Necromunday: Houses of the Underhive – Escher

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Welcome back, Scummers, to another edition of your favorite downhive weekly: Necromunday! We’re ripping one of our older articles down to the foundation and rebuilding the ol’ Escher tactica with a ton of new tricks! 

As one of the first gangs released, Escher are appropriately all over the Necromunda-sphere. It seems like everyone has a crew of the Amazonian gangers in their collections! With the advent of House of Blades and a whole mess of nasty new friends and tactics, House Escher is out of their slump and deadlier than ever. It’s time to start the party!

The Sorrows take the field. (Credit: John C. of Seattle)

Strengths

  1. Long-Range Goddesses: Access to the cheapest Lasguns in the game and a decent Ballistic Skill to land shots with them means that Eschers are reliably capable of keeping enemy gangs pinned from half a battlefield away. Even while split up around the battlefield, they’ll often have enough weapons within 24” to at the very least guarantee that any nasty melee fighters who poke their heads out will be ducking for cover.
  2. Counter-Charge Assassins: Although fragile, charging into an Escher gang is no guaranteed kill, as their access to Combat and Finesse skills allow them to augment their arsenal of parry weapons or even to dodge or walk away from the incoming attacks entirely. Teams of Phelynx can block their flimsier minders from attacks entirely, while Death Maidens and Matriarchs rip the offenders to shreds.
  3. The Best Initiative: Initiative is a stat that goes a long way. While other Houses get by with passing their Initiative checks half of the time, Escher succeed on a 2+ or 3+, allowing them to virtually ignore Photon Flash Grenades, waltz away from reaction attacks while retreating, avoid falling into nearby pits every time they’re pinned, and more.
  4. Poison Everywhere: Escher did poison first, and once again, Escher do poison best. From Toxin rounds to Toxin blades, even dabbling with clouds of noxious gasses, no other House is quite as adept at taking a multi-wound fighter Out of Action in a single attack. Their Chem Alchemy system allows these potent poisons to be augmented with a virulent cornucopia of debilitating side effects.
  5. Affordable Effective Gangers: Even with a five credit increase in cost as compared to in Gangs of the Underhive, the bog-standard Escher ganger (Gang Sister) with Flak Armor and a Lasgun clocks in at a reasonable 65 credits. She’s a bit pricier than some Cawdor loser with a gun on a stick, but an Escher Lasgunner will start a campaign strong and only grow more powerful with weapon upgrades and advancement, while many other cheapo gangers will get left in the dust as time goes on.

Admittedly, not even we would run that many Lasgunners. (Insta: @Groetgaffel)

Weaknesses

  1. Glass Cannons: Despite having access to tons of close-combat tools, Escher crews lack the staying power of some of the other gangs’ melee fighters. Eschers are capable of some devastating strikes, but they’ll fold hard in a protracted fight. Get in and get out, or wait for the enemy to make the wrong move!
  2. Average Cool: A gang-wide stat increase has brought the House’s Cool up to a 7+ on their gangers, so Nerve Tests are no longer quite as nerve-wracking. Escher’s still not quite as icy as Delaque and Goliath gangs, mind you, so be sure to augment this all-important stat with some choice Chems when the heat is on.
  3. Single Dose Chems: Chem Alchemy is a deep system of traits with an unfathomable amount of combinations that’ll give a crew a tailor-made edge to win any battle, but every Chem applied to a fighter or a weapon only lasts for a single battle and must be re-purchased to be used again. Gangs who brew up too many exotic concoctions, too early, can wind up overspending on Elixirs the credits that could have (or should have) gone towards more fighters and weaponry.
  4. Delayed Maturity: Escher gang success can be pretty credit-intensive, and often won’t hit full stride until mid-campaign. While some gangs may hit the ground running in game one, most Escher gangs will need a few victories worth of credit infusions before they’ll be able to start investing in the fun stuff.

A minor set-back, we’re sure. (Insta: @possibly_nerdy_rob)

Gang Composition

House Escher has access to 6 different kinds of fighters. They are:

Gang Queen (Leader): You have to take one (and only one!) Gang Queen for your Escher gang. She’s got excellent stats and access to a wide variety of weaponry. She’s best used as a hybrid between ranged threat and counter-charger, and we like to outfit her with a good gun and a strong combat weapon so she can deal death in all situations. She’s got a ton of good skills to choose from, but Spring Up is consistently the most useful one in her arsenal.

  • Recommended Equipment: Plasma Pistol, Bolter/Melta, Shock Whip, Chainaxe, Mesh Armor with an Armored Undersuit, and Chem-Synths if you give her Toxin or Gas weapons.

Gang Matriarch (Champion): Your standard gang champ, the Matriarch has access to any weapons a Queen can use, and has excellent stats with which to use them. Matriarchs are best used as your gang’s ranged damage dealers. So, a nice big gun and a potentially important back-up piece are key. Defensive skills like Spring Up and Dodge will help them survive and continue to mess fools up.

  • Recommended Equipment: Bolter, Bolter/Plasma, Grenade Launcher, Plasma Gun, Needle Rifle. Chem-Synths if you gave her Toxin or Gas weapons.

Death Maiden (Champion): Death Maidens are best described as murder tornadoes. They only get access to pistols, grenades, and melee weapons, but their melee stats are , and they come with Toughness 4! Their best use is counter charging and as an enemy fighter elimination missile. Their skill choices include the fancy new Finesse skills, and can get a ton of mileage out of that extremely good skill set.

  • Recommended Equipment: Good armor, Power Knives or Swords, Chainswords, Venom Claws, Plasma Pistols.

Death was a distraction. (Blog: Juan M. at Plástico y Metal)


Gang Sister (Ganger): Escher gangers are similar to every other gang’s gangers except for 1 important detail: they can take 5-credit Lasguns. This turns them into one of the cheapest and most effective gangers on the block, and is clearly their best basic weapon option. You can make one gang sister a specialist at gang creation and give her a special weapon. We recommend a Grenade Launcher or Chem-Thrower to avoid their rather pedestrian Ballistic Skill.

