Necromunda – I've always loved Necromunda, the idea of fighting in a the slums of a giant city with a small gang is just so cool. The original game (and it's nearly identical reprint) was incredibly fun even though their were some noticeable issues with the campaign system and the common problem of some gangs growing to fast for anyone else to catch up. The newest version of the game seems to have addressed those issues and introduced some new ways to play.
The Necromunda boxed game includes everything you need to play the Zone Mortalis Skirmish version of the game. This version takes place in the cramped tunnels between domes and represents one-off fights between established gangs. For veterans of Necromunda this is a completely foreign concept. For new players it's very similar to Games Workshops other boxed games. Everything you need to play is in the box and you play through several scenarios with the pre-created characters. Playing through these missions with the cards included is fun and a good way to learn the game. Your characters don't level up, and you build a 1500 credit gang which you then battle against other gangs. Most of the scenarios will limit the number of gangers that can participate, if there is a difference in the cost of the participants you get some extra Tactics Cards. For veterans this means they've fixed the issue with Juve spamming from previous edition, in fact Juves don't even exist in the core game. At one time it was a really solid tactic to just make as many cheap fighters as you could to overwhelm your opponent and let your models get better over time rather than invest in them from the get-go. With missions that only allow you six fighters having 6 Juves vs. some hardened champions isn't going to go so well.
With only three (five if you count the White Dwarf releases) gangs updated it's been hard to get my whole group excited about doing a campaign. Gangs of Legend is a decent get-me-by but not quite the same as having unique Tactics and discounted items to build from. So the players that are interested in playing decided to just play the 1500 Credit Skirmish games until we're comfortable with the new rules. We also decided to stick with the Zone Mortalis terrain to get comfortable.
For our first game I used the Escher Gang that came with pre-printed cards that came in the box. My buddy built an Orlock gang using the rules from Gang War II. He used the trading post to buy items rather than his House List so we had to adjust his gang on the fly. (This falls into one of my gripes about the game, details at the end of the article). After making sure we both were using legal lists we read the first mission. We picked our six fighters, figured out the difference in points and chose our tactics cards before setting up the board. Note, we used Death Ray Design's Deadbolt's Derelict for the walls instead of just relying on the black spaces that indicate walls on the tiles. While I prefer the look of the 3D walls it should be noted that the Games Workshop plastic doors and bulkheads are slightly larger than the gap between the printed wall sections, this meant our walls were slightly out of alignment when the doors were closed. (I imagine I can sand a bit off each side to make them fit, but it is a bummer that the extra work is required to make the boards 3D.)
The first game was over fairly quickly. The Orlocks managed to pin several of my fighters with a frag grenade, but I managed to take out two of them in return causing the miners to run off fairly quickly.
For the second game we rotated the tiles a bit and played again. My opponent choose different fighter this time to max out his tactics cards. By stacking up a few cards he was able to take out one of my champs, she in turned burned through the two card I had to take down the Orlock Leader. A bad roll at the end of the phase saw me bottle out giving the Orlocks a win.
The games were incredibly fast, especially considering we had to reference the rulebook constantly. The second game went smoother, so I'm sure it's just a matter of needing to play enough games to commit the rules to memory. It's fairly easy to bottle (at the end of the turn if you have any models out or seriously injured you test to run away) when you only have a few models on the board so I'm eager to see how the rest of the missions play out as it could get frustrating to lose a game to a bad die roll.
Overall I love what they've done with the game. There seem to be several systems in place that prevent the most annoying parts of the previous versions from happening. The tile-based box set simplifies the game so there's less arguing about who can see what and more tactical decisions.
Not having lascannons and other military hardware in starting gangs makes more sense than in previous versions. I also like that each gang is "limited" in what they can buy out of the gate it makes each House feel more unique and I'm sure it's limited to what weapons come on the sprue for the new plastic kits. As Forgeworld releases weapon upgrades they seem to be updating the house weapon options, which is going to be a bone of contention for the haves and have-nots until everything is out.
I love the support Games Workshop and Forgeworld are giving the game. However that's also one of my gripes. Having the rules spread out over multiple books can be a nightmare when you need to find something mid-game. It also can be frustrating for getting a group on the same page (such as the confusion between the Trading Post and House List). Some players will also see having to BUY multiple books as a money grab (I mean god-forbid a game company try and make money from selling product)