Good Morning and a fine Necromunday to all of you out there in the Underhive!
We’ve covered a lot of the basics by now, so as of this week we’ll be breaking into some of the options available to folks who’re playing in ongoing campaigns and have access to the Trading Post (and Black Market), starting with specialty ammo and grenades!
Since the heady days of Gang War I, special ammunition has been the key to giving your weaponry a bit more oomph, with Dum-Dums and Hotshot Laspacks squeezing a bit more Strength out of your guns at a fairly reasonable price. The options for special ammo and grenades (like the options for everything in Necromunda!) have ballooned since then, with newer entries tending to offer solutions and counters as opposed to more outright damage. Hidden in plain sight behind tables and charts scattered across four books, compiled here for your reading pleasure, everything you need to spice up your boring old autogun. Onward!
Most of these rounds are Limited, so there’s a chance that once you use them, they’re gone forever until you purchase more. Use them as a tool based on the scenario; point them at the right target and often you’ll only need that single shot for them to earn their credits back tenfold.
Gunk Bolts (Boltguns/pistols, Heavy Bolters) 15 Credits (Common)
We love Gunk Bolts. Not only do they impede movement, charge range, and reduce initiative, they make their target vastly more flammable as well, reducing any subsequent Blaze checks that turn from a 4+ to a 2+. If you couldn’t tell, Cawdor is drooling right now. While they do downgrade a bolter’s damage to 1, from 2, reducing a target’s movement by 1” and flat-out denying their +d3” movement bonus on a charge is a powerful tool for anyone. If you’re using bolters, don’t overlook these even if you’re not running flamers in your crew. Rating: A
Phosphor Ammo (Autoguns/pistols, H. Stubbers, Shotguns) 10 Credits (Rare 8)
Phosphor rounds are tracers, lighting up the target and revealing them while the Pitch Black rules are in effect. If you’ve been following along with us, you’ll know that darkness is one of the primary tools of those perfidious Delaque. Use a pair of photogoggles of your own and phosphor rounds, and your formerly-sneaky target will be wide open. Rating: B+
Rad Ammo (Autoguns/pistols, H. Stubbers, Shotguns) 20-25 Credits (Rare 9)
In any other game, coating your bullets in radioactive slime would be devastating, but here in the Underhive it’s barely anything different than business as usual! Weapons with Rad ammo gain Rad-phage, dealing an additional flesh wound to the hit target on a 4+ after all other damage has been resolved, at the cost of a bit of short-range accuracy. It’s a decent buff to damage, but a bit too pricey for what it does. (And remember, Van Saar are immune to Rad thanks to their bodygloves!) Rating: C+
Chem Darts (Needle Rifles/pistols, Needlers) 10 Credits (Common)
While standard Needle weapons deliver Toxin rounds, Chem Darts allow the enterprising gang to be a bit more, ah, inventive. These rounds can be loaded up with a microdose of any drug that your fighter is carrying, causing the target to be affected by those chems if you can beat their toughness on a roll. The main issue here, to the chagrin of our DARE officers, is that drugs are good. Most of the drugs in Necromunda are beneficial in the short term, and the downside is generally a potential addiction! While afflicting a rival champion with a nasty Frenzon habit might be pretty funny from a narrative angle, it isn’t going to win you the game. Rating: C
Focusing Crystals (Almost All Las Weapons) 30 Credits (Rare 10)
Upgrading a las weapon with a Focusing Crystal allows it to pierce heavy armor, but at a pretty hefty cost. All guns equipped with these crystals have -2 AP added to their profile, but also gain the Unstable trait, so once that ammo check comes up there’s a chance that the weapon and the ganger holding it may explode. As most las weapons are Strength 3, it’s often a struggle to get a wound through in the first place, so that the additional armor penetration would even come into play. Finally, the crystals are outclassed by Hotshot Packs, which offer a far more useful Strength 4 with a more reasonable negative. (Plus, Hotshots are only 20 creds!) Rating: C-
Gas Shells (Boltguns/pistols, Shotguns) 25 Credits (Rare 11)
Gas shells are a bit pricey compared to some of the other types of special ammunition, especially considering that they have both the Limited and Single Shot keywords, meaning that once you shoot it once, it is gone. A small blast of gas isn’t the worst thing, though. If your opponent is the type to group up his multi-wound models then gas shells can surprise him with some unexpected damage to his cool bro strike force. Rating: C
Shatter Shells (Boltguns/pistols, Shotguns) 15 Credits (Rare 9)
