Necromunday: The Book of Ruin Review

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The next big release for Necromunda, The Book of Ruin, is finally here! It’s got a ton of content in it, and Dan and Jules are here to help you navigate through it. We hope you pass that Willpower check, though, because there’s an awful lot of heresy in this here tome…

The Book of Ruin is here, and gangers, it’s a doozy. This book is absolutely jam-packed with gang rosters, missions, Arbitrator tools, new characters, and naturally, plenty of typos and errors (though fewer than the Book of Judgement, so there’s that, at least). We’re here to guide you through it, and at the end we’ll recommend if you should buy this book or not. So strap in, give a quick prayer to the Emperor (four-armed or not, your choice), and join us to see what’s new with the Book of Ruin!

 

Chaos Cults

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Chaos-Corrupted House Gangs

Now we’re talking. Included in this book are rules for corrupting your own gang. Have you ever been curious as to what life is like on the other side? Here’s your opportunity to find out!

If you have a gang from one of the six houses (Cawdor, Delaque, Escher, Goliath, Orlock, Van Saar) you can either corrupt them at the start of the campaign, or successfully pull off a Dark Ritual post-battle action to corrupt them mid-campaign. There are no takesies-backsies with the Chaos Gods, though, but players who are into Chaos are generally really into Chaos, so maybe it’s not a big deal.

Additionally, when you choose what god to follow with your Corrupted gang, there is no switching later in the campaign like Helot Cults can do. This is a one-time purchase with no return policies. So why would you want to corrupt your gang? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Membership in a Corrupted gang opens up the possibility of injuries becoming mutations, which is a really cool mechanic that we will explain in greater detail later.
  • The gang’s leader may perform a Dark Ritual after a battle, gaining the favor of their chosen god for one battle and a bonus to experience for the lucky fighter, but risking turning said randomly chosen fighter into a chaos spawn.
  • Immunity to Insanity, which is a very nice fringe benefit.
  • If the Corrupted gang can pull off a successful Dark Ritual, then they earn the favor of their chosen patron deity. These favors are seriously legit. Note, these favors are different from the favors detailed in the Helot Cult’s gang roster, even though it says that Helot Cults benefit from these favors, too. Why? No idea. Probably lazy copy/pasting.

Cons

  • The Corrupted gang is immediately Outlawed, meaning that they cannot receive House Favors, hire House Brutes or Exotic Beasts, or hire House-Specific Dramatis Personae. Also, the gang will lose all current hangers-on if this happens mid-campaign.
  • To gain the favor of a Dark God, the Corrupted Gang’s leader must perform a successful Dark Ritual after every battle. While that may seem like a boon, this means that whenever there’s a dark ritual a-happening, the gang’s leader isn’t going to the Trading Post or Black Market and not generating that sweet +2 on those rarity and illegality rolls.
  • You might end up saddled with a Chaos Spawn. Many players feel that this is a good thing, but let us assure you reader, it is not. Random attributes and a move characteristic of D6” is flat-out bad (we’re bad at math ourselves, but We Know A Guy). Combine that with the fact that the spawn could be a transformed champion or specialist, and it only gets worse. And then combine that with the fact that the spawn can just up and leave on its own after a battle while seriously injuring multiple fighters at the same time, and maybe now you’re starting to see why a spawn is a punishment for critically failing a Dark Ritual.

We’re not sure if the powers granted to Corrupted gangs are worth their drawbacks, but they’re certainly interesting, and they add an extremely cool wrinkle to campaigns. If the only thing holding you back from throwing in with Cawdor was their disappointing lack of tentacles, this is the perfect time to try ‘em out.

(Credit: Games Workshop)

Mutations

Mutations are a seriously cool mechanic that can potentially replace lasting injuries with mutations which have both beneficial and detrimental effects, depending on the kind of injury they replace. We think that this mechanic rules. Mutated fighters will have a ton more chaos flavor, and won’t inflate your gang value with expensive bionics. Also, if a character ever gets enough mutations to equal their Toughness, they’ll immediately turn into a Chaos Spawn! While this could be considered a bad thing, it is also an extremely cool bad thing.

