Necromunday: Houses of the Underhive – Goliath

Updated September 25th, 2023!


Goliaths are an artificially-created slave class which overthrew their masters, proving better suited to life in the industrial hellscape of Necromunda and thriving amongst the forges and factories. In achieving their status as a Clan House, they were able to implement their own society, based on might as right and fueled by a brutal meritocracy, where political power can only be held by staving off physical challengers. Most Goliaths are Vatborn – grown in amniotic tubes rather than born of parents – and only live a few years. A few are Unborn – normal humans who have joined the House, often undergoing gene smithing and/or surgery to approach the other Goliaths’ physical strength. An increasing number are Natborn – they have been bred from other Goliaths. These last are something of a miracle and the future of the House, often reaching leadership positions, boasting the inhuman strengths of the original Goliaths without any of their mental instability. But they are still too few and the Clan relies on artificially grown Goliaths to maintain itself. Additionally, all Goliaths require cocktails of growth hormones and drugs to maintain their enormous, musclebound frames. Ironically this makes them reliant on trade and negotiation with their longtime enemies in House Escher. 

This is going to be a very large article for very large people, so grab a slab of corpse starch and a battered tin cup of Second Best. There’s a lot of choices and options to think about in Necromunda, especially when your gang gets a whole splat book (House of Chains) plus bits and pieces in other campaign books to provide them stuff to choose from. So much stuff. Goliaths aren’t the fastest readers so this discussion could take a while.

Why play Goliaths?

So you think you’re a big man, eh? House Goliath are one of the more unique Necromunda gangs, in that their fighters’ basic statlines are outliers from the normal human. They gain +1 Strength and Toughness, but lose Movement. While Strength is helpful in close combat, and has some fringe benefits like extending range on grenades, Toughness is an extremely important stat in all combat situations. Don’t underestimate the impact of reduced Movement though. Goliaths also boast better Cool, which is by far the most broadly used of the ‘mental stats’, but have worse Willpower and Intelligence. Those stats are irrelevant in most games, but against certain enemies, environmental effects or Mission rules, the Goliaths’ lack of them can be a serious disadvantage. 

Because of their Strength and Toughness, because their Champions are better suited to close combat, and because of the House’s brutal theme, Goliaths are often seen as a close combat oriented gang. This is not the whole picture. Any gang in Necromunda can be built to excel in different situations. Goliaths’ leaders and champions are natural close combat powerhouses. We will break them down in detail, but all can be made into terrifying melee threats. Melee combat in Necromunda does tend to become ‘rocket tag’ once fighters have accumulated Advances and bought top class weaponry – a developed Goliath leader or champion can blend all but the biggest and toughest targets to a fine paste in one activation. Critically they have access to the Nerves of Steel skill, and a House-unique Muscle skill, Naargh, which can help them actually get to the enemy, which is the most difficult thing about melee combat. Ordinary Goliath fighters have better Strength than their counterparts in other gangs, so can also do well in melee. But bear in mind the gap isn’t enormous, and combat between fighters with only 1-2 attacks is inherently a bit chancy. 

Goliaths have limited access to Shooting skills and their cheapest Basic weapon, the Stub Cannon, is a bit of a dud compared to the autoguns or lasguns that classic shooting focussed gangs will usually start a campaign with. Their BS stats are unexceptional – only the leader gets 3+BS, all the champions and fighters have BS4+. But remember that this isn’t much worse than most other gangs! Their leader and one of their champion types can access good heavy and special weapons. Their gangers can take two of the best higher-value Basic weapons in the game, boltguns and combat shotguns, which will be useful in a Campaign long after the cheapest Basic weapons have become obsolete. It is perfectly possible to make a Goliath gang with good fire support, and indeed our central point here isn’t just that you don’t have to build a gang purely focussed on close combat, you shouldn’t. Getting models into melee range against a shooting focussed opponent can be very challenging, especially on open tables or in Missions where the enemy can afford to sit back and defend, forcing you to come at them. Games like that are much more forgiving when some of your fighters can hit back at range. 

Goliath fighters are naturally slightly more expensive than counterparts from other gangs, because their stat spread is (correctly) seen as more valuable. This can be a pain at gang creation. Common advice for Necromunda gangs is to try and reach 10 fighters at the start of a campaign, in order to have enough Activations to play during games, and avoid a downward spiral if you lose a few early on. However, in the long term, paying relatively few credits for better raw stats is a damn good thing. House Goliath’s unique rules mechanic is Gene Smithing, which basically doubles down on that issue. We will go into detail on how to use this, but as well as roleplay flavour, it will often be a mechanism to buy fighters with increased stats. This can create some absolute monsters and cements House Goliath’s reputation as an elite gang.

A battle between Goliath and Escher gangers. Credit: Games Workshop.


Forge Tyrant & Forge Bosses

We are going to discuss these two types together, because they have practically identical weapon lists and share a lot of the same considerations on how to best use them. Tyrants can pick Leadership, Brawn & Ferocity skills as Primary, Shooting, Combat and Muscle as Secondary. Forge Bosses are exactly the same except Leadership becomes Secondary for them.

The Tyrant is a leader who can both shoot and fight. He’s the best in the gang roster at the former, but also excels beyond most other gangs’ leaders due to his 3 Attacks. So whichever way you go, he will be a key piece. The temptation is always strong to make him a complete powerhouse with Gene Smithing – if Natborn, he can get up to 3 stat increases, which can create a fighter who is essentially a Brute. Our advice would be that using him as a pure shooter is a waste of those melee stats – even if investing in powerful ranged weaponry, give him a decent melee weapon as well and leverage the threat to any enemies who are close. With Primary skills being Leadership and Ferocity, they will certainly be taking Nerves of Steel if melee-focussed, and it’s a good idea for any build. The Iron Will skill could be a good idea to help keep your gang from Bottling out, especially if your starting roster is only 6-7 fighters. There are plenty of other good picks in the Ferocity tree – personally I like True Grit.

Forge Bosses are actually better suited to melee combat than shooting, if you compare their stats to other gangs’ Champions. Against that, they are the only models beside leaders who can use heavy weapons (Stimmers can buy heavy weapons from the Trading Post, but it’s a waste of their melee abilities), and since you can only start with one Specialist, will be most of your special weapon carriers as well. Like leaders they can be versatile fighters – if going purely for melee combat, it’s often worth using a Stimmer instead. So their niche tends to be using powerful ranged weapons while advancing toward close combat. They can also be used as heavy weapon carriers, hanging back and shooting at long range. This is fine, but against shooting-focussed opponents using them as part of the pressure on your opponent, of a lot of burly Goliaths closing in on their position, can be more rewarding. There are plenty of nice combinations of a special weapon and a big two handed melee weapon. 


Brooz. Credit: Highly_Entroipc
Brooz. Credit: Highly_Entroipc

Lacking the Group Activation ability and diverse weapons options of the Forge Tyrant or Boss, a Stimmer is primarily a melee beatstick. They’re superb at it. They have Muscle and Ferocity Skills as Primary, Brawn and Combat as Secondary. We have mentioned that melee combat between developed Necromunda gangs can be very decisive – the charging fighter tends to obliterate their target off the charge. A Stimmer is very likely to do this against anything but an armoured Brute, or a Gang Hierarchy model with some combination of Wounds/Toughness Advances, expensive armour and defensive wargear. Paired weapons, especially, grant extra attacks on the charge (3 additional attacks for a basic Stimmer, it doubles their base profile number). This not only boosts expected Damage, but gets past some defensive skills, like Chaos/Genestealer familiars, that work by canceling single hits. We would advise against the only native shooting option, the assault grenade launchers. While they may look tempting, Unstable is a big risk. It’s a 1 in 12 chance to go straight Out of Action (OOA) every time you fire, and on such an expensive fighter, that’s hardly ideal. Even more, it’s not an efficient way to spend credits. Why invest in shooting on a 4+BS model, if it means under-investing in his 2+WS, 3 Attacks and general melee suitability?

With Ferocity and Muscle as Primary Skills, almost every single Stimmer is going to take Nerves of Steel as their starting Skill. It’s just too necessary for getting a charge off, the more so as Stimmers boast a 4+ Cool stat which makes it very reliable. The other premier skill for helping them reach close combat is Naaargah! – an extra action, usually Move, will help them get to enemies that imagined they were safe. It’s sort of a lower priority taking Skills that simply make them more dangerous in combat, e.g. Berserker, unless you are facing very tough targets and find them struggling, because a Stimmer with decent weaponry will probably take out any unupgraded fighter he charges. Why put more resources into overkill? 

On that note, all Stimmers come with the Combat Chems rule. You can roll a D3 before fighting to gain that number of attacks, but on a natural 1, your Attacks stat is reduced to 1. Note this means you are rolling a physical D6 and halving the total, so it really is a ⅙ chance to mess it up – this D3/natural 1 distinction can throw new players for a loop. It actually increases your Attacks Characteristic, so it does stack with Paired weapons (which double your base Attacks Characteristic when you Charge – see the weapons section below). Our advice is to only use this rule when you’re not confident of taking your target/victim out of action anyway, and for Stimmers that means only when fighting very tough targets. If you’re slamming a charge into a 1W fighter without particularly great protection, don’t risk messing up the whole thing just to pile on even more damage. 

Sump Kroc

This pet can be assigned to any of the Hierarchy models discussed above. It exists in a weird space, like many Exotic Beasts. If you can fill a Crew you’re bringing into a game, having a Beast on top is very nice. But adding one to your roster, if you could usefully add a normal fighter, is just a luxury. It’s more optimal to focus on recruiting and equipping humans. The Sump Kroc is unusually chunky with T4, 2W, and a 5+ save, so at least it doesn’t have the problems of inherent fragility that many beasts run into. It’s purely a melee threat and isn’t bad at it. 

There are a couple use cases for the Kroc. Just by running alongside any melee fighter, it gives you another opportunity to charge and finish off a nearby target, although the Kroc should avoid fighting any really hard enemies. Its Counter-charge ability also lets it interrupt enemy melee fighters from attacking your champion. This is great because of how decisive Necromunda melee combat is. Any enemy champion with a decent melee weapon can likely take out a Tyrant, Forge Boss or Stimmer on the charge, indeed any model with a close combat weapon has some chance at it, even before thinking about cheap effective melee builds like Escher with Toxin weapons or Delaque with Web Gauntlets. A Sump Kroc is a great defence against losing the priority role while close to the enemy. 

Ultimately a Kroc will have some value on any model that wants to close with the enemy – but it’s something you wouldn’t prioritise over buying enough gang members and equipping them properly.

Bruisers (and Specialists)

Goliath Bruiser. Credit: Highly_Entropic
Goliath Bruiser. Credit: Highly_Entropic

Your normal Gangers tend to be carriers of Basic weapons in a Goliath gang. This is because Bullies can’t access the excellent boltgun, combat shotgun (at a slightly reduced price!) or even the pretty decent normal shotgun. That mid ranged fire support is very valuable. The Specialist will often default to a grenade launcher as it’s the cheapest and most efficient special weapon – don’t miss out on the chance to buy smoke grenades for it as well, since this can help Goliaths close into melee range against better shooting gangs. Ultimately Bruisers are a great value with their excellent Cool, and in many ways 4″ Movement hurts a shooting fighter less than a melee one. However they tend to be mixed in with Bullies as players try to squeeze enough models into their gang at the start, and in the long term, having to roll Advances randomly can hamper them (or it could work out great – all up to the dice). Specialists can pick Ferocity and Brawn skills as Primary, with Shooting and Combat as Secondary. Now while Ferocity is a good tree, it is more useful for melee-capable fighters; Shooting will be the natural place to look for most Bruiser Specialists. 


Krieg: Credit: Highly_Entropic
Krieg: Credit: Highly_Entropic

These Juves have all eaten their Weetabix and enjoy the same Strength, Toughness and Weapon Skill as Bruisers. They also have the same melee weapon and grenade options. If you’re heavily focussed on melee combat, the only downside is a significantly worse Cool than Bruisers, although still equivalent to other gangs’ Gangers. At 35 credits, that makes them very attractive for building close combat models at gang creation. The other huge upside is picking Advances. A Bully can pick up some rather cheap Movement Advances and suddenly is a very useful close combat threat. Under the new rulebook (July 2023) they can also promote to Bruiser Specialists after 3 Advances, which will open up their equipment choices to include good ranged weapons. This is actually quite doable – take two Movement and one WS Advance for a Bully, make him a Specialist and you could give him a template weapon for the latter half of a campaign. Bullies can pick Ferocity skills as Primary and Brawn or Agility as Secondary. 

Forge Born

Forge Born are in many ways the more typical Juves of the gang, getting 5″ Movement but losing Strength. They are the same cost as Bullies. Oddly for Goliaths, Combat is their Primary skill tree, with Shooting and Agility as Secondary. They can be faster moving threats, but their BS5+ and S3 don’t make them particularly good grenadiers, and S3 clearly means they are less effective than Bullies when they do get into close combat. Using them in a fairly sensible Juve role – cheap melee weapons, stub guns, maybe grenades, to run up and pressure the opponent, grab Objectives (none that require an Intelligence check, please!) is a matter of taste – would you rather have Movement? Forge Born. Prioritise Strength? Bully.

While they promote to Forge Bosses or Stimmers, that isn’t a plausible option – you have limited numbers of Gang Hierarchy models and in the late Campaign, you’d be better off recruiting a fresh one to ‘fill the slot’ rather than have a Champion whose stats will lag so far behind. 

Perversely, their stock weapon options are the Storm Welder and Rock Saw. Both are outrageous options for such a cheap fighter. The Storm Welder is pretty punchy for its 75 credit price tag, but at Unstable and Rapid Fire (3) it will take the wielder out around a quarter of the times it fires. Furthermore it’s Reckless, so all hits are divided amongst targets (friend or foe) in line of sight. That can be managed by keeping your Forge Born well away from your other models. Note – to hit anything, you still need to pass your BS roll. If you miss, the shots just vanish into the ether, unless a model happens to be right in the path to your declared target (the Stray Shots rule). So aside from whether Unstable and Reckless are tolerable downsides; is a BS5+ Forgeborn the right model to use an expensive shooting weapon? Frankly it’s silly and fun, but will usually accomplish nothing. The Rock Saw is in a way more sensible – it’s just a very punchy melee weapon, no bizarre rules – but it’s even more ridiculously expensive. The same logic applies about whether a Forge Born is a good model to wield one. It’s a damn nice prestige weapon for a gang leader or champion to pick up from the Trading Post. Seems less efficient to give it to a model with 4+WS and 1A. Compared to investing that close combat power into a champion, you increase your chance of whiffing the attacks on the charge and losing to subsequent Reaction Attacks. Again, a Forge Born with a rocksaw is a fun choice, not a smart one. 

