Howdy scummers! It time once more to dive into the planetwide chaos of the Aranthian Succession series. In this second edition, Helmawr’s daughter ascends to the throne while her enemies sweep up a massive chunk of the population into a Redeptionist crusade. Cawdor and Enforcers get some new toys, and a new campaign brings debuts some interesting mechanics. Let’s dig in.
Necromunda: Aranthian Succession – The Vaults of Temenos has:
- A background section covering the tumultuous pilgrimage of The Prophet, Lady Haera Helmawr’s rise to power, and the return of an old enemy.
- Part of of the Succession Campaign series, a linked set of campaigns that tell the story of this chaotic period on Necromunda.
- Seven narrative scenarios to go with the campaign.
- New vehicle rules for Cawdor and Redemptionist gangs.
- Rules for an absolute beast of a Cawdor house agent – The Prophet.
- Printed rules for vehicles and dramatis personae that previously only came with the model.
- A new mechanic called Crusading Gangs – this warrants a deeper look and we will dig in to that in a future article.
Fowler: Hoooo boy, where do we even start? On the previous episode of Aranthian Succession, things got pretty bad on Necromunda. The effects of the Great Rift finally hit the hive world, knocking the lights out and offering up an opening for Lady Credo to lead her rebellion. A horde of Goliaths assaulted Cinderak City, met by an alliance of Escher and Orlock gangers. Gerontius Helmawr was mortally wounded, which was detailed in a fantastic short story told from the POV of his would-be Murder Cyborg Assassin. His daughter Lady Haera Helmawr took out her siblings and staked her claim as the ruler of Necromunda
SPOILER ALERTS IN A NECROMUNDA RULEBOOK REVIEW, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
Alright, are we good here?
Haera propped herself up as the de-facto planetary governor, but without the blessing of the Imperium. A strange Redemptionist called The Prophet amassed millions of followers who went on a bloodthirsty pilgrimage across the planet, completely tearing apart house Cawdor in the process. Kal Jericho does Kal Jericho stuff… including stealing his father (Gerontius Helmawr)’s stasis casket for Lady Credo. Credo makes her “regeneration” in a youthful body a bit more clear – and it is revealed who is pulling her strings. The long extinct House Aranthus is (seemingly) back, rising out of the archaeo vault deep under Hive Temenos. It is all enormous in scope and incredibly chaotic. Another great lore dump – we are already looking forward to the next one!
New Toys for Cawdor
Dan: Rejoice, ye faithful, for Necromunda’s most pious gang gets quite a lot to work with in this book! The first thing we can look forward to is a brand new House Agent: The Prophet. With absolutely zero weapons and armor, you might be thinking he’s a waste of printer ink, but look again, dear scummer! Much like a Corpse Grinder Butcher, your opponents will need a successful Willpower check to target him, and much like Kal Jericho, he comes with a 3+ invulnerable save. On top of those superb defensive abilities, he grants a bonus to Cool and Willpower for any friendlies in line of sight, and he counts as four (!) fighters when generating Faith dice. He’s a truly good support character, and if you end up using him, it’s probably best practice to stick him in front of your gangers and let him soak up attacks while your trashbois get into position.
Next, Cawdor players are given a brace of driver options: the Cawdor Road Preacher and Redemptionist Road Preacher. With nearly identical, middle-of-the-road stats and rules, the only difference between the two is their alignment. And when I say alignment, I’m referring to the internal Cawdor alignment of Pious or Fanatical. Cawdor Road Preachers are Pious, and Redemptionist Road Preachers are Fanatical. Simple as.