Corpse Grinder Gangs

There’s only so much time in a weekend, so you’ll have to wait a little bit before we do a deep dive on Corpse Grinders. We don’t want to spoil it, but we’ll say this: Grinders are extremely scary, and look like a ton of fun. Swing back next week and we’ll tell you why!

Helot Chaos Cults

This is mostly just a reprint of the old Chaos Cultist rules from the PDF on Warhammer Community. They even kept in the older and worse versions of The Scouring psychic power and favors of the Dark Gods. Which versions of these do we use? It is a mystery. There are some positive changes, as a Cult Witch can’t be drawn randomly as the focus of a Dark Ritual anymore. Though the book neglects to mention the newer boons and favors in the Helot section, they do have access to the improved favors as seen in the Chaos-Corrupted section earlier in the Book of Ruin.

Helot Cults have been in a rough place for the past year. They’re a vital part of the Necromunda narrative, and a natural jumping-in point for many 40k players, but they’ve struggled on the table thanks to lackluster rules.  We’d love to see more of these weirdos skulking around in our Underhive, so hopefully the new favors are enough to give them a boost!

 

Genestealer Cults

(Credit: Games Workshop)

Genestealer-Infected House Gangs

You didn’t think that the insidious influence of Chaos would be the only insidious influence in town, did you? Of course there are expanded Genestealer-related shenanigans in this book! It’s the Book of Ruin, after all.

Just like before, any of the house gangs can become Genestealer-Infected. Gangs can get infected in one of three ways:

  1. They decide to be Genestealer-Infected at gang creation.
  2. They pass an Intelligence check after any game during a campaign.
  3. They find a player in their current campaign who is running a Genestealer Cult Gang and get them to agree to infect their gang. No Intelligence check is required.

It rules that one player can infect a different player’s gang mid-campaign. This is the kind of stuff that makes Necromunda so awesome. So, should you join the Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor? Let’s break it down to pros and cons:

Pros

  • The gang’s leader can become a wyrd and gets one Genestealer Cult wyrd power for 40 credits on top of their cost. GSC wyrd powers also become a Primary Skill for this fighter. Additionally, the leader can buy a Psychic Familiar for 25 credits and they should do that immediately.
  • The gang can immediately hire an Aberrant. Aberrants are like if a cement truck went out of control and crashed into a Smart Car Dealership. They’re awe-inspiring, if a bit messy. If you want an infected gang, get one of these at once.
  • An infected gang can buy a Cult Icon. Cult Icons effectively add +1 to any group activations initiated by the bearer of the Cult Icon. It’s like a 40 credit Commanding Presence. Extremely useful.
  • The gang can hire Hybrid Juves which are whatever regular Juve profile but 30 credits more on account of the fact that this juve comes with a third arm. Hell yes. 3-armed juves for days. So cool.

Cons

  • The gang is immediately outlawed should they even try to become a Genestealer-Infected gang.

Infected gangs are going to be problematic for anyone that plays against one. House gangs are already generally strong, but a house gang with an Aberrant and a Psychic Familiar on the leader is extremely strong. (Powergamers, look no further; this is the path to fewer friends, to be sure.)

Genestealer Cult Gangs

Mostly a reprint of older material as well, but there are a few changes to look out for:

  • The Cult Alpha (Leader) gets an extra point of Strength and gets a new special rule called Extra Arm (it used to be called Third Arm). Extra Arm allows for 3 sidearms to be fired in one Shooting (Basic) action, but limits the Rending attack given to one unarmed attack.
  • The Hybrid Acolyte (Champion) lost 1 point of Strength (we guess the Alpha commandeered it), and gets a renamed version of Third Arm: Extra Arm. Interestingly enough, this version of Extra Arm is different from the Cult Alpha’s version. There is no explanation for this. Our guess is sloppy copy/pasting. We feel that this is likely an accidental omission, as the Adept’s version of the ability is specifically referenced in the abilities offered to Hybrid Juves in a GSC-Corrupted gang!
  • GSC flamers now cost the Trading Post-standard 140 credits, but they still get discounted Hand Flamers at 50 per.

(Credit: Games Workshop)

 

Arbitrator Tools

There are a lot of fun things going on in this book, but we aren’t going to get to all of them in this article. There is a bunch of stuff expanding upon or changing the Uprising Campaign from the Dark Uprising box. We will be tackling this campaign in a future article, as we have been focusing on the Book of Ruin this week. So keep your eyes on this space to find out more about the Uprising Campaign!

