Necromunday: Houses of the Underhive – Cawdor

At the risk of sounding like the chucklehead from Staind, it’s been a while, Scummers! Ya boy is back, and this week we’re diving into post-House of Faith House Cawdor. Their new book is so much fun, I went out and bought 2 Cawdor boxes, 1 Redemptionist box, both resin weapon packs, and the Cawdor head upgrade kit. If that surprises you, then read on, because at the end of this article, I guarantee you’ll get where I’m coming from!

The House of Faith truly turned house Cawdor into the most unique Necromunda house gang out there. With no Prospects and the ability to build two distinct gangs, Cawdor really do stand out amongst the other house gangs. Throw in their unique weapons made from scrap, their ability to perform minor miracles during battle, and their unsurpassed numerical superiority, and a Cawdor gang can end up looking extremely scary.

Blanchitsu-style Cawdor, as interpreted by, well, him. (Credit: John Blanche)


  • Flame Templates: Nobody in the Underhive can bring more template weapons to a fight than a Cawdor gang. It’s all thanks to a little weapon called the Polearm/Blunderbuss and it is the TRUTH. The trashbois can even do it cheaply which is truly wild. Their cheap template weapons are not only extremely effective at short range, they’re extremely reliable, can act as versatile weapons, and set people on fire! What more could you possibly ask for?!
  • Numbers: Cawdor gangers are hot garbage individually, but they’re cheaper and more plentiful than almost anyone else. Factor in the fact that you get extra gangers and juves for every battle, and you’ll see that Cawdor gangs are never outnumbered.
  • Acts of Faith: House Cawdor’s special gang ability is one of the best and most fun on the books. They passively generate faith dice that can be rolled for in-game miracles. This ability costs no credits and can be used in any battle. It is a major reason why post-House of Faith Cawdor gangs are so rightly feared.
  • Two Gangs for the Price of One: Along with a Cawdor gang, players can build a Redemptionist gang, which is similar, but a lot meaner. Or, they can mix and match Cawdor and Redemptionist fighters. The customizability and thematic potential of this gang is so far unmatched in Necromunda.


  • Few Long-Range Options: While Cawdor absolutely rule the template game, the rest of their ranged options leave a lot to be desired. The Heavy Crossbow is legitimately great, but just about every other option aside from the Long Rifle is barely worth it. Cawdor will get completely dumpstered in a Sector Mechanicus long-range firefight if they’re not packing oodles of Smoke Grenades (hint: this is the best way to beat a Cawdor gang!).
  • Low Armor Penetration: Cawdor are not in a great place regarding armor penetration. Their only options that are better than -1 are the Krak profile of the Heavy Crossbow, and a couple of close combat weapons. They’ll need a ton of help from the Trading Post or Black Market in this respect, and will suffer for it in the late stages of a campaign without some lucky rarity rolls and a hefty wallet.
  • Lackluster Champions: While Cawdor and Redemptionist champions aren’t bad, they don’t really stack up against champions from other gangs in terms of raw effectiveness. Cawdor Firebrands have mediocre stats and befuddling skill availability, and Redemptionist Deacons mediocre stats jive with their obvious intended role as melee beatsticks. You’ll want to take them, but they lag in efficacy when compared to other gangs’ champs.

You absolutely have a minute to listen to them talk about their lord and savior. (Insta: @Yoritomoslaine)

Gang Composition

Before we get into fighter types and roles, let’s talk about Redemptionists, Outlaws, and Pious or Fanatical gangs. As mentioned before, Cawdor gangs can be made up of Cawdor gangers, Redemptionists, or both. Each ganger comes with one of two rules (among others, naturally): Pious for Cawdor, Fanatical for Redemptionists. After putting together your gang, you need to count how many Pious and Fanatical fighters you have in your gang. If you have more Pious fighters, your gang is Law-Abiding, and if you have more Fanatical fighters, your gang is Outlaw. If it’s a tie, it’s broken by whichever way the Leader leans. The difference between Law-Abiding and Outlaw really only matters in campaigns, and both come with bonuses and restrictions. Additionally, Pious and Fanatical allow for (very) situational Cool rerolls, so that’s cool, I guess.

Any Cawdor player will be familiar with the Pious members of their gang. They’ve all got new titles, but the Leader, Champions, Gangers and Juves will all be familiar. The new fighters introduced in House of Faith are all Redemptionists, and they’ve got a Leader, Champs, Gangers, and Juves of their own. Stat-wise, both sets of fighters are similar, but Redemptionists are generally a bit more expensive and have access to better gear.

Finally, before the gang can get any games in, the Leader (of which you can only take one) has to choose a Path of Faith. We’ll dive a bit more into this later, but it’s the set of available miracles that the gang can perform during a battle. Ok, on to the fighter breakdown!

Cawdor Word-Keeper (Leader): Your Pious gang Leader. Cawdor players will recognize this statline from Gangs of the Underhive (GotU), and we’re talking a net increase of 5 credits from that publication, when you consider armor. Mediocre BS and weapon access shunts this character to melee or support roles, but the Word-Keeper does indeed have the skill access to support either role, making them a good choice. If you’re going support (read: Overseer), keep them cheap and cheerful, but a melee-focused Word-Keeper with a chain glaive or greatsword is a force to be reckoned with in combat.

  • Recommended equipment: chain glaive, greatsword, mesh armor, scrap shield, cheapo pistols, blunderpole.

