Introduced in the Book of the Outlands, Ironhead Squat Prospectors are aesthetically (and thematically) a blast from the past. Much moreso than 40k’s Leagues of Votann – they evoke the Rogue Trader-era Squats with their land trains, mining traditions and rocking sunglasses.
Diligent miners and builders who were isolated from their League kin on Necromunda thousands of years prior, they live self-sufficiently in the Ash Wastes… tolerated as sanctioned Abhumans and trading the fruits of their labour to the human groups. Determined and independent, they guard their autonomy and maintain technology and social structures unlike the human inhabitants. The ‘gangs’ they field are mining or exploratory expeditions mustered to venture out from their great land trains to harvest the riches of the wastes – which will often involve protecting those riches from other marauders once they’re secured!
In terms of gameplay, their fighters are tougher but less mobile than average; they have wide access to ranged weaponry that is more effective but more expensive than standard versions. As you would expect given their background, they do seem designed with Ash Wastes – vehicle-inclusive play in mind – since some of their unique Skills relate to those mechanics. Being a more recent addition than the House gangs, they have slightly narrower rules support – only one type of Champion, no Prospects or unique light vehicle, and no flavour mechanic equivalent to Orlock Legendary Names or Cawdor Acts of Faith. They do get a rather tasty unique Brute option though! All in all, Squat Prospectors fill a well-defined niche amongst the other gang options for Necromunda. They are a good choice if you want to push out high quality shooting, especially at medium and short range, while weathering the enemy’s return fire, and they can still include a few models fit to brawl it up in melee, increasing their tactical flexibility.
Currently, the main resource for building Squat Prospector gangs is the Book of the Outlands. Players will also want access to the Trading Post, which can be found in an online PDF or in the updated Necromunda rulebook. Some Brutes, Exotic Beasts, and Hired Guns which you can consider adding to a Squats gang are found scattered through other books, but none of those are vital to how the gang functions.
As with all Necromunda gangs since the introduction of the revised rulebook in July 2023, the main constraints on your gang structure are to have 1 Leader model (in this case a Charter Master) and to have at least half of your models (not counting hangers-on) be Gang Fighters. This latter category includes Gangers, Juves and Vehicle Crew.
Squat Prospector models’ internal balance runs into a common issue for Necromunda gangs: the Leader and Champion models are getting a massive increase in stats, and a valuable skill, for a relatively modest credit cost. Put another way, a Champion is a better deal than a Ganger or Juve.
Of course you do need a minimum number of models to play the game, so especially at gang creation, you’d want to include enough Gangers and Juves to hit that minimum number. But through the campaign, especially since many Scenarios you play will only involve small crews, say 6 models or so, there is a definite advantage to maximising the number of Champions you field. As an example, a gang of a Leader, 4 Champions and 5 Juves (10 models) may well be more effective than a Leader, 2 Champions, 6 Gangers and 4 Juves (13 models). The former option can stack small-size Custom Crew scenarios with Champions. Random Crew scenarios are chancier but even so probably worth the risk, since the gap between Champion and Ganger is wider than that between Ganger and Juve.
It’s also worth noting that since vehicle crews are Gang Fighters, an Ash Wastes campaign gang could include nothing but a Leader, Champions, Brutes and Vehicles, fielding a gang where every model is a major threat. Of course that could leave the gang at a serious disadvantage in Scenarios with large Crew sizes and multiple objectives. These ‘skew’ gangs present some thematic issues and may not be how your group envisions Necromunda, so perhaps something to discuss with the Arbitrator. A core assumption of the game designers seems to be that gangs will compose a varied mix of fighter types.
Ultimately, Necromunda is not a competitive game. This guide is meant to inform players on what fighters and equipment may be more or less effective, not create a guide to making an ‘unstoppable’ gang. Necromunda has so many options – that approach becomes silly. We recommend you talk openly with your gaming group and ensure everyone has a common vision of what gangs should look like, before pushing the envelope with any unusual formats, regardless of how effective you think they may be.
Charter Master (Leader)
A big upside of the Squat Prospector gang is the leader, specifically the 3W starting profile. 115 credits is a steal for this fighter, an excellent all-rounder with Movement and Initiative his only weak points. He is a born brawler and his Wounds and Toughness will see off many melee threats. The natural way to build him is as a counter-charge threat who can protect your other, mostly shooting-based models – he’s a cut above your champions with his 3+WS. As your gang increases in size, the juicy Ironhead kit list will allow him to be a shooter and a fighter – he would be an excellent candidate to carry a normal and Power Pack melee weapon (see the weapons section below) to maximise his close combat power, and could then add a pistol and special weapon, or even a heavy weapon, to create a fighter deadly at all ranges. The Charter Master’s Primary skill trees are Leadership, Shooting and Brawn. Iron Will can actually be a good skill if your Squat gang is frequently outnumbered, helping reduce the risk of Bottle Checks, while once you have a decent gun, Shooting is full of powerful skills to choose from. Wisdom of the Ancients and Savant are Secondary skills here, so if you can save up the hefty XP costs, he can also access income-generating or ammunition-saving skills from those trees (Fixer, Munitioneer, Where there’s scrap there’s creds, and Dependable like Kin are all worthwhile).
Drill Masters (Champions)
With a standard Champion package – 2W, 2A and better mental skills – over your normal fighters, for a very manageable 85 credits, but a better BS than WS, these guys are made to increase your shooting punch. Primary skill trees are Wisdom of the Ancients and Brawn, with Shooting, Leadership and Ferocity as Secondary. Frustrating, as Shooting would give some wonderful options if it were Primary. However they can usefully generate revenue in an Ash Wastes campaign, or safely fire from vehicle transport beds (see skills below). In any campaign they are a good candidate for powerful Rapid Fire (2-3) weapons, like the Ironhead heavy stubber, if they take Dependable like Kin to lessen the risk of ammo checks. Whatever starting Skill you end up choosing, these are good solid shooting champions who should carry your better weapons. As with any gang, you would normally try to start a Campaign with two, and add more as your gaming group’s rules and your gang’s finances permit.
