Us Necromunda fans have a fairly good idea of what’s coming our way over the next few months. Gang warfare on the polluted planet has traditionally centred around the six great houses, each of which received a set of plastic models in the wake of the game’s 2017 relaunch. In January 2020 the Goliaths were bolstered by the addition of new gang champions and prospects and this pattern has continued ever since at a rate of roughly one house per quarter (Covid related delays notwithstanding). Now the reinforcements for House Cawdor are almost upon us and the shadowy agents of House Delaque are only a few months behind. I’ll confess my love for the new Redemptionists has waned somewhat since they were first revealed but that’s just left me wanting to kitbash and improve them until they look the way they ought to.
However what I’m wanting to talk about today is the final section of the “road map” revealed by Games Workshop, the part which covers the last quarter of 2021 (and beyond). Now that we’ve seen the key releases from the “House of…” series it’s time to turn our attention to the further future. Care to join me for some baseless speculation and wild guessing?
Despite their significance there’s a lot more to Necromunda than just the big six houses. In this edition we already have rules and models for Enforcers, Genestealer Cults, Helot Cults, Corpse-Grinder Cults, Slave Ogryns and Venators. The possibilities don’t end there either. If they want to Games Workshop have a host of possibilities and potential new factions to explore. Indeed I would argue that this is exactly what they intend to do. It’s understandable for fans to fear that support for Necromunda may be inconsistent, or even nonexistent, in the future. GW have already dropped the game entirely from their catalogue once back in the 2000’s and even now support for some of the other “specialist games” like Adeptus Titanicus and Aeronautica Imperialis remains patchy and even Blood Bowl hasn’t seen much attention since last autumn. When the going gets tough, as it has in the wake of the Covid outbreak and Brexit for instance, the specialist games suffer so that the big cash cows like 40k can continue to thrive. Still, I don’t think it’s wishful thinking to suggest that Necromunda is well placed to remain an established part of the GW catalogue for a long time yet. At least, let’s hope so. Anyway, let’s leave those worries for another day and indulge in some guesswork instead! Here are a few of the gangs I think might be tearing up the underhive near you over the next few years – I’m sure we can all look forward to having a good laugh at how wrong I turned out to be!
Ash Waste Nomads
It may be grim in the hive but it’s even worse outside. The whole planet is a hellish, polluted wasteland, the only water is the toxic run-off from the great factories, storms of scouring wind and acid rain sweep over the tortured landscape and the people you encounter are as wild and dangerous as any underhive scummer. You wouldn’t think anyone would be mad enough to live out there but the Ash Waste Nomads have been getting the odd mention in recent books – with the Orlock book in particular offering some choice titbits on these outlanders. A couple of years ago we even saw some concept art, albeit fairly vague, for these road warriors…
… not to mention their dangerous looking steeds…
Somewhere else which has been getting a lot of mentions in the recent Necromunda books is Hive Mortis, enough to have caught my eye and got me thinking. A terrible plague has run rampant through the hive, leaving the entire population dead and their possessions unguarded. If you’re a ganger who wants to get rich quick and isn’t frightened of a little thing like plague then this is the place to go. However not all of the locals have taken death lying down. Plague zombies have been a part of Necromunda for a long time and Hive Mortis is apparently crawling with them.
The Corpse-Grinder Cults have already brought us a Necromundan spin on Khorne which leaves me wondering how long before the other Chaos gods try to get in on the act. Could the pudgy hand of Nurgle and his ghastly, disease-ridden cultists be reaching out from the fallen hive even as we speak?
The Immortal Cult
The Necromunda core rulebook also contains a brief description of the Immortal Cult, a cabal of rogue psykers who seek to bring about a psychic awakening in all of mankind. The cult first appears around the 34th Millennium and is still active in the setting’s “present day”, gathering outlaw wyrds who would otherwise be taken to the Black Ships to their banner. Just as the Corpse Grinder Cults put a new, and distinctly Necromundan, spin on Khorne and Hive Mortis could well be the start of a Nurgly invasion, so these sound to me like the Tzeentchian equivalent. House Delaque may think they’ve cornered the market in unsanctioned psykers but there are plenty more witches lurking in the depths of the hives…
If you’re looking for entertainment in Hive City and getting cheated and shot in a Delaque gambling den, or drinking until your innards explode with a bunch of down-and-out scummers in an Escher bar doesn’t sound like sufficient fun then you need to head to the fighting pits! Here you can enjoy the sight of cybernetically-enhanced, stimmed-up gladiators beating the hell out of each other or fighting against monstrous wild animals.