Even though being able to essentially pop frag grenades out of your guns instead of bullets seems powerful, some of the weapons capable of using shatter shells have a similar end result already baked into their normal profiles. The shells offer a small blast at Strength 3 AP-1, which is great for pinning clustered enemies and fantastic for, say, a pistol or regular/sawed-off shotgun, but on a combat shotgun you’re often better off using the usual salvo instead. Bolters firing shatter shells will deliver them at the furthest range, but willingly eschewing a Strength 4 bullet is often a hard sell! Rating: B
Static Rounds (Autoguns/pistols, Stubbers, Long Rifles) 10 Credits (Illegal 9)
Depending on your playgroup, at some point you’ll likely encounter Van Saar and Enforcer Subjugators with shields. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, we’ll spoil it for you; these guys are beasts. Skip the pain and invest in static rounds. They’re cheap, you can toss them into most common ganger-class weapons, and as an added bonus they even let you roll twice to beat a save if the opponent is wearing field armor! The only point against this ammunition’s favor is that it is Illegal, so maybe only sneak it out of the stash when you’ll need it if you’re a law-abiding gang. Rating: A if you’re already an Outlaw gang, Rating: B+ elsewise.
Warp Rounds (Autoguns/pistols, Stubbers, Long Rifles) 15 Credits (Illegal 10)
Like Gas Shells, Warp Rounds are one-and-done thanks to the Limited/Single Shot combo. They are also absolutely bonkers, causing the target to go insane if they fail a Willpower check. While that’s slightly less than even odds against most enemy champions and leaders (except Goliaths, they have horrid Willpower), the risks are worth the reward. Insanity can cause the victim to auto-break upon activation, or even be controlled by you, the opposing player, for that turn! Cursed bullets are fun. Rating: B+ if you’re already an Outlaw gang, Rating: B elsewise.
Grenades and Grenade Launchers
If you’ve been keeping up with our articles for the past month or so, you’ll likely have noticed Merton waxing poetic about his beloved grenades at any opportunity. Frag and krak grenades are well and good for dealing damage, but there are some awesome debuffs and possibilities in these Area-of-Effect beauties. Most hand-tossed grenades have a range of Sx3”, so most fighters throwing them will be pitching them 9” away (except, naturally, for Goliaths, who’ll be lobbing theirs a cool 12”). A grenade launcher can turn a ganger into a dedicated mortarman with a 24” range, but he’ll need to purchase a different specific type of grenade ammo to fit into his tubes.
Smoke Grenades 15 Credits (Common)
Your primary tool for dodging enemy fire, smoke grenades will remove all visibility the size of a large blast for an entire round (and can even persist onward on a 4+)! Throw it between your crew and an enemy sniper to negate his perfect shot, toss it on top of your champion to keep him alive when he gets caught out in the open after a flubbed charge roll, bring some photo-goggles and shoot straight through it when the enemy can’t shoot you back. (Thanks to some weird rules interactions, smoke grenades technically don’t bounce and scatter on a miss like every other Blast weapon. It’s weird, and it’s dumb, and it’s wrong. Pretend we didn’t just tell you that and keep on scattering with them. It’s better this way.) The possibilities are endless, and as a common item it’s easy enough to equip a few of your gangers with these grenades so you’ll always have one ready when you need it! Rating: A
Photon Flash Grenades 15 Credits (Rare 9)
Learn to love the humble Flash grenade, which removes the ready marker of any victim caught below its large blast upon failing an Initiative check, and if they’ve already activated this turn, instead prevents them from gaining an activation in the following turn. For a 15 credit item, this is absolutely insane, especially considering that the two gangs with the worst Initiative scores just happen to be everybody’s favorite heels; Goliaths and Van Saar. Don’t get too cocky around Escher, however, as their 2+ Initiative allows them to dodge this effect most of the time! Rating: A+
Choke Gas/Scare Gas Grenades 50/45 Credits (Rare 9/10)
Combined thanks to their similar effect, both of these grenades pump out a small blast of gas, which is effectively a version of toxin that can be virtually negated by rebreathers and haz-mat suits. The Choke version can cause injuries, while the Scare will trigger a Nerve test at a penalty, but with rounds this expensive they’ll both struggle to earn their keep. Also note, their grenade launcher equivalents have the Limited trait, so fail an ammo check on one of these and they’ll be wiped from your fighter’s inventory. Overall an expensive bit of ammo for an underwhelming and inconsistent effect. Rating: C for both.
