First steps in the Underhive

After picking up the newest incarnation of Necromunda at CaptainCan thanks to Ami and Danny from The Armoury, it was only a matter of time before stuff actually started turning up here. Necromunda was one of my favourite games from the 90’s. It was a well designed game which has undergone few changes (at least at cursory examination), and let’s be honest. the nostalgia value is ridiculous. So many good memories of playing with my friends in Armidale back in the day… and to see iconic looks of the gangs updated to modern sculpting and design standard, well, like I said, it was only a matter of time.

The new box has House Goliath and House Escher (steroid jockey and punk rock glamazons) so out of the box you get to pit brute strength against agility and finess. Also available now are the Orlocks – the blue collar workers of the Underhive, tough and bound by bonds of brotherhood – and by the end of the year we’ll have Houses Van Saar (they get the good tech), Cawdor (Persecute! Burn the heretic!) and Delaque (Sneaky spy types). Just my luck, the three gangs I’m most into, are the second half of the year’s releases 😉

With the Gang War supplements the full league rules are there, which will play into the game’s success. I’ve harped on in the past that the success of Necromunda, Blood Bowl and Mordheim, the reason they’ve had such passionate fan bases despite going almost two decades without official support, is due to their being low model count games where you name your characters and what they do in the game *matters*. Your juve takes out three opponents? They get XP, they improve, they become a unique model, and every time you play them you’re invested in their success. You become emotionally invested in the achievements and welfare of your characters.

The most notable change is how you play. In Necromunda’s previous incarnation you would play on a tabletop full of terrain, and your models would dive for cover and scramble for high ground. True line of sight was a thing. You can still play with those rules – referred to as Sector Mechanicus and covered in Gang War 1 – but the standard gameplay is referred to as fighting in Zone Mortalis – the tunnels and warrens of the Underhive. Instead of playing on a standard wargaming table, play occurs on double-sided tiles,with doors and barricades set up top provide cover as you advance through their claustrophobic confines. The big difference with Zone Mortalis play (which can even take place inside the game box, as shown above) is that Line of Sight is base-to-base, so you can completely protect your ganger regardless of how far out the side their arm is extended.

From a competitive standpoint I can definitely see the merits of Zone Mortalis base-to-base LOS, as proven through years of Warmachine/Hordes experience, but there’s something to be said for trying to see if your ganger can look down the sights of his autogun to catch a glimpse of an opposing ganger through cracks and missing panels in the bulkhead.

Thanks to pal 49, my Orlock gang (currently dubbed the Fancy Dans) had a desperate firefight through the tunnels and we got to test out a bunch of rules. What happens when your heavy stubber runs out of ammunition? Fighting knives vs Stilletos? Stacking flesh wounds, bottling, all sorts of good stuff. These rules apply to Sector Mechanics as well as Zone Mortalis, so while I think the Sector Mechanicus rules will be the most popular for casual play and Zone Mortalis will be the better format for competitive play (harder to have LOS arguments, much easier to transport tiles than full terrain sets), both have what it takes to be a lot of fun, with the campaign rules being key to player engagement.

Thanks in no small part to 49’s insane ability to roll 1’s when his Eschers were trying to wound my Orlocks, the Fancy Dans walked away with a victory and a few crates of loot. They’ll be making their way onto the painting table in the near future, ready to wreak havoc with their autopistols blazing. Stay tuned.