This week I finally got my hands on the new Necromunda book Cinderak Burning. There’s lots of cool stuff in this book, but I was specifically interested in the new campaign format. So in this video, I’m going to go back to the core rule book and the Dominion Campaign and give an overview of that, then we’ll head over to Cinderak Burning and we’ll see what’s different about the new campaign.
Right, lets get stuck in.
At it’s core, the Necromunda campaign system is very simple. You play games. From those games your fighters get experience points that they can spend on advancements. Your gang gets some credits that you can spend on more fighters or better gear. You’ll also gain reputation which can open up some options like Brutes or Hangers on.
During those games, fighters are going to get injured and die, vehicles will get damaged and explode. Winning games gets you more credits and reputation, but even losing will get you some.
This does a great job of portraying the story of Necromunda, it all makes sense narratively. As we’ll see however, Necromunda isn’t always fair.
For fighters to get better, they have to spend experience points. The main ways for a fighter to gain experience are to turn up to a battle, to take opposing fighters out of action, and if they break but then rally and return to the fight. Each of those will give 1 experience point. The scenario can give additional ways for a fighter to earn experience, but it’s typically slim on the ground.
Once they have enough, fighters turn experience into advancements, which typically are bonuses to their characteristics. This results in a bit of a quirk with experience, your best fighters are going to be more likely to take out an opposing fighter because of that get more experience.
Fighters getting better is cool, but credits can buy you bigger guns. The amount of credits you get depends on the scenario, but a typical game will give the winner 1d6 x10 (so 10 to 60) credits and the loser gets 1d3 x 10 credits (10 to 30). There are additional ways to get credits that we’ll talk about later, but typically you get credits from playing games. There aren’t any maintenance fees you need to pay or taxes that need to be collected, so it’s all profit.
There is a high variance in the amount of credits you get, and you can have situations where the winner ends up with less credits than the loser. These really are the core driver behind your gang, so roll high.
The big credit sink is fighters dying. If a fighter hits 0 wounds, and most only have 1 to start, then your opponent rolls an injury dice to see how bad it is. The injury dice is a six sided dice with 2 Flesh Wound symbols, 3 Serious Injury symbols, and 1 Out of Action symbol.
A Flesh wound reduces their toughness by 1 for the remainder of the battle, but they can keep fighting.
A Serious Injury means they go down but stay on the battlefield facedown and can make a new injury roll at the end of each turn to see if they can recover.
Out of action removes them from the game immediately and they have to make a roll on the lasting injury table. This a D66 roll and 31 or higher means they’re badly injured missing the next battle probably with some stat penalties, 61 or higher means they’re probably dead.
Vehicles are in a similar situation but have a slightly different table.
On top of that, there is a risk of fighters being captured. At the end of a battle if you have no one on the battlefield, then your opponent gets to make a 2d6 roll and on a 13 or better they capture a random fighter that went out of action.
So odds are you will be losing fighters and it will be costly. That will be worse in games where your opponent ends up controlling the board, and it is a valid tactic to specifically target your best characters in the hopes they won’t survive to cause trouble later in the campaign.
Okay, those are the broad generalities. Play games, get exp and credits. Try keep your fighters alive. Now, lets look at the Dominion campaign to see what it adds.
The main focus of the campaign is on territory. Every gang will start with a home territory that they can never lose. There will also be a pool of uncontrolled territories to fight over, 3 per gang. Each territory has a number of benefits for controlling it. Many will provide additional credits, some will provide some free recruits, some will give free equipment, and some will increase a gang’s reputation.
The campaign is split into 3 phases, occupation, downtime, and takeover.
During occupation, players compete to take control of the uncontrolled territories. This consists of 3 cycles. A cycle is undefined, presumably to be adjusted for your own groups schedule but this seems to typically be a week.
It doesn’t specify how many games are played in a cycle, which is an omission I don’t get. It does mean you can decide yourself how many games to play, but a campaign with 1 game per cycle is very different to one with 5 games per cycle.
Since everyone has 3 territories and you’re playing for 3 cycles, 2 games per cycle seems to be the right number. At the end of those games all the uncontrolled territories should have been claimed (unless there were some draws). After 3 cycles you hit Downtime.
The downtime phase is a moment for the gangs to take a breath, fighters in recovery get better, captives are returned, and all gangs get an extra 250 credits to recruit new fighters. It does suggest this is an actual cycle, so no games would get played that week. Players who want to get games that week can play some narrative campaigns where fighters can gain some experience and injuries, but no credits, reputation, or territories. Honestly, I think I’d just do the book-keeping quickly and skip ahead to the next and final phase.
