Game Time: Necromunda pt. 2

Game Time: Necromunda pt. 2

Background

This is ‘part two’ of the  winter break gaming sessions, where I get to tackle the Games Workshop (GW)  game “Necromunda”. A game I’ve always wanted to play that got re-released not long ago.

Unfortunately, I was more focused on getting the game running and less on the photo taking. I’ll have to try and remember that next time!

Game On!

Going in, I had an idea for the structure of our mini-campaign. Some 1 on 1 games, and an epic 3 player battle. It really depended on how much time we had and a couple other factors. We ended up each playing each other (3 of us) 1 game, and then on the last night having a 3 Player battle as our epic finale.

Games were long, about 3-4 hours each. Rule lookups continued to plague me. Using a digital copy, sometimes made that easier…as I could use the search function for lookups. But there are times when physically flipping to a specific section in the book is just quicker. Often the rules redirect you to another page or you have to reference multiple pages. Personally, I think having all the rules about a given thing in the same spot, makes more sense. Even if that ends up duplicating some text. Granted, having the 2 new rulebooks is better than 4 softcover rulebooks that were released across a long period of time. But I still am not too happy with the rulebooks as they are now. Some of the rules are quite unclear. Some of them contradict each other. Nothing is ever perfect, and this is likely better than what existed before, but I still feel like they need a lot of work if they want to make this game run smooth.

Battles went like this:

Escher (Niece), Goliaths (Me), and Van Saar (Son)

Game 1: Escher vs Van Saar – Escher bottled and Van Saar win

Game 2: Escher vs Goliaths – Escher bottled and Goliaths won

Game 3: Goliaths vs Van Saar – Van Saar bottled and Goliaths won

Last Game: Escher vs Goliath vs Van Saar

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And so it begins…

The first battle was kind of funny to watch (and moderate/arbitrate). They took a long time to move into position, and then the big firefight ensued (seems to be the norm for Necromunda). Shots fired at each other with not much effect. Then the Eschers Chem Thrower (think noxious Gas weapon that jets like a flame thrower) managed to knock down a bunch of the Van Saar and things were looking bad for them. The next turn I noticed a number of Escher were bunched up and without thinking, made some comment out loud about them being ‘prime grenade targets’. Well, the son actually heard what I said for once, and chucked a grenade into the midst of them. Pretty devastating, and the Eschers had it. They fell apart, and started to run out of there.

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Van Saar Leader rushing in to finish the job

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Not the best day to be an Escher

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Eschers “WE’RE DONE!”

 

The second game, I knew I better use the battlefield to my advantage because Escher have good ranged weapons. Whereas Goliath are better at melee and crap at hitting anything at range. So chosen maps were as maze-like as possible, and barricades were set to hinder the Escher’s movement as much as possible. Even placing obstacles to climb over to get past doors. It did put the pressure on the Escher and allowed the Goliaths to get close enough to get Charge in and basically the Escher crumbled from that point on.

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A battlefield much appreciated by any Goliath Leader!

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1 Brave Escher left

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On second thought…!

The third game, the Van Saar definitely had the upper hand. The big firefight took place across a large tile and not much cover for the Goliaths. I had contemplated a blind rush, but didn’t pull the trigger on that one. The Van Saar had no qualms about pulling their triggers though. With superior range, they started to make short work of the Goliaths fast. I feigned a retreat to an area with cover. The Van Saar fell for it, and closed in for the kill. But the Goliaths quickly got in close and nabbed a kill. Rattling the Van Saar and causing them to lose morale. Too bad, because if they had been able to stick around a few more turns, the Goliaths would likely be in graves.