Goliath Forgeborn. Credit: Highly_Entropic
Goliath Forgeborn. Credit: Highly_Entropic


The Goliaths’ unique brute is a purely melee model, and as brutes go it is a fairly hard-hitting one, but also a bit lighter armoured than some. In a vacuum, it’s not terrible. Rather expensive compared to an Ambot, probably comparable to an Ogryn (taking into account that Goliaths can take the latter at a reduced price). The enhanced weapons are worth it, even at +70 credits, because they have 2″ Versatile range, which is a really big deal. But none of that matters, because the Zerker is made completely obsolete by the combination of Stimmers and Gene Smithing. The draw of brutes is their statlines – the Zerker boasts S6, T5 and 3W. But note that a Stimmer with a Renderizer can match those stats with Gene Smithing, has a better WS, and can start with Nerves of Steel. Zerkers do have the Impetuous skill, but while not completely useless, that’s the weakest one on the Ferocity tree. A Stimmer is also a champion with all that means for post battle actions. You are free to recruit either type of fighter, as long as half your gang still consists of Bruisers, Bullies or Forge Born – but Zerkers are coming out of a limited ‘hangers on and brutes’ recruitment pool, which you may well want to use on some efficient hangers-on (see below). Basically, just take a Stimmer. Thematically, they are just slightly different types of steroid-addled madmen, even sharing the same Combat Chems rule. Our suggestion to anyone who wants a Zerker is to use their model and take the rules for a Gene Smithed Stimmer. 

Who to use for what?

Obviously every player has a Forge Tyrant, and while our advice is to make them versatile, with both shooting and melee weapons, at least as the campaign progresses, they can be built to specialise in either direction. Forge Bosses can similarly fill a shooting or melee role, but if you’re not planning on at least some level of shooting capability, taking a Stimmer will give more punch, unless you really value Group Activation. A lot of gangs will start with one of each champion for variety, there’s no right answer.

Moving down into the Gang Fighters, most gangs will of course start with the one allowed Bruiser Specialist. Apart from discounted grenade launchers being great, having a Bruiser statline on a fighter with the ability to pick Advances is lush. Apart from that one, Bruisers tend to only be seen when players want those punchy boltguns or combat shotguns. While their increased Cool is valuable over Bullies, even as melee models, credits are always tight in the Underhive and a Bully can swing a brute cleaver just as well. Bullies against Forge Born is another question, and here things are close. Bullies seem the more popular option with many players. It’s just whether you prefer Strength or Movement. Be aware that as Goliath-y as the former is, being good at punching means absolutely nothing in Necromunda if you can’t get within 1″ of the enemy! We would also warn players not to be misled by the weapons lists. Forge Born may have fighting knives, stub guns or two insane options at gang creation. But once the campaign is underway, they can get sensible melee equipment at the Trading Post. RAW they can never wield Brute Cleavers, but a flail is comparable value, and unlike Bullies you can give them chainaxes, power hammers, all those other Goliath themed powerhouse melee weapons, if the campaign runs long enough you have the credits to blow. 

So the archetypal Goliath gang tends to have a powerhouse Tyrant, a combination of shooting or versatile Forge Bosses and at least one Stimmer to wreck foes up close; then a supporting cast of a Bruiser specialist and other Bruisers for mid range firepower, with Bullies, Forge Born or a mix providing the lightweight melee models. 



Let’s get this one out of the way first. Brawn was such a notoriously poor skill tree (continuing a great tradition from OG Necromunda, where it had the same problem) that some of its worst skills were boosted slightly in the updated July 2023 rulebook, one of very few actual balance changes implemented. They still aren’t as good as most Ferocity skills! Few players will pick from this tree, at least until they’ve taken what they’d like from other areas. Brawn is Primary for Tyrants, Bosses, Bruiser Specialists, Zerkers, Sump Krocs who have randomly become Specialists; Secondary for Stimmers and Bullies. 

  • Bull Charge. Grants+1S and Knockback to attacks made as part of a charge. This is actually pretty good, depending on your relative starting Strength to your Target’s Toughness, sometimes you’d be on a 3+ to Wound either way. Knockback is usually pretty minor, but can be extremely good for punting things off ledges (a theme in this skill tree) or more commonly smashing enemies into terrain and boosting Damage. It’s a meaningful but minor upgrade to the kind of hard hitting melee fighters which Goliaths will generally be buying skills for. Rating: B-
  • Bulging Biceps. This lets you use an Unwieldy close combat weapon in one hand, ie you can use another weapon at the same time and gain the +1A bonus. Note that it does not allow the fighter to shoot an Unwieldy ranged weapon as a Basic action. That ability was swiftly FAQ’d and edited out of Necromunda in reaction to the horrifying prospect that Brawn might include a properly good, useful skill. Look, this could theoretically raise the melee damage ceiling for a Goliath fighter, but you would need to also buy the weapons to make use of it. Note that it would let you double-wield Unwieldy close combat weapons, but you would need to buy another expensive piece of wargear, a Suspensor Harness, to actually equip them both. Rating: C+
  • Headbutt. This is a free action you can try against any fighter you are standing and engaged with. That’s a real problem, because it means it can never be used until one of you has charged the other, and reaction attacks have taken place, and neither of you are down or out. That is not a common situation. It’s possible that RAI, the designers want this to be something you can do before or after fighting as part of charging into combat. But RAW, that’s not the case, if you Charge (Double Action) you can’t take a Free Action afterwards, it’s the end of your Activation. In need of an FAQ to be considerable. Rating: C-
  • Iron Jaw. This raises your Toughness by +2 against close combat weapons with AP-. Very, very, very situational, because any fighter that wants to charge a Goliath of sufficient prominence to have a Skill, will be using a decent close combat weapon, which means it will have an AP value and this won’t apply. The Servo Claw is the only half threatening weapon we can think of which might trigger this. That’s before you consider that Skills are open information in Necromunda, so any opponent who knows your gang, or cares to ask, can realise you have this skill and use some other fighter or weapon against you. A truly dire choice and emblematic of poor balance in the game. It used to work against unarmed attacks only, even worse, and it would be good but by no means broken if it raised Toughness in close combat by +1 against all attacks. Rating: D
  • Hurl. Definitely the most fun skill in this table, especially on tables full of high walkways and vertical terrain, this lets you move enemy fighters up to D3”, and unlike the miserable Headbutt, it can be used as part of a Charge action. Is it likely to be better than plain old attacks? Not often, if you’ve bought a decent melee weapon for your leader/champion. But it does let a Goliath with a lighter melee weapon still affect a harder target. For example, if a Forge Boss has a chain axe, and needs to set about an Ambot, they may find this more likely to actually damage it enough, provided they are up high. It keys off the enemy failing an Initiative test as well, so definitely, and counter-intuitively, more suited for tossing beefy Slave Ogryns than spindly Escher. Not optimal, but very funny. Rating: B, for boisterous good times.
  • Crushing Blow. When you fight, pick one attack and boost its Strength and Damage by +1. This is similar to Bull Charge as a widely applicable, but rather minor, boost in effectiveness. Ultimately it’s not the stats of 1 attack that makes a Necromunda melee fighter formidable, it’s the combination of a statline and multiple attacks. There are too many chances in the hit/wound/save progression for that single attack to fail and no longer apply any effect. Rating: B-


This is up there with Shooting as the best tree in the game, it has several nice options, one of which looms particularly large. An interesting campaign choice is to consider just spending the lower XP fee to roll on this tree for a melee fighter. We usually advise picking skills at the increased cost, but if you are actually intending to charge forward and fight in close combat, there are no complete duds here. Ferocity is Primary for Tyrants, Bosses, Stimmers, Bruiser Specialists, and Bullies; Secondary for Zerkers. 

  • Nerves of Steel. This is the premier skill choice in the game for melee fighters. Being Pinned kills your ability to Charge, and charging is the only way you can fight in close combat (unless you have a Versatile weapon and your opponent is silly enough to come within your range). So avoiding being Pinned is enormously powerful, and indeed a close combat model without a way to avoid Pinning is considered a bit useless. Despite a long standing prejudice against ‘spamming’ anything in Necromunda, compared to creating individualised fighters, we really do advise taking this skill on recruitment for any melee-focussed model. Rating: A+, this one is near mandatory.
  • Berserker. An additional attack when charging, this is pretty damn nice. A picked Primary skill costs 9XP and an Attacks Advance is 12XP, so this stacks up, especially since a Goliath melee leader/champion will most commonly be fighting as part of a charge. Rating: B
  • Fearsome. Enemies have to make a Willpower check to charge you. This is a very helpful extra barrier to your opponents getting Priority and taking you out with their own charge before you can strike, which is a constant risk in the high-lethality world of Necromunda melee combat. Not super reliable against some gangs’ leaders and champions, but damn helpful against Slave Ogryns. Bear in mind that it may also be fully useless against shooting-focussed gangs that never wanted to charge your elite fighters anyway. Rating: C+
  • Impetuous. Probably the weakest skill in the tree, this expands your Consolidation move to 4”. Which can be helpful to reach cover, but isn’t always relevant, especially since a common outcome of close combat is to inflict Serious Injury, and sacrifice your consolidation move to Coup de Grace instead. Rating: C
  • True Grit. A favourite behind Nerves of Steel, this is a valuable protective skill, reducing the number of Injury dice you roll by one (or letting you roll two and pick if you are only rolling one anyway). It’s quite common for multi-wound models to end up rolling only one Injury dice, at least when they first get into trouble, and this is a significant boost to your chance to get away with a mere Flesh Wound – hopefully leaving you able to smash your opponent in return before they can try again. Rating: A
  • Unstoppable. The ugly cousin of True Grit, this lets you roll two Injury dice when trying to Recover, and try to remove Flesh Wounds in the process. We are not such big fans of this, while it’s mechanically powerful, you need to be down before you can use it, and that’s a dangerous situation to be in. Unlike most skills here, it is more useful for fighters who intend to sit back and shoot from long range. If you’re in the enemy’s face, it is far more likely you were taken out in melee, in which case you usually get Coup de Graced straight out, or you are in imminent danger of that before you can try to Recover even once. Rating: B-


Primary for Stimmers (and the poor Zerkers) only, Secondary for Tyrants and Bosses, this skill is mostly disappointing options but at least one is really worthwhile. They’re also cool as hell. This tree has supplanted Brawn as the most thematic area for hypertrophic lunks to concentrate on. 

  • Fists of Steel. This makes your unarmed attacks into a Servo Claw (+2S, 2 Damage)! Cool, but still a bit of an unusual choice. If you were building a close combat champion, you would have a much higher capability ceiling by buying a weapon and taking a skill that added capability. If you had a shooting or versatile champion, yes you would save credits by using this, but the opportunity cost of giving up a skill that helps the main role is too high. Reject this one, if you need to punch people you can always buy the damn Servo-Claw (or indeed one of the better close combat weapons). Rating: C
  • Iron Man. Flesh wounds don’t reduce your Toughness during the game (but you still go out of action if you take a total number equal to your starting Toughness). This is only marginally useful. When it does come up, sure, it is very helpful not to have reduced Toughness. But think about when you get flesh wounds, it’s when you roll injury dice – you’re usually twice as likely to get seriously injured, and you have a chance to be taken straight out before this even comes into play. For every game where you’re injured, recover and get to start acting again, and are T4 instead of T2, there will be another where you just stay seriously injured or go OOA. Skippable. Rating: C
  • Naaargah! The definite good one, this onomatopoeic wonder lets you try to take a third action in an Activation. In fact it’s quite reliable, ⅔ chance for a normal Goliath and ⅚ for one of the many that will either Gene Smith or take Advances to reach T5+. This is an absolutely superb way to try and get a charge (or any kind of attack) when your opponent thought you couldn’t, for instance if you were Pinned or out of range. Rating: A
  • Immovable Stance. This is frustrating. Activations/Actions are a key currency in Necromunda games. You need to use them to attack the enemy or complete certain mission objectives, or to move (either into position to do one of those things, or sometimes moving fighters to a certain location is the scenario objective). If a skill provides or requires an Action, that Action needs to provide a really powerful or unique benefit, because otherwise it’s always better to move, shoot or charge/fight. There are a lot of skills that fall into this category across the game, and this is one of the worst offenders. You use a Double Action, so your whole Activation, to do nothing. You are tougher while doing this. What on earth is the point? This seems like it belongs to another game, perhaps one where victory is achieved by having models standing on objective points for a turn. But that’s almost never the case in Necromunda scenarios. Spending your activation to just stand there, while your opponent bashes away at you, albeit with a reduced chance of effect, is simply dumb. Rating: F
  • Unleash the Beast. What did I just say about actions!? Although a mere Simple Action, this is something you can only do while Standing and Engaged. See Headbutt, above. The opportunity may never come up, because one combatant will be down before you can use this action. If it does, moving an opponent D3” away from you, on a failed Strength check, which means it’s probably around 50% to fail and do nothing anyway, is comically ineffective. I struggle to see any situation where this would be better than using the action to punch someone with a Goliath leader/champion, even if they were unarmed. Rating: F 
  • Walk it Off. Remove a Flesh Wound by spending your activation moving twice. While mechanically fairly powerful, we don’t like this because of how difficult/counterproductive it is to use. Fighters get flesh wounded when you are successfully wounded but luckily survive the injury roll, or when you have been seriously injured and recover in the end phase. If you think about the flow of a Necromunda game, the most common time for this to happen is when the fighter is in contact with the enemy – if they are still Standing/Active once they’ve been flesh wounded, they are probably in position to attack the enemy in some way, and they should do that, instead of wasting their precious Activation simply removing a flesh wound (so their opponents can blast them again next Round). The one realistic use case for this is when a melee fighter gets shot from a significant range. They might then want to double move forwards into total cover. Even then, you can’t use it in the Round directly after recovering from serious injury, because you would need to spend an action to stand up, so can’t double move. It just won’t often coincide that a fighter has been flesh wounded, and is in a situation to take advantage of this skill. Rating: C 

Leadership, Shooting & Others

We will just discuss the highlights here. First, Tyrants can access Leadership as Primary, while it’s Secondary for Forge Bosses. Iron Will can be a nice one for smaller Goliath gangs (or in any game with a small Crew size) to make bottling out a bit less likely, bottling does cost you games in any campaign. Overseer is a famously exploitable skill for delivering models into melee combat, for example it can allow a Tyrant to group activate with a Stimmer and thus let the Stimmer activate twice in a row, ‘slingshotting’ forward an unexpected distance and smashing someone up. But it does (as of the July 2023 updated rules) require a leadership test to work, which is not a Forge Tyrant’s strongest stat, and Goliaths are poorly suited to building cheap leaders which are the most efficient way to abuse that skill. In any case, it’s more in the spirit of things to have your Tyrant do the job himself. 

