Back in the Underhive

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The post game carnage.

I went to my Mum’s house on Sunday for my dinner, as I do on a regular basis and ended up playing a game of the new Necromunda while I was there and along with a very tasty dinner, cooked by my Mum, the game made for a very pleasant day all round.

My youngest bro, Bob had bought it on release day, along with the Gang War supplement and asked me if I wanted the first game with him; of course I wasn’t going to turn down such an offer and just as soon as he’d glued enough gangers together, we played the introductory game in the box lid board section; using the game boxes as scenery and board sections is a pretty spiffy idea on Games Workshop’s part.

I played as the Eschers and Bob played the Goliaths and right from the start the differences in the stat lines of the two gangs set them apart.  In the previous edition, starting stats were identical and the changes came with advancement, whereas this helps to establish an identity for each of the gangs from the rules, up.

As is traditionally the case, my shooting was poor and neither of my lasguns could hit the broad side of a barn, and my champion wasn’t much better with her plasma pistol.  I scored a few hits.  Not as many as I should’ve done but a few. The thing with shooting at Goliaths isn’t hitting them, it’s putting them down; they are seriously resilient.

It seemed as if the writing was on the wall from the off but the Eschers have an ace up their sleeve, the chem thrower, that thing is awesome.  It works in a similar fashion to flamers, at least playing without the advanced rules it did.  I expect it’ll be a bit different with all the advanced stuff layered onto the game.

I managed to get close enough to a couple of Goliaths over the course of the game to take them down with it.  I did this by hopping from cover to cover in true Necromunda style, until I got close enough to blast a dude with it.

Unfortunately, my chem thrower lady was taken out before she had a chance to get a third shot off and my chances of a victory were as good as over at that point, as I only had one lasgun ganger left and she was taken out in short order.

At one point it was looking rather good for the Eschers.  I had three gang members left and had whittled the Goliaths down to two, but as anyone who’s played either edition of Necromunda knows, luck can desert you in a moment and leave you high and dry, wondering how you got into your current pickle.

We only played the game with the basic rules, as per instructions but despite not using any of the advanced stuff, it felt like Necromunda and it’s good to be back in the Underhive.  Now GW just need to release the rest of the gangs, so I can blow all my money on Necromunda gubbinz.

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Bob celebrating his victory and not at all rubbing it in.
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White Dwarf Review – November 2017

The November issue of White Dwarf is out and has been for a few of weeks, so my review of it is a little later than I intended; time seems to have got away from me a little bit this month.  Anyway, late or not, here it is.

It can’t have escaped the attention of anyone with more than a passing interest in Games Workshop products that a Necromunda release was coming, GW haven’t exactly been quiet about it.  I love this about Games Workshop as a company now.  They don’t deny that releases are happening anymore, they shout it from the rooftops and unsurprisingly it seems to be working for them.

A lot of folks have been getting hecka excited about it and I’m one of them.  Necromunda was a pretty big deal for me last time around and I played hundreds of games of it.  This may sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t; I love that game and I got really invested in the lives, and deaths of my gang members.

The wraparound cover of the new White Dwarf (the box art I believe) tells you what you need to know; Necromunda is here and there’s loads inside to read about it.

Planet Warhammer has the boxed game and everything that goes with a new release.  Scenery, gangs (just Escher and Goliath so far), cards, dice and an expansion.  I don’t know what the general feeling on the expansion is but given the contents of it, it feels a little cash grabby to me.

Playing over terrain, Juves for your gang, looking after your territory and gang progression itself are all locked into what would essentially be day one DLC if this were a console game.  To me, all these things are what made Necromunda great and are why I loved it in the first place.

That said, when I can afford the base game. I will probably buy the expansion too, as the core game seems a little pointless without it.  What’s the point of playing endless one-off skirmishes with no repercussions?  It is a bit of a cheap move on GW’s behalf though.

There’s plenty more Necromunda content further into the issue and I’ll cover that in a bit, as there is stuff that’s not related to it in the release section and I should probably give that a bit of a mention.

Shadespire has a couple of new releases in the form of expansions featuring Orruks and Undead respectively.  I don’t own the game but I’ve been lucky enough to get a look at the models from both of them and they are pretty damn fine miniatures; the Undead in particular have a very Jason and the Argonauts sort of look to them.

The breakneck pace of codex releases continues this Month with Tyranids and Craftworld Eldar, and there’s a spiffy little chat with Jervis Johnson and Robin Cruddace covering how they went about putting the Eldar codex together and it’s an interesting little read.