Redemptor Priest (Leader): Oh yeah, new fighter time! The Fanatical Redemptor Priest is a Word-Keeper who’s been turned up to 11, but at the same price. Fantastic combat weapons, very good access to equipment, and Primary skill access to the new Piety skill tree make this the premiere choice for Cawdor leadership. While the Word-Keeper is fine, the Redemptor priest can do whatever a Word-Keeper can, but better and with more flaming headgear. While you can make an Overseer Redemptor Priest, just know that if you do, we can never be friends. Redemptor Priests really shine leading their congregation from the front, charging recklessly into combat with a giant chainsaw or a chainaxe that double as a flamer. They can even act in a support role while leading from the front if you take a Book of the Redemption! The best of both worlds! Redemptor priests rule, and you should immediately consider taking one. Additionally, the Redemptor Priest is one of the two characters (along with the Deacon) who can take Cherub-servitors, which are really, really good defensive upgrades. Combat skills are great here, but so are Devotional Frenzy and Unshakable Conviction out of the piety tree.

  • Recommended equipment: Chainaxe with exterminator, Eviscerator, cheapo pistols, Book of Redemption, mesh armor, cherub-servitors.

Cawdor Firebrand (Champion): Hoo boy. The stats say shooting, but the skills say combat. The firebrand is one mixed-up fighter. This Pious champion’s unappealing stats and, frankly, garbage skills, might seem to make them superfluous or unnecessary, except for one thing: the Cawdor heavy crossbow. While this incredibly good weapon is wasted on a Word-Keeper, the Firebrand’s 3+ BS fits perfectly with this absolute banger of a weapon. If you’re looking for a cheap ranged support option, like if the crossbow is out of reach at gang creation, then a long rifle is a great choice for the Cawdor gang on a budget. Skills-wise, you’re going to want to go with something defensive from the Combat tree, as you’re not going to get any mileage out of anything else (unless you’re playing a Lost Zone campaign). While they’re a little unassuming, it’s fair to say that each and every Cawdor gang needs at least one Firebrand for their ranged support abilities.

  • Recommended equipment: Cawdor heavy crossbow, long rifle, heavy stubber. Armor, probably.

Deacon (Champion): On the Fanatical side of the champion aisle, we have the Deacon! The good thing about Deacons is that they have substantially better skills, with access to the Piety tree, but lack access to the Cawdor heavy crossbow. However, Deacons can somewhat make up for that with access to the grenade launcher, a perennial Necromunday favorite. The only issue with that, however, is that a Redemptionist model with a grenade launcher doesn’t currently exist, meaning some light converting would be necessary to field one. It’s an admittedly small issue, but new players may balk at carving up their shiny new Redemptionists. Scavenger’s Eye is a great choice for a grenade launcher (or shotgun or autogun if you’re a cheapskate) Deacon, as they can passively buff credit rewards from the relative safety of the back of your own deployment zone. If you decide to go with a melee Deacon, fear not, as it’s not the worst choice! Devotional Frenzy is a must for a melee Deacon, so don’t expect them to stick around for very long, but they’ll pack a punch while they’re still alive! Deacons are legitimately good either way, so feel free to go nuts! They’re good!

  • Recommended equipment: Grenade launcher, shotgun, eviscerator, chainaxe, mesh armor. If you’ve got extra cash, give them a cherub servitor or two to help keep them alive!

Cawdor Brethren (Ganger): The humble Cawdor Brethren’s statline is pure mediocrity, but they are absolutely the best choice for the backbone of your gang for two reasons:

  1. Brethren can take a Cawdor polearm/blunderbuss, the best basic weapon in the entire game and,
  2. They have the Devout Masses (Ganger) special rule, allowing you to take 1 extra ganger per battle

At 95 credits with a blunderpole and flak armor, you’ve got a credits-efficient, close-ranged monster, who can net you extra fighters each game. Ok, sure, there are some other good weapon options if you’re low on credits, but a core of 2-4 blunderpole Brethren will never disappoint.

  • Recommended equipment: Cawdor polearm/blunderbuss, reclaimed autogun, flak armor, incendiary charges.

Redemptionist Brethren (Ganger): Sheesh, it would have been nice for the Necro crew to come up with another name for Redemptionist gangers, but whatever. Redemptionist Brethren have similarly mediocre stats when compared to Cawdor Brethren, but don’t have access to blunderpoles and don’t get Devout Masses. And they’re 5 credits more expensive. Unfortunately, the only reason to take Redemptionist Brethren is to pad out your Fanatical fighters to become or stay Outlaws. As gangers, they’re honestly fine, but they’re nowhere near the optimal choice.

  • Recommended equipment: Shotgun, autogun, exterminator, cheapo pistols, cheapo combat weapons.

Bonepicker (Juve): As the Pious Juve, the Bonepicker is a surprisingly good choice. So good, that I’m recommending that each and every Cawdor gang out there have at least 3. Why? Bonepickers also have Devout Masses (Juve), but instead of 1 extra Bonepicker per battle, you can take d3. This is ridiculous. A fully-equipped Cawdor gang should be showing up to every fight with 2-4 extra fighters, before tactics cards and Paths of Faith shenanigans. So, you’ll want 3. Keep them cheap, maybe give them incendiary charges to make up for their awful BS of 5+, but only if you’re flush with cash. Don’t bother with armor. They’re Cawdor juves. A lowlier form of life on a Necromunda table does not exist.

  • Recommended equipment: Flail, axe, cleaver, pistols, incendiary charges.

