Necromunday: Houses of the Underhive – Orlock

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Howdy, Scummers, and welcome back! This week, we’re ripping down the old Orlock article to the studs, and rebuilding it to include all of the new tricks and gear from House of Iron. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot, and almost all of it rules! Let’s get to it!

To put it succinctly, House of Iron has completely revitalized the Orlock gang. What was before a gang of limited options and an extreme reliance on the Trading Post is now one of the most complete and balanced gangs out there. Orlock players should absolutely be thrilled with the content in this book. This time Dan is joined by Fowler and Genghis Cohen to take a comprehensive look at what’s available to House Orlock. And, yes, Scummers, we’ve changed our rating of Demo Charges. Thanks for all the emails regarding them. The people have spoken!

Orlocks in game

“We must protect this house!” Credit: Dan “The Sex Cannon” Boyd

Strengths

  • Generalists: Orlocks have the tools to win any match-up, and beat any gang. They’re not going to wow anyone with their combat abilities, or win any sharpshooting competitions, but they can potentially out-shoot a punchy gang and out-punch a shooty gang. With the right weapons, wargear, and careful play, Orlock gangs can deal with it all. 
  • Unmatched Short-Range Shooting: Shotguns, combat shotguns, bolters, flamers and meltas are all available to Orlock gangs at inception, making them extremely scary at close range. Goliaths are generally considered to be the kings of the up-close-and-personal, but Orlocks truly rule the 6”-12” range. Get ready to laugh with glee as your enemies are shredded by an endless hail of bolts and projectiles!
  • Good Starting Weapons: Discounted combat shotguns, plasma weapons, bolters, and serviceable combat choices make for a very solid armory at gang creation.
  • Solid Stats: Road Captains show up to the party with 3 wounds, and are the only character in the game that does so. The leader also comes with a 3+ to hit in shooting AND combat, making them a strong and versatile choice. Champs can be Road Sgts with a coveted 3+ to hit in shooting and full access to special & heavy weapons, or Arms Masters, with 3+ to hit in shooting and close combat, but limited to close combat, pistol and basic weapons. This gives Orlock champions clear roles and, given their great weapon choices, the tools to do their jobs well.
  • Speedy Prospects: Orlock prospects are the fastest and most mobile starting fighters in the game, bar none. Their Jump Boosters give them unmatched mobility and utility, making the someone tepid Prospect slot (at least when concerning Forgeborn and Wyld Runners) a truly good choice for an Orlock gang.

 

Weaknesses

  • Generalists: Orlocks won’t win a firefight with dedicated shooters like Van Saar, and they won’t win a fistfight against dedicated punchers like Goliaths. If an Orlock player’s opponent can dictate how and where they fight, it can end quickly and viciously for the Orlock player. Jacks of all trades, but master of none.
  • Poor Long-Range Options: The only options in the Orlock armory with a range above 24” are the heavy stubber and the heavy bolter. No long rifles, long las, needler, or lasgun mean they can be out-ranged very easily if you play on full size 4’x4’ boards.
  • Pricey Specialists: While Wreckers, Road Sergeants, and Arms Masters are all very cool and extremely good at what they do, equipping them properly costs a lot. It is very easy for an Orlock player’s eyes to be bigger than their wallet and start a campaign with too few gangers. Tend to your credits carefully, Orlock players. Those pricey specialists will eat them up quicker than you think!
Necromunda Orlocks.

Dan’s “Golden Archies”.

Gang Composition

House Orlock has access to 6 different fighter types. They are:

Road Captain (Leader): The boss can really do it all in an Orlock gang. Excellent stats and access to the entire Orlock armory means that you can take your Road Captain in any direction you want! Load ‘em up with a good pistol and some strong combat weapons for a countercharging threat, or let them sit back and lob grenades as a hybrid ranged DPS and support character. You really can’t go wrong with whatever direction you take your road captain in, but be careful at gang creation, as this character can get really expensive, really quickly. Also, the Road Captain is the only character that gets Savant skills as a primary choice now, so you might want to have your captain be your support and economy character, unless you plan on having the cash for hangers-on. Otherwise, The Captain has access to Ferocity and Leadership to round out their primaries, so you can give yours some helpful defensive skills (Nerves of Steel or True Grit from Ferocity) or support skills (Commanding Presence or Overseer from Leadership).

  • Recommended Equipment: Plasma pistol, servo-claw, flail, any power weapon, bolt pistol, grenade launcher, plasma gun. Mesh armor is a must-have. If you’re going combat or countercharge, grab a cyber-mastiff when you can.

Road Sergeant (Champion): With a WS of 4+ and a BS of 3+, the Road Sergeant is clearly meant to be a ranged damage or support character. Give yours a big ol’ gun, have ‘em sit behind the chaff and collect heads from afar. Primary skills are Bravado and Ferocity. Bravado skills don’t really fit this character: the Sergeant’s weapon options are too varied and good to waste a skill on Shotgun Savant. Instead focus on Ferocity’s excellent defensive abilities to stay in the fight longer. Nerves of Steel, True Grit, and Unstoppable are your best choices there.

  • Recommended Equipment: Plasma gun, grenade launcher, heavy bolter, mining laser, boltgun. Suspensors are great for a heavy weapons guy or gal, but are probably too expensive to be included at gang creation.

Arms Master (Champion): The first of our brand-new House of Iron fighter types, The arms master has very similar stats compared to the Road Sergeant, but their WS is bumped up to a native 3+. They also come with their very own special ability: Rule of Iron. When an Arms Master activates, they can select a friendly fighter within 6” and give them Nerves of Steel for the rest of the round. Additionally, while the Arms Master is on the table, subtract 2 from any Bottle rolls the gang is required to make. This is a really strong ability! Orlock Cool isn’t nearly as good as Goliath Cool, but giving friendly fighters a chance to ignore pinning is always a useful ability.

