BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

Necromunda and Gang War – First Impressions

5 Minute Read
Nov 14 2017

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.

Author: J.R. Zambrano
  • Black Library: T'au F'ac'e "E'vi'l"