Zealot (Juve): On the Fanatical side of things, we have the Zealot. Unfortunately, Zealots are twice the cost of a Bonepicker. What do you get for 40 credits instead of 20? Well, a WS of 4+ and slightly better Cool. That’s it! Zealots don’t even have Devout Masses, but they do have access to all the fun and expensive Redemptionist close combat weapons. Unfortunately, these fighters are firmly within the “thematic but not at all good” zone along with Redemptionist Brethren. You can’t protect them like you can Deacons and Redemptor Priests, so if you do take one, it’s best to keep them cheap. Zealots in “Oldcromunda” were frenzied combat monsters, but nowadays, I’d be surprised to see any on the table.

  • Recommended equipment: autopistol, stub gun, fighting knife.

Stand-Out Skills

Even though Cawdor Champs get short shrift here, there are still a few good options to take!

Bull Charge: The thinking trash-person’s choice for a melee-centric leader (please do not make melee Cawdor champs, thanks in advance), Bull Charge will give them a nice boost on the turn they charge.

Commanding Presence: If your leader doesn’t have Overseer, they’re probably going to end up in the thick of things, surrounded by a horde of grubby polearm-wielders. A group activation with four Polearm/Blunderbuss shots on a critical turn before your opponent can do anything sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Consider Commanding Presence.

Overseer: Overseer, while somewhat distasteful over here (Ha!) definitely finds a home in a Cawdor gang. Put it on a leader with minimal equipment and take either a pair of Heavy Crossbows or a Crossbow/Heavy Stubber combo with your champs and boom! Instant firebase.

Piety Skills

Piety Skills were introduced in House of Faith. They’re mostly pretty good! This is great, as Cawdor desperately needed access to quality skills.

  1. Lord of Rats: +2 Cool and Willpower to friendly Juves within line of sight and 12”. Rats cannot come within 3” of this character. Ok, so the first one isn’t a banger. That’s ok, they can’t all be winners. Bomb rat memelords will tell you that this skill is good, but don’t listen to them. Here’s a hot take for you: bomb rats are a waste of credits! Deal with that, rat stans!
  2. Scavenger’s Eye: +1 to any random roll for credit rewards at the end of a battle. This skill is on par with Fixer from the Savant tree for just being generally useful. Most scenarios involve some sort of credit reward, and this skill can pay huge dividends after just one Forgotten Riches game. An excellent choice for a ranged Deacon.
  3. Blazing Faith: The fighter with this skill can still act normally under the Blaze condition (though they still take damage as normal), and is immune to the Insanity condition. So, this one’s situational, but if you have more than one Cawdor gang in your local playgroup, any other Cawdor players will despise you for showing up to a game with this skill.
  4. Unshakable Conviction: This fighter can make reaction attacks if they’re Seriously Injured and cannot be the target of a Coup de Grace. Additionally, the fighter can make an enhanced move while Seriously Injured. If you’re planning on taking a combat character, especially one who comes with a native 3+ WS (either Leader option), this skill is a great option. Low damage weapons often don’t result in Out of Action results, making it so your fighter can continue to do damage even after they’ve been laid low. The super crawl is a nice addition, too, allowing your fighter to get back within the “assist zone” or out of the line of fire quicker than anyone else.
  5. Devotional Frenzy: Once per turn, the controlling player can choose to enhance this fighter’s WS, Cool, Leadership, and Willpower stats by +d3. Afterwards, the fighter takes 1 damage. This skill is absolutely necessary for a combat Deacon, and can be a nice-to-have for a combat Redemptor Priest, though it’s not strictly necessary. The fighter probably won’t last very long, but then again, what melee characters do?
  6. Restless Faith: This fighter can choose to come out of Recovery early and take part in a battle. If they do, they start the battle with a Flesh Wound. Hyper-situational. You’re probably not going to see this one used very often, as the player can’t really control when it’s used, or even if it will ever be used. That being said, it’s definitely a nice-to-have on an important character like a Leader.

Articles of Faith

Every house gang gets a special ability, and y’all, Cawdor’s unique brand of shenanigans slaps. Unlike any other gang, the Articles of Faith system is completely free and is used in every single battle. This is huge. Escher and Goliath have very powerful special rules attached to their gangs, but they’re expensive. All Cawdor gangs just get to use Articles of Faith. Full stop.

Here’s how it works: at the end of each turn, roll a d6 for each friendly Cawdor ganger who’s not Seriously Injured or Broken and is on the board. Any results of 5+ are moved to the faith dice pool, where they can be used to invoke an Article of Faith. Each Article of Faith is invoked at the start of the fighter’s activation, and has a target value. The controlling player chooses how many faith dice to roll, and if the target value is met or exceeded, the Article of Faith is invoked. Faith dice can carry over from round to round, but faith dice that exceed the number of friendly Cawdor gangers that are on the board and not Seriously Injured or Broken are discarded at the end of the next turn. Adepta Sororitas players from 40k will recognize this system.

Players can only choose to invoke Articles of Faith from the Path of Faith chosen by their gang’s Leader. There are 4 to choose from, and each path has 6 Articles to Invoke:

  1. Path of the Faithful
  2. Path of The Fanatic
  3. Path of the Doomed
  4. Path of the Redeemer

Each path works basically the same, but has different bonus conditions for generating extra faith dice. Importantly, each Article of Faith has a “scipture-esque” name that is just begging to be called out when invoked each time. We’re talking stuff like “And a river of blood did Drown Them!” This is easily the best gang special ability so far.