So, right off the bat, you’re going to want to have your Arms Master in around their brothers and sisters, as opposed to a more snipe-y Road Sergeant. Arms Masters have a very limited selection from the Armory when compared to Sergeants and Captains: Access to only shotguns, stub guns, combat weapons, and grenades. Because of these limitations, you’ve really only got two choices when it comes to what you want your Arms Master to do: give them a shotgun, the Shotgun Savant skill, and have them be a mid-strength ranged support character. Or you can give them the extremely dangerous arc hammer, Nerves of Steel, and let them be your completely terrifying counter-charger. Either way, you’re going to want to throw some armor and smoke grenades in the mix, and if you’re going with melee, grab yourself a cyber-mastiff to help keep your Arms Master alive!

  • Recommended Equipment: Arc hammer, shotgun, combat shotgun, mesh armor, armored undersuit, smoke grenades. Cyber-mastiff if they’re a melee character, and some cool shotgun ammo can’t hurt if they’re not.

Wrecker (Prospect): Hoo boy. Our second House of Iron fighter is a doozy. Previously, in Chains and Blades, the prospect spot has been occupied by a couple of somewhat tepid disappointments in Forgeborn (especially Forgeborn) and Wyld Runners. But y’all, Wreckers are both the slizz and the kridden. They weigh in at a hefty 55 credits, but you are getting so much utility here, it’s not even cool anymore. For stats, they pack a surprising 4+ BS, which is something no one on the Necromunday team expected. They come with the now-standard Hot-headed and Fast Learner, but where they really shine lays in their equipment.

Wreckers come with a jump booster and it does work, Scummers. It adds 3” to their movement and can make up to half of their movement per action vertical for free. You can supercharge the jump booster to add another d3” of movement, but if you roll a natural 1, the Wrecker’s activation ends and they become Pinned and Prone. Additionally, any combat attacks made as a result of a charge with a jump booster get +1 to hit and +1 Strength, which is just absolutely excellent. Gear-wise, Wreckers can only take sawn-off shotguns (yuck), pistols, and combat weapons, but who cares with movement like that? They can also take a selection of offensive grenades, which is something they absolutely should do as it will be trivially easy to get them into range with them. Wreckers rule, Scummers, and the Orlock contingent over here at Necromunday is very excited to use them.

  • Recommended Equipment: All the pistols are good, here. Flails are great for combat, and throw some grenades in there, because your wreckers will get to use them, no question.

This is Gutter. While he’s not *technically* a Wrecker, we think we can all agree that he is *spiritually* a Wrecker. Credit: Kevin Fowler.


Gunner (Ganger): The re-skinned ganger gets a couple of interesting side-grades, here. One can be promoted to a Specialist at gang creation and, unlike other contemporary Specialists, can take heavy weapons. You still gotta pay for them, obviously, but in a late campaign situation, an extra heavy bolter will make you smile. Otherwise, the gunner’s weapon options mostly have stayed the same. These fighters aren’t made for melee, so equip them accordingly.

  • Recommended Equipment: Combat shotguns, boltguns, autoguns, shotguns, mesh armor.

Greenhorn (Juve): Ah, the humble juve. They’re not good for much besides absorbing bullets, and the Greenhorn is worse than most. For some reason, Greenhorns can’t gain any skills. Now, this honestly isn’t a huge nerf: skills will only get a juve so far in life. You’ll probably be spending your upgrades on stats, first. It just stings a little. Never expect juves to do anything worthwhile, so keep yours cheap if you plan on taking any at all.

  • Recommended Equipment: Stub gun, fighting knife, flail, mesh armor.

Stand-Out Skills

Orlocks’ big two skill categories are Ferocity and Bravado, which is their unique skill set. Most of the Ferocity skills revolve around reducing or ignoring damage or debuffs. Unlike some skill categories (cough Brawn cough), most of the Ferocity skills are useful or downright good for an Orlock gang. Let’s highlight our favorites:

  • Nerves of Steel: Ignoring pinning on a passed Cool check is super useful. Generally, take this on a combat character as he usually wants to get up close and personal, it’s the top skill for any melee fighter, but taking it on a Champion with an unwieldy weapon can be the difference between firing and not firing for most of the game. You see Goliath gangs spam this skill for a reason.
  • Unstoppable: Unstoppable is a free medicae kit or medicae skill that is always on (50% of the time, it works every time), and it even has the chance to remove Flesh Wounds, which is just hilarious when it works. This skill has the potential to vastly increase a character’s staying power during a game.
  • True Grit: Another good tanky skill, True Grit reduces the amount of injury dice that are rolled. It’s useful to keep a fighter alive, and can be truly nasty when combined with Unstoppable. Some might say True Grit is better than Unstoppable, as mechanically the effect is very similar, but True Grit stops you going down in the first place, while Unstoppable needs you to have gone down but not OOA in order to start working.

