40K: Unboxing the Underhive, Unusually Understated

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Necromunda Underhive is here. Come take a look inside the box with us.

Necromunda Underhive, or Necromundahive as I believe it is more formally known, is here at last. The boxes arrived at the BoLS office, so we greedily dove into the world of barricades and bulkheads. And now that I’ve typed that out, I realize that’s the name of the RPG that exists in-universe which gangers, cultists, and just regular Imperial Citizens (are there any? I don’t think there are, I think everyone is basically a soldier, a space marine, heretical traitor, traitorous heretic, criminal, or member of the arbites) play to entertain themselves while they await their fates at the hands/claws/close combat weapons and combi-pistols of some random threat to humanity/the Imperium/existence as we know it.

Today, though, we enter a world populated by the characters who play Barricades and Bulkheads. Today we take a look inside the Underhive. As you can tell, we’re pretty excited about this. And there’s a lot to be excited about. The game looks gorgeous, the rules look fun and fairly straightforward but with enough depth and bite to keep you coming back for more. The models are incredible–and if you want to make some truly stand-out cultists or a legion of Imperial Misfits, then you should definitely pick up a box of the gangers.

There’s a lot to dig into though. In the boxed set, you get terrain, you get a modular board, you get miniatures enough to start playing–it’s got everything you need to get started, once you’re able to put together your minis. That will take some doing though. The minis are some of the more complex ones out there. I predict that I will end up with at least one entire Escher model’s worth of hair glued to my fingers at some point. They have multipart headpieces, even Goliath’s models have slots for mohawks and separate face pieces that slide into the heads.

It’s a hobbyist’s dream and an amateur’s sisyphean boulder. The game is a blast though. It comes with enough to get you started, though if you really want to play Necromunda as she is meant to be played, you’ll want to pick up the Gang War gaming supplement. It’s got all the campaign rules you remember, and I feel like that’s the way it’s best enjoyed.

via Games Workshop

Necromunda: Underhive $125

Deep below the nightmarish, polluted hive cities of Necromunda, in the twisted, dark tunnels of the Underhives, rival gangs fight to the bitter end for personal power, survival and the honour of their Houses.

Designed for 2 players, this is a game of tactics, skill and absolute ruthlessness, set on the iconic hive world of Necromunda. Players choose 1 of the 2 included gangs in the box, and fight brutal skirmishes on the game board using everything at their disposal – ducking behind barricades to survive withering hails of gunfire before popping up and shooting back, placing and overriding traps, using the decrepit, crumbling corridors of the Underhives to unleash precise strikes before scurrying back into the dark. Survival in the Underhives is a difficult and desperate business, where violence is often the only option.

 

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    well the bases look good. Nice to have 25s that will more or less match the Mechanicus bases.I’ll probably buy the bulkheads for use in Zone Mortalis.

    Its funny, I don’t know why I’m not more excited by this.

    Maybe I am just falling out of love with GW stuff. Not sure why. I am genuinely puzzled by my lack of excitement. Perhaps my dislike of 8th following on from the death of WHFB has just ruined the rest of their stuff for me and left a bad taste in my mouth.

    The marketing ploy of making you buy all the advanced rules separately in another expensive book makes it feel like a ripoff, and the suspicion that this game will go unsupported after a few months the way Shadow War Armageddon has also makes me reluctant to commit to anything GW does.

    • GnomesForge

      It’s that they have fallen out of touch with their own spirit. Take shovel knight, it feels so retro and classic despite being very new. Because it knew how to hit all the right marks. It’s clear GW is just churning out pale reflections of their previous releases. Even when they do get a good game going, instead of a whole new sub hobby, it’s a stand alone. How many are running Betrayal at Calth? I’ve run more WHQ 1st edition games than Silver Tower games. I still get excited playing classic Epic or Mordheim. Because they were deep, they were their own thing. Not an appetizer to 40k.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        You are probably right. We’ve all been asking for these games back so I don’t blame them for giving us them. But in the old days we didn’t know GW would just abandon games and move on. And they would at least support them for a couple of years with magazines and expansions. Plus these games were exciting and new then.

        Now they are churning out games that feel phoned in somehow, and forcing you to buy two books feels exploitative.

        Wouldn’t it be nice to have something original?