So, there’s really too much content to review here. Each Path of Faith is good, and you ought to choose the Path that most reflects your playstyle and gang’s theme. You really can’t go wrong. I am, however, going to highlight my favorite Path, the Path of the Doomed.

This path is followed by the Cawdor gangs who relish in the death of all things. The nearly-heretical Cult of the True Resurrection follows the Path of the Doomed. This cult believes that the only way to save humanity is for the Emperor to finally die and the Imperium to fall, which will herald a phoenix-like resurgence of humanity across the galaxy. Are they wrong? Who’s to say? Are they insane and psychotically violent extremists who will do anything to end the Imperium and kill the Emperor? Yes! And that freaking rips.

Gangs who follow the Path of the Doomed tend to power up as they start losing members, and have the outright best Article of Faith: “And by the manner of his Death did the Emperor judge him!” If this article is invoked, the fighter makes a normal move and then explodes in a 5” blast template, immediately going Out of Action. Perfect for those speedy and expendable juves! I’m sure the other paths are cool or whatever, but after reading that, what more do you need to know? Doomed 4 lyfe.

Weapons and Wargear

Basic Weapons

Autogun [Redemptor Priest, Deacon,m Redemptionist Brethren]: It won’t win you any games, but at least you can put an exterminator on it, I guess. Rating: C

Cawdor Polearm/Autogun [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: The first of the Cawdor-specific “spear + gun = fun” weapons, the Polearm/Autogun is like the little brother to the venerable blunderpole. It definitely has good qualities, but if you’re gonna spend the cheddar to get one, why not spend the 20 more credits to get the better version? If you want range, spend 10 fewer credits on the Reclaimed Autogun. Rating: C+

Cawdor Polearm/Blunderbuss [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: This is it, right here, y’all. The blunderpole. Cawdor players love them, everyone else fears them. Not only is this easily the best weapon available to a Cawdor gang, it is potentially one of the best weapons in the game. It combines what’s best about a Combat Shotgun (which we love here at Necromunday) with a pretty gnarly versatile weapon, and you can give one to everyone in your gang. The template weapon has two profiles, too, and one of them has the Plentiful trait, which means it automatically reloads should it ever run out of ammo! And then the other profile can set people on fire! This is easily the number one heretic purging weapon available in the Underhive, and you should grab a whole bunch. Rating: A+

Reclaimed Autogun [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: It’s like an Autogun, but slightly worse! The bright side is that it’s also slightly cheaper! Just like the normal Autogun, this weapon will not win games for you, but the fact that it comes in at only 10 credits a pop means that using it as the default back-up weapon for everyone in your gang is probably the best choice. Rating: B-

Sawn-Off Shotgun [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: Incredibly, the sawn-off shotgun actually got a little bit better in House of Faith, but only for Word-Keepers and Firebrands. Now, they can purchase solid slugs for their sawn-offs,  making them marginally useful. What a world we live in, huh? Rating: D

Shotgun w/ Solid & Scatter Ammo [Redemptor Priest, Deacon, Redemptionist Brethren]: Alone, it’s unassuming, but Redemptionists actually have really good access to special ammo. With all the bells and whistles, unfortunately, the humble shotgun starts to get a bit too pricey. Curiously, it looks as if they’ve misprinted the rules for Inferno ammo in House of Faith. They’ve forgotten to include Blaze, and have instead included Knockback. Whoops! Rating: B


Autopistol [Redemptor Priest, Deacon, Redemptionist Brethren, Zealot]: Never as valuable as the stub gun, because it’s twice the price. It’s not awful, but it’s not the best. Rating: C

Hand Flamer [Word-Keeper, Redemptor Priest, Firebrand, Deacon, Cawdor Brethren, Redemptionist Brethren]: Sorry to continue to beat this drum, but in the world of the blunderpole, any other template weapon is hot garbage. More strength in the flame hit is alright, but it doesn’t trigger Blaze any more often than anything else. Rating: C-

Reclaimed Autopistol[Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Bonepicker]: Y’all, this is what we’re talking about right here. You might notice a theme in our Necromunday articles where we rank Stub Guns higher than Autopistols mainly because Stub Guns are only 5 credits, while the Autopistol comes in at twice that. But this right here is pure Cawdor ingenuity: an Autopistol that only costs 5 credits! Now the “potential for more shots vs. better accuracy and more reliability” argument can actually mean something! Rating: B

Stub Gun [anyone]: It’s hard to beat the humble stubber as the sidearm of choice. 5 credits will take you a long way. Rating: B

The Thanes of Birdgate, casually stomping the sneaky non-believers. Credit: Merton

Special Weapons

Combi-Weapon (Autogun/Flamer) [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Redemptionist Brethren]: 110 credits for an Unstable flamer and an autogun. We might have a new candidate for worst weapon in the game. Rating: F

Fire Pike [Redemptor Priest, Deacon, Redemptionist Brethren]: No, it’s not a long-range melta gun like Aeldari Fire Dragons have. Sheesh, if only. It’s a slightly-upgraded flamer for 10 more credits. It gets a little bit of a boost, here as Redemptionists can’t take blunderpoles, but it’s still awfully pricey for what it does. Rating: C+

Flamer [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: Interestingly, Cawdor get Flamers at a 10-credit discount, but that still doesn’t make them any better than, you guessed it, the blunderpole! Sorry to keep bringing this up, but the blunderpole is really, really good. So good that we’re talking about it in the flamer entry. Rating: D

