Device);
  • Drew: Backstage (Corpse Farm) and Wonderful World of Drugs (Synth Still);
  • Josh: Big Prometheum Mountain (Mine Works) and Pain Street USA (Fighting Pit);
  • Allan: Womp womp?

But Allan’s day will come since the second half of the campaign, Takeover, means we don’t pick up new territories from here out. We just kick the snot out of our friends and take their stuff. It’s sixth grade all over again! Will I get pantsed on the playground or have a pencil sharpener dumped on my head again? Chances are not zero!

DREW: I can think of something much worse that happened to you in sixth grade…

Next Time: A Truly Unreasonable Amount of Fire

Whatever could that mean?

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