Welcome back to Necromunday, Scummers! This week, GW was kind enough to send us an advance copy of their newest Necromunda publication, Book of the Outcast. There’s a lot going on, so let’s dive in and take a look!
Before we jump in, we’d like to extend thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a preview copy of the book for review.
Unlike every other game in GW’s catalog, Necromunda players rejoice at the opportunity to make their game’s rules even more labyrinthine. Much like that extra hot dog at the cookout, it’s not necessary, and it might not be good for you, but hell if it ain’t nice to have! The Book of the Outcast gives us a ton of new stuff to play with, most of which is contained in the rules for the new gang, the Underhive Outcasts. Let’s stop bandying words and get to the details!
The Outcast Gang
The Necromunda devs have really done something cool with this gang, as it is a total “sandbox”: players can basically do whatever the hell they want with it! While the old Venators lists gave some customizability and flavor to the “kitchen sink” of Necro gangs, this gang is a fully fleshed-out successor. It’s a whole new take, and it’s clearly a ton of fun.
The first thing you have to do when starting your Outcasts gang is to pick your leader. An Outcasts gang’s leader will dictate a lot of the flavor for the gang, and is clearly the most important piece of the puzzle. Players have a choice when picking their leader: they can create one using the framework provided in the Outcasts book, or they can “elevate” by choosing a character from literally any other Necromunda publication. Are your Outcasts fighters a rebellious sect of the Cult of Redemption? Then feel free to pick a Redemptor Priest as the template for your Outcasts leader. Want to play a gang led by the infamous bounty hunter Kal Jericho? You can do that, too, though you should probably clear it with your Arbitrator, first.
The takeaway, here, is that you can do just about anything with your Underhive Outcasts leader. The profiles supplied with the Outcasts gang creation rules are actually pretty juicy, but there is limitless potential for customization. In addition to other gang’s leaders and Dramatis Personae, you can also select leaders from Guild, Criminal, and Noble delegations, which opens up a ton of interesting new possibilities and, quite frankly, actually good reasons to use those excellent models.
After you’ve picked your leader, your next step is to choose your Outcasts’ Affiliation. Affiliations are the ties that bind the gang to the extant power structures in Necromunda. In game terms, an Affiliation will allow an Outcasts gang to access more weapons and wargear, and will define what Alliances the gang can make. There are five types of Affiliations:
- Clan House
- Merchant Guild
- Criminal Organization
- Noble House
Clanless gangs don’t get access to extra weapons and wargear, and can’t make Alliances, but they can gleefully ignore any drawbacks to being Outlaws or Law-Abiding. Clan House affiliated gangs can purchase gear from their chosen Clan House ( Cawdor, Delaque, Escher, Goliath, Orlock, or Van Saar) equipment lists, but can only make Alliances with the organizations that can make a Strong Alliance with their chosen clan house. Finally, Guild/Criminal/Noble affiliated gangs can buy equipment that their delegations use from the Trading Post of Black market at any time, regardless of legality or rarity. However, they can only make an Alliance with the organization they’re affiliated with.
Next up in the book, we are given rules for using Guild/Criminal/Noble Alliance delegations in gangs. You can’t put multiple delegations in the same gang, but you can build a gang around your chosen delegation. For instance, you can take the Water Guild’s Nautican Syphoning Delegation and use that as the core of your gang, with a given leader, champion and (very large) ganger. The gang has to be Affiliated with the Water Guild, and the book also helpfully gives us credit values for all of the Alliance delegations, which will allow us to properly flesh out a full Outcasts gang after including the chosen delegation. This is a really cool idea, and the idea of a vengeful Water Guild gang taking to the Underhive to right some perceived wrongs is hilarious! Maybe they’ll finally track down that dastardly Eros Slagmyst!
The penultimate thing to do when picking your leader is to select their Archetype. The Archetype will govern not only what skills the Leader has access to, but also what skills Champions have access to. Your available Archetypes are:
Each Archetype, except Wyrd, includes access to 3 Primary skill sets, (one of which is Leadership), and 2 Secondary skill sets. It’s all pretty intuitive based on the Archetype names. For champs, the access is pared down to one Primary and two Secondaries, one of which is leadership. Instead of skill access, the Wyrd Archetype gives fighters access to Wyrd powers, which is awesome, and we’ll take a longer look at those later in this article.