Shooting is maybe an even better tree than Ferocity, and Forge Bosses, Specialists and Forge Born can take it as Secondary. Remember that Natborn Goliaths can also upgrade one of their Secondary Skills to Primary using the Adaptive Mind upgrade. There are simply no bad skills in that tree, although Gunfighter is clearly only useful for pistol-packing fighters, Fast Shot and Hip Shooting don’t work with Unwieldy weapons, and the latter is best suited to certain aggressive short ranged options, especially those with templates. Trick Shot is basically a +1BS upgrade which can stack with the maximum BS2+ stat. After other key stat Advances, any shooting role Goliath fighter should consider picking from here, although the 12XP to pick a Secondary skill is steep.

Combat is Primary for Forge Born and Secondary for all your big guys. It’s a very consistent tree, all of the skills are useful but rather underwhelming. As discussed earlier, charges in Necromunda tend to end with the receiving fighter lying bleeding on the floor, and a couple of these skills are only useful to fighters making Reaction Attacks (Counter-Attack) or to fighters activating while already engaged in melee (Rain of Blows). Others (Disarm and Parry) offer a marginal benefit, probably best if stacked with the same-named weapon traits to make them more reliable. Can’t really recommend taking any of these when there are better trees every fighter can pick from. Agility is actually rather good for Forge Born, Sprint is terrific for positioning, Dodge is a nice skill and Spring Up is OK although much better if you’ve Advanced in Inititative, which there’s no other reason to do. 

Always remember that Unborn Goliaths simply pick any common skill tree and add it as a Primary option. That is an insane degree of choice, unequalled by any other gang. If there is any skill in any tree which you particularly like the look of – Fixer from Savant, Sprint from Agility, Infiltrate or Overwatch from Cunning, that tier of highly influential skills – you can always plan an Unborn fighter to take advantage of them. 

Skills Summary

The pre-eminent skills for Goliaths who want to get into close combat are Nerves of Steel, followed by Naargah. This is based on the fundamental principle that the most important thing for a seven foot tall bodybuilder to improve, if he wants to punch people, is the ability to actually get close to them. It’s the same reason that Movement is actually a very good Advance for your leader/champions to consider. Those are both good picks for shooting fighters to pick as well, but in that role, there are some other options to consider like True Grit. As the campaign develops, some fighters may pick skills that make them a bit more dangerous on the charge, like Berserker or Bull Charge, or go for something fun like Hurl. Buying Skills as Advances is always a bit of a tough sell against the raw power of Advancing your stats. The Shooting skills all have a lot of potential for ranged fighters, but the XP cost for buying Secondary skills is very high – when you have accumulated 12XP, are you going to take even a very good skill over +1W? 

So beyond the most integral skills – starting with Nerves of Steel or maybe Naargah, and considering taking the other one as a mid-campaign pick, these tend to be late campaign luxuries, which is a shame. The big exception for Goliaths is Unborn fighters, who can introduce variety by starting with, rather than Advancing into, skills from other trees. No one expects an Infiltrating Forge Boss with combat shotgun in the opening game of a campaign!

Gene Smithing

Can you tell which of these Goliaths has been Gene Smithed? Credit: SRM

House Goliath’s unique mechanic is the source of envy and rage from other gangs. Fundamentally, you can edit your fighters’ statlines on recruitment. That’s a big deal. You can even access Skills from outside the normal trees your fighters can access, which is also big, although the best stat modifications don’t always overlap with accessing new skills. 

We will start with a big caveat on all advice: Gene Smithing is a wonderful, excellently fleshed out system for putting individual character on your muscular test tube babies. It would fit right into an RPG character creation system. As a game mechanic, it falls into a common Necromunda design trap. There are a couple options which are eye-grabbingly, unavoidably the best if you are optimising your gang for effectiveness. We will go through the whole system, but skip to the end of this section for the fun-haters’ answer. If you are using Gene Smithing at maximum effectiveness, please do check that your group is prepared to play against it and discuss with your Arbitrator. It’s almost certainly the most powerful House mechanic (perhaps rivalled by Cawdor’s Acts of Faith).

Maximum Characteristics

Gene Smithing explicitly calls out that the modifications it allows you to make to your stats alter your ‘base profile’. This is important because in the core Necromunda rules fighters have a maximum set of stats they can achieve (see page 73, Necromunda Rulebook, July 2023), but within that max statline, they also have limits on how far they can Advance from the ‘base profile’ for their fighter type. Movement, Strength & Toughness can only be Advanced by +2 over the base profile, while Wounds and Attacks can only ever Advance by +1. The relevance for Gene Smithing is that a baseline Goliath can already reach the maximum allowed S6/T6 – they start at S4/T4 and can just take two advances in each, given enough time to accumulate XP, and given they either don’t suffer, or heal, any relevant lasting injuries. But Gene Smithing mods to Movement, Wounds and Attacks are letting you reach further towards the ceiling for each stat (8” move, 6W & 6A). I mean it isn’t likely you will make the maximum statline in a campaign, but in theory, a Goliath who gene-smiths up their Wounds and Attacks (or less commonly Movement, although it isn’t the worst idea) is raising the ultimate ceiling of their abilities more than one who gene-smiths their Strength or Toughness. 


First, you have to categorise all your fighters on recruitment, into one of 3 types:

Vatborn: this is the default option, with no credit cost attached. It boasts some powerful, straightforward options to boost your fighters (like the exceptional Dermal Hardening) or to take a manageable stat decrease in return for lower cost. For these reasons, this will be the most common category in most Goliath gangs, whether you’re optimising or building character.

Natborn: the natural leaders of House Goliath and the most expensive option at +20 credits. That price tag gets you a change to mental stats (-1 Cool, +1 Willpower and +2 Intelligence) which will actually be a very slight downgrade in most situations, Cool being far and away the most commonly used mental stat. It also gets you the ability to buy Strength or Toughness Advances for a reduced cost of 6XP, which is nice, or for Bruisers to pick that Advance rather than rolling 2d6, which is excellent for them. Because of the base expense, Natborn is not very commonly seen across a whole gang, but that +20 credits unlocks buying the biggest straight statline increases. Because Gang Hierarchy models can pick 2 upgrades, they tend to be the fighters players designate as Natborn – they get the most value out of the 20 credit buy-in. It’s not a default option, but plain Bruisers also benefit a lot from Natborn as it’s the only way they can get to 2W (see the upgrades list below) and they can guarantee gaining valuable Toughness Advances.

Unborn: people who were not born into Goliath-hood, but chose it as a way of life, this category costs +10 credits and straight up lets you pick a Primary Skill from one of the 6 non-House-Exclusive trees; but you can’t ever pick Muscle skills. Fine, that is a very powerful ability which opens up a huge number of other builds. That’s good, because the individual upgrades in this category aren’t quite as strong as the others – some are still very worth looking at. Unborn tends to be used for champions to get them Primary access to a skill tree needed for some particular Skill, because you can pick your starting skill from that new Primary tree. Cunning Unborn to get Infiltrate and pair it with a template weapon (or a Cunning Unborn Stimmer to get into melee combat – disgusting). Savant Unborn to start a campaign with Fixer and rake in income. Shooting Unborn for Hip Shooting with a combat shotgun. You get the idea. It’s not a good pick for regular Bruisers because of course they can never pick Skills. 



The first category here is the simple stat boosts or trade-offs, of which there is one shining star:

  • Dermal Hardening. A lovely example of ‘what were they thinking’ Necromunda rules design, this gives +1 Toughness for +10 credits. Hands down the best simple upgrade in the Gene Smith’s arsenal, only rivalled by more expensive and wide ranging Natborn stat boosts. It’s blatantly a steal at that price. Goliaths’ native T4 already gives some opponents problems. T5 actually doesn’t make a difference against the S3 weapons which many opponents will bring against you at the start of a campaign. But what it does do is keep your Goliaths a step ahead of the S4-5 weapons your opponents will naturally start to invest in, and gives them an advance on boosting their Toughness even further through the campaign.
  • Fearless but Foolish. This gives +1 Cool and -1 Intelligence, which would clearly be a great general-purpose trade off for free, but is debatable either way for +5 credits. It would have good synergy with Nerves of Steel, although there are better options for any champion/leader, so maybe consider this one if your group or principles are holding you back from those better options. 
  • Overdeveloped Musculature. +1 Strength for -1 Initiative, this is again a pretty decent trade off for a melee-seeking fighter, especially if you take care to keep away from high ledges, but not one of the premier choices.
  • Genetic Ancient. +1 to Ld/Wp/Int. +10 credits. 

The other major use of Vatborn upgrades is to take decreases to unimportant stats, or tolerable downsides, to reduce fighters’ cost, which can help you squeeze in one additional body in a starting gang, or just keep a little bit of efficiency in your gang rating. These don’t play into a power fantasy quite as much as stat increases, but honestly if carefully selected they are a fairly powerful boost to your gang’s value-for-credits. They are also unlikely to inflict negative play experiences on your opponents, who don’t really care about you saving a few credits.

  • Reduced Bone Density. This modifies either Strength or Toughness by -1, for a -10 credit cost. Now Toughness is perhaps the most widely useful stat in the game, there are almost no ways your opponent can take you out which don’t interact with your Toughness. So overwhelmingly the form this upgrade appears in is as -1S, typically on a fighter with a decent-ranged shooting weapon, who is never intended to function in close combat. Significant cost reduction, very manageable downside, this is probably the most common implementation of a negative-cost Gene Smithing upgrade. Reduced Bone Density Bruisers armed with boltguns are a staple of anti-fun Goliath skirmish gangs.
  • Corrupted Slug. Take a -1 mod to Intelligence and Willpower for -5 credits. This is a minor saving for two little-used stats that most of your fighters are terrible at anyway, so it lines up with Reduced Bone Density as a credit saving for a completely manageable downside. If want to play scenarios which feature Intelligence checks, or play against Corpse Grinder cults, this becomes more of an issue, so a lot of players looking to save credits neglect it for other negative cost options.
  • Nerve Burnout. -1 to Cool for -5 credits. While you could argue this isn’t flat out terrible, why take a hit on such a key stat, which almost any fighter could have to take an important roll on at some point in the game (notably, to avoid fleeing the table after a failed Bottle roll)? There are better ways to save such a minor sum of cash.
  • Terminal Biology. Take a 1 in 6 chance of death every time you sustain a permanent lasting injury (ie a stat decrease from rolling on the Lasting Injury table). Back of a napkin maths, this is about a 1 in 36 chance of death every time you go Out of Action, on top of the base chance every fighter takes. Probably tolerable, there will be cases where the fighter was due a crippling stat decrease anyway, and you’d want to delete them and recruit a replacement even if they didn’t fail a Terminal Biology roll. Equally, you could recruit a fighter with this upgrade, have them become a star performer and accrue several useful Advances, then roll poorly and die. Classic Necromunda! This upgrade isn’t seen that often, but you could make a case that it’s the best negative-cost option for an expendable melee fighter like a Bully/Forge Born whose main job is to run in front, throw smoke grenades and get shot. 

A couple Vatborn upgrades are more esoteric:

  • Hardened Immune System means that Gas or Toxin weapons will only affect you on a 6. Situationally, e.g. if you are fighting Escher, this can be a big boost. But generally, a Goliath with Dermal Hardening (or a Toughness Advance) will only be affected on a 5+ anyway, assuming they are not yet flesh wounded. So it clearly isn’t a competitive choice vs the all-round buffs, even at a cheaper +5 credits, which is a common issue for skills/equipment in Necromunda which only work against specific threats.
  • Hyper Healing. Similar to part of the Unstoppable skill or part of having a friend to assist you Recover, this means the fighter can double roll and pick one result when taking Recovery tests. It also gives a chance to remove a lasting injuries on a 6, rolled after each battle. This is by no means a bad ability, especially on a ranged fighter who is more likely to go down from enemy shooting, as opposed to going down in melee and getting coup de graced. But it is not really worth the +15 credits price tag. 


The best and most commonly seen options here are the simple stat boosts, which even incorporating the 20-credit buy in, are very competitively priced. 

  • Prime Specimen is a simple +1 to any stat, while Iron Flesh is practically identical as it’s +1 to Wounds, which would probably be the best single stat to pick anyway. The most common use of Natborn is paying a total of +40 credits for a champion to have +1W and +1 other stat, typically Toughness, although you could make a case for +1A, and RAW you could pick a total of +2W, meaning you’d be resilient enough to shrug off a lascannon or melta gun hit. It would be completely valid and also very good to use these upgrades on your WS/BS, or even on Movement. 10 credits is a reasonable price for pretty much any stat increase except Ld/Int/Wp. 
  • Even better, leaders can take Tyrant’s Own, which is +1 to any two stats, for +20 credits. So the other overwhelmingly common use of Natborn is for Forge Tyrants to take this alongside Prime Specimen/Iron Flesh and start with +1 in 3 stats, and again, RAW you could pile up to +2 in one stat (it looks like you can’t put both bonuses from Tyrant’s Own into the same stat). +50 credits on your leader is pretty much the norm for many Goliath players for this reason. Purely from a game standpoint, it’s a damn good deal compared to later Advances, and for fun, nothing beats having an incomparable man-mountain stomping around leading your gang. 