Finally (as far as models are concerned), Cawdor gain access to their first and only Prospect, the Way-Brethren. This is where the real excitement lies. With identical stats to the Zealot (the Redemptionist flavor of Juve), the Way-Brethren won’t blow you away with their native talents, but they more than make up for it with their equipment. First, they come equipped with a Ridge Walker as standard. The Ridge Walker is the goofy-looking walker that Way-Brethren run around on. It acts like a Waster Dirtbike in that it grants the Mounted condition and a 9” move. Additionally, it grants a +1 to Initiative, which is great for keeping your Way-Brethren up and moving. Second, Way-Brethren get access to a lot more weapons than come on the sprue. Judging by the pictures Fowler’s taken, the Way-Brethren kit comes with autoguns, flails, pistols, and the new grenade lances. Of those options, the lances are both pretty great, with a frag and krak varietal. With a 5+ BS, autoguns and pistols are not going to be efficient uses of your credits. However, let’s a take a look at the weapon options that don’t come with the sprue:
- Sawn-off Shotgun
- Hand Crossbow
- Hand Flamer
- Fighting Knife
- Maul (club)
- Stun Lance
- Grenades (Blasting Charges, Frag Grenades, Incendiary Charges, Krak Grenades)
Now before I turn into Daffy Duck and jump around shouting, “Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!”, let me explain what chargers are: much like the polearm weapons, they’re generic lances with guns attached to them (Lance is a rule that gives +1 Strength on attacks made through a Drive-By or Charge action). Many eagle-eyed readers may see a certain word up there: blunderbuss. Get hype, y’all, because Way-Brethren get BLUNDERLANCES! That’s right! For a mere 45 credits, your Movement 9” Prospect gets a Blaze Template. 5+ BS? Who freakin’ cares? They got templates, pal. In addition, movement 9” makes any of the grenades except Krak attractive and useful options. This is fantastic news for Cawdor players: a relatively cheap way to get fast-moving templates into your gangs. I would even go so far as to proclaim the Way-Brethren up there with the Goliath Mauler as the absolute best gang-specific thing we’ve seen from Ash Wastes so far. And not just because of the rules! These options give license to Cawdor players to convert the hell out of their goofy-ass Ridge Walkers! Hope y’all held on to your bits!
One last thing for Cawdor players: a new Cawdor Vehicle Tactics Card deck. 18 new Tactics Cards and they’re mostly pretty good, rules-wise, but where they excel is flavor. Let’s take a look at a few of my favorites:
- Pyroclastic Rain gives a vehicle’s Template weapons an extra 6” of range! Time to break out those heavy flamers!
- Martyrdom will auto-kill a friendly fighter (memorable death, anyone?), but for the rest of the game, your whole gang gets +1 to wound against the fighter who killed your poor martyr! There’s no restriction for only Cawdor martyrs, so go nuts with Hive Scum, free Juves, and whoever else!
- And finally, Self Destruct is the absolute most bug-nuts thing to come out of a Tactics Card since Hive Quake. Your vehicle can elect to do this at any point in their activation, and if they do, every unit within 5” is hit by a S6 AP-1 D1 Blaze attack. Then the vehicle is wrecked, and add 1 to the Lasting Damage table! The Path of the Doomed gave us suicide bombers, and now we have suicide drivers. You might not be, but your Cawdor gangers are 100% ready to die for their faith.
Your move, creep! New rules for Enforcers
Genghis Cohen: There was a lot of debate amongst us before we received these rules, as to whether the Enforcers’ gang rules would be updated in any way. As we’ve gone into before, they are not a particularly strong gang, lagging behind the House gangs in the strength of their champions and the lack of any special abilities equivalent to Escher chems or Orlock Legendary Names, as well as laboring under some odd restrictions like the limit of 2 champions in a gang.
Well, the only rules change is to Hardcase Cyber-Mastiffs, which have rules in a book here for the first time – previously they were only included in the Forgeworld Scrutinator & Hardcase Cyber-Mastiff pack. They went up from 75 to 130 credits. That’s it. By no means a comprehensive rework of the rules – and in my opinion – way too heavy handed. These models get a lot of kit for their price, noticeably light carapace armour and an Enforcer skill which lets them counter-charge any enemy charging a friendly fighter nearby. But ultimately they’re 1W models with a fairly tame close combat punch (2A at WS3+, S3 AP-1, albeit with Shock and Rending). As pets they can never have any guns or indeed any other added equipment, and of course they can only accompany your Captain or Sergeants (the Sergeants are crap in melee combat) and don’t provide their own activations, they activate at the same time as their owner. Pets are very useful in many ways, but they aren’t equal to full fighters.