Savant skills are a ton of fun, and rarely used. Orlock and Van Saar are the only houses that get access to them as primary skills, but Van Saar players never use them because why not just take Fast Shot on Anyone? At House of Iron release, only Road Captains can get Savant skills Primary (and Secondary Skills are pretty much irrelevant – see the Goonhammer guide to how skill choices in Necromunda here). So while the key skills are described below, bear in mind that these would be going on your Leader, which lends itself to making them a support piece with less in-your-face weaponry. Let’s take a look at our favorites:

  • Fixer: It’s free money. The fixer doesn’t even have to be in the battle to generate the extra credits. This skill is fully ridiculous. Orlock gangs rely heavily on buying important support items and wargear from the Trading Post, and having extra money to do so is critical.
  • Munitioneer: Orlocks use a lot of boltguns, plasma, grenades, and other high-ammo-roll weapons, so having a mobile re-roll provider is key. Orlocks don’t have access to las weapons at gang creation, so a slew of bad ammo rolls can hamstring an Orlock gang.

These are the Manwolfs, and they ain’t fixin’ NOTHIN’. Credit: Kevin Fowler

Shooting, probably the single best skill tree in the game, is available as Primary to Wreckers. Now they can’t make total use of it, being limited to Pistols and Grenades, but they should definitely pick up something from it after their initial stat increases.

  • Gunfighter: These rude dudes are made for it. Even without any BS Advances, you can jet up between two enemies out of cover and hit each on a 2+ if you’re within 6” and using Stub Guns (or Plasma Pistols, if you have 100 creds to blow). Also straight up cool and there’s a Legendary Name, Two-guns, which is made for this.
  • Hip Shooting: Yes, it’s suicide, but between this skill and your Jump Boosters, a Wrecker can move 15+D3” and still chuck a Demo Charge. Boom!

Bravado Skills

The new Bravado skills are granted to Arms Masters and Road Sergeants as primary choices. They’re, uh, not that great. Don’t bother rolling a random skill from this tree, as most of them are bad or extremely niche.

  1. Big Brother: Allows nearby friendly Gang Fighters to use this fighter’s Cool for Nerve checks. Not only is this skill trash, it doesn’t even allow friendlies to use the Big Brother’s Cool for any other checks except Nerve checks. Awful.
  2. Bring it On!: Gives the fighter a new Basic action that will “taunt” an enemy into only targeting the fighter who uses it. The general strategy in Necromunda is to make your opponent shoot your unskilled, cheap guys while your skilled, expensive guys do all the damage. This skill does the exact opposite. Watch the dumb cheerleading movie instead of taking this “skill”.
  3. Guilder Contacts: Hive Scum and Bounty Hunters cost d6x10 fewer credits to a minimum of 20. Very useful if you love taking Hired Guns. There are probably better ways to spend your credits, but if you’ve got a large collection of Necromunda weirdos, this skill will get them in the battle more often, and that’s a good thing.
  4. King Hit: Buffs a single unarmed attack. A skill that buffs a character’s single unarmed attack?! What the hell kinda help is this skill going to be in a battle, ever? Avoid.
  5. Shotgun Savant: Buffs shotgun accuracy and Scattershot rolls. A cheapo Arms Master with a shotgun or combat shotgun will benefit a ton from this skill. This skill is extremely niche, but it’s good enough in its niche to be quite attractive.
  6. Steady Hands: Gives the fighter a free Reload (simple) action at each activation. A free reload is fine, but it’s not worth taking up a skill slot. Just spend 5 credits on a dang stub gun.

Hard to have any sort of Bravado when your gang looks like this. Credit: Dan “The Sex Cannon” Boyd.

Weapons and Wargear

Basic Weapons

Autogun [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Gunner]: Cheap and can use upgraded ammo. A staple. Don’t lean on autoguns for performance, though. They will disappoint you. Typically take a few at gang creation to get the 24” range covered, then upgrade or replace them later in the campaign. Rating: C+

Boltgun [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Gunner]: An extremely good choice. Comparatively long short range, S4, -1AP and 2 damage, the boltgun is a very strong weapon. They’re expensive, but the boltgun is guaranteed to be a workhorse in every Orlock gang. Just take an extra stub gun on whatever fighter uses one, because that 6+ ammo roll is a doozy. Boltguns are so good that one’s also a good choice for a cheap champion. Rating: A

Combat Shotgun [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Arms Master, Gunner]: Orlocks get these at a discount, and yowie wowie, they’re amazing. The dual profile is awesome but we generally run around blasting away with shredder ammo (the template) because it just wrecks opposing gangs. Combat shotguns are the perfect weapon for Zone Mortalis games, as they’re useful at “long” range, but they really shine when they get into shredder range. Watch your opponent recoil in horror when you lay down that template. Champions get a good Bravado skill, Shotgun Savant which improves these even further; alternatively, Firestorm Ammo is absolutely bonkers and a great reason to take a Bullet Merchant. Rating: A+

Sawn-Off Shotgun [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner, Greenhorn]: There is no situation where taking this weapon is better than a pistol. A Shotgun Savant fighter might get more use out of it, but it still has an embarrassingly short range and no utility in combat. Rating: F

Shotgun [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Arms Master, Gunner]: A solid (and scatter! lololololol) choice. Cheap, too. A little more reliable at dealing damage than an autogun, but forsakes some of the range. There is a lot of good special ammo for shotguns, too, making it a very compelling choice. Especially with a Bullet Merchant hanger-on to get around the punishing Limited rule, things like Executioner Ammo are a great way to upgrade this into a high-end weapon. Rating: B+

Necromunda Orlocks.