Grenade Launcher w/ frag & krak grenades [Redemptor Priest, Deacon, Redemptionist Brethren]: While the heavy crossbow is still the undisputed champion of crowd control for Cawdor fighters, Redemptionists only get access to this absolute gem of a weapon. It’s relatively cheap, effective, and you can buy smoke and flash grenades right out of the gate. No model exists for a Redemptionist with a grenade launcher yet, so some conversion is necessary, but who knows? Maybe we’ll see one in the upcoming Cawdor weapon pack! Rating: A

Long Rifle [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: Cawdor seriously lack any sort of quality ranged support, so a cheap, reliable, sniper rifle with access to special ammo is clearly Emperor-sent. A champ with one of these will do very well indeed. Rating: B+

Heavy Weapons

Cawdor Heavy Crossbow [Word-Keeper, Firebrand]: All you need to know about the Heavy Crossbow is that it packs a 5” blast weapon that can reach out and drop that pie plate at 30”. It also has a Krak option for that hard target that needs to go down, and it only costs 125 credits. The Heavy Crossbow is legitimately a great weapon, and if you’re going to take an Unwieldy weapon, take this one. Rating: A

Heavy Stubber [Word-Keeper, Firebrand]: The venerable Heavy Stubber will have a home in almost any gang, including Cawdor, but the Crossbow is a whole lot better. Rating: C+

Heavy Flamer [Word-Keeper, Redemptor Priest, Firebrand, Deacon]: Heavy Flamers. Not even once. Rating: F-

Close Combat Weapons

Axe [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Bonepicker]: The humble Axe is exactly that, humble. It gives a Strength boost, but it lacks AP or a to-hit bonus. It’s probably the second-best pure close combat weapon available to the garbage people. At least it’s cheap. Rating: C+

Chainaxe [Redemptor Priest, Deacon, Redemptionist Brethren]: Incredible value for an excellent weapon. And you can put an exterminator on it! What’s not to love? Rating: A

Chainsword [Redemptor Priest, Deacon]: Pales in comparison to the chainaxe. Spend the extra 5 credits to get one of those instead. Rating: D

Chain Glaive [Word-Keeper, Firebrand]: If you’re making a melee Word-Keeper or (Emperor forbid) Firebrand, this is probably the best weapon for the job. It hits hard, is Versatile, and does decent damage. Can’t go wrong. Rating: B

Cleaver [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Bonepicker]: Like an axe, but with AP! Twice the price, though, so it’s not all hunky-dory in cleaver-land. Rating: B

Eviscerator [Redemptor Priest, Deacon, Redemptionist Brethren, Zealot]: It’s an oversized chainsaw with a built-in hand flamer! This iconic weapon is a wee bit pricey at 90 credits, but it’s perfect for a Redemptor Priest or a Devotional Frenzy Deacon. Rating: B+

Fighting Knife [anyone]: The ol’ shank ain’t the worst weapon around, but it’s not the best ever. The Axe is cheaper and gives a more reliable strength bonus. At least this one comes with some AP. Rating: C-

Flail [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Bonepicker]: +1 to hit. +1 to strength. Entangle. The Flail is the thinking Cawdor ganger’s choice, and is easily the standout of the pure close combat weapons here. If they’re gonna be in combat, and they can’t take a blunderpole, give them a flail. Rating: B+

Greatsword [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: +1 Strength, AP-1, Versatile 1”, Sever, and +1 to hit. What’s not to love? Curiously, a model with this weapon doesn’t exist in the Cawdor range at time of publication, but maybe we’ll see it in an upgrade sprue? Here’s hoping, because this weapon whips ass! Rating: A

Heavy Club [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Bonepicker]: It’s a maul, but without the +1 to the target’s armor. D2 and Concussion (for all that’s worth lol). Not great, but not bad. Rating: C

Maul [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Bonepicker]: Buy an axe instead. Rating: D

Polearm [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren]: How is this weapon 10 credits more than an autogun/polearm, but it doesn’t have an autogun? What the hell kind of sense does that make? Rating: F

Two-handed Axe & Hammer [Word-Keeper, Firebrand, Cawdor Brethren, Zealot]: We’re grouping these two weapons together because they’re both kinda unimpressive. They’re -1 to hit and take up two weapon spots, so the only thing that makes one of them interesting is that there is a little bit of AP here in the Axe. A tooled-up Leader or Specialist might be able to dole out some damage with these, but there are better options out there. Rating: C-


Throwing around grenades in a Cawdor gang are a lot less effective when there is the potential for a bunch of templates everywhere. All damage-dealing grenades will have a lessened impact in the land of templates, but the Smoke Grenade still has a necessary purpose.