Of course, when it comes to finding people to actually get in the ring and fight demand tends to exceed supply and although Goliaths are known to enjoy getting stuck in most fans prefer to watch from the sidelines. Fall foul of the Guilds, fail to pay your debts or otherwise end up on the wrong side of the law however and you might just find yourself sold into a life as a pitslave, and rewarded with a few “enhancements” to make your life of vicious, crowd-pleasing violence and mayhem a little more interesting for the spectators. However it turns out that taking a bunch of hardened criminals, throwing in a few honest citizens who’ve suffered one punishment too many, arming them to the teeth and giving the best combat training available by making them fight each other until only the strong survive, might not be a good move in the long run. Pitslaves are known to revolt, butcher their way to freedom and enjoy a life on the run down in the underhive – where things are no less violent but at least they get to keep the profits.
Pitslaves have been a part of Necromunda for many years but back in the old days the models were, to be frank, less than inspiring. Imagine how good they could look now though…
Whilst most people in the underhive are just trying to stay alive and avoid catching too many bullets, the Spyrers are there for a little fun. Rich arseholes from the upper part of the hive these spoiled young nobles have spent daddy’s money on the best guns around and have headed down into the very worst part of town to live like common people and do whatever common people do – which on Necromunda means “shoot each other”.
I know a lot of people really want to see these making a comeback but frankly I’m not entirely convinced. By my memory they always seemed disastrously powerful in game back in the old days, not to mention a little out of place amongst the rag-tag gangs, and as a result I never really liked the spoilt gits. That said I’m not going to lie to you, if GW produces some models my addiction to Necromunda will probably see me starting a small army of them. Plus I’d not be averse to seeing how the braying oiks enjoy a kicking from an ambot! I’d still rather see something else though. Speaking of which…
Scavies and Muties
At the very opposite end of the Necromundan social hierarchy from the Spyrers we have the scavies, muties and their ilk. Hive City being the polluted pit that it is the odd minor mutation like an extra finger is given a bit more leeway than it might be elsewhere in the Imperium but any more than that and it’s only a matter of time before either the Redemptionists or the Enforcers turn up to “have words” (and by “have words” we mean, kill everyone and burn the settlement down to make sure). If it turns out that the reason your friend, family-member or neighbour never takes off their hood or ragged robe is because they’re hiding a couple of tentacles then the best thing to do is to drive them off into the underhive as fast as possible. There they can do what muties do best, sneaking around in the dark and gobbling up unwarey hivers.
Only those who’ve fallen on the very hardest times, houseless scummers without the common decency to drink themselves to death, would sink so low as to fight alongside these muties or join scavie gangs.
Needless to say I have a real love for the muties and scavies. Back in the old days they would drive herds of mindless plague zombies into town to spread mayhem, employed hulking mutants known as “scalies” as enforcers and even had their own mutant dogs. I’d absolutely love to see them making a comeback and in the meantime I’ve even made a few of my own.
I already have my eye on turning a few of the new Kruleboyz Gutrippaz into scalies. A nice new kit for these dregs of the hive would be a dream come true though – and undoubtedly well received by anyone looking to spice up their collection of chaos cultists for 40k as well.
For some strange reason that’s never been made entirely clear, the overpopulated, polluted, industrial hell of Necromunda gave rise to a race of carbon copy Native Americans (as envisioned by spaghetti westerns at least). I’m sure people can and do enjoy many a happy hour debating (read: yelling at each other on social media) over whether they actually were racist or just seemed racist, but one thing that can’t be denied is they were woefully out of place and extremely lazily designed.
