Necromunda House of Shadow Review and Specialists Unboxing
The depths of Necromunda hold many secrets. Some of them are legends, others just tall tales, but somehow there are grotesque dripping threads of connective tissue that link all these secrets together. One house is whispered in shadows with equal parts of fear and awe, both legend and story but never fully the truth. That house is Delaque, the House of Shadow.
Currently up for pre order is House of Shadow, the latest of the “House of…” books that expand and flesh out the background and rules for Necromunda. These essentially act like a Codex for our battles in the Underhive, giving us more lore, more options and more depth to our games – and this is something that has made the current edition of Necromunda such a great game!
Games Workshop kindly sent us a free copy of House of Shadow to review and the Nacht-Ghul, Psy-Ghiests and Piscean Spektor set to unbox and delve into with you, digging deep into the background and history of Necromunda’s most mysterious faction.
We’ve also filmed a full video look through and unboxing, so if you rather watch your review content you can see that just below! If you would like to support the site then why not order your copy of House of Shadow through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20% too?
Still here? Great, sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about the House of Shadow – and if you start to hear those shadows talking in the back of your mind that’s probably nothing to be worried about…
Necromunda: House of Shadow
With 5 “House of” books under their belts the Forge World Specialist Games team are no strangers to putting out excellent Necromunda supplements. I’ve been a massive fan of this series, and so I had very high expectations for the instalment that closes out the final of the original 6 Necromunda gangs. Would they manage to deliver, or would they falter at the last moment like a Juve staring into the eyes of an approaching Sumpkroc?
Thankfully I can share that not only have the team put out another excellent Necromunda supplement, but that it is also in my opinion the best one they have released so far! And we have some really cool kits to represent the new gang options we have available.
Before we get into the House Delaque Gang List however, one of my favourite things about the book is the lore – and oh, boy what lore we have inside this tome…
The “House of” books have done an excellent job of both fleshing out the universe of Necromunda, but also giving us loads of new information about the gangs so that players can really capture that inspiration when creating their own gangs. Necromunda more than most GW games is at it’s best when the players are invested in the setting and use that to craft a rich narrative tapestry around their campaigns, and House of Shadow is certainly no exception in this regard giving us a dark and sinister hard sci-fi take on the background of House Delaque with a side serving of Cthulhu and a dash of Cyberpunk.
We learn that it’s not just us players that don’t necessarily know the full truth about House Delaque, in-universe most inhabitants of the Underhive have heard multiple conflicting stories about them. Some say they are clones, others suggest they are vampires. Or could they maybe be a Xenos race that have infiltrated the planet? More level headed say they are the assassins and data gatherers for Lord Helmawr himself, while the paranoid and crazed say they are awakened psykers under the influence of an ancient incomprehensible intelligence. In true shadowy style it seems that non of these and some of these are both true and false at the same time, with the house themselves in control of the white noise of disinformation.
Excitingly we get a thread that looks like it may be the truth, or at the very least the grain of truth that the House wants us to know. Many thousands of years ago, Necromunda was a watery planet teaming with hyper-intelligent aquatic life. The oldest and most powerful of these creatures saw themselves as gods and lived deep in the depths of the ocean, with the lesser creatures tending to their needs. As the planet was wracked with solar radiation, the waters started to dry up and these lesser sea creatures headed on land in search of ways of preserving their gods deep in the oceans, with legends telling of them digging vast underground vaults for them to flood as homes for their sleeping elder gods.
Thousands of years later, humanity came to Necromunda and in typical fashion devastated what was left of the ecology, the hives grew into the skies, the sprawl of the underhive grew deep beneath the land and within this dark oppressive environment a large number of souls were drawn to the depths looking for something that spoke to them in their dreams…
These psychically touched people became what is now known as Delaque, bound together by a shared psychic consciousness and a feeling that something dwelt deep below Necromunda and silently spoke to them. This collection of people slowly infiltrated and assimilated its way into the structure of the world, growing unseen like mould. By the time the rest of Necromunda had smelled the rot it was too late, Delaque was everywhere and nowhere – manipulating the flow of information and acting as legion to enact the wills of their council, the Star Chamber.