Pictured: cannon fodder. Credit: Dan “The Sex Cannon” Boyd

Pistols

Autopistol [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner, Greenhorn]: The humble Autopistol is fine, but the increased accuracy of the stub gun is better in my book. Bear in mind that as a close combat sidearm, the Autopistol is strictly superior thanks to Rapid Fire. Rating: C+

Bolt Pistol [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner]: The bolt pistol is a strong and good weapon, but it has one fatal flaw: the plasma pistol is only 5 credits more and about a million times better. Rating: C for characters that can take a plasma pistol, B for those who cannot

Hand Flamer [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner]: It’s expensive, but in the right context, the hand flamer can be extremely destructive. Avoid it on the Captain and Sergeant, but on a Wrecker, it’s an extremely intriguing choice. The Wrecker’s movement makes getting into range easy, but the Hand Flamer probably prices itself out of consideration at gang creation. Gunner’s aren’t going to get nearly as much utility out of one as Wreckers, so keep the hand flamer on the prospects and let the Gunners play with combat shotguns instead. Rating: B

Plasma Pistol [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker]: Easily the best pistol in the armory, the plasma pistol will do work as part of a counter-charging Road Captain’s arsenal. These are also the top-end option on Wreckers – worth considering if one of them survives long enough to pick up some Advances, especially the Gunfighter skill. Rating: A

Stub Gun [Anyone]: For 5 credits, it’s reliable, accurate, and can even be upgraded with dum-dums for a character who can actually hit with it. Grab one for your plasma and bolt wielders, too, as they will run out of ammo and will thus need something to shoot with. Rating: B

Special Weapons

Combi-weapon (bolter/melta) [Road Captain, Road Sergeant]: This combi-weapon is really, really expensive, but is completely lethal. It’s probably priced itself out of gang creation, but in a late-campaign situation with a 2+ BS character,  the bolter/melta will own anything within 24”. It will absolutely immediately run out of ammo, though, so bring a backup. Rating: B

Combi-weapon (bolter/grenade launcher with frag grenades) [Road Captain, Road Sergeant]: Grenade launchers are really, really good. And 15 credits cheaper. Unlike the bolter/melta, where the bolter is useful because of its increased range, the bolter doesn’t have increased utility in this role. Blast weapons are way too good. Just get a Grenade Launcher. Rating: D

A Necromunda Orlock

Be smart, don’t give your gangers sawn-off shotguns. Credit: Dan “The Sex Cannon” Boyd

Flamer [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: Characters with good BS don’t need a template weapon, so giving one of these to a Captain or Sergeant is a bad idea. A gunner might be able to make use of one, but a combat shotgun is a staggering 85 credits cheaper and will do way more than a flamer will. Sorry, pyros, but this thing just doesn’t cut it. Rating: D

Grenade Launcher [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: Think of a grenade launcher character like a “caster” archetype in an RTS. They might not do a ton of damage, but they’re critical for crowd control and shaping the battlefield. Depending on what grenades you have access to, a GL character can do just about anything. Orlocks lack the tricks of Delaque or Escher, but in taking a grenade launcher, suddenly things start to look a lot more even. Take one. Pro tip: grab smoke grenades for the GL ASAP. They’re amazing for shutting down firing lanes and protecting your fighters as they advance to make use of their short-ranged weaponry. Rating: A

Meltagun [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: High strength, AP, and the melta rule make this a late-campaign must-have. Enemy brutes will shrug off hits from your other weapons, but a melta in short range will vaporise one like it wasn’t even there in the first place. The short range and Scarce will probably necessitate some sort of backup weapon, but the meltagun is a superlative damage dealer. Rating: B+

Plasma gun [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: Excellent range, accuracy, and potential for damage make the plasma gun an extremely solid choice for a ranged damage dealer, and is cheap enough that one (or two!) can be bought at gang creation. Scarce ammo necessitates a backup weapon, though. Rating: A

Heavy Weapons

Harpoon launcher [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: The harpoon launcher is a truly fun weapon that is capable of some serious damage and even, dare we say, shenanigans?! It has a relatively short range, but it’s not unwieldy, so getting it into range isn’t as bad as it seems. The big problems with it are its pitifully short range and its Scarce ammo classification. While it is definitely the most fun of the heavy weapons, it pales in comparison to a plasma gun or grenade launcher. Rating: C+

Heavy bolter [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: If you’re going to play a lot of games on the old 4’x4’, then this is the gun for you. It wounds Goliaths on a 3+ and each hit does 2 damage, making it a very scary gun. It also has a short and long range situation that is actually good. The bad ammo roll might come back to bite you, but if you want to field a heckin’ chonker, then go grab yourself a heavy bolter. Your opponents will fear it and try to take it out ASAP, so invest in some protective gear, skills or Legendary Names! Rating: B+

Heavy flamer [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: The single worst weapon in Necromunda. It’s an Unwieldy template weapon. It is crazy expensive and functionally useless. Especially because there’s special ammo that turns a combat shotgun into a heavy flamer without all the baggage. Avoid, please. F

Heavy stubber [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Specialist Gunner]: The old mainstay. Babby’s first heavy weapon. The nostalgia thrower. The heavy stubber has been a Necromunda staple since the 90s, but its time is, unfortunately, nearly over. In Sector Mechanicus games it can pull its weight, but if you’re going to spend credits on a stationary heavy weapon, why not spend only 30 more for the vastly superior heavy bolter? That being said, if you find yourself playing a lot of SM games, the heavy stubber could very well do work. Rating: C

Mining laser [Road Captain, Road Sergeant]: Unwieldy, not too expensive, decent ammo rolls and hard-hitting, but on the other hand, lackluster range and accuracy. Honestly pretty damn good once you can afford Suspensors, but only if you play on smaller tables. If your group does 4’x4’, take the Heavy Bolter or visit the Trading Post for a Lascannon. Rating: B

Seismic cannon [Road Captain, Road Sergeant]: A very hard-hitting Unwieldy weapon that’s inaccurate over 12”, or a weedy weapon that can reach out to 24” with mediocre accuracy; this is an answer to a question no one asked. At 140 credits, more than the Heavy Bolter, take that if you want long range Rapid Fire and a Plasma or Meltagun if you want close-range power or accuracy. Maybe has a use if you face loads of pinning-immune enemies thanks to the Seismic rule. Rating: C-

Necromunda Orlocks.