Drill-Kyn (Gangers & Specialists)
They’re normal gangers, at a very normal price of 50 credits, but access to unusually effective Basic weapons, and indeed Pistols, makes them able to contribute meaningfully to your shooting throughout a campaign, and the T4 will give them an edge over other gangs’ shooters in that role. As well as being a general disadvantage in manoeuvring, M4” nudges their normal role away from melee or from using very short-ranged weapons. The only tricky part is equipping them at the campaign outset. Their only basic weapon choices are the Ironhead autogun at 25 credits, jumping up to the Ironhead boltgun at 95! Both fine choices although the latter, while devastating, will start to run into ammo issues (see weapons section below). Drill-Kyn do have a punchy selection of pistols and close combat weapons available, but these are likely to be late-campaign luxuries for your rank-and-file gangers. Note that they can pick up blasting charges, one of the best grenades around, if you want something more exciting than a basic weapon.
The Drill-Kyn Specialist, as with other gangs, is limited to 1 at gang creation, with more available only by rolling on the Ganger random Advance table through the campaign. Squats can also promote further Specialists from their Juves, given enough Advances, so having more than one Specialist is at the mercy of the dice or will require some hard work by your young up-and-comers. Specialists have Shooting and Brawn as Primary skills, with Combat and Cunning as Secondary. Now clearly they are best used as platforms for special weapons, so if taking Skills, or rolling a random Primary Skill when you luck a Ganger into promotion to Specialist, you will be looking first at Shooting. It’s the best and things like Hip Shooting melta guns only get more terrifying with Rapid Fire. Brawn and Combat clearly have no use on a model without good stats for melee. Cunning does have utility – you could have an Overwatch heavy weapon or Infiltrate a short ranged option – but may not be as efficient as spending XP on Shooting skills.
The only special weapons actually available to Drill-Kyn Specialists are Ironhead flamers and melta guns. Both pretty damn good, but require getting up close. This is a bit frustrating as some longer-ranged options would offer more variety for Specialists. As is, you may well find yourself beelining to Hip Shooting to mitigate their low Movement stat and make use of those weapons. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to create a Specialist who just uses basic weapons or grenades, or aims for the Gunslinger skill with a pair of awesome Ironhead bolt pistols – simply having picked Advances rather than random is already an advantage over a normal ganger.
There is a balance problem common to Juves in Necromunda – a Ganger is getting additional WS/BS, and better mental stats, for a rather modest cost increase. Diggers are 35 credits, and although that may seem a nice saving at gang creation, in the later campaign, 15 credits difference isn’t much to get a more effective fighter. But in a Squat Prospectors gang, there are some valid reasons to take Diggers. They receive higher Move and Initiative in exchange for those fighting stats. While those might seem less important in a vacuum (not hitting the enemy, and running away, tend to be problems in the brutal confrontations of Necromunda) you can usefully equip and employ your Juves in a way that makes WS/BS less relevant – with grenades. Squats have some effective options, notably blasting charges, or you can freely buy them from the trading post as wargear, and the increased Movement makes you more likely to get in position to use them. This specialised role also means you can make the most of Juves’ ability to pick Advances that support their job. While a Ganger is scraping up 6XP to roll a random improvement, a Juve can spend 4XP further increasing Movement! Diggers also get Shooting skills as Primary. Clearly Hip Shooting is a standout again. I’d also look at Gunslinger, which together with picking BS Advances can create a better pistoleer than a normal Drill-Kyn. Some people might say this build is less efficient, shorter ranged and takes longer to pull together than just buying a Drill-Kyn with a good Basic weapon. To those people I say, why do you hate fun?
It’s also worth noting that their Cool is worse than their older comrades’, but it’s still only 7+, equivalent to many gangers’ Cool in other gangs. Diggers would be a wonderful fighter if they could take hand flamers, but no such luck. They can take basic weapons, unlike most Juves, so you could gear them up with Ironhead autoguns and boltguns just like the Drill-Kyn, but in that role, it’s probably worth paying the 15 credits for the Cool and BS bonuses. That’s just personal opinion though. If you did want to eschew non-Specialist Drill-Kyn entirely, betting that picked Advances and the Fast Learner rule would eventually let your youthful gang overtake one based on mature gangers, it could work. Diggers’ equipment options are exactly the same as Drill-Kyn except they can’t take power axes (they can still take power picks or hammers – must be some dwarven tradition thing).
There’s not much to say here, Gearheads are very much a standard gang fighter vehicle crew profile – better mental stats than the cheap Scum profiles, and simply being Gang Fighters makes them easier to structure into your gang. So you should take them for any vehicles you include. Like most crews, they get a 4+ BS and access to Driving and Shooting skills as Primary. Shooting skills are normally terrific, but a bit different for vehicles. The highest potential ones are Fast Shot and Hip Shooting, two very strong skills which both enable vehicles to fire twice a turn. The former is for vehicles with multiple weapons and the latter for those that want to stay mobile and fire a single weapon. Either way, they only work for weapons without the Unwieldy trait. That’s a bit of a curveball since most of the heavy, long-range weapons you want on vehicles are Unwieldy! Basically, if you plan on taking either of those Shooting skills, remember to keep your vehicles with Special (or other non-Unwieldy) weapons. For the other Shooting skills, all are useful but simple BS Advances are probably going to come first as uses of your XP.
Their Secondary Skill options are Leadership (doubtful) and Savant, which is much more interesting. Munitioneer especially is a key skill for the Squats, and putting it onto a Gearhead, who on the battlefield is, to all intents and purposes, their vehicle, could definitely give Ammo re-Rolls where you need them, including to fighters standing on that vehicle’s Transport Bed.. This gets even better if you upgrade the vehicle with a Weapons Stash.