There are a few other options that give more complex benefits:

  • Redundant Organs let you roll twice for Lasting Injury and pick the better result, which is actually a great way to both lower the risk of losing an expensive fighter, and raise the chance of picking up a little bonus like Fearsome, +1Cl, or D3 experience. This is nice, but most players seem to pick benefits that increase their chance to triumph on the table. Mitigating the consequences of defeat doesn’t seem to have the same attraction, even if it is mechanically good. We all think that ideally, our Natborn paragon will just crush the opposition flat and never get taken out. 
  • Adaptive Mind. Make one of your Secondary Skill trees into Primary. Could be useful to allow a starting skill pick (and cheaper Advances) from the Shooting skill tree for a Tyrant or Boss. This one is slightly overshadowed by Unborn gene smithing just granting an extra Primary skill tree, but if you wanted to combine a certain starting skill with one of the other Natborn upgrades it could be helpful. 
  • Adaptive Biology. The fighter can re-roll any Strength or Toughness checks, and hits from Gas or Toxin weapons must re-roll successes against your Toughness. At +10 credits this is probably too situational for its cost.
  • Alpha’s Lineage. Basically identical to the Group Activation Leadership skill, it lets the fighter group activate with an additional model (so ordinary fighters gain Group Activation (1)). That’s situationally very good, but you have to cluster up tight to make maximum use of this, and that will often mean you’re risking a bad situation if you don’t get the Priority for the Round. It is also too expensive at +20 credits. 
  • Rapid Muscle Growth. You may increase your Strength by +3 rather than +2 when taking Advances. This needs an FAQ, because currently, besides the cap on Advancing Strength more than twice, there is a maximum characteristic of S6 for any Necromunda fighter (core rulebook, page 73). So currently, except for Forge Born, Goliaths can already reach that cap without taking this skill. It’s not really any good anyway – how many fighters are going to take 3 Strength Advances in a campaign, when it’s not even one of the better Advances to pick?

The negative-cost upgrades in Natborn are seldom used. Partly they are just illogical, why pay 20 credits to unlock Natborn, which as discussed is fine but not a great deal in itself, and then take a downside just to wholly or partially remove that cost? The negatives are also too heavy to consider. 

  • Tyrant’s Pride. Even for -20 credits, this is the worst, it can only be taken by a leader and bans any champions from the gang. Since those are your best value fighters in Necromunda, and a key part of both fun and effectiveness, this is an option for masochistic roleplayers only.
  • Over-Engineered. Roll twice for Lasting Injury and accept the higher result. This is punishing; the risk of outright losing fighters vs the chance to escape with no permanent ill effects, is one of the most critical bits of random chance that contribute to a gang’s success or failure in Necromunda campaigns. Not worth it for -10 credits, by a long shot. Don’t come crying to us when you lose a 200+ credit Natborn champion to this trait, because you wanted to save a measly 10 creds (after paying 20 to make him Natborn, you sausage). 


The options for Unborn fighters are primarily trade-off or negative stat modifications, and unlike with Vatborn, you have to remember that these are offsetting the initial +10 credit fee for an Unborn fighter.

  • Proto-Goliath. This is basically a set of stat changes that revert your fighter to a baseline human statline, for -10 credits. Kind of an odd choice, given one of the big reasons to play Goliaths is their unique stature. But from a roleplaying and a gameplay point of view, there are reasons you might want a normal human hanging around. They’re quicker on their feet and more likely to open loot caskets and other such Intelligence tests that could pop up in missions. Notably, if you’re using a fighter with a template weapon, and taking Unborn to access skills like Hip Shooting or Infiltrate, the additional Movement is helpful. One for specific ideas, rather than a widely used thing.
  • Doc’s Experiment. Choose two of your important stats (Strength, Toughness, Attacks, Wounds) and take +1 in one and -1 in another. This is most commonly seen as a bit of an exploit for shooting-focussed fighters. They don’t need Strength, so boom, they take a hit there and go up to 5 Toughness.or gain a Wound. This is a big winner as it lets you enjoy the benefits of Dermal Hardening, with a manageable drawback, and still get that new Primary Skill Tree option.
  • Doc’s Failure. Definitely a roleplaying only option, this is choosing two stat cuts, which isn’t really worth the -10 credit saving. 
  • Malformed. Like a similar Vatborn option, this is +1 Strength for -1 Initiative. Usable but nothing special compared to others stat exploits, this would pair well with a melee Unborn build. 

Some other Unborn upgrades give unique capabilities. These can be really powerful, although they’re not the obvious choices because of the +10 credit initial buy in cost, and because stat increases are so attractive.

  • Scar Tissue. This is very good, granting -1 Damage to all incoming attacks, to a minimum of 1. A leader or champion could make good use of this to shrug off even a Damage 2 attack at the outset of a game. An interesting one to combine with Doc’s Experiment for +1W. 
  • Stimm Implant. You can take +2 Strength for the Round, but will have a 4+ chance to take a flesh wound at the end of the round. This is pretty good, given that most Necromunda charges are do-or-die affairs anyway. It’s only +5 credits and good for a laugh. It’s a shame it doesn’t give the excellent Movement and Toughness benefits of a Stimm Slug Stash, but first you can re-use it multiple times per game, and second, they do stack, RAW. Use both for a total of +4 Strength!
  • Survivor. Re-roll one dice when making a Recovery check. Situationally nice, but probably not a common pick at +10 credits. 

Finally, some Unborn upgrades are just weird and bad:

  • Data-Slug Overlay. This is going Insane on a failed Intelligence check (so always a high chance for Goliaths) as soon as you first activate in a game. Make a model an instant, massive liability, for the low price of -10 credits! No thanks.  
  • Genetic Outsider. A Tyrant or Boss can give up their Group Activation rule for -5 credits, which is a terrible way to save cash.
  • Two Lives. Representing some weird repressed memory stuff, this means that whenever you take a Skill, you randomly generate another skill from one of your trees, and note them down as a pair. Then you randomise which Skill the fighter actually has, at the start of the game. This is absolutely terrible, the whole point of picking skills is so that you can build them into your fighter’s role, it is very unlikely that a random skill will ever be equally valuable to the choice you picked. So you’re making your fighter worse and it will be a big mental load and something to forget to do in every game. It costs +5 credits. How was this considered a good thing!? 

Gene Smithing Summary

Necromunda Goliaths. Credit: SRM

Look, the unavoidable boring answer is to Dermally Harden everyone, possibly indulging in Natborn and multiple stat boosts (to some combination of Wounds & Toughness) for your Hierarchy models. You could also make a case to Natborn every fighter and give them all a second wound. That would be powerful but also force very low numbers in your gang, and it could be argued that’s a fluffy and characterful way to play Goliaths. 

We would urge players not to do this unless your group is knowingly playing optimised Necromunda where everyone is treating building a gang as a competitive exercise to make things as effective as possible. Goliaths are already considered a strong gang by many players, at least when playing on close-quarters tables against all-rounder gangs; if they have to fight Van Saar on huge open boards, or play against Corpse Grinders, who outdo them in melee combat while forcing them to take rolls on their abysmal Willpower to reply, it’s a different story. This is because their Strength, Toughness and Cool are just straight up advantages, so especially if players are inexperienced or casual and are just smashing their gangs together instead of engaging with the tactics of activation and movement, they tend to beat more normal gangs. Optimised Gene Smithing just maximises the frustration for opponents.

Where Gene Smithing truly shines is as a way to make each of your fighters a real character, and it’s perfectly possible to pick a different upgrade for every fighter in a gang, without taking any that are actually bad ideas. It’s fun to make one of your more excited looking models Fearless buy Foolish, or give a gormless looking one a Corrupted Slug, and handing such things out with an eye to gameplay and models’ likely roles on the battlefield will still make this a marginal increase in effectiveness or saving in credits. You can still give one lucky fighter Dermal Hardening, or make your Tyrant an absolute monster (we’re convinced the majority of Goliath players do this one). Just don’t spam the ‘optimal’ build, whatever you’ve decided it is, across the whole group, and no one is going to get upset. 

Ideas for Interesting Fighters

Just as a little thought experiment, let’s see what kind of fighters we could make into fun characters and playing pieces, with some upgrades that aren’t just the obvious picks:

  • Unborn Stimmer (Cunning) – Scar Tissue (-1 Damage Received) & Malformed (+1S, -1 Init) – Skill: Infiltrate. He’s a problem for your opponent from Round 1. Should try and get Nerves of Steel at the first chance.
  • Unborn Forge Born (Shooting or Agility) – Proto-Goliath. Starts with a 6” Move stat, can buy a hand flamer or web pistol, and target Movement Advances and either Hip Shooting or Sprint Skills
  • Natborn Forge Tyrant/Boss – Adaptive Mind (Shooting becomes Primary), Iron Flesh (+1W) – Skill: Trick Shot. This is a slightly different way to create a shooting-focussed leader or champion. 
  • Vatborn Stimmer – Fearless but Foolish, Overdeveloped Musculature (+1S, +1Cl, -1 Init, -1 Int) – Skill: Nerves of Steel. Not as all round great as taking other stat increases, but it makes your Stimmer slightly more dangerous in melee and he is suicidally brave, passing checks to avoid pinning on a 3+ on 2d6. Very on brand for the Stimmer lifestyle.
  • Unborn Stimmer (Agility or whatever) – Malformed (+1S, -1 Init), Stimm Implant – Skill: Bull Charge. Give this guy a Renderiser and he will strike at S10 on the charge after activating his Stimm Implant. Take a Stimm Slug Stash as well for S12!  Go buy a Rock Cutter later on, and take a Strength Advance, now you can hit S15, which is completely unnecessary. 
  • Natborn Forge Tyrant – Tyrant’s Pride, Alpha’s Lineage – Skill: Commanding Presence. If you really want to never have any Hierarchy models outside a Tyrant, perhaps roleplaying some sort of egotistical madman, this combination lets you Group Activate with up to 4 other fighters. Just roll round with a whole posse of goons. Hell, take a Sump Kroc as well, you could activate 6 models at once. Disclaimer: this is a terrible idea. 


Goliath Champion. Credit: SRM

Melee Weapons

We have a split here between the basic stuff available to Bruisers & Bullies, and the very broad list that the Gang Hierarchy can draw on. Plus one weird option for Forge Born.

Axes and Fighting Knives. Available to all fighters, at the same price of 10 credits, these are the joint cheapest melee weapons available. Either is fine. Both are pretty marginal increases in effectiveness over a Goliath’s bare mitts, but you need some weapons to get the +1A bonus after all. Bear in mind the likely targets your Goliaths will face. Assuming basic fighters without Advances, a fighting knife strikes at S4 AP-1, an axe at S5 without any AP. The former is better against a T3 target with some sort of armour, they are equal against T4 targets with armour, the axe pulls ahead against T4 unarmoured models. Honestly the knife is better against most enemy gangs at the start of a campaign – a lot of players seem to overlook it since the axe seems a stereotypical Goliath weapon and fighting knives have a poor rep since they’re overpriced without the Goliath discount. These are all minor considerations – if you’re taking these cheap melee weapons, it’s just to fill the hands of an expendable thug, and they are good for that purpose. Rating: B for both, but every gang will have some.

Maul. This is the other joint cheapest melee weapon and it’s terrible. While the Strength can make a difference to Goliaths, it’s certainly not worth the flip side of improving your opponent’s armour save. Skip these entirely. Rating: F

Spud-Jacker. Sitting between axes/knives and Brute Cleavers, this option doesn’t add much more than an axe. You just trade Disarm for Knockback, which is only situationally an upgrade. Despite the thuggish appeal of just battering your victims (sorry, opponents) with a comically oversized  wrench, this is usually neglected for the slightly cheaper or slightly more expensive options. Remember that if you do want to use them for the aesthetics, it’s not a terribly big difference, and keep an eye out for chances to raise your Damage by knocking enemies back into walls, off ledges or into other fighters. Rating: C

Brute Cleaver. The most expensive and effective melee weapon available to your Gangers and Juves, it’s a damn good value. Especially if you can accrue WS or Strength Advance(s), this is a weapon that makes any Goliath very dangerous to enemy targets with 1W. Treat it as Bruisers/Bullies only, because your Hierarchy models would always rather upgrade to a chainaxe for slightly more credits. Rating: B+ for Bruisers and Bullies; D for Tyrants and Bosses.

Two Handed Axe/Hammer. These are available to Bruisers, but not Bullies. Next to the Maul as two of the absolute worst weapons in Necromunda. -1 to hit is a killer and their other stats in no way make up for it. No sane person would ever pick these against similarly priced one-handed options, let alone paying slightly more for a leader or champion to swing a Renderiser instead. If you do want to model them for aesthetics, just use the rules for Power Hammers or Axes, or a Renderiser. Rating: F

Chain Sword & Chain Axe. These are a little step up in cost from the Brute Cleaver, and the cheapest Tyrant/Boss-exclusive options. The chain axe is noticeably better than the chainsword, gaining +1S and Disarm, for the same cost, so obviously that’s the one you will always take. Our candid advice for any player is that if you have a cool chainsword model, just count it as a chain axe, it’s close enough and your opponents shouldn’t expect you to penalise yourself for rigid WYSIWYG. Just check with your Arbitrator/group first. It’s understandable the designers wanted to incentivise Goliath players to use a thematic weapon, so gave it a points break (chain axes cost 30 credits from the TP, which is still extremely worth it). But they really should have given the chainsword a points break in parallel. It would be a slightly better alternative to the Brute Cleaver at 20 points, swapping Disarm for Parry and Rending, so perhaps that would have created its own issues. Regardless, chain axes are the cheapest way to make a Tyrant or Boss a truly dangerous melee model. Rating: A+ for chainaxes, F for chainswords.