Something you could never accuse the writing for modern Necromunda of is laziness however. A vast amount of love and attention to detail has been poured into the world in recent years and it’s paid off with some wonderfully well developed factions. It can be hard to overlook the rather heavy handed Native American aesthetic of models for the Redskins – sorry, that should be Ratskins! – and the use of terms like “chief” instead of leader and “brave” instead of ganger (and yes, that is a bit racist). However if you strip away these trappings, at their heart this is a tribal people, trying to live a peaceful, spiritual life away from the rest of Necromundan society, but who keep being bothered by local thugs shooting up the place until they have nowhere left to run to – and that’s a concept with a lot of potential. Cut away the “cultural appropriation” before the online activist brigade work themselves up into a collective aneurism, get back to the core concept behind the Ratskins and have the current writers rebuild them from the ground up and I reckon they still have a lot of potential.
Beastmen and Squats
No, not all together in the same gang. However something that Necromunda has done very cleverly has been to dig back, not just into the game’s own history in the late ’90s and early 2000s but even further back, to the very earliest days of Warhammer 40k itself. Until recently the vast majority of us didn’t really expect to see Squats stamping around the landscapes of the far future ever again, and then Grendl Grendlsen showed up in the underhive and proved us all wrong.
Whether or not we ever see Squats taking to the battlefields of the Warhammer 40k in force, and taking their well deserved revenge on those Tyranids at last, remains to be seen. Likewise I’m not holding my breath for regiments of beastmen to be pressed into the Imperial Guard (nice new models for ordinary humans in the Guard seems like a big ask at the moment so let’s not set our sights too high!). However there are still plenty of us who love these old factions, and though Games Workshop’s moneymen may not, in their infinite wisdom, be willing to invest in whole armies of them, a Necromunda gang might be a fine place to give them a home and keep them alive. Or perhaps I’ll have to finally make good on my promises and pick up a box of Gors and a box of Kharadron Overlords and make my own.
These are just my thoughts however – now it’s your turn. Was there something obvious I missed from my list that you’re just itching to see unleashed in the hive? As ever the comment’s box below is the place for you to get it all off your chest!
June 4th, 2021 at 7:46 am
I think you’ve covered the lot there mate! I’d quite like to see Spyrers rebooted I suppose – just for the kick of seeing what a modern kit design process could do for them! But yeah, a more politically appropriate ‘spiritual tribes’ set would be frickin’ awesome & would get my vote
June 5th, 2021 at 10:07 am
Yeah, I think Spyrers could be really cool, just maybe not in Necromunda. I was thinking about it after I wrote this and it’d be interesting to see if those concepts could be translated over to 40k proper, where they wouldn’t seem so ludicrously overpowered. Not as an army of Spyrers going up against Chaos Marines or Tyranids or something, but a few Imperial agents that could join an Imperium army. Maybe they could fall under the remit of the Inquisition or something. Or perhaps as the kind of posho officer types who lord it over the unwashed peasant masses of the rank and file (in my vision of the Imperial Guard anyway!).
As for the “spiritual tribal people” I keep thinking that would be a cool concept for AoS – in which case I’d of course get some and turn them into Ratskins anyway! Might also be that they roll the Ratskins into the Ash Waste Nomads (much in the same way as they’ve rolled the Redemptionists into Cawdor).
June 5th, 2021 at 11:45 am
Oh, I din’t know – I kinda like the thought of a technologically superior hunter or two stalking the underhives… just not a whole bloody gang of them! 😊
June 6th, 2021 at 11:39 am
You really got me thinking there and I agree, it’s the thought of whole gangs of them that I don’t like – just one or two would be really cool. In fact I just went on a great long ramble about how it could be done (see my reply to Mikko below). They could also be a nice tool for a campaign arbitrator to have in their pocket ready to be deployed on any gang which starts to develop “runaway leader syndrome” and take them down a peg or two.
June 4th, 2021 at 11:37 am
I’m surprised we haven’t seen Spyrer or Ratskin models already for the new version, so let’s hope they get onto it soon. I would also like to see what they could do with Pit Slaves at the second attempt.
June 5th, 2021 at 4:51 pm
Yeah, I assumed that even if they didn’t come back as gangs for a while we’d have seen them appearing as special characters long before now, as a nod to the old days. Pit slaves would be very cool though, them or muties would be my pick.