OK, it’s a Brute not a fighter, but strictly you could include one at gang creation (best to check with your Arbitrator and group). It comes stock with a decent melee weapon and an interesting Seismic Crusher – a template weapon with only S2, but the nifty Seismic and Concussion rules – essentially a tool for inflicting unavoidable Pinning on enemies at close range. Additionally it must be equipped with a choice of its own super heavy bolter or heavy flamer. These are unique versions of the weapons, first they both lack the Unwieldy rule, allowing it to move and fire freely with either. Note that it costs 250 with the heavy flamer and 300 with the heavy bolter, and as with all Brutes you have to pick when you recruit it, no changing afterwards! They are both savagely upgraded over the normal versions.
The heavy bolter is Rapid Fire (3), with an improved ammo roll of 5+ to give it a better chance of staying in the fight. Nasty. While the heavy flamer is Firestorm(1), essentially Rapid Fire, see the weapons section below, and has AP-2 and Damage 2. Usually I would be a bigger fan of the heavy bolter, but a Squat Prospector gang could have a lot of other sources of high-quality Rapid Fire guns; the heavy flamer may synergise better with a role as counter-charge and melee insurance. Against that, range is a big deal, you can still use a heavy bolter point blank, whereas a heavy flamer is worth zilch against targets over 8” away. Whichever you choose, it will make an absolute mess of its targets.
This machine can take Ferocity Skills as Primary, with Wisdom, Brawn and Shooting as Secondary. It already comes stock with the Nobody pushes Kin around skill, which I guess is handy if you’d like to stand in a vehicle transport bed or walk around on gantries. Comes with a couple fairly situational special rules extending Visibility and letting it act as a Sentry in relevant missions. Ferocity is a great skill tree for any close-up brawler, so if you want your Brute to get up-close and personal you could even consider rolling on it for 6XP. If you’re taking things more seriously, True Grit is an especially good skill for tough multi-wound models, granting an additional layer of protection. Wisdom of the Ancients features a couple nice choices for this model – Dependable like Kin is a decent choice to keep a heavy bolter firing – but likely overshadowed by Shooting. Please note that since the Vjartan’s unique weapons are not Unwieldy, they do work with Fast Shot! That would be a pretty damn good use of 12XP in my view. This is also true for Hip Shooting and its heavy flamer.
It’s worth noting that this is an unusually deadly Brute. It is comparable to an Ambot – which is a damn high standard – in ‘weight class’, with T5, 3W and light carapace armour. It does cost significantly more, but when you consider the cost of even a normal (ie significantly worse) heavy flamer or bolter, the Vjartan looks like a steal to me. It offers devastating shooting, it will be tough to take out with opposing shooting for anything shy of a melta gun, and your opponent had better be pretty seriously tooled up if he plans to get into melee with it.
Rapid Fire Mechanics
The distinctive feature of the Squats’ exclusive weaponry is Rapid Fire (RF). Weapons that are normally single-shot get a version with RF(1). Weapons that already had that rule get RF(2), and there’s even a RF(3) option! Let’s take a moment and review what that actually means in terms of rules.
A single shot, normal weapon in Necromunda is simple – you roll to hit, and you do or don’t. You roll the Firepower dice at the same time, but that only serves to give you your ⅙ chance of needing an Ammo Roll. When you use a template weapon, you don’t need to roll to hit, but you still roll that Firepower dice for the same reason. When using a RF (1) weapon, the Firepower dice has a second purpose, to determine if you hit multiple times. You have a 50% chance to just hit once (this includes the times you’ll need an Ammo Roll), a 33% chance to hit twice, and a 16% chance to hit 3 times. These all key off the single BS-based hit roll, all or nothing, if you roll 3 shots on the Firepower dice but miss the shot, no-one cares. The result is a RF(1) weapon is straight up more effective than a single shot weapon with the same stats. The results are swingy – half the time it will be exactly the same, when you only roll one shot – but it has the potential to spike big damage, and considered over time, it’s basically x1.66 the effectiveness of a single shot weapon. Having RF(1) added onto normal weapons is a really big deal, and as a rule, these Squat exclusives are well worth their increased price.
Where this gets more complex is at RF(2), when you add an additional Firepower dice. All the shots you roll on those 2 Firepower dice are applied. It remains all or nothing, but obviously if you do hit, you have at least 2 Wound rolls, and possibly up to 6! The weapon is literally twice as effective as a RF(1) option with otherwise identical stats. However there is a downside. You have also doubled your chance to incur an Ammo Roll. It’s a ⅓ chance, so really, if you are firing a RF(2) weapon, you will be making Ammo Rolls regularly, and you can expect to make at least one Roll per game for each fighter using such a weapon, unless the game ends, or they get taken out, very quickly. Not to insult anyone’s intelligence, but a RF(3) weapon will always inflict 3-9 hits on a successful BS roll, but has a 50% chance of needing an Ammo Roll each time it fires.
We will look at this in detail for each weapon, but if you are going to use RF(2) weapons (and you should) you want to have some kind of plan to help with your Ammo Rolls. It also makes the Ammo stat on the weapon more important. You can’t treat a 6+ Ammo stat, or Scarce, as a tolerable risk any more, gambling that it won’t come into play at a vital moment. Statistically, it will come up and it will hamper your plans.
One point to note about RF(2) or more weapons: you do not HAVE to roll multiple Firepower dice, it is optional. There’s no downside at all to RF(1) over single shot, but because of that doubled risk of Ammo Rolls with RF(2), you might want to only roll a single Firepower dice, accepting a lower lethality for a better chance of remaining able to fire later on. This might be because your BS roll requires a 5+ or 6+ after modifiers – no point taking such a risk of running dry when you’re likely to miss anyway. It might be because you’re reasonably sure of taking down the target if you hit anyway, with just 1-3 hits – if firing a boltgun at a flak armoured model who has been flesh wounded down to T1, this is definitely wise. But we won’t recommend any hard and fast rules for when to fire controlled bursts or spray’n’pray. It comes down to the game situation at the time and how far you want to push your luck.
