Necromunday: House of Shadows Review

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“For a House that likes the dark, they sure do have a lot of eyes.”

We’re back, Scummers, with what we presume will be the final addition to Necromunda’s gang update books. House of Shadows just dropped, and everyone’s favorite sneaky jerks are about to acquire a whole mess of new tricks! 

Gangs of House Delaque are the undisputed masters of shenanigans. From poison to webs to straight-up turning off the lights, they’re experts in twisting the battlefield to ensure that no matter what your plan might have been, you’ll be fighting on their terms instead. House of Shadows turns this up even further, allowing Delaque gangs to augment each of these playstyles with a slew of new tools and a slick set of powers to melt the opposition. If you thought these guys were hard to predict before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Credit: Games Workshop

Psychoteric Whispers

Right off the bat, we’re going to mix things up and dive straight into House Delaque’s new trait system instead of the new units. Psychoteric Whispers are a new set of three Psychic Power disciplines available only to Delaque fighters.  We’ve lamented in the past at the lackluster state of psykers and Wyrd powers in general in Necromunda, but they’ve finally nailed it here! 

These powers are a game changer, bringing in an almost Tactics-Card-level of potency and utility that can be utilized repeatedly by multiple Delaque fighters. Leaders and traditional champions can elect to become psykers at a gang’s founding, or can advance into a single discipline of their choice by spending XP mid-campaign.

While potent, these abilities do tend to have a rather short range, but don’t worry about it! This is Delaque, after all, and they’ve already got a plan for that: the Psychoteric Choir. When casting a Whisper, each friendly (non-engaged) fighter within 3” increases the range of the power by up to +3”, and increases the difficulty of resisting it by +1 each for the same. Need a little bit more range to drive an enemy insane, or worried that they might be smart enough to see through your tricks? Huddle up with a few of your fellow weirdos, and soon your target will be gibbering along with you.

Sure, there’s not much in the way of pure damage in any of these disciplines, but that’s hardly the Delaque style. By the time you’re through with them, they’ll be wishing you’d just shot ‘em!

The Madness

Extremely short-ranged powers with a focus on disabling the enemy. Cause insanity, mess with Ready Markers and Activation order, or incite a spreading panic. For a sheer Nietzschean thrill it’s hard to do better than Existential Barrage, which causes an enemy to become Broken and immediately Run for Cover. Then, if they happen to be within 5” of any allies, those fighters must make a Nerve test or Break as well.


The Delusion

If you’ve got enemies hunkered down, convince them to wander off with a few powers from Delusion. Deceitful Thoughts allows a Delaque psyker to reposition a fighter by their full movement characteristic (but not off of a ledge!), or even convince them to start hitting themselves with Suicidal Embrace.

Credit: Games Workshop


The Darkness

The Dark has long been home to the Delaque, and now they’ve made it their plaything with powers like Cacophony of Silence and Perfect Void, which cause successful hits against the caster to be re-rolled and to always count as being in Full Cover. Photo-Goggles enthusiasts and fans of the Darkness Descends tactic now have access to Sight Blight, which effectively creates a 10” wide aura of Pitch Black while maintained.

 

Credit: Games Workshop

Delaque Gang Composition

On the off-chance that your group hadn’t already house-ruled it, the gang composition rules first adopted in House of Chains are now official for all six gangs:

  1. Juves and prospects now count as “Gang Fighters” meaning that they count towards the 50% roster composition rule (as gangers do) instead of counting against it.
  2. No more free armor: fighters must pay for it from the gang’s pool of credits.
  3. All fighters are free to equip Wargear from the Trading Post or Black Market, but only leaders and champions are able to equip weapons from the TP or BM. Gangers, specialists, juves, and prospects all are restricted to weapons from their house lists.

Master of Shadow (Leader)

  • Statline and cost unchanged, 10 credit decrease in price but without included Flak Armor. Can pay credits to become a Psyker at creation and learn one ability, or spend XP to do so later on.

Delaque leaders remain functionally the same, though the new Whispers system makes the option to kit them out with a snazzy power or two right out of the gate especially appealing, especially with their 5+ Willpower score.

Many of the core Delaque weapons can now be purchased as Mastercrafted, and Light Carapace Armor and Cameoline Cloaks are now on the list as a choice for enhanced protection. Now able to purchase a Grav Pistol instead of the full-sized gun, which provides the same effect at a closer range for a 30 credit discount.

Phantom (Champion)

  • Statline and cost unchanged, 10 credit decrease in price but without included Flak Armor. Can pay credits to become a Psyker at creation and learn one ability, or spend XP to do so later on.

Phantoms gain a similar equipment list update to the Master of Shadows, but some crews might be running into trouble since Delaque champions no longer have Shooting as a Primary Skill. It’s been replaced by the new Obfuscation set, instead. It’s overall an improvement, but this does effectively put a stop to dual-Flechette Gunfighters and Web Gun Hit-and-Runners.