During the Takeover phase, games are fought over claimed territory. Like the first phase, this has 3 cycles. I was surprised to see that only one territory is fought over each battle, so one player challenges another for a territory the defender already has. There aren’t any rules explaining how to manage these challenges, so that’s something the arbitrar is going to have to consider.
Again, it’s not stated but I would imagine 2 games per cycle is the sweet spot which would allow each gang to challenge once and accept a challenge once.
So that’s 12 games in total over 6 weeks for the campaign, or 7 if you take a break for downtime.
Interestingly, at the end there isn’t a single winner. Instead there are a number of Triumphs that you can achieve. So the gang with the most resources is awarded Dominator, the gang with the most kills get the Slaughterer triumph, the gang with the highest reputation gets the Powerbroker triumph, and so on.
All in all, the whole thing is pretty chaotic. A gang could win their initial games, get lucky on the credit rolls, and go on a murder spree for the rest of the campaign. Similarly, a gang could have a horrible first few games and struggle for the rest of the campaign.
To make this worse, the territories provide benefits including more credits, which means if you win and take a territory off your opponent then you’re making even more money every game going forward and they’re making less. It really is a win more type of campaign and after the first game battles are going to get more and more unbalanced.
There are a couple of factors that mitigate unbalanced battles.
First we have how Crews are selected. Although many of the scenarios in the core book allow you to field your entire gang, a number limit it to 10 or less (which is still plenty) while a few have random selection where you don’t get to pick the fighters yourself. Unfortunately for gangs on the backfoot, this doesn’t come up as much as they’d like.
Second, we have Tactics Cards. The majority of scenarios give an extra Gang Tactics card for each difference of 100 points. I’ll have to do another video talking about the pros and cons of using these, but they are a bonus and can help out. Games Workshop also released the Underdog Card pack which are suggested if the difference is 400 points or more and you have the option of drawing one of these instead of 2 of the normal tactics cards. The majority of these offer experience points, credits, or reputation which could help a struggling gang recover.
The later section of the Core Rulebook has a good section for Arbitrators, the people running a campaign, although it doesn’t outright say it, many of the tools in this section are to help out a struggling gang in a campaign. House Favours for example, is a random roll but has a bonus for those lower on the campaign rankings. The narrative scenarios in this section are very flavourful and can be tailored to give the players a fun and balanced game. It could give struggling gangs an easier game or could bruise a gang leading by a little to much.
To a certain extend, Necromunda revels in it’s own imbalance, it knows the game is unfair and the dice are proverbially loaded. This can really suck for a player on the wrong end of the campaign table, especially a new player who didn’t know what to expect. Presumably that’s why there is an Arbitrator, to keep things fun.
Alright, on that grim note, lets move on to Cinderak Burning.
This is a super narrative campaign. A good chunk of the book is taken up with the current events in the hive. The scenarios are all based on something that happens in the story, and have a very clever side bar giving the info you need to actually play out that ‘historic’ event.
The resources you’ll be fighting over in this campaign are called Sympathisers, essentially other factions lending support to your cause. This includes all the various guilds, the major houses, and a bundle of less reputable organisations. It’s really not much different from territories. You start with your own Gang Sympathisers which you can never lose and a randomly assigned one.
These all have two boons, one that is always active and the second is only active during the ‘Spark of Rebellion’ phase, which is the final phase. This is a nice addition that should reduce the impact in the first phase and super charge for the last phase of the campaign.
Like the Dominion campaign, the campaign is structured into 3 phases, a setup phase called the Great Darkness which lasts for 3 cycles, a downtime phase with a single cycle, and Spark of Rebellion phase at the end which is at least 3 cycles. Like the dominion campaign, in the first phase the gangs get to compete for unclaimed sympathisers, and in the third phase they can challenge to take sympathisers claimed by another gang.
I think the biggest change in the new campaign is your gang starting with two thousand credits rather than one thousand. You also get four hundred to spend on vehicles which comes from the Ash Wastes campaign, as this campaign has a mix of Hive and Ash Wastes scenarios. Anything you don’t spend at the start, is lost.
In comparison to the Dominion campaign, you’re getting your toys straight away rather than waiting for them. That’s pretty cool. Everyone gets to have fun rather than just the one player who has been winning all their games. It does mean less to look forward to though, so there might be a lull in interest as the campaign goes on. In theory it also means more miniatures to paint before starting making it harder for new players, but as we’ll later see you could just as easily go with a single box gang and have duplicates on your roster in case anyone dies.
The normal gang composition rules still apply, so you have one leader and at least half the gang must be made up of Gang fighters. The typical 1000 credits meant you ended up with a leader, 2 champions, and a bunch of gangers.