Heavy Hitters. Credit: Dan “The Sex Cannon” Boyd

Close Combat Weapons

Chainsword [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner, Greenhorn]: Parry is always useful, and so’s the +1 to hit! Anyone but the Arms Master can take it, but it’s probably best on a low-WS character. Rating: B

Fighting knife [Anyone]: Great option for a mobile character like a Wrecker, to take advantage of that backstab, but the AP is nice for anyone. Rating: C+

Flail [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner, Greenhorn]: The best option for Wreckers and Greenhorns, and a fair one for anyone else. +1 to hit and +1 strength are nothing to sneeze at, and can make the “combat squad” part of your gang actually pretty spicy. Rating: B+

Las cutter [Road Captains, Road Sergeants]: The las cutter certainly hits hard, but at 85 credits, it might be too much at gang creation. However, late in a campaign, it will turn whatever character using it into a combat terror. Be prepared to look up or argue about how an Ammo Roll and Scarce works on a melee weapon though. Rating: B

Maul (club or wrench) [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner, Greenhorn]: This dang thing still gives a +1 to the opponent’s armor, which unfortunately relegates it to uselessness. Rating: D

Power knife [Road Captain, Arms Master, Gunner]: Instead of Backstab, the Orlock power knife comes with the Backstop special rule which is currently undefined in the context of Necromunda. Seriously, though, we know it’s a misprint of Backstab! The power knife is an efficient use of credits and has a home in any gang. Rating: B+

Power maul [Road Captain, Road Sergeant]: A solid competitor to the Servo Claw. Same price, Strength, better AP but worse Damage – normally we’d take the damage, but Power is a great special rule. Rating: B+

Power pick [Road Captain, Road Sergeant]: This is an unusual power weapon but actually hits really hard. -3AP is nice and Pulverise is a great rule to have. Competes well with the Power Maul and Trading Post sword/axe versions. Rating: B+

Servo-claw [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Wrecker, Gunner]: Solid Strength bonus and Damage 2 make the servo-claw very attractive at gang creation. Late campaign, though, be aware that lack of AP will hurt you. Rating: B+

Two-handed hammer [Anyone]: The -1 to hit with this weapon means never take it. It really doesn’t matter how much damage it does. Avoid, avoid, avoid. F

Arc Hammer [Arms Master]: Pricey, but the excellent strength bonus, Damage 3, and slew of special rules make this weapon worth using if you are facing dangerous enemy Champions or Brutes. The Arc hammer will just about squish anything that it comes up against. Be sure to use that Versatile 1” rule to attack from outside base-to-base contact and avoid Reaction Attacks! Rating: A

Recloose here isn’t messing around. Credit: Kevin Fowler.

Grenades

Blasting charges [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Arms Master, Gunner, Greenhorn]: These things are terrific damage dealers. The 5” blast makes using them a little scary because of the paltry Sx2” range, but we think the trade-off is worth it when compared to frags, as they both cost the same with a cheeky Orlock discount. Arming a few gangers with these down the road is definitely going to cause some eyes to pop, especially in ZM games. Probably the cheapest way in the game to make a fighter dangerous to grouped enemies and 2W enemies at the same time. Rating: A

Demo charges [Anyone]:– It’s blasting charges, but decidedly more powerful and only one shot for a 50% increase in price. Now, this looks like a bad deal, but because you roll Ammo every time you use a Grenade (bypassing the Firepower dice), actually Blasting Charges are one-use two-thirds of the time! The Strength and Damage from a demo charge is well worth the cost, especially when enemy gangs start bringing Brutes and jacked-up champions. Rating: A

Frag grenades [Anyone]: They’re fine. They’ll pin people, but they won’t wow you with their damage output. Completely outshone by Blasting Charges. Way better on a grenade launcher, but whatever. Rating: D+

Krak Grenades [Anyone]: You will never use these. Rating: F

Melta bombs [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Arms Master, Wrecker]: Like a krak grenade but only more expensive. No. Rating: F

Photon flash grenades [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Arms Master]: Flash grenades are really good! They lock down your opponent’s fighters if they fail an Initiative check, so everyone but Escher players have a healthy fear of these things. They’re better out of a grenade launcher, but they can do work when thrown, too. Rating: A

Scare gas grenades [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Arms Master]: Scare gas grenades kinda suck because they give the target two chances to beat them: the Toughness roll against Gas, and the Cool check, at a -2, against Fear. They’re 3 times the cost of a photon flash grenade, and half the value. Rating: F

Smoke grenades [Road Captain, Road Sergeant, Arms Master]: A must-have for every Orlock gang. Orlocks are a close-ranged gang, and a lot of times you will need to deploy smoke grenades to cover your gangers as they advance into range with their weapons. If you have a counter-charger or shotgun-wielding Arms Master, spend the cash and get them for him. It’s worth it, trust us. Rating: A

Incendiary charges aren’t in the house list, but that’s ok. McDain here’s got his own supply. Credit: Kevin Fowler.

 

Selected Wargear

Mesh Armor: Put it on any character you actually want to survive. Gunners and Greenhorns can go without, unless they’re armed with combat shotguns, but the save is good enough that any of your important fighters need it.