Also, the Eldrad Ulthran model from the Deathmasque box is finally available separately and it’s certainly not before time, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on it since I missed out on Deathmasque.

There’s also some nice looking 40K themed playing cards, with art by John Blanche and a bunch of new hobby supplies, with the standout among them being the painting handle, which is proving to be very popular, if my Twitter feed is anything to go by, with some people buying five of them for batch painting purposes.

After that there’s the usual spread of book and video game stuff, with nothing particularly jumping out at me from either section this Month.

The letters page is fine, if a little bland and immediately following it is Temporal Distort, which is a nice enough read but I consider anything North of the year two thousand to be fairly recent, nevermind two thousand and ten.

As might be expected there is a fair old wedge of Necromunda content this Month and it kicks off with a hefty designers notes piece, which is immediately followed by a comprehensive background section delving into everything you need to know to gain a decent overview of the world, the hive and the gangs.

The Necromunda goodness doesn’t end there, as following all this is a battle report, featuring a clash between the Eschers and the Goliaths.  Mechanically it seems to move a lot quicker than the original version, although whether this is a good, or a bad thing I really couldn’t say.  Personally, I always liked the micro-management style of play in the original, although I know that wouldn’t be for everyone.

The Seasons of War, Firestorm campaign pack seems like it will add a lot to games of AoS, allowing players to link their standalone games into an ongoing campaingn.  Although I don’t currently play AoS, this is the type of thing that piques my interest and time / money permitting, I could see myself getting into the game.

As part of the article, they cover the first part of a campaign and although there’s not much to the battles, the battles themselves aren’t the point of this article and it gives a nice feel for how it all hangs together.

Armies on Parade is, of course, always chock full of lovely looking models and this Month is no exception.  I do have a favourite though, and it’s the Khorne Warband; it’s amazing.  I’ve only ever painted a smattering of Khornate models over the years, never an army (mainly due to procrastination), but They make for eye-catching forces, whatever games system they’re hanging around in and I always enjoy seeing them.

To say that the Golden Demon Classic winners featured next are amazing would be an understatement.  Every single one of them is a masterclass in painting awesomeness and they’re a joy to look at.

They’re not the type of paint-jobs that make it easy to pick a favourite, but if I had to it would be between the Orruk Megaboss by David Soper (who won for the first time many moons ago with a characterful Nurgle Predator) and the Vanguard Palladors by Chris Clayton.  If you get the chance you really need to soak in work that’s gone into these things.  It may sound a little pretentious, but it’s painting like this that makes a case for model painting being art.

‘Eavy Metal Masterclass is a new article, which is essentially an interview with a member of the ‘Eavy Metal team and this Month they chat with a guy from the team called Tom Winstone and show off a lot of his beautifully painted models.  It’s a format I can really get on board with and I hope it sticks around.

The Tyranid designers notes are an interesting look at what went into making the new codex what it is.  With a wee bit about the background and how the Hive Mind is adapting to the Great Rift.  They also go into a bit of detail about the rules and the things they feel they got wrong last time and what they’ve decided to do to rectify these issues.

This Month the featured army in Collecting and painting is a 40K Knight Household, by James Perry and it goes into a fair bit of detail concerning his collecting and painting process and is a genuinely entertaining read.  It’s a good article, with a nice, solid format and even when it’s an army that doesn’t interest me from a background perspective, it’s never wasted space.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of the next article.  I’ve never been invested in any of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings stuff and often find the articles to be a bit of a chore but it’s a shame for all the remaining fans of the game that coverage has become so lacklustre in recent years.  That said, it’s hard to doubt the enthusiasm of the writers of the new Battle Companies supplement, as they really seem to care about the game and its source material.

It says something about the level of commitment that GW have to the LotR, that in the Month the game gets a release that could conceivably breath new life into it, it gets four pages of coverage in the arse end of White Dwarf.

For what it’s worth, Battle Companies seems to be a pretty cool idea, and if GW could be bothered with it, the game could have a bit of a resurgence.  They seem quite content to let it wither away though.

The modelling and the painting articles largely cover Necromunda, as is to be expected, but also has a variety of guides for an assortment of Eldar and mini guides on techniques such as different skin tones, which is something that a lot of people will find interesting.  It’s always a good read, but it’s an article that always makes me buy another pot of paint, or two, or three, but I suppose that’s kind of the point, so well played GW.

Blanchitsu covers what, unfortunately looks like being the last we’re going to see of stuff from the Pilgrym campaign.  Blanchitsu is always on the extreme edge of the hobby but Pilgrym has made this the weirdest part of white Dwarf for quite some time and I’m sorry to see the end of it.

