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Category: Necromunda

Play Necromunda

Ah, Necromunda. Another unsung classic in the GW back catalogue. The rules, as with most Specialist Games can be found online, http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/content/article.jsp?categoryId=1100011&aId=5300010.

Not without its flaws, the rules set can be a little unclear at times. Some argue that the skill system favours certain gangs but this can be a function of inadequate terrain. An overly open battlefield is biased against close combat-oriented gangs. You need a lot of terrain, think city fight and then double it. No street grid, no long lines of sight, you want a tangled mess and little bits of cover in every open space.

Some can balk at the paperwork involved in keeping your roster updated. This is something of a problem with those players who have played only short and/or aborted campaigns. Gang development is very fast in the first two to three games and slows thereafter. Many players have only experienced those first few games and never get to break out into the less frantic and happy waters of a developed gang.

But I bring good news on this front. You can use http://yakromunda.com to bypass all that sort of thing. Online, updating, printable gang rosters for all. Any diehard Necromunda fans, caught without opponents, should sign up just to access the library. I won’t go into detail, you’ll just have to trust me.

That’s the negative, now for the positive. For sheer character and development, it is unsurpassed, the upgrades automatically shape your gang’s character. You don’t need to write fluff, it is created naturally over the course of the game. Allow me to demonstrate.

My favourite gang are a bunch of Van Saars by the name of the Chemdock Saints. Those readers with excellent taste in cult films will recognise my heavy-handed homage to the Boondock Saints. The leader is named after the family patriarch and the heavies were named after his sons, the main characters. Tragically one was killed in action and replaced by a thematically fitting name. The gangers and juves are all named after various supporting characters.
The leader, Noah MacManus, is a well-equipped and hardened veteran of the underhive. He boasts the hip shooting, dodge and rapid fire skills. All this means that with his trusty plasma pistol, he can sprint and shoot. If he pauses for breath, he can blaze away twice. Imagine the Duracell Bunny crossed with Max Payne.
The veteran heavy, Connor MacManus, is a medic with an old battle wound. He doesn’t make every fight due to his chronic and blinding headaches but always lends a hand afterwards when people need to be patched up.
The other heavy, Fergal MacManus, is new to the post, replacing Murphy MacManus. His vaunted predecessor died when his heavy stubber exploded in his hands, the poor git survived the shrapnel but the force of the blast threw him off a walkway. He did not survive his encounter with the ground. Fergal is something of an inventor, after each game, there’s a chance that he’ll cobble together a useful piece of kit.
The first ganger, Smecker has received no skills only stat upgrades. He is currently a middle of the road fighter. He’s a good shot, tougher than average but nothing special. This means that in the absence of juves, he gets all the crappy jobs. Death will claim him soon.
Rocco is a little more focused. The gunfighter skill lets him handle two pistols, he’s working towards becoming a short-ranged assassin. The armourer skill lets him maintain Noah’s plasma pistol, making it more reliable.
Greenly, the third ganger, is probably my favourite. With specialist and step aside, he carries a deadly plasma gun (the handle is visible on his back in the picture). The weapon maketh the man in this case and he is deadly at mid range. A Delaque club has left him with horrible scars and he now causes fear.
The fourth ganger, Dolly, is an eclectic character, with dive and disarm. This allows him to sprint across the battlefield from scrap of cover to scrap of cover. When he closes in, he snatches your weapon from you and tosses it in the nearest sump pit. As you would suspect, he tends to attract a lot of fire.
Duffy is a former juve, now full-blooded ganger. From his former role as bullet bait, he’s become a mini-Terminator. He’s an excellent shot but more importantly has maxed out his toughness and wounds characteristics. A lucky quirk of the random upgrade system. The vaguely Arnie-like haircut is entirely coincidental.
Doc, another juve turned ganger, has developed in a near-mirror of Rocco. He shares the gunfighter and armourer skills. Again he is close range combatant but in his case, its to compensate for the fact that he’s a terrible shot. He’s generally found maintaining one of the heavy stubbers.