Finally, you’re ready to equip your characters! Leaders can take anything from the Trading Post with a rarity of 9 or lower, and champs can take anything with a rarity of 8 or lower. This is, of course, in addition to whatever your gang’s affiliate supplies. Outcasts gangers have their own equipment list, based off of the options available in the Underhive Outcasts box. Outcasts also get access to a bunch of new Tactics Cards, but we’ll cover that in our Tactics Card article.
New Hanger-On: Underhive trader
The ability to go do trades for your gang is cool, but there’s four trader types available, one of which you choose when you hire them. Each has a bonus, related to weapons, beasts, trinkets, or just being connected. Of these, the Gun Smyth might be the best, being able to upgrade one weapon per post battle sequence to be master crafted.
More terrain rules are always welcome and getting a suite of rules for Gang Strongholds is pretty rad with clarification on how you interact with walls and gates and the bonuses of a defensible structure, like firing ports. Beyond the stronghold, we now have rules for fighting in a Market, with gangers able to loot the market stalls (or find a frag trap..) and rules for it falling apart around your gangers when it comes under fire.
Wyrds (AKA Psykers) have been kicking around Necromunda here and there for a long time, but never saw much use. Why? Because most gangs weren’t even able to hire a Wyrd. Sure there’s an occasional cultist or gang that could get one in, but once hired these Wyrds struggled to find a place where the powers available to them could reliably affect the game in the same way as a weapon. Outside of Dramatis Personae, Wyrds haven’t seen too much use. Sadly, this continued to be the case even after House of Shadow dropped.
Well buckle up, friendos! Things are going to change! Not only can Outcast gangs reliably get access to Wyrd powers via the Wyrd Archetype, but all psykers in Necromunda can get access to the new Wyrd Powers in the Book of the Outcast. There are seven(!) disciplines each with six powers for a grand total of 42 Wyrd powers! And let us just say: most of these powers absolutely whip.
These new powers have respectable ranges, decent action economy, and effects that can truly cause havoc in the Underhive. And we also see the introduction of a new rule, Special Abilities, for each discipline. These are amazingly useful abilities that reward Wyrds for taking powers from the same discipline and some are just flat-out the reason you might take certain disciplines. They’re all pretty good, but by far a front runner for our favorite is the Chronomancy Special Ability Flicker, which allows the Wyrd to take an extra action once per game. An extra action per battle for a Wyrd just because they only took Chronomancy powers? Sign us up!
While there are a lot of good powers to be found in the Book of the Outcast, we’re just going to do a quick recap of the disciplines and highlight some of the stand-out (or most fun) powers.
There’s something delightfully grimdark about a Wyrd using powers to cause their own body to grow and change with otherworldly and devastating results. The Biomancy discipline contains powers that all revolve around the manipulation of bone and blood, in both the Biomancer’s own body and others. These powers are great for healing friends, hurting others, or making the Wyrd better physically. Perhaps the most alluring power is Quickening. As a Basic action with a Continuous Effect, the Wyrd improves their Movement characteristic by 3 and their WS, BS, and Initiative characteristics by 1 (up to a max of 2+). With this power and a decent melee weapon, it isn’t hard to create a Wyrd Leader beatstick that is frighteningly fast and agile.
One of our favorite disciplines for both flavor and effect, Chronomancy is a discipline that will probably see a ton of use. Twisting time and space to their whim, Wyrds taking powers from the Chronomancy discipline will find an array of options that inhibit enemy actions and enhance the Wyrd’s actions. Freeze Time might be the best example of what Chronomancy can bring to the table. Though it is a Double action, Freeze Time affects ALL fighters within 12” of the Wyrd, friend or foe, allowing them only one Action when they activate. It might take some maneuvering to keep your gangers out of range, as a 12” bubble can be massive on certain boards, but this power can quickly shut down a lot of gangs. Charges, Aiming, Grapnel Launchers… all become nullified when within 12” of the Wyrd. This power can outright shift the game if positioned correctly and at the very least halve the effectiveness of a handful of gangers.