Last Battle. This was a fun one. I used a scenario where the gang leaders all meet. All the other gangers in the scenario are a fair distance away. I found a + shaped junction for the center and added a ‘table’ in the middle. We setup, Goliaths won the initiative and the leader immediately tried to manhandle the Van Saar leader. Botched it, but the Van Saar leader was stuck in melee and couldn’t escape on his turn. The Escher leader decided to run out of the room. Next turn, the Van Saar leader got the drop, managed to kill the Goliath leader….but a special card kept him in action till he could act. He takes out the Van Saar leader too. Like a tragic Greek tale, they both go down. The Goliaths and Van Saar end up in a heated conflict near the middle of the board. The Escher forces hang back watching the two of them. Her gang was evenly split along the top half. She should’ve been taking shots at both sides, but mainly was playing favor to the Van Saar (kids always team up on the grown up!). The Van Saar get the upper hand on the Goliaths, who have decided to bottle. The Vans decided to take the fight to the Escher. Probably a mistake, as the Goliaths were not completely out yet. In the end, all teams have bottled, and it is down to 1 Goliath and 1 Van Saar ganger. The Goliath trying to get maneuvered into range for a charge. The Van Saar trying to get lined up for a straight shot. The Goliath is betting his opponent will run before he does…and sure enough, it happens. Leaving 1 Goliath on the field. Not technically a victory though, since we all bottled.

That last battle was an extremely long one. We started at 10pm in 2018 and finished at 5am in 2019! Happy New Year! There were some real rules stumpers that forced lookups and google searches, etc. The kids still didn’t quite get the mechanics of the game. Well, the niece was doing pretty well. But every turn, I was telling the son what he needed to roll, and hand holding him. I really wanted to box the whole game up and pick it up again later, but Necromunda doesn’t use a grid, and trying to set everything back up seemed like too much of a chore. So I just pushed on. Finally, in probably the last 2 hours, the kids started to get the mechanics down. The son was actually making his own rolls and checks, and even remembering target numbers he needed to roll. At that point, I sat back and let them go on auto-pilot. I wish that had happened a lot sooner! All in all, pretty good though and hopefully things will go smoother on down the road.

 

Gangs

A quick breakdown on our experience with the different gangs we used.

Goliaths – these guys are big and bulky and like to get in close. They were okay, but it’s rare that I take a ‘straight Fighter’ type in D&D or other games. Just too limiting to me. They are great at making Bottle (morale) checks and that’s what helped me to win the most games. It can be difficult to get them in close for melee, but when they do it’s usually guaranteed that they will take their opponent out of action. They are also pretty tough, so some weapons (like the Rad-Cannon) will have a really hard time taking them out. I don’t think I would choose them again as my gang. I really want to give Orlocks a try, as I think they will look cooler, and potentially be able to hit with ranged attacks.

Escher – women with lasers and poison melee weapons. My niece never really figured out how to use them. She never entered melee, so we’re not sure how effective her poison melee weapons were. Probably a good thing for her not to enter melee. She did have some decent range weapons and the Chem Thrower worked nicely. I think maybe she needed to wound people with the ranged weapons and move in for the kill with the poison melee weapons. Not sure. She said her gang was okay, but wouldn’t mind trying a different team, the next time we all get together.

Van Saar – militaristic gang with high tech weaponry. Even though my son didn’t technically win the most games, he should have. Other than the wimpy Rad-Cannon, he certainly had the range and firepower to take either gang out. With a bit more strategic maneuvering, might very well dominate the battlefield. I know I had a hard time fighting back with the Goliaths for sure. The son said he would definitely take Van Saar again.

What Faust Thinks

After all of this, I asked the kids which game they prefer “Blitz Bowl or Necromunda”. Surprisingly, they didn’t choose the much quicker, Blitz Bowl game. Maybe it was the sports theme or maybe they just like shooting things. Regardless, I had thought the rules lookups, gang management (though I did the heavy lifting on that one), and long game times would reflect poorly on the game.

So, what do I (Faust) think? A bit of a mixed bag. Elements of the game are very interesting to me, but I see a number of areas where I would want to make changes or improvements. The campaign element is strong, but I would also like to see the pre-game/post-game procedures heavily streamlined. Some of that I could do with some quick sheets, but I also feel there is a bit of an unnecessary glut. I feel like that with a lot of the rules. So much so, I’ve heavily contemplated adopting a different set of rules or modifying existing rules. But that runs the risk of losing the Necromunda fee and also involves a lot of work that I probably don’t have time to dol. So on the rules, I’m pretty torn. I think for now, I stick with the rules, better or worse and look for ways to streamline with quick reference sheets wherever possible. Rules conflicts, we will just have to suss out between us and keep looking for FAQs to address them.

