Sunday 21 February 2016

Necromunda Battle Report - Van Saars vs Orlocks

My best mate came around to visit me this week and so we thought we would celebrate this momentous occasion with a few games of Necromunda which he had never played before.

He has been keen to try the game out for a while (since 1997) and has even gone so far as to already build up a decent sized force of Van Saars (which he has nicely painted in the traditional green bodysuits that were displayed in White Dwarf back in the nineties).

With his force of Van Saars and my growing force of Orlocks (who are usually used as brood brothers in my Genestealer cult) it seemed the perfect time to get this classic old game out on the table.

The gaming area set up for the first battle. The twenty-two year old card scenery still looks good for its age!

He arrived at 0900 hours and we spent the first hour having breakfast and rolling dice as we selected our forces and rolled up their starting stats, all of which were fastidiously recorded on the original Necromunda Gang sheets. This can be quite time intensive... however as I love narrative/RPG style gaming it is perfect for my tastes as I really appreciate the sense of individuality that the gangs and their members possess in Necromunda.

My Orlocks position themselves where they can make best use of cover whilst still maintaining good fields of fire,

With our forces selected we had a couple of swift test battles to familiarise ourselves with the rules and ease into the swing of things. These were over pretty quickly and my mate realised that investing the majority of your points into a 'Heavy' with a Plasma Cannon early in the campaign is ill-advised and so swapped him out for a cheaper Heavy Stubber which freed up extra points that could be expended on bulking out his gang with extra gangers.

The Van Saars creep through the ruins of the Underhive...

With slightly refined force lists we embarked on the campaign proper and set up our forces for a good-old fashioned 'Gang-Fight'. This was great fun and I was really surprised at how easily the gameplay flowed, the rules are absolutely fantastic and perfectly suited for small squad skirmishes. They are the pinnacle of what GW achieved with the WH40K second edition ruleset. It is amazing how quickly a gang can be forced into taking a bottle test and being routed from the skirmish...which isn't always a bad thing as it can prevent the needless death of your gangers who can be used later on during the campaign.

...with their very expensive Plasma Cannon taking point.

Given that the first game finished in under an hour we decided we would try and squeeze a few more campaign turns into the day and so set about the in-between battle admin that needs to be undertaken as part of the campaign system.

Effective use of cover and 'Hidden' counters are the key to success

During this phase most of the Gangers gained some experience and so were able to progress up the skill chart and grow as individuals. However some of those who were injured during the battle died as a result of their in the Underhive is brutal, and seemingly quite short.

We then dispatched our gangers to work our territories in order drum up some much needed credits that could then be spent on purchasing better kit and upgrades.

An Orlock heavy stubber climbs to the highest level in order to dominate the battlefield.

The next battle was a 'Scavengers' game the purpose of which was for the two gangs to seize and control a random number of loot counters that had been scattered around the playing area. Inevitably our troops rushed for these valuable objectives and soon groups of gangers were engaged in vicious short-range firefights around key locations.

Whilst the Orlock flamer creeps along the ground level to close within template range of  the Van Saars

Both of us were able to secure a number of loot counters during the opening stages of the encounter, however the Van Saars were able to quickly dominate the battlefield thereby forcing me into a bottle test which I promptly failed. This gave them a big boost both to their income and experience points.

Lone gangers are easy prey for snipers.

With the games going so quickly we decided to knuckle down and see just how many skirmishes we could actually fit into one day of gaming...

Battlefield debris makes excellent cover for fighters

In between each battle we continued to undertake the record-keeping and watch out gangers grow and develop their own unique back-stories. This really is the best bit of Necromunda for me, I love watching my models turn into individuals and then become heroes... like my gang leader who gradually became a formidable warrior, but also suffered an old-head wound that forced him to sit out some battles when it played up.

Due to the small table size the gangs are able to quickly close with each other.

Additionally it was also very pleasing to watch my lowly Juves mature into fully fledged gangers in their own right. It is very satisfying to watch a low-value Juve blossom into a far more formidable fighter!

Which can be devastating for one side...

Throughout the day we managed to play a total of seven games which must be something of a record, and in fact turned out to be a full campaign in its own right.

...or indeed both sides.

One thing that really appealed to me was the need to think strategically during each campaign-turn as there is a real potential to end up winning the battle but losing the war. A good example of this is where one side fights all-out to win the battle...but incurs so many casualties that some poor rolls on the injury chart will cripple his force!

Scavenger games allow gangs to quickly build up a load of credits for their force...

Amusingly my opponent won a 'Raid' game by destroying my water still in the second turn which seemed like a great victory. However this also turned out to be a real boon for me as the battle was so short that none of my gangers were all of them could work my territories next turn meaning I had a huge influx of credits which allowed me to expand my force further.

but can also result in the swift accumulation of casualties.

All of the games were great fun and whether we were winning or losing neither of us cared as we were having such a good time.

Given the small battle area in these skirmish games it has to be said that template weapons are horrifyingly powerful and both of us suffered incidents where we had foolishly bunched multiple troops into a piece of nearby cover...only to watch a frag grenade land in the middle of the group and cause utter devastation.

Given that armour is fairly rare in Necromunda it is important to remember that when troops get hit it is highly likely they will be wounded... so effective use of cover, overwatch and hiding are all key considerations to ensure victory.

At the end of our short but sweet campaign I emerged with a narrow victory over my opponent but it was a really close call that could have gone either way at a number of key nexus's throughout the day.

This truly was an amazing day of gaming and we played consecutive battles for over twelve hours without it getting boring at any point. We were both sucked into the micro-management of our gangs and started to get quite emotionally attached to each of our gangers. The mini-campaign did highlight a number of issues such as the real need for juves who are able to act as effective meat shields for the far more important gangers.

We will definitely be playing more games of Necromunda in the near future and expanding our selection of models so that we can upgrade our gangs suitably; additionally I'll be looking to try and get other members of our gaming group to raise their own Underhive forces so that we can run an even larger campaign!


  1. Seven games! Sounds like an awesome day's gaming. The gangs look really good.

    1. Yeah mate, it was an epic day of gaming! It's a testament to the fun of Necromunda that we were able to keep going without it becoming weary! Such a great game!

  2. Wooooow! My hero! The pics are totally immersive, I love them!!

    1. Cheers Suber! I have to say that the old school card scenery photographs really well!

  3. That was amazing! Thanks so much for posting! I have always loved Necromunda, but never had the chance to play it.

    1. Thanks Liam!! It is definitely a game that is worth playing; it offers the perfect mix of RPG, character development and wargame! I honestly can't say enough great things about Necromunda!

  4. Man, that looked like a day well spent!

    Your comment about Necromunda being the pinnacle of 2nd couldn't be more true, especially as a quick skirmish set of rules. I think the greater balance in the opposing forces and the limited use of psychic powers helped a lot compared to the parent game. So good you got the campaign going, that really brings the system to life. Nicely painted models on both sides as well, great game to look at.
    As an aside, what is covering you have on the table? Looks really good.

  5. Cheers Smithy! Yep it was the best use of a day that I could think of.

    I completely concur with all your points reference Necro and second edition!

    I'm glad you like the models... My mate will be pleased as he has been working on his Van Saars for ages!!

    I'm pleased someone mentioned the mat!! It is in fact the fold out paper playmat that comes as part of the new Terminator Genisys boxed set from Warlord Games! It looks very fitting doesn't it!!

  6. Have you been on the yakromunda website?

    1. I have now: I can't believe I hadn't discovered this before! What an amazing resource!