Necromunday: House of Faith Review

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“And Lo, I did spread my Wings and the God-Emperor carried me aloft!”

Have you heard the good news? The God-Emperor has died for our sins, still lives and shields our souls, and is very interested in which hand you load your stubber with! That’s right, Scummers, House of Faith has hit the shelves, and Necromunday is here with a timely review! Let’s read on!

Every time a new “House of ____” book comes out, the Necromunday newsroom tends to lose our minds. It’s exciting and fun to have new, streamlined, and expanded gang rules. At the risk of repeating ourselves, House of Faith is amazing. Gang, this book is fire (see what we did there?!).

Cawdor have been extremely unique since they showed up in Gang War Four. They exist in the “lots of crappy fighters with some really interesting weapons” niche, and that role has been turbocharged with the release of House of Faith. Cawdor gangs can now start with 2-4 extra fighters in every game, and when you factor in Tactics Cards, Articles of Faith (more on these later!), and everything else, it’s possible for a Cawdor gang to run 10 extra fighters in a game. That’s truly miraculous!

In addition to that, House of Faith has given Cawdor players the opportunity to build a completely new gang out of fanatics and zealots, who’s new weapons and abilities will drastically change the timbre of a Cawdor gang. Grab a mask and a molotov, Scummers! Let’s see what House of Faith has in store for us!

 

Credit: Dylan Gould

Cawdor Gang Composition

Generally, the “House of ___” books give us a new Champ, new Juve, and a new pet (sorry, Goliaths!). In House of Faith, Cawdor are getting an entire secondary roster: a new Leader, a new Champion, a new Ganger, and a new Juve! We’re talking about new models, new special rules, and new equipment lists, too. This is a lot to digest, but thankfully, we’re here to help break it down.

The first thing to note is that a Cawdor gang needs to deal with alignment. The Cawdor player can choose between regular Cawdor fighters, who the rest of the hive would see as dangerous fanatics, and Redemptionists, who the rest of House Cawdor see as dangerous fanatics. Due to their habit of burning everyone and everything in sight, Redemptionists are Outlaws, and are generally unwelcome in most of the Underhive.

Each fighter has one of two special rules: Pious or Fanatical. Along with a marginal bonus to either Rally or Nerve tests (respectively), this rule helps determine a gang’s alignment. After gang creation the Cawdor player needs to count up how many Pious fighters they have, and then how many Fanatical fighters they have. If they have more Pious fighters, they’re considered to be (mostly) Law Abiding. If they have more Fanatical fighters, then they’re Outlaws. If the gang is split down the middle, then the Pious/Fanatical designation of the gang’s Leader will act as the tie-breaker. This won’t matter for every campaign, but if you’re taking part in a Law & Misrule campaign, or your Arbitrator has prescribed rules for Outlaws, then this determination will matter a great deal.

What you really have here are two gangs. Cawdor and Redemptionist. You can mix and match, including both, or you can opt to go pure Cawdor or pure Redemptionist. This is a really cool system that we haven’t seen with any of the other gangs so far, and makes Cawdor easily the most customizable gang on the books.

Now that we’re through all that, House Cawdor fighters each get:

  1. New names
  2. New profiles
  3. New equipment lists

This brings them in line with the rest of the gangs who have received the “House of ____” treatment. Additionally:

  1. Gangers and Juves of both varieties get the Gang Fighter (X) rule, meaning they count towards the 50% representation rule.
  2. Built-in armor is, once again, gone. This translates to a 5-credit increase in price for Leaders and Champs, and a 10-credit increase for Gangers. There are no stat upgrades on any of the returning Fighters to balance these increases.
  3. All fighters are free to equip Wargear from the Trading Post or Black Market, but only Word-Keepers, Redemptor Priests, Firebrands, and Deacons are able to equip weapons from the TP or BM. Brethren, Bonepickers, and Zealots all are restricted to weapons from their house lists. This is concurrent with other “House of ____” books.

Cawdor Word-Keeper (Leader)

No stat changes from Gangs of the Underhive (GotU from now on). 5-credit decrease in price, but the old price included flak armor, which is worth 10 credits, hence the 5-credit increase in functional price. Brawn, Combat, and Leadership are the Word-Keeper’s primary skills, and Ferocity, Shooting, and the new skill category Piety round out the secondaries.

