We’ve covered a lot of cool new releases for Necromunda this year, looking at all kinds of new rules, gear, gangs, and hangers-on and talked at length about what we were excited for. But what about those gangs who are on the outside, looking in? What do you do if your gang hasn’t gotten any new toys? In this week’s round table, we’ll talk about what scummers can do if their gangs don’t have any wonderful new toys to play with.
Meet the Roundtable
What are some options for players who will have to wait a while longer for their house book?
SRM: It’s not like many people are playing anyway these days, but now is the time to paint and model some gangers, hangers-on, and other weirdos for your favorite gang. You can always try painting another gang or going hog wild and modeling up some Venators for fun too.
Fowler: This is the perfect time to bash up an Alliance or two for your gang. My slow-burn project has been to make a Corpse Guild for my Nurgle Cult Gang. Also consider making some gang-specific terrain or some vehicles. More fun stuff for the table never hurts!
Dan: After this weekend’s preview, we’ll probably see the House of Artifice book for Van Saar come out before year’s end. That’s great! That leaves only Cawdor and Delaque for House gangs, and for the rest? Well, Enforcers and Grinders already have their books, but I could see updates happening in the future, as GW seems a lot more likely to give support to factions with their own plastic kits. As for Chaos and Genestealer Cults? Don’t hold your breath. If you want cool stuff, start painting a House gang!
Is starting a new gang the only solution? How can they spice things up for their existing gang?
SRM: There’s fortunately an embarrassment of weapons and wargear available for any given gang out there, and you can definitely fill in with the Forgeworld kits are doing some kitbashing and converting of your own. I didn’t even get around to modeling up my heavy bolter-armed leader until I’d been playing for two years, and that’s not even one of the more esoteric wargear options available. In-game, it’s the time to try out the weirder combinations of gear and gang composition and get outside of your comfort zone.
Genghis: Many or most of the new Alliances, Hangers-On and such in the ‘House of…’ books are available to all gangs. Convert some of those suckers up! As well as a hobby project, these can add a new dimension to campaigns. While our campaigns are suspended due to the current Plague Zombie outbreak, I had an opportunity for a skirmish game against a friend’s Van Saar. He’d added an Ulanti Courtier and Mirrormask [Noble Alliance from House of Blades] to his gang. Not only were they some cool rogue trader models, but they provided excellent melee/countercharge options to back up all his heavy-weapon toting Van Saar. His gang haven’t had their full book yet, but what’s there has already opened up new options for him.
Fowler: Alliances are a great way to work some variety into a gang. Even if you are doing well enough to keep them off the table, it’s a great excuse to dive into a fresh hobby project, possibly one with a different aesthetic from your gang.
Dan: Suck it the hell up and paint some terrain! Necromunda is at its best when it is played on dense and richly painted boards with plenty of Line-of-Sight-blocking and 3D terrain. The hobby would benefit greatly if everyone had their own spectacular collection of Necromunda terrain to use at events or group games. No excuses, Scummers!
What’s your advice to players who feel like their gangs are underpowered now?
SRM: In my experience, Necromunda isn’t a game that people expect to be balanced like 40k to the same degree that 40k is. If you’re in a more competitive group that might change things, but so long as you’re not getting dumpstered every single game you can still stick with it. If you do feel you just can’t hang with more powerful gangs, try to optimize your skills and loadouts. It might not be as fluffy or role playing-friendly as normal Necromunda, but it means you can hang with the big kids until you get your own book.
Genghis: I would disagree with them. Necromunda is about playing your activations cleverly, positioning and taking cover. While the gangs with House books available have new and more varied options for building gangs, there’s nothing they can do which is necessarily more effective. The game is balanced by credits, and the House options, while they can be very exciting, are often less efficient than spending on having enough fighters, and giving them good weapons. If you’re concerned with winning in Necromunda, just take enough models and kit them out, you can kick ass without anything more elaborate. With the Trading Post as it is, any gang can make itself competitive against anything in the House books. Plasma guns, grenade launchers, all the best ranged weapons in the game, are available, as are the obscenely good Corpse Grinder melee weapons. Ditto the many types of effective grenades. While close combat relies more on your models’ statlines, it’s also about positioning and activating to charge and fight first, so as cool and powerful as Stimmers or Death Maidens are, they can get taken out like anyone else. If your gang isn’t thematically about melee, or you don’t fancy converting/proxying certain good melee weapons, well, just apply meltagun to face.
Fowler: I think that the main reason I felt my first Chaos gang was underpowered came down to the “soft cap” of their house list upgradeability and a reliance on good trading post rolls to truly excel. This was pre Gangs of the Underhive and if given the option, I absolutely would have rolled the dice on an alliance to beef my gang up. Post GOTU and Book of Ruin, Chaos is in a much better place and has waaaaay more access to toys. Less restrictions on champs also means that you can get more beefy weapons on the board even if you are lagging behind in rep now.
If I were in the same position I was then – low on rep, on a losing streak, but still toting a few hundred credits… I would be in heaven! Buy an Ambot, pass out hand flamers, snag some Manstopper rounds, and make a mess.
Dan: The fact is that every gang has access to the same good weapons and wargear. The House of___ books certainly improve things for their gangs, but a plasma gun is still a plasma gun, Scummers. If people are losing every game to recently updated gangs, then I’d tell them to take a look at the common denominator: themselves!
What if you play Helot Cults and it turns out you’re just never going to get the support your boys rightfully deserve? What then, Fowler?
