Coming full Circle?

There are a lot of excited Nerds around at the moment. The pre-orders for Nu-Necromunda must be pouring in. If Shadow war was anything to go by then Necromunda:Underhive is going to be a massive hit for GW. I have to admit to being lured in by the hype myself. I've watched a couple of interviews with chief specialist bod, Andy Hoare, and his enthusiasm for the game is infectious. He's a player a collector and a generally lovely bloke. The rejuvenation of 1995's Necromunda with two redesigned gangs and 2D board looks like it'll have some great gameplay and has pushed the GW game format in a different direction to 8th edition 40K. I was gathering info about the game and working out how it might work it occurred to me that something was going on. The type of gamer I am (and the this applies to the people I'm lucky enough to play games with) will no doubt appreciate the game as it comes out of the box but I have a sneaky suspicion that we will fairly quickly try and push the boundaries. The game isn't even out and I want to mess with it.

Why? Because I see potential.

At it's most basic level, you have a new set of rule that focusses on a dozen or less models per side playing a scenario based game. This ruleset is packaged with gangs and a game board that allows you to fight games of gang based combat. That makes Necromunda:Underhive. Lets narrow that down a bit though.
Rules for a dozen or so combatants per side in the 40K universe.
Does that remind you of the kind of games anybody has been playing?

I'll point out another couple of things that you may have missed.

Necromunda:Underhive has messed with the standard 40K stat line. It's added some new stats, LD, CL, WIL, INT so that you can have a more detailed, granular interaction with your imaginary universe. Well, they've not added them as much as reinstated them. Cos they were in Rogue Trader weren't they?

And whats that first non-gang related figure that we can see being waved around under our noses? Why it's a abhuman bounty hunter that looks suspiciously like an old friend of ours.

Do you see where I'm coming from yet?

Old Necromunda has been used by gamers as the the alternative to Rogue Trader for years. As a secondary go to set of rules for sale scale space adventuring it has been brilliantly useful for the last 22 years. Where RT tends to be clunky and complex, Necromunda was a bit sleeker and quicker to play but the two are almost interchangeable. All you have to do is look at things like Inquisimunda to see how useful a set of rules the original was. The addition of actions, priorities and new process of activation gives an opportunity of game with a different shape and feel to the ones we're used to. I know I've been playing with card based activations and other things for some time. The important thing to add to the mix is imagination.

Now we have this new set of rules that are for all intents and purposes a reinvention of Rogue Trader as much as they are of Necromunda. We are not seeing the start of a game in a box, we are being given the basis for a new go to set of rules for small scale adventuring in the the 40K universe. This is GW giving the adventurous tinkerers the basic building blocks to start going out into the galaxy and fucking about with it. Yes there will be official lists,  expansions, models and extras and we'll be thankful and some of us will be cynical and grumpy cos their favourites won't get any attention. But unless you are seeing beyond the official releases then you have missed the point that mussels and so many other bloggers have been trying to make for years.

Your adventure doesn't end with the officially sanctioned gang list or boxed set.

Your adventure begins with what you want see when you peer under the lid of the 40K universe and ends when you get bored of having fun. Necromunda:Underhive may just be the modern equivalent of the games we've been trying to promote through our blogs for years. It appears that there is a circle being completed here.

I'm looking forward to seeing how far gamers are going to take Necromunda:Underhive.

I'm also looking forward to seeing if Abdul Goldberg turns up in a shady corner of Hive Primaris.


  1. Nah. It's a boardgame with two gangs of miniatures in a box, not an open ended toolkit, it's relationship with anything Oldhammer is superficial at best, cynical at worst.

    1. It's entirely deliberate and done with genuine love :-)

    2. OK, not cynical then ;-) but it's not giving me the open ended, sand-box feeling of Rogue Trader that Whiskey Priest is getting.

    3. Understood, and the box set is very much pitched at the starter end of the market. The toolbox stuff is coming, I love that sort of thing way too much *not* to include it. Plus, as a huge fan and regular long time player of Rogue Trader (myself, Gadge and Evo ran the Rogue Trader Open Day at Foundry the year before the first BOYL), I'm as aware of its flaws as of its good points, and keen to build on them all.

