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.