Necromunday: Book of the Outlands Roundtable

Howdy scummers! Hot on the heels of our Ash Wastes box and Book of the Outlands reviews, we got the crew together to talk about future projects, campaigns, and what we generally want to get out of Necro’s new setting.

Now that we have the whole picture of how the Ash Wastes setting works, how are you feeling about it?

Genghis Cohen: really looking forward to playing a campaign to be honest! A lot of the discourse I’ve seen online has focussed on what the rules still don’t cover. Some weapon traits could have been more comprehensively expanded to cover their effect on vehicles; most gangs do not have House-specific vehicle crews; the Mounted condition is a very mixed benefit; creating certain types of vehicles is beyond the limits of the custom chassises and upgrades. 

While agreeing with these criticisms, I’m still mad keen to get some vehicles on the table and to play a campaign themed around controlling trade routes, fighting Mad Max running battles, and exploring the isolated settlements, abandoned mines and perilous wastes of Necromunda. It really is a different theme to the game we love. I think the holes in what we currently have available are easily filled by any Arbitrator confident enough to fudge some vehicle cards and crew profiles, and make some rulings about interactions between the content from various sourcebooks. 

Fowler: I cannot wait until I can run an Ash Wastes campaign. Of course I have been jazzed on the idea of vehicle shenanigans for a while, but between the battlefield condition rules, the workshop, and the map to fight over… my crew and I are all in.

Dylon: There so many cool things about the setting, and I’m excited, but I want to wait a minute for upgrade kits and hopefully more gang specific vehicles. But, the setting makes me want to embrace the environmental rules and try to lean into the narrative aspect of the game more than we have in the underhive. That said, it’s an interesting feeling being hyped about it but not motivated to build anything or play it yet. Is this what it’s like getting old? 

Primaris Kevin: I’m excited, to the point where I’m already putting together a custom Van Saar Murder Pod for my gang in the hopes of getting a campaign running at some point. Gorkamorka was the game I always wanted to try out but never had a chance to, and being able to use them in Necromunda is fantastic. I’m particularly excited to see what kind of crazy vehicles that people come up with, especially given how diverse and crazy the Ash Wastes can be in terms of environmental hazards and variable visibility. 

Now is it perfect? No. Necromunda never is. Probably my biggest complaint is that the rules are incomplete, particularly in terms of how the gangs are supported. While Orlock and Squats get their own Crew with Gang Fighter (X), everyone else is left out in the cold and have to adjust their gangs accordingly. Bikes and the Mounted condition also seems really bad; as it stands a player who takes a hit has to pass an Initiative test or fall over. If they fall over then they have to pass another Initiative test to stand up, and recovering is a Basic action so they only get one chance per turn. Fortunately these issues and others are easily remedied with the right Arbitrator making tweaks, and that seems to be how Necromunda is made great anyway.

Fowler: All other toys aside, I am pumped to see the Outland Beastmaster in action with three nasties in tow. One of my campaign ideas is to have a bunch of Traitor Guard / Chaos Cultists as the antagonists, and loading them up with Ripperjacks or Milliasaurs sure sounds like a good time to me.

Dan: To no one’s surprise, I am also extremely excited about Ash Waste gaming. I’ve already purchased a bevy of Genestealer Cult vehicles that I’m looking forward to tricking out to match my Orlock gang. Unlike the erstwhile contributors so far, I do not think the rules need adjustments…yet. It’s a little too early for me. Honestly, I think the Waster Dirtbikes mechanics are great. You’re trading increased mobility for finicky pinning issues. I think it’s a fair trade, and one I’d make over and over again, especially when it comes to giving my dirtbikers combat shotguns and hand flamers!

Necromunda Ash Waste Nomads
Ash Waste Nomads. Credit: Colin Ward

The Ash Waste Nomads have been fully revealed. What niche do we see this gang filling?

Fowler: Facing down beefy vehicle profiles without any of their own, Nomads have a tough gig out in the Wastes. I suspect that a successful Nomad gang will have to balance hiding, sniping, Charge Caster-ing, and weather manipulation to succeed. 

Genghis Cohen: That’s interesting. Against vehicles, I suppose they have to hope Shock weapons will get some Wounds through. In terms of combat between other fighters, I think the Nomads will do quite well in the wastes. Big open tables mean a shooting war and they have their special hiding ability, saves against battlefield conditions, ability to manipulate Visibility (and the simple fact that Long Rifles benefit from Visibility rules, since they always get a bonus to hit and very few other weapons do) and some special Wasteland skills. I don’t think they’re overwhelmingly powerful all the time, but I do think a canny player who seeks battles in the deep or wild wastes under the right conditions would be able to hold real advantages over the hive dwelling gangs.