Divination is a bit more of a subtle discipline than others. The powers here focus on both warning the Wyrd of impending danger, but also allows the controlling player to mess with Scenario selection and Crew selection. Your mileage may vary with some of these powers, but Visions is a particularly strong power available to Wyrds that take the Divination discipline. For a Double action, all enemy fighters within 18” of the psyker count full cover as partial cover, and partial cover as no cover. That’s essentially giving all your gangers half the rules of an Infrasight against any enemies in a 36” diameter bubble. Oh, and Visions is a Continuous Effect so even your Wyrd can benefit from it and take a few potshots of their own in their next few turns. Super rude, super good.
As one would expect, Pyromancy is a discipline that’s all about that Blaze, baby! Whether it’s giving weapons the Blaze rule, nullifying the Blaze rule, or shooting a melta gun out of your arms, Pyromancy is where it’s at for all things hot and Blaze-y. One of our favorites is Wall of Flame. For a Basic action with optional Continuous Effect, the Wyrd ganger picks a point within 12” of them, and in line of sight, and places the center of the 5” Blast template. Every ganger that starts or ends its activation under this template takes a Strength 3, Damage 1 hit with the Blaze rule. This template persists if the power is maintained. What’s interesting is the option to sustain this psyker version of the incendiary grenade. Not only does it cause chaos with the Blaze rule, it essentially forces enemy gangers from cover. It can also be used to make objectives more dangerous for enemies to take or make bottlenecks in terrain a real problem. The ability to create “dangerous terrain” on the board cannot be understated.
Sick and tired of those uppity Van Saar jerks with their fancy tech? Tired of those wealthy gangs with their Plasma Cannons and Grenade Launchers? Then Technomancy is the discipline for you! Break their precious toys with a set of powers that center around affecting tech (duh) with some pretty sweet effects. In particular, Weapon Jinx is just straight up mean. As a Simple action (you read that correctly), the Wyrd chooses an enemy fighter within 18” who must immediately make an Ammo Check for a weapon of the Wyrd’s choosing. This is a softer, but repeatable version of the Click! tactic card. “Sorry Heavy Bolter AND Plasma Gunner, you both have to take ammo checks. Good luck rolling those 5’s and 6’s” With a little finesse and good positioning, a Wyrd with Weapon Jinx can easily shut down shooting gangs. Prepare to see this power a lot.
Arguably one of the weaker disciplines from the book, Telekinesis is still pretty good. As you’d expect, most of these powers focus on directly hurting enemy gangers while a few enhance the Wyrd themselves. From a purely fun/badass perspective, there’s no better power than Crush. For a Basic action, your Wyrd can target an enemy ganger or an obstacle within 12” and within line of sight, make a to-hit roll with their BS, and, if successful, either destroy the obstacle or force the enemy ganger to make a save. If the save is failed (the book says successful, but this is an obvious typo), roll one Injury die and apply the result. Besides being great for taking out multi-wound models with little armor or removing obstacles that your enemies are hiding behind, Crush is just fun! <Darth Vader voice> “I find your lack of faith… disturbing.”
Telepathy is the discipline that many Delaque players wanted but never got. There are plenty of powers here that push the sanity of your enemies to their breaking point. If messing with your enemy is your particular cup of recaf, Telepathy is definitely for you. Hallucinations showcases this sort of psychological warfare perfectly. For a Basic action, the Wyrd can pick an enemy fighter within 12” and that fighter immediately gains the Insane condition. No extra rolls, no saves, just <boop> you’re insane now, pal. Slap this on an infiltrating Wyrd and cause havoc in your opponent’s back line. So annoyingly hilarious!
Overall, these new disciplines and powers are fun, amazingly flavorful, and pretty darn powerful. It’s been forever since we’ve been giddy about psykers in Necromunda and we’re all high on that Warp juice now! While some powers border on the “feel-bad” end of the spectrum and may need Aribiter intervention, most of these powers provide Wyrds with much needed purpose and punch. Having the potential for multiple Wyrds on the board (though Champions start with a woeful Willpower of 8+), Outcast gangs can bring some absolutely brutal combos and test their opponents in new and different ways. Just don’t roll snake eyes or boxcars and your Wyrds will be golden!
