Monday, 22 April 2013

Necromunda - down and dirty gang warfare in the 41st Millenium

A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away?), before having children, before my wife and a long, long time before I became a Finely DiCED Gamer I used to like playing Warhammer 40K... Ok who am I trying to kid, I collected Warhammer 40K (and played sporadically) – Spacemarines, Imperial Guard & Squats – I'll admit it I wanted to be the first to host the best all-in-one army fielded by a Rogue Trader. I know the chances that Gene-seeded Space Marines would tolerate standing shoulder to shoulder with the ab-human Squats would be slim but this was going to be MY perfect army.

Time goes by and my vast collection (my wife's words) of Out Of Production (OOP) metal & plastic miniatures have been sold to allow me to buy PC's, a XBOX 360, and my latest passion - board games. However, before I sold everything I once cherished off, I made a decision as to where I would draw the line.  I decided to hold onto my 1st Ed. Copy of Space Hulk (inc. all expansions), Bloodbowl (3rd Ed.), my war-gangs for Mordheim and finally my hardback copy rule book for Necromunda – essentially my GW skirmish systems – systems where you don't need tonnes of figures to have a game (or a table the size of my current living room).

I eventually became a member of the Finely DiCED Gamers - from our inaugural meeting (and all those since) we have discussed the games that we all want to play. Some games are suggested for when we have a our full contingent of five, some get brought out because they're shiny and new and others because they're just damn fine games.  Well, last Sunday I got to play a damn fine game of Necromunda, the tabletop miniatures battle system which has elements of a role playing game.  You create your gang - it gains experience and hopefully becomes UBER.

But before uber you have to get in a fight and to get in a fight you need a gang - so to begin with we had to sit down with the miniatures we owned and create our new gangs on paper. When I say we - let me introduce Matt & Rebecca – you haven't met Matt or Rebecca yet but hopefully you'll read something from them shortly. Moving on - Matt, Rebecca and myself created our gangs – all three of us create gangs that include a gang leader (there can be only one), gangers (the back bone of any gang) and juves (cannon fodder) – we all had gangs containing roughly 10 miniatures with pretty much the same stats – just access to slightly different weapon sets.

Rebecca went with a house Goliath gang "The Takkers" with the highest gang rating of 1158, big brutish fellows who you wouldn't want to meet on a dark night - certainly not in the underhive.  Matt went with his house Cawdor "Kommissars" - having a gang rating of 927 (the lowest of the three of us), these guys had a distinct uniform look and paintjob - the look said "we mean business". I brought a Van Saar gang to the party - "Serene's Soldiers" with a middling gang rating of 1013, I had no heavy weapons in my crew but I did have access to some more specialised weaponry for both gangers and juves.

Gangs created, we decided that we would like to have all three of us play against each other, to that end we chose a mission where we had to collect an item for the guilders - get said item and get it off the board (the guilders giving the returnee 50 creds).  Getting the said item would mean all three gangs squaring off - looked like an easy opportunity for Serene's Soldiers - leave the others to duke it out.  The board was custom made by Matt & Rebecca as were all the scenics - even without being fully finished it just oozed coolness - have a look.

Board Ready, Gangs Ready, so who goes first?

Player setup was worked out using highest to lowest gang rating - order of play seemed to be Matt first, then Rebecca and finally me - we each had to choose a table edge and then place our gang members within 8 inch of said table edge - the unused table edge would become the exit route - where the guilders "item" would be carried from the board.

Once all three of us had placed our gangs a few loose ends were tied up - which obstacles could be jumped over and which would provide movement penalties.  If gang members entered a building it would take one turn (one complete movement allowance - MA) to exit onto the roof to snipe.  Finally, the guilders "item" would require a skill test to pick-up - on a roll of 5 or 6 it would be picked up otherwise another gang member would have to try (or wait til next turn) - equally if the gang member carrying the "item" were hit / knocked down then they would drop the "item".

Turn One :

First Matt rushed three of his gangers and the leader straight into the open heading towards the centre of the map where the guilder item was located - unfortunately he hadn't paid attention to the fact that Rebecca's heavy stubber (in a legitimate setup position) then had direct line of sight to at least one of these gang members.  Matt also had three gang members run around the board edge towards my position whilst at least two gang members entered a building to assume a sniping position.

Rebecca moved up as many of her gang as she could, some running (preventing shooting) whilst others simply took a basic MA so that they would be able to fire at the Kommissars making a direct line to the guilder "item".  After Movement Rebecca chose to shoot her heavy stubber which had the option of sustained fire - with some good rolls she managed to get 4 shots off - one missed, three hit - two gangers and the leader went down.  One ganger was killed, another was critically injured and could only crawl, the team leader realised he only had a flesh wound & got up.  Rebecca's remaining gang member's shooting didn't really do much!

I simply moved my gang towards the centre of the map - making use of as much cover as I could.  Realising that Matt had three gangers heading towards my position I managed to get at least two of my guys into a good firing position.  When it came to shooting I manged to knock down and injure a juve - another of Matt's gang that was crawling.