The Word-Keeper is a Pious fighter, meaning they’ll count towards the Law-Abiding segment of the Cawdor roster.. As for equipment, the Word-Keeper’s list is expanded, giving them access to all of the “regular” Cawdor armory, and even a few new weapons that don’t seem to have models yet (our guess is a plastic upgrade kit somewhere down the line). Word-Keepers fill the same roles as before: close combat monster, or Leadership skills support character.

Finally, when you recruit your Word-Keeper, you have to choose one of the Paths of Faith, but more on that later.


Redemptor Priest (Leader)

All right, the first of our new fighters! Same price as the Word-Keeper, and same physical stats, too. There’s a little bit of a reshuffling of the mental stats, and interestingly, the Redemptor Priest comes with one of the best native Willpower scores in the whole game, meaning that one could easily be a very good psyker if it came down to it, which is highly ironic.

Rules-wise, you’re looking at the mirror image of the Word-Keeper, with all the regular Leader abilities. A Redemptor Priest is a Fanatical fighter, meaning they count towards the Outlaw element of a Cawdor gang. As above, your Redemptor Priest must choose a Path of Faith when they’re recruited. Primary skills are Combat, Leadership, and the new Piety skills, with secondaries being Brawn, Ferocity, and Shooting.

Where the Redemptor Priest really stands out is their ability to take any and all of the cool new Redemptionist weapons. Unlike their Cawdor comrades, Redemptionists tend to be armed to the teeth with some seriously excellent and well-made weapons, but more on that in a bit! All in all, the Redemptor Priest fills the same niche as the Word-Keeper, but can end up being an even more terrifying close combat monster. If you want your Leader to be sawing heretics in half, then look no further than the Redemptor Priest!


Cawdor Firebrand (Champion)

The re-branded Cawdor champ comes in with the same functional 5-credit increase as the Word-Keeper, with no stat changes. Like the Word-keeper, they’re a Pious fighter, counting towards the Law-Abiding population of any Cawdor gang. The Firebrand has picked up a new special rule called Righteous Warrior which allows them to re-roll a Threshold test to perform an Act of Faith (more on this in a bit!). For now, trust us when we say this ability more than makes up for the 5-credit increase!

Skills are the same, Brawn and Combat for primaries, with Agility, Ferocity, Leadership, and the newly added Piety for secondaries. It would have been nice to get a more…usable set of primaries for the Firebrand, but you can’t always get what you want, huh? Like Word-Keepers, Firebrands get an upgraded equipment list, but there are no real surprises. Have no fear, heavy crossbows are very much still in play.


Redemptionist Deacon (Champion)

On the other side of the Pious/Fanatical coin, we have the Deacon. Old heads will remember the extremely swole, flamer-toting Deacon from the old Redemptionist box as one of the coolest Necromunda minis of all time. Same basic rules as a Firebrand, but Fanatical instead of Pious, and they have a rule called Fanatical Fervour which allows them to double their Attacks characteristic when they charge once per battle, with a -1 to hit penalty applied. For skills, we’ve got Brawn, Combat, and Piety as our Primaries, and Agility, Ferocity, and Leadership as our secondaries.

On the battlefield, a Deacon will fill a very similar roll to that of a Firebrand, but with a little extra punch. The Fanatical Fervour ability seems really good, but we need to remember that this is a WS 4+ character, so there’s a little bit of disconnect between what this fighter is actually going to be doing on the tabletop most of the time. That being said, the Deacon has access to the mostly excellent Piety skill tree (more on that later!), making them somewhat less dissonant than their Pious counterparts.


Cawdor Brethren (Ganger)

Same stats and price as GotU, but no armor, means you’re paying a 10-credit markup for each Brethren you hire. The “Cawdor” up there should tell you that they’re Pious, and they have the same skill choices as before. What’s new is a rule called Devout Masses (Ganger) which allows you to take an extra Ganger in your starting crew, even if doing so increases the size of the starting crew beyond that given scenario! The ramifications for this are huge: more fighters means more activations and means it’s harder to fail a Bottle test.