Armored Undersuit: Only the Arms Master can take the Armored Undersuit in their House List, and you should buy one for each Arms Master you have. Especially because you can guarantee the Arms Master will take fire every game.

Servo Harness: Servo harnesses are a ton of fun, even partial ones, but they’re too expensive to include at gang creation. However, when you get the cash to get one, and you have a combat character who can use it, then you will feel hilariously good slapping your probably 600-credit character down for a friendly game.

Brutes, Pets, And Friends

Aside from the generally available pets and brutes, Orlocks come in with one of each of their own: the “Lugger” Cargo Servitor and the Cyber-Mastiff. It’s worth mentioning that Orlocks get a pretty significant 30-credit discount on Ambots, which is excellent, because Ambots rule.

Top tip: get a freakin’ Ambot! Credit: Dan “The Sex Cannon” Boyd.

“Lugger” Cargo Servitor (House Brute)

The Lugger is an interesting brute. Instead of being a combat monster, the Lugger provides a stable ranged weapons platform. When purchased it comes with a harpoon launcher but that should be immediately scrapped and replaced with an Unwieldy weapon, as the Lugger can fire an Unwieldy weapon as a Basic action rather than a Double action. This is a huge boon, as Orlocks lack reliable long-range firepower. Our suggestion is to spring for the good gun if you’re taking one of these things, and pay for that heavy bolter. You need to buy any upgrades for a Brute when initially recruiting it – while it’s expensive, the armor and mono-sight upgrades are also good value. The Lugger will pay ridiculous dividends if you play a lot of Sector Mechanicus games, so definitely consider converting one!

A Lugger. Credit: Genghis Cohen

Cyber Mastiff (Exotic Beast)

The Cyber-Mastiff might look lackluster at first glance, but it is actually a powerful defensive tool. When it is Standing and Active or Engaged and within 3” of its master, Coup de Grace actions cannot be taken against its master, which is potentially very important for a melee character, especially one who has Unstoppable and has a good chance of shrugging off a serious injury. The pupper isn’t very good in combat, though, so it is best kept nearby its master and not actually in combat along with them. If you plan on taking any combat characters, equipping them with a friendly doggo is a smart move, but the 100-credit price tag probably prices them out of being included in gang creation.

Necromunda Cyber-mastiff

A Cyber-Mastiff. Credit: The Sex Cannon

Orlocks get access to all of the “standard” Hangers-On (Gang Lookout, Rogue Doc, Ammo Jack, Dome Runner, Slopper), but get access to three new ones from the House of Iron book.

Bullet Merchant (Hanger-On – 25 credits to hire)

Available to all gangs (non-Orlocks pay triple the price). All ammunition from the Trading Post and Black Market is common, and items with the Limited trait become Scarce.

Orlocks can hire the Bullet Merchant for a steal, not only giving them easy access to nasty ammunition, but also helping to keep those new toys around for longer. This trivializes access to upgrades like Warpstorm rounds and Gunk bolts, as well as to Firestorm Rounds for the Combat Shotgun (instant heavy flamer!). Grenades shifting from Limited to Scarce means that failing an ammo check no longer makes them disappear forever – making the return on investment for expensive explosives even better. While this hanger-on is excellent and extremely valuable, it’s probably better to cement your cash flow options in a campaign first, so you can afford all that sweet, sweet ammo down the line.

Grease Monkey (Orlock Hanger-On – 40 credits to hire)

Orlock Exclusive. Pre-battle, he can overcharge one brute or all of your Wreckers. Brutes get +D3 movement and attacks, though natural 1 takes a wound away. Wreckers get +D6 movement rolled per activation, and a 1 here means no + to movement and they can only do a single action.

An interesting risk/reward choice if you are going Wrecker-heavy for your gang. A 1 here could be devastating, but the prospect of cross-board charges is pretty tasty.  If he ends up on the table, he’s toting a hand flamer and the Munitioneer skill for extra fun! We think the real value here is having a Grease Monkey on hand to turbo-charge and Ambot. Unfortunately, this hanger-on seems pretty extraneous. The use case is just a little too thin.

Prize Fighter (Orlock Hanger-On – 40 credits to hire)

Orlock Exclusive. When you collect income post game, you may enter him into a fight. Roll 2D6. Choose the highest and multiply it by 10 to determine income. If either dice is a 1, you earn nothing. If both dice are 1, the Prize Fighter dies!

Orlocks live and die by their gear, and the Prize Fighter will help them to scrounge up the cash they need to operate. There is a case to be made for taking him as your first hanger-on – early campaign cash can be hard to come by. As long as you can avoid rolling snake eyes, this guy will continue to earn you a nice bit of scratch after every game, and will most likely pay for themselves after a singe contest!

Legendary Names

House of Iron introduced a whole new layer for Orlock players to use in their gangs: Legendary Names. These names are shorthand for a fighter’s fearsome reputation and have effects in-game. There are two ways to get a Legendary Name:

  1. Buy one with XP. It’s probably not worth it to buy names with XP. Stat increases and Skills are so much more useful, but it might be fun to do to give your gang some extra flavor.
  2. Assign one for free at fighter creation. Now, this is the good stuff. Leaders and Champs can take a Legendary Name when they’re recruited into the gang, and should absolutely do so. It’s basically another free Skill!

On top of this, there are 3 categories of Legendary names, each with 6 associated names: Unbelievable Escapes, Impressive Leadership, and Improbable Beat-Downs. Generally speaking, each name provides the fighter with some sort of bonus tied to some sort of drawback. 