  • Recommended Equipment: Lasgun, Grenade Launcher, Lasgun, Chem-Thrower, Lasgun.

Wyld Runner (Prospect): The new Escher Prospects are excellent melee screeners. A Wyld Runner can take up to three Phelynxes, and you can stick them in front of your more important characters and watch your opponent struggle to deal. Their weapon selection is not great, so ideally you want to keep these crazy little cat ladies cheap.

  • Recommended Equipment: Phelynxes, Throwing Knives, Stub Gun, Whip.

Little Sister (Juve): Your standard Juve: bad stats and bad weapons, but cheap enough that it doesn’t matter. Keep ‘em cheap and cheerful and put ‘em in front of your more important characters. Who knows, maybe they’ll even get promoted!

  • Recommended Equipment: Fighting Knife, Stub Gun, Grenades.

It’s important to note that, like Goliaths, Juves and Prospects gained the Gang Fighter rule along with Gangers, meaning they count towards the rule dictating who many Gang Fighters you need in your gang before you can grab more champions. This actually ups their value quite a bit and overall improves House Escher’s chances in the Underhive!

You’re not allowed to rock the Mohawk until your third shanking. (Insta: @studio_cephalopod)

Kitties, More Kitties, and Spooky Pals

Followers that you pay for one way or another, be it through credits or kibble. Brutes and Hangers-On limited to slots unlocked through a gang’s progressive Reputation gain.

Pets and Brutes

Phyrr Cat (Exotic Beast): If you’ve got credits to spare and a close-combat champion or leader, the Phyrr Cat (or two) can be your best friend. They won’t always push wounds through on their own thanks to their lackluster Strength 3 attacks, but each talon that sneaks past your opponent’s armor is Damage 2, with a chance to pulverize injuries into something nastier. Their 9” leash range is the longest out of any Exotic Pet, allowing them to charge first when activated and then provide assists and interference to their owner’s charge afterwards, rather than the other way around. That’s a powerful trick in melee, unseen almost anywhere else, but it’s attached to an expensive single wound Toughness 3 pet that has zero armor. (This model has received a FAQ Response confirming it as costing 120 Credits.)

Phelynx (Exotic Beast): A Wyld Runner’s personal retinue, up to three of these bizarre lizard-cat hybrids can be fielded alongside the Prospect as a single crew slot altogether. Even though they’re packing a respectable 6” Movement, the Phelynx lacks the Phyrr Cat’s extended leash range, so it’ll need to be activated after its owner moves to avoid risking a Nerve test and becoming broken. It shines in a defensive screening role, bogging down the midfield and standing between potential enemy chargers and squishier ranged Escher fighters. Their two attacks aren’t particularly threatening, with Strength 3 on a 4+, but the possibility of Toxin applied on a 6+ hit roll will still give enemy champions a bit of pause. Also remember that the Phelynx’s attacks are all Reckless, so when attacking with a pair of them be sure to angle their vision arcs to prevent friendly fire!

Khimerix (Brute):  This brute is a beast. Skip the gas breath weapon upgrade, fire off the standard chemical blast when you can, but don’t let that distract you from the Khimerix’s goal and sole desire: absolutely eviscerating anything it touches in melee.  It’s lightly armored, even if you opt for the scaly hide, but the Khimerix is tough enough that it’ll probably be able to regenerate a few wounds before your opponent can chop through it. Remember that fighting is a basic action, so if this monster activates while engaged it’ll be able to both swing and attempt to heal in the same round! Sure, it’s around 45 credits more expensive than an Ambot, but if you’ve got the cash, splurge on this bad baby.

That’s a big kitty! (Credit: Johnathan D.)

Hangers-On

Included here are the two Escher-exclusive followers, both of which can be hired with a maximum of one each per gang. For all other universal options for Hangers-on, you can check them out here.

Apprentice Clan Chymist (75 Credits)

A Chymist knocks 10-60 credits off of the cost of every single dose of Chems that a gang purchases (to a minimum of 10), making multi-effect concoctions economically feasible and enabling Escher to do what they do best; sling around tons of bare-tested drug cocktails without any regard for human life.

The Chymist also can turn a permanently deceased champion or leader into a Death Maiden, which can be a handy consolation prize if one of your well-Advanced champs takes a Heavy Chain Cleaver to the face. She’s even got Fixer, too, so she’ll be paying for herself before long!

  • Worth it? Absolutely. Chymists are vital to any gang looking to even dabble in the Chem Alchemy system. Chems can get pricey fast, even with these sizable discounts, so if your crew is on the back foot it may be smarter to invest in a Brute or a Rogue Doc first. Once the credits are rolling in and you’ve got enough spare cash to mess around with some recreational drug use, recruit a Chymist as soon as you can.
  • …But Can She Fight? With only a Needle Pistol and a 5+ Ballistic Skill, you’re better off not risking your golden goose on the rare occasion that she gets stuck in a fight on your Home Turf.

Shivver (100 Credits)

With a Shivver, a champion or leader can visit in the post-battle phase to roll 2d6 for one of six weighted results. Among the possibilities, that fighter can…

  • …immediately go into Recovery, whoops! (Only on snake-eyes, don’t worry.)
  • …re-roll 1s on ranged attacks in the next battle.
  • …hire a free Bounty Hunter for the next battle. (With free gear included!)
  • …double their XP earned in the next battle, as well as doubling their gang’s credits and Reputation gain! (The top prize for boxcars. Yowza.)

Shelling out 100 credits for a non-fighter is a hard sell, but the Shivver makes a very compelling case. There’s really only one result aside from the Recovery No-Prize that isn’t universally viable, and that would be the ranged re-rolls on a potentially melee-only Death Maiden. As long as you’re sending someone who has a gun they know how to use, there’s almost no bad results here, and the potential upsides are easy to see.

