Welcome back, Scummers, to the third and probably not all that final installment of our series on Campaign Progression! This time we are going to talk about Reputation, Brutes, and Hangers-On.
Why Bother With Reputation?
Ultimately, Reputation is a measure of success in a campaign, standing alongside “Most Kills” and “Most Territories/Rackets” as one of the methods of figuring out whose gang will reign supreme after all the dust has settled on the final series of fights in a cycle. That said, it is also a dynamic measure that’ll have a direct effect on the way you manage your gang between games, so you’ll want to grow your Reputation as much as possible!
So what’s Reputation good for? High reputation is necessary for the greater alignment boons in a Law and Misrule Campaign. You’ll want to gain and keep high levels of Rep, because the boons at high levels are serious. The other in-campaign effect of Reputation is determining how many Hangers-On and Brutes your gang can hire. Hangers-On have varying levels of use and value, but almost all of the Brutes will immediately make your gang the gang to beat.
There are two main ways to generate Reputation in a campaign: As a result of what happens during or after a mission, or as a reward for holding a Territory or Racket in a Dominion or Law and Misrule campaign, respectively. Generally, the way to high rep is through winning games and seizing assets, which makes sense.
Unlike Hangers-On, which we cover later in this article, Brutes are hired specifically for fighting. You’ll make a fighter card for them, and can include them in a battle just like a member of your gang’s original roster. Brutes all generally follow the same template: they are big, they are mean, and they are pros at causing havoc. If you want muscle, this is where you look. Additionally, Brutes advance as if they were a Specialist Ganger, which should make them even more attractive as you can pick and choose how they grow in a campaign.
A note on House Brutes: We are not going to cover House Brutes in this article. They get covered in our Houses of the Underhive series. Instead, we will be focusing on the Brutes that are available for any gang. The House Brutes are all good, though, so if you have a model for them, pick one up. You won’t regret it.
Luther Pattern Excavation Automata (“Ambot”) (Max of Two) 215/285 Credits
Reader, Ambots are incredible. Toughness 5, 3 Wounds, comes with Light Carapace armor. It has some big, beefy close combat weapons, and can even amp up its Attacks characteristic. Then you learn it has Infiltrate and you realize that this is one of the best ways for you to spend credits in Necromunda. An Ambot works extremely well as a Brawler or Assassin archetype, and if you take the Grav-Fist upgrade (for 70 credits, yikes), it can also sub in as a Crowd Controller, though don’t expect too much.
- What Are My Options? You can replace on of the Ambot’s Tunneling Claws with a Grav-Fist for 70 credits. Erstwhile contributor SRM thinks that the Grav-Fist is a waste of credits, but it can be worth it if you run a gang that isn’t suited for close combat. The Graviton Pulse special rule is very useful for slowing down those large, strong, and slow Goliaths that are making their way over to hack you to pieces. It will also add some versatility to the Ambot, as hitting on a 5+ with blasts is a lot easier than with its base melta pistols. However, if you’re not concerned with slowing down enemies and just want to get your big bug-robot into combat, forego it and enjoy the ride!
- What Advancements Should I Take? If you’re using your Ambot as a Brawler, focus on Toughness, Wounds, and Ferocity skills. An Ambot with Nerves of Steel is truly terrifying, as it will ignore pinning 72.2% of the time, unless you upgrade its Cool (and why not? If you’ve got Nerves of Steel, it’s only 4 more XP to upgrade the Ambot’s Cool to 5+). If you want a character-smashing Assassin, Strength, Attacks, and Weapon Skill should be your primary choices.
- Is it Worth it? Absolutely. The Ambot will chew through just about anything.
“Jotunn” H-Grade Servitor-Ogryn (Max of Two) 210/225/280/295 Credits
We don’t want to waste your time, dear reader. If you already have 2 Ambots and a House Brute on your roster, you can consider getting a Servitor-Ogryn. If you do not, stop playing around and buy an Ambot or a House Brute. These things are trash when compared to your other options.
- What Are My Options? The Ogryn can take Furnace Plates for 15 credits, and it can replace one of its Augmetic Fists with an Arc Welder for 70 credits. If you take an Ogryn, giving it armor is a good idea. The fists seem like overkill, as it is already very beefy in combat.
- What Advancements Should I Take? Well, Ogryns have access to the Brawn skill tree, so you can functionally ignore skills save for Bull Charge. Ogryns make ok Assassins as they’re one of the strongest natural strikers in the game, so, Weapon Skill and Attacks ought to be prioritized. Ugh. These things only come with a 4+ WS and they cost the same or more than an Ambot. What were GW thinking with these things? You might think that an Ogryn would make a natural Brawler, but without the ability to give it more armor or Ferocity skills, you’d be mistaken.