I absolutely love this take on the Delaque background as it gives us an awesome blend of genres not often seen in 40k, combining the grim darkness of the far future with the cosmic horror of ancient alien intelligences pulling the strings of humanity from behind the scenes. And as the Delaque themselves are an unreliable author, then we never really know if this intelligence is a xenos race, the touch of chaos, an elder god or just more lies and disinformation from the House of Shadow. The book suggests that something has touched the minds of the Delaque but we are not given any clear cut answers. And sometimes having the hint of something darker without any of the answers is much more exciting than everything being black and white!
House Delaque Gang List
As with the other House of books we get a revised Gang List giving the Delaque a trenchcoat full of new options and gangers. Let’s take a look at the returning ganger options and the new ones that GW have added in the new book!
Master of Shadow (Leader)
The Leader option is now known as a Master of Shadow – we see no changes in their profile and while they are now 10 credits cheaper they no longer start with flak armour. For those who like their leader to have a little more protection they now have the option of taking Light Carapace Armour making them a little more durable.
They (and all other champions) can also purchase Cephalopod Spektors, an exotic beast in the form of a writing mass of mechanical tenticles floating around the battlefield. These work in a similar way to other exotic beasts with the ability to spot sentries and fight back against targets that kill their owner.
The biggest change we see however is something that represents the psychic potential of the Delaque – for 30 points you can now make your leader a Psyker and gain access to one of 3 new Psychic Power disciplines – Madness, Delusion and Darkness.
Madness is based around fear and insanity with powers that can make targets insane, make enemy gangers unable to rally or even lose their ready markers!
Delusion is the power of playing with the minds of their opponents, giving us some amazing abilities like immediately pinning someone, turning their facing, making them see all friendly fighters as enemies or even making them attack themselves with their own weapons!
Finally Darkness is the power of manipulating the shadow of the underhive itself and its oppressive and crushing lack of light. These powers are also brilliant with standouts being the ability to make all friendly fighters nearby untargetable by enemy tactics, force all nearby enemies to reroll all hits or even immediately take all nearby seriously injured fighters out of action!
I love these powers and am seriously going to have to consider tricking out my Leader and ALL my Champions with Psychic abilities. Oh, I didn’t mention that Champions can take these powers too?…
Yup, just like the Leader all of your Champions can also become Psykers for just 30 credits! This will of course make your already expensive Delaque gang a little shorter in numbers, but gives you the amazing opportunity to have specialists of all 3 Psychic disciplines spread throughout your gang to maximise the powers you have access to.
Like with the Master of Shadow the base cost is 10 credits cheaper, but again do not come with flak armour instead having to purchase it.
Next up we have one of the new editions in the book, an amazingly cool looking psychically crafted assassin. One part Shinobi, one part Cyberpunk, 100% awesome! This is a new Champion option rocking a 2+ WS and access to some nasty weapons such as a Shivver Sword (A Katana with Sever for when you absolutely, positively need someone to die a horrible death) or the even nastier Serpent’s Fangs (paired +2S combat claws that ignore saves and have rending) – as you can imagine both of those weapons are rather expensive putting a fully tricked out Nacht-Ghul at over 200 credits.
As they are master assassins they are also able to be set up at the start of any round anywhere on the board that is outside of 6″ of enemies and out of line of sight making these incredibly powerful fighters.
Like with the Master and Phantom you can also give them Psychic powers for 30 credits, making these a very expensive but very very deadly addition to your gang.
The basic Delaque ganger is back, and dont worry, these can’t take psychic powers! Like their brethren they are also 10 points cheaper but no longer come with flak armour as default.