  • Worth it? Any random table of bonuses is going to be a bit tricky to quantify, but almost all of the results range from pretty good to great. A Shivver isn’t going to be as concretely valuable in the immediate sense as much as, say, an Ambot or a Chymist or an Ammo Jack or a Rogue Doc, but her portents are a strong investment in a mid-campaign gang’s continued success.
  • …But Can She Fight? God no. Shivvers have no equipment whatsoever. Their Fearsome skill provides a slight defense against getting charged, but elsewise they’re sitting ducks on the battlefield.

Not quite the Oracle you were looking for, but she’ll tell you what you need to hear. (Insta: @rustic_painting)

Key Skills

Primary access to Combat and Agility, with Leadership on leaders (natch), here’s a couple of our favorite skills that we feel really augment the Escher play-style. If you’re wondering what we think of some of the other options, or why we didn’t include Overseer as the obvious default, head on over to our full Skills Guide!


Dodge (Agility):  Slip out of harm’s way whenever you’re successfully wounded, negating damage on a 6+ before you even have to worry about passing an armor save. Useful both in melee and against ranged damage, though you’ll still be pinned by ranged attacks even if you manage to dodge.

Spring Up (Agility): In an odd way, this skill provides an almost identical (and arguably superior) end result to Ferocity’s Nerves of Steel. Escher are exceedingly likely to pass their 2+ Initiative test, allowing them to stand up from the prone for free and use both of their actions.

Step Aside (Combat): Amazing for any fighter getting up close and personal; you’ll evade a single hit in each round of close combat on an Initiative check of 2+.

Inspirational (Leadership):  Get a second chance at keeping Cool by salvaging a failed nerve test from any fighter within 6” with a roll against your own Leadership instead. Not only do Escher leaders have great Leadership, the 6” bubble conveniently allows them to stay out of the 3” range that would have caused them to take a nerve test of their own! If you do find yourself with an Inspirational leader, consider Gold-Plating one of her weapons at some point to further boost her Leadership.

Matching uniforms always help with morale, too. (Insta: @CrabStuffedMushrooms)

Finesse Skills

The new Finesse skill list is granted as a Primary option only to Death Maidens, but Queens and Matriarchs also have limited access to the list as a Secondary skill. Oddly, that’s not strictly a terrible thing this time!

  1. Acrobatic: Can ignore enemy models when moving or charging. In a gang that’s all about ease of movement, what better way to flex on a less-mobile opponent than by slipping right through their blockers and charging right behind them into a juicer target? Special consideration is given to this skill’s ability to allow Escher fighters armed with Backstab weapons to easily position themselves on a charge outside of the enemy’s vision arc.
  2. Combat Focus: Gain Willpower and Cool buffs for taking enemies Out of Action. We’ll never stop saying that Cool is important, but a temporary bonus that only kicks in once a gang starts getting kills is a bit underwhelming, even if it does count for all kills, not just ones caused by the fighter with this skill. Especially compared to similar Corpse Grinder skills like Slaughterborn and Avatar of Blood, which provide more immediate improvements and only require unsaved Wounds. The Finesse skill doesn’t have as many straight-up duds as, say, Brawn, but Combat Focus is easily the least exciting option here.
  3. Combat Virtuoso: Most House melee weapons gain Versatile equal to the fighter’s Strength. Turn almost any weapon you’re probably already carrying into a long range death-dealer! Extend your Charge range by 3”! Spend some XP on a Strength increase and do it from 4” away! Learn the Rain of Blows skill and skip charging altogether and attack twice! Versatile is great. This skill is great. Unless you’re rolling with a Power Hammer (why) or Venom Claws, it’s a smart investment every time.
  4. Hit and Run: Free disengage after charging, before opponents can retaliate. An insurance policy for our resident Glass Cannonesses, this skill allows a free retreat after attacking, provided you can pass a 2+ Initiative test, of course. The disengagement is a random d6”, so it’s advised to use this skill as part of a group activation when you can charge the enemy again with another fighter or somehow screen your Hit-and-Runner. Elsewise, she’ll likely be charged anyway when the enemy activates in retaliation!
  5. Lightning Reflexes: Can disengage when charged before the enemy attacks. Hit and Run’s defensive counterpart, this skill allows a fighter to simply saunter away unscathed when charged. With a 2+ Initiative on champions and leaders, this once-per-round ability will make a fighter all but untouchable by single melee assailants.
  6. Somersault: Place this fighter 6” away from her current location as a Basic Action. Even though the move requires Line of Sight to the destination, an extra inch of movement that doesn’t factor in climbing or enemy models is fantastically handy. The second ability of the skill is a bit wonkier, as few effects in Necromunda are actually triggered by movement. (Frag/Melta Traps are on a strict 2” proximity, Overwatch is on an action declared in Line of Sight. It does avoid triggering Escher Gas Clouds, Decapitators and Blade Cages though, as well as the rarely-encountered Barbed Venomgorse and Shardwrack Spines. We’re probably going to modify this one in-house to apply to all of these scenarios for consistency.)
  • In addition, the wording in the section of the Somersault skill that applies to ranged Unwieldy weapons does not work at all, as written. To fix: If a fighter’s first action is Somersault, they may fire an Unwieldy weapon as a Shoot (Basic) action.

We mentioned earlier that Finesse skills are only available as Secondaries (meaning those fighters can never spend XP to pick a particular skill, instead only paying to gain one randomly) for leaders and traditional champions, and normally we’d be heavily up in arms about that flagrant injustice. For this skill list, though, it’s surprisingly not the worst thing to roll the dice!

Unlike some of the hyper-focused skills from other sets, only Combat Virtuoso has an effect that could strictly be considered disqualifying for certain builds, and even then it’s because the fighter is focused on something like dual pistols or already is packing a Versatile Shock Whip. Everything else is either a mobility improvement or a Cool/Willpower buffer. The entire list is rather well designed for a change. Go figure!

Eats Venomgorse for breakfast and asks for more.  (Insta: @BuffaloChicken)

Top-Tier Tactics

These are just a fraction of your options for Tactics Cards – check out all these and more, as well as some helpful suggestions on building a reasonable deck, in our breakdown of all tactics cards for all gangs.

