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Publisher(s)Games Workshop/Specialist Games
Years active1995 onwards
Playing time60 minutes[1]
Random chanceHigh (dice rolling)

Necromunda is a skirmish tabletop war game that was produced by Specialist Games (a division of Games Workshop).

In Necromunda, players control rival gangs battling each other in the Underhive, a place of anarchy and violence in the depths below the Hive City. As in its parent game Warhammer 40,000, play uses 28 mm miniatures (approximately 1:56) and terrain (in this case, the Underhive – a heavily polluted, underground industrial environment).

Being a skirmish game, gangs are usually limited to around nine models, but as a result game play can become more detailed. Unlike Warhammer 40,000, Necromunda also allows players to develop their gangs between battles, gaining experience, gaining and losing new members or equipment, according to a set of rules. Gangs which frequently win games acquire more credits (money) and fewer injuries and so are able to grow throughout a campaign.

Rules-wise, the game draws heavily from the second edition of Warhammer 40,000, and the ruleset is commonly considered to be better-suited for the type of skirmish games Necromunda encourages.

Necromunda also stands out from most other games by Games Workshop by having a more 3-dimensional table layout, with buildings generally having multiple floors, interconnecting walkways and bridges. The terrain is constructed to simulate a hive city on the planet Necromunda, a dystopian futuristic city resembling a termite mound many miles high.

Game setting[edit]

In the game of Necromunda, the eponymous setting is a world covered in polluted ash wastes, the result of thousands of years of heavy industry with no kinds of environmental safeguards whatsoever. Scattered amidst these seas of effluent and unstable continents of compacted dross and ash are between six and nine (the source material is inconsistent) hive cities. These are massive man-made structures, reminiscent of termite mounds on a staggering scale. So large that they break through the upper atmosphere and can serve as tethering points for star ships, the hive cities are described as housing over a trillion people each.

This purpose of a "hive world" like Necromunda, is to be a manufacturing center to provide equipment for the boundless legions of the Imperial Guard and Space Marines, as well as lay down new hulls for the Imperial Navy. The hive cities produce billions of tons of manufactured goods daily. In return for these services the hives are described as being supplied with billions of tons of food and raw ore every day, serviced by bevies of ships that make commutes between the hive world and neighboring planets that are mining or agricultural worlds.

Houses of Hive Primus[edit]

In the game the population of the hive city is divided into several 'houses' of genetically distinct people, who apparently do not mix or interbreed, they serve as the various factions for the players to control to play the game. The houses are described as such:


House Orlock is known as the House of Iron because its foundations lie upon deep ferrous slag pits. This massive resource has led to the largest profession in the house to be miners. While not only iron miners, this is their largest export. They have an exclusive contract with House Ulanti (Mad Donna’s House) for export of raw materials that they took from House Delaque through questionable means.[2]

The structure of the House is significantly different due to its size. No single rule, but rather groups of families ally to form power structures within Orlock. A figurehead is maintained to make relations with other houses easier & has the secondary effect of keeping House Orlock strong despite its fractious nature. Something of a microcosm of Hive Primus in general. Not only because of its size, but because it is centrally located, Orlock borders all other houses. Along with marriages, most notably the current Lady Ko’Iron, House Orlock is ideally situated for trade with all other houses. Even Escher have a respect for Orlock due to how much power women wield in the house. The notable exception to these good relations is House Delaque who are bitter over the loss of the Ulanti Contract, but they only share a mile long border.[3] This rivalry makes the employ of Seek and Destroy to Nemo particularly odd.[4]

Due to their familial structure, gangs are usually an extension of that. Gangs members tend to be older and are more likely to be female than most other houses because they are frequently families themselves. This makes gangs better organized and more willing to work with other Orlock gangs than other houses. The downside to this familial bond is when there are Orlock rivalries they are much more bloody than in other houses.[3] As is probably true of most gangs, they are not adverse to slaving if the money is right Cardinal Crimson and their garb tends to be classic biker look. Official models & artwork.[5]

From a player perspective, Orlock are considered the "default" house with no notable strengths or weaknesses, with their gangers getting access to Combat, Ferocity, and Shooting skills.


House Cawdor is the stronghold of the Cult of Redemption. For this reason all of the gangers wear masks in public to hide their faces from the 'infidels' of the other houses. They are known to hunt mutants and heretics to the point of fanaticism (part of the Redemptionist influence) which bring them into conflict with gangs who would utilize them.