Cunning remains as the other Primary, so Long Rifle snipers will still be able to Infiltrate and Overwatch with impunity, mind you!

Nacht-Ghul (Champion)

  • 15 credits more than a Phantom. Faster, better in melee, slightly less intelligent. Can pay credits to become a Psyker at creation and learn one ability, or spend XP to do so later on.

Nacht-Ghul have Infiltrate built into their core abilities, and rock the brutal skill-set combo of Agility and Cunning. Helmawrr help any unfortunate soul trying to shoot down one of these assassins once they’ve learned both Spring Up and Lie Low.

These guys are brutal in combat with their Serpent’s Fangs, shredding six Strength 6 attacks on the charge that completely ignore armor. Web Gauntlets were fine back when everybody was Toughness 3, but in these heady days of Forge Tyrants and Ogryns, a bit of pure power is necessary. Any Delaque gang looking for a bit of targeted rip-and-tear should be looking at recruiting a Nacht-Ghul immediately.

Genghis Cohen: I am a big fan of flexibility in gangs, you need some models that can mix it up in close combat, and the Nacht-Ghul with either the Shivver Sword or Serpent’s Fangs fits the bill. The ability to come in to the battlefield within easy charge distance of an isolated target (if you can find a place out of sight, e.g. round the corner of a wall) is really threatening to gangs like Van Saar or Orlock which might want ranged champions hanging around by themselves at the back.

It’s worth noting these badasses retain the Group Activation ability, like Orlock Arms Masters – and unlike Goliath Stimmers or Escher Death Maidens. To be honest I fear this qualifies as power creep. A Nacht-Ghul isn’t quite as gnarly as the Goliath or Escher close-combat special champions, but with a starting WS2+ and those weapon options, it’s nasty enough. Keeping the flexibility of group activation, and the ability to take additional Psychoteric powers, seems pretty impressive.

Credit: Games Workshop

Ghost (Ganger)

  • Cost unchanged, specialists can equip Special Weapons, one specialist at gang creation.

Like Phantoms, specialists no longer have access to the Shooting skill set, instead picking up a knack for Savant skills. This will put a damper on the same former fan-favorite builds mentioned before, but having a core of gangers with Munitioneer and Fixer is nothing to sneeze at!

Genghis Cohen: it’s not particularly exciting in-game, but I think Savant is an incredibly useful campaign skillset. It’s very in-line with the Delaque focus on winning without fighting to just have your Specialist(s) gaining revenue and supporting the gang from the shadows, leaving your Leader & Champions to do the lifting.

Shadow (Juve)

  • Cost unchanged, reduced weapon options, cannot learn skills.

Juves remain largely the same, and thankfully still have access to Smoke Grenades and Pistols (including Web) so most folks aren’t going to have any issues here. Photon Flash Grenades are no longer on their personal equipment list, so you’ll have to spend a post-battle sequence tossing some into the stash before they can equip them if that’s your style.

Genghis Cohen: I think Web Pistols are the absolute dogs bollocks here. 6” move fighters with effective template weapons? Yes please.

Psy-Gheist (Prospect)

  • More than twice as expensive as a juve, better in melee, automatically a psyker.

Leave it to Delaque to create a system where even their new guys get to do all of the crazy cool stuff, even if it does occasionally cause their heads to explode. Psy-Gheist risk more with their abilities thanks to a less than ideal 8+ Willpower, but they make up for it with the insane ranged potential of their pet, the Psychoteric Wyrm.

A Wyrm acts as the channel for the Psy-Gheist’s powers, so anything they cast will instead be measured out from the Wyrm, up to 12” away from them. Want to use Sight Blight to blot out the middle of the battlefield? Send out the Wyrm. Want to prevent a cluster who Broke after an Existential Barrage from rallying with Craven Howl? Send out the Wyrm. It’s all the range you’ll need, while your squishy caster can stay relatively safe in the backlines.

Psy-Ghiest do get expensive quick, though. Gangs will be looking at spending at least 130 credits to grab on with their buddy, which might be out of the budget for the first couple of campaign games. Their power and sheer utility value can’t be beat though, so don’t delay too long before hiring one.

Genghis Cohen: Yeah, Psychoteric Wyrms are 100% the way to use those Whispers. But at 70 credits for a pet which (like most pets) isn’t a huge physical threat starts to chew into your budget for more straightforward weapons. I like the idea of Psy-Gheists with Psychomancers’ Harness, which gives you boosted movement and Paired Psychomantic Claws, but they just don’t have the WS or Attacks that make a Nacht-Ghul or Piscean Spektor formidable melee choices.

It’s worth noting that RAW Psychomantic Claws are a bit broken – they have a Short Range of Engaged and a Long Range of 3”, but they currently don’t have the Versatile trait which would actually let them be used outside of Engagement. An obvious oversight. 

Credit: Games Workshop

 

Obfuscation Skills

While the days of Fast-Shotting Plasma Gun champions are behind us, House Delaque gains a brand new list of skills to help them sneak in a victory, both on and off the battlefield.