June 4th, 2021 at 4:43 pm
Great post. Would hatre to see the spyers back – 4 way OP figures dominating the board seemed to be the antithisis of the game to me.
The AWN art is lovely- I’d be up for that. Also a beastman gang would be great.
June 5th, 2021 at 9:25 pm
Yeah, that’s really how I feel about the spyrers too. I mean, I’d welcome anything new for Necromunda but I’d be very cautious about seeing them back in the game.
A beastman gang would be awesome wouldn’t it? I’d love to see more beastmen in 40k in general. Someday I’ll stop talking about it and actually make my vision of the Imperial Guard, complete with levies of hard-done-by beastman conscripts.
June 7th, 2021 at 4:56 pm
Am surely tempted to run a beasyman vendors gang led by half horn. With the Blackstone Fortress miniatures it shouldn’t be too hard to put together. I also want some for my planned chaos renegades force too.
June 7th, 2021 at 6:29 pm
I’ve been thinking along the same lines, even got some gors and started cutting them up. Haven’t finished anything yet but sooner or later it’ll happen.
June 7th, 2021 at 6:31 pm
Pics please when you have done some. Be great to see them. They do say any figure is a Necromunda figure….
June 4th, 2021 at 5:37 pm
Ash Waste Nomads with steeds and ramshackle vehicles would be top of my wish list but that would be almost another game 😉 . I don’t think GW would be keen to go down that particular rabbit hole…but I can still dream about it.
I was always a fan of the Ratskins but we live in different times and it’s another rabbit hole that GW might want to avoid. They could be toned down or re-envisioned but I admit to being at a loss to where the line between ‘influenced by’ and ‘cultural appropriation’ is at times in a fantasy world. I do hope they make some type of return because I always saw them as the ‘good guys’ on Necromunda mainly for the reasons you have already covered.
I’d be quite happy if Spyrers never showed their frustratingly gamebreaking heads again. They were the reason I stopped playing the original Necromunda so I have no love for them. I think they’re more likely to be a type of Dramatis Personae (hired gun to you and me) rather than an out and out ‘gang’. Freikstorn Strix from the Book of Peril looks suspiciously similar to a Yeld to me.
That said, Necromunda is a wildly different beast to the game of old, so maybe they won’t be so incredibly frustrating to play against as before should GW revisit them.
I can see GW looking to the skies at some point. They have talked about expanding into the Eye of Selene at previous seminars but I’m not sure what that would bring to the table that we don’t already have with Zone Mortalis games.
Realistically I’m trying not to get my hopes up for the last quarter. I can see it being a couple of models such as a Khimerix or something else that people have been asking for where we have the rules but no models.
I’d settle for a decent Psyker ruleset because I think the current rules are a bit bleh – but hopefully it will be Ashers with ramshakle vehicles and beasts…there I go again, getting my hopes up! 😉
June 6th, 2021 at 10:40 am
Vehicles would be amazing! Not as part of the main game, but as a spin off game purely about vehicular combat, set out in the desert wastes. Imagine Ash Nomads on their steeds, Orlock ash-rigs, heavily armoured Goliath juggernauts, light-weight Esher hunting craft, high-tech Van Saar grav-cutters, ramshackle Cawdor battle-pulpits, sleek Delaque stealth-rigs… It would be glorious! GW definitely need to crack on and make that (and a post-apocalyptic skirmish game set during the Unification Wars… and a version of Warcry in the bowels of a Chaos Lord’s Space Hulk… and bring back Mordheim).
Regarding the Ratskins my line is always “does it seem believable”. My issue with them was always that they seemed to be a straight up copy and paste from Native Americans to Necromunda. I’ve got no issues whatsoever with taking inspiration from one culture or several and using that as a jumping-off point to create something that feels like it belongs in the setting. What I don’t like is when you have a well-realised, fully developed world with unique cultures which really feel as though they belong, which have grown naturally from that setting and are a natural part of it… and then for some reason some Red Indians show up. It just seems a bit jarring to me. It’s one thing when you’re a kid and the WW2 soldiers end up fighting against the Stormtroopers from Star Wars, a few cowboys, some blood bowl players and a dinosaur, but it’s a whole different kettle of fish in what’s supposed to be a professionally developed game.