Unfortunately, various special Ammo types available via the Trading Post are ruled by FAQ to be fixed to the standard weapon type. So Dum-Dum rounds for Stub Guns, or Manstopper rounds for Autopistols, cannot be added to their rapid-er-firing Squat equivalents. Sad!
Squats Exclusive weapons are the only place in the game you’ll find the Flamestorm weapon trait. Functionally, this is Rapid Fire for template weapons, and works the same vis-a-vis Firepower dice. The difference is, if you roll multiple shots, you only apply multiple hits to the closest model under the template. Other models under the template still just take a single hit. Presumably the designers felt the possibility of laying flames over 4-5 enemy models, spiking 3 shots on the Firepower dice, and making 12-15 Wound rolls was simply a little much, and it’s fair enough.
Final, final note on Rapid Fire: if you roll multiple shots and hit, you can ‘spread’ the extra hits amongst other enemies within 3″ of the target. They still have to be valid targets, so in Line of Sight and not Prone in cover, and they can’t be any harder to hit than the original target. This is to stop you smashing 6 shots into a fighter in the open, then putting 3 of them onto his mate standing in full cover to one side. Again, fair enough. But this ability to spread shots is another big upside of RF weapons, since it’s much better to pin two models than one. Of course it’s sometimes better to have a lesser chance to take out two enemies than a better chance of downing one.
Basic Weapons & Pistols
Ironhead Autogun. The normal autogun isn’t a super impressive weapon, and is rarely seen much beyond the early campaign in most gangs. For this exclusive version, RF(2) does a lot to improve its punch, and unlike some more expensive bullet-throwers, you aren’t seriously dreading Ammo Rolls. 25 credits is a good deal, and frankly, it’s your only low-cost weapon option besides pistols, so you will take some. Rating: A-
Squat Boltgun. So boltguns are fantastic and the option to blast out RF(2) makes them terrifying. This weapon will be the go-to for making Squat room clearing death squads. That said, you need some kind of Ammo Roll mitigation if you’re going to use them, because they will run dry. Also, while 95 credits is a fair price for what it offers, you will have to plan your gang very carefully, and maybe save up a bit, before you start handing these out willy-nilly. Great, unique capability but you need to think hard about how to include them. Rating: B+
Ironhead Meltagun. I drool at the very mention of this. I think standard meltaguns are fantastic and this thing will do the same job with an even better chance of annihilating what it hits. Golden. Rating: A+
Ironhead Flamer. It’s a rapid fire flamer. It’s a steal over a regular flamer at 150 credits. Regular flamers aren’t the best special weapons in Necromunda, solely because of competing options, they’re still damn good with Blaze and the inherent strengths of templates. Also, for Ironheads only the Charter and Drill Masters can take hand flamers, so they’re not undercut by them for Specialists. Well worth a look. Rating: B
These are only available to Charter and Drill Masters.
Ironhead Heavy Flamer. It’s very deadly with Firestorm, but suffers the same crippling issue as a normal heavy flamer – Template range on an Unwieldy model. So it will only see use if your opponent blunders into range without killing or Pinning the wielder. Of course you could use Overseer to slingshot it into range, or buy Suspensors, but those both have an opportunity cost in valuable Skill and credit choices. Honestly it’s not worth the credit cost over a regular Ironhead flamer for the profile. 190 credits, so 250 with suspensors. For the extra 100 over the Ironhead flamer, you’re gaining +1S. Awful. Rating: D
Ironhead Heavy Stubber. This iconic bullet-spitter is a RF(3) weapon, so despite a perfectly ordinary S4, AP-1, D1, if you make your BS roll it will average 5 hits, and reliably put damage through on anything but a Brute or high level up-armoured leader/champion. It’s also super useful against grouped-up 1W enemies. We would caution that against those harder targets, it’s nothing special. Consider that D2 (which a lot of heavy weapon options have) is literally doubling your effectiveness against multi-wound models. Now think about the standard heavy bolter, which your Charter or Drill Master can buy from the Trading Post, albeit for an additional 20 credits. RF(2), and worse Ammo Roll, but more accurate, better Strength, AP, Damage.
Of course you are restricted to your fighters’ weapon lists at gang creation, so that may be an unhelpful comparison. But there are a couple issues with the weapon itself. One, already mentioned, is ammunition. You have a decent 4+ change to pass Ammo Rolls or Reload the weapon, but it’s still a pain and it will incur an Ammo check around every other time it fires (at full RF). So you’d want some kind of skill to improve Ammo Rolls. Fortunately Dependable like Kin is available to Drill Masters from recruitment. The second is accuracy. We think of heavy weapons as sweeping the board at long range, but from 20-40” you will be taking -1 to hit. Note that for campaigns in the Squats’ native Ash Wastes, Visibility rules are in effect and will often force that -1 modifier at any range. Finally, you might as well treat the cost as +60 credits because you will want Suspensors as well. Unwieldy is just too difficult to use, and easy for your opponent to play around, in Necromunda’s activation system.
Overall this is an iconic, fun weapon which is great fun to use. But it’s not an instant game-winner and while it’s certainly better than a normal heavy stubber, it still gets outclassed by punchier heavy weapons. Rating: B. Perfectly fine and fun, but outclassed by Trading Post options.