        I guess I always had 40K and WHFB to fall back on, and the specialist games made for nice breaks. Now the core is gone and the break games have even less longevity than they used to.

        I kind of feel like GW fooled me once with Necromunda and Epic, getting me to invest in stuff that then went unsupported, and so I don’t want to fall for it a second time around.

        These models won’t even fit in with my existing collections as they are so huge. On their Facebook page they said they were scaled to fit recent releases. Well thanks GW for invalidating 30 years of collecting. Everything is Primaris now…

        If I’m going to play an unsupported game then it may as well be a cheap one that I like the background of and can reuse the figures from in other settings and one with excellent rules, not mechanisms that were already out of date in the mid 90s! Hence I am collecting and playing Terminator Genisys now and loving it.

        • GnomesForge

          Very good points here.

          They rescaled them recently?? Why? Wasn’t the point of Primaris to make them tower over normal people? What’s the point of the ratio between human and augmented marine remains the same?

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Exactly. It was obvious that was how it was going as soon as the Deathguard came out and were huge. Everything new will be big including humans, and it will all look very odd mixed up together.

      • ZeeLobby

        Appetizer to 40K is a good way to put it. That said hopefully this will be handled like Blood Bowl, which still received updates and support. I don’t think we’ll ever get back to the days of Town Crier though.

        • From what Andy Hoare has been saying, we’ll be getting steady stream of Necromunda, releases at least every quarter

      • wibbling

        No, you’re just whining. Pale Immitations? Grief. They’re updating the games people love.

        • benn grimm

          They just turned the game I love into something entirely other. They could have just updated it, added on to the brilliant foundation which people have been playing unsupported for twenty odd years, but no, change for the sake of it. Pale reflection is being generous.

          • af

            …but if they had just updated the game people have been playing unsupported for years, some people (me, for example!) would have blamed them for being lazy, for not taking risks, and for sticking to outdated game design. Unfortunately for GW, it’s a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

            I, for the record, fully support redesigning (and streamlining!) tabletop games 20 years after their last release. Of course, this comes with the risk of crafting something bad, but the alternative of playing it safe is way worse in my opinion.

            Old-timers can always keep playing *exactly* the same old unchanged Necromunda they’ve been playing for 20 years unsupported, after all 🙂

          • benn grimm

            You make a fair point, though I would say there is a strange mix of streamlining and adding in stuff, the overall effect being that it really doesn’t play any faster. For example, they’ve moved stuff from post game, like rolling injuries, to during game. But you’re still doing the same thing so it feels like change for the sake of change. ‘Streamlining’ combat to make it like 8th or AoS actually can drag out combat for longer, so less maths, more slap fests. Doesn’t seem like an improvement to me, but I can understand why they went for it.

            I was expecting changes, and like I said there are definitely some cool new additions, in particular the weapons, I just wish they could have added them to the game that was there already without ripping out so much of the old for a bit more integration between old and new (and Shadowgeddon). Again I can sort of see why, I just wish it was a lighter touch. I’d much rather play the shiny new thing with shiny new/old people than listen to arguments about which old edition to use.

          • ZeeLobby

            Gotta agree. None of their streamlining has really reduced game length in my experience with most of their new systems…

    • wibbling

      You don’t have to buy everything they produce. To date I’ve not bought an Acastus Knight. On hearing of Necromunda I was ardently for it. Finances decided otherwise.

      There might be a gang you do want later, or a game you’ll feel more zing for.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        yeah I appreciate that, but since AoS I haven’t liked any of their output, except the HH plastics and the MKIII are really oversized and that annoys me, and besides they are really an extension of a FW franchise.

        I always considered myself a lifetime fan of GW and the 40k and WHFB settings since I was a teenager but I don’t like the changes. Oh well. Nothing lasts forever I guess.

    • benn grimm

      Bloodbowl was cool because they didn’t mess with it. This leaves me cold, precisely because they for some reason decided to mess with it. They’re out of touch, have been for ages.

      • vlad78

        Have you tried the new necromunda ruleset?

        • benn grimm

          I’ve had a good look at the rules and tried a couple of quick run throughs. It’s a strange beast tbh, there are some cool ideas, but also a whole heap of face palm moments. You?

          • vlad78

            Nope. What kind of facepalm moments? Is it really that bad? Is the HTH improved?