Blasting Charges [anyone]: Top choice for bomb rats. The excellent Strength and damage make up for the reduced range. Rating: B+

Choke Gas Grenades [Word-Keeper, Redemptor Priest, Firebrand, Deacon]: Interesting, but really too expensive to be worth it. Rating: D

Frag Grenades [anyone]: Frag Grenades are usually a solid choice, but with access to Incendiary Charges from the get-go, they lose some luster in a Cawdor gang. Rating: D

Incendiary Charges [anyone]: Give them to Bonepickers and anyone not armed with a blunderpole. You’ll be happy you did, because 5” blasts with Blaze are extremely useful.  Rating: B

Krak Grenades [anyone]: We guess these make sense if you play against Enforcers in every game, but otherwise you’re better off avoiding them. Rating: D-

Smoke Grenades [Word-Keeper, Redemptor Priest, Firebrand, Deacon]: With all these template weapons running around, you’re gonna want to give them a chance to actually get into range. To do that, you’re gonna need smoke grenades. Rating: A

Selected Wargear

Bomb Delivery Rats: Do you remember how we said Smoke Grenades are the only really worthwhile grenade to throw in a Cawdor gang? We’re gonna stick to that, because Cawdor have an inventive and hilarious way new way to give their enemies the gift of explosions: strap the grenades to rats and have the rats suicide bomb their opponents. It works like this: If the fighter with the rats can pass an Intelligence check, they can guide the rat up to 6” to make a targeted bombing run if it ends its movement within 1” of an enemy (or friendly!) model. If they fail, the rat goes rogue and moves according to the scatter dice. Right off the bat, this might seem like a no-brainer, but the real trick is waiting until a ganger has rolled an Intelligence advancement to give out some rats. Cawdor gangers come in at 7+ Intelligence, or about a 58% success rate, but if you wait until they advance to 6+, the success rate grows to a compelling 69% (nice)! Either way, offensive grenades become way more useful in this framework. All the grenades can work with bomb rats, but we’re going to focus on the two best. Important note: A rat bombardier is probably going to run out of grenades rather quickly, so it is a best practice to give them two types of grenade to use with their rats. This is obviously more expensive, but it will ensure to keep the bomb rats flowing (scampering?).

  • Blasting Charges: When strapped to bomb rats, Blasting Charges really start to shine. Their shorter range is mitigated, and their potential for destruction cannot be denied. They’re also the cheaper of the two “good” grenades, so go ahead and grab them first. Rating, when strapped to a rat: A
  • Incendiary Charges: They don’t pack the punch that a Blasting Charge does, but a 5” blast with Blaze is still a hell of a thing. The easy second choice. Rating when strapped to a rat: B+

Emperor’s Wrath Rounds: This ammo turns the Blunderbuss into the less-good side of the Combat Shotgun, which is good, but at 35 credits, it is far too pricey for what it does. It’s a better idea to give your blunderpolers a Reclaimed Autogun if you want them to have more of a ranged threat.

Cult Icon: In this case, it’s not a chaos or alien cult, but the good ol’ cult of the God-Emperor! The Cult Icon is always useful, but especially so on a Cawdor leader that is going to be on the front line. Don’t just buy one of these, though. Have a plan and a reason for it, as its cost of 40 credits is the same as another blunderpole.

Book of Redemption: Reading the book with a Basic action gives friendly fighters within 6” a reroll of the d3 when charging, and each friendly can reroll 1 natural 1 to hit per activation. Super useful! A front-line redemptor priest can’t go wrong with this item.

Pyromantic Mantle: These sick-ass flaming hats allow for any Melee or Versatile attacks to gain the Blaze trait, turning your already deadly combat character into a flaming, deadly combat character. Probably not necessary at gang creation, but down the line, this thing is really nice to have.

Exterminators: Ever think, “Yo, this shotgun is cool, but what if it was also a flame thrower?” Well, friend, if you have, you’re in luck! An exterminator is a Single-Shot hand flamer that can be attached to various basic and close combat weapons. They cost 15 credits, and are worth it just about every time. Go nuts with exterminators, as they add serious optionality to a fighter’s weapons.

Though sometimes, it’s also a chaos cult. Meet the Leprous Lords. (Credit: Norbert Perret)

Items to Target at the Trading Post

Suspensors: The Heavy Crossbow is really, really good. Wouldn’t it be better if your champ could move and fire with it? Go grab some Suspensors and watch your Crossbow do a ton of work each battle.

Gunk Bombs: Gunk bombs not only slow enemies down, but they also change the Blaze threshold from 4+ to 2+. This is HUGE for a gang where everyone can potentially have a Blaze weapon. Grab some for your rat guy or a front-liner and howl with laughter as your opponent’s whole gang catches on fire!

Giant Rats: They’re cheap, they can screen your fighters from charges, and they can give your fighters much-needed assists in combat. Can’t go wrong, here.

Boning Swords: You might remember from our coverage of the Corpse Grinder Cults, but we were gaga for Boning Swords. Cawdor gangs will tend to get into melee more often than not, so a little bit of help in that department from a solid and cheap option is always appreciated.

The Friend Zone: Brutes, Pets, and Hangers-On

Stig-Shambler (House Brute)

The first question you should be asking when you’re considering converting up a House Brute should be “Is this thing going to look super cool?” If the answer is yes, then by all means kitbash up your own garbage-pail Master Blaster. The next question, in a distant second place, is “Does this thing fill a role that my gang is elsewise lacking?” For the Stig-Shambler, the answer is a resounding “Maybe.”

As a Heavy Stubber platform that only halfway mitigates the movement restrictions of Unwieldy shooting (it can move in exchange for a loss of accuracy), the brute fails to outpace a regular Cawdor champion with the same weapon in both price and efficacy. Twin-linking the stubber will increase rate of fire and potential damage, but when each shot is only landing on a 4+ or 5+, you’ll be struggling to connect with any of them!

