Necromunda Ash Wastes Unboxing and Review
The underhives of Necromunda are a horrific existence, where gangs fight for existence and influence in a life of grim combat and survival. Many dream of an existence beyond the hives, but in Necromunda Ash Wastes, up for pre order today, we learn of the ash caked nightmare world outside the grime of the underhive and just what perils await in the dunes!
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a copy of Necromunda Ash Wastes early to review and share with you all! If you would like to support the site then why not order your copy through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too!
We have also filmed a full unboxing of the new Ash Wastes set and go through the entire rulebook, so if you would rather watch and read this review then check that out below or over on YouTube
Still with us? Then let’s mount up and head into the far wastes as we battle over the roads of Necromunda!
Necromunda Ash Wastes Unboxing and Review
First things first, Necromunda Ash Wastes is a massive box! If you have picked up Dark Uprising then this is a similar size and is absolutely bursting with sprues! Let’s take a look at what is included. First up we have the only existing kit in the box, the Orlocks:
While an older kit, this is still a great set and assembles the core of an Orlock gang – incidentally, this can be further expanded with the separately available upgrade sprue to give you a wide range of choices in how you outfit your gang.
Included in the box alongside this is the first new kit in the set, the Orlock Outrider Quads – Acting as a quadbike with a mounted weapon, this is the first plastic vehicle kit for the Necromunda range and offers some nice customisation options having a number of different heads for both the driver and gunner, and 2 weapon choices – this means you can build both of the two quads in the box differently for some variety
As you can see the kit looks really nice when painted up to – While a lot of the miniature photography doesnt actually include them, the Quads can be mounted on oval bases which I find a nice way of matching the basing scheme of your gang with your vehicles.
Next up is the brand new gang included in the box, the Ash Waste Nomads – and they are very cool. Looking like a Warhammer take on Tuskan Raiders, the Nomads have tattered robes and salvaged gear that point to their nomadic and scavenger lifestyle. Like with other Necromunda gangs, each sprue makes 5 models with a wide selection of heads and weapons to ensure you can have a varied gang and outfit them with the weapons you want! I suspect down the line we will also see an upgrade frame for these giving them access to some more specialist wargear.
My favourite kit for the Nomads however have to be the Nomad Dust Riders atop their Dustback Helamites
As you can see from the assembled pictures above, the Helamites are gorgeously weird, with an utterly alien giant flea look to them gelling really nicely with the rider atop! Again you get a range of weapon options and poses, meaning that you can have 4 different looking Dust Riders from the set! I suspect we will see some different mounts for the Nomads in the future, and am excited about what we might see as a “vehicle” equivalent for them that could go up against the trucks the other gangs will be bringing out to the Wastes!
The real star of the show however is the new scenery, and as a bit of a scenery nerd I fell in love with it immediately! You get a LOT of frames of this, comparable with the volume of Zone Mortalis sprues contained in the Dark Uprising box and it covers what I suspect will be two different types of scenery set when this is released separately
The first are the large “Hab Buildings” these can be built either as a large platform with a central stack with is actually very modular and can go together in multiple ways (adding some interest when you have multiples on the table) or as a large enclosed building with fully detailed interior and removeable lid so that you can place miniatures within them! Again, these are very modular and can actually be constructed at multiple heights and there’s a lot of additional detailing and objects of interest that can be attached to change the profiles of these structures.
A lot of these elements can actually be just clipped in place and are removeable allowing you to put together your scenery in multiple layouts, which is great for replayablity and means that with clever packing you can actually get the assembled scenery back in the box again for storage if you lay the Hab Buildings on their sides and pack the remaining elements around them
Speaking of remaining elements you also get a couple of smaller platforms – again these are very modular and can go together in multiple ways, and again are compatible with the removeable elements allowing you to have platforms with ladders and guard rails, or not as the mood takes you! A lot of the connections throughout these kits look to be universal meaning that a creative builder might be able to construct some really cool creations such as a multi story dwelling, or a series of platforms reaching into the sky!