If I had to do it all over, I think I would have started us out with gangs that only had basic guns (like stub pistols) or knives. With one Champion who had a better weapon. This would have let us ease into the more special weapons after we really had the basics down pat. The kids didn’t bother reading the special rules on their weapons most of the times. And I had to make sure to read theirs, as sometimes there were negative consequences for using the weapon. As mentioned, rule checks are a pain, but even making die rolls for hit checks is a bit convoluted. About 5 separate die rolls for just a basic shot.

I guess when I have time to start up a 2 player campaign next, I can slowly ease into it and look for areas where I can possibly streamline. Hopefully shifting more of the record-keeping and rules over to the teen, so I’m not carrying all the weight. I have some definite ideas of where I would like to go from here. Possibly adding NPC (non-player) elements and testing out other gangs. I will likely make a shift to Orlocks as my main gang when we do. All in all, we had fun and learned quite a bit about the game from it.

23 thoughts on “Game Time: Necromunda pt. 2

  1. I’m honestly not really surprised they liked Necromunda better. It is a more complex system, but that also does a much better job of showing off how much depth the setting has, and there are more shadowy corners to capture the imagination.

    There’s a “basic rules” section, at least in the 2017 version of the Rulebook. It leaves out a bunch of the more complicated stuff, and let my brother and me get started pretty quickly. Might be handy in this case, if you have it available. Also, Van Saar and Escher, as I understand it, are among the gangs that lean more heavily on special rules to work well. I believe Delaques are also in that category, while Goliath, Orlock, and Cawdor can get by better just on the raw stats of their fighters and weapons. Not 100% sure on that, but it’s the impression I’ve got.

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    1. Yea, last year we did a demo, we used the basic rules from the boxed set. I probably dove in a little too deep this time around. But again, with a better rule book, I don’t think it would be as much of a problem. Though in honesty, that might be just the way it is with GW rule books and I’m not used to it.

      Escher are not too bad with complex rules. There’s the chem weapon and some toxin (that didn’t get used). With Van Saar we had grenades, bombs, rad weapon, etc. Run by the player who is the least likely to look things up. 😉

      I’m not sure if depth and imagination played a significant part. Could be, but most times they don’t get too involved in these things. Necromunda certainly is closer thematically to the shooter sort of video games that our teen is most interested in. So that might be a factor.

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      1. Agreed on both points in your first paragraph there. The jump from the basic rules to the full set is pretty big, but it wouldn’t be as much of an issue with a better-organized rulebook. And yeah, GW rulebooks tend to be kind of poorly organized and laid out.

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        1. I guess I got super spoiled with the CRP “Competition Rules Pack” for Blood Bowl then. It was essentially streamlined rules for tournament play. All the fluff was removed, and the wording was heavily edited to make sure there were no ambiguities. I guess I took it for granted, instead of realizing that it’s an exceptional document.

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          1. It’s been a long time since Blood Bowl has had a major re-write. That’s let it settle in and get very nicely refined. Probably helps that it was largely a community-managed game for a while, too, and GW just ran with what had come from that when they officially re-released it.

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            1. Yea, I don’t recall how long it took to hammer out the CRP. I think it was written and then reviewed by a committee. I imagine it spent way more time in editing than most of GW’s rules.

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  2. Great post. Very interesting to hear your views on the game.

    I’m probably not going to go for a Rad Cannon with my next gang. It has been down graded with the latest rules… I’m thinking multi melta next.

    I agree that some better playsheets and a Flow chart of the post game sequence would be useful.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Pete, I’m looking forward to getting caught up with your latest posts on the game. Rad cannons might be useful to take down a bunch of weaker opponents. Maybe a Cawdor swarm? Though a grenade is likely cheaper and better. We were pretty unimpressed with that one overall. No one took a Multi Melta yet, but worth checking out.