In theory, a gang could always run a Stig-Shambler with a Heavy Flamer, which wouldn’t give a single damn about accuracy. Trundling forward 4” and blasting out a 7” flame template at Strength 5 and -2 AP? Now we’re talkin’. Admittedly it’s also 310 credits for the privilege, and that’s before spending an extra 10 credits for an anemic 6+ armor save, but when else are you going to run a Heavy Flamer? (Outside of this specific brute, unless you have far more credits than sense, please do not waste your money on Heavy Flamers.)

All in all, the Stig-Shambler struggles. They’re great fire magnets, as they look terrifying and pack a big gun, but in the end their low armor and Toughness 4 means that they’ll be losing all four of their wounds before they can make much of an impact.

Sheen Birds (House Exotic Beast)

Melee-based exotic beasts are typically in an awkward place thanks to the restriction that requires them to end their activation within 3” of their owner, but the Sheen Bird neatly sidesteps this downside. Its Rake Away ability allows it to make a free Move/Retreat action on a successful Willpower check (on an 8+, mind you), letting it swoop back into tether range.  This will come in handy more often than you’d like, as it is also prone to charge off and attack nearby targets, whether you want it to or not.

The Bird’s talons are only Strength 3, but with AP -1, D2, and Rending, if they get a wound in it’s going to hurt. Overall they’re a bit expensive at 90 credits, but more than capable of picking off a weakened enemy ganger. My take is that Sheen Birds are purely a luxury item, as these 90 credits are best spent on extra Bonepickers or blunderpoles.

Cherub-Servitor (House Exotic Beast)

The Cherub-servitor is a grim reminder of infant mortality rates in the Underhive. It’s also a bodyguard pet that allows any incoming ranged attack hits to be allocated to itself rather than its owner. The kicker: it has a 4+ invulnerable save. That by itself is worth the 55 credit price tag for one of these, but I’m not done yet! In addition to its critical role as a bullet magnet, each Cherub-servitor allows for a reroll when rolling for faith dice. These things are really good! You probably want to wait until you have 12-13 fighters on your roster before you go all in on cherubs, but they will do work keeping your Redemptor Priest alive and your faith dice pool full.

Hive Preacher (Hanger-On, 70 credits)

This Cawdor-exclusive hanger on is excellent. Potentially “buy-one-before-a-Rogue-Doc-excellent”. For 70 credits, you get an extra fighter, because the preacher can be included in any battle, not just home turf battles, d6 faith dice at the top of the first turn (faith dice are usually generated at the end of the turn, so the preacher allows for articles of faith on turn 1, which is otherwise impossible), and they count as 3 fighters for determining faith dice. The Preacher jives with everything good and fun in a Cawdor gang. The only catch is that they’re an Outlaw Hanger-On, so you’ve either got to be flush with fanatics or Outlawed in a different way to use one.

Flagellator (Hanger-On, 30 credits)

Another House Cawdor exclusive, a Flagellator can whip a Recovering fighter into shape, allowing them to take part in the battle, though they start the fracas with a Flesh Wound. While undoubtedly useful, the Flagellator is firmly in “nice-to-have” territory. Focus on other hangers-on first.

The Headsman Himself (Insta: @Yoritomoslaine)


Example Gangs

A lot of people are curious about what the right mix of Redemptionist and Cawdor fighters is. First off, do whatever you want. House Cawdor gangs are one of the stronger gangs with House of Faith, and you can’t really go wrong, unless you start equipping fighters with heavy flamers. Second, think about what you’re trying to do with your fighters. Cawdor gangs excel at two things: dominating close-range firefights, and drowning their enemies in bodies. With that in mind, you can start putting together your list.

Word-Keepers and Redemptor Priests are roughly equal in terms of potential. I prefer the Redemptor Priest because they have access to nastier weapons and the very fun Piety skill tree. However, a Word-Keeper with a chain glaive and Bull Charge is no slouch!

As far as champions go, both types can adroitly play the crowd control game. The Firebrand can take the incredibly good heavy crossbow, and the Deacon can show up with a grenade launcher and be just almost as effective at a 60-credit discount. If you want a combat champion, though, the Deacon is obviously the best choice, as they can take the excellent Devotional Frenzy skill. Combat Firebrands ought to be avoided. Personally, I think a grenade launcher deacon is slightly better than a crossbow Firebrand, but only because it gives you more space for more fighters at gang creation.

On the ganger front, Cawdor Brethren completely run away with it. The Devout Masses rule alone is worth having a few, but when you combine that with access to the blunderpole, there’s really no contest. A shotgun with an exterminator is very nice for a Redemptionist Brethren, but without the Devout Masses rule, it makes more sense to have Cawdor Brethren form the core of your gang.

Finally, we come to Juves. The hard truth is that there just isn’t much of a reason to take Zealots. They cost twice as much, and you only get Devout Masses with Bonepickers. The Zealot’s 4+ WS doesn’t even get close to bridging this gap. Bonepickers are perfect for screening your important fighters and providing ever-important assists in combat. Have at least 3 on your roster to take advantage of Devout Masses in every game. Let’s get to some example gangs.

A Balanced Approach

This list takes the ideas we’ve mentioned, and attempts to integrate them. We’ve got a combat Redemptor Priest, a grenade launcher Deacon, a long rifle Firebrand, blunderpoles, and Bonepickers. In a campaign, I’d work to get the roster up to 11-13 fighters, and then save up for a crossbow for the Firebrand and cherubs for the Redemptor Priest. A combat Brute like an Ambot would fit very well in this gang, as would a Preacher, though I’d have to find a way to get Outlawed, first, as this is an overwhelmingly Pious gang.

