Tuesday is of course game day, and this is one that I’ve been looking forward to featuring on my blog it seems like forever! Of course, I’ve talked around it for years, but at last, it’s time for Necromunda!
There are a ton of rules for this game that make it a really immersive, RPG-style experience, but this is my first game so I’m keeping it simple. It absolutely isn’t going to be my last, however, so I’ll be exploring more of these rules in future blogs! I’ve covered a lot of the basics in my earlier Getting Started with Necromunda blog, but let’s revisit that to begin:
Necromunda Underhive is a skirmish game where players control the members of a gang, vying for supremacy in the Underhive. At its most basic, the game is quite straightforward, consisting of three phases in each round. To begin, players roll off to see who gets Priority for that round, then all the fighters are readied.
The Action phase sees each gang member activated, alternating between each player. Each fighter can take two actions. There are a number of different actions available to players, grouped into basic actions (which can only be taken once in each activation), simple actions (which can be taken more than once), and double actions (which take up both action slots for the fighter). So for instance, moving is a simple action and so can be taken twice, while shooting or fighting is a basic action that can only be taken once, and charging is a double action (though it does allow for a fighter to make a free fight action if he or she ends that charge in base-to-base contact with an enemy gang member).
Resolving both shooting and close combat attacks works exactly the same as regular 40k, whereby fighters make a ballistic skill / weapon skill check, and if it is successful, make a roll comparing the weapon strength to the target’s toughness and referring to the usual to-wound chart. The target gets the chance to save against the attack (unless the weapon’s AP value negates that), and damage is inflicted. If a fighter is reduced to 0 wounds, they are taken out of action. There is an end phase which, in the basic rules, is only there to mark the end of the round.
For this game, I was basically soloing my way through, controlling both Delaque and Van Saar gangs that approach the 1000-credit mark. They’re fairly similar in make-up, with a Leader, a Champion carrying a fancy weapon, and one Ganger with a fancy weapon. Van Saar, as a more expensive gang, unfortunately have one less ganger, but we’ll have to see how each side fared!
My Delaque gang consisted of the following:
Leader (flechette pistol, shock stave, throwing knives) – 185 credits
Champion (grav gun, web gauntlet) – 260 credits
Ganger (long rifle) – 90 credits
Ganger (shotgun, stun grenades) – 100 credits
Ganger (paired autopistols) – 70 credits
Ganger (autogun, stiletto knives, smoke grenades) – 110 credits
Ganger (web pistol, bio scanner) – 170 credits
985 credits in total
In contrast, my Van Saar gang was just:
Leader (combi las/melta, hystrar-pattern energy shield) – 310 credits
Champion (rad cannon, rad grenades) – 265 credits
Ganger (paired plasma pistols, frag grenades) – 205 credits
Ganger (suppression laser) – 115 credits
Ganger (las carbine) – 95 credits
990 credits in total
Van Saar are known for being very shooty, and very expensive, and this is very clear here – two fewer gangers than the Delaque bunch, although early in the game this didn’t seem to matter. The ganger with paired plasma pistols was able to take advantage of the mistake of the Delaque leader in coming out in the open like we’ve seen above, and was able to get an embarrassingly clear shot at him!
This is the first place where I got a bit lost in the rules. In regular 40k, you’re trying to reduce units or characters to 0 wounds. Here, however, we’re not quite doing the same thing. When a fighter takes enough damage that he is reduced to 0 wounds, you roll an injury dice to see what happens – either a Flesh Wound (which reduces the fighter’s Toughness characteristic), Serious Injury (which knocks the fighter prone, turned face down on the board), or Out of Action (removed from play). At the end of the round, you have a chance to then stand back up or remain prone, by rolling the dice again. Now, any flesh wounds reduce the toughness, and if the fighter is reduced to 0 Toughness, they are then removed from the game. It’s a nice mechanic to ensure that your model isn’t going to be one-shotted into oblivion (although, of course, that is possible by rolling Out of Action!) and once I’d gotten my head around it, it was nice to see that the game will actually let you play with your toys, you know?
There is a definite need to have plenty of bodies on the table, which put the Van Saar at the disadvantage here, as mentioned. It’s good to have fancy weapons, for sure, but it’s no use if the fighter wielding that weapon cannot get to use it! Which brings me on to learning point number two!
My Van Saar Champion has a rad cannon, and being Van Saar, he’s hitting on 2s. Along with a d6 each time you roll to shoot, you also roll the Firepower dice, which has the ammo symbol on one face that shows the weapon is out of ammo. The first roll with my rad cannon guy, I rolled a 1 and the ammo symbol, so I did the grand sum of nothing on my turn, and was then shot by the Delaque Leader, causing him to be prone and pinned. On each End Phase roll, he remained prone and pinned, meaning he did the grand sum of nothing for the entire game! 265 credits wasted!
Something that I think is really, really cool about this game is the depth into which the rules go for pretty much everything. Once you get the basic flow down, it feels like a very real game. For example, on your fighter’s activation, you can use one action to Aim (Basic) to add 1 to the hit roll, and then use the second action to Shoot (Basic), where you may find yourself rolling the ammo symbol on the dice. The shot will still be fired, but if you survive to your next activation, you then need to make an ammo check to Reload (Simple) before you can then attempt to Shoot (Basic) once again.
Something that I really like, and hadn’t realised until about halfway through the game, is that a fighter wielding two weapons with the Sidearm trait can shoot with both as part of the same Shoot (Basic) action – normally you can only make one such action on your turn, as you can’t make the same Basic action twice on your activation. Sadly, the Van Saar ganger dual-wielding plasma pistols had run out of ammo on one of these at the time I realised this, but I still had my Delaque ganger with dual autopistols. Fabulous!
A lot of the game, I feel, will come alive when you play through the scenarios and link everything in a campaign. There are so many rules that involve stuff like opening loot caskets, gaining credits and advancing gangers with different weapons and gaining skills. I’ve not had a chance (or, really, the need) to properly investigate the rules for campaign play, but it seems absolutely like the RPG-feel that I was expecting.
For those of you wondering, the game resulted in a Delaque victory. I was playing a vague sort of scenario whereby the Van Saar gang was trying to re-take some territory from the Delaque. The first round was a lot of positioning, then there were two rounds of shooting and door-opening, before the fourth round resulted in utter carnage! Two Van Saar gangers were reduced to 0 Toughness, and two Delaque gangers took advantage of pinned and prone Van Saar fighters to charge and administer the coup de grace. Seeing his entire cohort killed off, the Van Saar leader conceded.
I’m glad that I’ve finally been able to get the game to the table, even if it was just a solo adventure to see how the whole thing works. Much as with Warcry recently, though, I felt as though it was an entirely fine way to play, getting to grips with the rules interactions and so on. However, I’ve got something lined up hopefully for the day when we can play games with actual living people once again! Delaque vs Orlock, should be a lot of fun!
This game is awesome, and I can’t wait to share more here on the blog as time goes on, and more games are played! Exciting times!