So, there’s 18 of these things. They range from kinda useful to totally useless, but are mostly pretty innocuous. We’re not going to go through all of them here. They’re honestly more fun than useful, and you’ll be able to figure out on your own which ones are right for your gang. That being said, we’ll hit a few high notes in each category to give you an idea of the ones we like!

Unbelievable Escapes

Iron Hard: An “Iron Hard’ fighter gets to convert the first Serious Injury or Out of Action result they suffer in a battle to a Flesh Wound, but if they are taken out of action, their gang automatically fails its next Bottle Test. That’s a really good trade-off! Staying power is huge in Necromunda, but failing a Bottle test means it’s only a matter of time before your whole gang books it to safer pastures. We’d recommend this name for a fighter who’s going to be wearing a lot of armor!

Blade Breaker: Ok, so this one’s just good. It functionally confers a 6+ invulnerable save against successful hits, not wounds that the fighter takes in combat or by a Versatile attack. If you’ve got a combat character, this Legendary Name makes a lot of sense.

Impressive Leadership

Bigman: This fighter can make Group Activations with friendly fighters within 6” instead of 3”, but must reduce the benefit of cover they receive by 1. Sometimes it’s good to be big, but when the bullets are flying, maybe it’s better to be small! This Legendary Name will give you more flexibility with positioning, but it might cost you when it comes to keeping your Bigman alive!

Too Pretty for Primus: Honestly, we have no idea what the hell this Legendary Name means. Are the GW crew referencing the band Primus? Why would anyone be too pretty to be in Primus? No clue, over here. Whatever it means, the fighter generates extra income for the gang in the form of 2d6x5 credits a game, but if you roll doubles, the opposing gang gets the money instead! This is another good one, though, because on average, you’re looking at 35 extra credits per game.

Improbable Beat-Downs

One Punch: Like Brad Pitt in “Snatch”, the bearer of this Legendary Name can turn their unarmed attacks into one gloriously brutal punch that will probably put down an opponent for good. We talked before about how buffing unarmed attacks is bad and dumb, but this Legendary Name is so fun and flavorful that it might just be worth it!

Bullet Lord: Once per battle, the Bullet Lord can turn the firepower dice into a 3, regardless of what they rolled, but they are considered to have failed an ammo check. This one’s great to without a doubt, make sure that an enemy, or a crowd of enemies, eats a delicious lead sandwich. Probably not best used with a plasma gun, but hey! Your fighter might be near an ammo cache! Wouldn’t that be nice?

Kolmes’ legendary name is “Shart”. Don’t ask him why. Credit: Kevin Fowler.

Orlock Terrain

Orlocks have their own terrain to purchase for fun and profit. Here are their exclusive options.

Sawn-Off Surprise (Booby Trap)

This replaces a booby trap with one that autohits gangers within 3” with a Sawn-Off Shotgun blast. For a bit more than the price of the gun, you get to drop a 6” circle of pain. This trap is currently the best application for sawn-off shotguns. We know that’s not saying much, but seriously, this trap is worth it.

Promethium Barrels

Promethium Barrels may be a little bit too good. Fighters within 3” of a barrel can only make a Move (Simple) action. These terrain pieces are only 30 credits each and can be placed anywhere 3+ inches away from an enemy. There’s a lot of potential for abuse here. Any ability, card, or item that takes away agency and choice from an opponent is something to keep an eye on. Maybe we’ve played too much Doom, but maybe these barrels should be destructible.

Servitor Sentry

This is a bit of a weird one. Only deployable when your gang is the defender in an attacker / defender scenario. Additionally, the servitor has to be moved like a loot casket – so they do not have mobility on their own. Combine this with only having access to an autogun or shotgun and you have an expensive and immobile “terrain piece”. It’s like the Sharper Image version of a cheap autogun ganger.

Tool Box

Friendly fighters within an inch when they activate can make a free reload action, and Cyber Mastiffs, Ambots, Luggers, and the above Servitor Sentry can remove a flesh wound or lost wound on a 4+ D6 roll. It never hurts to litter the battlefield with buffing items!

Road Relic (Gang Relic)

This is basically a Heavy Stubber turret, which can be operated by a friendly fighter in base contact. Fam, Fixed mounted guns are rad as hell; especially when they can actually hand out reasonable damage.

Suggested Fighter Loadouts

 

