Many thanks to Games Workshop for providing us with an advanced copy of the new book for review. The Aranthain Succession series comes to an end with a narratively explosive tome… that brings a few toys with it.
“It seemed to Haera that, after all these years, the lie of Necromunda had been revealed, that the power lay not with the Noble Houses but with the subjects who served them.” – Lady Haera
Necromunda: Aranthian Succession – The Ruins of Jardlan has:
- A background and timeline section, describing the fall of the house of Helmawr and the rise of Ozostium, the Aranthian.
- The final part of the Succession Campaign, a narrative supplement that lets a playgroup experience this tumultuous time on Necromunda.
- Seven narrative battle scenarios, themed around the campaign.
- A smattering of new options for wheeled and flying gangers (Van Saar, Enforcers, and Squats).
- A handful of new dramatis personae (we will chat about them in a future article).
At the conclusion of the last book, it seemed like things couldn’t get any more chaotic. Redemptionist Crusades swept up a chunk of the population, Haera Helmawr made a play for control of the planet, and Lady Credo helped to wake up the Aranthian. So what’s up now? Staying spoiler-light, Haera escapes the spire of Primus; looking for the Dust Wall. Ozostium is looking to consolidate power, and to quickly establish a clear claim to the throne.
Things mentioned in the story that may be relevant to future stuff:
- House Catallus Brats attack Lady Haera.
- Enforcers with the seven pointed star of Aranthus.
- Hive Secundus being… a generally bad spot.
- Malstrain brood in Secundus. That certainly doesn’t sound good.
- A 14th Helmawr heir shows up, in a Malcadron Hunting Rig.
- Ozostium wants to establish control over access to the Eye of Selene.
Succession Campaign – Part Three
As we venture into the third phase of the Aranthian Succession, the Ruins of Jardlan, players are once again invited to continue venturing into the wastes with their entire existing gang rosters intact. You’ll discard your relics into the same bin as your Sympathisers before them, and gear up to battle over a whole new set of objectives.
The objectives for the Ruins of Jardlan are Waypoints, and as far as Dominion Territory analogues go they’re easily the most territory-ish so far, but they do have an interesting wrinkle to ‘em. The basic boon structure remains, so held territories will continue to generate income or grant free sloppers or scummers and so on, but they also uniquely influence the battlefield when they are the objective being fought over.
The Gamma-Light Bazaar is already a prize, offering a whopping 3d6x10 credits during income collection, but with the right defenders it becomes an impenetrable bastion. If this Waypoint is the stake of a battle, all Ash Wastes fights over it are subject to the punishing Sunken Ruins condition (battlefield surface is Dangerous Terrain), and during Underhive fights all blast weapons are not allowed to be used.
Or, if you’re sure you can take more of a beating from the elements than the other guys, hunker down in the Slick Sump Foundries, where each fighter must pass a Toughness check every time they activate, lest they take a Flesh Wound. Good luck getting rid of the abhuman infestation down in there!
There are plenty of Waypoints with key modifiers that fit a variety of playstyles, from visibility limiters to blaze enablers to the refreshingly anti-Delaque Council Chamber of the Tapferkeit, which forbids any fighters from deploying through Infiltrate. This all works out rather well, as gangs can zero in on beneficial Waypoints that will help prevent them from losing challenges, and the top dogs of the campaign will invariably wind up with Waypoints that don’t quite jive with their game plan and can be siphoned off by opponents. It’s a solid system that allows the middle of the pack to gnaw away at the higher ranking players, and that’s invaluable for keeping campaigns from growing stale as the pseudo-pecking order establishes itself.
If you’ve played through one of the other phases of the campaign, the three factions will come as no surprise to you. Imperials get extra credits, Unaligned gets extra experience for killing a leader, and the Rebellion (sorry, now they’re officially House Aranthus) gets bonus Reputation when they win a fight.
The Dramatis Personae offered on a d6 4+ have rotated out, and the venerable Lady Haera is no longer a selectable choice for the Imperial House, replaced unceremoniously by some Squats. If you played Unaligned and took bets on which “-fist” mercenary would be in the next book, you all lose. No Goreshiv Hammerfist or Djangar Gunfists (book one), or even Durgan Killfist (book two). Vesper Mereda returns, joined by a Scabs-less Kal and Asunghar, a formidable Nomad. The Aranthian House/Rebellion winds up being the only pillar of model consistency, with both Lady Credo as well as Athera & Stix showing up for all three legs of the greater campaign. If you’re on a strict budget as far as Forgeworld is concerned, they’re going to be the most bang for your buck. The Prophet also joins their roster, in case you’re looking to mix things up.