Alongside the other new goodies, GW has served up a new campaign variant. The Outlander Campaign is based around scrappy gangs trying to gather materials and build up their settlements. Each gang chooses a starting location for their settlement – which has varying values for Defense, Resources, and Toxicity. These attributes determine the type and quantity of buildings your gang can create with the resources that they scrounge up during the course of the campaign. Effectively, these three values are a balancing mechanism; and the resulting buildings can either give gameplay effects (like adding a Hired Gun), allow for defenses to be deployed on your half of the board or provide resources that can be used to create more buildings. This is extremely customizable and adds a significant amount of crunch to the campaign! Want to be able to place a 6”x12” impassable barrier on the table when your settlement is at stake? Then make sure you have the space in Defense slots for a Chasm. Want to invest in a building that gives you ongoing resources? The Fungi Farm gives you an ongoing source of Sustenance.
One balancing mechanic we like is that the first 3 cycles do not allow raids on opponents’ settlements. The opening half of the campaign is much like an expansion phase. This choice prevents gang settlements from getting snuffed out before they get a chance to start! After downtime it’s a free-for-all – all bets are off and enemy settlements are fair game. Winning the campaign is also a bit different here. There are five triumphs to compete for – most wealth, most structures, and three covering most wins in different mission categories. Moving away from rep provides multiple superlatives that gangs can compete for!
Book of the Outcast brings six scenarios with it, all on theme with the Outlander campaign. These run the gamut of the attacking, defending, and gunk collecting that you would expect from an Outlander campaign. You are likely to run a fair number of Settlement Raid missions in the second half of the campaign. This can be a particularly lucrative mission for the attacking gang – each fighter that manages to cross the board and reach the opponent’s edge gets D3x10 credits (and D6 resources in an Outlander campaign). What’s of particular interest to us is the inclusion of defenses available to the gang on the receiving and of the challenge. The defender can place any defenses they are granted in an Outlander campaign, or a Gang Stronghold otherwise. The extra terrain definitely spices up a pretty typical board-crossing mission!
A highlight among the missions is Market Mayhem. Tussling on neutral turf means that you can’t bring out the big guns! Strength five and above and heavy weapons are not allowed, along with blast and template weapons. Rapid-fire guns can only be used for a single shot, and you cannot coup de grace or attack seriously-injured fighters. Fought amongst market stalls (with the aforementioned Underhive Market rules), the ramshackle surroundings add a bit of mayhem to the mix. Throw in extremely close deployment and you have a mission that will get messy in a hurry.
As fans of Blaze, we’re also fans of Gunk Tank. Both gangs line up and try to siphon flammable goo from a centrally-located tank. The who captured the most wins, though we think that a ganger is more likely to be lit up than make it back across the board! We’re less excited about Stealth Attack – as sentry rules tend to favor one side or another, and losing control of your gang is never fun. In this case, the attackers have three (difficult) objectives to choose from, and successful defense nets D6x10 credits! This is more of a gripe about sentry rules, but we would love to see a fresh take on Underhive stealth ops.
Trading Post “Update”
It might sound like we’re 100% happy with this book, but here’s the section that kind of falls flat on its face. They’ve provided us with an updated version of the Trading Post with one (1) new item: The Psi-Amplifier which, at 15 rarity, will rarely ever show up and only serves to give Wyrds Force weapons, which is cool or whatever, but it’s pretty dang situational. What they could have done here is given us a complete new listing for the Trading Post and Black Market to put it all in one location with maybe more than one new item. Guess we can’t always get what we want, huh?
Scummer, should you buy this book? The official Goonhammer answer: Yes! It’s mostly really good! The only person who isn’t going to use any of this stuff is the kind of person who is only going to play a non-Outcast gang and never dip their toes into Arbitrating a campaign. Literally anyone else can find value in this book. For instance, you can take the gang you already have, call it an Clan House-Affiliated Underhive Outcasts gang, and you’ve got a brand new sandbox to play in. Hell, you could probably convince an Arbitrator to let you do an Outcast Enforcer gang with these rules! They’d be crazy to try and stop you!
The key takeaway is simple: Book good. There’s a ton of stuff in here for just about everyone, and the scope of Necromunda has gotten a lot deeper. The narrative elements at play here are intriguing, accessible, and the fact that there is a good reason to use the Subnautican in every dang game of a campaign cannot be understated. They’ve done a good job with this one, Scummers. Go snag a copy while you still can!
Thanks for checking out our review, Scummers! And thanks to GW for sending us an advance copy! Come back next week when we take a look at those nifty new Outcasts Gang Tactics! Be well!