  • The Counter-Charging Road Captain: This leader comes with a servo-claw or flail, plasma pistol, and either Nerves of Steel or Unstoppable. They sit back taking pot shots with their pistol and waiting for an enemy fighter to come within punishment range. When the counter-charger does get a charge off, it’s going to be devastating against just about anyone but the toughest fighter around. Against shooty gangs, this guy can move up with your combat shotguns and juves and take the fight to the heart of the enemy gang. Suggested upgrades: Toughness, Weapon skill, Strength and augmented armor.
  • The Overseer Road Captain: Personally, we find Overseer leaders boring and unfun, but they’re legit good, so we feel obligated to mention them. Keep this fighter by your damage dealers and fuel some double actions. Keep them cheap, though, as they probably won’t do much in the game. You might want to give this fighter a close combat weapon, though, as they can be a budget counter-charger if you need it. Suggested upgrades: Mentor, Toughness.
  • The Plasma Gun Road Sergeant: Like the header says, this one’s a champ with a plasma gun and Unstoppable or True Grit. You want this character alive, so give them some tanky skills to keep them in the fight and shooting! Suggested upgrades: Ballistic Skill, Toughness, Munitioneer, Photo-goggles.
  • The Grenade Launcher Road Captain: Here we have a leader with a GL, and either Fixer or Munitioneer. This character rules, as they need almost no upgrades to be incredibly and sustainably useful. Sit ‘em back and launch those grenades wherever they’ll be the most useful. Suggested upgrades: SMOKE GRENADES, Toughness, Ballistic Skill.
  • The Shotgun Arms Master: Arms Masters are great for keeping your gang in line and fighting, but don’t have the most powerful ranged options. One way to get bang for your buck is a combat (or even regular) shotgun with the Shotgun Savant skill. Then sit back and laugh as you pass your Bottle Rolls. Can be fitted out for counter-charge once you’ve earned some creds. Suggested upgrades: Toughness, True Grit, close combat weapons.
  • The Arc Hammer Arms Master: Got a problem that looks awfully like a big-ass nail? May we humbly suggest a big-ass hammer? This counter-charger needs pinning mitigation, so Nerves of Steel is a must, and as much armor as you can pack into one fighter. Suggested upgrades: Toughness, Wounds, True Grit, field armor.
  • The Demo Charge Wrecker: With either a Demo Charge bought at recruitment, or Blasting Charges bought after the first game, a Wrecker is an unparalleled delivery system. Yes it’s Unstable if you jump-boosted, and yes you’ll only get one shot. Who cares? You don’t need weapons to Coup de Grace Seriously Injured enemies! Suggested upgrades: Movement, Hip Shooting.
  • The Gunfighter Wrecker: Two stubbers and a flail will do work on a Wrecker. Load ‘em up with some grenades when you can, and slap Gunfighter on this character as soon as humanly possible. You’re looking at the ultimate in utility and versatility with this fighter. Suggested upgrades: GUNFIGHTER, Toughness, Strength.

 

Out-Of-The-Box 1,000-credit Gang

  1. Road Captain w/ stub gun, dum dums, servo claw, mesh armor (Nerves of Steel, Blade Breaker) – 160
  2. Road Sergeant w/ harpoon launcher, mesh armor (True Grit, Headshot) – 205
  3. Road Sergeant w/ heavy stubber, mesh armor (Nerves of Steel, Bullet Dodger) – 225
  4. Gunner w/ combat shotgun, flak armor – 110
  5. Gunner w/ combat shotgun, flak armor – 110
  6. Gunner w/ autogun, flak armor – 70
  7. Gunner w/ autogun, flak armor – 70
  8. Greenhorn w/ stub gun, autopistol – 50

Genghis Cohen’s “Flexibility” 1,000-credit Gang

  1. Road Captain w/ mesh armour, power pick, autopistol (Nerves of Steel, Blade Breaker) – 170
  2. Arms Master w/ mesh armour, combat shotgun (Shotgun Savant, Bullet Lord) – 170 
  3. Road Sgt w/ mesh armour, boltgun, stub gun (True Grit, Iron Stare) – 155 
  4. Specialist Gunner w/ mesh armour, grenade launcher – 125 
  5. Gunner w/ mesh armour, shotgun – 90
  6. Gunner w/ mesh armour, autogun – 75 
  7. Gunner w/ mesh armour, flail, stub gun – 85
  8. Wrecker w/ 2x stub guns – 65
  9. Wrecker w/ 2x stub guns – 65

Dan’s “Crafty” 1,000-credit Gang

  1. Road Captain w/ grenade launcher, stub gun, mesh armor (Fixer, Too Pretty for Primus) – 190
  2. Road Sergeant w/ plasma gun, stub gun, mesh armor (True Grit, Bullet Dodger) – 200
  3. Arms Master w/ arc hammer, stub gun, mesh armor, armored undersuit (Nerves of Steel, Blade Breaker) – 210
  4. Gunner w/ combat shotgun, mesh armor – 115
  5. Gunner w/ combat shotgun, mesh armor – 115
  6. Wrecker w/ 2 stub guns, fighting knife, flak armor – 85
  7. Wrecker w/ 2 stub guns, fighting knife, flak armor – 85

Dan’s “Old School” 1,000-credit gang

  1. Road Captain w/ plasma pistol, servo-claw, mesh armor (Nerves of Steel, Blade Breaker) – 200
  2. Road Sergeant w/ plasma gun, stub gun, mesh armor (True Grit, Bullet Dodger) – 200
  3. Arms Master w/ shotgun, inferno ammo, mesh armor (Shotgun Savant, Iron Stare) – 135
  4. Gunner w/ grenade launcher, mesh armor – 135
  5. Gunner w/ combat shotgun, mesh armor – 115
  6. Gunner w/ combat shotgun, mesh armor – 115
  7. Gunner w/ shotgun, mesh armor – 85

Final Thoughts

With House of Iron, House Orlock is catapulted from mid-tier to solidly atop first-tier. They’ve managed to keep their excellent weaponry, picked up a very powerful new champ, and snagged the best prospects in the game so far with the jet-pack-equipped Wreckers. Things are good in House Orlock these days, and you know Dan, Fowler, and Genghis are thrilled to be a part of it. Sorry, Merton.

We still think Orlock are best applied as a close-range shooting gang, but we’re excited to see what our players come up with! There’s a ton of tools in the toolbox for Orlock players, and we are excited to find out what the best mix of fighter types turns out to be. The main takeaway here is that House Orlock has a ton of options, and almost all of them are at least somewhat good.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our rundown of House Orlock, Scummers! Have any thoughts or questions? Feel free to drop us a line at necromunday@goonhammer.com. Unless you have opinions about demo charges.

Come back next week for more House of Iron content, where we break down the new Tactics Cards available for House Orlock! Thanks for reading, Scummers! Until next time!

 

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