As with the other House of books, when you build your gang you can upgrade a single one to a specialist giving them access to special weapons
Like the Ghosts, Juves are pretty much unchanged from their Gangs of the Underhive iteration, they still cost the same amount of credits, but no longer have a limit as to how many credits you can spend on them. It is worth noting however that they can now only start with pistols and close combat weapons – However with the credit restriction now dropped there’s even the option of giving your Juve a Web Pistol if you have credits to burn…
In addition to having the award for the punniest name in the book, the Psi-Gheists are the new elite Juve varient added in the new plastic set. Boasting slightly better stats than a vanilla Juve they are also Psykers by default with a power from their chosen discipline with the option of buying additional powers for 30 credits each.
In addition to having access to the Cephalopod Spektor, they can also take Psychoteric Wyrms – these are an exotic beast that can burrow under terrain in order to range forward from the Psy-Gheist and then act as a location to cast powers from, with all distance and line of sight being drawn from the Wyrm. As these can even pass under unpassable terrain this is an amazing way of putting some psychic threat deep into your opponent’s half of the table – your caster does need to be within 12″ of the wyrm though, so you can’t completely hide away!
Making these guys even better is the ability to give these Psychomancer Harnesses – these increase their movement and count all climbing as if it was up a ladder, and also equips them with some nasty weapons that ignore saves and have the Shock ability, auto wounding on any hit of 6. As with the Nacht-Ghul upgrades however these are quite expensive putting your Psy-Ghiest closer to the 200 points mark.
The New Kit!
Before we move on I feel we need to share some shots of the new kit that contains the options for these new models – as with other Necromunda kits you get two duplicate sprues – however it is worth pointing out that the Piscean Spektor and the Psychomancer harness both share parts – so you can build one of each or 2 of either one of them – so just keep that in mind when deciding on your gang!
Hangers-On, Brutes and Strong Alliances
Something we have seen throughout the House of books is additions to the various Hangers-on and Brutes that you can include in your gangs and the Strong Alliances you can make with lesser houses, guilds and organisations. While we get a little bit of overlap with some other books in the series, I’ll just detail the new ones included here for the first time.
The Thralls are members of other gangs who are connected to the Psychoterica that binds all members of house Delaque together – due to this, when you purchase one you actually note which gang it was originally from and if you are ever fighting that gang their members will suffer negative leadership and willpower modifiers while nearby (Other gangs are affected by this, but to a lesser extent)
They also act as psychic beacons in a similar way to the wyrms, extending the range of powers.
I feel these are a pretty cool addition, if only for the opportunity to model up a Delaque follower from another house!
Spykers are essentially weaponised Psykers, loaded full of drugs and herded towards the enemy. They come with 3 powers, one that can cause enemy targets to run for cover, one that causes wounds and pinning on a failed willpower test and a final one that can push a target D3+1 inches – and yes, you can psychically push targets off platforms with this!
This is an interesting addition that can be taken by any gang (Though Delaque get a substantial discount) that essentially allows you to change any Determine Scenario, Choose Crews, Receive Rewards or Seek Rare or Illegal equipment roll to a 6. This can be used 6 times over the course of the campaign with you having to re-hire the Merchant if you want him in the gang for another 6 attempts. Seems a no-brainer in a Delaque gang as will easily pay for himself by making a reward roll into a 6.
This is a new Delaque only brute clocking in at just over 200 credits. Not only is it a combat monster with the same Psychomantic claws that the Psy-Gheists can wield, but they are also Psykers too who can buy additional powers for 30 credits each.
Also the new model is gorgeous!
The Iron Guild
Not to be confused with the House of Iron, the Iron Guild are the organisation that deals with the raw materials on Necromunda, both raw ore and weapons.
This Allegiance unlocks the ability to get a discount of D3x10 on all weapons available at the trading post and reduces the rarity of all weapons by two.
The downside is that any excess weapons you hold between games must be handed over to the guild – so no buying surplus cheap to arm future gang members!
They can also supply D3+2 Hive Scum to assist gangs with lower ratings, something that may give Delaque gangs that start with low numbers a bit of a hand in the starting games of a campaign.
