Well, this is like Christmas as far as I’m concerned. Games Workshop are very well aware that I am a huge fan of Necormunda, and I am thrilled to be able to share my review of the Necromunda: Ash Wastes with you, after they graciously sent a copy out to me. This is one hell of a box.
And by “hell”, I mean, of course the Ash Wastes – a blasted, desolate region of Necromunda’s plateaus, deserts and dangerous places. Vast expanses filled with nothing, except for dangers of course. If you thought the Hive cities were lawless places, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Ok, so let’s start at the top. This box is huge, and just like the last big Necromunda box (Dark Uprising), it’s not going to be cheap – you’ll be able to find out how wallet-unfriendly this is by heading over to the GW site. If you wanted a cheap way into this game, this is not going to be for you. It’s a box for the established faithful who have money to burn and the desire to burn rubber. Is this fair on everyone who wants to get involved? Well, probably not, but you get so much in this box, it would have been mad for them to set the price any lower.
The good news for folks who want the models is that these should be released on their own soon enough, and of course you can pick up the Orlock gang set already. If you’re looking to get your nose into Necromunda, buy a gang box, their rules, and the rulebook, and do it that way. If you’re like me, and you already love this game, this box is just fantastic.
The first thing we see are the sprues – I’ve mentioned before how I’m a big fan of getting straight to the plastic, so plus points there. And on a quick side note, the box smells amazing. I know that’s weird, but new boxes from GW always have a “new box smell” and the odour here is delicious. There are 10 big sprues in this box and a big chunk of it is scenery but there are of course the Nomads and the Orlocks too. This is one of the reasons that this is such a heavy box, but it’s not the only reason.
Behind the mountain of plastic, we have the Ash Wastes book, and it’s a cracker. It looks gorgeous for a start, it weighs a tonne, and I like the subtle brownish hue that has crept into the design to set it apart from the scuffles that are settled in hive city. It starts off with a lavish map and a great chunk of lore, but it’s not too long before we get into the meat of the matter – the rules.
I was really interested to see what would inspire the vehicle rules, and while I had my fingers crossed that it would be akin to Gorkamorka (or a straight up copy of that rule set), it is in fact, far more sensibly, akin to older editions of 40k and the Horus Heresy, but with some important quirks to set them apart and make them feel like Necromunda. For a start, Hull Points are back, as are front/side/rear armour values. The Handling stat (HND) is a nice addition though, and that does have a whisper of Gorkamorka flavour to it from what I can tell at first glance. The vehicle actions that you can pick from also lean on Gorkamorka a little for inspiration, and while it’s its own thing, I think these rules look fun, flavourful and tactic-friendly too (always a hard balance to strike). I for one can’t wait to see what vehicles and mounts the other gangs get – hopefully we’ll see some of that on the digital Warhammer Fest that’s soon to happen.
There have been a few changes to how cover works in the Ash Wastes too that make sense. Obscured bases are less of a thing here, and this removes the claustrophobia that the Underhive engenders, replacing it with a sense that cover is scarce, vital, and occasionally booby-trapped. I also really like this picture below – I think it’s both funny, but also a good visual reminder of sensible gameplay.
Other highlights include the “Seasons” mechanic which brings a weather system closely related to Blood Bowl to Necromunda, and official rules for a “Rolling Road” style-game are great to see included here – those games are always a bit silly, very fun and nicely brutal. Also, the scenarios included in this book all look like winners to me. Plenty of familiarity about them, but there’s a newness to them too. All in all, top work from the rules team here.
While reading the book, it did also strike me that Necromunda really isn’t designed as a gateway game like the other skirmish offerings from GW. It’s complex and involved. I’m not saying one doesn’t spend plenty of time planning out a Kill Team or picking out a deck for Underworlds – many people do, but those games both have “out of the box” options to help newer players into the game with minimal fuss. Necromunda remains a game that is absolute fuss. You have to love the fuss to get the most out of this. There is a lot of admin that can’t really be avoided, and the older style of Warhammer rules that the game is based on really gives it a tougher-to-try-out sort of feel. Would I introduce someone to tabletop gaming with this game, or this box? Absolutely not. But would I encourage every experienced veteran to give it a go and have a lot of fun times? You bet I would.
Returning to the box, what’s left is a great assortment to help people get playing straight away (despite my last paragraph, this is in fact a whole game in a box). Dice, measuring rulers (I do miss “whippy-sticks” sometimes), a playing surface, bases, tokens and assembly guides. What a great selection. Seriously, if you want to treat yourself, and you love some Necromunda, I would recommend this. I’d recommend it a lot.
As for me, I will be getting to work on the “mega fleas” and I think the Nomad gang is a must for me. I like the aesthetic and while the Orlock Buggies are tempting, those damn giant fleas – can’t get them out of my head. They’re gorgeous, and they look straight forward enough for me to put together. Also, I’ll just reiterate that the vehicle rules in here really do look like a lot of fun. Tank slapper. Lol.
Can I fault this box? Only if I’m being picky. Maybe having another new tribe would have been nice, but I guess the Orlocks offer familiarity. And the price is going to cause many an internet grumble, but for what you get in this, it’s not actually as astronomical as you might think for what you get and the price of plastic these days. No, I’m calling this box a win for GW. I’m in love with it a little bit, so if you’ll excuse me, I am going to spend the next few hours dreaming of life in the wastes (it’s quite easy when you live in the midlands). Onwards!