          • benn grimm

            If you didn’t like the way combat worked before, then possibly, it’s like AoS now, you hit on a fixed roll. I wouldn’t say it’s awful, but it is pretty different.

            I don’t like how activation works particularly, there’s only two gangs, no Delaques, Cawdorks, Van Beards etc and the two featured gangs are uber asymmetric. As are quite a few of the missions. RNG often decides how many of your gang turns up to said missions. Gangers don’t get skills, but juves do for some reason, though really you (I) want them to get stat increases. Juves don’t become gangers, they go straight to champ status after 5 advances. Heavies don’t seem to exist. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on how many guys can be promoted to specialist/champ. Gangers are limited to 3 weapons, which are then glued to them for eternity. No selling that lasgun and trading it for something which suits them or the mission better. I didn’t notice it, but a friend of mine mentioned that on some missions, the war gear you take can be randomised, so you could end up leaving that shiny new chain sword at home and taking the crappy axe you thought you replaced. There are ‘tactic cards’ which are supposed to balance out uneven match ups. You can hit your own guys if you miss (not sure if I dislike this or not, does make some sense I guess).

            On the plus side, the models are great, the Goliaths in particular look a lot nicer, even if they are rather massive. The board should make a cool sewer, there are a whole bunch of new weapons, lots and lots of stuff made it over (trading posts, territory, people on fire etc etc and this is just the beginning. It does feel incomplete atm and it is annoying that they’re spreading it out over multiple releases, but at least there will be other releases. The interest/hype generated by the release is great for the community. Oh and I spotted a heavy bolter mentioned, so there will be heavies, even if they aren’t called heavies.

          • LankTank

            Its not like they arent going to release more armies? So this was also using the gang supplement? And do you think it pays to buy extra ganger kits?

          • benn grimm

            I can’t see them not releasing more gangs, that would be crazy, it’s just disappointing they aren’t in there at the off. I played just with the box set, but got a chance to look through the supplement book. There wasn’t really enough suitable terrain around for a proper 3D game and the buzz was all about the box set. Yes, I would say so, you’re going to want plenty of juves going into a campaign and gang upkeep from what I could tell isn’t really an issue any more.

          • vlad78

            thank you

          • benn grimm

            You’re welcome.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        well I think the change to alternating activations might be positive, but them changing it from a 3D to a 2D game and the customer having to pay extra to play the full game, thats just annoying!

        • LankTank

          How come when people ask “how does the game play?” do people only say “ermegawd its not 3d anymurrr”. Yeah we know, the STARTER set is 2d. And the expansion is what $30? Not exactly back breaking considering necromunda seems better vale for components than space hulk. Does anyone have some insight on the mechanics, both 2d and 3d?

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            the box is pretty light on content and costs ÂŁ60 even from a discounter. And the supplement another ÂŁ15 on top? Its just taking the p1ss.

          • LankTank

            Space hulk was similar price with single pose models and limited – no replayability. Dreadfleet only 10 boats (but an amazing mat). However Necromunda seems to have good replayability, a chance to expand and add tactical depth with a cheap book, and the models are fully customizable. It also seems great if I can have a version to play vs wife and one vs mates. Also the pricing is similar to current market if you look at zombiecide, massive darkness, descent. Hell even rebellion. But once again I would ask, have you played the new 2d set and also tried the gang supplement? Cause those who wrote the article have and seem to love it and im looking for some accurate feedback so I can decide whether to double down on extra gang kits/the cards

        • af

          Isn’t what comes in the box “the full game”? I thought 3D was just an expansion for old-timers. I suppose newcomers are not aware Necromunda used to be a 3D game and may very well enjoy the game as it is now. (For old-timers, I agree, it’s inconvenient and annoying).

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            the gang development rules, which is really the whole point of the game, is also in the supplement.

          • af

            I didn’t know that. It genuinely sucks.

          • LankTank

            Look at it like the starter boxes for 40k. You dont get the full rules, just beginner. You dont get points, codex and dont get all the armies. But at least necromunda allows the models to have the full wargear selection

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            The big 40k starter does include the full rulebook though!

            You don’t get the codex sure but 400 pages of rules in a starter box might be overkill and would raise the price too much.