Mining Laser. This is the punchiest ranged weapon in your arsenal, and indeed in the top class for punchiness across the whole game. S9, AP-3, D3, that’s the good stuff. Range isn’t great, and as with the Ironhead heavy stubber, having -1 accuracy at long range is a problem for Ash Wastes campaigns. Which is ironic because this is exactly the kind of weapon you want to smash enemy vehicles. We sound like a broken record here, but the problem with the mining laser is its competition – a lascannon is all-round better for a moderate credit increase, and if you’re investing in a heavy weapon champion, you will definitely want to spend those credits for the range and accuracy, especially in vehicle centric Ash Wastes campaign. Rating: B. Perfectly fine and fun, but outclassed by Trading Post options.
Ironhead autopistol. For 20 credits, you get a RF(2) autopistol, which is after all going to do twice the effect, when it hits, as a normal autopistol. Great, and especially as campaigns go on and targets get tougher, I think it’s nice to have that punch in your pocket. For a relatively cheap pistol with a decent Ammo stat, I think the ammunition risk is tolerable. Rating: B+
Ironhead stub gun. 10 credits for a stub gun with RF(1). Great. The pedant in me says it’s double the price of a normal stub gun for +66% effectiveness, but in real terms, it’s 5 credits for additional shots with no downside (see the section above on RF rules). Note that it has its own specific dumdum rounds available for 5 credits, which is a steal, although you may have to re-buy them occasionally due to the Limited rule. Here at Goonhammer we have a lively debate on whether autopistols or stub guns are the sidearm of choice. I am usually on team autopistol, ride or die, but it’s a toss-up, this is at least as good a deal, especially with dumdum rounds. Rating: B+
Ironhead bolt pistol. This is a terrific pistol, usable by any fighter in the roster, and it’s the same price as a normal boltpistol, 45 credits, and gains RF(1). Outstanding. The normal bolt pistol issue is that the plasma pistol, at 50 credits, is straight up better for a tiny cost increase. This Ironhead version fixes that, it’s as good as a plasma pistol, top tier sidearm and a reasonable basis for Gunslinger builds. Rating: A
Ironhead hand flamer. Charter and Drill Master only. 85 credits for a Firestorm template and Blaze is very nice. The issue is that carrying a decent template isn’t the role you want for your BS3+ champions, and your melee-capable leader will probably want an actual Sidearm that can help in melee. It would be miles better if your Diggers could take it. Rating: B-
Stone Burner. Charter and Drill Master only. Power Pack – see the rules note under melee weapons. This is a powerful sidearm in melee or at point-blank range – 4” with Melta kicking in at its short range of 2”. S5, AP-2, D2 is very nice when combined with Melta, although arguably RF(1) makes the plain Ironhead bolt pistol just as good with far more flexible range and accuracy. This is best thought of as a melee upgrade rather than a proper shooting attack. Power Pack means you aren’t using a normal ‘weapon slot’, you are using one of two Power Pack slots. This opens up some weirdness for a sidearm. You make its attack in melee in addition to your profile attacks, including the bonus for two weapons or a weapon/sidearm carried normally. So you are buying an additional attack in melee. It’s not explicit, but I think you can fire one Stone Burner alongside one carried pistol with Twin Guns Blazing, or indeed you could fire two Stone Burners together. Bear in mind that will be very difficult to put into practice with 4” range, and no native accuracy bonus means you’d want the Gunslinger skill.
I don’t think you can fire 1-2 Stone Burners in addition to 1-2 carried pistols for a total of 3-4 shots. Genestealers have set a precedent for firing 3 sidearms being explicitly spelled out in the rules, and it isn’t mentioned here. But in melee, you absolutely can fill your hands with melee weapons and add two Stone Burners for two extra melee attacks with Melta. This is an absurdly expensive way to bolster a melee fighter but it is effective, the use as an actual ranged pistol being a bonus. I do think the Stone Burner is a better deal than the actual melee Power Pack weapons, the profile stacks up well for 70 credits and the risk of taking an ammo roll is negligible, if you’re in melee combat things will generally get resolved in an action or two anyway. Don’t take this on any fighter who isn’t already fully armed. But it’s a fun option to boost a powerful model into a melee powerhouse. Rating: B-
A note about Power Pack melee weapons, which are exclusive to the Squats. They don’t count toward a fighter’s 3-weapon limit, instead you can have up to 2 Power Pack weapons. Our reading of the rules is that each such weapon is used to make 1 melee attack when the model fights (or the Stone Burner pistol, which is also Power Pack, see above, would make one shot in melee, as it is a Sidearm) in addition to the model’s normal attacks.
Example: a Drill Master is equipped with a power axe, an Ironhead stub gun, and two different Power Pack melee weapons, a Circular Stone Saw and a Gem Extractor. He charges an enemy fighter, so makes a Fight(Basic) action after his charge move. He has 2A, +1 for charging, using his power axe. He has one additional attack for carrying a sidearm, which must be made using his Ironhead stub gun. He has one additional attack with the stone saw, and one additional attack with the gem extractor.
Power Pack weapons can clearly boost the ‘ceiling’ of a fighter’s melee ability. You’re buying an extra attack with that weapon profile. This can really build up a fighter who is already using paired melee weapons, or help a heavy weapon carrier defend himself better. The downside, as with many Squat exclusive weapons, is the cost. Most expensive melee weapons are good when/because you’re taking them on fighters with good WS and multiple Attacks. The Power Pack melee weapons are relatively inefficient given the expense for 1A a time, with no way to increase that.
Rules Note: The above is how, after some discussion and reading around, we understand the Power Pack rule to work. We have written in to the Necromunda FAQ asking about it, and encourage anyone to do the same. Some of our writers’ initial interpretation of the rules was it’s just like any other melee weapon, and the line in the rules about ‘granting an additional close combat attack’ is just clarifying that it can be used in conjunction with a hand-carried one-handed melee weapon. If that is the case, the Power Pack melee weapons described below get better the more expensive they are. If that’s the interpretation your Arbitrator/group goes with, revise our ratings accordingly.