We’ve got a new seven scenarios for the Ruins of Jardlan, helpfully organized into the standard 2d6 mission selection table. In a nod to player agency, the options on each roll aren’t locked to the campaign phase like in Vaults. Instead, each of the three results has a choice of an Ash Waste or an Underhive mission, and folks can choose to play one or the other on their own. The seventh scenario, naturally, is the obligatory Rescue Mission.
There are some fun-looking scenarios in here, with Asset Removal pitting both gangs against each other with equal numbers, only the defender has a fighter chosen as the VIP who must survive. The VIP cannot shoot, but also cannot be shot at unless they’re the closest target. It’s a downside if you’re a purely ranged gang (we saw what else is in this book, no complaining Van Saar), but if you’ve got at least one melee powerhouse it turns into an interesting risk/reward.
Through The Vortex is the scenario consequence of the Necromunda writers watching the storm scene from Fury Road again and pointing at their screens excitedly, a Rolling Roads scenario where every model is constantly rolling to see if a 3” blast of lightning is going to scatter onto their heads. Sweep and Clear takes things back to the Underhive, splitting fighters into pairs and scattering them into isolated pockets of a low-visibility battlefield.
Certain archetypes do emerge out of necessity when you’re making a self-contained scenario table that has to be new, but not too different. If you’ve played Ambush before, you’ve played Wasteland Ambush, only this time while you’re holding your ground you can bring your trucks and one of the defenders is unpinnable. Or, if you enjoy the other style of Ambush that requires escaping from a board edge, you’ll find an old friend in Pinned Down, where you’ll be playing virtually the same scenario as Wasteland Ambush. You start on one side, pick up your unpinnable (and temporarily unwoundable) friend from the middle, and drive off the other side.
Expect to be playing Pinned Down a lot, though, since it’s paired with Breakout on the table’s roll of 8-9. Breakout is the third Ambush scenario of this book and the only one set in the Underhive, but it doesn’t have a lot of appeal. Mechanically, it’s most similar to Book of Ruin’s Show of Force, a meatgrinder of a mission designed solely to accrue lasting injuries. The smaller crew sizes in Breakout mean that fewer of their fighters will be taken out of action, but this rewrite does little to address its predecessor’s lack of enjoyability or balance.
Finally, we arrive at Wasteland Rescue, the rescue mission. Not the actual Rescue Mission, most recently in the new Core Rulebook, or Escape from Hive Zalktraa, the rescue mission in Cinderak, Daring Rescue, the rescue mission in Vaults. This one is like those, very very much so, only this time you can bring vehicles. Oh, and a single Beast Lure spawns randomly on the battlefield on the turn after the alarm is raised.
Overall, the scenarios offered in Ruins of Jardlan are a bit of a mixed bag. Asset Removal and Through The Vortex are ultimately deathmatches, but the extra new rules and conditions go a long way to make them feel like something more than Stand-Off But With Motorcycles Now. We’ll give a nod to Pinned Down as well in this department, since sticking a guy in the middle of the board and designating them as your unkillable murder-turret is bound to create some fun moments. Sweep and Clear is the standout scenario in this book, evoking a neat claustrophobic feeling and forcing gangs to think and play differently than they would for 99% of the other missions in the game.
Beyond that, there’s really nothing to write home about. Necromunda has reinvented the wheel with Ambushes so many times that the tired metaphor clock has ticked down to ‘new coat of paint’ levels, and Wasteland Rescue barely even qualifies for that.
House Van Saar gangs get access to three new or updated rules. First, the grav cutter wargear has been expanded for use in Ash Wastes game and can now be used by Primes, Augmeks, and Teks (but not Archeoteks for some reason). Second, Van Saar now have access to a Van Saar Teknika (Crew) option for their vehicles. Third, someone decided a massive spider-inspired mecha suit wasn’t terrifying enough and thought it would be a good idea to add jump jets to the Arachni-Rig and call it an Arachnika Ash-jumper.
Ash Waste Grav-Cutter
The Van Saar grav-cutter was put into an awkward place after Ash Wastes was released. While clearly a mount, it didn’t use the Mounted rules (and was strictly better). With Ruins of Jardlan Games Workshop has attempted to make an alternative option which puts the rules more in line with other wargear. For 65 credits. Van Saar Primes, Augmeks, and Teks (but again, NOT Archeoteks) can purchase an “ash waste grav-cutter” which is similar (but not identical) to the legacy grav-cutter.
- Ash waste grav-cutters can ignore all terrain, move freely between levels without restriction, and fly over enemy fighters while ignoring the 1” rule.
- They are still not allowed to ignore impassable terrain, end their movement with their base overlapping an obstacle, or end a movement within 1” of an enemy fighter’s base. It’s still not clear if that prohibition against ending movement near an enemy fighter’s base extends to Charge actions.