  1. Redemptor Priest (Unshakable Conviction): Master-crafted chainaxe w/ exterminator, stub gun, smoke grenades, mesh armor [180]
  2. Deacon (Scavenger’s Eye): Grenade launcher w/ frag, krak & smoke, stub gun, mesh armor [190]
  3. Firebrand (Step Aside): Long rifle, cleaver, flak armor [150]
  4. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  5. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  6. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  7. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  8. Bonepicker: reclaimed autopistol, stub gun [30]
  9. Bonepicker: reclaimed autopistol, stub gun [30]
  10. Bonepicker: stub gun, axe [35]

Total: 1,000

So, I Heard You Like Templates

Here’s a meme list that maxes out on what Cawdor does best: drop templates all over the board. While it is obviously a gimmick list, with the right player or board, it could be a serious nightmare to deal with.

  1. Word-Keeper (Bull Charge): blunderpole, mesh armor [145]
  2. Firebrand (Step Aside): heavy crossbow, flak armor [225]
  3. Deacon (Scavenger’s Eye): Grenade launcher w/ frag, krak & smoke, stub gun, mesh armor [190]
  4. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  5. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  6. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  7. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  8. Bonepicker: reclaimed autopistol, stub gun [30]
  9. Bonepicker: reclaimed autopistol, stub gun [30]

Total: 1,000

Out-Of-The-Box Cawdor Gang

This list assumes you’ve bought 1 Cawdor box and want to get it out on the table and get some gangs. It might not be perfectly optimized, but it’s well on its way to playable.

  1. Word-Keeper (Rain of Blows): Master-crafted two-handed axe, hand flamer, mesh armor, scrap shield [235]
  2. Firebrand (Step Aside): heavy crossbow, stub gun, flak armor [230]
  3. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  4. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  5. Cawdor Brethren: autopole, flak armor [75]
  6. Cawdor Brethren: reclaimed autogun, flak armor [60]
  7. Cawdor Brethren: reclaimed autogun, flak armor [60]
  8. Bonepicker: reclaimed autopistol, stub gun [30]
  9. Bonepicker: flail, stub gun [45]
  10. Bonepicker: reclaimed autopistol, axe, incendiary charges [75]

Total: 1,000

Out-Of-The-Box Cawdor Plus Redemptionists

You have the out-of-the-box Cawdor gang from a previous campaign, and you bought the Redemptionists to sprinkle in. Can you build a workable gang out of that combo? Absolutely! It won’t be fully optimized, but it will give any other gang a run for its money. We’re talking 2 boxes, no conversions, about $80 total.

  1. Redemptor Priest (Unshakable Conviction): Master-crafted chainaxe w/ exterminator, stub gun, smoke grenades, mesh armor [180]
  2. Firebrand (Step Aside): heavy crossbow, flak armor [225]
  3. Deacon (Scavenger’s Eye): Shotgun w/ solid, scatter & exterminator, mesh armor [150]
  4. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  5. Cawdor Brethren: blunderpole, flak armor [95]
  6. Cawdor Brethren: autopole, flak armor [75]
  7. Zealot: Eviscerator, flak armor [140]
  8. Bonepicker: stub gun, heavy club [40]

Total: 1,000

Oops, All Redemptionists!

This list postulates that you went and bought two boxes of Redemptionists, and are here to purge the Underhive of filth and chew bubblegum. Redemptionists run a little expensive, so you won’t have a ton of bodies, but each one will be a force to be reckoned with by themselves.

  1. Redemptor Priest (Unshakable Conviction): Master-crafted chainaxe w/ exterminator, stub gun, mesh armor [165]
  2. Deacon (Devotional Frenzy): Master-crafted eviscerator, mesh armor [215]
  3. Deacon (Scavenger’s Eye): Fire pike, mesh armor [245]
  4. Redemptionist Brethren: autogun w/ exterminator, flak armor [90]
  5. Redemptionist Brethren: shotgun w/ solid, scatter, & exterminator, flak armor [105]
  6. Redemptionist Brethren: shotgun w/ solid, scatter, & exterminator, flak armor [105]
  7. Zealot: 2 autopistols, flak armor [70]

Total: 995

Future recruits for the Order of the Unlaundered Shroud (Insta: @Necromundatom)

Final Thoughts

There you have it, scummers! The long-awaited Necromunday guide to post-House of Faith Cawdor. With their numbers, excellent weaponry, and a completely free house ability, Cawdor are truly one of the best and most fun gangs to play in Necromunda. With more types of fighters than any other gang, the options are really limitless, here.

Keep in mind that your Cawdor gang wants to get close, so employ smoke grenades and lots and lots of terrain to get them in range to purge! Don’t expect your fighters to stand up to protracted combat, but hopefully you’ve brought a few extra to the party, so it won’t matter if you lose a few on the way. Happy purging, scummers!

Please let us know what you thought of the article in the comments or at! We hope you enjoyed it, but if there’s anything we missed, we’d love to hear it!

Merton’s Community Corner

Chances are, you’re already using the Yaktribe gang builder tools for your lists and campaigns (Malo, you’re a saint), but definitely spend some time in the forums too.

There’s a ton of posted lists with critiques and advice, tactics, arbitrator tools, and just general good times with folks united in our love for this weird little skirmish game.

Post, lurk, scroll through pretty pictures and get inspired, whatever you fancy! The Yak has been and still remains the beating heart of the Necromunda community.