From a player perspective House Cawdor is a fast moving close combat house with the gangsters having access to Combat, Ferocity, and Agility skills.


Other hivers are justifiably suspicious of House Delaque, who specialise in spying and assassination. The gangers often wear large trench coats, with large internal pockets for concealing weapons and other large items. Most are bald and extremely pale. Many wear visors, goggles or have light filters implanted into their eyes, a sensitivity to light being a common Delaque weakness. Delaque territory is even more dimly lit than the rest of the hive, fitting for a people who are shrouded in mystery.

From a player perspective House Delaque are the ranged specialists, with their gangers having access to Shooting, Agility, and Stealth skills.


Strikingly different from the other houses, the Escher population is almost entirely made up of women. The few men that are there are shrivelled and imbecilic and play no part in the normal affairs of the Escher. Men are held in contempt and pitied by the Escher, especially those of House Goliath who are seen as simple, brutish and unsophisticated.

From a player perspective, House Escher are a fast moving and hard to hit close combat gang with their gangers having access to Combat, Agility, and Stealth skills.


The domain of House Goliath is situated unfavourably within Hive City and occupies some of the deepest and harshest areas. By way of compensation the Goliaths are tough and persistent by inclination. They consider the hivers of other Houses to be soft and slack. In truth all hivers are naturally robust, being inured to the toxins and deprivations which they accept unquestioningly as part of normal life. The Goliaths, however, take a stubborn pride in their ability to endure hardship. The other Houses see the Goliaths as barbaric, and unpredictable. Goliath institutions such as the fighting pits and the Feast of the Fallen do nothing to dispel the impression of a violent people inimical to their neighbours. Size and strength are seen as the measure of a man. Their style of dress emphasises a preoccupation with physique, featuring weighty chains and spiked metal bracers.[6]

From a player perspective, House Goliath are a slow moving close combat gang, being the only house to have gangers with access to Strength skills, and also having Combat and Ferocity skills.

Van Saar[edit]

House Van Saar is renowned for the quality of its technical products. Its technology is no more advanced than that of anyone else, technological progress being almost non-existent throughout the Imperium of Man, but the manufacturing processes are precise and its finished materials are of the highest quality. The Noble Houses pay a premium for Van Saar goods, and as a result the House is probably the most wealthy in Hive City. The Van Saar are marked out by their tight-fitting body-suits which help to sustain them in the harsh hive environment. Semi-permeable membranes in the suit reduce the loss of body moisture whilst various spots on the material change color to warn the wearer of airborne toxins and reduced oxygen levels. Older Van Saar are often seen sporting a neatly trimmed beard. [6]

From a player perspective, House Van Saar are the only house whose gangers have access to tech skills - and they back this up with shooting and combat skills.

Other groups[edit]


The Enforcers are the chief source of law enforcement in the underhive of Necromunda. Modelled closely after the Adeptus Arbites, the Enforcers apply the laws set down by the High Lords of Terra with an iron fist. Equipped with heavy armour and sophisticated weapons and equipment, Enforcer patrol teams quell riots, suppress inter-gang warfare as much as possible, and monitor mercantile trade to ensure compliance with imperial law [1].

It is important to note that the Enforcers, while maintaining an organizational structure similar to that of the Adeptus Arbites, is in fact a separate force. The Adeptus Arbites enforce Imperial law on a galactic scale, whereas the Enforcers maintain order within the confines of Hive Primus.

From a player perspective, you always have ten enforcers, but only use five in most battles. They are all well equipped and reliable but almost invariably outnumbered.

The Cult of the Emperor's Redemption[edit]

A nod to Laserburn—the 15 mm tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 evolved from—the Redemptionists have an extreme hatred of mutants and deviants from the Imperial creed. The most dedicated among them take up arms and hunt these mutants and deviants. They often wear red robes decorated with flame motifs and favor incendiary weaponry. House Cawdor lends much support to the cult of Redemption and have gone so far as to adopt it as their official religion. Their favoured weapon is the flamer, as the Redemptionist war cry is "Cleanse with blood and with flame!"

From a player perspective, the Redemptionists are chiefly known for two things; the one-shot flamers they can buy cheaply and put in two handed weapons and the ability for the Priest leading many such gangs to convert captured enemies.

Pit Slaves[edit]

Slaves of the Guilders with appendages replaced by industrial tools such as giant saws and drills. When a group of slaves escapes, they already have weapons to help them survive along with experience gained in gladiator style combat they are often pressed into.