    4. Rogue trader is a swiss army knife, give me a leatherman and I'll use that instead, that's simple as that.If 30 years of playing that sort of games RT was meant for with other rulesets comes up with one that tops them, then I'll use that instead.
      Archeo gaming has its own charm and we all draw the line at a different place.

    5. Yeah, the 'starter' concept fits better with what I've seen Andy, and good luck with it, hope its a success and does well enough to warrant all the cool expansions you want to do.

    6. Honestly, if it brings a new generation to the idea of games that tell a story I'm all for it. I'm much less concerned with whether the new miniatures light my fire than whether the new rules bring new players to games I'd enjoy playing. If they do that, then fan-frigging-tastic. Yes. Rogue Trader is a bit of a kludge. (But quite a loveable kludge.) But it gave me a place to tell stories. Which is what I want. If you're worrying about the rules (or points) in Rogue Trader you're missing it. The story is the thing. A story we tell ourselves. If this is that . . . then I'm all for it. On the other hand . . . I do hope they'll release the rules as a standalone.

      Anyway, good luck Andy.

      And thank you Whiskey Priest for the post. It is encouraging. I will look at the new game. Even if it does come with bits I don't really need. (For monies my wife will hit me over the head for spending.)

    7. Thanks for the post, WP!

      I think the true test for this new offering will be how customizeable it is. So far, it doesn't look too customizeable to me (what with the dedicated dice and set character cards). In this sense, it reminds me of Star Wars Imperial Assault, a game that I have very mixed feelings about.

      Anyway, we'll see how this game develops! I'm looking forward to see what you do with the miniatures.

  2. The community is responsible for the releases of favorites like Space Hulk, Blood Bowl, and Necromunda.
    People like us wouldn't shut up about these great old games on the internet, and some of that has filtered through to GW over the years.
    There are maybe two other launches I was excited for over the past 10 or so years from GW (Space Hulk 2009 and the new Genestealer Cult models), but this one surpasses them both by a mile. Necromunda was my first exposure to games in the 41st millennium, and it continues to excite with the lure of games played, legends made, and stories told.

  3. Necromunda is my favorite game of all time.

    I agree with you. I have no interest in playing games on the cardboard tiles, but then, I don't have to. The second book has the rules for the terrain we are use to as well as the campaign rules, rules for juves which are absent from the board game. etc. Obviously I don't need the new stuff to play Necromunda, but not only do I enjoy being able to visit my FLGS and actually see something on the shelf I want, I'd like to encourage GW to keep making stuff for it. The interview in White Dwarf also mentions future plans including NPCs like Water Sellers, Dock Workers, and Gunsmiths.

    I pre-ordered the box set and the Gang Wars book. I suspect I will buy everything they release for this just like I did the first time around. I'm not even put off by the staggered release of the 'core' gangs because that way I don't need to sell my car to get them all...

  4. I think you may be on to something - even vehicles wouldn't be that hard to port across. I feel the urge to recreate that White Dwarf cover with one marine being attacked by hordes of scavvies (I think it was one of the Confrontation issues) - 'Thunderhawk Down.'

  5. I'll admit to being rather excited about Necromunda getting a revamp too. Whilst I'm not too bothered about the box set, the new rulebook and plastic gangs (with pretextured bases to boot!) are really tempting.

    I may wait till the Orlocks get released and pick up a few bits and bobs and have a go!

  6. Necromunda was my favourite GW game...just ahead of Rogue Trader (which I still play). looking out for Abdul Goldberg too...