Binding all these separate elements together are a series of platforms that clip to the individual structures and allow you to create the multi level environment of your dreams! Compared the the claustrophobic confines of the Zone Mortalis, I found the new structures and gantries allow for some really fun environments offering powerful but also dangerous vantage points, along with hiding spots of gangers looking to get out of the dangerous sands below!
Finally, you also get a Necromunda barricades and loot chests sprue, giving you all the plastic components you need to play a game of Necromunda!
You also get a full 3×3 gaming surface to use for your games of Ash Wastes, and I was plsently surprised at the quality – while it is very going to match a mouse-mat material surface, it is great to be able to use alongside the contents of the box to have a full environment ready for your games! it’s also double sided too allowing you to represent games both at night and day!
As you can see, there is a lot of plastic in the box – When this is available separately I suspect we will see 2 boxes like with the Zone Mortalis range, one containing a Hab Building and a large platform along with accessory and detailing sprue, and another containing a pair of small platforms and a set of platforms. If this is priced similar to the Zone Mortalis kits then this would put the value of scenery in the box at around the £120 – £150 mark which is a considerable chunk of the RRP of this box. Considering you also get 4 gang kits (Priced separately at £28 each – or £112 in total) then you are looking at the plastic components in the box having a combined value of at least £242 before you add in the Hardback rulebook, cards and dice also included in the set – which for me makes this a great buy if you would be looking to buy all this stuff separately anyway.
Speaking of the other bits in the box, you get a full set of Necromunda dice (Including the new Vehicle Dice used in Ash Wastes games), a range ruler, bases for all the miniatures, a sheet of tokens and a plastic template set in orange
There’s also a lot of cardboard in the set, with Gang Member cards, new Vehicle Cards to track your vehicle stats and upgrades (more on this when we get to the rules), Ash Wastes tactics cards and a full set of cards to use alongside the new Ash Wastes campaign included in the rule book!
Also included is a pair of Ash Wastes reference sheets that call out some of the new rules that have been introduced to the game alongside some useful existing ones.
Before we get to the big hardback rulebook we also get a booklet containing the assembly constructions and introductory gang lists.
This is well worth pointing out to anyone getting ready to venture out into the Ash Wastes, but the Ash Wastes Rulebook does not actually contain any profiles or gang lists (I suspect we will see a “House of Ash” style book soon after release with the full Ash Waste Nomads list and a range of vehicles available to gangs)
Instead, we get some introductory gang lists that let you play with the contents out of the box and start your campaign before the full rules follow.
We get introductory lists for both gangs in the box, however their options are limited to gear that is on the sprues in the box, with the guide suggesting that this is used alongside House of Iron and future supplements in order to gain access to the full range of options available to the gangs on offer here.
These lists work perfectly well for getting a gang together using the forces in the box, though this does make me wish the book containing the full gang lists was released alongside this set, as I suspect some groups may want to restart a campaign once that drops in order to include all the new toys.
We do however get a nice look into what the Nomads will look like as a gang – for a start the Helamite riders are prospects, which is great for skilling them up and perhaps points at a Champion level creature rider being part of the full gang. They also get some cool weapons such as a Strength 6 range 40 rocket launcher that deals 3 damage (Perfect for popping open light vehicles!) and a S+2 lance for fighting from atop your mounts! The Helamites give the rider the “Mounted” condition and increases their movement to 8 along with granting them the Mighty Leap ability.
The Quads for the Orlocks are a light vehicle with T4 at the front and 3 to the sides and rear and just 2 wounds – however they are very manurable and agile, with a harpoon launcher or Heavy Bolter mounted on top makes them a really nasty (and fast) gun platform if expensive from a credits point of view.
Sadly this also means that at this moment I don’t have the rules for any upcoming vehicles inclsuing the amazing looking Ridgehauler – and I eagerly await the upcoming book with all this in very much!