Merton: The Obfuscation list is pretty rad overall! I’ve always been a huge fan of skills that manipulate campaigns in-between games rather than exclusively within them, so Fake Out and Rumor-Monger are going to be great for my gang. Getting an extra edge in being able to choose the scenario with Fake Out is a life-saver in making sure that I’m not mowed down in a stand-up deathmatch, and Rumor-Monger is, well…

Credit: Games Workshop

I don’t care if I never pass a single check for this during the entire campaign, Rumor-Monger is my ride or die. I don’t tend to actually win a lot of games with my Delaque, but the very notion that I could lie about winning loud enough that the other gangs believe me is enough.


Genghis Cohen: The new skill Faceless is a great utility protection for any valuable model, forcing a Willpower check for the enemy to target it with a ranged attack or a blast template. It’s not quite a Corpse Grinder mask, because (as well as applying to shooting/blasts, but not charges or melee) it only lasts in each round until the user has activated. So it might stop you getting punked before you can act, but it’s not ‘always on’. I think that’s good design, it would be an auto-take otherwise! Psi-touched seems like it really is an auto-take for any model that leans into Wyrd Powers, since it straight up allows re-rolls to use or resist them.

 

The Friend Zone

In a surprise upset, the venerable Delaque Spyker has received a rework, and is now an always-fieldable Hanger-On rather than a Brute. They’ve received a 100 credit discount, but that comes at the price of two less Wounds, a demotion down to Toughness 3, and can no longer purchase a Displacer Field. Their powers are unchanged from Gangs of the Underhive, but with the new powers available to regular Delaque and the Spyker’s newfound squishiness, they’re starting to look a bit outclassed.

Specifically, they’re outclassed by the new Brute on the block, the Piscean Spektor. This bad boy is the whole package, rocking solid armor and toughness, Psychoteric powers, and ten Strength 5 attacks on the charge that ignore armor.  Between champions skulking around the enemy backline picking off targets and this abomination blenderizing the front lines, Delaque absolutely has the melee game down pat. It’s always a pleasure to be able to recommend a House Brute over another Ambot, and the Spektor’s got our vote.

Genghis Cohen: this dude is a combat powerhouse, with the Psychoteric Whispers kind of fading into the background. Great tool to have in the gang IMO. Crazy background as well – they’re cyborg xenos native to Necromunda who House Delaque has a standing arrangement with!? I think I may need to lie down…

Credit: Games Workshop

Psychoteric Thralls are the Delaque-Exclusive Hanger-On, and they act as a power channel for any friendly psykers within 12” in the same manner as the Psy-Gheist’s Psychoteric Wyrm. They’re not as fast, and you’ll have to save a group activation to be able to move and cast before the enemy has a chance to respond, but they’ll be invaluable for increasing the range of a power that you absolutely need to succeed.

Finally, the Whisper Merchant allows gangs to fudge a dice roll between battles, changing any one single roll for Scenario choice, crew size, rewards, and so forth as a 6.

 

Delaque Scenarios

Intelligence Gathering has an attacking crew tasked with planting five surveillance devices onto the battlefield, one in each corner and in the center. This’ll be no small feat, as placing a device is a Double action that can only be undertaken if the fighter cannot currently be seen by any enemy fighters.

Like all of the scenarios in the House books, this can be played by non-Delaque gangs but does seem designed specifically for their style – Smoke Grenades are recommended. On the whole, this scenario looks like it might be a blast, with the attackers skulking around trying to break line of sight and the defenders darting after them around corners as they keep eyes on the spies.

The other scenario, Cauldron of Lies, continues to play with asymmetric objectives by allowing each gang to choose how they want to win. Securing loot caskets, fleeing to the other side of the board, or killing the enemy are all valid paths to victory here. It’s bound to be a chaotic match, especially if one side knows they can succeed with a simple detour around their enemy’s cleverly laid deathtraps!

Credit: Games Workshop

Final Thoughts

House Delaque has waited a long time for a book of their own (and no, the White Dwarf pamphlet didn’t count), and boy was it worth it. Being stuck at the end of the design cycle allowed them to start off the Gangs of the Underhive era with unique weaponry like Throwing Knives and Web Pistols, that would have been way too weird if they’d released in place of, say, Orlocks. The same goes for House of Shadows, and it’s clear that Games Workshop took notes on what worked and what didn’t from other gangs.

Delaque were in a good place before, and they’re even stronger now, able to easily specialize in whichever flavor of shenanigans that their player prefers. They can be shooty, stabby, sneaky, or any combination of the three with a generous helping of Psychoteric Whispers to fill in the gaps. They’re also solidly on the expensive side for all of that power, so it’ll be easy for larger crews to be stretched thin and overextend themselves.

…but hey, it’s Delaque. If that happens, they’ll just claim it was all part of the plan!

 


That wraps up our review so we’ll see y’all next week, Scummers! As always, feel free to drop us a line over at necromunday@goonhammer.com. Thanks for reading, see you soon!

 

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