I have the same issue with the Space Wolves incidentally. I lived for a long time in an area that was very influenced by Viking and Norse culture and it seemed really jarring to see stories lifted entirely from the Norse Sagas and copy/pasted into 40k with a couple of quick keystrokes to change Thor or Odin’s names to “Leman Russ”. With both the Wolves and the Ratskins these are cool factions with a good idea behind them so come on GW, take the time and effort to write some proper background for them.
To be honest I really expected that we’d have seen the various Spyrers pop up by now as one off characters or single-figures (probably from Forge World). That way if someone really wanted to run a Spyrer gang then they could do it using the Venators rules, but without making it too obvious. It’s almost strange that they haven’t actually – so maybe the guys at the top share our concerns…
Yeah, part of me fears that the last quarter may end up being odds-and-ends from Forge World but I’d really like to see a new gang. Still, I’m positive that even if things slow down a little they’re not going to abandon these games entirely and we’ll see plenty more to come in the years ahead (he says crossing his fingers so tightly it hurts…).
June 4th, 2021 at 7:38 pm
I do like being able to look into your future! 🙂
June 4th, 2021 at 9:25 pm
They call me Wududamus, famed for my often wildly inaccurate predictions. 😉
June 5th, 2021 at 2:34 am
I know too little about Necromunda to speculate much but the Ash Waste Nomads sound visually amazing and would be my pick. The Ratskins could be cool with some modern updates too so that would be neat to see as well. I’m always curious to see what’s going on in Necromunda as one of these days, I’m sure I’ll paint some of them 🙂
June 6th, 2021 at 10:47 am
Yeah, Ash Waste Nomads would be very cool – and arguably the most likely to arrive as we know that the guys at GW have at least gone for far as to produce concept art for them (and took it seriously enough to show it to the public). You keep teasing us all by talking about painting something for Necromunda, but I’ll forgive it as you’re working on an outstanding looking elf instead. Still, sooner or later I think you’re going to have to reward the faithful with a filthy downhive scummer or two! 🙂
June 7th, 2021 at 10:48 pm
That gives me hope for the Nomads! Honestly, I shouldn’t make any promises. I have months if not another year’s worth of painting already lined up and who knows what GW will release between now and then. I don’t know exactly when I’ll take up a Necromunda mini but when I finally order from Forge World, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of sculpts make their way into my order 🙂
June 8th, 2021 at 7:12 am
Your self control does you credit mate! I have years, if not decades worth of painting lined up and yet I still have to fight off regular temptation (often without any success!). I’ll look forward to seeing what you do when you do it though. 😊
June 5th, 2021 at 5:43 am
Well, I think Blood Bowl and Necromunda will be around for a decent amount of time. COVID and Brexit have certainly caused some massive delays, but Blood Bowl just had Chaos cards and pitch, etc. Not too long before that was the 7s board and Death Zone rule book. And 7s keeps getting mentioned a lot by people who don’t have as much time for a full game of BB. Then there’s the video game around the corner that will continue to drum up interest. I’m not sure how the Necromunda computer game fared, but it didn’t really have what I was looking for.
As for future premonitions, I think several of those have been hinted in the past. So you’re likely on the money. From what I read of old Necromunda, it sounded like Spryers is where Necromunda went wrong, basically adding ‘spoiled superheroes’. I think that was around the end for Necro? They seem pretty out of place, and hopefully they would steer clear of that. The rest I imagine they could rework and make something pretty cool. There were mentions of a Hive Morris rules or set or something at one point? You probably know. Personally that would be really cool to try out. Maybe as a co-op horror theme. Oh, and you’ve really piqued my curiosity how you will convert the Redemptionists.
June 6th, 2021 at 11:13 am
Yeah, I don’t think Necromunda or Blood Bowl are going anywhere (although it’ll always be a fear for us long term fans I suspect). I was going to make some snide remark to the effect that six months on from the launch of the new edition of Blood Bowl we’ve not seen any new teams and could you imagine 40k being treated that way? Then it occurred to me that apart from the Space Marines and Necrons that came out alongside the newest edition of 40k they’ve not done anything more than single miniature releases for factions until now – the current crop of Sisters of Battle being the first time in 9th that they’ve really got their teeth into an army properly. So I guess I’ll forgive it. 😉 I suppose I’ll just have to be patient and paint the stuff I’ve already got…
From what I’ve heard the Necromunda computer game was a bit of a flop. There’s a new one just came out though which looks a lot better – a FPS set on Necromunda rather than an attempt to recreate the game itself. My machine won’t run it sadly but someday I’ll upgrade and I’ll pick it up then for sure.