What I’m saying is, 75 credits was arguably too efficient for Hardcases, but it was one of the only things Enforcers could hold over other gangs. Now they don’t even have that.
The lawbots, on the other hand, are pretty damn great and from a power perspective, more than make up for it. No more converting Bullgryn and Ambot models into police-y looking brutes for us, we have the real thing – the Sanctioner Patter Automata!
Comparing them to an Ambot, which we all agree is a pretty damn good brute, the lawbot has a similar statline, but a wider range of weapon upgrades and a couple important special rules. They have the ‘Got Your Six’ skill from the Palanite Drill tree, which lets them interrupt and shoot at any enemy charging a nearby friendly fighter. If enemies target one of your fighters and the target is partially obscured by a lawbot, they automatically gain full cover (ie -2 to hit). By far the most important, is when a lawbot is seriously injured, in the End Phase it automatically recovers with a flesh wound. This is insanely powerful, effectively your opponent needs a good dose of luck to permanently take them out with ranged weapons.
Digging into the weapons, the stock loadout is the Pacifier Claw and Heavy Shock Baton, ie 2 close combat options. They’re both respectable Damage 2 weapons, with the Lawbot’s S4 and WS4+. The claw has -1 AP and Pulverise while the baton gives +1S, but Concussion, Parry and Shock – probably a little bit better, which is important as the more expensive weapon options can be picked to replace either melee weapon. The brute comes stock with a grenade array – essentially a grenade launcher which maxes out at 18″ – with photon flash grenades. This can be further upgraded with smoke grenades (excellent) or stun choke, or scare grenades (all situational). I think having access to the best non-lethal effects in the game is pretty damn handy to have built into the price of your brute. You can upgrade their light carapace to heavy for 20 credits, and unless your opponents rely solely on Webs, Phase weapons and meltaguns, you should.
Looking at the bigger arm upgrades, the Concussion Cannon stands out as the only purely ranged weapon. It has the same range and accuracy bonuses, and excellent special rules (Blast, Concussion, Seismic, Knockback) as an ordinary Enforcer’s carbine, but S4 and Dam2. Very nice weapon but +80 points is a bit much. For a mere +40 points you can swap a melee weapon for the SLHG Assault Ram, which is a better melee weapon because it’s Versatile with a 2″ range, with S+2 AP-1, and it includes a stun/frag grenade launcher, not the best at range since it can’t have Krak, but does give you access to a ranged attack that can actually inflict wounds. The most expensive of all at +100 credits is the Sanction Pattern Mancatcher. It’s a worse melee weapon than either stock option, but you don’t care, because it’s also a Web Gun. That’s right, S5, range Template, effect Web. Enforcers get webs people. Praise Lord Helmawr!
Sorry. Got carried away there. But seriously, the more I consider these automatic oppressors, the more I like the idea of them in an Enforcers gang. They really support the playstyle of defensive medium range firepower and resilience or counter-charging melee models. You can move them up in front of your well-armed Palanites, granting cover, dispensing photon flashes or smoke as needed, you’re damn hard to take OOA with shooting, and when the enemy does try to charge, boom, web in the face! Frankly I’m looking forward to getting a couple.
Succession Campaign Pt 2
Merton: If you’ve already run a campaign of Cinderak Burning (which you should, it rules), Vaults keeps the story rolling with Part Two: The Road to Temenos. As the first officially connected Necromunda campaign, Cinderak gangs are welcome to sally forth with their entire final rosters intact, though they will need to wave goodbye to all of their loyal Sympathisers. We won’t need them where we’re going!
Instead of Sympathisers (or Territories, Rackets, and what have you), the Vault campaign is fought over control of holy Relics, of different power levels and varying sanctity. Relics are unique in that they’re carried into battle by a gang’s Champions and Leaders, and confer buffs and abilities onto the bearer instead of focusing between-game benefits like most former campaign objectives.