Servo Claw. Sitting over chain weapons in cost and equal to the cheapest Power weapon, a Servo Claw is likely to be good and efficient at the start of the campaign, it gets your elite guys to S6, so wounding ordinary human fighters on a 2+, and has a nice Damage 2. As enemies start to gain armour, it falls off, so if you’re spending this level of cash we would generally look at Power weapons or a Renderiser instead. Rating: B-

Power Axe & Power Hammer. These are the next step up in price. Forge Tyrants and Bosses only. Power is a really nice special rule for melee weapons, blowing past enemy Parries (unless they have a power sword of their own) and giving you a chance to increase damage and completely ignore armour. The trade-off here is that a power axe costs less (35) while giving +2S, -2AP, and Disarm; a hammer costs more (45) while giving +1S, -1AP and no special rules . . . but it has Damage 2. This is a really interesting choice. Without digging into the maths, generally the axe is better against 1W models. The hammer still has some value there in that inflicting 2 Injury rolls per unsaved Wound is going to minimise the chance of Flesh Wounding, but not taking out, your opponent. But it doesn’t overtake the better chance to wound most models (this depends on your Strength and their Toughness) and penetrate armour (past the very early campaign, you may find most enemies have at least a 5+ save, mesh armour being common and cheap). Of course, if you’re a basic S4 Goliath, facing a T4 model with flak armour or no armour, a hammer is strictly better. One of those things you could mull over all day. Basically, take the hammer if you want to smash multi-wound models, otherwise use an axe and pocket the credit difference. They’re both good weapons, although probably not as good a value as the chain axe. Rating: B+ for both.

Renderiser. Leader and Champions only. This is the signature Goliath Unwieldy melee weapon. It’s got a nice profile for its 40-credit cost, critically getting a baseline Golaith up to S6, and featuring Damage 2. Pulverise is a very good special rule to help convert those times where one Injury roll is the line between glorious victory or a deadly set of Reaction Attacks. This is a supportable choice for a melee-equipped Tyrant or Boss. It pairs well with a punchy basic or special weapon, since you can’t use a pistol in conjunction with an Unwieldy weapon in melee anyway. As a choice for Stimmers, it gets slightly overshadowed by their unique Paired weapon options (see below). Rating: B+

Paired Spud-Jackers or Pulverisers. These are only options for Stimmers and need to be looked at in that context. The Paired trait means a fighter counts their Attacks stats as doubled when fighting as part of a Charge Double Action. Stimmers have a basic 3A (this can be increased with Gene Smithing, even before Advances). Paired weapons also give the +1A for using two melee weapons together and it’s on top of the universal +1A for a charging model (these are added after the doubling of the base profile attacks). So a basic Stimmer charging with either of these weapon sets has a terrifying 8 attacks. Given his WS2+, and that both these strike at S5, before any Gene Smithing, combat drugs or Advances boosting Strength, it’s pretty clear that a Stimmer is very likely to take out a single target on the charge. You expect ~3 unsaved wounds against a T3-4 target with a 5+ save (after modifiers). The really valuable thing here is how the number of attacks decreases variance. Of course a Stimmer, or a Forge Tyrant, with a Renderiser is also expected to dumpster most enemies on a charge.

Sometimes – as all players know – you miss half or more of your attacks then fluff the wound roll, or your opponent gets that lucky 6 to save. Even though these Paired options are Damage 1, so they’re not unusually great against multi-wound enemies, the reliability against lesser targets is important. They’re also cost-effective. The spud-jackers only cost 25 credits, and will do absolutely fine in the early campaign. For a meatier 50 credits, pulverisers gain -1AP and the Pulverise trait, losing Knockback. That’s a good change in most cases – Stimmers will almost always want to follow up Knockback attacks, it’s not as awesome a trait as it is for defensive, shooting-focussed fighters – but remember that if you can Knockback enemies into terrain, you gain +1 Damage, and clearly in those situations, if you can set them up, spudjackers get ridiculous. Honestly, either option is good. Our instinct is that pulverisers are probably worth it to help a Stimmer remain relevant in all situations, as the campaign progresses and priority targets start to armour up. Rating: A for both; the default ways to equip a Stimmer

Rock Saw. Forge Born only. See the Forge Born section for why this is a questionable choice for a 1W, 1A, WS4+ fighter. In itself it’s a great weapon and competitive with other top-end-cost, prestige options. Something to consider from the Trading Post for a meatier model. Rating: C- for a Forge Born, B+ if you get one for a Tyrant/Champion.

Basic Weapons

Stub Cannon. The cheapest, ‘standard’ Basic weapon for Goliaths isn’t really that great. At 20 credits it is more expensive than the common lasgun/autogun, has a shorter max range of 18”, and never gets an accuracy bonus. On the upside, it hits at S5 with Knockback. That clearly has some value, but the issue here is competition with other, more expensive Basic weapons. You would consider this against 15-credit autoguns or lasguns from the Trading Post. However, outside of Classic Campaigns, or other games where weapons are restricted to the cheapest options, you generally try and buy something with more ‘oomph’. That’s not the Stub Cannon. S5 may look nice, but against T3 targets it’s no different to S4. The other options below – which also get accuracy bonuses – are S4 and boast Damage 2, which is more widely useful. The most common place for Stub Cannons is at the start of the campaign, to give your supporting Bruisers at least some kind of ranged weapon, without compromising numbers. Rating: C, alright but outclassed by other options. 

Shotgun. While a bit pricier at 30 credits, this is the closest competition to the Stub Cannon as the cheapest Basic weapon we actually advise giving to a Bruiser. Scattershot may be usable at point blank range, especially when you need to Pin, or against lower-Toughness targets like enemies who are already Flesh Wounded. But generally the solid slug is the default profile. 16” range is usable, but the accuracy bonus within 8” is where it shines. S4 will often do the job, and Damage 2 and Knockback let you actually threaten the enemy’s bigger models. It’s not a game breaking option but this is a solid workhorse. Even better, as the campaign progresses, you can consider investing in Executioner rounds, which make it an armour-piercing precision tool with an accuracy bonus out to 16”. Rating: B+

Combat Shotgun. The flashier cousin of the shotgun, available to Goliaths at a bargain price of 60 credits (costs 75 credits at the TP). This boasts a similar solid slug profile to the normal shotgun, with a shorter max range and accurate range, but Rapid Fire, which is a big deal. This profile is good, but as we shall see, compared to a Boltgun, it has far less range, and less AP. Far more forgiving ammo roll, but honestly once you’re that close you just give up and beat enemies into submission with the stock. That doesn’t matter! In a reverse of the standard shotgun, the real reason you buy a combat shottie is for the scattershot profile, cause it’s a template weapon. No hit roll to fluff, it gives you the ability to reliably hit (and therefore pin) multiple targets. You don’t necessarily expect the D6 Strength 2 hits it inflicts to actually kill enemies, especially those with multiple Wounds, or as the campaign progresses, those with T4 and upgraded armour. But pinning is winning, and so is affecting multiple targets with one activation. You can also upgrade these beauties with Firestorm Rounds from the TP. Those make it a S5, AP-1 template with Blaze, which is one of the best rules around to try and neutralise hard targets. Any Goliath gang will benefit from including one or two of these. They are a great weapon for Bruisers, for Bullies who have promoted to Bruiser Specialists but not taken any BS Advances, or even for melee-focussed Tyrants/Bosses, giving them something to do if they are not in a position to Charge. Rating: A+

Boltgun. The other premier Basic weapon in the game. It’s incredibly good that Goliaths get wide access to these, it’s really a strength of the House, and it carries their medium range shooting game. 55 credits is a real push to include at gang creation, but when you consider the sunk costs of buying a Goliath Bruiser, even before Gene Smithing, investing in more gun is obviously worth it. What a gun it is. S4, AP-1, D2 and Rapid Fire, with a generous 24” long range and 12” accurate range. As with combat shotguns, any gang can benefit from them. Boltguns also do great with a telescopic scope, which for a realistic 25 credits, lets you use the +1 accuracy bonus out to 24”, making long range aimed shots viable even against models in cover. Overall the most common Bruiser builds taken by savvy players are combat shotgun and boltgun carriers. 

The only downside is the ammunition roll, if you run dry, you will probably not be able to reload, and we don’t advise trying those 6+ rolls unless there’s no other option. Short term, you just accept that risk, hopefully the game is in a winnable state by the time you run out. Long term, there are two ways to manage it. First, you could invest in ammo stashes, gunsmith hangers-on, or skills like Munitioneer via Unborn fighters that will let you re-roll Ammo Rolls. Alliance with House Greim, or some Rackets in the Law & Misrule campaign, also allow gang-wide re-rolls. Alternatively, just start putting melee weapons on your boltgun carriers. If they run out of ammo, just head toward close combat. Either way, boltguns are just great. Rating: A+

Necromunda Goliaths. Credit: SRM


Stub Gun. This is the cheapest weapon on any House list and will almost certainly appear on a number of your lesser fighters. Ultimately it’s the most cost-efficient way to help a fighter gain the bonus +1A for using two melee weapons, while also letting a primarily melee fighter reach out and (try to) harm the enemy if they’re within short range, but can’t charge into combat. So it’s usually seen paired with a melee weapon. A fighter could also benefit from two stub guns as the +2 accuracy bonus within 6” often makes it worthwhile accepting the -1 penalty for firing two pistols at once. Just remember that stub guns are great value, but not expected to do much more than pin enemies down. A common course is to start with a few of these, but upgrade almost every fighter with one to a punchier weapon that they’ll use as a first resort. Rating: A, every gang will have some. 

Dum-Dum Rounds. For another 5 credits, make that stub gun S4, but they’re Limited, so you may lose those credits sometimes when you fail an ammo roll. This is fine. Still good value, if not quite as good as the base stub gun. A lot of people will take these just because it’s irksome rolling a Goliath’s minimum S4 close combat attack(s), then the extra attack with the stub gun is a weedy S3! Dum dums are never a flat out wrong choice, but equally you don’t really need them. Rating: B, truly optional

Bolt Pistol. This is a pretty hard-hitting sidearm, but at 45 credits, in general Necromunda play it’s always been outclassed by the plasma pistol. Here it’s outclassed (for Tyrants and Bosses) by the combi plasma pistol (see below). For Bruisers/Specialists, it’s not a completely terrible choice on a melee build, but generally it’s better to take a slightly more expensive Basic weapon, e.g. the 55-credit boltgun, for better range and damage output, then take a second melee weapon for your close combat needs. Yes, the bolt pistol is the punchiest single close combat attack a Bruiser can take, but it isn’t good value compared to either the bolt gun, or cheap melee weapons like fighting knives. You’re overpaying for the idea that it can be used at range and in melee, it’s not the best solution to either situation. Rating: C

Combi-Stub-Plasma Pistol. Now this is a good value. Something of a House perk for Goliaths to have it on their starting list (for Tyrants and Bosses) because it has the excellent plasma pistol profile, at a reduced price. Sure, you can’t fire the overcharged version, but that’s a risky decision anyway and you do get a stub gun thrown in for when you run out of ammo. This is absolutely one of the best pistols in the game. Rating: A

Combi-Bolt-Pistols (hand flamer and plasma pistol). The thing here, by comparison, is you are paying close to the cost for two prestige pistols, and they’re only just back ups for each other in case of ammunition problems, you can’t go two guns blazing with both. So they’re simply too expensive. It’s not even that big a price break for buying them together, and the trade off of saving a weapon slot vs worse ammunition rolls is debatable at best. That’s before we get into the hand flamer becoming Unstable. Awful options. Rating: F

Hand Flamer. This is the most expensive thing you can give a regular Bruiser (also available to Tyrants, Bosses and Specialists), at 75 credits. It’s also the most reliable way to get Blaze on your opponents, Incendiary Charges being liable to miss. That Blaze trait really is integral to its value, since for actual damage, the combat shotgun boasts a better template attack for a cheaper price, and is more versatile with its alternative solid shots. Even worse, you can upgrade a combat shotgun with firestorm rounds, which give it Blaze while making the template damage much better than a hand flamer, albeit for a slightly higher cost. So this tends to be an aesthetic choice. It does have a niche as something to buy from the TP for a Forge Born, who could get into position a bit faster and can’t access the combat shotgun anyway. But then you have to consider buying an admittedly unthematic Web Pistol instead, which costs a bit more but is much more dangerous. Rating: C, nothing terrible but outclassed by other options.  

Special Weapons

Grenade Launcher. The most efficient special weapon available to the gang, at a mere 55 credits, and honestly a standout choice. Apart from the occasional utility of the frag template, a krak grenade is just a lot of punch for that price tag. Almost every gang will start with at least one. Don’t sleep on the ability to chuck smoke grenades as well, which opens up a lot of tactics to limit incoming shooting, and although you have to go to the Trading Post, photon flash grenades are a terrific way to deal with enemies you can’t immediately kill. Terrible Ammo Roll, so see our advice under boltguns, above. Rating: A

Flamer. Blaze is great and so are template weapons, but it’s a heavy price tag. Often this gets overlooked because you can take combat shotguns for templates, and even upgrade them to Blaze. There’s nothing wrong with the flamer as such, it’s just there are better ways to do the same thing. Rating: C, for (out)classed.

Melta Gun. An uncommon pick at gang creation due to its cost and short range, as well as poor Ammo Roll and Scarce. But don’t sleep on this option, especially later in the game, as your opponents gather Wounds/Toughness Advances, armour and other protections on their fighters, or recruit Brutes. As targets get the ability to shrug off single hits from boltguns, krak grenades, etc, the melta gun comes into its own. If you can get within the 6” short range, the melta is a deadly one-hit-knockout threat to anything with 3W or less. The ability to cut pretty much any non-field armour, and circumvent the Injury roll entirely (skills and equipment that modify the Injury roll are a common survivability upgrade, e.g. True Grit or Bio-Boosters) is very beneficial. We really like melta guns on a Tyrant or Boss who is equipped to close into melee range. If an an enemy is just out of charge range, or has the Fearsome skill to impede your chance of charging them, or many other situations, then the melta gun comes out and vaporises them. This weapon can absolutely justify its cost. Rating: B+

Bolter Combi-Melta. Take a melta gun and a boltgun in one weapon slot,  while almost guaranteeing that both will run out of ammo the first time they need to roll. This is a real vanity pick. It does have a lot of versatility, as depending on the situation, you can obliterate hard targets close up, lay down Rapid Fire rounds on clustered weaker enemies, or pick off targets at range. Pairs well with a relatively cheap Telescopic scope. But would you take it over giving a fighter either a melta gun or a boltgun, then spending the excess somewhere else? We consider this a nice pick for a late-campaign Tyrant, but it’s not a staple of the gang. Rating: B-

Bolter Combi-Flamer. This is awful due to the high price and Unstable rule on the template. You could buy a boltgun and a hand flamer for far less. Avoid. Rating: F

Bolter Combi-Plasma. Actually not terrible, at 115 points you are getting the reliable non-overcharged plasma profile, which is a great weapon Goliaths can’t normally access, and for an additional 15 credits over the stock price, make the ammo roll worse but gain the similar, but a bit worse, boltgun as an alternative. Reliable mid range firepower and worth considering. I really wish you could take this on Bruiser Specialists. Rating: B+

Bolter Combi-Grenade Launcher. Not really a worthwhile upgrade over a standard boltgun, because this only comes with frag grenades and you can’t buy any other types. That’s just a very situational profile, you’d normally choose to fire the boltgun, and as a mere backup for when you run out of ammunition, the 80 credit price (25 more than a boltgun) isn’t a great value. Not terrible, just sort of a pointless option. Rating: C-

Heavy Weapons

Goliaths get native access to some of the absolute best heavy weapons going. They are available to Forge Tyrants and Bosses (Stimmers have one unique option, and can go to the TP for any other heavy weapons). For any of these, please note that they are Unwieldy (we will note when they’re not) which makes Shoot a Double Action. That is extremely punishing. Suspensors cost 60 credits and should absolutely be added to any Unwieldy shooting weapon you buy. Tyrants and Bosses can buy them off their House lists. Yes, it’s expensive, but we will consider that in the total credit cost when looking at weapons. It does make including heavy weapons at gang creation very tricky. While you should still always buy Suspensors ASAP, note that the Nerves of Steel skill can partially mitigate the downsides of Unwieldy shooting. It’s still a Double Action so you still can’t move, but enemies can’t reliably stop you firing just by pinning you. 