If you want your gang to have horrific nightmares and attract the attention of the authorities then you could ally yourself with the Psi-Syndica – this is a criminal organisation dealing in the trafficking of Psykers. As you can imagine this gives you access to some pretty decent psychic output in the form of a combat psyker who joins your gang – however the aforementioned nightmares caused by its presence can force your fighters to sit out of battles due to lack of sleep and the attraction of the anti-psyker authorities can cause injuries on your gang between games.
Claiming to be the descendants of the legendary Nihon Empire of Terra, House Ty are absolutely on brand for a dash of Oriental Cyberpunk in the Underhive. They deal with Psychic training allowing one of your gang members to gain access to a psychic discipline or to gain an additional power from a discipline they already know.
In addition to this you can also bring an Onmyodo Coven to your battles – This consists of a Sanctioned Psyker in the form of percaline skinned Geisha styled telepath and her associate, a specially trained Null who can shut down psychic powers completely (Something that might be very handy for other gangs with the sudden influx of psychically active Delaque gangs!)
Like with the Psi-Syndica however this psychic influence gives your gang nightmares that can cause one of our fighters to start a game with a flesh wound.
Like with the other House of books we also get a host of additional rules to flesh out your campaigns. These include House Favours, allowing you to gamble for equipment, more gangers or the chance for extra XP with the always present threat of instead deleting one of your gangers due to insulting the Star Chamber.
We also see Delaque flavoured replacements for the Sub-Plots allowing you to theme these to your sneaky Delaque gang.
The Delaque get their own skill tree – Obfuscation with some pretty ace abilities:
Faceless – Makes enemy fighters have to pass a Willpower tests in order to shoot at them with any ranged weapon or even place a blast marker touching them! This is an amazing ability and will make your Leader really hard to deal with.
Psi-Touched – Allows the fighter to reroll willpower tests and always gives them access to the drug Ghast in the Black Market
Take Down – Allows you to capture any enemies taken out of action by that fighter on a 4+
Rumour Monger – Lets you reduce the reputation of a rival gang by D3 while increasing yours by the same amount.
Fake Out – You get to roll 3D6 when determining scenarios and pick the dice you want for the result
Doppelganger – If the enemy leader fails an Intelligence test at the start of the game you are allowed to take an extra fighter in your starting crew!
I think you’ll agree there’s some brilliant skills in that list!
To round up the book we also get Delaque Terrain rules (As with the other House of books I really hope we see some resin models to represent these at some point!), a pair of scenarios themed around spying and secret agendas that play into the web of lies that Delaque weave, and a reproduction of all the gang tactics in case you missed out on the cards.
So here we are with the final of the House of books for the original 6 Necromunda gangs – and I can honestly say this is one of my favourite book series put out from Games Workshop. They have managed to capture both the feeling of each of the gangs while enhancing and expanding the options available for them. House of Shadow is no exception, from a brilliant lore section, to some ace new gang options and a full array of 3 new psychic disciplines, House of Shadow finally gives Delaque gangs access to all the cool toys that the other 5 gangs have had in the House of seres.
So what does the future hold? Well we know that this isn’t the end of Necromunda content from Games Workshop and that towards of the year we will see a new gang – and that is a very exciting concept! At this point we don’t know if it will be one of the old expansion gangs reimagined, or if they will create something brand new. Personally, as much as I would like to see Spyrers, I kind of hope we see something truly new for Necromunda – some of my favourite parts of this series have been the slices of things that we have not seen before, the wacky, the weird, the dark – Could we maybe see a gang based around a new Xeno race we have not encountered before? Maybe expand the generic Chaos Cult list into their own gang? Or maybe a brand new house with a completely different aesthetic as an exciting new addition to the range? Whatever we get, I can’t wait to see it – and I look forward to seeing you all in the Underhive again soon.
Necromunda House of Shadow is available to pre order now and is released on Saturday 7th August
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a free copy of House of Shadow and the Delaque Specialists kit for review purposes