So with the new setup, you could potentially roll into a game with a Custom selection of your Leader, a brute, and 4 Champions all loaded out with gear and skills while your opponent ends up with a bunch of Juves from their Random crew selection. This isn’t something that is going to happen every time, but the larger gang size along with scenarios that have random selection certain means it can happen.
There is in theory a drawback, during the first phase, The Great Darkness, Gangs may no longer re-equip from their House Equipment list or recruit new fighters instead relying only on the trading post. So you need to make sure you have enough to cover your losses. Of course with 2400 points to start with, you almost certainly do. I guess this is somewhat thematic along with the pitch black rules for all the battles in the Hive.
Necromunda does have reputation as a limiter, as gangs start on 1 reputation they’re looking at only one hanger on and as brutes are considered hangers on, you’ll have to decide between getting that Ambot day 1 or getting a Rogue-Doc to keep people patched up. I suspect most gangs will go for the Rogue-Doc.
Getting more hangers on will rely on increasing your reputation which you do by winning games. Reputation doesn’t do much else though and even Brutes have a max recruit, so you’re never getting more than 2 Ambots no matter how much reputation you have.
Most of the scenarios in this campaign have crew selection around 6 or 7, some of which are random. This is a drop from Dominion where it was more common to see 10. A typical gang at one thousand points will have around 7 fighters, at two thousand you should have enough to cover any gaps made by fighters in recovery. With Dominion, occasionally you would get mauled badly and end up with multiple fighters in recovery and unable to turn up for the next game, which would then end badly for the fighters who did turn up. Indeed, a problem sometimes mentioned was the best option for a gang in a situation like this was to immediately concede the next game to avoid further injuries and get the gang back to strength for the following game.
During the downtime phase, each gang has to decide whether they are supporting Helmars Imperial House, Lady Credo’s Rebellion, or are trying to stay unaligned for a little bit longer. Each option offers a benefit and gives the gang a 50/50 change of getting a special character for free at the start of a battle. Each of the characters are very flavourful and look pretty useful. While you could recruit some of these characters with normal rules, just getting them is a great way of making the players feel like they’re part of the story. It would require getting at least one extra model from Forgeworld, some of which aren’t out yet, but for me at least that feels like a permission rather than a burden.
The benefits are split between extra credits, extra exp, or extra reputation which is interesting. The credits are the easiest to get adding another 1d6x10 to your income roll at the end of each battle, the exp is an extra D3 if your fighter manages to take out the enemy leader, while reputation is an extra 1 if you win the battle. Right now I’m not sure which I would go for.
After downtime you go into the final phase, ‘Spark of Rebellion’
Everything goes back to normal and as with the Dominion campaign battles are fought over controlled sympathisers. As a big improvement, there are actually rules on issuing challenges giving priority to the gangs with the lowest gang rating.
In this book we have twelve scenarios, all themed around events in Lady Credo’s rebellion. As with Dominion, 6 scenarios are in the random table with the remaining 6 as special scenarios.
All the scenarios seem fun and flavourful. Some of the scenarios are similar to the Dominion ones, but with some minor tweaks to improve them and added flavour elements. All in all, this seems to be a tighter set of campaign scenarios.
Of particular note to this channel, is the scenarios have suggestions on how to make them one off events with the gangs and characters directly from the story. This makes a great way to get a one off event game. Personally, I’m planning to get one of the new Horus Heresy Imperial Assassins when they come out and play out the Assassination attempt on lord Helmwar
Okay, lets cuts to the chase. Necromunda is not fair. It’s more simulation than strategy game and the campaign system doubles down on this. Cinderak Burning tries some different approaches and seems to be an improvement. The scenarios appear to be a little tighter and better balanced. The huge influx of credits at the start will take some time to properly assess, but I think combined with the crew numbers of 6 to 7 for the random scenarios, it’s a good thing. Rather than putting your entire gang on the line every battle, you’ll always have more gangers in reserve.
Still, I’m sure in many campaigns, one player will surge ahead with tons of credits, reputation, and fighter advancements. That’s okay though. Remember, there isn’t actually a winner for these campaigns. No one gets to lift a trophy at the end. Necromunda is about the experience, and the story of a battered gang trying to hang in there can be just as much fun as the one that wins everything.
Cinerak Burning is the first of 3 campaign books we’re expecting to see as part of the Aranathian Succession. It really gets you deep into the story with some very flavourful scenarios and the addition of signature characters that you get to play with during games. It’s likely to be a wild rollercoaster in the best of ways and a load of fun.
If the next few book in this series are any way similar to Cinderak Burning, we’ll have a chain of campaigns that could be played back to back for a truly epic story.