Circular Stone Saw. Power Pack. At 25 credits this is comparable in cost, and effectiveness, with just-above-budget melee weapons like the chainsword or flail, not that Squats get either of those. It’s sort of better on a non-melee model because it’s a single bonus attack, and your fighter would still get his unarmed attack(s). But clearly on a multiple-attack model you would buy a proper melee weapon first, and spending middling credits for minor melee ability boosts isn’t your first priority in Necromunda. Like all the Power Pack weapons this is maybe a supportable use of credits to build up fighters who already have their core equipment. Rating: C
Gem Extractor. Power Pack. Charter or Drill Master only. This is double the cost of a Stone Saw for D2 – I can see the designers’ thinking, since against multi-wound models that literally is double the effectiveness. But in a vacuum I’d probably buy two Stone Saws, unless I had another use for my second Power Pack slot. Again, a valid but expensive way to build up a scary leader or champion. Rating: C
Ironhead arc welder. Power Pack. Charter or Drill Master only. Double your money again to 100 credits, and you get a superb combat profile at S+2, AP-2, D3, with Blaze. Lovely, but we are getting into truly silly costs for 1 Attack. On the other hand, in the realm of late campaign Necromunda when the credits flow like water, and you just want to make your leader the nastiest killing machine possible, you might want to go big. Reversing my earlier instinct, I’d rather take one Arc Welder than two Gem Extractors. In that late campaign environment, an attack that will down a 3W model, or incapacitate it with Blaze, is worth a lot, as is AP. But coming back to cost, are you going to take this instead of other insane late game kit? Rating: C, but this does look fun.
Fighting Knife. The most basic option, and frankly not worth it over fistfighting at 15 credits, if you were actually equipping someone for melee you’d spring for a proper weapon. Rating: C-
Power Axe. Not available to Diggers, this is the cheapest Power weapon available at 35 credits. I really like this weapon, it is cheap and actually one of the most efficient options against 1W models. A real early campaign winner. Rating: B+
Power Pick. Slightly increasing in cost to 40 credits, compared to the axe the power pick loses Strength, gains AP, and swaps Disarm for the excellent Pulverise rule. It’s comparable and up to the user, feel free to make an aesthetic choice. Personally, despite Pulverise I feel that Strength is more valuable than AP on a Power weapon, since AP-2 will defeat most targets’ armour anyway and some of your Wounds will roll a 6 and ignore all armour saves. So I’d normally pick the axe, but I admit it’s close. Rating: B+
Power Hammer. Go up to 45 credits, and you could get better S and AP for cheaper, and lose any special rules beyond Power. But you do get 2 Damage. This is a tricky one, Damage is king in my book. Again I see this as a very close call to the cheaper Power weapons. All of them are solid choices. Rating: B+
Power Fist. Charter or Drill Master only. Now we’re talking. Unfortunately, and watch out as this may cause confusion, this isn’t the Power Fist introduced in the Book of Judgement, which had even better stats for a higher price. The Power Fist available here to Ironhead Squats is S+2, AP-2, D2 with Power and Pulverise. Now that’s a weapon, with the best all-round stats of the available Power weapons, and for my money the best special rule in Pulverise. At 60 credits, I would always spring for this over the lesser options, when outfitting a dedicated melee model such as a Charter Master. Honestly, if equipping any of your Champions for melee I’d jump straight to this. Rating: A-
Mesh Armour is the best value protection in the game, all your fighters can and should buy it. Going forth to the trading post, the best ways to build on that are Armoured Undersuits, which are very good, and Ablative Overlays, which are so good and so painful to track in-game that your group should probably ban them. Carapace Armour is relatively overpriced at 80 credits. Light Carapace, rather thematically, is natively available to all Squats, with only Charter and Drill Masters able to buy Heavy Carapace, which if you are stacking up armour I would normally consider worth the 20 credits extra – note that it does make their Initiative a comical 6+, so definitely rethink this if you are playing a lot of games running around on gantries, balancing on vehicle running boards, etc.
Ironhead Squats can take a few useful wargear items without even stretching their little legs to the Trading Post. They get smoke grenades and blasting charges available on all fighters, which can be really useful. Anyone can also take a telescopic Sight, which is a nice efficient upgrade for the Ironhead autoguns or boltguns. Infra-sights are available, but since they can’t go on RF weapons, are basically restricted to mining lasers (or anything you bought at the Post, like a lascannon). So you may prefer Photo-goggles, which are also available and can be important in Ash Wastes campaigns. Bio-boosters are a decent survivability upgrade to stack on already tough and armoured multi-Wound fighters.
Wisdom of the Ancients
The Squats’ unique skill tree is available as Primary to Drill Masters, and Secondary to the Charter Master and Vjartan Exo-Drillers. It’s the usual Necromunda mix of a couple genuinely useful skills, and some highly situational dross.
- Where there’s scrap, there’s creds: This skill gives you D6x10 credits for each enemy vehicle you wrecked during a battle. The user doesn’t even need to have taken part, although it can’t be used if they are in Recovery. This is a pretty damn great income-generation skill if you’re playing in the Mad Max, vehicle-mounted campaigns we’re all envisioning for Ash Wastes. Clearly not every game even in one of those campaigns will be vehicle-mounted, or you could play against Ash Wastes Nomads, and of course you are gambling on actually doing some damage to the enemy’s motor pool. But it can spike a lot more income than other money-generating skills such as Fixer. Rating: A+ provided you’re in a vehicle-heavy Ash Wastes campaign. F if you’re playing in the Underhive without vehicles, or your only gaming buddy is a filthy Nomad.