Reaction Fire: Even without Shooting skills, Escher can take advantage of Overwatch with this Tactic Card. If you lose priority on a crucial turn or wind up briefly outfoxed by an enemy action you weren’t anticipating, regain the initiative by shooting them straight onto their ass

Stealthy Advance: Start the game off with a major advantage, granting a free move to half your gang. Figure out what your opponent is intending based on their deployment and immediately move laterally to disrupt their plan before they can react, or just cover extra ground and advance toward your objective.

Hard Stop: Escher are fast already, but you can beat a charging opponent to the punch (literally!) by swinging before they even get a chance to attack. Bound to give pause to any opponent who’s depending on hitting you before you can retaliate.

Ultimately, the best tactic is always petty vandalism. (Credit: Alfons C.)

Chem Alchemy

Not content to merely kill an Orlock leader with a single attack, Escher gangs now have the ability to augment their poisons with all manner of debuffs and side effects. It’s a lot to take in, but the Chems are worth it! 

With Chem Alchemy, Escher gangs can visit a special section of the Trading Post to purchase Elixirs containing up to three distinct effects, paying the stated cost for each one. Once purchased, these Chems can be equipped by any eligible fighter or remain in the Stash, but they last for a single dose so once you use it, it’s gone! For this reason, and we feel that it’s best to put this out early on: It is not recommended to play around heavily with Chems too much in the early stages of a campaign. Elixirs will give you an edge, but in the beginning it’s probably a better investment to grab another Sister or a Hotshot Pack instead of making your Chem-Thrower light people on fire and drive them insane, even if that is admittedly super cool.

Chems come in three varieties: 

Stimms

A Stimm can be self-applied before a battle by any fighter who’s holding a dose, and they’ll start the fight off automatically under its effects. Alternately, they can be administered to any friendly model in base to base contact with a Simple Action. These are all positive effects, and can provide buffs that straight-up shut down certain other gangs’ shenanigans.

Pesky Delaque keep turning off the lights? Pass around some Wide Eye and ignore the effects of Pitch Black. Helot Cultists think it’s cute to keep suggesting The Ritual and End Times scenarios? Take a puff of Dreamland and you’ll be completely immune to Insanity. Even the dreaded Escher mirror match will be on an even footing with some Puke, doubling Toughness for the purpose of Toxin/Gas tests. These Stimms strip away all manner of dirty tricks, leaving the Escher’s enemies exposed and unprepared. Serves ‘em right!

There’s also a series of utility Stimms that can further augment a fighter’s Cool, or remove a Flesh Wound or mend a Serious Injury (these would be the ones that you’d be administering during a battle). There’s not as many obvious combinations of multiple-effect Elixirs in this category that seem like they’d be more beneficial than single purpose doses, with one notable exception.

Now that our old standby of the suicide Juve with a Hand Flamer is no longer permitted, the new plan is to inject one of our hapless recruits with a combination of Bad Blood and Hyper (base cost 30 credits) and send her careening straight into the heart of the enemy. Who cares if she’s too tweaked out to actually land a hit, when she’s got a d6” charge range and splatters Toxin everywhere as soon as someone injures her?

Man, you know she’s gotta be hopped up on something. (Credit: JS Goodbar)


Gaseous Ammo

A dose of Gaseous Ammo is applied to a weapon with the Gas trait before the battle, and lasts for the entire fight. These Elixirs will primarily be applied to the Chem-Thrower, but some also require a weapon to have the Blast trait and will apply to Choke and Fear Gas Grenades (of both the thrown and launched variety) instead.

An important distinction between Gas and Toxin is that Gas ignores armor entirely, whereas Toxin attacks can be saved against. To balance this out, Gas is often guarded against with common items like Respirators, which increase the would-be victim’s Toughness save against its effects. In addition, Gas attacks do not typically pin their targets!

Once we’ve gotten enough credits to both outfit a Specialist with a Chem-Thrower and enough left over to play around with Elixirs (and a Chymist to discount them, of course), there are a couple of combinations that we know we’re going to be playing around with as soon as we can. Acidic and Bane (base cost 35) are a given, negating all of our enemy’s fancy counter-gear and causing our Gas to trigger on a 3+ (or a 2+ if we’re rich enough for a Chem-Synth). If we’re truly vicious we’ll add in Liftin’ (total base cost 60) to increase our Chem-Thrower’s effective range to 14”, making cross-board template shots possible from round one onward.

On the off-chance that we’re fighting an opponent who hasn’t quite realized the value of gas masks, the deadliest option is easily the one-two punch of Bane and Blackout (base cost 45 credits). Bane knocks their Toughness down to a reasonable level, and Blackout counts Serious Injury rolls as Out of Action, meaning that every Injury inflicted by this concoction has an 50/50 chance between Flesh Wounding the victim and killing them outright!

We’re also huge fans of Hallucinogen, which triggers a Willpower test in addition to the Toughness test, only a failure here will cause Insanity. Pyrophoric gives your weapon or Grenade the Blaze trait, which can be a handy way to allow your Chem-Thrower to double as a pseudo-Flamer.


Toxic Ammo

Like Gaseous Ammo, doses of Toxic Ammo are applied to a weapon with the Toxin trait and last for an entire battle. These Elixirs will be commonly applied to your Needle weapons and Throwing Knives for ranged, as well as Stiletto blades up close. All of these effects are applied in addition to a successful Toxin Injury roll, and Toxin doesn’t enjoy the same bypassing abilities as Gas does. Even if you hit ‘em, you’ll still have to get past their armor with a Toxic shot!

All effects of Toxic Ammo are predicated on the victim first taking an Injury roll from the normal Toxin effect, with the exception of Concentrated (which makes the very first hit with the weapon at +2 to beat their Toughness). As such, these effects exist as sort of a consolation prize, a long-term side-effect of the poisons that typically only matters if the Injury Roll is a Flesh Wound. There’s Debilitating and Decaying, which subtract 1 from all further characteristic checks and save rolls respectively, and Bleeding, which doles out an additional Flesh Wound in the End Phase.