Stun Grenades 15 Credits (Rare 8)
If you ever hear somebody speaking favorably about Stun Grenades, you can almost guarantee that they’re mixing them up with Photon Flash Grenades instead. Debuffing an opponent’s Initiative could theoretically be used as a one-two punch with actual flash grenades, but Initiative penalties on their own are barely worth anything outside of fall chances and reaction attacks. In addition, Stun Grenades are an anomaly in that they are the only “grenade” that does not involve a blast template, so they’ll be completely useless on a miss and can never affect more than one target at a time. You can’t even fire them out of a non-Enforcer grenade launcher, but would you even want to? These things are trash. Rating: F-
2019.12.23 Update: Dang, we hated on Stun Grenades extra hard, here. The 2019 FAQ gave Stun grenades a 3″ blast making them much more usable and impactful. They’re still not all that great, but at least they’re useful now. Rating: C
Flares 20 Credits (Common)
Phosphor Ammo in grenade form, this delivery system ends up being more effective than the ammo itself, revealing all targets caught within its blast template. It can be slotted into a grenade launcher as well as hand-tossed, but remember that the launched version will reveal a small blast rather than a large, and if the lights are out you’re not going to be able to shoot further than 12” anyway. If you’re going to face any Delaque, ever, invest in a Flare or two. It’ll keep them honest. Rating: B+
Gunk Bombs (No Launcher) 40 Credits (Common)
While at first a small blast of gunk before opening up with a flamer would seem like a no-brainer, these grenades aren’t quite the auto-buy that you’d expect. Any opponent who knows that they’ll be facing template weapons will likely be taking care with their spacing, so that even if your bomb doesn’t scatter you’ll probably only be coating two at most of their crew with your flammable gunk. A pricetag of almost three servings of bolts doesn’t help matters either, as it also prevents the bombs from being delivered by a sacrificial Juve. Rating: C+
Phosphor Canister (No Launcher) 40 Credits (Rare 10)
Now, we’ve skipped most of the pure damage grenades for this breakdown, but Phosphor Canisters get an entry because they are phenomenal. They’re a small blast that hits like a bolter with AP-3, and has the Blaze trait on top of that. No other grenade in the game combines pinning, wounding, injuring, and igniting into such a small and elegant package. There’s potential for a Mad Bomber champion build here, with Fast Shot, one of these canisters, and Gunk Bombs. Rating: A
Mindflect Shard / Shard Grenades (No Launcher) 50/30 Credits (Illegal 10/9)
Two different flavors of Insanity-causing large blasts, Mindflects are Strength 3 AP-1 while Shards are Strength 2 AP-2 with Rending. The higher Strength version is more likely to push an injury through, but since both are equally capable of causing Insanity we’re going to edge towards the cheaper option. Rating: C+ for Mindflects, Rating: B- for Shard Grenades.
It’s a hard sell sometimes to invest in any item that doesn’t necessarily kill the enemy, or that prepares for a scenario that may never arise. These items are all situational, yes, but if you can spend 15-50 credits on a tool that absolutely wrecks the plan of a 275 credit enemy champion, you’ll be coming out well ahead in the end!
Smoke grenades are never situational, though. Always bring smoke grenades.
Anything we missed? Still have questions? Do you use stun grenades and feel personally attacked? Feel free to start a conversation with us in the comments, hit us up on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from you!
Be sure to check in next week for Houses of the Underhive – Orlocks!