About 150 years ago, sometime around 1996 or 1997, some friends introduced me to a couple of games that would have a big impact on how I viewed gaming. The first was a little game called Blood Bowl. The second was Necromunda. I remember being blown away by the concept, the setting, the minis, and all the cardboard terrain that they managed to cram into the box. Blood Bowl may have prompted my first attempt at painting minis using real painting techniques, but Necromunda inspired me to my first attempts at building terrain, and that quickly became my favorite part of the hobby. Not long after, I moved to another city and lost touch with any groups that were actively playing Necromunda. The game got put on the back burner for me, but I held on to my Delaque gang knowing that I would paint them and play the game again one day.
Luckily for me, one year after the newly (re)formed Specialist Games Studio released a new boxed set for my beloved Blood Bowl, they have made the kid in me happy once again by releasing a new Necromunda: Underhive boxed set. I immediately ordered the game, the Gang War supplement, and both decks of Gang Cards as soon as they went on pre-order, and a few days ago while I was working from home, my four year old manhandled a large box into my office. I immediately grabbed a knife and opened the box while my son looked on eagerly (he ALWAYS gets excited when daddy gets a box in the mail).
The first thing that struck me about the boxed set was how heavy it was. Seriously… this thing has some weight to it. I’m not sure how my four year old managed to get it all the way to me, but he did. The second thing I noticed was how nice the box itself looked. The front of the box shows a nice battle scene between the Escher and Goliath gangs. You might notice that the box artwork is the same image as the wraparound cover of the November issue of What Dwarf magazine. The back of the box shows the all the components of the set, a few painted minis, and a brief background on both gangs.
When I pulled the top of the box off, I was greeted by lots of plastic. There is a sprue for blast/flamer templates, two sprues for each gang, a bulkhead doors sprue, and a barricades and objectives sprue. Here are some closeup shots of the plastic pieces.
The minis are all multi-part minis, but not really in the classic Games Workshop sense. As opposed to getting various sets of legs, torso, arms, and heads, these minis are like most other current Games Workshop minis and are full bodies with arms a legs attached (or partially attached in a number of cases) with heads and some arms and legs being separate pieces. You do get some customization options with the hairstyles, though. I’ll dive deeper into the minis of each gang in another post in a couple of days.
Underneath all the sprues is a two-sided sheet with assembly instructions for both gangs and the accessory pieces of the game.
Next up is the 104 page rule book. The rule book is filled with background on the setting as well as information on both Gangs in the box. As you would expect from any Games Workshop rule book, there are also lots of images of really well painted minis and fantastic artwork.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have already heard that from a rules standpoint, the base rule book only contains the rules for the 2D “Underhive” version of the game. There also aren’t any campaign rules in the book. For campaigns and 3D rules, you’ll have to pick up the Gang War supplement.
Much like the new Blood Bowl boxed set, Necromunda: Underhive also comes with a quick reference sheet for both players. These sheets are packed with the most commonly used information during game play to help cut down on constantly picking up and flipping through the rule book. Anything that helps keep the game moving along is a plus in my book!
Also like the new Blood Bowl, Necromunda comes with a full set of dice for each player, as well as a range ruler for shooting. There are 16 dice total, three standard D6’s each, three Injury dice each, one scatter die each, and one ammo die each. I know a lot of people insist on sharing dice, but I really prefer each player having their own full set. Few things annoy me when playing a game more than constantly asking my opponent if they mind giving me back my dice during my turn so that I can roll… but maybe that’s just me. The symbols on the dice look nice and once you figure out what how to tell the difference, the dice are fairly easy to keep straight.
The game also includes 10 32MM round bases and 15 25MM round bases. The bases have some really nice Necromunda themed details molded into them. It’s a simple thing, but it’s actually one of my favorite parts of the new minis. When I recently painted up my Delaque gang, I added a very simple layer of basing sand to simulate the grit in the Underhive, but these bases add so much character to the minis with no additional effort on the part of the mini builder.
A recurring element in almost every Games Workshop game these days is the use of decks of cards. Necromunda: Underhive is no different. Necromunda: Underhive has 10 different Fighter cards per gang with pre-generated characters, so you can start playing immediately, and 22 blank Fighter cards for when you’re ready to create your own gang.
There are also the Tactics cards. These are an interesting element in the new game and they can really change the tide of any given game. There are 4 gang specific Tactics cards for both the Escher and Goliath gangs as well as 20 Tactics cards that can be used by any gang.
One of the core elements of game play in the new boxed set is the playing surface. In this case, that surface is made up of 9 double-sided modular tiles. Each side has a unique layout for a number of gaming possibilities.
Like the Games Workshop games of old, Necromunda: Underhive comes with a lot of counters, including arc of fire templates, ducts, traps, ready/pinned tokens, fire/out of ammo tokens, and wound tokens. It’s enough to my a gamer nostalgic and even a little misty eyed.
One of the more interesting elements, to me, is that even the bottom of the box can be used for game play. As you can seem the bottom and both faces of all four sides are covered in the same grid pattern as the playing tiles. That should make for some interesting line of sight possibilities.
The last two pieces inside the box are simple baggies, for holding dice or counters. Again, it seems like a really simple thing, but it’s also one of those things that once you have a game that comes with them, you kind of wonder why every other game you have ever bought doesn’t…
The Gang War supplement is the book you need if you want rules for classic, 3D Necromunda game play, as well as rules for the campaign system and gang progression. Gang War is 64 pages impressive images and in-depth rules. I’ll go into more details about the book once I have a chance to dig into it and play a few games with the system.
Last up are the Goliath and Escher Gang Cards decks. Interestingly, even though they are gang themed decks, there are only 8 Tactics cards out of the 26 cards in each deck that are gang specific (and I’m ok with that). The other cards in the decks are 12 non-gang specific Tactics cards, and 6 additional blank Fighter cards each. Personally, I think I might still prefer the flexibility and convenience of an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my gang as opposed to writing on cards, but the option is nice.
One last thing that Necromunda: Underhive has in common with Blood Bowl 2016 is a lot of emotional responses. Some people are very upset with the changes to the game, and I encourage those people to continue to play the classic version of the game they know and love. Others like me are just happy to see new life injected into the games we have so many fond memories of from our younger years. Either way, the new releases should help keep the games alive.
Well, that’s all for this post. Be sure to check back as this is only the first in a series of posts regarding the release of Necromunda: Underhive. Closer looks at the minis and the game itself are coming soon.
Did you pick up a copy of Necromunda: Underhive? Let me know in the comments below!