Brethren get access to the same slate of weapons as before, with a couple of extra close combat weapons thrown in. The blunderpole’s still there, though, and that’s all anyone really cares about.


Redemptionist Brethren (Ganger)

What if we told you that you could take the fanatical version of the Brethren for 5 credits more than the regular Brethren, but with no real stat upgrades, no access to blunderpoles, and without the Devout Masses rule? Are you curious as to why anyone would do this? So are we! Redemptionist Brethren get access to the special Redemptionist weaponry, which is cool and all, but there are no blunderpoles in sight. They can throw exterminators on their basic weapons (and some of their close combat weapons), but it’s just not the same, man. The sauce here is taking one Redemptionist Brethren as your Specialist and giving them a grenade launcher for some cheapo crowd control.


Bonepicker (Juve)

Ah, the Cawdor Juve. Still terrible, still super cheap. Pious, Fast Learner, Promotion to Specialist, and a brand new rule: Devout Masses (Juve). You’ll be familiar with the Ganger version of this rule, but instead of 1 Juve, you get d3 extra Juves for each battle! This is an enormous incentive to stock up on cheap bullet sponges, AKA Bonepickers, and liberally sprinkle them into every game. Skills and weapon options haven’t changed.


Zealot (Juve)

Our final new fighter is the Fanatical version of the Juve. Twice as expensive, though. For your extra 20 credits you get a 4+ WS, and that’s about it. No Devout Masses. The Zealot does, however, get access to Redemptionist Pistols and Combat Weapons, but that’s about it. For skills, you’re looking at Ferocity primary, with Combat and Piety as your secondaries. There’s a case to load one of these jerks up with an eviscerator and let ‘em saw their way through the Underhive, but it is a hefty price tag for what amounts to a 1-wound Juve.


Credit: Games Workshop

Redemptionist Weapons

As we’ve mentioned above, Redemptionists draw from a mostly-different armory than their Cawdor counterparts. There are a few familiar sights, but the new stuff is awfully shiny:

  • Exterminators are 1-shot hand flamers that can be attached to Basic weapons and chainaxes. For 15 credits, the threat of indiscriminate template fire and Blaze will give anyone pause. Approach at your own risk!
  • Retributor Ammo is what happens when you load some promethium in with your shotgun’s scatter shells. S4, Scattershot and Blaze are all really nice, but you’re stuck with that 8” range.
  • Fire Pikes are what happens when a Redemptionist sees a flamer and thinks, “Not enough gun.” They’re pricey, but they’ll put down some of the toughest fighters around, no problem.
  • An Eviscerator is an enormous, Versatile chainsword with an inbuilt hand flamer. It also has Shred and Sever, meaning that it will straight up murk just about anyone. The iconic weapon of the Redemptionists is back, and it is truly meaner than ever!

We’ve also got a couple of new pieces of wargear that Redemptionists can equip, such as the Incombustible hauberk, which gives some protection against Blaze weapons, and the Pyromantic mantle, which can give your characters melee attacks the Blaze weapon trait, which is just rude. Finally, the Book of Redemption is equippable by Redemptor Priests, and it gives a 6” aura of reroll 1s to hit and reroll charges. Pretty dang good in our opinion!

Articles of Faith

Goliaths have gene-malarkey, Escher have smelly chemicals, Orlocks have stupid-sounding names, and Van Saar have cybernetic implants, and while all that stuff is cool or whatever, none of it compares to the Power of Prayer.

House Cawdor uses the unshakable faith of its members to enact minor miracles on the battlefield. Sisters of Battle players will be somewhat familiar with this system. During the End Phase of each round, including the 1st, the Cawdor player rolls a dice for each friendly Cawdor fighter on the board who isn’t Seriously Injured. Any 5’s and 6’s are then added to the Faith Dice pool.