- Because ash waste grav-cutters are so large, negative modifiers to hit rolls from cover are reduced by 1.
- Unlike other vehicles with the Mounted condition, ash waste grav-cutters ignore the Hands Full rule.
- Ash waste grav-cutters provide a +2 modifier to the Initiative test to avoid being pinned and making the Stand Up (Basic) action.
The legacy grav-cutter included an option to make a melee attack while flying past your opponent, and instead of using the Mounted rules for pinning it simply ignored pinning when being hit by a ranged attack but forced a Double action to stand up. Overall the changes seem pretty solid, since the +2 Initiative means Neoteks will be dodging on a 2+ and standing up only requires a Basic action instead of a Double. The loss of being able to make fly-by attacks isn’t too terrible since Van Saar are generally terrible at melee.
Where things get weird is that technically there are two types of grav-cutters in the game. The legacy grav-cutter still exists and counts as Wargear that grants the Mounted condition, but can be used in battles that don’t permit Mounted units. This means that different units with the same looking wargear have different rules, which is an absolute pain in the ass. Arbitrators are probably better off just having every unit use the ash waste grav-cutter rules and allowing Mounted units in every battlefield.
Genghis Cohen: I think this rules distinction could have been laid down much more clearly and consistently. Balance wise, Ash Wastes Grav Cutters are pretty much a sidegrade to the Wasters’ Dirtbikes other gangs make use of. Flying is situationally extremely useful, but at 6” they are actually slower in straight-line speed (dirtbikes have an 8” movement). They give a bonus against falling off, which honestly Van Saar need to even exist as a Mounted gang, and using both hands is pretty major. On the other hand, always having -1 to cover penalties is a pretty major downside, and the increased 65 credit cost adds up. I don’t think that Van Saar gravboard gangs are going to be significantly stronger than regular Van Saar, but they certainly will be more exciting to play with and against. Can’t wait to see them flitting about those Ash Wastes hab platforms.
Van Saar Teknika Crew
Continuing the tradition of the other books, Ruins of Jardlan gives Van Saar their Gang Fighter (Crew) member. The Van Saar Teknika costs 45 credits and gets a BS of 3+, automatically making it better than anything else even before you see that all of the other secondary skills are 6+ or 7+. Teknika crews get the Shooting and Driving skill trees as primary skills (Leadership and Savant are secondary), and their equipment list is largely similar to the other factions with the exception of a plasma pistol instead of a hand flamer. We largely expected Van Saar to get a 3+ BS crew member, and sure enough GW did it. The Goonhammer consensus is that this is probably A Bad Thing given how vehicles are largely heavy weapons platforms.
Genghis Cohen: To be fair I thought they would do it, but I never thought it was going to be pretty. I know it’s a narrative-focussed game, but seriously. A vehicle with crew and a lascannon is about ~300 credits investment minimum, its sole purpose is to shoot things. No game designer would include an upgrade to add +1BS for 10 credits, it would be madness. Yet this is baked into one of the gangs, because it’s ‘their thing’. Ridiculous.
Two gangs, both alike in dignity,
On Necromunda where we lay our scene
Whose vehicles cost the same, but what iniquity
Lets one hit more, for just 10 credits, how unclean
Van Saar Ash Wastes ‘Arachni-Rig’
This is a little confusing; the official book name for this Brute is “Van Saar Ash Wastes Arachni-rig” but in the opening paragraph the book calls it the Arachnika Ash-jumper. That sounds cooler so we’re going to keep calling it the Ash-jumper (plus at 360 credits it deserves a unique name). The Ash-jumper has different stats when compared to the Arachni-rig, and the default weapons are different. Stats wise the Ash-jumper has an Int of 5+ instead of 6+, and 2 attacks base instead of 4 (equivalent to the Ash-rig with two guns). It still has the twin-linked heavy las carbine, but instead of four arms that you have the option to replace with a gun it starts with a plasma gun (that you can replace with a flamer) and a rad gun (that you can replace with a harpoon launcher). The model also has the Hip Shooting skill.
Wargear wise they Ash-jumpers are equipped with heavy carapace armour and Arachni-rig jump boosters. Note that the heavy carapace armour reduces the Initiative by -1 and movement by 1” when making a Charge action, and those changes are not included in the stat block. Neither is the extra attack from having two Melee weapons. The jump booster can be used once per activation when performing a Move (Simple) or Charge (Double) action. During this action the model’s Movement characteristic is increased by 3” and up to half of the total movement can be made vertically. Should the fighter not have sufficient movement to land safely and ends up mid-air, it will fall the remaining distance. Distances of 2” or less are counted as jumping down. When making a Charge (Double) action the jump booster boosts the Hit roll and Strength characteristic of each attack by +1. The Ash-jumper and Arachni-rig both have the Van Saar Protective Gear and Superior Weapons Array rules, so you are protected from Rad-phage Weapons (which are incredibly rare) and can perform Shoot (Simple) actions (which is incredibly useful).