Primaris Kevin: They seem pretty cool. Everything I said about Initiative being important with Mounted units? Ash Waste Nomads all have a 3+ Initiative. That’s second only to Escher (who have a few models with a 2+) and is pretty useful. Every model also comes with an ash cloak (mitigates some environmental damage) and a sky mantle (helps them hide). They’re specialized to fight in the Wastes but they aren’t overpowered, and after some trips to the Trading Post they’ll be just as kitted out and terrifying as anyone else. They also might have fun in a more traditional campaign; I really like the idea of giant bugs running through the corridors of a Zone Mortalis board. Their skills are also VERY strong and do everything from allow the model to ignore Battlefield Surface effects to order their friends to ignore Target Priority and re-roll dice against a designated target.

Dan: I think Nomads are going to suffer without tons of Trading Post upgrades. Their native weapon options leave a lot to be desired in terms of taking down vehicles and getting through armor. And don’t even get me started about how quickly they’d fold to a dedicated combat gang like Corpse Grinders. While Nomads are seriously cool and have some of the best plastic minis we’ve seen this year, their niche currently seems to be “What if Delaque but worse in almost every way?”

Ironhead Squat Prospector

Squats are back, baby! First impressions?

Genghis Cohen: on the surface they seem very strong, but I see a few weaknesses. Toughness is usually the most important stat in the game for your fighters, so just being T4, with no real price increase over baseline human gangers, is very important. Arguably even better than Van Saar’s improved BS and efficient armour, when both gangs have a similar mobility drawback with M4″. But as we’ve said before on Goonhammer, Van Saar are only the gang to beat if you play on open tables and don’t do scenarios which require movement to objectives. Squats are a little less disadvantaged in that they can have very robust counter-charge and melee options. On the other hand, their weapons are mostly mid- and short-ranged, so they could struggle to actually bring their strengths to bear where required. 

My other big concern is how they will manage the ammo requirements for their faction-specific weapons. Rapid Fire (1), which they get on punchy kit like bolt pistols, (hand)flamers and even meltaguns, is a straight bonus and very powerful. Rapid Fire (2) is starting to hugely increase the chance of running out of ammo. So as tempting as Rapid Fire (2) boltguns are, be aware that every time you fire them at full rate, you are about a ⅓ chance to run dry, and they’re not easy to reload. 

Primaris Kevin: Squats seem fine. Getting T4 is great, and they have a lot of fun weapons that will likely perform well in a game full of limited visibility effects. They’re not fast, which would ideally be overcome by going full retro and putting a bunch of them on bikes, but their Initiative is terrible. Their guns are flat out better than others but will force a lot of Ammo checks, but Squats have a Dependable Like Kin skill that lets them ignore Unstable and re-roll Ammo checks. Fortunately most of their weapons aren’t Scarce, but I still wouldn’t expect a RF(2) boltgun to function for a large number of turns. Probably my biggest gripe on them is that compared to the variability of the House Gangs or the Ash Wastes Nomads the Squat gang seems pretty bland. You get a Leader, Champion, Ganger, Juve, a Crew option with the Gang Fighter (X) ability… and that’s it. I was hoping for more.

I did a deep dive on Ammo Checks for Hammer of Math a while ago; I recommend checking that out. 

Dan: Cool gang, crazy expensive guns. Sure they’re tough and they can pack a wallop, but they’re slow and sure to be outnumbered. I think players will have a lot of fun with the little guys, but they’ll be a tactical challenge to say the least.

Fowler: A bunch of squats in the back of an open-topped party wagon sounds like my kind of party. I think the right kind of vehicle will be a game changer for them! 

Orlock Sentinel. Credit: Fowler

The Wasteland Workshop has brought with it a host of pre-made vehicles, along with rules for cobbling your own together. Do any options stand out to you?

Genghis Cohen: I’m most attracted to the medium custom vehicle profile. Seems like a good compromise of mobility, expense and resilience. I think the best way to add a vehicle to a gang would be as a transport, with a single decent weapon.

Of the vehicle upgrades and wargear, Smoke Launchers seems like a super powerful piece of control kit for shooting vehicles. Basically just placing smoke, very close to yourself, but with no roll required. Tyre Claws also seemed a great upgrade for the heavier vehicles – +1 on Loss of Control tests helps mitigate the risk I’d be most worried about for expensive, heavy vehicles, which is failing those tests and facing a nerve-wracking chance to Roll and wreck yourself each time.

I suspect that long term, besides making transports, upgrades that increase survivability, like Smoke Vents or Extra Armour, or the kits to downgrade the first non-glancing hit per battle to each damage location, will be the most popular. Once you have your beastly rig with the fearsome guns, after all you still need to stop the enemy taking it straight out.