Spyrers were around the end for Necromunda as I recall, and certainly left a collective bad taste in the mouths of the fan base. I think if they brought them back they’d have to be conscious of that and make sure that they allay the fears of longer term fans. Not that GW are keen on allaying the fears of their fan base – they prefer to give us the mushroom diet (keep us in the dark and feed us bullshit). Still I think it could be done, and I think the current team have the skills required to do it right, but I’d still be cautious if they went that way.
Oh I’ve got a head full of ideas for the Redemptionists! The guy on the right hand end of the front row (in the picture above) is essentially perfect so he’ll be my test model as I get familiar with the kit. Then everyone else is getting modified in some way. Just need to wait impatiently for the postman to bring them now!
June 7th, 2021 at 3:58 am
“Mushroom diet”, haha! That nicely sums up how I feel about their public face.
June 5th, 2021 at 10:05 am
Thanks again for an insightful post! I’d love to see both the Ratskins and the Spyrers return. The Ratskins could easily be done without Native American stereotypes – with the Corvus Cabal for Warcry GW have shown that they can do very cool tribal designs without resorting to riffing on actual peoples. Hell, just do the CC, replace bird skulls with rat skulls, feathers with pelts and some of those close combat weapons with guns, and you have really cool Ratskins right there.
While others have pointed out above that the Spyrers were game-breaking rules-wise, I think the concept – rich Uphive kids coming down to kill poor folks for sport – is spot on for Necromunda/40k. Whether they could actually be done in a way that’s actually playable as gang is anybody’s guess, but they could feature (and IIRC, maybe even did?) as a special scenario, where gangs simply try to survive one of these souped up hunting parties, à la Predator.
June 6th, 2021 at 11:36 am
Thank you! Yup, I completely agree with you regarding the Ratskins – which I think is part of why I find them so frustrating. They could so easily do something really cool with them and instead they slipped into being “Native Americans in Spaaaaace”. I have been sorely tempted to get the Corvus Cabal and turn some of them into Eschers (the rival Crow-skull Girls from the ludicrously self-indulgent backstory I wrote for my gang), some of them into underhive tribesmen and the guy with the big wings into a mutant Ravenguard Weregeld. So far I’ve always ended up spending the money on other things but it’s still a temptation so sooner or later…
“rich Uphive kids coming down to kill poor folks for sport is spot on for Necromunda” – I 100% agree, which is why I’m not willing to damn them out of hand. In fact your comment, combined with Alex’s above, has planted a little seed in my brain. How about, instead of a whole gang of them, you take just one guy. He would start out better than the average gang champion by a considerable step but he’d still be threatened by a gang en-mass. There would be things to work out with the mechanics of course but I reckon it has potential. All the experience/credits he gains would be spent on himself alone, repairing and improving his suit, buying bigger and better guns, gaining skills – but at the time accruing injuries and handicaps. There could even come a point where once he reaches a certain level of skill he is recalled to the Spire; he’s become a man and is expected to return and take his rightful place in his House. The player can either retire from the campaign or can choose to carry on running riot in the underhive – but suffers the handicap of house support being withdrawn, certain upgrades and repairs becoming unavailable and rival gangs are offered inducements sent by his wealthy parents to “encourage him” to put this silliness behind him and come home.
June 6th, 2021 at 11:02 am
Is love some Ash Waste Nomads and Ratskins please 😊👍🏼Nice write up mate.
June 6th, 2021 at 11:14 am
Cheers bud! 😀 You know if I had the power to do it they’d all be released by now (we’d see a lot more Ork releases too if I was in charge…).
June 16th, 2021 at 1:12 pm
wyrd gangs with tamed hive critturs
June 16th, 2021 at 1:28 pm