      His leader is a combat monster, doesn’t have to roll dice to hit, carrying a shield and some rifle. Though I did just read some where’s that people are arguing that a natural 1 should always be a miss, even if the current rule set doesn’t seem to confirm that for all purposes.

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      1. I’m not so sure about that. It’s biggest weakness is its low strength making wounding unlikely.

        Given the tables we play on I’ve only had the -1 to hit modifier once, if you are playing on tiles I don’t think you’ll ever get it either so a shorter ranged more powerful weapon makes more sense.

        Similarly in last nights game it was the first time I saw someone get the +1 for long range with a long rifle.

        I’m tempted to just go with special weapons next time… a mix of flamers and plasmas with a combi weapon for my leader would be better given what I’ve found. I may make up a new list and see if I can have a casual game to try it out.

        Cheers,

        Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Flamers are pretty wicked. Combo weapons stress me out with the dual ammo rolls. Luckily I don’t have any on my Goliaths.

          The stub cannon and the grenade launcher have been my best bet, and getting in close as much as possible. Once a Goliath gets in close, it barely matters what weapon they are even carrying. My leader or champion will usually take someone out right away.

          Hmm…that just made me think of a good strategy. We haven’t really enforced the ‘must shoot closest target’ rule… but my Leader could technically force a ganger to go in front of him, using him as a meat shield. The opposition would have to shoot the ganger first, allowing my leader a chance to close in. Though a blast or flame template is going to get the leader anyway.

          The hardest part with Goliaths was trying to get as close as possible. I guess that’s what balances them out.

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  3. Fun to read, but man the whole GW universe of games confounds me! One day maybe I’ll give it a shot. By then that company likely will have redone all the rules. Until then I’ll be happy to read about your games and figures as they are very enjoyable.

    Glad to see young kids playing anything, and kudos on that! It’s been my experience that running a game is a learning experience and the more you do it the better you get at it. Thanks Faust!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mark! Well, Blitz Bowl is easy, you could start there! 😉

      The basic rule set for Necromunda is also super easy. The next step is much longer apparently. Cheat sheets and practice. Looks like we might have another mini-game this Saturday. I’ll see if there is anything to report on.

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    1. I think for my part, I’m not as used to GW rulebooks as others might be. I like rules systems that cover a lot of ground, and don’t necessarily need lookups all the time.

      I can liken this to Blood Bowl, where teams like Goblins have special rules that you have to follow that require multiple rolls. We hardly ever take teams like that, because of it. In Necromunda, almost every gang has multiple guns with special rules. If we play it enough, I’m sure it would get stuck in our heads, but we tend to play lots of different games when we have time to play.

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  4. Good to see you playing, and getting the young’uns into it as well! I haven’t done jack with the new Necromunda except for those bulkheads, so I can’t say much about the new rules or their layout (open my books? what?) I’ve got a bit of painting to do before I worry much about playing it, though!

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    1. Thanks mate! The bulkheads look decent with a prime and some quick weathering. Though that’s true with most terrain. Minis wise, good luck! I’d say start with the Orlocks and the Goliaths if you want to get two gangs together in the shortest amount of time. Or maybe the Delaque instead of the Goliaths, but I haven’t cracked them open yet.

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  5. Great to read that everyone enjoyed it, and well done bringing the next generation in too. If it’s practical, it’s probably worth trying to get a regular game going with them as it’ll flow smoother if you can actually start to remember all the rules.

    Do you feel like the gangs play differently? I recall from the original Necromunda a slight disappointment that the main gangs (Orlocks, Delaque etc) were only differentiated a tiny amount from each other.

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    1. Thanks AB! Yea, I wish the niece lived close, she’s much more into games than our son. So it’s kind of going to remain, whenever we have time, and whenever she can come visit. I think the rules still suffer from editing, regardless of how bad my memory is. 😉

      Oh yea, the gangs play pretty differently. We noticed pretty quickly that their was a range difference between Escher and Goliaths. Plus just the toughness. Even between Eschers and Van Saar, you can feel a difference.

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