None of the above is literary indulgence, all of it is based on in-game stats, skills and events. The advances system, although fickle and cruel, does make for a gang of individuals with a wide variety of skills. They start as merely carriers for their weapons and stats but quickly form distinct personality. Ganger #6 (autogun) soon becomes Greenly, the scarred and quick-footed ganger with a fondness for high tech weapons and certain calmness under fire. This RPGesque twist really puts it ahead of the crowd of skirmish games out there. If you’re a hardened tournament gamer craving a little bit of narrative heavy wargaming, this is your outlet.

Necromunda Fiction: Triple Threat

Welcome to the inaugural War Altar multi-book review. You didn’t ask for it but you’re getting it anyway. The tagline to the worst night of Maynard’s life and this article.

Necromunda remains one of Games Workshop’s (many) gravely under-used IPs and this is apparent in their Black Library releases. Necromunda has been particularly poorly served in this area. Like all Black Library releases, the quality of Necromunda fiction can vary dramatically. Some of the direr Kal Jericho books, in particular, makes a strong effort to force the standard down. But have hope, ragged hivers, there is non-flamer-related light at the end of the tunnel. We’ll look at the three best in the series, in no particular order.

Fleshworks by Lucien Soulban
Fleshworks is the baseline by which all other books in the series should be judged. Lucien Soulban appears to have made more of an effort than the typical Black library author, in producing an entertaining but non-typical Necromunda book.

The author seems to grasp that the setting is sufficiently characterful and doesn’t resort to the tired premise of an western plot in an predominantly dystopian setting. The book melds elements of cyber-punk and film noir with a deep respect for the source material that shines through.

The choice to set the book in Hive City and amongst the squabbling of the Houses proper proves astute as this allows the author the freedom required to tell his story to full effect. The Houses come across as functioning entities rather than the charicatures some works depict them as.

The characters manage to attain a measure of realism which is rare in Black Library products and the sheer likeability of the main character persuades the reader to suspend his disbelief during his various death-defying escapes. Some of the antagonists veer dangerously close to the traditional hackneyed gang sterotypes but by and large, he steers clear of that danger.

Commendably, the author resists any temptation to undercut the secretive, cutthroat theme of the book by forcing a clear and unambigious ending. I heartily recommend.

Outlander by Matt Keefe
This second book makes the list despite falling into the space-western pattern which blights much of the Necromunda books. Rather than using the format as a crutch, it surpasses it, providing a breathing living Necromunda which comes across as plausible. Every stereotypical character, from the drifter, to the cowardly mayor, to the hooker with a heart appears but are granted depth and a charm normally lacking.

The author jumps between multiple viewpoints and while initially jarring, this does produce an interesting work without a clear-cut protagonist. The jumps are poorly executed at times but the fault is forgiveable.

Fans of the Good, the Bad and Ugly will adore this.

Junktion by Matthew Farrer
Completing our trilogy, this book places its plot firmly in the Underhive. It manages to depict the impact of constant gang warfare and the unrelenting harshness of the setting without the clumsy comedic overtones of the Donne Ulanti and Jericho series.

The unfortunate protagonist is pitted against immovable objects and irresistable forces and buffeted viciously by cruel fate as he just tries to do his damned job. The backdrop of an Underhive settlement partially besieged is the closest to the “traditional” Necromunda fluff but retains a certain strangeness. The author’s greatest success is in projecting the truely bizarre and alien nature of life in the Hive. The inevitable slide towards anarchy that blights any attempt to improve life for the huddled masses is adeptedly highlighted.

It may be third in the list but certainly equal to any of the preceding works.

So there you have it, the unofficial trilogy of Necromunda. Entirely accidentally, they give a brillant snapshot of the Necromunda setting. They collectively set their action in Hive City, the Ashwastes (kinda) and the Underhive. Next up, a forty-two part review of all White Dwarfs since 1988.

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