For me, one of the main attractions of this new edition of Necromunda is just how well the books are written (rules nigglers sit down…I know there are a few mistakes…). The fluff, lore and general setting of Necromunda are thoroughly explored and provide an excellent base for modelling and gaming ideas. At this point though, players just getting up to speed may suffer from too much of a good thing. Currently, my bookshelf is crushed under the weight of eight Necromunda books. All beautiful, but are they all necessary?
I’ve written previously about the Necromunda Rulebook, Gangs Of The Underhive and The Book Of Peril, which are my favourites…but, who cares? Let’s look at the rest and see how they stack up.
While you must have the Rulebook and GOTU, and should have The Book Of Peril there are still two other ‘semi-core’ books. The Book Of Judgment and The Book Of Ruin, both add some new and exciting stuff to your games but do you really need them? There are also the House Of Blades, House Of Chains and House Of Iron books, detailing the first three expanded gangs. A lot of material and varied content…
Both The Book Of Judgement and The Book Of Ruin are not necessary to play games of Necromunda…but. Necromunda always comes with a ‘but’…but, both books do contain a bunch of great stuff: new gangs, different campaigns and more weapons…so, when I say you don’t need them, you understand that that also means that you should get them anyway. While not needed in a core way or by new players, experienced gangers and information suckers will find many hours of reading and plotting within.
The Book Of Judgement adds lots of advanced campaign shenanigans such as Criminal Alliances, the Law and Misrule campaign and the endlessly wonderful Black Market Trading post as well as more than a few new Hangers-on and Dramatis Personae, but the real value here is the Palanite Enforcers list.
Finally the ideas of crime and punishment are woven into the narrative in an interesting and fun way. Gangs will choose / end up either for or against the law and thus gain Black Market access or the boot heel of the local authorities. The Palanite Enforcers function much like other house gangs but with a few interesting differences and players will have no trouble incorporating them into a campaign. Any group with an interest in a more law focused campaign setting should get a copy of this book, and the new Palanite Enforcer boxes (of which there are two…) look fantastic, in case you needed anymore convincing.
The Book Of Ruin is a companion piece, of sorts, to the Book Of Judgement. The focus this time is on the various cults and infestations that plague Necromunda as well as lots and lots of scenarios and other goodies. Again, not a book you need but one you shouldn’t miss.
Players wishing to include chaos and genestealer mutations can infect an already existing gang or simply build a dedicated Corpse Grinder Cult, Helot Chaos Cult or Genestealer Cult. Some nice mechanics here and more than one way to incorporate rules always makes me happy as a player. This may be the gateway drug needed to get that buddy of yours who only plays 40K to package up a few existing models and give Necromunda a go.
Overall, both The Book Of Judgement and The Book Of Ruin give players and Arbitrators much more in the way of setting and choice. So, while both of these books aren’t absolutely needed to play and may only add unnecessary complications for inexperienced gamers, they are invaluable if players show an interest in the content and contain plenty of idea seeds for Arbitrators to really tailor make their Necromunda campaign settings.
In my opinion, the first five books are a contained set and, along with the mini rulebook from the Dark Uprising boxed set make up the backbone of the Necromunda universe at this point. All gangs have access to all things, depending on a number of factors, but these books do feel like a finished product to me. If all you use are these five books, all the stuff you could want or need for several campaigns is included.
I was surprised and delighted that Games Workshop were able to up-sale me from this point. To be honest I was having difficulty thinking how they could do it effectively and entertainingly. The new, expanded gang books were the product that was needed and also signal a change in the Necromunda landscape…but not a bad one, and not one you need use if you don’t want.
Players can, eventually, expect a book for each of the original houses and possibly more beyond that. These books add more fluff, ganger types, weapons, special gang-only swag, new scenarios and sometimes additional or unique gang lists. Each release sees a book, card deck, dice and new boxed set. Rather than a completely new set of rules, these books compile all allowable, existing material and a bit of new stuff as well, into a functional, if slightly more limiting, list.
Each book really expands on every aspect of the gang, fleshing them out and focusing on what makes them unique. They feel very much like a codex and once again the value is excellent. As an Arbitrator I feel that players using the rulebook and GOTU aren’t at a great disadvantage to players using a new gang book, which I think is nice for players. Undoubtedly, once your gangs new book comes out I suspect you will change over simply based on the number of fun options available but I like that the existing rules will stand up, and even make a good ‘first time’ list that runs a bit simpler than the new, expanded gangs.
I will need some time to properly digest these three new books but since I have a couple new boxed sets I may have a go at modernizing up my Orlocks or building that Goliath gang I always wanted…plenty of new and cool options for when we all get back together around the gaming table.