From a player perspective, Pit Slaves are all experienced and expensive, having no cannon fodder. They also all have one of their arms replaced by an expensive close combat weapon.


The Ratskin tribes have lived within the underhive for millennia and treat it as a god, generous in its bounty and merciless in its vengeance. They have little to do with the hivers and are rarely encountered, preferring to steer clear of the heathens who desecrate their sacred hive by poisoning its sacred places.

From a player perspective, Ratskins are a fast close combat gang with no heavies to provide covering fire. They are also less affected by attrition than most gangs; injured Ratskins may re-roll the injury table results at the end of the battle, but they must accept the second result.


Scavvies are humans with mutations too obvious to hide, banished from normal settlements. In Scavvie gangs, the very dregs of society scrape out an existence robbing guilder caravans, raiding isolated settlements and just generally scavenging whatever they can to survive. Their bands often include a stable sub-species of mutant, the giant reptilian Scalies. Scavvies have often been known to use bait to lure Plague zombies to attack rival gangs during their raids.

From a player perspective, Scavvies do not get anyone who carries heavy weapons and are not good at ranged attacks in general. On the other hand, the Scalies are the most powerful default close combat troops in the game, and they get a random number of disposable troops, such as plague zombies, for free each battle, providing them with targets that allow the rest of the gang to advance safely.

Spyre Hunters[edit]

Young nobles from the Spire come down to hunt underhive gangsters and thereby prove their worth in a world of ruthless politics, plotting, and assassination. Spyre gangs are few in number, and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry (this can include heavily customized power armor). It is reported that they get at least some of their technology from trading with the Tau Empire.[7]

From a player perspective, Spyre Hunters are a very small and extremely well equipped elite gang, and are the only gang that can not replace any casualties they suffer.

Alternative gangs[edit]

In addition to the gang types supported by the rulebooks, various Games Workshop publications have introduced new groups, sometimes supported by mail-order only model ranges, including Ash Waste Gangsters, Imperial Guard, various Chaos Cult gangs, Genestealer Cults, Ork warbands, and Squat Miners. [8]


Necromunda was spun off from a previous attempt of Games Workshop to popularize a set of rules for low-key skirmish battles in a hive world setting. White Dwarf magazine published such a ruleset between autumn and winter 1990–91 dubbing it "Confrontation". It was set on the hive world of Necromunda but made no reference to houses and such, instead concentrating itself on the various types of gangs: clan warriors from the spires, brat 'poseurs' from the upper levels which went 'down' to experience the thrills of lowlife, undercity mutants, diseased scavengers from the toxic wastes and the Adeptus Arbites ever-ready to deal swift and summary "Judge Dredd"-like justice.

The miniatures released for this game were designed by John Blanche. The game background also included some elements later re-used in Necromunda, such as the 'spook' psychic drug, and some which were disregarded, such as the 'caryatids', largely unexplained blue skinned cherubs which were presented as unique and integral to Necromundan life.

Compared to the current Necromunda, Confrontation had a more complex system for resolving combat, particularly firing—portions of which were similar in style to Laserburn, a miniatures game which had influenced Warhammer 40,000.

On 13th August 2017, Games Workshop announced that a new edition of the game was in development.[9] The new version, titled Necromunda: Underhive was released on 24/11/2017 with gangs Escher and Goliath. [10] More gangs followed in 2018, and now all six major houses are represented. In addition, a range of characters are also available. In March 2019, the Ambot kit was released, giving players the chance to field powerful close combat ‘androids’ for the first time. [11]


Mark Donald reviewed Necromunda for Arcane magazine, rating it an 8 out of 10 overall.[12] Donald comments that "It's a spawn of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and the family resemblance is marked, but this time there's a rumble in the concrete jungle. And fortunately, you're in the thick of it."[12]


  1. ^ a b "BoardGameGeek profile of Necromunda". Retrieved 2007-09-30.
  2. ^ "Necromunda Living Rulebook by Andy Hall".
  3. ^ a b "House of Iron".
  4. ^ "The Complete Kal Jerico by Will McDermott, et al".
  5. ^ "Necromunda Catalog".
  6. ^ a b Necromunda Community Rulebook
  7. ^ Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete; McNeill, Graham (2001). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Tau. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-098-6.
  8. ^ "YakTribe Library".
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Donald, Mark (December 1995). "Games Reviews". Arcane. Future Publishing (1): 60–61.

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