There Are Eighteen New Missions?

Book of Judgement let us down in the Scenario department, but the Book of Ruin makes up for it entirely, offering not only a dozen new two-player missions but a welcomed expansion of six new multiplayer missions as well. There’s a pretty wide spread of quality in these missions. Some of them are finely-crafted things of beauty, asymmetric yet somehow balanced, with objectives that encourage a narrative and exist beyond the kill-more death-match. Others, however, are horrific meat-grinders, existing solely to eviscerate gangs in cascades of lasting injuries. Necromunda, truly, is a land of contrasts. (We’re skipping the Multi-player Scenarios for now but rest assured we plan to spend an entire week extolling their virtues at some point!)

We’re especially fond of Public Execution, an alternative to the traditional Rescue Mission that favors a gang that may be a bit too stompy for the stealthy approach, complete with a turn-by-turn countdown to represent their comrade’s impending doom. (and finally a use for Chrono Crystals!) Takeover has one gang desperately trying to hold ground as attackers rush to throw them off of three objectives, allowing for meaningful choices as the defenders choose when and where they’ll make their final stand. Meat Harvest is one of the most unique missions in the game to date, as one side attempts to slaughter wandering civilians for meat and as the other team tries to save them first. We’re not going to tell you what you should play, but some of the new missions in this book are the best we’ve seen yet, and we’re legitimately excited to play them.

It’s not all roses, though, there’s still a chance that you’ll have to play Show of Force or Hit and Run at some point.  Much like the traditional Ambush, these missions are heavily stacked in the attacker’s favor, their goal being to kill as many of the defender as possible. In Show of Force, the defender’s only goal is to escape across the board through far edge of the attacker’s deployment zone. That’s atrocious, guys. Adding insult to injury; unlike in Ambush, this new mission also gives the attacker a reward of d6x10 credits for each defender they take out of action. So worst-case scenario you could have your entire gang wiped with multiple lasting injuries, while the attacker gains up to 420 credits for the achievement of successfully shooting all of the fish in the barrel.

Hit and Run mimics Ambush’s deployment gimmick but eschews the attacker’s first strike for an admittedly neat spotting mechanic. It’s a better designed Ambush, all in all, but there’s no possibility of escape – defenders will have to stand and fight or lose it all. Same as Show of Force, attackers are the only side with a credit reward on victory, with a larger defending crew size meaning that they could stand to gain up to 600 credits from this one. While that’s by no means a realistic number to ever hit thanks to bottle checks kicking in way before a full wipe, even half of that payday would represent a gigantic power swing in most campaigns, especially considering the defenders will likely have most of their crew in recovery for at least the next game.

Did we mention that these two missions are the 6-7 result on the Uprising Campaign’s scenario selection table? We’re still trying to wrap our heads around some of the differences in the new campaign system and we’ll report back in full when we’ve figured it out, but whoa buddy. That’s a hell of a pair of missions to designate as the most common scenario when rolling to play.

(Credit: Games Workshop)

Horrors of the Underhive

Horrors of the Underhive are neutral NPCs that the players can agree to have in a game or their Arbitrator can force upon them. They come in two flavors: Possessed Hiver and Xenos Abomination. Interestingly, Horrors scale in difficulty with Gang Rating, so a lowbie gang ideally won’t experience a total gang wipe to a neutral force.

There’s a ton of space for thematic elements and flavor, here. The Xenos Abomination is basically a build-a-monster while the Possessed Hiver is a little more simple and self-explanatory. These things look like a ton of fun.

Four Flavors of Favors

Before the Book of Ruin, we only had one House Favors table to roll on. Now we have four! The House, Outlaw, Genestealer, and Chaos tables are now available, and that should cover the bases. They’re all pretty similar, giving bonuses and rewards in a thematic fashion.

Do note that while the BoR explicitly claims that the House Favors table is identical to the one in the 2018 Rulebook, this is not the case. The neutral result no longer prevents future rolls during that campaign cycle, and the 13+ result offers a whopping 50 extra credits.