Paralyzing is probably the most outright effective dose to apply, and at a mere 5 credits it’s easy to justify tossing it all around to whoever might land a hit with a Toxin weapon. If a fighter is injured by a Toxin weapon with this Chem applied, they immediately make a Strength check and become Webbed if they fail. In melee, this can be especially devastating, since an Injury roll there is already a coin flip of a kill with a Coup de Grace. This Toxin ups those odds versus a Strength 3 opponent to 75%, and it barely costs anything to do so!

For combination concoctions, we’d definitely mix up some Concentrated and Paralyzing (base cost 20) for our melee champions to make that first blow count as much as possible. All of the effects here are pretty cheap compared to the doses in Gaseous and Stimms, so we expect to be playing around with other combinations freely since they don’t cost a whole lot, comparatively speaking!

 

Also, don’t use Maiming unless you want to be a dick. That ain’t fun. Don’t be be that guy.

Pictured: Maybe not dicks, but almost definitely not the good guys. (Insta: @baldylocks_paints)

Weapons and Wargear

Before we talk about what’s good and what ain’t, we need to mention a couple of things. Unlike most starting gangs, a lot of the best weapon options for Escher are going to evolve over the course of a campaign. Chem Alchemy is undeniably powerful, but it is heavily credit-intensive and not available to gangs at creation (thanks to being worded specifically as an Escher-exclusive section of the Trading Post). So, some weapons won’t reach the heights of their potential until after a couple of games.

It’s important to keep this in mind when building your gang, because if you start spending all your credits on costly weapons that won’t “mature” until later in the campaign, your gang can flame out quickly. We’ll mention in our evaluations whether or not we think the weapon is suitable for a starting gang!

Basic Weapons

Autogun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister]: The ol’ standby. Generally, the Autogun is a fine choice for a cheap ganger, but for Escher, it’s completely overshadowed by the cheapness of the Lasgun. The potential for special ammo can give it versatility beyond its role as a cheap basic weapon, but with the availability of Lasguns and their upgrades, it really doesn’t have as much of a place in this gang. Rating: C+

Boltgun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch]: Boltguns work great as a way to add some ranged punch to a champ or leader. They’re solid damage dealers with good accuracy bonuses and rapid fire. Their main issue is their unreliable 6+ Ammo stat, and the fact that a Damage 2 weapon is somewhat less impressive in a gang packing this many Toxin weapons. Rating: B+

Lasgun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister]: For Escher, Lasguns cost 5 credits. You might be nodding your head thinking, “Sure, that’s cheap, but it’s not crazy or anything.” Well, dear reader, let us give you some perspective: For Escher, Laspistols are twice the cost of a Lasgun. This is absolutely wild. Lasguns are near-perfect basic weapons. They’re extremely accurate, reliable, and for Escher, freakin’ dirt cheap. Forget having a pistol for a backup weapon. Grab a 5-point Lasgun and go to town! Later in the campaign, you can upgrade your Lasguns to have Focusing Crystals or Hotshot Packs to give your Lasguns more punch, which makes them even more of an attractive option. Rating: A+

Sawn-off Shotgun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch]: For what this weapon does, what with it’s 8” range, a pistol almost always does better, and can be used in close combat. Do yourself a favor and skip this one. Rating: D-

Shotgun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister]: The Shotgun has a ton of versatility, what with its many ammo types, but it comes in as just a tad too expensive for what it does. Solid Shot ammo comes standard (along with Scatter), and can be a useful source of Strength 4 firepower before Bolters and Hotshots become affordable. Rating: C+

Throwing Knives [Anyone]: Throwing knives are an attractive option because, like Lasguns, they only cost 5 credits. When things only cost 5 credits, they’re usually pretty useful. The best use for these things is for a fighter who has a better Toxin weapon (like a Needle Rifle or Venom Claw) who is going to be using Chem Alchemy Elixirs on their better weapon. Since Elixirs can be used on any of the fighter’s weapons, you can also use them with the fighter’s throwing knives. That being said, throwing knives have the triple whammy of being extremely short-range, unreliable (Scarce), and inaccurate. If they weren’t 5 credits, they’d be pretty bad. We’d recommend them alongside Stub Guns as a solid back-up weapon for your rank and file that won’t break the bank. Rating: B+

Wyld Bow [Wyld Runner]: You might think that a bow and arrow is out of place in the Underhive, and, unfortunately, you’d mostly be right. -1 to hit at long range and no bonus at short range is pretty harsh on this weapon. It really limits the Wyld Bow’s viability. However, the bow is very cheap, only 10 credits, which does a lot to increase its usefulness. Additionally, the special ammo that can be bought for it can give it a real boost, especially exploding ammo. Who doesn’t love an 18” range Frag Grenade? Rating: C

More plausible weapons than Autoguns made out of garbage, when you get right down to it. (Blog: Juan M. at Plástico y Metal)


Pistols

Combi-Pistol (Bolt Pistol/Needle Pistol) [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch]: Check it out! It’s the only way to get a Bolt Pistol at gang creation for House Escher! And it’s attached to a Needle Pistol! Not too bad! The Bolt Pistol is accurate and hard-hitting, and the Needle Pistol can take care of multi-wound targets easily, and be augmented with Elixirs. The only drawback for this gun is that both weapons are 6+ Ammo, and the Needle Pistol is Scarce, meaning that you’ll probably need a backup weapon. Good thing Escher has a few options for those! Rating: B+

Autopistol [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister, Little Sister]: The Autopistol is not exactly a thrilling choice, but it will get the job done. Rating: C

Laspistol [Anyone]: Like an Autopistol, but fewer shots, more accurate, and more reliable. We prefer it to the Autopistol, but it probably won’t thrill you, either. It’s a hard sell on a pistol when the full Lasgun does so much more for half the cost, but maybe you really want the Sidearm trait for melee? Rating: C+

Plasma Pistol [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden]: Plasma weaponry is generally really good, and in this case, it’s no exception. Accurate, powerful, and priced to move, the Plasma Pistol isn’t just a bonus to a combat character: it can be a deadly edition to a fighter who excels at shooting. A Death Maiden with a Plasma Pistol and a mean combat weapon is a scary, scary fighter. Rating: A