Turn Two :

Matt essentially had his leader and ganger holding ground in the open - the third crawling back to his starting position, his two gang members who had entered the building took up firing solutions on the roof, finally of the three coming towards my position one simply crawled out of the way to allow the two behind to attempt rushing my position.  Matt's shooting phase was quite constructive, injuring the Goliath with the heavy stubber - giving him some breathing space.

Rebecca continued to move her gang members towards the guilder item - both Matt and myself were a little concerned at this point since Rebecca was the closest to the goal (and closest to the exit zone). Rebecca's shooting didn't cause any real problems for Matt (or me) this turn, possibly getting the sniping duet to duck and cover?

I was still sending my leader and juves towards the centre of the map (whilst attempting to hide them behind cover) to snatch the "item".  Trying to plan ahead I also sent a ganger with a bolt gun towards the exit area to try and get a modicum of control (shoot anyone leaving kind of control). Seeing as everyone else was trying their luck with sniping. I decided to move one of my lasgun gangers into a building. Since I still had two of Matt's Kommissars coming at me I also bolstered my two man position with a lasgun carrying ganger.
When I came to shooting it was that Lasgun wielding ganger who hit, knocked down and critically injured one of Matt's two - which unfortunately led to the 2nd (still standing) ganger (with a rather big flamer gun) failing a leadership test and running away from combat for 2D6 inches - oh dear *snigger*.

The Kommissar Flamer ganger, top right - he's fleeing!

Turn Three:

Matt had one dead, three gangers crawling around and another running for cover (the Cawdor flamer guy did not stop running), however on the bottle test he passed and continued with his... plan?

Not a lot  of movement  but Matt decided to take a shot at Rebecca's leader - he shot, he scored and the Goliath Leader went out of the game.

Rebecca continued closing on the central point - she was moving in force and she wants those guilder credits.  Troops that were present were essentially juves and gangers (around four in number) in or around the barricades surrounding the central point from her starting edge.  The ganger with the heavy stubber managed to get up and enter a building, whether to get out of harm's way or to snipe is not clear but it would give her a distinct advantage with it's 20" short range / 40" long range ability.
When the shooting from Rebecca started - Matt's Leader fell to the pavement only this time he was not taking a flesh wound, this time he was down for the count - payback perhaps for the loss of Rebecca's leadership?

The first charge of the game is a little underwhelming since one of my gangers runs past the barricade to close assault the closest downed kawdor ganger - dice aren't even rolled - it's automatic.  Since my edge is clear of Cawdor I now start moving those remaining gangers to the centre - Matt's facing another bottle test and Rebecca has taken a couple of hits - a few more and she'll be bottling it - I still haven't lost a man.
When I start firing my leader uses a full charge on a plasma pistol - this should incinerate whoever it hits - amazingly it hits but does no damage? Unfortunately by rolling a six means that although I hit I have to take an ammo roll, which I lose (no more plasma pistol).  What's more frustrating is that this happens again and again for me.  I lose a bolt gun and a lasgun to ammo rolls - the good news being that another of Rebecca's juve's is flat out behind a barricade.

Turn four:

Matt rolls for his remaining crawling gangers - they're not getting up! He then decides to not even bother rolling to see if he succeeds his bottle test - he leaves the battlefield... quickly!

Rebecca moves in to pickup the guilder "item" (we really should have asked what it was), the first juve fumbles (not rolling a 5 or 6), fortunately a ganger behind the juve tried again and picked it up - is it all over?
Rebecca starts firing with her stubber from its superior firing position which gives Serene's Soldiers it's first dire casualty.  Another Juve goes down but is not out for the count (phew).

We've got the guilder "item", what do we do with it again?
 Knowing that Rebecca has the guilder item and that I could potentially force her into a bottle test - I'm trying to get every gun into a firing solution.  The idea of moving towards a house Goliath ganger does not appeal or make sense but this is something that has to be done.
My first kill this turn is from a shot gun using a scatter shot shell - I'm fairly sure there is nothing left of the goliath - the amusing thing is that its the ganger (holding the "item") that dies and not the juve who was actually fired at - go figure (the "item" is now back on the floor), unfortunately nothing else hits (dammit).

Turn Five:

At this point it's 9pm and we've been playing since 3pm (creating gangs, setting up the board, setting up the gangs and ultimately learning the rules as we go).  Rebecca is essentially going to be taking a bottle test because she has lost 25% of her gang (much like Matt). We decide to stop there - however Serene's Soldiers claim a moral victory (and the 50 cred victory) since he would love to continue shooting until Rebecca's gang takes further losses resulting in a failed bottle test.

Since the game ended we all sat down to work out experience and credits earned by each gangs participating juves, gangers and leader.  We also worked out if anyone was maimed, didn't make it or if there were any grudges etc.  One interesting point - Matt's leader made it (more or less), Rebecca's leader unfortunately was found and kept close to death as a hostage by Matt's Kommissars.  Rebecca got her leader back after paying a considerable amount of credits - the good thing is that Matt and Rebecca got their leadership back ;-)

For a Sunday afternoon game, I can't think of a better game to play - brought back a load of old memories and when we get to play again will undoubtedly create some new ones.  My plan is to get my gang painted so that it actually looks the part - that will be done in time.  Until then Necromunda will allow us to go into mortal combat in the far flung future - a galaxy far, far away - not so much - just where we get time and opportunity to setup the boards again!

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