- Nobody pushes Kin around: This makes you immovable by traits like Knockback, or skills like Hurl. You also auto-pass tests for falling by virtue of going Prone next to a ledge. This is pretty relevant, all the more so if your game plan for a heavily armed Drill Master is to stand him on a moving vehicle to fire at the enemy! While it’s a neat way to mitigate Squats’ poor Initiative, ultimately it’s not a very active skill. Rating: B
- Chemical bonds never break: You can use chems twice before deleting them from your card. I guess theoretically if you had some chems you were absolutely dependent on and wanted to use constantly, this would be worth a decent amount of credit saving? In practice, I can’t think of anyone who really uses chems that much. Rating: F
- Dependable like Kin: You ignore the Unstable trait for weapons, and can re-roll all Ammo Checks. There aren’t actually any Unstable weapons in the Prospectors’ armoury, but the second half alone makes this a very tempting pick. As mentioned earlier, weapons with RF(2) or even (3) need some way to mitigate ammo checks. Shame it’s not as good for the gang as the Savant skill Munitioneer, which extends the re-roll to friendly fighters around you. Rating: B+, the natural starting pickl for any Drill Master with a RF(2-3) weapon choice.
- Stubborn to the Last: Shoot or Fight upon being taken Out of Action, basically. At first glance this sounds strong, and I can see it being frustrating for your opponents. Mechanically it’s a much more significant change than many skills we rate highly – extra Actions are worth more than a cheeky +1 here or there. But bear in mind that you have to lose your no doubt valuable champion from the game for the skill to trigger, making it a difficult skill to win games decisively with, although it could rescue a dangerous situation. It could be considered very strong, just my personal preference is for skills which, if you leverage them right, you can use to beat the opposition. This is explicitly something to ensure that when on the back foot, you have a chance to salvage something. Rating: B
- There’s always another secret: D6x10 credits when the user opens a Loot Casket. This can generate some solid income, but comparing it to ‘Where there’s scrap, there’s creds’ I don’t see Loot Caskets being as prevalent in any campaign as vehicles are in the Ash Wastes. Also, the model with the skill has to be the one opening the casket. This goes against what you actually want to do in games, which is snag the caskets with light-armed Juves while your Champions unload on the enemy. Rating: C+, maybe higher if you play the right missions.
Perhaps the best skill tree in the game, this has a lot of great choices for Squats, which complement their powerful Rapid Fire weaponry, but work equally well with any Trading Post weapons which cover other roles. It is available to Charter Masters, Drill-Kyn Specialists and Diggers as Primary, and to Drill Masters and the Vjartan brute as Secondary, so realistically this will be far and away the most-used Skill Tree for a gang looking to optimise effectiveness:
- Fast Shot. If you’re in position to shoot, shooting twice is obviously great. Bear in mind that your kin don’t have Van Saar’s BS2+, so it’s not quite the same as that infamous combo. This skill is still straightforwardly powerful. I can imagine a few situations where you fire a RF(2) weapon with your first action, then fail the Ammo Roll, effectively preventing you from using this skill during the activation. Rating: A-, a standby choice but doesn’t play that well with some of the gang’s iconic weapons.
- Trick Shot. My personal favourite, this basically equates to +1BS in most situations. A major reliability boost throughout a campaign. Rating: A
- Gunslinger. Enables some fun with 2 pistols. As discussed, maybe not as powerful as taking another top skill to bolster a Basic/Special weapon, but pretty damn cool, especially with Squats’ pistol options. Rating: B+
- Hip Shooting. This is a powerful skill because it enables shots when your opponent thinks they’re safe. Best of all with auto-hitting teardrop templates, since they avoid the -1 to-hit penalty. As mentioned, I see this as a standout pick for Diggers with Flamestorm weapons. Rating: A
- Marksman. Double damage on a 6 to hit, and ignore target priority tests – this is good, but not quite as reliable as some other options in this tree. Rating: B
- Precision Shot: Ignore all saves on a 6 to hit – again, good, but not as good as some other choices. Rating: B
Only available to your Drill-Kyn Specialists, and as Secondary, so requiring 12XP to pick, this tree won’t come up much. Would you really take it on a Specialist vs a second Wound, which costs the same? But for completeness, we should mention this tree has 2 particularly useful skills:
- Overwatch. A popular reactive skill, it does require (and costs you) a Ready marker, but you can interrupt and shoot at any activating model, which can really stress your opponent’s decisions and helps manipulate the action-economy side of the game. This seems like a nice choice for an already beefed-up Specialist who carries a long ranged weapon like, say, a RF(3) heavy stubber. Smashing 9 shots into a group of enemies when one activates is a juicy prospect, although realistically it won’t happen much. Rating: B+
- Infiltrate. Deploy after all other models, anywhere not visible to the enemy and not within 6” of them. This skill opens up a lot of options, provided you aren’t using such wide open tables that you can’t find anywhere to deploy out of sight (and you shouldn’t be). It is most commonly used to get destructive short range weapons or melee fighters into range, but that runs the risk of the user being isolated and destroyed in turn. We only advise using Infiltrate aggressively if you have a Specialist who can trade up effectively, say with a RF(1) meltagun or a Firestorm template.
The other big use of Infiltrate is to seize objectives. Lots of Necromunda scenarios involve gangs starting either end of a table, and interacting with an objective or objectives placed in the middle. If you can be there at the start, the game is halfway won. This is even more true for a Squat Prospectors gang which might struggle with mobility in general. Be cautious with this, not because it’s not effective, but because the skill sort of breaks these scenarios. If your friends aren’t familiar with how this works it can result in negative play experiences. No one wants to set up a game, do the prep and deploy for half an hour, only for one model to Infiltrate and win the game by Round two before most fighters are seriously engaged. Rating: B+
Overall Starting Gang Composition
Our advice in previous articles has always been ‘boys before toys’. Squats have a weird cost issue going on. Their fighters aren’t any more expensive than average. But their sweet mag-dumping weaponry is all deservedly more expensive than stock versions. They don’t have any budget loadout options beyond pistols. Building a starting gang for them is like skipping ahead to the mid-campaign when most players start tooling up their fighters to ensure they stay relevant. The downside is it becomes very difficult to fit more than ~7 fighters into a 1000-credit starting gang, when using the Squats’ exclusive weapons.