Needle Pistol [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden, Little Sister]: The Needle Pistol is an odd one. On one hand, it is highly accurate, can take out multi-wound enemies with one shot, and meshes extremely well with House Escher’s Chem schtick. On the other hand, it’s short-ranged and Scarce. Fortunately, it’s not too expensive. You’re going to want to have a backup gun on hand, though. Rating: B

Hand Flamer [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden, Gang Sister]: Hate to say it, but Hand Flamers are too expensive for what they do. A Gang Sister with one isn’t the worst idea, but is it really worth 75 credits? Now that we can’t arm our Little Sisters with these and send them off to glory, we’re not seeing a great use-case for their inclusion in the average gang.  Rating C-

Stub Gun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Wyld Runner, Gang Sister, Little Sister]: Curiously, Death Maidens can’t take Stub Guns. Huh. They’re cheap, they’re accurate, and they will pretty much never run out of ammo. The perfect backup weapon for a character that you expect will get into combat. Rating: B+


Special Weapons

Combi-Weapon (Bolter/Flamer) [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: This thing’s only 15 credits cheaper than buying the individual weapons themselves, and carries the brutally bad Unstable trait on the Flamer. Leave this one at home, Scummers. Rating: D-

Combi-weapon (Bolter/Needler) [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: Needlers are good at taking down multi-wound characters, but then again, so are Bolters. It could be argued that Bolters are better at it, even! You do get a 10-credit discount as opposed to buying both weapons, though, but it still seems as either weapon is better than this one. The potential to augment this weapon with Chems gives it a bit of a boost, but you’re better off focusing on the standalone version of one or the other. Rating: C

Combi-weapon (Bolter/Melta) [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: Melta on its own is a big investment for a short range, Scarce weapon. However, when you combine that with a Bolter and a 20-credit discount, the Bolter/Melta starts to make sense. Rating: B

Combi-weapon (Bolter/Plasma) [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: This is a Bolter and a Plasma Gun without the never-used maximal power profile at a 40-credit discount. Fire the Plasma until it runs out of ammo, and then go ahead with the Bolter. Aside from the price tag, what’s not to love? (Merton: Cowards! Never not overcharge.) Rating: B+

Flamer [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: Too expensive for what it does, even if what it does can be pretty devastating. Keep it on a Specialist, though. Bad idea to waste a champion’s improved Ballistic Skill. Rating: C

Grenade Launcher (Frag & Krak) [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: Grenade Launchers are almost always an excellent option for any gang, especially on a Specialist, as they’re not strictly tied to good Ballistic Skill. Note that Smoke Grenade ammo is available at the word go, and we strongly suggest you bring some smokes along to every game.  Rating: A

Needle Rifle [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: Cheap and synergistic outweigh short-ranged and Scarce. With Chem Alchemy, the Needler will do a much better job at Getting It Done. It’s got a respectable AP of -2, making it also one of the more reliable methods of getting your Toxins to actually penetrate. Rating: B+

‘Nightshade’ Chem-Thrower [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: In GotU, the Chem-Thrower was just about as good as a wet fart, but now with Chem Alchemy it can become a fearsome, if expensive, weapon. It might be best to grab one of these mid-campaign when you know you can keep it effective with Elixirs. Otherwise it has the same caveat as a Flamer: keep it on a Specialist. Rating: B-

Meltagun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: Cracking through armor is important in the late game, and nothing’s better than the Melta when it comes to that. It’s pricey, but it will wreck your opponents in the hands of an accurate fighter able to get up close. Rating: B

Plasma Gun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Gang Sister Specialist]: The venerable plasma gun is still really good! It really ought to be a staple in every gang. Rating: A

A weapon too special to even be on the list, technically. She doesn’t seem to care. (Insta: @kervanteskreations_)


Heavy Weapons

Heavy Stubber [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch]: To be truly fearsome, you’d need to add the 60-credit set of Suspensors to a fighter with a heavy weapon. Until that, they just don’t hold a ton of water. That being said, a Heavy Stubber is always a welcome sight to any gang. Rating: C+

Plasma Cannon [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch]: Same caveat as above. Coming in at the same cost as a Heavy Stubber, the plasma cannon is more powerful and more versatile. If you can get past the Unwieldy nature of the gun, it will cause your opponents all sorts of trouble. Rating: B


Close Combat Weapons

Chainaxe [Gang Queen]: +1 to hit and +1 Strength with a bevy of special rules for 30 credits? Sign us the hell up! Rating: B+

Chainsword [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden, Wyld Runner, Gang Sister]: An excellent choice for a more defensive-minded fighter. The +1 to hit makes it an extremely compelling choice for a Gang Sister or Wyld Runner who wants to get stuck in. Rating: B+

Fighting Knife [Anyone]: It’s cheap, it’s got AP, and it gets better when you stick it in someone’s back. Hard to say anything bad about the ol’ Fightin’ Knife. Rating: B

Power Knife [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden, Wyld Runner]: Rules as written, the Escher Power Knife is actually a Power Axe. But GW went and fixed that error in the recent FAQ. However, they forgot to add the Backstab trait that every other Power Knife in Necromunda has. We’d recommend you play them as if they have Backstab. Either way, Power Knives are excellent melee options as they have a positive Strength modifier, good AP, the Power trait, and are priced very reasonably. Rating: A

Power Hammer [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch]: One of the few Damage 2 melee weapons that doesn’t suck, the Power Hammer is a very good addition to a melee-focused Queen or Matriarch. Rating: B+

Power Sword [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden]: Same price as the Power Hammer, but you trade a point in damage for one more AP and the Parry rule. Works out to a very good weapon, and synergizes extremely well with the Death Maiden’s skillset. Rating: B+

Servo Claw [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch]: +2 Strength and Damage 2 makes for a very compelling weapon, but the lack of AP can hurt in the later stages of a campaign. Rating: B+