Genghis: As I said above, I don’t think Helot cults are bad at all. You’ve got cheap guys who can take grenades and/or run in to Coup de Grace people; you can take good Trading Post weapons on your champions and leader (actually even the starting weapon list has perfectly fine options). You can even take the absurdly broken Familiars to keep them alive! Take a Witch as a Savant with Fixer or Savvy Trader rather than the lame powers. Helot cults may be short of flavour, background and options compared to gangs with House books out, but they can still mix it up. Go look at all the cursed Black Market weapons in Book of Judgment, then come back and don’t whine so much. You’re wearing a demon mask, but this is not Demon Mask Energy.
Fowler: My chaos gang came in next-to-last and next-to-first in consecutive campaigns. Option 1 – enjoy playing a heel gang that regularly gets kicked around. Option 2 – Sniper leader, Overwatch, Chaos Familiar. Even if the rest of your gang is just a collection of clueless, smelly dinguses with clubs, you have a flexible and resilient backline that helps you hold down control of the board. Few gangs have the ability to take a single body that can shrug as much fire and remain a long-range activation economy threat. Take a slopper IMMEDIATELY. If you find yourself getting outmatched gearwise in low-count scenarios, consider keeping the gang under 10 or 12 bodies and going a bit more elite. Once you have some bolters and hand flamers (or shotgun templates) in the mix, things get really interesting. I agree with Ghenghis’ take on Black Market stuff – make a case to your arbitrator to do all of the Market lists. Even the lowly Autogun gets some nasty ammo options!
My Chaos Cult gang is a bunch of Necromundan guard deserters who escaped from prison and fell in with a Nurgle witch in the Sump. It’s not out of character or unfluffy for them to have some solid hardware and know how to use it!
What can Arbitrators do to handle new rules coming out while they have campaigns in session?
SRM: I think this is what the break between campaign rounds is best for. Let your players switch over to the new rules and start buying from the new book. If anything was invalidated for whatever reason, grandfather in the rules and equipment those gangers were benefiting from. I suppose you could make the switch between games, but it’s best to give your players some downtime to learn and adjust.
Genghis: My instinct is more to let the player use the new stuff – they will probably be excited to do so and it’s counterproductive to quash that enthusiasm, it will drag at their momentum to participate in the campaign and the hobby. Clearly inform everyone else that for that player’s gang, the following rules are now in play. Encourage the player to tell their opponents about any new rules before games and give them some leeway if they miss a new tactical wrinkle in-game and ask to, for example, withdraw or change an activation as a result. If there are any other players in the group who feel disadvantaged by this, just communicate with them, find out about what makes them feel bad. It’s probably nothing that can’t be fixed by asking the player with new rules to avoid abusing a certain loop-hole.
When I first arbitrated I was very concerned by balance, I felt a need to lay out in advance how we would deal with every possible situation – like new rules releases. Now maybe that’s necessary if you have 20 people in your group and they get competitive. But if you’ve got 4-8, and most of them aren’t obsessive players who dig into all the details (which I’d guess is more common), just don’t worry about it.
Fowler: One consideration for anyone playing before the House books are set – All gang juves should count towards gangers for composition. This has been consistent across all three books so far and should be the norm going forward. I’d also suggest at least a discussion about psychic powers. Maintaining a power becoming a bonus action (with a willpower check) makes a bunch of powers more appealing… and you should use the good Scouring that insta-fires.
There is certainly some nuance in picking up new rulesets in the middle of a campaign. Prices and starting gear may shift around (as well as stats). It might make the most sense to just stay consistent with what exists and apply the datasheets to new gangers or new earned skills.
Dan: For me, I’d let my players use the new stuff. If it turns out that it’s given them a huge advantage, then I’d buff the have-nots in my campaign until I thought they were at a consummate level. Playing Necromunda is about fun and storytelling, and telling people they can’t use their new stuff is the quickest way to ensure your players never come back.
Is any of the House content so powerful that it needs to be house-ruled to get a level playing field?
Genghis: I don’t think so. Specialist champions, prospects etc are all nice additions to have, but I’m not scared of facing them across the table with a non-House gang. Same for Skills, Escher’s Finesse is probably the strongest new table and I don’t think it compares to Ferocity or Shooting. All House gangs get some kind of discounts on Hangers-on, Brutes, weapons etc which I guess are straight up buffs, but it’s hardly game changing. While Escher toxins aren’t that credit-efficient and Orlock legendary names are a nice, limited bonus, Goliath gene smithing is probably the one facet of all the new rules which could use reining in. The ability to mass-upgrade key stats, e.g. Toughness, on all your fighters for a very reasonable price, is something which any Arbitrator may wish to thrash out pre-campaign with Goliath players.
SRM: As Genghis said, most of the House content is just new options, not necessarily better options. Hell, the Goliath prospects are straight garbage, but you bet I’ll take the dude who costs over a hundred credits and is probably going to kill 2 of my guys and himself every time he fires.
Fowler: Other than Goliath gene-smithing potentially needing a bit of babysitting, the house books are balanced well. Most new stuff mixes risk and reward, and there aren’t really any “oh god” entries.
Dan: I don’t even think Gene-Smithing is over the top. The new stuff is totally cool, yes, but it’s also expensive. A tricked out Goliath Stimmer is going to cost the player a mint, and if they go down for good, then what? A Cawdor gang with 8 bluderpoles has the capacity to completely wreck any of the new stuff regardless of what anyone on any website says. Genestealers or Delaque champs with Overwatch and Grenade Launchers are still unfun, unfair, and easily some of the strongest single models in the game, and they don’t even have nice new books, yet! There are solid strategies for winning in any gang, including the “old” ones.
That’s all for today, scummers! Join us next Monday when we look at the first in a series of custom scenarios to play in your underhives. Until then, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.