Necromunda and Gang War – First Impressions

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Necromunda and the Gang War supplement bring back a lot of finicky old-school flavor.

Necromunda Underhive and Gang War (which is a great name for a gaming supplement, but a terrible name for a multivitamin) are here. They bring with them a number of forgotten, buried things–living proof that that is not dead which eternal can lie, and with strange aeons (or at least the release of a nostalgia-laden game), even death may die.

Scatter dice are back. And with them, mankind’s undoing. I mean. Blast templates. But there’s more to Necromunda than the mummified remains of a mechanic that was thought defeated long ago, and only to late are we realizing that it can’t be defeated, and our own place in the cosmos is a precarious one indeed. It’s actually a pretty fun game. So let’s move away from the cosmic horror that is reality and descend instead into the cosmic horror that is the 40K Universe and take a look at Necromunda Underhive.

But as long as we’re taking a look at Necromunda, we may as well take a look at the Gang War supplement too. The two go hand in hand and really, if you want to play Necromunda the way you remember it/the way it was meant to be played, you want to pick up this book. More on that in a minute.

So let’s get down to business and talk quarterly financials, metaphorically speaking. There’s a lot of data to interpret, but I think you’ll see an overall upward trend in our market reach. Which, in the context of this metaphor means: the game seems pretty fun overall. There’s a lot of stuff to contend with though. The first thing that stood out to us is how finicky the game is.

The rules aren’t super complex, there’s just a lot of moving parts. Alone they’re all fairly straightforward. Are you shooting someone up close? Have a bonus. Did you aim? Have a bonus. But–start to throw in things like, did they run. Are they prone. What did you do before you shot? How many guns are you shooting? And it all starts to add up. And each one of these rules/modifiers is important to keep track of. Most of the gangers will have the same statline and so it becomes a game of leveraging the advantages that the system provides.

But with all the finicky bits rolling around, you’re going to forget something. Or the game is going to take longer than it should. At least at first. It’ll probably take three or four games before you really start to get the hang of it and aren’t spending each turn relearning the combat rules. But you really want to get to that point, because being able to take advantage of those systems is what will help you feel like you’re getting good at this game.

It’s also what makes the game fun. There’s a very tactically satisfying game in here, one dependent on movement, position, and smart use of actions (and more than a little luck). It’s very cinematic and designed to deliver those narrative moments that you’ll be talking about around the table. Oh man, remember when my one ganger with the two pistols ran up and got those lucky shots on your leader and took them out? Or, remember when my Champion charged yours and neither of us could get the upper hand for two turns?

But you can’t really start getting those moments until you get the bigger picture of the game. And, speaking of the bigger picture, you really won’t get those iconic Necromunda moments without picking up Gang War. The boxed set is good and all, but it’s just a skirmish in a box. If you want to upgrade your gangers, if you want to customize them, outfit them with specialized gear and have them fight battles, earn XP, and eventually become too cool to be gangers, because they’ve taken so many old war wounds that they can’t fight effectively anymore…then you need the Gang War supplement in your life.

It’s the framework for campaigns and for more advanced rules like hired guns and raw recruits and so on–though, distressingly, it feels incomplete. There are several sections in the book that say “(more details in a forthcoming supplement)” which kind of stings if you’ve already picked up a boxed set AND another book. Go to all that trouble and the game still doesn’t feel complete?

It is very fun though. And the nostalgia game is strong with this one. It definitely captures the old-school vibe, both in terms of the feel of the combat (it’s not exactly 2nd edition melee combat, but it’s not not 2nd edition combat). And the game assumes that if you’re picking it up, you’re a veteran player. Not just a veteran 40K player, but a veteran Necromunda player. The way the rules are laid out, they’ll often reference an idea that isn’t really explained until a few pages later. Stats are highlighted, calling out that some are 1d6 checks, and others are 2d6 checks, but that information is hidden away.

Necromunda Underhive is worth it though. The game is a ton of fun. It may be harder to pick up and play (especially given that you have to assemble these detailed, finicky, multipart models), but when you can get past all the finickiness, there’s a solid core of fun underneath it all. We’re eager to see what the next supplement brings. Right now it feels like the game is taking on its final form–and once the other gangs become available, you’ll be able to dive in and take over the Hive to your heart’s content.

In the meantime, we’ll be fighting in the tunnels, and near sewer grates and barricades and rolling ammo dice and injury dice with aplomb.