Shock Whip [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden, Gang Sister]: For a gang like this, that can expect to have a few characters that will invariably excel in combat, the Shock Whip can make a huge difference. Versatile is absolutely excellent, and the rest of the stats and rules are just icing on the cake. Rating: A

Stiletto Knife [Anyone]: The Stiletto Knife is a cheap way to get Toxin attacks in melee. It can be good with the right combo of Elixirs, but it falls short when compared to the other knives. Rating: C

Stiletto Sword [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Death Maiden, Gang Sister]: With the introduction of Parry and an AP of -1, the Stiletto Sword manages to achieve what the Stiletto Knife can’t: a compelling Toxin melee choice. Rating: B

Venom Claw [Death Maiden]: Same cost as the Stiletto Sword, but AP -2 and Entangle, making it a more offense-oriented melee weapon than the Stiletto Sword. A properly outfitted Death Maiden can make this weapon fairly scary. Rating: B+

Whip [Wyld Runner]: The regular, non-shock version of the whip on its own is not fearsome. However, when the fighter carrying it is behind a trio of Phelynx and still doing damage in combat, it starts to make sense as to why it’s there. Rating: C+

Punks to the core. (Credit: Joshua O.)

Grenades

Choke Gas [Anyone]: Escher have a lot of fun things they can do with gas, but these seem a little pricey for what they do. Especially when the cost of Chem Alchemy is considered. That being said, with the right Elixirs, Choke Gas Grenades will absolutely get it done. Rating: C+

Frag [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Wyld Runner, Gang Sister, Little Sister]: Bog standard Frag Grenades are always welcome in a gang, even though they might not swing every battle your way. Rating: C

Krak [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Wyld Runner, Gang Sister, Little Sister]: You’ll never use these. Feel free to prove us wrong with some sort of proof, but Kraks are both bad and expensive. Rating: D-

Photon Flash [Anyone]: Photon Flash Grenades are so good that you could make a case to put them on every fighter in any Escher gang you create. They won’t do a damn thing against other Escher gangs, but against anyone else, they will completely wreck face. Rating: A

Scare Gas [Anyone]: The argument could be made that Scare Gas Grenades are a better delivery system for Elixirs since they’re 5 credits cheaper than Choke Gas Grenades and still come with the Gas trait. Honestly, we’ll have to play around with the idea, but in this case, it looks promising. Rating: B

Smoke [Anyone]: If you’re planning on running close-ranged or melee characters, Smoke Grenades are a must. They’re excellent for covering your advance and shutting down firing lanes. However, if your Escher are more of the long-range shooting variety, then you might want to leave these at home, as you will want as much of the battlefield to be revealed as possible. Rating: B+

Stun [Gang Queen, Gang Matriarch, Wyld Runner, Gang Sister, Little Sister]: Cheaper, crappier versions of Frags. Avoid. Rating: D


Selected Wargear

Armor (Flak, Mesh or Carapace): Escher fighters no longer come with armor, and you’ll have to buy some if you want to keep your fighters in the fight. Consider how important each fighter’s presence on the battlefield is and buy your armor accordingly. Carapace is way too expensive at gang creation to be worth it, though!

Armored Undersuit: The Undersuit improves saves by 1, and is a must-have for your heavy hitters. Remember: you can buy a suit of Light Carapace for 80 credits and that will net you a 4+ save. Or you can buy Mesh and an Armored Undersuit for only 40 credits and get the same result.

Chem-synth: If your fighter is armed with Gas or Toxin weapons of any kind, it is absolutely imperative that they also come with a chem-synth. The Chem-Synth will increase the efficacy of Gas or Toxin weapons by 17% every time an Intelligence check is passed. Also, this Intelligence check is a free action, allowing your fighter to use her two activations just like normal. Take Chem-Synths if you’re tech-ing into Gas and Toxin. Seriously.

Hotshot Las Pack: If you’re playing Escher, you will probably have a proliferation of Lasguns. Lasguns lack bite in the later stages of a campaign, so it’s a very good idea to upgrade them down the road with Hotshots or even a Focusing Crystal from the Trading Post.

Master-Crafted Weapons: This technically belongs somewhere scattered into an early section, but Master-Crafted versions of Escher weapons purchased through their House Armory are able to trigger their re-roll ability only once per battle, instead of once per round.

Normal human Gang Sister, with all three of her normal human pistols. (Insta: @hivefleetthulian)

Trap Queens

House of Blades has further broadened the range of sneaky tricks that House Escher can employ by adding 3 new traps, a weapon-enhancer and a new Gang Relic to the Escher Trading Post. None of these things are available at gang creation, but can be purchased at the Trading Post if they can be found.

  1. Gas Canisters: Gas Canisters can be moved around the battlefield like a Loot Casket and will act as a Chem-synth to nearby fighters with Gas weapons. Very useful! The only drawback is that they can be targeted and will explode if damaged, potentially injuring friendlies.
  2. Blade Cage: If you liked the Saw films, then you’ll love the Blade Cage. It’s a trap that ensnares an enemy fighter, holding them in a matrix of razor sharp and rusty blades. In game terms it will cause enemies to pass an Initiative test or become Webbed. Very useful to restrict enemy movements and punish potential snipers.
  3. Decapitator: Decapitators are spring-loaded or pneumatic blades that are designed to separate limbs from the bodies of the hapless fighters who get too close. In game turns, the fighter must pass an Initiative check or immediately have to roll an Injury dice. Brutal. No one wants their gangers to walk anywhere near one of these terrifying contraptions, so we imagine their impact may be quite large in games of Necromunda!
  4. Gas Censers: Like angry streetlights, Gas Censers slowly release toxins into their immediate area, and enemy fighters who move too close can be overcome by the fumes and suffer a Flesh Wound. Additionally, friendly gangers are immune to this and can even pick up the censer and hurl it like a Choke Gas grenade, consuming the Gas Censer in the process.
  5. Chymist Cult Relic: Like a Gang relic, but also a Chem-synth and a Gas Censer all in one! Honestly, this one won’t see a lot of action as it only shows up in games that require a Gang relic, but it will be helpful if an Escher gang ever manages to plant one.