Heavy Bolter. Honestly a contender for the title of most widely effective heavy weapon in the game. Expensive at 160 credits before Suspensors, and it is very likely to run out of ammunition – about a ⅓ chance to run dry every time you fire at full effect. But it hits like a truck, with the chance to spike up to 6 hits onto an enemy or tightly-packed group of enemies. The maximum range of 36”, and an accuracy bonus up to a generous 18”, mean it will always be usable. A top tip, even if it sounds un-Goliathy, is not to always unload at full Rapid Fire (2) on the first target you see, e.g. if it is a Juve at long range and in full cover. The risk of running out of ammunition may not be worth it for a likely missed shot or a small chance to overkill a minor target. You can always choose to roll a single Firepower dice, until you have a good opportunity to let loose. That will cut your ammunition risk in half. This is a very common weapon choice for a Forge Tyrant, making use of his starting BS3+ – some players even use Gene Smithing to start with BS2+. Obviously investing so much in weapons and genetics on your leader at gang creation does force some other savings! Rating: A+

Multi Melta. The other contender for best heavy weapon going. Only medium range, so don’t think of it as something to sit at the back, Suspensors are even more vital than usual and then, having emptied your pockets to get it, you use it as the ultimate special weapon. But it’s a Blast template that will obliterate anything it touches to a range of 12” (and will still be extremely dangerous to 24”). Prior to the Necromunda rulebook update in July 2023, it was completely busted, because you could freely target points on the ground with the template, this allowed the firer to ignore cover penalties and easily shoot models which were Prone in cover, otherwise untargetable due to special rules, or hiding just around corners. You can still do all those things, it’s just a -2 penalty to hit. Big difference, but no harder than shooting at a target in full cover, so realistically Blast is still an amazing rule to have, even before you consider the chance to punish enemies who have bunched up. Your friends will quickly stop bunching their models up if facing your multi-melta! But of course that brings its own benefits as it will hamper them using Group Activations or delivering Assists to injured fighters. A multi melta is one of the best ways to up-gun your gang, while it will often be skipped at gang creation, a Forge Boss with one is a top choice for a mid- or late-campaign gang. Rating: A+

Missile Launcher. Some serious long range firepower, this benefits from +1 accuracy right out to 24″, which on most Necromunda tables, which can have a lot of terrain, you will normally be within while shooting. It can reach right to 48″ which will be useful on certain boards, notably Ash Wastes. You’re very much paying for that range and the versatility, at 165 credits before Suspensors. If you compare the krak missile to a launched krak grenade, beyond range/accuracy it’s just gaining +1 Damage. That profile, while punchy enough, in no way compares to something like a lascannon, which is actually cheaper. So in many campaigns you’d consider shopping at the TP rather than buying one of these. Rating: B to C depending on whether you play on big open tables. 

Heavy Flamer. This is an absolute dud option. Remember we said the flamer was overpriced compared to similar options? That’s 140 credits, a heavy flamer with suspensors is 225. That gets you +1 Strength. You’d have to be nuts to use one of these. As with some other options, of you like the modelling aspect, consider playing it as a multi melta, or a combat shotgun with flamestorm rounds, or anything else you can justify. Rating: F

Rivet Cannon. An interesting concept wasted, this weapon was so notoriously useless in the original 2017 release of Goliaths as part of revived Necromunda, that it was significantly improved in House of Chains, and it is still useless. It is not an Unwieldy weapon, but does take up two weapon slots, restricting what other choices you can pair it with. It has two profiles which initially appear quite effective and similar to other, good, weapons in the House list. Just with a meagre long range of 9” and a miserable short range of 3”. The first profile has the same stats as a boltgun, plus the Rending trait. The second has the same stats as a krak grenade launcher, plus the Blaze trait. That sounds good, right? Not when this costs 70 credits, and both of those cost 55 and can fire out to 24”.

Admittedly the rivet cannon has a +2 accuracy bonus within that 3” short range. But there simply aren’t many times when you can fire at the enemy that close, and if you are Activating that close to the enemy, you’re actually in range to try a charge. Only Tyrants and Bosses can carry a rivet cannon, and you can make either of those way more dangerous in melee combat, for less than 70 credits. There’s just no design space in the game for a weapon that’s only an effective choice (relative to other guns) when it’s within 3” of the enemy. Rating: D

Rapid Fire Grenade Launchers. Stimmers only. This weapon is rather extreme. Some players definitely hear ‘Rapid Fire templates’ and think they’re going to be tools of mass destruction, but this is unfortunately not the case. The chance to lay multiple templates with the frag profile is good, but the hits themselves aren’t that punishing, and now that templates can’t be freely placed to maximise hits and ignore cover (any not centred on a fighter incur a -2 to hit penalty), the weapon simply won’t put out that much damage for its cost. Even worse, you are paying for a shooting weapon on a Stimmer whose value, over the cheaper, group-activating Forge Boss, is the ability to fight better in melee combat. The launchers take up two weapon slots, so they can’t be combined with the Stimmers’ best melee options, even if you were making a no-expense-spared loadout, unless you paid a hefty further fee at the TP for a Suspensor Harness, which gives a fourth weapon slot. Worst of all is the Unstable trait. This is a 1 in 12 chance to go straight out of action every time you fire. That’s just too much for an expensive fighter unless you are getting some insane damage output, which as discussed, you aren’t. This option is a complete dead end compared to just outfitting your Stimmers for melee combat. Rating: F


These are in some ways a key weapon category for Goliaths, they pair nicely with melee loadouts, offer templates at an affordable price, and have a slightly better range than they do for most gangs, because the range scales with the user’s Strength stat. Of course they are technically Wargear, not Weapons (Necromunda is an obtuse game) so they can be bought at the TP and distributed to any fighter regardless of type, once a campaign begins, nobody is really restricted to the Grenades on their House list. That’s good because grenades are weirdly distributed, only Tyrants and Bosses can get blasting charges while only the Stimmer and lesser gang fighters can take incendiary charges (spoiler, those are the best two). Note that in the updated rulebook (July 2023) grenades took a nerf alongside other Blast weapons – they must now be centred on an enemy model (which can incur cover penalties, and can’t be done to a model Prone in cover) or face a -2 to hit penalty. This does not apply to smoke grenades!

Smoke Grenades. This is the most common way in the game to block enemy shooting. By activating a fighter and chucking a smoke grenade, you can place a 5” diameter template of smoke, which blocks shooting for any fighter not using an Infra Sight or Photo Goggles. This is, clearly, a very powerful trick which can let your short ranged, e.g. melee-focussed, fighters move toward enemies with longer ranged shooting without being blasted in the face, even if there is no good cover to hide behind. There are some real caveats and risks involved in this approach. Smoke templates probably dissipate in the end phase. They only stay in place on a random 5+ roll. So, if you end the Round safely behind smoke, you can expect to be staring down the enemy gun barrels at the start of the next Round – better win that Priority roll! Of course, in many situations you need to activate before your opponent to get smoke in place and stop them shooting at you. Similarly to just firing at them first, this is affected by winning priority, picking the right activation and passing your BS roll. But while smoke grenades are cheaper than most shooting weapons, and you don’t need to worry about enemy cover, remember that your success state is ‘don’t get shot’ while the enemy’s success state is ‘shoot you’. 

What we mean is, you can’t ever win the game purely by throwing smoke and hiding behind it. You need a plan for movement which is going to get you into a strong position if you can get that one crucial Round where smoke is in place. Further caveats, although the smoke will always go onto the table (if you miss, the template scatters randomly) it won’t always be exactly where you want it, since most models you expect to chuck smoke grenades will be a BS4+ or 5+ stat. You will likely only get 1-2 uses out of each smoke grenade per game; whether you hit or not, you have a half chance to fail the Ammo Roll and run out for the game. Finally, if your opponent has invested in Infra Sights or Photo Goggles, which they might well do as a campaign progresses, even before they encounter your tactics and consider tailoring against them, your smoke will be useless. Oh, and teardrop templates can still be targeted against you freely, as can Blast templates, albeit with that -2 to hit penalty. 

A lot of Goliath gangs will include some smoke from gang creation onward. Just be aware that it’s more of a solution to some specific problems, or a little boost to a difficult situation once per game. If your whole plan relies on precise placements of smoke, with multiple templates being placed, or staying in place over several Rounds, you are setting up for failure. Rating: A but definitely a learned skill.

Blasting Charges. This is a great grenade, straightforwardly powerful, with a short but by no means unusable 8” range in the meaty hands of a Goliath. Nice stats, including 2 Damage, which can be further boosted if you use Knockback correctly. Unfortunately these were so much better when targeting the ground didn’t incur a penalty to hit. Even now, they are a very cost efficient way to try for punchy hits on multiple enemies at once. Rating: B+

Krak Grenades. These are odd because they’re not blasts! Just a ranged weapon that fires out to Sx3” (so usually 12” for Goliaths) and always at -1 to hit. Of course, being a Grenade it has to roll ammo and will run out half of the time. So while the profile is punchy (identical to a launched krak grenade) it just isn’t likely to hit anyone before you’ve used up your supply for the game. 45 credits is just too much for these. It may be a false comparison, since everyone can carry grenades and special weapons are restricted, but a full on grenade launcher is 55 for Goliaths and fires the same rounds, and provided you are over 6” away it does it more accurately, right out to 24”, and it won’t run out of ammo as quickly. Not a good choice. Rating: D

Melta Bombs. Pretty dreadful, these are only natively bought for Stimmers. Costing 60 credits, they hit super hard but work the same as, and suffer from the same problems as, Krak Grenades. It’s difficult to land a hit and you are almost certainly only going to get one shot per game with the Ammo Roll of 6+. Hilariously, they don’t even have the Melta trait, because that keys off a weapon’s short range and thrown grenades don’t have one. One for fun only. Rating: D

Incendiary Charges. Same great large template, better range (12” standard), weaker stats but the Blaze trait is amazing for potentially neutralising targets that are too tough or armoured to be knocked out quickly. These or blasting charges are your main choices for offensive grenades. Rating: B+

Frag Grenades. Unfortunately, the humble, iconic frag grenade exists mostly as a reference point for how much better the more exotic grenades are. They’re a bit cheaper, but you are down to a small S3 template without any boosted Damage or special effects, bar Knockback, which requires specific situations to become an important trait. These will always be rejected in favour of other options. Rating: F

Armour & Other Protection

All Goliaths have the option to buy Furnace Plates for 5 credits, giving a 5+ save from attacks within your front arc, and a 6+ save otherwise. At gang creation, and as a cost saving measure, this is a steal. You may find that on valuable fighters, especially those who will fight at close quarters, with enemies working round their flanks, and/or getting attacked while Pinned (Prone models don’t have a facing, so will always use the 6+ save) can benefit from buying Mesh Armour from the TP instead. Note that under the rules for selling equipment, it has a minimum selling value of 5 credits – so your furnace plates, like stub guns, can be returned to the shop at cost! 

Plenty of Goliaths will consider up-armouring as campaigns go on – protection is even more valuable when it can stack with high Toughness to create truly survivable fighters. Armoured Undersuits are available on every fighter’s House List and alongside swapping into mesh, are the most cost-efficient way to boost armour. Carapace armour is available to Tyrants and Bosses; it is worthwhile on big ticket fighters but too expensive to put on everyone. Note that for a shooting fighter, heavy carapace is worth it, but a melee-seeking Goliath might want to stay with light carapace, as heavy reduces your charge distance. Watch out for savvy opponents who will target you with Web, Phase or Gas weapons that ignore armour entirely, and of course some things like melta weapons will still cut through it. 

There are some intriguing armour options from the TP for use later in a campaign. All of these should probably be discussed with an Arbitrator, for various reasons. Ablative Overlays are so cost efficient that many groups just ban them. This may partly because tracking their use en masse (they affect the first two save rolls the wearer takes per game) is a book keeping slog. But if your group goes full Necro insanity, they are too good to ignore. Reflec Shrouds are straight up busted if your opponents (as Van Saar almost always will) rely heavily on las, plasma and melta weapons – they reduce all of those to AP-. 

Bio Boosters are a nice way to mitigate the first Injury dice roll a fighter makes during a game, identical to the True Grit skill but for that first injury roll only. It’s a fairly expensive 35 credits, but an Injury roll can be the difference between escaping with a flesh wound (potentially letting you smash your opponent in the next activation or with reaction attacks) and going down or out. They also interact nicely with Stimm Slug Stashes (see below) by mitigating their risk of knocking you out. 