Ash Wastes Rulebook
So onto the Ash Wastes rulebook – and first things first this is a big chunky book! Clocking in at 177 pages this contains lore and background about the Ash Wastes, the full and expanded rules for games of Necromunda in the Ash Wastes, updated Skill lists that include skills for vehicles, the gang tactics included within the box and a full Ash Wastes campaign including 13 scenarios that while the majority are designed for games out in the Wastes, many of which can also be played using Zone Mortalis rules!
In the book we learn about Cinderak Crater and the surrounding areas. It seems that during one of the many periods of political backstabbing over the planet of Necromunda, Gothrul Helmawr had attempted to starve Hive Primis by sabotaging the Plasma Reactor of Hive Meridian, which at the time was a key food producer on the planet. Unsurprisingly, tampering with the plasma reactor of a hive is a terrible idea, and the resulting detonation left a kilometre deep crater with the remains of the hive being scattered around for hundreds of kilometres. Cinderak Helmawr, Gothrul’s sister, ultimately defeated her brother, and a major settlement Cinderak City was formed over the remains of Meridian.
Cinderak City, being the largest settlement in all of the Ash Wastes has grown to become a location of much importance due to the intersection of major roads and transport arteries across the planet. As much it has attracted the interest of not only the Houses of Necromunda, who are looking to take control of the roads and territories for both taxation and claiming optimum transport links, but also for the criminal underworld and raiders who take advantage of the lawless wastes between major landmarks.
This all sets up Ash Wastes as a way to play out these conflicts and the various factions of Necromunda look to control and fight over these key routes and locations.
We also potentially get some glimpses into the future with details of a faction known as the UMC (The Ultarnos Mining Combine), an organisation of prospectors with a large Squat population who travel the travel the dunes in vehicles called Crawlers and operate as agents of both the Mercator Guild and the House of Iron. I very much hope this leads to a Sqaut mining faction in the game! Or at least a sand crawler vehicle that can be hired for any allied gang!
We also learn about the environments and weather of the planet, and how generally speaking any time is a terrible time to cross the wastes, with extreme weather cycles and even more dangerous places outside the reach of the agents of Lord Helmawr such as the Deep Wastes where the Nomads and more terrible things hunt…
In the book we get the full and expanded rules for playing games of Necromunda! This is great as at first I suspected we would just get the “new” stuff for Ash Wastes such as Vehicles and Mounts – but by combining this with the existing rules for the game we get a one-stop-shop for Necromunda Rules and means you can just take along this new core book when you want to play games. Now this doesn’t mean you will want to throw out your existing rulebooks, as the campaigns contained within older volumes will still be useful if you want to play games in other environments – but it means that new players have everything they need to get started within this box, which is great!
If you have played the current incarnation of the game then the majority of rules within have not changed – so for the purposes of this review I’ll be taking a look at what has been added, namely Vehicles and Mounts and how this will change games of Necromunda!
One of the first things to be aware of is that vehicles are a single entity including the crew. Unlike Gorkamorka where you bought a vehicle and then bought drivers and gunners for them as a separate entity, in Necromunda Ash Wastes vehicles are a single model that acts as one entity and can get damaged, gain experience and earn skills as a single Vehicle Card. This is a good thing, as it means you don’t have to worry about tracking your driver or gunner experience separately – both will contribute to the overall Vehicle experience as a single statline, reducing what could have been a lot of book keeping and busy work if you for example lost a driver and needed to replace them.
There are advantages to a vehicle with more crew, as they can have multiple vision arcs to represent what each gunner can see – while this is not something that crops up with the contents of the box, I suspect we will see vehicles that perhaps have guns in each vision arc, giving you more things to think about when playing your games.
Just like with fighters, vehicles can be in a number of statuses – namely mobile and stationary. A mobile vehicle is one that can move around the battlefield, where a stationary is one that has either stalled and needs restarting (leading to some particularly cinematic moments as the driver attempts and fails to restart the engine as a rival gang rapidly approaches) or wrecked altogether and can no longer move!