The 360 credits price of the Ash-jumper is a 20 credit discount over the Arachni-rig with a plasma gun, rad gun, and heavy carapace armor. It’s a shame they didn’t include the option to have four arms; with the jump booster this would have been a much better option for charging in and performing melee. There are few (if any) good reasons to replace the arms with ranged weapons, as the Superior Weapons Array does not require you to shoot different weapons and the twin-linked heavy las carbine is pretty nasty. Curiously, the description of the Ash-jumper later on notes that the model can be equipped with heavy weapons like a rad cannon and heavy flamer.
Palanites received two new pieces of content; new crew and a new vehicle. The crew is the Palanite Ranger for 30 credits with a BS of 4+ and secondary characteristics of 7+ down the line. The primary skills are Savant and Driving, secondary are Leadership and Shooting. The equipment available is the same as other crew, including filter plugs, photo-goggles, a respirator, and either an autopistol or stub gun. Vehicle wise Palanites get access to five vehicles; the three core options, a custom vehicle, or the Enforcer Tauros (NOT Taurox) Venator for 130 credits.
The Tauros Venator is a good weapon platform. A 7” Movement characteristic and a 5+ Handling characteristic make it pretty maneuverable, while T5 on the front and sides and T4 on the rear is serviceable with 3 HP and a 4+ Save. It has a single Weapon Hardpoint with Crew Operated and Arc (All Around), and the Dedicated Gunner rule allows the vehicle to move its full Movement characteristic when making a Move & Shoot (Basic) action. In terms of upgrades it can have 2 on the Body, 3 on the Drive, and 3 on the Engine. Expect to see a lot of reinforced armor (+1 HP for 20 credits) and tyre claws (+1 Handling for 10 credits). The weapon list includes a twin-linked concussion cannon and a twin-linked heavy stubber.
Overall these are solid additions. The Palanite Ranger is affordable and provides plenty of flexibility, while the Tauros is fast, reasonably tough, and the full turret can be a threat in any direction. The biggest challenges with the Tauros are that with no passenger capacity it leaves the rest of the squad vulnerable, and that since the Tauros is an out of print Forgeworld model they’re going to be impossible to find.
Genghis Cohen: I’m surprised we have not seen a model previewed for the Enforcer Tauros Venator yet – WarCom definitely said one was coming, although it may well be in resin (boo) like the Squats’ new ride. There is some lovely artwork of it in the book and I really like the design of the old Elysian Imperial Guard ones FW used to make. Fingers crossed for a release soon.
Rules-wise this is a single-weapon, mobility focussed shooting platform, which is a pretty good role. It’s more expensive and a bit slower than the last vehicle we saw with the Dedicated Gunner rule, the Orlock quad, but it’s also much tougher. I think its one weakness is the stock weapons. Heavy Stubbers put out a lot of shots, but -1 accuracy at long range (which always applies under Ash Wastes visibility rules) means a lot of missing the target, and S4 is pretty poor against vehicles. The Concussion Cannon is again not a high Strength option, but the Seismic and Concussion rules will actually make it quite useful against enemy vehicles by forcing them to fail handling checks. The problem with this unique weapon is the range – only 18”, and accurate within 9”! Pretty damn short for Ash Wastes games. I foresee a lot of Tauros with some old Imperial Guard lascannons or autocannons requisitioned into service.
Ironhead Squat Prospectors
Rounding out the new toys in this book is the Squat whip – which feels a bit like a cross between a Cargo-8 and a Leagues of Votann vehice. While it’s a relatively slower tracked vehicle with a 6″ move, it comes with two weapon hardpoints, transport beds on either side, and a whopping 4 upgrade slots for each location. At T9 in thr front with a 3+ save and 6 hull points, this is a beefy ride.
The Explorator also has options for different Cargo Loads. If you manage to talk away from the battle with your crawler intact, you can earn yourself either a few bucks or a nice benefit. It’s nice to see another take on the Cargo-8 style mechanics!
The Aranthian Succession books are interesting cases: phenomenal lore dumps with a small to medium assortments of rules. In the case of Ruins of Jardlan we’ve got a novella, Ash Wastes-centric toys for three gangs, a somewhat familiar feeling campaign, some genuinely great narrative missions, and four dramatis personae. It’s a better sell for dedicated arbitrators, but anyone piloting the three featured gangs will get something useful for vehicle combat.
And that’s it! We sure hope the cool stuff foreshadowed in the book shows up in the next one! Got any questions or suggestions? Drop us a line at Contact@Goonhammer.com.