- Is it Worth it? No. If your gang has so much rep that it can afford more than 5 Brutes, then sure. Literally any other circumstance? No. Avoid.
Iron Automata (Max of 1) 220 Credits
The Iron Automata is interesting. It’s tougher than an Ambot, has a terrifying gun, but has a couple of drawbacks that make it a true head-scratcher. The pros are simple: it’s gun can mow down entire swaths of enemy fighters, and it can take hits like nothing else. The cons, however, are significant. First, every time it activates the player must roll a d6. On a 1, the Automata gains the Insanity condition. It only has a Will of 8+, so expect bad things to happen in a prolonged firefight. Second, whenever the Automata goes out of action, roll a d6. On a 1, the Automata is permanently deleted from the gang roster. This happens before the Lasting Injury roll, meaning that the Automata has multiple chances to permanently die. These drawbacks are kinda nuts! The Iron Automata would make a strong Brawler, but the chance to attack your own gangers and then walk off your roster forever makes it far less reliable than an Ambot for virtually the same price.
- What Are My Options? None.
- What Advancements Should I Take? It has access to Brawn skills, so ignore those. Ballistic Skill jumps out as an obvious choice because the Assault Cannon is so good. Willpower is a cheap way to mitigate Insanity-related catastrophes, and Toughness and Wounds will always be useful.
- Is it Worth it? The Necromunday group is split on the Iron Automata. Merton thinks it’s good, Dan thinks it’s bad. You’ll have to decide if it has a place in your gang, reader!
While Brutes are hired exclusively for their combat-prowess in-game, Hangers-On are a separate category of hireling, chosen primarily for the bonuses that they can generate for your gang both in-game and out. Some of these bonuses are pretty minor, but others are strong enough to change the tide of a close battle, so think hard before you choose which to invest your Reputation Slots into!
Hangers-On are typically not fielded in most missions, but can be forced into play with an unlucky roll in missions in which your gang has the home turf advantage. Most of the time you’ll want to keep these guys cowering in the back, but some of them do have a bit of deadly potential. Be careful, though, if they wind up with a permanent injury after a battle they’ll walk away for good; they’re not paid enough for that!
Rogue Doc (Max of Two) 50 Credits
Almost as good as the real thing! Rogue Docs will patch up your critically injured fighters for free, allowing your champions and leaders to skip the Medical Escort and instead rummage around for rare items at the Post. These Docs can only Stabilize at best, so their patient is likely going to need some form of Bionics to get fully back up to speed, but it still beats being dead. Multiple Docs allow you to perform this free visit to two seperate fighters.
- Worth it? Absolutely. Early on in a campaign, 2d6x10 credit Doc visits can cripple an already-struggling gang. Even if your champ winds up with a missing hand/eye/leg, replacing those body parts is invariably cheaper than hiring a full replacement.
- But Can They Fight? Directly, not well, but with the Medicae skill and kit they’re purpose-built to be one hell of a Support.
Ammo Jack (Max of Three) 50 Credits
Re-rolls as a whole are uncommon in Necromunda, but Ammo Checks are an unfortunate fact of life. Each Ammo Jack on your team allows an ammo reroll on a natural failure of one (and then two, and then three with more of ‘em). Unless your gang is made up of almost all lasguns, these guys are invaluable.
- Worth it? Jack early, Jack often. Don’t neglect your Brute and some other Hangers-On, but invest in Ammo Jacks as soon as you can to keep your guns blazing.
- But Can They Fight? Oh god yes, these guys are beasts. They’re carrying a bolter that costs more than their entire model, a power weapon and decent armor, and they even have the Munitioneer aura to help out everyone around them. Ammo Jacks are often going to be deadlier than some of your champs, early on.
Dome Runner (Max of One) 20 Credits
Re-rolling an Ammo Check? Amazing. Re-rolling the result for a Loot Casket? Not quite as awe-inspiring. Handy for avoiding frag traps, sure. If you’re hell-bent on cracking into those d6 credits the Dome Runner can pay for herself in 4 to 20 crates! Runners also generate an extra 10 credits per game with a specific territory in a Dominion campaign, but that’s hardly enough to justify them
- Worth it? Not really, and that’s a shame because they’re such a cool model.
- But Can They Fight? With a pistol and Lie Low, your Runner is best served staying out of everybody’s way until things calm down.
Slopper (Max of One) 20 Credits
Grants a one in six chance for a fighter in Recovery to heal early and participate in the next battle. While that fighter will still miss out on the phases where he’d normally be able to spend XP and buy gear that round, having a wounded champ pop into action unexpectedly can even the odds early in a campaign.