Each relic also has a post-battle credit reward so gangs can use them to fund their expansion as normal, but the main draw is definitely the bearer Boons. Who wouldn’t want to proudly carry The Chains of Saint Sorondus around their neck, ignoring each wound on a 5+? Or to carry a pyre bearing The Fire of Redemption, imparting +1 Strength to all of their Blaze weapons?
There is a drawback, though. If a fighter is taken Out of Action during a fight while carrying a Relic, there is a small chance that the Relic that they’d been carrying will be added to the stake for the battle. This is the first campaign where a gang can stand to lose multiple Objectives over a single match, so don’t let the blessing of the Saints go to your head!
As far as the campaign itself goes, Road to Temenos travels some familiar ground. Ash Waste battles once again take place under Changing Seasons and the Season of Ash, depending on campaign phase. Gangs will be aligning themselves with the Imperial House, the Unaligned gangs playing both sides, or as members of Lady Credo’s Rebellion at the start of the campaign rather than the midpoint, with the same benefits as before.
The Dramatis Personae granted as periodic guest stars are mostly replaced, generally with fighters whose entries appear in this book. Lady Credo and Lady Haera do remain as options, thankfully, and the Unaligned faction now benefits from calling on the occasional services of Kal Jericho himself.
The seven missions in Vaults of Temenos do tend to feel a bit basic, but they’re fairly balanced and serve their purpose in filling the campaign’s Scenario Table. There’s three for the first Pilgrimage phase, three more for the Revelation phase, and the obligatory sneak attack Rescue Mission thrown in out of necessity.
There are some twists and updates to the Scenarios; Pacification of Dust Falls takes the basic playstyle of Looters and evens out the crew sizes and adds a priority target as a victory condition for the attackers, and Convoy Raid tacks on attack/defend roles to the Great Rig Robbery. They’re all competent missions, but with over 115+ scenarios already in existence for the game, it seems unlikely that any of these will stand out enough to be voluntarily chosen outside of the narrow scope of this particular book.
All in all, the Road to Temenos is a perfectly serviceable campaign set, which allows gangs that have fought their way through the entirety of Cinderak Burning to arrive at whatever Part Three of the Aranthian Succession may be. The main draws of a Roads campaign are the abilities granted by Relics and the allure of starting off a campaign with all of the big boys and big toys from the previous one.
Will this be enough to maintain the interest and momentum necessary to keep the games rolling? We suspect it will – the rules of Necromunda have always existed as the loosest of frameworks that we build our stories and memorable moments upon, even if this time they happen to be particularly bare. We’ll report back once we’ve had a chance to see it play out in action, but as a Part Two it feels more like an interlude than a full second act.
Dan: This book is a huge win for Cawdor players, and for that group, a must-buy. The campaign is fine, crusading gangs are cool, and the Lawbot rips, but House Cawdor is the real winner here. I will 100% be pre-ordering this book, along with at least one box of Way-Brethren and probably another box of Cawdor for use as bits for vehicles and weapons!
In addition to what we’ve covered here in this preview, there’s still more in the book! New scenarios, a new alliance, new and old Dramatis Personae, and the Crusading Gangs system, which allows you to play out the events of the Vaults of Temenos story! I think this book is chock-full of good stuff, and if you play Cawdor or Enforcers, I definitely think you ought to pick it up!
Fowler: My quick rundown on the lore doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how the story is actually progressing. It’s a fantastic read – essentially a novella bringing together the stories of the big players on the planet. By the end of the book, nearly the entire population is involved; either swept up by the prophet’s word, or desperately defending against his followers. Well worth a read if you are invested in what is happening.
And the lawtomata / Way Bretheren are very good.
And that’s it! As we said earlier, we’ll be back with a deep dive into Crusading Gangs in a future article. Are you psyched to fight for oddly powerful trinkets? Hyped that the Succession campaigns are finally an excuse to get some of those cool models on the table? Want to show us a cool cyber mastiff conversion? Drop us a line at Necromunday@Goonhammer.com.