For something a bit more conventional, the Readers Models has, as is always the case a wide variety of nicely painted models to look at, but the thing I like most about it, is that it’s a great showcase for non GW painting styles.  There’s nothing wrong with GW’s house style, it’s very eye-catching but a bit of variety is always nice.

Lastly, in the Bunker is a bit more wee than usual but they manage to fit a lot into a compact three pages.  An awesome Deff Dread conversion, a Necromunda game board, a bit about Shadespire, a spangly Lord of Change paint job and a few bits and bobs besides.

There’s a lot of Necromunda coverage in the November issue but I think they would have been remiss if they’d done anything else, given how long folks have been waiting for it.  That said, they haven’t done too badly as far as balance is concerned.  It’s a little light on non Necromunda stuff but they do manage to shoehorn a little bit of AoS, 40K and even LotR in there.

I love it because it’s so Necromunda heavy, but looking at it objectively it’s not perfect and if I was to be tough on it, I could say that a lot of the non Necromunda stuff feels a little token, but Necromunda! So, I’m going to give it eight Underhive Scum out of ten.

The Return of a Classic

Necromunda picture*

There has been Games Workshop news and I’m really excited about it.  They’re re-releasing Necromunda, with new models, updated rules and one would assume, some super snazzy scenery.

I imagine most people at least know of Necromunda, but for those who don’t it’s a tabletop skirmish game, played with a handful of models, over dense, multi-level scenery.  The best thing about it though, is the way your gang changes over time, a result of what is essentially levelling up.

The events in each gang fight, paired with the way each individual advances, along with equipment available to you, turns each miniature into a little person, a person whose survival you can become quite invested in; at least that’s the way it was for me.

Although I haven’t played it for quite some time, at one point it was my most played game.  I must’ve had hundreds of fights, spread across several gangs and although I remember all of them fondly, my favourite will always be my Escher gang, The Bloody Roses.

They were a motley assortment of ladies, who suffered a great deal of instability in the leadership department.  Some were killed by my nemesis, a Van Saar gang called The Hussars.  One was deposed in a leadership challenge, the woman who won being captured by the authorities some time later, never to be seen again and the last leader of the gang was about to retire when I drifted away from the game.

This is just a small sample of the stories that created themselves and played out on the table-top and I could probably write a blog several thousand words long about all of them.  Necromunda was one of the greatest gaming experiences of my life.  That may sound a little over the top, but it’s true.

Now I know the saying ‘You can’t go back,’ but if I can recapture even a little bit of that magic, that would be flippin’ grand.

 

*The contents of the original Necromunda boxed game.

Riding the Hype Train

The new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is released in a few days and I’m really looking forward to it.  Whereas it’s always cool when something you like is getting a new release, the new edition of 40K has really caught my attention, unlike any of previous edition, since third.

Second edition was awesome and it worked well for smaller scale scraps, so well in fact that the ruleset was almost completely reused for Necromunda, with a stripped back version existing to this day as Shadow War Armageddon.  It was somewhat unwieldy for larger battles though and third edition was the answer to this.

40k-3rd-box-back

 

The third edition boxed game was a real step forward for Games Workshop and was a big deal.  It saw the release of the multi-part Space Marine kits, which was exciting because up to this point all we’d had for a few years were metal miniatures that were limited, as far as options were concerned and snap fit plastics.  It also contained the plastic Landspeeder, a kit which is still kicking around to this day.

New Space Marines weren’t the only thing to get excited about as the release also debuted an entirely new race, the Dark Eldar.  I’m pretty sure these kits aren’t the ones that’re on release now, as they were very basic, but they were super cool at the time, purely because they were new.

It also contained what I think may have may have been Games Workshop’s first attempt at plastic scenery.  There had been cardboard ruins and the like previously, but nothing like this.  Ruined buildings and rather strange looking modular jungle trees.  Rather basic looking by today’s standards, but ground-breaking stuff then, with the buildings still usable to this day.  The trees however were rather fragile and met their end long ago.

Despite all this, as far as I’m concerned third edition ultimately turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.  I wasn’t fond of the codices, due to the lack of background material and they went much too far when it came to de-cluttering the rules.  Folks may well disagree with me, but that’s how I felt about it.

What came after the release of the boxed game in no way diminishes the excitement that I felt for it upon release however and this is precisely how I feel about the imminent eighth edition. All new models, a completely new ruleset and more new background than you could shake a range-ruler at.

Will it be the perfect game? Almost certainly not; nothing’s perfect after all.  As with third edition though, what comes after the initial release in no way diminishes how I feel about my first dip into eighth edition.