It’s entirely possible that Blade Cage and Decapitator are just the names of their albums. (Insta: @the_mobius_schism)

Corrupted Escher Gangs

If all this isn’t enough, and for whatever reason you’re still eager to layer on another set of rules, the Book of Ruin makes it possible to corrupt any House gang with the taint of Chaos or the loving embrace of the Genestealers. Or both at the same time, for the truly masochistic!

With Genestealer Corruption, Escher Gang Queens have the option to become Psykers, and can hire a single Aberrant and some Little Sisters with an extra arm. The Wyrd aren’t much to write home about (aside from Mind Control, which is phenomenal), but your leader will gain access to a Psychic Familiar to soak up hits and increase her survivability.

Aberrants are melee monsters, but they’re fairly limited when it comes to upgrading their equipment long-term. They previously filled a useful niche in an Escher gang as a beatstick and distraction, but that distinction is now squarely the domain of the Death Maidens. Still, the Aberrant is a lot cheaper and can be fielded earlier in a campaign because of it. Besides, if you’re joining forces with the Xenos you’re gonna want to bring one of these beauties. Big gribbly aliens are kinda the whole point, no? (Even though they’re listed as Ganger types, Aberrants are stated in the Book of Ruin to count as leaders/champions/juves for ratio purposes for Corrupted Gangs. As such, we feel that they should not gain the Gang Fighter ability here.)

For when the Venomgorse starts to bite back. (Insta: @BuffaloChicken)

On the other hand, an Escher gang that’s chosen to give themselves over to Chaos Corruption gains a full immunity to Insanity and a slew of other bonuses based off of the dark god they’ve chosen to worship (pending a successful Dark Ritual, of course)! Also Chaos Spawn, but that’s not always a good thing.

We’re not going to go into depth here on all of the possible outcomes and boons, just click and read the article! We will say, however, that it would behoove you to at least consider all four gods equally. Nurgle’s got some pretty rad gifts, guys. Don’t just slam-pick Slaanesh, that one’s been done to death!

Sample Gangs

Out-of-the-Box Escher Gang

Built fully from the original ten-model kit:

 

  1. Gang Queen: Plasma Pistol, Shock Whip, and Mesh Armor (Spring Up) – 215
  2. Gang Matriarch: Bolter/Needler, Fighting Knife, and Flak Armor (Dodge) – 205
  3. Gang Matriarch: Plasma Pistol, Laspistol, and Flak Armor (Dodge) – 170
  4. Gang Sister Specialist: ‘Nightshade’ Chem-Thrower, Stub Gun, Flak Armor and a Chem-Synth – 215
  5. Gang Sister: Lasgun and Flak Armor – 65
  6. Gang Sister: Lasgun and Flak Armor – 65
  7. Gang Sister: Lasgun and Flak Armor – 65

Total: 1,000 Credits


Out-of-the-BoxES Escher Gang

Built fully from the original ten-model kit and the new Death Maiden/Wyld Runner kit:

  1. Gang Queen: Plasma Pistol, Shock Whip, and Mesh Armor (Spring Up) – 215
  2. Gang Matriarch: Plasma Pistol, Laspistol, and Flak Armor (Dodge) – 170
  3. Death Maiden: Needle Pistol, Venom Claw, Chem-synth, Mesh Armor and Smoke Grenades (Hit & Run) – 215
  4. Wyld Runner: Throwing knives, Whip, Flak Armor, 2x Phelynx and Photon Flash grenades – 190
  5. Little Sister: Stub Gun, Fighting Knife, Photon Flash Grenades, and Flak Armor – 65
  6. Gang Sister: Lasgun, Fighting Knife and Flak Armor – 65
  7. Gang Sister: Lasgun and Flak Armor – 65

Total: 1,000 Credits


“So You Bought a Weapon Pack or Two” Gang

No restrictions on bits, everything’s fair game. We’ll hire a Death Maiden ASAP, promise!

  1. Gang Queen: Plasma Pistol, Shock Whip, and Mesh Armor (Spring Up) – 215
  2. Gang Matriarch: Plasma gun, Stub gun, and Flak Armor (Dodge) – 215
  3. Gang Matriarch: Bolter/Plasma and Flak Armor (Dodge) – 230
  4. Gang Sister Specialist: Grenade Launcher (frag, krak, smoke) and Flak Armor – 115
  5. Gang Sister: Lasgun and Flak Armor – 65
  6. Gang Sister: Lasgun and Flak Armor – 65
  7. Little Sister: 2 x Stub Gun, and Photon Flash Grenades – 45
  8. Little Sister: Stub Gun, Laspistol, and Photon Flash Grenades – 50

Total: 1,000 Credits

Simply vicious. (Insta: @b.ellicar)

Final Thoughts

Escher badly needed a boost, but thankfully House of Blades provided one and then some! They got some much needed melee punch with the advent of Death Maidens. They’re now the most effective gang at screening their important fighters with Wyld Runners and Phelynxes. Their specialty weapon traits, Gas and Toxin, got seriously better with the arrival of the Chem Alchemy system. And the Finesse skill-set is, so far, the only one that’s written to have 6 good choices! You almost can’t go wrong with any of the options provided to House Escher.

For our money, Escher still operate best as a mid- to long-range threat gang, with plenty of high strength and accurate shooting. The old way to take them on was to get up close and get them running, but with the threat of Death Maidens waiting to strike and the gang’s improved Cool stats, players will have to think about new ways to get past the warrior women of House Escher. Additionally, if you want to play your Escher as up-close and stabby as can be, you totally can! Wyld Runners and Death Maidens open up a ton of options for House Escher, and we can’t wait to see what our players come up with!

Kickin’ it old school. (Insta: @javi_tulark)

Well, Scummers, we hope this article has helped you navigate the newly powerful House Escher. If you’re finding something’s working or not with your gangs, drop us a line over at necromunday@goonhammer.com and tell us what’s what! We’ll be back next week with a two-fer: a revamped Tactics Card Tier List and our thoughts on the two Noble Alliances! Thanks for reading, and stay frosty out there!

 

 

 

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