Goliath Stimmers. Credit: SRM

Key Wargear

Stimm Slug Stashes. The archetypal piece of Goliath wargear, these are extremely effective and a ton of fun. Just bear in mind that they are relatively expensive (25 credits), when you consider that they are active for one Round per game, and they are best used on fighters with the existing offensive capability to make them count. You declare their once-per-game use when you Activate the wearer, and they grant +2S, +2T, and perhaps most importantly, +2” Movement, for the rest of the Round. You do risk a ⅙ chance of taking an Injury roll at the end of the Round. Defensively, this is an amazing way to no-sell enemy attacks, especially on a Nerves of Steel model who can ignore Pinning. At an average T6, a stimmed up Goliath is only wounded by common basic weapons on a 6+, and even punchy stuff like Heavy Bolters are facing a 5+ to-wound roll. Offensively, this is +2” onto a vital charge move, letting you get into close combat – the trickiest part of the process – even when opponents thought they might be safe.

The standard use for a stimm slug stash is to activate it when you’re ready to charge in. We would also advise using it when closing the gap the Round before your fighter can expect to reach close combat. It makes a big difference to Movement, a double-moving Goliath is now shifting 12” rather than 8”, and can let you survive enemy Activations before you can charge home and do your thing. It’s a fine balancing act. Too soon and it’s kind of overpriced, and of course if you go down or out at the end of the round, it’s a gift to your opponent. Too late and you may get taken out before you can even use it! We heartily recommend buying stimm slug stashes, probably not at gang creation but during the campaign. They add a fun tactical element and are integral to the theme of House Goliath. Clearly they will be most valuable on your melee fighters. The Movement and Strength are much more useful to them. Equally obviously, most players put them on their leader and champions first – delivering those models to the fray is crucial to most games, and increased Toughness matters more with multiple Wounds. 

Let’s consider the negatives. This is the flipside of our advice above to put these on the best fighters – when your unscratched 3W, T6, carapace armoured Tyrant goes straight out from a stimm reaction, it hurts all the more. You have a ⅙ chance to roll an Injury dice, so a 1/12 chance to get Seriously Injured plus a 1/36 chance to go straight Out of Action. There’s a 1/18 chance to incur a Flesh Wound. Basically, assuming you aren’t already on T1 from previous Flesh Wounds, it’s 1 in 9 chance to have a really serious failure state (injured or out). This means that if you are routinely using stimm slug stashes, even if just on two or three of your best fighters, you will get screwed sometimes. Don’t do drugs, kids. This is all about managing, and in some cases tolerating, risk. Remember that this is the brutal gang warfare of the 40th millenium, and your Goliaths are steroid-abusing maniacs. There’s always an opportunity cost to spending credits, so if you don’t want to ever use stimm slug stashes, you don’t have to, and your fighters will still be formidable melee threats. If you are using them, you can only use them when you really think it will make a difference to the game state, and/or when you think the risk of losing the fighter is tolerable, and/or in situations where you think the fighter is likely to get taken out by the enemy that round anyway. All are valid considerations and part of the fun decision-making you open up by engaging with stimms. Do drugs, kids? This is a confusing message. 

Trading Post Options


House Goliath has excellent weapon lists for Tyrants and Forge Bosses (and for Bruisers, Specialists and Bullies, who can’t take weapons from the TP anyway). But of course these fighters can also use any weapon they can think of from the TP. This opens up a lot of options and players should use their imagination and not hold back from any exciting conversions they fancy the idea of. Stimmers can also shop for pistols, close combat and heavy weapons, while Forge Born can buy any close combat weapons or pistols. Those two fighter types benefit even more from TP weapons, because suddenly they are not locked into their rather narrow list options. Here are a few things to consider beyond the House lists.

Prestige close combat weapons. Goliath House lists for Tyrants, Bosses and Stimmers feature some really effective options up to a middling cost (~50 credits). You can absolutely build fighters with the House options that will smash your opponents’ starting fighters into goo on the charge, unless perhaps you’re playing against Slave Ogryns. But as campaigns go on, you may start commonly facing Brutes, which tend to start at T5 and 3W, often with a 4+ or even 3+ save. Your opponents may start stacking armour saves on their key fighters, investing in field armour, accumulating Advances in Wounds and Toughness, etc. Because Reaction attacks are a thing, you really want to maximise damage output and ensure your best smashers can reliably annihilate even the hardest enemies on the charge, if you launch in against them and fall short of putting them down, you can often get taken out in reply. So consider just how much the best close combat weapons from the TP can boost your output. From some Space Marine terminator-level tools like Lightning Claws or Thunder Hammers, up to super heavy duty things like a Power Fist or the mighty Rock Cutter, you can really pump things up at the TP. Damage is king here. A Brute or a Squat/Orlock leader who has taken a Wounds Advance (so is W4) is going to expect to survive a single round of combat from a lot of weapons. One hit from that Rock Cutter and they’re (probably) not laughing any more.  

Better close combat options for Forge Born. At gang creation these Prospects have to pick between a fighting knife, which isn’t too impressive with their base S3, or the impressive but unsuitably expensive Rock Saw. If you’d like them to play a more realistic melee role, using their 5” movement to get forward and attack your opponent’s more vulnerable fighters, and tailor their Advances to support that, you probably want a close combat option in the middle. A Flail is just as good a better-than-basic melee weapon as the Brute Cleaver, or a Chain Axe, even though you won’t get the 5-credit Goliath discount, will make a Forge Born surprisingly dangerous on the charge. Even the power weapon options, if you’ve got some spare cash, can be worthwhile, or a cool Greatsword model would be fun conversion and an effective fighter. 

Better pistols for Stimmers or Forge Born. As great in melee as a Stimmer is, sometimes you just can’t get the charge and would like to shoot. We’ve discussed why their native option for that, the assault grenade launcher, isn’t great. How about a nice pistol? We mentioned above that the Combi-stub-plasma is one of the best pistols in the game. Well, you can get one for the same price from the TP! Forge Born benefit from that option as well, or could consider something like a Hand Flamer, or Web Pistol if you have no morals. Perhaps an ex-Delaque, Proto-Goliath Forge Born who brought some of his old toys with him from his previous gang? 


Chems are a fundamental part of the Goliaths’ background. Partly this is captured in their basic rules, Stimmer/Zerker abilities, and Stimm Slug Stashes, but it can also be reflected in using Chems. These are one-use items, the rules were introduced in the Book of Judgement and are now in the updated Necromunda Rulebook. You can either apply them prior to a battle, which is almost always the better option, or spend a Simple Action to take a dose during the game. There is an ingrained revulsion in many game-players’ minds towards one use items. Usually, when you spend credits in Necromunda, that is going straight onto your Gang Rating, which is kind of one of our measures of success. The overall strength of your gang is a source of pride and joy, so you want to keep it going up. Spend credits on things that vanish into the ether after one game!? Scandalous. Also, the prices aren’t that low when you consider this one-use mechanic. For those reasons, our impression is that most players ignore chems altogether – see the one, collar-wearing exception below. 

If you would like to use them, the obvious ones for Goliaths are the combat drugs, Frenzon and Slaught. The former gives four excellent skills (Nerves of Steel, True Grit, Berserker, Unstoppable) and has some easily manipulated restrictions that force you to move towards the enemy. Frankly, that’s what a melee fighter you’d give Frenzon to would want to do in most situations. In the rare instances where a cunning opponent has tried to bait them into a foolish move out of cover, there are plenty of loopholes, the rules aren’t tightly written enough to force actually drug-addled behaviour. Slaught is simpler, boosting WS and Initiative. These are both very significant, but as one-battle, one-use effects, they’re just never going to get used, there is plenty of equipment you can add to your fighters which will have nearly equivalent-value effects, but you can keep those later on, and you don’t have to deal with punishing addiction rules. The only use cases we can imagine are for some campaign-finale game where you don’t care about building gang rating any more, you just want to have a fun game and end things; or perhaps your gang rating is so far ahead of your friends’ that you are intentionally burning credits to let them catch up, which is a nice problem to have.

As another example, Spur increases Movement by +2”, and Initiative, and has no addiction or side effects, but it has a Toughness-based chance to wear off every Round, for a Goliath it’s more likely to wear off than not. So clearly you’d need to start the game with it applied, and only expect to get it in the first Round. Now giving a fighter a Movement boost in the opening game, where you usually double-move, is quite powerful and useful. But it’s 30 credits, for one use on one fighter. That’s insane, you could buy them a stimm slug stash for less, and use it once per game forever. Battlefield Chems just aren’t good value. Except…

Stinger Mould. This is used in the campaign layer rather than on the table. It isn’t a game breaking power item, but it is a better way to avoid Critical and negate Lasting Injuries (we mean stat decreases, like Eye Injury for -1BS) than Bionics. Beyond the straight up cost, Bionics are problematic in that they add to your Gang Rating, which affects the allocation of tactics cards and other underdog bonuses for/against you. Spending the credits on some nice mould, which vanishes on use along with the injury, will get your fighters back to full effectiveness without this artificial inflation. Note that to get full value from this you need to have the dose in your stash, you use it after rolling up a Lasting Injury. If you buy it to use on a fighter with an existing lasting injury, it only has a ⅓ chance to work, which is just too high for its 75 credit price. 

Frenzon (Collars). Frenzon is the best combat drug themed chem. The skills are nice add-ons even for melee champions, who won’t have all of them. They transform ordinary Goliaths into extra dangerous melee assault troops. Shame it’s one use. Oh, what was that? There’s a TP item which allows a fighter to always be under the influence of Frenzon? You don’t need to buy one-use doses for it, it is always in effect? It comes with easily-mitigated downsides (you need to move toward the enemy, and Charge if able) and even features a buff by allowing the wearer to group activate with a leader/champion designated as the collar controller, regardless of table position? It costs just 30 credits, compared to 20 for a one-use dose of Frenzon? RAW, there is no way to get addicted to the drug, and it wouldn’t matter anyway, because it is always affecting you? 

Basically, the Frenzon Collar is one of the most infamously unbalanced wargear items in the game. It is either missing huge caveats on use, or the rules designers were themselves on Frenzon while writing it. It is the most cost effective way in the game, after weapons, to boost the potential of any fighter. There is no reason not to take one for every melee fighter. Dark whispers tell of campaigns where whole Ogryn gangs were equipped with them.

For the love of the God-Emperor, discuss these with your Arbitrator. They are a contender as one of the most commonly house ruled or banned items in Necromunda. If you are considering using them in your campaign, consider that they grant Nerves of Steel, which our general advice is to take on any melee fighter who can. If you are definitely giving a fighter a collar, you can always start with some other skill, even if it means playing the opening game or two of the campaign without that critical ability to ignore Pinning.

Other Wargear

Falsehoods. This is another commonly complained about item; it makes the wearer untargetable until they attack, or the end of the second game Round. This is a big deal for controlling the flow of the battle and is especially useful for melee focussed fighters. It lets them simply spend the first two Rounds moving fearlessly towards the enemy, either into total cover, or into such close proximity that they can definitely charge. As you might imagine, this mechanic has caused plenty of real-world arguments, especially if the player on the receiving end was only just finding out about it. Another one to discuss with your Arbitrator. 

Vehicles and Ash Wastes 

Goliath Mauler. Credit: SRM

Goliath Road Thugs

The House Goliath crew member is pretty standard in most stats (BS4+, Driving and Shooting Skills as Primary) but gets that nice Goliath Cool stat, and bizarrely costs less than most other gangs’ equivalents. Nice! I’m struggling to think of any reason why they might be cheaper, they have terrible Leadership, Intelligence and Willpower, but those aren’t used more for a crew/vehicle than for any other model. Just Necromunda balance I guess. Note that they are Gang Fighters (Crew), ie they count towards your limit of at least half the gang being composed of ordinary Gang Fighters like gangers and juves. This means a gang can legally consist of a Forge Tyrant, two Champions, and 3 Road Thugs with vehicles. This kind of gang format can be pretty fun in vehicle-heavy Ash Wastes campaigns. It lets you focus your credits on some heavy shooting and weapons with enough punch (at range or in melee) to be dangerous to vehicles, instead of diffusing your power across the normal spread of gangers and juves with basic weapons and light melee kit, who may struggle to make an impact. The downside is the lack of Activations, which a savvy opponent can use to out-manoeuvre you. 

Mounted Fighters

Goliaths can leverage some advantages from being Mounted via 50-credit Wasters’ Dirtbikes. Going up to 8” Movement is important when you start at 4”! On the flip side, they don’t have great Initiative so may take hits from falling off when they get hit by incoming fire. That is probably a tolerable risk, their Toughness makes them a bit less likely to be injured in the process, and importantly, our reading of the rules is that a Nerves of Steel fighter can test their Cool first, and only has to roll Initiative, and risk falling off, if they fail. So a dirtbike is a good way to keep melee-oriented Stimmers and similar models relevant in an Ash Wastes campaign with big open tables. Note that Mounted models can’t use Unwieldy or Paired weapons, so any fighter built for a bike will be shopping for Basic/Special or one-handed melee weapons.


The Goliath unique vehicle falls into the medium class, having 3 Hull Points, but is also rather fast (7″ move and can speed up on roads as if wheeled, and ignore difficult terrain like a tracked vehicle) with a good 5+ Handling stat. It’s surprisingly tough for what looks like a really big bike. While it can be a mobile gunner with its one weapon mount, the punchiest attack it has lies in ramming other vehicles. This gives it a clear, straightforward way to play – move toward the enemy, laying down fire, then smash into them. The stock option ranged weapons are twin boltguns or grenade launchers (frag and krak), which are both relatively efficient, with boltguns especially benefitting from Twin-Linked – as Rapid Fire weapons, it’s nice to be able to re-roll the Firepower dice to fish for multiple hits. Note that in an Ash Wastes campaign, you may want even higher Strength weapons to lay the hurt onto heavier enemy vehicles. So it’s worth looking in the TP. Like all vehicles, the Mauler can fit any kind of weapon you can buy there, so your imagination is the only limit. If you do stick with grenade launchers or boltguns, consider the Hip Shooting skill, which lets you Move and Shoot as a Simple Action (ie you can do it twice per activation) with such a non-Unwieldy weapon. Or if you’re more focussed on ramming things, the T-Bone skill will help.

Honestly, at a base price of 100 credits, these are a better deal than most any other vehicle, and help make up for the fact that House Goliaths’ slow-moving, melee focussed default builds aren’t suited to the Wastes. They are a strong basis for any vehicle-heavy gang, as even aside from the ramming, if you want a mobile shooting vehicle they are tough and manoeuvrable for their price. Key upgrades include extra and reinforced armour, tyre claws to make control tests extra safe, and more flashily, a Glys Injector to give that extra bit of oomph to a ramming move. Remember that just as with weapons, any wargear from the trading post is allowed, so feel free to peruse the full list. Smoke launchers are a particularly strong one for shooting geared vehicles, especially if the crew wear photo goggles.