Primaris Kevin: Oh boy, this is going to be exciting. Having looked over the rules I really want to combine Antigrav Generators with Caltrop Launchers and have my skimmers just crap out spikes all over the battlefield. Genghis Cohen is right that Smoke Launchers will be useful, but I suspect that the constant presence of limited visibility or Pitch Black rules might reduce their effectiveness somewhat. My absolute favorite option is the Gas Promethium Engine, which basically lets your vehicle pretend it’s a flamer and set EVERYONE around you on fire. This honestly might be too effective and will probably need a nerf or a House Rule to make it less insane. In terms of options that I expect to be mandatory, Extra Armour provides a bonus to your Toughness characteristic for 25 credits. That and Reinforced Armour (+1 HP) seem like obvious choices. Oddly enough even though you can have extra armour that you’ve reinforced, there’s no actual way to improve your Armour Save. 

Fowler: When the first whiff of Necro vehicle rules appeared, I bought a 1:35 scale HEMTT fuel truck for some Road Warrior inspired setpieces. You better believe that I have been cooking up a whip worthy of the biggest custom profile.

Dan: I know everyone’s excited about custom vehicles, but I’m super pumped to build an Orlocked-out Ridgerunner. I’ve loved that model from afar for a while now, and I finally have an excuse to paint one in bright red and yellow flames! I think slapping a missile launcher on that bad boy gives you a great start for an Ash Waste gang’s first vehicle. It’s got the right combo of good stats, good price, and good weapon options to make it very, very, compelling.

Fowler: Having built all of the available generic vehicle options in the Book of the Outlands, I cannot recommend them enough as fun hobby projects. The GSC vehicles are a bit easier to build than the newer Necro ones, and they paint and weather up very nicely.  

Orlock on Waster Dirtbike. Credit: Fowler

Waster Dirtbikes have been a hot topic around the Necromunday water cooler. What’s your take?

Genghis: I’m actually a little disappointed in the price for what it gives you. 8″ movement is nice but I would have liked to see them gain the Sprint skill, or some equivalent to the vehicles’ Double Action to move triple distance in a straight line. As is, I think 50 credits is a lot for a movement buff, especially since it restricts your weapons heavily and the Pinning rules are on the whole worse than other models, unless you have great Initiative.

That said, I’m not disappointed I’ve made 8 Orlock dirtbikes, but I may look to convert some sort of flatbed transport vehicle for my gang instead.

Fowler: Every ganger (aside from Nomads and anyone toting an unwieldy weapon) has access to bikes. That rules. With the 400 extra credits at the start of a campaign, an enterprising gang could eschew bigger rides and just start with 8 (sounds familar) bikes! Without even touching on the rules, this is going to inspire plenty of amazing kitbashes. 

While mounted condition wargear is pretty high-risk… it also feels Necromunda as hell. I’ve previously opined about how loss of control and rolling might be the new “max damage fall hit”. Spontaneously falling off of a bike might actually take that trophy home.

Dylon: I would love to see an upgrade kit of various gang legs and arms to have mounted gangers for bikes and other vehicles. Who wouldn’t like a Goliath on a bike…..? Also, a new ash wastes specific, medium vehicle would be cool, a dune crawler or something…

Primaris Kevin: Honestly I’m a little disappointed. The Pinning rules are extremely harsh, and in my opinion the typical 4+ Initiative of your average ganger isn’t going to cut it when every hit forces a test. I originally had visions of Lobo Slaves running around on bikes terrifying everybody, but their low Initiative means they’ll probably never make it to combat. Units that ignore pinning from ranged attacks also get screwed since their ability doesn’t seem to work if you’re riding a bike.

Dan: As the only Necromunday contributor who actually rides a motorcycle, I think the rules are spot on. I don’t know how many scummers out there have actually had to pick up a bike, but it ain’t easy! Even stripped down dirtbikes can be a pain to maneuver since their center of gravity is generally quite a bit higher than your standard cruiser. So the idea that once you get knocked down it might take you a turn or two to get going again makes a lot of sense to me. As for what they do on the tabletop, dirtbikes are an excellent way to get your close range shooters into effective range, and a great way to get a combat character that much closer to getting into melee. On a 4’x4’ board with some good terrain, that kind of mobility is a godsend, allowing our fast-movers to dart in and out of cover as they take control of the board’s surface. I plan on building more than a few for my Orlocks, and once I can get some suitably Cawdor-looking legs, you all can bet on the fact that I’ll have some Blunderpole dirtbikers at some point.

Ash Waste Nomads Helamite Dust Rider by Jonathan Polley

Any plans to run a campaign out in the wastes? Are there any House Rules that you expect to implement in your campaign?