The Cawdor gang can use these Faith Dice to perform Articles of Faith. A fighter can use an Article at the beginning of the activation. Each Article has a target number that needs to be met by rolling a number of Faith Dice from the Faith Dice pool. For instance, you have 3 Faith Dice in your pool, and you are trying to enact an Article of Faith that needs a 5+ to be performed successfully. You decide that 2 dice seems sufficient to get those holy juices flowing (ew, sorry), and you roll a 9! The Article of Faith is performed, and you still have 1 Faith Die in your pool, awaiting use at a later time.

Paths of Faith

There are 4 Paths of Faith available to a Cawdor gang. When the player recruits their Leader, they must choose from the list of available Paths of Faith:

  • The Path of the Faithful, which emphasizes buffs, debuffs, and performing more miracles.
  • The Path of the Fanatic, which buffs friendly fighters’ combat abilities and movement.
  • The Path of the Doomed, which generates bonuses for the gang as it loses its fighters.
  • The Path of the Redeemer, which focuses on removing the enemy’s agency.

Each Path has 6 attached Articles of Faith. They vary widely in scope and effect, but they can easily be used to swing the course of a battle. Frankly, this system is extremely well done. All of the Paths are useful, and almost every power is worth it if you can get it to go off. These are some of the most fun and dynamic rules for Necromunda we’ve seen since the Book of Peril, and we are so excited to use these in our games! Finally, each Article comes with a quote from the creed of Redemption that you can exclaim while you’re using it in game! So fun!

We’ll talk more about these powers in our updated Cawdor rundown, but we wanted to mention a few that stood out to us:

“And by the manner of his Death did the Emperor judge him!” (Path of the Doomed)

  • If this Article is successful, the fighter makes a move and then the player centers the 5” blast marker over the fighter and all fighters under the marker suffer a Str 3, AP0, D1 hit. The activated fighter then goes Out of Action. That’s right, Cawdor gangs who follow the Path of the Doomed can turn their fighters into suicide bombers. This shit is raw as hell, and we are here for it.

“And those of Warped and Twisted Limb shall be Despised!” (Path of the Faithful)

  • If this Article of Faith is in effect, all friendly fighters within 6” and line of sight of this fighter can reroll To Hit rolls against Brutes, Spawn, pets, critters, or, hilariously, enemy fighters with mutations. Suffer not the mutant to live! Sorry, Ambots, but the Cult of the Redemption isn’t fooling around.

“And Lo, I did spread my Wings and the God-Emperor carried me aloft” (Path of the Fanatic)

  • When this Article pops off, the fighter can leap truly ridiculous distances, and jump down from the loftiest of heights. The best thing about this Article, though, is the provision that once you declare it is happening, there’s no stopping the leap or jump from happening, even if the Article fails to go off! Once you decide to jump, you have to trust your faith to carry you!

“And with Iron Teeth shall they be Devoured” (Path of the Redeemer)

  • When this Article is in effect, the fighter can reroll To Wound rolls with chain weapons. Cawdor’s chain weapon arsenal is already pretty scary, but when you put the power of faith behind those whirring teeth, nothing can stop them from hitting home.

 

Piety Skills

At this point in previous “House of ____” reviews, we’ve sometimes been pretty maudlin. But not today, faithful Scummers! The Piety skills are awesome! All of them are useful! We are absolutely thrilled to be reporting this. Let’s jam through some of our favorites:

  • Devotional Frenzy: Once per turn, the player can increase the fighter’s WS, Cool, Ld, and Willpower by d3, rolling separately for each stat. Then, at the end of their activation, the fighter takes a D1 hit which cannot be saved. This is the way to use combat Deacons. If you want some beefy Deacs to hack through your enemies, give them Devotional Frenzy, otherwise that 4+ WS will leave you unimpressed. With this skill, feel free to equip deacons however the hell you want, because they’ll be great at everything!
  • Unshakable Conviction: Immunity to coup de grace actions and being able to make reaction attacks while you are seriously injured is cool as hell. When said combat Deacon from above flagellates himself into oblivion, he can still hold his own (and potentially take out unwary gangers looking for an easy elbow drop). This also lets the seriously injured ganger do a move + D3” towards a friendly ganger instead of the standard crawl. A melee ganger will inevitably spend some time on the mat and it’s nice to see a skill with some solid mitigation.