Goliath Mauler. Credit: 40khamslam

Gang Exclusive Terrain

This is a less commonly used category for players to add to their gangs, either because people prefer to invest in their fighters, or because there aren’t any official models sold – you have to come up with something on your own. The key thing here is that all most terrain can only be placed in your deployment area on the table (Forge Barricades are the exception). The location, shape and usefulness of that area varies by scenario. So a good idea, if you’re considering adding terrain to your gang, is to look at the selection of missions your group is using in the campaign, and thinking if any of these choices could be usefully deployed, in how many of those missions? Especially if you plan to move forward toward close combat and pressure the enemy, and/or if you are using dense terrain, you may not ever leave models in your deployment area, so the terrain won’t have much chance to affect play. 

Pillar of Chains. This piece needs an FAQ – it affects the chance to Capture enemy fighters, but that mechanic was changed in the updated rulebook, so it’s no longer clear which dice roll this affects. Regardless, it’s not particularly useful. Capturing fighters theoretically gives you a chance to weaken enemy gangs and make credits from ransoms, but practically, it opens you up to playing the defender in a punishing Rescue mission, where you can take a really bad beating and then have your captive freed anyway. 

Forge Barricades. The cheapest terrain option, at 10 credits, is the most obviously useful too. Barricades can be placed in no man’s land, and one of the biggest problems a close-combat-oriented Goliath gang can encounter is a lack of cover at key points as they cross the table toward their opponents. A few of these barricades can assure full cover is available when crossing enemy fire lanes, and that’s credits well spent.

Heavy Rivet Cannon. This is a fixed weapon turret which any of your fighters can fire as an action. It’s basically the same profile as the Goliath-portable version, with the Rapid Fire profile extended to 18” long range, and the Blaze profile to 12”. That’s unfortunately not usually long enough to come into play, except in missions where the enemy has to attack you or some objective in your deployment area. Even in those missions, you could just buy 75 credits worth of gun(s) and put them on one of your fighters. I guess the benefit is that although it can’t move around, another Goliath can fire it if one user gets taken out. This isn’t a useless piece, guns are usually a better value than situational wargear in Necromunda, but it’s questionable why you’d buy this over other weapons. 

Amneo Tanks. These let Goliaths roll to remove Flesh Wounds. That’s actually pretty good mechanically, but fighters need to be within 3”, so it’s only a useful thing to place where you know you will have fighters defending a point. We can see using this, deployed next to a missile launcher Forge Boss with True Grit, whose job is to provide fire support and hopefully weather any incoming fire. But is it a good value compared to other protective gear? Probably not. As with the pillar of chains, this is a fun modelling project, but not a terribly necessary game piece.

Hangers On

As of the updated Necromunda rulebook, gangs can explicitly start the campaign with up to 1 Hanger On (or Brute). As discussed above, most Goliath players won’t see much point in a Zerker or Ogryn, and even Ambots restrict your numbers a lot at gang creation. So there is some use in considering grabbing one of these support models at the start. If not, you always want to remember you can add them during a campaign.

Chem Dealer

This is our pick as the one hanger on you always want to get. A lot of gangs will consider taking one at creation. Why? The main ability, basically buying chem-related items pre-game, up to a limited value on credit – you have to pay the bill after the game, or the dealer leaves you – seems kind of pointless. We can see how it may let you get that tiny bit ahead of the curve, but no more than just spending the price of the dealer himself on more kit. No, that ability is truly pointless. The reason we recommend the Chem Dealer is it has the Fixer skill, which generates D3x10 credits income per game. The model costs 25 credits for Goliath gangs. It’s just free money. You will probably pay back his cost after 1-2 games, and certainly, from no later than the third game onward, you are just gathering extra income. Can’t afford not to have him! The only opportunity cost is in taking up a Hanger On/Brute slot, but there’s no better use of those.

Brute Handler

Themed around granting skills to Brutes, this is a dubious pick. He’s a ‘part of the crew’ hanger on, which means he’s basically just another fighter who is part of your base gang, but can’t be modified/upgraded/equipped, never gains XP and will be removed from the roster should he suffer any lasting injury with permanent effects (so about 1/4 chance every time he goes OOA). Even at the Goliath-reduced price of 55 credits, he is not much use as a fighter in himself, since he’s unarmoured and armed with just a shock whip, with stats about on par with a Forge Born. 

What he does do on the table is give any Brute within 3″ Nerves of Steel, which is very impactful, and less importantly re-rolls on any mental stat checks. That sounds great, but it will require careful management to avoid him just being killed, then you have to consider that is impacting your Bottle Tests, and really, would you pay 55 credits just to give an Ambot or Ogryn that (admittedly great) skill? I suppose there might be some value in bringing an additional activation at the same time, but it’s very hard to recommend this guy for tabletop use. In the campaign layer, he can grant a Brute D3 XP after every game, if they fail a Willpower check (all the usual Brutes are Wip8+, so this is a 58% chance). That’s the best use case for him but our impulse is it’s just not worth paying hard credits for an extra Advance every 4-5 games on one Brute.

Pit Trainer

This is a way to grant a random Primary or Secondary skill to up to 3 fighters for a battle. But, they each have a 1/6 chance of rolling a Lasting Injury. Personally, while extra skills are useful, I don’t think the risk of long term death or crippling injuries are worth it. It’s much harder to actually use random skills on fighters than ones you’ve picked, even when talking about reliable trees like Shooting or Ferocity. It’s also an extra mental load trying to remember to actually use these skills every damn game. Potentially a fun addition for players who want to embrace the RPG insanity and randomness of Necromunda, and you could make a terrific 40k-ified Roman doctore model, but not really a choice to optimise your gang. Using this at full stretch on 3 fighters every game means a 50% chance you will take a lasting Injury roll, so unless you are keeping funds for medical escorts handy (RAW, could you even transport a fighter to the doc since this is all pre-, not post-battle?) there’s a real chance of killing your own fighters. 

Other Options

Rogue Docs are always a good choice, typically the expense of sending even one fighter to the doctors after a Critical Injury will be more than retaining the services of a Rogue Doc. Yes, he doesn’t get to fix models completely on the roll of a 6, but that is a completely tolerable risk. Visiting the doctor (rogue or otherwise) got a lot more forgiving in the updated rulebook in July 2023, and indeed the mechanical gap between the Rogue doc and his normal counterpart was closed slightly. These will be a damn good value over a campaign, because sooner or later you are going to need to perform a Medical Escort. Not only will you save credits, you avoid the risk of taking a Critical Injury in a game, then not gaining enough income to actually try to save the fighter. If you’ve hired a Rogue Doc in advance, no sweat.

Ammo-Jacks are similarly rather good, allowing you to re-roll ammo rolls – re-roll 1s if you have one, re-roll 1-2s if you have two, re-roll 1-3s if you have three. Many Goliath gangs will have plenty of weapons that have middling or poor ammo rolls, and some mitigation of that risk is nice. In missions where they do turn up on the table, ammo-jacks are especially handy, with the Munitioneer skill and surprisingly great weaponry. 

While not as great a value as the Chem Dealer, some hangers on have income-affecting skills. For example, Fixers cost 50 credits and unsurprisingly have the Fixer skill – that’s sort of the common value for money for that skill, it’s the same cost as the Uphive Raiments Status Item, which functionally does exactly the same thing. Another example would be the Scabber (Outlaws only) who costs 40 credits, and brings the Savvy Trader skill, which can save you 20 credits on one TP purchase per post-battle sequence, as well as helping with seeking rare equipment. This sort of hanger on isn’t the most exciting in the world, but investing early in them, especially if you expect a long campaign, can be a smart strategy. 

Example Gangs

Necromunda Goliaths. Credit: SRM

How to lose friends

This gang could be changed a lot, the key point is you are taking all the best Gene Smithing upgrades and most efficient melee weapons and medium range shooting. For example, swap some or all of the grenade launchers into boltguns. Again, this isn’t necessarily the best gang you can make to win a 1000 credit skirmish game (because T5 doesn’t matter against common S3 weapons) but simply spamming these Gene Smith upgrades creates the strongest possible foundation for a gang moving forward. 

  • Forge Tyrant – Natborn, Prime Specimen & Tyrant’s Own (+1W, +1A, +1T) – furnace plates, grenade launcher, chain axe – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 270
  • Forge Boss – Natborn, Prime Specimen & Iron Flesh (+1W, +1T) – furnace plates, grenade launcher, chain axe – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 225
  • Forge Boss – Natborn, Prime Specimen & Iron Flesh (+1W, +1T) – furnace plates, grenade launcher, chain axe – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 225
  • Bruiser Specialist – Vatborn, Dermal Hardening (+1T) – furnace plates, grenade launcher – 125
  • Bully – Vatborn, Dermal Hardening (+1T) – furnace plates, fighting knife, stub gun, smoke grenades – 80
  • Bully – Vatborn, Dermal Hardening (+1T) – furnace plates, fighting knife, smoke grenades – 75

Elite Natborn, aka Mini Ogryns

Just an example of an all-Natborn gang. This is clearly going to be very restrictive on numbers and weaponry, so I haven’t scrupled to take +1W across the board. Playing this would be a very different experience and quite fun, if your group is OK with it, although it should be discussed first. Yes, +30 points for +1W and the other Natborn features is a good deal, but the total cost is affecting the shape of the gang. 

  • Forge Tyrant – Natborn, Prime Specimen & Tyrant’s Own (+1W, +1A, +1T) – furnace plates, chain axe, stub gun – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 220
  • Forge Boss – Natborn, Prime Specimen & Iron Flesh (+1W, +1T) – furnace plates, stub gun, chain axe – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 175
  • Stimmer – Natborn, Prime Specimen & Iron Flesh (+1W, +1T) – furnace plates, paired spud-jackers – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 195
  • Bruiser Specialist – Natborn, Iron Flesh (+1W) – furnace plates, grenade launcher – 145
  • Bruiser – Natborn, Iron Flesh (+1W) – furnace plates, boltgun – 145
  • Bruiser – Natborn, Iron Flesh (+1W) – furnace plates, shotgun – 120

Genghis Cohen’s Killer Krocs

This gang was created for a campaign with a new group, and I was not the Arbitrator, so didn’t want to go no-holds-barred, either with Gene Smithing or anything else. It is therefore a mix of effective stuff, but not absolutely maxed out, and obeying my personal rule of no duplicated loadouts. It features the normal vanity Tyrant but other Gene Smithing upgrades are a mix of good/OK ones, without any spam. With only 7 fighters, plus one non-combatant hanger on, this is about as few models as I would normally include. 

  • Forge Tyrant – Natborn, Prime Specimen & Tyrant’s Own (+1W, +1A, +1T) – furnace plates, boltgun, power axe – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 
  • Stimmer – Vatborn, Dermal Hardening & Overdeveloped Musculature (+1T, +1S, -1Init) – furnace plates, paired pulverisers – Skill: Nerves of Steel
  • Forge Boss – Natborn, Iron Flesh (+1W) – furnace plates, chain axe – Skill: True Grit – 
  • Bruiser Specialist – Vatborn, Corrupted Slug (-1Ld, -1Int) – furnace plates, grenade launcher
  • Bruiser – Vatborn, Nerve Burnout (-1Cl) – furnace plates, shotgun
  • Bully – Vatborn, Fearless but Foolish (+1Cl, -1Int) – furnace plates, 2 fighting knives, smoke grenades
  • Bully – Vatborn, Terminal Biology (risk of death on Lasting Injury) – furnace plates, brute cleaver, smoke grenades
  • Chem Dealer – stub gun – Skill: Fixer – 25

DYLON’s as-yet unamed Goliaths

When the Necromunday team very ambitiously started the Tales of Four Scumlords, I wrote up a gang roster at 1250 creds to build the minis around. They’re sitting half-primed and looking longingly at me on my desk, so maybe I’ll finish them up this year. My goal with building gangs is to have a few toys, but let the gang develop and build a story around them in a campaign, so there’s a lot here that isn’t optimised.

  • Forge Tyrant – light carapace armour, boltgun, stub gun, power axe – Skill: Fearsome
  • Stimmer – Unborn Agility, Scar Tissue – furnace plates, paired pulverisers, stimm slug stash – Skill: Nerves of Steel
  • Forge Boss – Fearless But Foolish, Dermal Hardening – Renderizer Serrated Axe, Bolt Pistol, Furnace Plates – Skill: True Grit
  • Bruiser Specialist – Stub Gun, Grenade Launcher, Furnace Plates
  • Bruiser – furnace plates, combat shotgun
  • Bruiser – furnace plates, shotgun
  • Bruiser – furnace plates, stub cannon
  • Bully – Fighting Knife, Stub Gun, Furnace Plates, Smoke Grenade

Ash Wastes Goliaths 

At 1385 credits, this is the entire starting budget of an Ash Wastes gang poured into just six activating models, but those are three vehicles, a Stimmer biker and two heavy weapon carriers (riding on the unarmed vehicle). This kind of gang is pretty fun in vehicle heavy games, but clearly if your campaign is planned as a mix of dismounted and vehicular combat you will find it more uneven.

  • Forge Tyrant – heavy bolter, furnace plates – Skill: Nerves of Steel – 300
  • Stimmer – Pulveriser, furnace plates, Waster’s Dirtbike – Skill: Naaargah! – 210
  • Forge Boss – missile launcher, furnace plates – Skill: True Grit – 270
  • Road Thug in Heavy Custom Vehicle – transport bed – 215
  • Road Thug on Mauler – twin linked boltguns – 190
  • Road Thug on Mauler – twin linked grenade launchers – 200


That is it for what we hope has been a comprehensive run through of the myriad choices you can make when building and playing Goliaths in a Necromunda campaign. As the splat books pile up, Necromunda gets more and more options players can consider, and it’s easy to get bogged down in the decisions. Our parting advice is, don’t sweat it too much. There are no Necromunda tournament circuits and no one is going to award a prize for the most optimised list. Just take things which are cool to you and which you think you can put to some sensible use in your games. Go out and get swole! As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, drop us a line at