Some example starting gangs:
This is the natural gang type, full of medium range shooters and a melee leader to ward off anyone trying to close with them. We can’t afford anything more than autoguns for the rank and file, since we are already on a relatively slim starting roster of 7 fighters.
Charter Master – mesh armour, power hammer, Ironhead bolt pistol – Skill: Iron Will – 220
Drill Master – mesh armour, Ironhead boltgun – Skill: Dependable like Kin – 195
Drill Master – mesh armour, mining laser – Skill: Stubborn to the Last – 225
Drill-Kyn Specialist – mesh armour, Ironhead autogun – 90
Drill-Kyn – mesh armour, Ironhead autogun – 90
Drill-Kyn – mesh armour, Ironhead autogun – 90
Drill-Kyn – mesh armour, Ironhead autogun – 90
If your group allows weapon swapping, one Drill Master would look to hand down his boltgun to a Drill-Kyn at some point and buy a proper heavy or special weapon, and you would naturally want a special weapon on the Specialist as well. The Charter Master could be made versatile with a special weapon or boltgun, or you could build him into a melee monster with Power Pack weapons. Hell, if you wanted to pick Gunslinger as his starting skill, get him a second bolt pistol.
Ash Wastes Gang
The idea here is to avoid mounted fighters – Wasters’ Dirtbikes aren’t that great a value, and certainly not great for Squats with their poor initiative. Instead we will focus on heavy firepower, vehicles providing transport, and skills to keep the guns going. This list take advantage of Gearheads being Gang Fighters to basically have a ‘gang’ of 3 vehicles, with 3 Gang Hierarchy models riding them:
Charter Master – mesh armour, Ironhead boltgun – Skill: Iron Will – 225
Gearhead – Rockgrinder – TL autocannon, weapons stash – 385
Gearhead – Ridge Runner – missile launcher – 295
Drill Master – mesh armour – Skill: Nobody Pushes Kin Around – 100
Gearhead – Ridge Runner – missile launcher – 295
Drill Master – mesh armour – Skill: Nobody Pushes Kin Around – 100
(Note that the Drill Masters start with no personal weapons, because the Missile Launchers on the Ridge Runners are crew operated – they fire those) Now this is obviously a skew gang, and you would want to be on the same page with your Arbitrator and gaming group before starting out with it. But it’s a good demonstration of how to play Squats in the Ash Wastes – take vehicles, put shooting models on them, truck around firing at things.
Some objective-based missions like Fuel Hunt will come up, so you’d eventually want to include some lightly armed Diggers and/or Drill-Kyn to hop off and complete those – having numbers of fighters is also very useful in manipulating Activations. You could definitely build this kind of gang around a Ridge Hauler or Ironcrawler if you wanted. The latter is a mobile pillbox thanks to its transport cage and firing ports – your models can fire out with no risk, unlike standing in a Ridge Runner’s transport bed, where without a skill like Nobody Pushes Kin Around, any hit can knock you off into the dirt.
Manofwaagh’s Up Close and Personal List
Recent Necromunday recruit Manofwaagh has gone for a similar 7-fighter structure to the first gang, but opted for some closer range weapons like an Ironhead flamer and some grenades, while taking a cool gunslinger for a leader.
Charter Master – mesh armour, 2 ironhead bolt pistols – Skill: Gunfighter – 220
Drill Master – mesh armour, Ironhead stub gun, Ironhead flamer, circular stone saw – Skill: There’s Always Another Secret – 285
Drill Master – mesh armour, Ironhead boltgun – Skill: Dependable like Kin – 195
Drill-Kyn Specialist – 2 Ironhead stub guns – 70
Drill-Kyn – Ironhead autogun – 75
Drill-Kyn – Ironhead autogun – 75
Digger – Ironhead autogun, blasting charges – 80
Note the lack of any armour on the rank and file fighters, to squeeze in enough bodies – this is a common choice at gang creation, even though mesh armour is a great value in a vacuum. Good illustration of how the stage of the campaign, and the state of you gang overall, dictates your spending priorities.
Developing your Gang through the Campaign
As outlined in previous articles, a priority for any Necromunda gang is to get to 10+ members, so you’re not outnumbered in large-crew scenarios; but not too far above, because then you are diluting your strength for scenarios with smaller crews. Make sure everyone has a punchy weapon, then invest in armour. For Squats specifically, assuming those weapons were all or mostly your exclusive options, we’d then recommend some ammo stashes, back-up pistols or some other way to mitigate the risk of running out of ammo mid-game. Most Brutes are a good solid addition to a gang, but we say the Vartijan Exo-Driller is a standout, providing brutal (ha) firepower and robust melee deterrence as well. Consider bolstering your roster with one as soon as you can afford it and have a minimum number of bodies.
Squats are an unusually tough, unusually slow gang. While not elite in their fighters, their excellent but expensive House weaponry definitely makes their starting line-ups skew towards smaller rosters. Building up a gang will tend to start with restricted numbers, and add those expensive weapons one by one, to create a shooting crew where every model is a formidable threat. Themed around the Ash Wastes, they do every bit as well in the Underhive with their weight of fire at medium range. If you are taking them outside the hive, we definitely see them as a gang riding on vehicles rather than Mounted – their terrible Initiative means that, unlike old Rogue Trader Squats, they are not natural bikers!
Have any questions or comments about Ironhead Squat Prospectors? Want our opinion on adding them to your campaign? Want to share photos of your rad Squat gang with us for us to feature in a future article? Feel free to start a conversation with us in the comments, hit us up on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear your thoughts about Squats or the Book of the Outlands or whatever else! We’ll be back next week with another Necromunday column, so make sure to check back. Thanks for reading, now get out there and dig for scrap!