  7. The new beast man has a stupid little pinched face. THe old sculpts are way way better.

  8. Excellent article. Like you, I see genuine potential in NuNecro. As Andy confirms, it has been done with genuine affection as far as I can see. From looking at Andy chatting on Warhammer TV and talking about the more obscure corners of Necromunda I'm very excited. The fact GW are releasing rules online for all the old metal Necro minis is huge in my opinion. It gives us loads of resources for games right from the go and gives a commitment to the veteran player base to see them right. I get the distinct feeling I'll be able to be able to very satisfactorily field a genestealer cult gang or even in time an arbite squad or my long ruminated on lone space wolf with his retinue. The tools will be there, and I can't wait.

    I really like the new beastman bountyhunter. He has a cigar for Christ-sake.

  9. Let's face it, the only reasons that the original Necromunda rules have endured for as long as they have, is that they're a relatively widely known set, and people want a decent skirmish level game for their figures. A new, updated set of rules provides a perfect baseline for a slicker game system to bolt on all the stuff that I've always enjoyed. For all its charm, Rogue Trader is not that system - it is turgid, counter-intuitive and far too granular a system. 1995 Necromunda is not really that system either - there's too much maths, combat is far to complicated and the campaign tracking isn't streamlined enough.

    I'm hopeful that Nu-Necromunda will provide that new sleek system, with pared down, but involving campaign progression. I can't wait to give a RT/Nu-Necromunda mash-up a go at BOYL. I'm excited to see what figures will be inspired by old concepts discarded for 30 years. I'm desperate to see the first 40k NPCs since 1987. There's lots to get me salivating!

  10. Wow, 2 for 2 in posting a rules review/opinion and having the actual writer respond. (Albeit this time the writer was responding to a response. Clearly though, he was reading your op)

    As to the substance of your review, I'm not sure I see the toolkit yet, but the base game looks really good.
    OTOH, are Shadow Wars and Necromunda on parallel paths? It sounds like the studio is backing Necromunda for sure. Does that mean Shadow Wars was a one off?

    Inquiring minds would like to know.

    1. Shadow Wars was made by Citadel (the studio as you call them) while Necromunda is Specialist Games (part of Forge World). The fact that we're separate, yet can do both resin and plastic miniatures, means we can take it in pretty much any direction we want (within reason!)

    2. Ah, thanks for the explanation Andy!

  11. I'm looking forward to trying this, but I'm not quite sure why :) Necromunda was after my time, but it's still good to see GW turn their gaze back to old classics (with slight trepidation as to what they'll do in the process!). A more modern skirmish-focussed 40K sounds interesting, I must admit I'm getting drawn into considering various projects, despite the other stuff I should be focussing on...

  12. Interesting thought process, WP.

    Like you, I’m feeling a real old style vibe about the fluff for this game and the system looks like it will be pretty smooth.

    Looking forward to the RT mash up at BOYL already.

  13. You have hit the nail squarely as far as I am concerned. I am not a fan of using the Rogue Trader rules for the sake of nostalgia, I'm happy to use new rules if they play faster and smoother. It's all about the story for me and my group and our last campaign (The Harrowmark Run) was played with AoS Skirmish. The one we just started (Malfactus Rift) is being run with 8th edition wh40k, but at the scale of AoS Skirmish - three players had between 5 and 9 each in the first game.

    Earlier in the year we played a Shadow War campaign and before that a wh40k (7th edition) Kill Team campaign. Both of these were set in the Necromunda Underhive and we played with an "Inq28" story-led attitude.

    My point is rules don't matter that much and I'm willing to try anything. Nu-Necromunda is another tool in the kit box and we may end up using it for everything. We may not. But the background refresh and expansion and the beautiful new models?... oooof!

    Let's just say I am going to be getting everything with "Necromunda" written on the box for the foreseeable future!!!

  14. This looks promising. Of all the games I've played, Necromunda is the one that's had the greatest appeal, because it balances a decent (fairly deep and fairly fast) playing experience with a lot of room for developing characters and customisation.

    Outlanders brought in a lot of interesting new stuff, including the potential for beasts and the like, which for me gives it a lot more of a sci-fi feel. I hope that this new version lays down some simple rules and gives a lot of room for variation while keeping things fair and manageable. I'm just about to start a new (old!) Necromunda gang so I'll be watching closely!


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