  • tinythebig

    So are the main rules included in gangwar? I have scatter dice and templates and all that. I even have a few old gangs. If I can get away with not buying the boxed game, I will.

    • Fenix Dargon

      I’m with you there. Hoping I dont need to buy the box, just Gang war for my Van Saars. still have them almost 20 years later.

      • ZeeLobby

        Sadly as of right now you do. Though I’m hoping they release it digitally or something later.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        Gang War only has the full Gang Rosters for Goliath and Escher.

      • Bootneck

        As great as the old models are, the new ones knock the socks off them.

        Until they release Delac and Van Sar I’ll be holding back, those two Houses were the best and lead all the leagues in my area for years. I don’t want to make the mistake of playing roided up Goliath’s as my main gang again only to realise that the strength skills were mostly useless.

        • 6Cobra

          I seem to remember Escher being pretty good also, with all those word parries. (Although Van Saar heavies… oof..)

          Goliaths and Cawdor were in an arm-wrestling match for the title of “worst gang.”

    • ZeeLobby

      Nah, only in the main box as of right now.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        And only ever the in the Core set. Andy Hoare got asked that question on the WH-Tv twitch stream and he said there are no plans, at all, to release the rules separately as the core set is fundamentally a independent box-game.

        • LankTank

          But he would say that. Then in the future suddenly boom, new plan

          • I_am_Alpharius

            Besides the money aspect. Be honest, apart from 40K and AoS, how often, now or in the past, have GW ever sold “boxed game” rules separately when there is a “boxed game” set is available to purchase. I’m sure there maybe one or two? but it is not a lot, thats for sure.

          • LankTank

            Fair point. For some reason I thought they did with blood bowl but no. And blood bowl is the best indicator of how they are going to do any releases

        • euansmith

          I’m sure they will be available in a free-to-download format pretty soon; on Scribd at least.

    • crimsonsun

      I don’t see the rules being there as well, the source book for Necromunda is around the same page count so I’m guessing its entirely independent. I hope they release a combined rule book at some point but I’ve no clue as to how likely that is.

      • rtheom

        We’ll probably see the same thing they did with Shadow War. The rulebook by itself will be released with Gang War included about a month after the box set is released.

    • Rainthezangoose

      pick up the rulebook from ebay or a scalping sight such as bits and kits or what have you. Probably more then you’d like to pay but much cheaper then dropping £75 on a bunch of stuff you don’t want/need.

    • Xodis

      Should be able to grab just the rules pretty easily online. Im sure many people bought multiple boxes with all the hype.

      • ZeeLobby

        Is there reason to though? I mean how much larger are gangs going to be? I mean it made a lot more sense for their other boxed games to buy multiples.

        • Xodis

          Not to me, but there was plenty of talk of buying multiple to kit bash some more uniqueness.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. Haven’t heard much of that locally. If anyone is buying more to kitbash they’re waiting for the individual boxes for these gangs, which I’m assuming are coming based on BB. Makes more sense than buying a whole bunch of stuff you need to get rid of, unless your splitting it with someone. I dunno, my guess is these will be harder to find than most of the side games they’ve done before. I mean outside of bits breakdowns on eBay and paying a premium.

          • Xodis

            Locally everyone is too invested in 40K right now, or gearing up for Legions. The Necromunda groups on FB have been showing a lot of kitbashing though, so I figure there are more out there doing the same. Those bit breakdowns on eBay usually sell the rules pretty cheap though, or at least they did with the previous boardgames by GW.

          • euansmith

            You would get 18 cardboard Zone Mortalis tiles for really big layouts, I guess.

    • Iconoc1ast

      keep an eye on flea bay. a few people have mentioned buying multiple boxes so i guess there will be a few rulebooks up for sale.

  • Rainthezangoose

    It makes me laugh when people say “you must buy the box mate to get the rulebook, its the only way!!”.
    Funny, no one told me all the scalpers in the world just straight up died overnight. Don’t be a mug if you don’t want the the rest of the box just buy it of ebay for a (granted) slightly inflated price.
    Me on the other hand, I decided to pick up all the scenery, the tiles and two half gangs of ebay for £38 including postage. My idea is to try it out with this core minimum and whats available online as far as rules are concerned to try the game out. Then if I like it Ill buy the core-box and gang war and have twice as much to play with or if not some loose stuff I can consolidate into other projects.

  • euansmith

    I really like the see-through plastic ruler mechanism for determining who is and isn’t in cover. It looks to be simple and effective.