          • LankTank

            Well technically you didnt cause planet strike, cities of death etc were supplements nor could you play the actual game of 40k which consists of armies 4x bigger and using codex and points. Necromunda, just 1 book. Saying that Ive seen alot of reviewers say that they were surprised that the 2d version still has alot of bite, and that they would still want to play 10 games before dancing bsck down the full gang war. The only hard part is those players who dont have updated rules for their gang. A small index style pdf would be helpful.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            If we’re being pedantic the 40k starters have rules for the models inside and scenarios to play with them. Its not the full game as usually played, but neither is whats in the Necromunda box which lacks half the game rules.

          • LankTank

            Exactly. This is a starter set. So dont expect it to be all inclusive of every aspect of necromunda. Imo its better that they ensured the game had both a beginner friendly rule set and also the more involved gang war for veterans and past players. It mimics the new 40k 3 levels of play (there also being 3 to necromunda, 2 full rule sets in the starter). Better to have an opportunity for more players to start than to pander to embittered older players who cant seem to find a single hours paycheck for one supplement book.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Except that boxed games usually include FULL RULES. I can’t remember one before that didn’t. Especially ones that cost ÂŁ70+ and only contain 20 figures.

          • mafiacheese

            The people I talked to in-store today were roughly 50/50 between having played it before and having entered the hobby after the demise of Specialist Games a few years ago. The box set would be a good intro to the game, but us “old-timers” are going to want the Gang War supplement.

        • benn grimm

          You’re not the only one to say that tbf, Im not a fan but I can see why some people might like it like that. For me, gangs are small enough that turns really don’t take that long anyway, certainly not like in 40k. Totally with you on the 2D/3D thing.

  • I’ve heard it’s helpful to have a set of tweezers for dealing with the small parts during assembly

    • mafiacheese

      I built my local GW’s set for demos, and I can confirm this. There’s a cigar piece for the Goliath leader that HAS to be the absolute smallest “bit” they’ve ever produced…I’m not sure why they didn’t simply mold it onto that particular head, seeing as how it would otherwise have a gaping hole…

      • I hadn’t noticed that before and now I have so many different plans for where that head is gonna get reused

  • mafiacheese

    I don’t have time to read through all of the comments, but I demoed the game today and had plenty of hands-on time with the rulebook, so I may be able to answer questions regarding this to maybe dispel some of the rumors.

    • memitchell

      1) How big are the minis, compared to the old Necro ones (or, “human” plastics like Cadians)?
      2) H2H seems to stir controversy. Is it decisive, or does it devolve into multi-turn scrums?
      3) Does it play smoothly on the boards? Does it feel forced?
      4) Do the alternate actions work well, with reasonable decisions to be made?
      5) Was it fun and well received?

      • mafiacheese

        1) I took my old metal models in for comparison, and felt that the Eschers were approximately the same size (they seem larger only because of dynamic posing), but that could just be me. Goliath are definitely beefier this time, as they now sit on 32mm bases (Escher are still on standard 25mm bases), making the old sculpts look like juves.

        2) It can go either way. I watched some scuffles where both sides consistently missed or failed to wound, or where the charging model obliterated their target. Just comes down to how the dice roll more than anything else, but I don’t think any melee lasted longer than 2 or 3 turns before someone lost. You can get bonus attacks for having two melee or pistol weapons (you have to divide the attacks evenly between them, though) and on the turn you charge; only real bonuses/penalties seem to come into play when you are either outnumbered (-1 to rolls) or outnumber your opponent (+1 per friendly gang member also Engaged in combat). I think where people are getting upset is that getting taken down in H2H is basically an automatic death sentence (Out of Action) unless you have a friend Engaged with you to protect you from the Coup de Grace.

        3) The board definitely make it more claustrophobic as you’re fighting in tunnels, but it’s basically like a flat Zone Mortalis board. I prefer the 3D terrain, personally, but the boards weren’t bad. Each mission has a particular set of boards (they’re double-sided) to use, but you’re encouraged to scale up with more boards if you want more gangs on the table. Bottom line, the 2D is a great intro to the world of Necromunda; newbies can enjoy the 3D stuff and campaign modes once they get a handle on the basic stuff.

        4) I personally loved the alternate actions, it makes it more strategic instead of merely sitting around waiting for your turn. There is an Advanced Rule that I wasn’t fond of (we didn’t use it during the demo) where a Leader or Champion can attempt to rally other models (except other Leaders or Champions) around him or her act back-to-back (still one model at a time); I feel like it’s overpowered if I can basically make my entire gang (or a large portion of it) act all in one go, but gang warfare maybe isn’t supposed to be fair?

