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Shadow Wars Armageddon: Gameplay Basics

6 Minute Read
Apr 3 2017

We continue our week of Shadow War Armageddon coverage. Let’s take a closer look at what’s changed in 20 years of rules.

Welcome to Armageddon gamers. This war-torn Hiveworld is beset on all sides by every 40K faction out there, doing battle deep in the depths of Hive Acheron.  Here small kill teams of the galaxy’s greatest killers stalk each other through the industrial depths for both glory and survival.

This game arrives with a GIANT heavy cardstock box filled to the limit with sprues & rules.   The terrain is dripping in detail and enormous in scale.  You have all the terrain you need for basic Kill-team games, but there are more a la carte kits on the way. 

These sprues are enormous.

The rulebook opens with 10 pages of background on the world of Armageddon, then dives into the 50 pages of core rules.  Following that you get the rules for creating Killteams, running campaigns, and missions.



Here are some sample pages of gameplay basics to get you in the mood.

Note the return of both Scatter dice and Artillery Dice.

Here’s the page of basic stats and characteristics. The game come with rules for Marines, Astra Militarum & Orks out of the box.

Default weapons for the three included factions.


Gameplay Basics

The game is indeed very, very similar to Necromunda. The local gangs of Armageddon are mentioned in passing, and after a thorough study of the rules side by side with Necromunda I can say that yes indeed you should be able to generate old school gangs and put them into the fight against their new competitors.  The gameplay is a timewarp back to the days of Necromunda, with it’s fast-paced games, frenetic action, bottle checks, permanent logs of your Kill-team’s progress skills, injuries, equipment and glory (or ignominy).

These games will be lightning fast, with models darting from cover to cover, trying to get solid positioning on enemy models without being seen. Once a Kill-team has lost 25% of their models, you make a leadership test (bottle test) at the start of each turn. If you fail, the game is over instantly with your hasty retreat. Remember that with the size of average Killteams, that means 1-3 models down can get you rolling bottle tests. These are games of careful moving, taking shots and risking assaults when you can, in hopes of dropping those handful of enemy models while keeping your your kill team intact.

With the changes of serious or permanent injury very real, you will encounter times when it’s best to voluntarily call a game (auto-fail your bottle test) and retreat intact rather than risk losing a critical model like a Killteam Leader or highly skilled specialist with pricy equipment.

It’s a long-term way of thinking about your Kill-team that is completely absent from the one-off games of 40K, and one of the game’s biggest attraction.

How Similar to Necromunda?

We went through both the new rulebook and our original Necromunda rulebook page by page looking for major differences. Here’s the big ones:

In Armageddon, default shooting from models has a 360 degree LoS from models, while in Necromunda it was 90 degrees. While this simplifies things considerably, there is still a 90 degree arc of fire for Overwatch fire, so you will still need to mark the arc on your models in some way to keep things clear.

In Armageddon the pre and post game campaign structure is greatly streamlined from the very granular and Necromunda themed campaigns of old.  Now your Armageddon Kill-teams fight for Promethium Caches instead of the varied Territories of Necromunda. The new campaign system is kept purposely generic as it has to work with everything from Marine to Tyranid Killteams.


The old Necromunda Trading Post is gone forever from the new game. (This one hurts the most for me – it was a place of suspense and luck).

Missions, Skills and Injury tables are very similar, but reworded for clarity.

High Impact weapon rules has been added.

“Gangers” have been replaced with “Fighters” throughout the rules.

Some rules sections have been re-ordered for better organization, but are mostly word for word identical to Necromunda.

There are many other teensy changes, but that gives you a taste of the level of change we are talking about.

Shadow War: Armageddon $130

(grab yours from your local store)


A deep and tactically rewarding game, Shadow War: Armageddon comes with a 120-page softback rulebook, containing:

– a history of the brutal conflicts that have wracked the hive world of Armageddon since the notorious Warboss Ghazghkull Thraka decided to invade;
– an overview of the main forces fighting over the hive world – Space Marines Scouts, Astra Militarum Veteran Squads and Ork Boyz Mobs – how they fight, why they fight and the wargear they employ;
– Core Rules: the set of rules you need to learn in order to play Shadow War: Armageddon. It covers the items you need in order to play and the characteristics of each fighter type, along with a breakdown of a game turn – this will teach you movement, shooting, hand-to-hand combat and recovering from injuries, along with an explanation of the mechanics behind using terrain;
– extra rules for hiding, shooting modifiers for targeting enemies according to your weapon’s range and their cover status, overwatch, hurling grenades, reloading and running out of ammunition, parrying, critical hits and more;
– Advanced Rules: a set of optional rules adding yet more complexity to games – these cover damage caused by falling from heights, leaping over gaps or down from higher ground, stray shots and weapon failures, as well as the psychological effects of up-close warfare – fear, terror, hatred and frenzy all have their place;
– a detailed armoury, covering the different weapons, equipment and armour available, with profiles for all the gear available to Space Marines Scouts, Astra Militarum Veterans and Ork Boyz, complete with specialised ammunition types, different weapon optics and equipment;
– 6 missions, leading you through setting up the battlefield, deploying your kill teams, and the victory conditions for your game;
– a collection of evocative photography of Citadel miniatures, helping to visualise the kill teams and battles of Hive Acheron.


Shadow War: Armageddon features comprehensive rules for linking games together into a larger campaign:

– improve your warriors with a Skills table that confers persistent abilities and upgrades to the members of your kill teams, gradually turning them into a squad of elites;
– Special Operatives: battle-hardened fighters who can be added to your squad;
– Subplots: these are mission-specific rules that can add rivalries, psychological and physical effects to your games;
– Rewards of Battle – a post-mission phase determining your squad’s recovery from injury, advancement of skills and gathering of promethium;
– a reference guide making managing campaigns easier, with blank roster sheets.

As well as this, you’ll find the items needed to play the game itself:
– 3 translucent red plastic templates – a 3” small blast template, a 5” large blast template and an 8” teardrop-shaped flamer template, along with counters for identifying miniatures in states such as Overwatch and Hidden;
– a promethium tank counter and a bunker entrance counter, used for certain missions;
– 7 dice – 5xD6, a scatter die and an artillery die.

~We have much to cover all week – so check back soon. What Killteam are you starting?

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