New Hangers-On

First off, all three of the new Hangers-On offered here are locked to Outlaw gangs. They’ve got some interesting effects, with an added benefit on top of that for players in specific campaigns. In a stunning twist; they’re all pretty useful! Scabbers and Proxies from the Book of Judgement were a bit underwhelming, but the new trio are going to be strong contenders for a bunk in your secret hideout!

Cadaver Merchant (Max of One) 20 Credits

If things aren’t going your way, the Merchant can help you pinch pennies in exchange for a few pounds of flesh, offering D3x10 credits for each permanently killed member of your gang. More importantly, the Merchant ‘acquires’ an additional unit of Meat after every game. (We’ll get into this more when we tackle the new campaign!)

  • Worth it? If you’re the top dog, not especially! For everyone else, getting a little bit of money back after losing a ganger or champion goes a long way to preventing a death in the gang from causing a snowball of loss early in a campaign.
  • But Can They Fight? With a Chainaxe and Fearsome, the Merchant can hold his own in a scuffle as well as any would-be Corpse Grinder. He’s lacking in armor or movement buffs, so he’s not ever going to be first to the fight.

Heretek (Max of One) 40 Credits

Just like having the keys to a Van Saar Stackhouse, the Heretek brings with him enough tech to mimic the old Archaeotech Device territory, allowing you to tool up any single weapon in your crew with your choice of powerful traits. If you’ve decided that the one weapon your gang really needs is a Lasgun that also sets the enemy on fire or irradiates them instead, this is your guy.

  • Worth it? Absolutely. Even if the modifications may cause the gun to explode, or the weapon to accidentally cleave a friendly bystander instead of the target, there’s no price too high for too much power.
  • But Can They Fight? He’s not the best shot, but with a Grav Gun close enough is often close enough to count! Equip him with a Plasma Gun instead if you’re feeling lucky, his Munitioneer skill might help keep it firing just a little bit longer than most.

Agitator (Max of One) 30 Credits

Last time around we waxed poetic about the Propagandist’s ability to Call Your Shot and gamble your gang’s Reputation on a potential win. The Agitator allows Outlaw gangs to double down with another dose of the same ability, allowing for an extra swing of up to 6 Reputation on a win! In addition, while the Propagandist generated an extra fighter upon recruitment with a lucky die roll, the Agitator allows you to roll an extra die when seeking out that elusive six.

  • Worth it? It was worth it the first time, it’s double worth it now! Go big or go home.
  • But Can They Fight? No sir. Keep him in the back with his Propagandist buddy until all the loud noises stop.

(Credit: Games Workshop)

The Trading Post

We never thought we’d see a Necromunda book where the Trading Post is one of the shorter sections, but we’re living in a brave new Underhive, friends! The new Appendix adds the Enforcers’ armor and special pistol ammunition to the roster to be enjoyed by all, as well as a few of the new Corpse Grinder melee weapons.

The new weapons will introduce two new traits, Shred and Sever. Shred is fine, procc’ing on a six to double its weapon’s AP. Keep an eye out for weapons with Sever, though, as any Injury dice that would be rolled from attacks caused by these weapons will automatically be Out of Action results, just like Melta. Lasting Injuries are rolled for each OoA result, so anything with Sever is likely going to cause some serious long-term damage to its victim.

 

Do I Need To Buy This Book?

Maybe.

No, that’s a good thing! We both agree that we absolutely love the Book of Ruin. The missions are some of the best they’ve ever written, and the Corrupted and Infected Gangs are super cool mechanics. If you’re an Arbitrator, you ought to buy this book immediately. If you’re tempted by Corruption or want to run one of the three Gangs in here, buy this book. If you want awesome missions, buy this book.

Else-wise, you can kinda save a few bucks this time and politely decline. Everything in here is an optional expansion, and that’s an welcome surprise when dealing with most Games Workshop products these days.

Either way, this book is a ton of fun, and we’re super excited to uncover even more gems once we’re able to read through it beyond these first two days.

We hope you enjoyed our review of the Book of Ruin! Next week Necromunday gets hungry for the still-warm flesh of our enemies as we perform a deep dive into the Corpse Grinder Cults! Hit us up in the comments below or email us contact@goonhammer.com if you want to chat, so until then, scummers!

 

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