Genghis Cohen: Some family matters prevent me from taking part in any significant gaming for a few months (I had a kid). But that doesn’t mean I don’t have plans! I am taking plenty of notes on house rules for gang/vehicle creation, and coming up with a lot of modifications to the existing scenarios and Ash Wastes conditions. My principle when running campaigns has always been that randomizing scenario choice and battlefield conditions is a poor man’s option, good for convenience but sometimes frustrating both narrative and gameplay experiences. I prefer for a benevolent Arbitrator (ie me) to set the scenario and conditions, as well as recommend terrain, based on the territory/road section being disputed, the background of the gangs and how evenly matched they are. For example I would assign two players fighting for control of a remote, wild wastes road section an appropriately bizarre condition and vehicle based mission like Cargo Run, if it was over a settlement we’d clearly do Settlement Raid, if over a remote outpost I could assign a non-Ash Wastes scenario like Forgotten Riches, perhaps even recommended a Zone Mortalis map. I think that kind of narrative campaign, where you guide players’ imagination as to what their gangs are doing, is the pinnacle of Necromunda gaming. 

Dylon: My group will get there eventually. We’re taking a slow entry into it, waiting for more kits and upgrades to come out, but really for me to wrap up my underhive terrain projects so I can make a full table of Ash Waste terrain. I have a load of kits and many more ideas for some cool and thematic stuff.

Primaris Kevin: Without a doubt. I have some ideas of combining all three terrain options to give players all sorts of options when it comes to how to play, and I’m hopeful that by the Fall I will have wrapped up most of my obligations and gotten a few custom vehicles painted. I also really like Genghis Cohen’s philosophy regarding how the games are set up. In terms of House Rules I have a few ideas.

  1. Custom vehicles don’t pay extra to be repaired. They’re already more expensive than stock options, and forcing players to pay full price to keep their existing vehicle is terrible.
  2. Players who have time to model awesome stuff on their vehicle may purchase them at gang creation, pending Arbitrator approval. For example if someone takes the time to make a skimmer for Necromunda, they can purchase the antigravity generator upgrade at gang creation.
  3. All Crews have the Gang Fighter (X) ability, not just those available to Orlocks and Squats. There’s no reason to screw over other gangs. 
  4. Weapons purchased for vehicles cannot be given to gang members. Your Rockgrinder is not a pipeline to provide twin linked autocannons to the whole gang.

I’m also debating if something should be done to address how Initiative dependent bikes are (maybe making the action to recover from Prone and Pinned a Double, and if the model passes an Initiative test they get a free action), and part of me wants to find a way to allow vehicles to have access to the same weapons that Leaders and Champions can already get. It seems odd that a Van Saar Champion can tote around a multi-melta or a lascannon but their custom ride can’t get anything better than a mining laser.

Fowler: I think Kevin is spot on with the kind of house rules I’d be leaning towards. Having recently finished up a Lost Zones campaign that really worked to limit the power curve of the gangs, I am looking forward to doing essentially the opposite and letting it rip. 

Dan: My wife had a baby in March, so I’m not running anything more complicated than a small Blood Bowl league this year. That said, once I get a vehicle painted up, I am 100% in the market for one-off games with my local buds (like Primaris Kevin!). And if someone else decides to get a campaign going round these parts, I’d be thrilled to join in. Hear that, Kevin?!

Orlock Outrider Quads
Orlock Outrider Quad. Credit: Fowler

Final thoughts

Dylon: We’ve got a giant toy box of cool things to make and play games with. A whole world to explore and get run over in. Can’t wait to have some rad mad max games. The hobby part of my brain is practically overwhelmed by the amount of sprues I have to work with and all the possibilities. I’m in no rush, and cool shit will happen in due time.

Primaris Kevin: There’s still a lot more to come (let’s see that Van Saar skimmer thing that was mentioned in the lore), but where we are right now is amazing and I’m excited to get some games in and see how different an Ash Wastes campaign is compared to other environments. I’m also looking forward to seeing what kind of experiences the community develops, and what kind of tweaks arise to make the game even more fun.

Dan: It’s a great time to be a Necromunda fan as the game keeps getting more and more expansive. I look forward to exploring this new space with my buds, and you all can bank on the fact that I think this is a good thing for Necromunda. I also can’t wait to see everyone’s custom vehicles. Gorkamorka is back, kind of, and I could not be happier!

Fowler: I thoroughly enjoyed building and painting a bunch of Necro vehicles. Finally getting a chance to smash them together has been a blast. The models, fluff, and rules for this setting have been amazing, and I cannot wait to see more.

And that’s it! It is astounding how much Necromunda we have gotten recently, and it definitely does not look like it is going to slow down. As always, if you have any suggestions or questions, drop us a line at