- Worth it? Go for it! His ability won’t trigger all the time, but the Slopper is great for getting your dudes back into the fight.
- But Can They Fight? That’s a hard nope. Keep him cowering in the corner, this guy’s only got a dull knife and he’ll probably trip on it if you spook him.
Gang Lookout (Max of One) 20 Credits
Look, just skip this one. He offers a +1 to your spot checks when you’re playing as the sentries in that sort of mission. If you think that he’s got a valid use that elevates him to be worth a Reputation Slot over a Slopper or Ammo Jack, feel free to angrily let us know in the comments.
- Worth it? The Lookout is so bad that we’re almost expecting him to be the next beautiful and inexplicable model offering from Forgeworld.
- But Can They Fight? New plan. Step one, charge directly into the heart of the enemy, in the hope of a glorious death. Step two, pick a different Hanger-On.
Fixer (Max of One) 50 Credits
Insurance for gangs that want to play dangerously, a -2 to Alliance rolls make the downsides of Guilder/Recidivist allies easier to ignore when they get a bit too pushy. The Fixer skill means he’ll be generating free credits every game, and can even sacrifice himself to prevent your gang from being outlawed if the wrong people notice your giant stash of illegal weaponry.
- Worth it? We’d say so! They don’t impart as immediate a benefit compared to Ammo Jacks and Rogue Docs, but they pay for themselves and enable a fun risky playstyle.
- But Can They Fight? Anyone with a Bolt Pistol and Mesh Armor is more than capable of taking care of themselves, but clever opponents will seek to make an example of an unruly Fixer.
Scabber (Max of One) 40 Credits
Allows Outlaw gangs to sell illegal weapons and wargear back to the Black Market at half of the usual cost penalty, but that’s contingent on you having a deluge of extra illegal items worth selling in the first place. Their ‘Trade Action’ ability also doesn’t seem to trigger any bonuses, making it of questionable value. (We’ve house-ruled it for the Scabber to count as a champion for trade purposes, so the player can at least gain +1 to their Rarity rolls.) There’s probably ways to break the economy with this guy once an Outlaw gang has enough Reputation to get a flat 25% discount at the Black Market, but any right-thinking Arbitrator would slap that down immediately.
- Worth it? We wouldn’t pay credits for one, but Outlaws do get a free Scabber as a Boon.
- But Can They Fight? Shotguns are always appreciated, so Scabbers are more than capable of sluggin’ away. No armor, so avoid the main scrum.
‘Narker (Max of Two) 30 Credits
Nudging the scenario roll up or down by one (or two with double ‘Narkers) can be the difference between facing an opponent in their optimal environment or surprising them with a scenario they’re completely unsuited for. Why engage Van Saar in a Standoff when you can force them to instead charge your relic in a Sneak Attack?
- Worth it? Absolutely. These beauties will let you tilt the odds in your favor before the game even starts.
- But Can They Fight? They’re lovers, not fighters. Hide your ‘Narkers deep in your deployment zone and protect them with your lives. You gotta keep these dudes safe.
Proxy (Max of One) 25 Credits
An Outlaw exclusive, the Proxy allows their controlling gang to sell their captives to the guilders for half of their credit cost and sneak into the Trading Post without the typical Cool check, provided they roll under a 5 on a d6 check. They can also form Alliances with Guilders, but will blow the whole deal if they get too uppity and question the Guild’s demands.
- Worth it? Outside of getting extremely lucky in a series of rolls as your gang changes alignment, the Proxy is your only chance of retaining a Law-Abiding Guild ally as an Outlaw.
- But Can They Fight? Not capably, unless they’re trying to get into a slap fight with an opposing juve.
Propagandist (Max of One) 30 Credits
One of the few ways to gain Reputation outside of missions and Intrigues, the Propagandist allows you to call your shot when you’re certain you’ll win an upcoming battle. Sure, maybe it’s not the smartest move when you’re about to go up against some flame-happy Cawdor in the tunnels, but call it anyway! We’re sure you’ll outsmart them somehow. We believe in you, friend! Their secondary ability to generate a second juve occasionally when you buy one is almost a downside, though, as the new recruit will often throw off your ganger ratio.
- Worth it? Hell yeah. Always Be Calling, and Always Be Overcharging. Positivity is key.
- But Can They Fight? Not very well, but the Inspirational skill and a 6+ Leadership could help keep some of your less-courageous gangers steady!
Go Forth And Crush Your Enemies
Thanks for joining us on this Campaign Progression journey, Scummers! We’ll be back next week with a look at the speedy, deadly, and probably drug-riddled queens of the Underhive: House Escher! As always, if you have any questions, comments or feedback, drop us a comment in the comments below, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you.