Vehicles get some unique actions. some of these allowing them to cover much more distance than fighters on foot – for example Move & Shoot is a basic action that allows you to move and fire a single weapon – allowing you to combine this with a move action to cover quite some distance while still shooting! Equally drivers can put their foot down for a Full Throttle double action that allows them to move move 3 times it’s movement at the risk of a Loss of Control test if they turn at any point. As with Gorkamorka, vehicles can ram each other (And this can be devastating with damage based on the speed it was moving) and yes, you can run over fighters too, with the poor target getting a chance to leap aside or else be squished under the wheels!
We get some considerable new rules for resolving damage against vehicles – in contrast with fighters each vehicles can have different toughness in different locations, meaning that enemies will want to try and get behind them in order to maximise their efficiency of shooting them. 2 new dice are also used – one that determines where they have been hit (Body, Engine Crew or Drive) and another that is rolled for each point of damage caused representing the severity of the hit (Glance, penetrating or catastrophic) – based on the outcome of these dice it will determine what has happened to the vehicle – so for example a glancing hit on the drive may force a Loss of Control check (a test done against the handling skill of the vehicle, if failed it may cause the vehicle to turn, spin or even flip over immediately destroying it) where a catastrophic hit on a crew member could cause the driver to black out resulting in the vehicle going out of control, potentially hitting friendly fighters! I really like this system and makes for some really fun encounters where your vehicles could be as much as a liability to your own gang if you are not careful with positioning!
Like with fighters vehicles can both gain experience and earn skills, and equally take lasting damage that persists over a campaign.
Mounts have also been added in Ash Wastes and these are a bit of a double edged sword – they are able to move within 1″ of enemy fighters and make an attack as they pass, however instead of getting pinned they get knocked down (Insert Chumbawumba reference) taking damage and making them have to pass a test in order to get back up again. As a mounted fighter would be as good as dead without their mount the system doesn’t allow mounts and riders to be separated during a fight – however you are allowed to create a fighter card representing them without the mount if you ever want to use them in a mission without their steed even if they do not have the tools of the trade rule. I wonder if we will see some of the other “mounted” units such as the hoverboards given this rule retrospectively in future suppliments.
Gang construction rules have also been updated to take account for Ash Wastes games, with any campaigns taking place in the wastes getting an additional 400 credits at construction that can only be spent on vehicles or mounts, which is a nice way of giving you enough cash to get started with a couple of vehicles or mounts at gang creation.
The Ash Wastes Campaign
The other big thing included in the book is the Ash Wastes Campaign – this allows a group of players to fight over the road systems of Necromunda, trying to gain key routes that link together critical areas that offer substantial bonuses for your gangs!
Each gang starts with a selection of roads, and over the course of the campaign the gangs will fight for control of them in order to have full passage between two areas.
So for example, just controlling the road known as “The Flats” might give you an income of 3D6 credits during the campaign, holding all three roads that cover the route between Cinderak City and the Ash Storm Observatory gives you access to a free bounty hunter in addition to the cash for each road section. This leads to some really fun gameplay as rival gangs may team up to deny a rival a key trade route – I also feel this will work amazingly with a big map of the Cinderak Crater on the gaming room wall to represent the routes you are fighting over.
Brilliantly, the game comes with cards for each road section and for each completed trade route so that each player has physical cards to represent what they control and the bonuses they have which I feel really adds to this campaign system. What’s really cool is that there are multiple routes to each location, meaning a cunning player could look to go “the long way” but still have an unbroken chain to two locations that may take other players by surprise who might have only been looking at the direct routes.
I can see a lot of betrayal and backstabbing happening in this campaign, and that always makes for an amazing Necromunda campaign!