 

Cawdor Terrain

Necromunday HQ has been excited about the modeling and tactical options the house terrain sections have brought us so far, but Cawdor have some bonkers new toys to play with.

The customary gas aura terrain piece (a la Escher Gas Censers or Van Saar Rad Casters) is the Hive Incense; which causes nearby adjacent gangers to scatter. Always remember to wear your respirator, kids. Of particular interest to us is the Caged Heretic, who not only presents us with an amazing modeling opportunity, also forces nearby non-Cawdor to take a nerve test. In an interesting twist, opposing gangers can actually gain a bit of XP if they manage to free the hapless victim!

The Holy Relic gives an aura of +1 to hit and wound for surrounding Cawdor, which is an absolute steal for 30 credits. Maybe this isn’t most flavorful of the gang relics, but it is very good. That being said, it can only be used in Home Turf games, so it will really only feature rarely in anyone’s games.

 

Credit: Games Workshop

The Friend Zone

Like everyone else so far, House Cawdor get their own spate of Brutes, Hangers-On, Hired Guns, and Strong Alliances. There are some generics in this section, but we’ve already talked about those, so we’ll be sticking to the Unique options only, here.

Hangers-On

In an interesting twist, the two unique hangers-on for Cawdor are both outlaw only!

  • Hive Preacher – 70 credits
    • A beatstick that buffs pre and post-game faith dice generation! He can be freely used in games, and is toting a two-handed hammer and the Inspirational skill. If you are going all-in on combat he can be a very interesting choice at 70 creds.
  • Flagellator – 30 credits
    • Imagine a slopper, but instead of cooking inspiring grub… he brings your gangers out of recovery by beating the shit out of them. While choosing the specific ganger and only having to pass a toughness check are a welcome change from the tough RNG of the slopper, the Flagellator brings folks back with a flesh wound to start the game. It’s probably worth it, though.

Brutes

  • Stig-Shambler – 280+ credits
    • Master Blaster is still very pricey for what he can actually do. He doesn’t have the BS to be an efficient firing platform, and doesn’t quite have the toughness to be a tank. While he may be the best platform for a heavy flamer, he’s far outclassed by a number of the generic brutes.

Exotic Beasts

  • Sheen Bird
    • As pets need to end an activation within 3” of their owners, 90 credits is a steep price for some extra S3 hits. The robo birds do have an ability to make an additional free move back to their owner, but it only goes off on an 8+ Willpower check. Watching a T2 pet take a nerve test and run into the sunset is never a good time.
  • Cherub Servitor
    • The Cawdor version of a cult familiar, the Cherub sports a 4+ invuln and can act as an ablative wound for the enterprising ganger. The ability to pass hits off is always solid, and you’ll never know when you need another body for a cheeky coup de grace.

Hired Guns

  • Klovis the Redeemer
    • He’s back, folks. Everyone’s favorite fanatic is now available as an outlaw house agent! Klovis (and his fearsome weapon The Sword of Persecution) is a beast on the table. A master-crafted eviscerator (with blaze, thanks pyromantic mantle!) that has an attached flamer is cool with us. We do worry a bit about his staying power with T3 and flak armor, but he’s Klovis! His buddy Malakev adds some buffs as well…
  • Deacon Malakev
    • The scribe and official book-hauler for Klovis – he comes along for the ride free with his boss. He can soak up hits from Klovis, as well as help him to force up to three opposing gangers to take nerve tests at -1. The art in the book for this dude looks pretty grim – we are psyched for this model reveal.
  • The Headsman, House Cawdor Executioner
    • Though House Cawdor’s options have thoroughly diversified with this book, the Headsman is still a solid choice for a beefy melee beatstick. Between his gear, skills, and the Stimm-Slug stash he will be wounding most everything on a 2+, with a damage 2 weapon!
  • Rattus Tatterskin
    • Having to roll a 6+ willpower check to… uhh… do anything is never great, but otherwise Rattus packs a decent amount of punch for 90 creds. Enemies ending their activation in base to base with him suffer D6 S1D1 hits – which is a nice bonus in case his engine stalls out. If you’ve got some free bucks towards hires, his price is very efficient for the gear.