        5) The store was relatively dead today, but per the GW manager he’d received 60+ preorders in two days, so I think if I had been able to demo it yesterday it may have seen more interest. Even the people who had merely heard of the game but never played it were at least curious about it, and the vets (like me) are chomping at the bit to get our hands on the Gang War supplement to figure out campaign modes.

        I’m also waiting to see how they handle the Legacy Gangs on the website, but I suspect that will not go up until launch day.

        • memitchell

          “so I may be able to answer questions regarding this to maybe dispel some of the rumors.” = Understatement of the week!

          1) “Approximately the same size” is surely in the eyes of the beholder, but it gives me hope my extensive collection is still valid.

          2 & 3) Awesome answers! Cogent, concise, and clarifying.

          4) Gulp! I was figuring to breeze by the store on release day, and grab a copy. Maybe I should call the store and reserve a box.

          Anyway, thanks a ton for the answers. Well done!

          • mafiacheese

            Not a problem! Happy to help!

            The official Necromunda Facebook page seems to indicate that they’ve learned from selling out too quickly on Space Hulk and Shadow War: Armageddon and have assured some commenters that they will have plenty of copies on hand. I’d definitely recommend pre-ordering anyway, as my experience from working for a large videogame retailer in my past taught me that pre-orders allow a company to gauge initial interest…and if we can let GW know that we are interested, we can probably count on their continued support (as they want to make $$$).

          • Allaire

            Makes since because they aren’t planning on releasing the core rule book separately.

        • 6Cobra

          For H2H, automatically out of action was how it always was in Necr-old-munda. That decisive aspect was the only reason to kit a ganger out that way and even try to get into H2H; otherwise shooting absolutely dominated.

          • mafiacheese

            Something I’m excited about (not from anything I’ve encountered from my hands-on time with the rulebook, merely reading elsewhere) is that OVERWATCH is a skill, not an action…so the days of both sides sitting still while waiting for the other to move are over. I ran Goliaths and Redemptionists back in the day, and it was frustrating getting shot off the table before I could get close enough to do anything; now I literally have a fighting chance! 🙂

          • memitchell

            Shooting was more powerful in Necromunda. With better ballistic skills and Red Dot Lasers for all it is dominant in Shadow War. But, a Leader outfitted for Close Combat, supported by a couple of shooters or three was a brute. And, a huge Experience producing machine. And, Out-of-Action is all good.

            NO OVERWATCH!!! OMG(W)! That should be a game changer. It certainly is in any IGO/UGO game. But, is it critical in a game with alternating actions? You can’t run your whole gang across open ground, while the enemy simply looks on. Now, they can react. I’d have to see it in action, but it sounds doable. And, could make H2H more viable.

          • mafiacheese

            One of the advanced rules (that we did not use in the demo) allows Leaders and Champions to activate whole groups of models within a certain amount of range (4″, I think), except for other Leaders or Champions (i.e. Gangers only), and they’d all take back-to-back activations. Personally I think it sucks because it takes away the fairness of alternating actions, but perhaps gang warfare isn’t meant to be fair? Lol.

            H2H is definitely more viable, as I think it was at least a 50/50 split between casualties coming out of H2H versus shooting (and subsequent injury dice making the model go Out of Action).

      • mafiacheese
  • frank

    I cant wait to get this game… just hope they dont limit it to only the houses for too long. I want Arbites, Scavvies, Redemption and the rest. I dont know if they will have Ratskins but I would love to see them redone, might not be the same as they were but i liked the concept of sump dwellers who worship the hive.

  • shabbadoo

    I am really happy to see stuff for Necromunda coming out (Blood Bowl too for that matter), but GW really needs to stop this half gang/team sprue half-assery. For the price we are expected to pay, we very much deserve 10/12-model sprues, with all of the models being COMPLETELY different, plus lots of heads, weapon arms, and accessory bits. This doesn’t matter much at all for a game like Battlefleet Gothic, but for games like Blood Bowl and Necromunda, where each model is a much more unique personality, it sure as hell does. Somebody needs to pink slip the people responsible for this continuing half-assery, and more people need to speak out against it, or it will become the norm.