With the locations being spread across the near wastes, deep wastes and wild wastes, the location you are fighting over also determines which missions you fight, with more rural areas having suitably fitting scenarios – which again adds to the feeling that you are fighting over actual locations with their own landmarks and personalities
With the seasons of Necromunda flipping violently from one to the next, the campaign is set over 2 seasons split by a period of downtime – in the first “The Season Flame” we get soaring temperatures, thunderstorms and even flame erupting from the ground all with their own in game effects, while in the “Season of Ash” we get sandstorms and gloom that affects visibility. These weather effects are determined with a roll on a chart during a game, and this is further amplified by the different locations having their own environment charts to roll on – as after all, even the sands of the desert itself could be a threat, sometimes causing stationary vehicles to sink, or perhaps acting as difficult terrain. This makes sure that while the environments are more sparse than the Underhive, the battlefield itself can be dangerous and open ground needs to be given up for strategic locations, making the scenery pieces on the battlefield important tactical points to fight over. As these charts differ based on location it can make you think about the optimal route you want to take in order to connect trade routes – and a wise player may use that against you causing you to have to pick fights in less than ideal environments.
What’s great is that you could easily mix in some Zone Mortalis games to represent your forces heading into a hive to get supplies, or right a Sector Mechanicus battle to represent the more built up urban environments – you don’t have to stay out in the wastes for the entire campaign!
Speaking of scenarios we get a nice mixture including rolling road missions (Or what I like to call “Scooby Doo” missions) where everything on the board (all scenery and models) is constantly moving 8″ towards the opposite board edge, and as such a model needs to move 8″ a turn to just stay stationary in order to represent a series of vehicles racing or a convoy being ambushed by a rival gang – new scenery is placed randomly on the leading board edge too, meaning you don’t want to put your put down too hard or risk driving into an unseen obstacle!
We also see some really fun scenarios that play around with vehicles, such for example one where both gangs are running on fumes and there’s a chance the vehicles run out and stall, or a game where a single vehicle has broken down and the gang has to get it running and off the battlefield before the rival gang can destroy it! Or what about an old school western style shoot out in a frontier town? There’s so much exciting stuff here that builds a narrative and adds excitement to a Necromunda campaign! Oh and there’s a Death Race scenario for all you Wacky Races fans – win the race over 8 turns while also trying to destroy your rivals!
The book also includes a full appendix detailing skills (Including the new Driving skill table including some cool stuff such as forcing the vehicle to go D3 inches faster at the risk of blowing the engine), the new Ash Wastes Gang tactics (also included as cards within the box) and miniature gallery and summery charts. I feel the team has tried to make sure that people playing games in the Ash Wastes have everything they need to run a game in this updated rulebook.
So what do I think of Necromunda Ash Wastes and is it worth the money? With a £180 price tag this is a box at a premium, but I honestly think this is good value for money. As seen earlier, just the plastic kits along would be at least £240 if you were to by them separately and you are also getting an updated Hardback Necromunda Rulebook including an absolutely amazing campaign system to sweeten the deal too! Add in all the cards, dice and tokens and you are getting everything you need to start a Necromunda campaign including two full gangs, a battlefield and all the scenery you will need for games of Ash Wastes!
The new additions are very fun and I can’t wait to see the full rules for all the upcoming vehicles! And that, if anything, is the only thing that makes me score this a little lower – the fact that we will all want to pick up the supplemental books that follow this. Necromunda players are no strangers to having a small library of books, and Necromunda books are one of my favourite releases by Games Workshop – I am always hungry to consume these cover to cover, and Ash Wastes leaves me eager to see what the rest of the gangs will get to allow them to compete in the Ash Wastes alongside the full Nomads gang list. I can’t imagine this being released long after this boxed set, I just wish I had been up for pre order the same day! that said, the quick start gang lists contain everything you need to use the models in the box including stat lines and special rules, and ultimately that’s what this set is – a self contained Necromunda campaign in a box – split this with a friend and you will have tons of replicability and the potential to expand further if Necromunda gets its hooks into you!
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a copy of Ash Wastes for review purposes
Necromunda Ash Wastes is up for pre order today and is released Saturday 7th May