Strong Aliiances

Cawdor’s criminal connections concern the Rogue Factoria. ONly one change of note from the Book of Judgement: the Factoria Work Gang will now generate two additional Loot Caskets each time they are used in battle. Their guilder connections are with the Corpse Guild. There are no changes to the Corpse Guild or the Corpse Harvesting Party from the Book of Peril.

As far as the new noble house alliance is concerned, Cawdor gangs can ally with House Ko’Iron. Ko’Iron is notable for being a matriarchy, and has deep, deep ties to the Ecclesiarchy. They’re sustained by their faith, just like House Cawdor, so a strong alliance makes a lot of sense. House Ko’Iron will provide their sponsored gang with a blessed weapon or set of armor, and will allow the gang to use a Ministorum Delegation in battle. In return, they expect victory, and if the gang loses a game, in the next game, the Cawdor leader will start the game with a Flesh Wound. Additionally, House Ko’Iron will occasionally ask that the gang second one of their fighters to the Frateris Militia, which may end in that fighter’s injury or death.

The Ministorum Delegation is actually one of the scarier set of allies in the game. You’ve got three fighters: a Prima Materis, and two Frateris Bodyguards. The Prima Materis is a total beatstick, with a MC bolt pistol, a shock stave, light carapace armor, and a refractor field. She comes with Devotional Frenzy, which is rather nice for a WS4+ character, and Overseer, which can only be used on the Frateris Bodyguards. As for them, they come with a laspistol and eviscerator or a lasgun and chainsword. They’re rpetty good in combat, and can buff themselves with Devotional Frenzy.

 

New Scenarios

House of Faith provides us with two new scenarios based around some House Cawdor themes. Both are pretty standard, and either could easily be co-opted into a multiplayer game.

First up, we have Righteous Crusade. At first glance, this one looks like it’ll be a disaster for the defender, but we’re not so sure. The attacker (Cawdor are automatically the attacker unless both gangs are Cawdor, but then one of them is the attacker anyways, so…) gets Custom Selection (10) and the defender gets Random Selection (10). Generally, Random Selection is bad, but with such a high number of fighters, it’s not the end of the world in this one.

The board is broken up into 4 quarters, and the Defender must set up at least 1 fighter in each quarter.  The attacker sets up within 2” of a board edge and must be more than 6” away from enemy fighters. To win the game, the attacker must purge each quarter of their enemy’s presence and move to within 2” of the center of each quarter. The onus to move is on the attacker, and that tends to level the playing field, even with the Random Selection for the defender.

Next we have Test of Faith which is a standard Deathmatch with some interesting stipulations. The attacker (again, probably Cawdor) has to declare their three cheapest crew members as the Unworthy. There’s a list of deeds that the Unworthy need to accomplish, and to win the game, they need to accomplish six of them. These deeds run the gamut from easy to accomplish (perform a Coup de Grace), to nearly impossible (survive being on fire for three consecutive rounds). The Unworthy can score the same deeds multiple times, and once they hit 6, the game ends.

Honestly, this one seems pretty hard to actually win, because the defender can just target the Unworthy, who will invariably be Bonepickers, Zealots, or Brethren, none of whom are difficult to take Out of Action. However, since it’s an evenly-matched gang fight with fun stipulations, it will surely be a fun scenario to play.

 

Final Thoughts

Friends, this book is great. So great, that Dan went out and bought 2 Cawdor boxes, 1 Redemptionist box, both FW weapon sets, bomb rats, and is currently scouring the known world for the Cawdor head upgrade kit. Are Cawdor unbeatable now? Absolutely not. They still have crappy dudes and most of them have crappy skills. But are they fun as hell with near-infinite customizability? Absolutely yes. The trashbois have made out like bandits in House of Faith, and we expect Necromunda players to enjoy playing with it and against it for the foreseeable future.

That’s it for now, Scummers! Come back next week, when we will update our tactics article for House Cawdor! If you’re a fan of House of Faith and Fire, you don’t want to miss it, and if you regularly play against Cawdor, maybe you’ll spot a weakness to exploit!

As always, feel free to drop us a line over at necromunday@goonhammer.com. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week!

 

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