Necromunda: Underhive Wars shows us 40k’s underbelly

Necromunda: Underhive Wars

In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war. Obsessed, xenophobic warrior-priests in ancient power armor battle alien and extradimensional menaces as dark gods rise and the withered Emperor of Mankind has thousands of psychics sacrificed to him every day in order to sustain some small glimmer of power. And that’s just the above-board, shiny side of the Warhammer 40k universe.

Rogue Factor (formerly of Mordheim) hope to give us a peek at the less organized side of the setting with Necromunda: Underhive Wars, as criminal gangs living deep in the bowels of overgrown arcology-cities battle for territory, resources and sometimes just because they want to. Within, a teaser trailer to help set the scene.

Necromunda is, assuming you’re unfamiliar with Games Workshop’s secondary library, a tabletop game of gang warfare. Much smaller in scale than Warhammer 40k, but significantly more intricate – through dice and rulers it simulates complex, messy infantry combat in environments that make little to no sense to the casual human observer, but viewed at a distance are just part of an enormous mechanical whole.

Our resident huge Warhammer nerd Adam took a deep dive on what we knew of Underhive Wars early last year, chatting with the developers about their exact mechanical goals for the game, and their visual inspirations. Sadly, we don’t have much more information, although it’s safe to assume that with the release of this teaser, the PR blitz is about to begin.

As with Mordheim (which was a bit patchy, albeit visually impressive), Underhive Wars is eschewing the modern XCOM-esque trend and instead giving you free movement each turn, within a given distance. Think more along the lines of Valkyria Chronicles and you’re halfway there, and the ranged-focused combat of Necromunda should at least allow the system to shine more here than it did in Mordheim.

Necromunda: Underhive Wars is due sometime this year (having slipped from its original late-2017 target), and we’ll be keeping you abreast of any scurryings reported in the tunnels. Until then, keep an eye on the official site for more info. With any luck, we’ll have some gameplay footage next.


  1. Chris Cunningham says:

    Mordheim already used a surprising amount of scenery and levels; I’d be surprised if they really had to do that much with the engine.

    Unfortunately that’s precisely why this is probably going to disappoint. Mordheim wasn’t even superficially like the game whose IP it adopted and I expect similar liberties here, including severe limitations when it comes to gang composition and weapon choice. Not to mention that I’d be surprised if even the complete set of original Underhive houses make it through the initial DLC paywall.

    In the previous thread it’s interesting that someone alluded to the suggestion that Full Control’s Space Hulk was unsuccessful because of its faith to the desktop controls. I’d rather suggest that people might have been put off because after absolutely endless, breathless hyping of it on here, RPS had to let Rab do a WIT where he pointed out that this faithful adaptation got the blip conversion process (literally the core game process for one side) completely wrong, something which had somehow escaped all of the previous superfan coverage.

    If you do a faithful adaptation of GW IP, people will buy it. Cyanide have now released the same game five times in a row, with changes which would make the mid-90s yearly FIFA updates look innovative, and I’ve bought four of them.

    • Imperialist says:

      I find with 40k, being too faithful to the tabletop rules ends up with sub-par adaptations. Being faithful to the universe is a much more successful approach (that only a few games have actually done right) as it allows the developers to break free from alot of the limitations of TT gaming. Battlefleet Gothic and Mordheim, for instance, took the general idea of the TT game and made it actually fun. BFG in particular ended up being far more fun than the TT BFG game ever was. Mordheim, too, innovated in ways that made it a better VIDEO game than a straight adaptation of the rules.
      Tabletop games are niche. 40k is niche. Adapting them directly is also niche. Look at Space Hulk. It was a (mostly) direct translation of the rules…and it kinda sucked. Then they gave us a game-ified RPGish version and it was better (mostly). Making a FUN game is more important than making a rules-faithful one, for both the company, and us. I also find that TT gaming’s best aspect is its physical ones: the minis, the board, and the people you play with. Without any of those…why care about the rules anyway?

      • DarkFenix says:

        Being 100% faithful to tabletop isn’t necessarily a bad decision (as Bloodbowl proved), but there has to be enough game there to translate. Space Hulk really doesn’t contain much game, it’s extremely simplistic and that really shows when moved onto a more sophisticated platform. Most important is staying true to the lore and to the spirit of the original game.

        Battlefleet Gothic was okay I suppose, fun for a while, but they completely threw out the spirit of the tabletop game (though they were faithful to the lore). A game about careful, methodical moves with great lumbering behemoths of war instead became a tiny scale micro-managey clickfest about zooming around in a bunch of speedboats.

        I much prefer the tabletop iteration and I’d kill for a proper adaptation of it.

    • Aetylus says:

      There are some major issues with many boardgame or table-top game adaptions to video games. Foremost among them is the issue of the climatic roll of the dice.

      In table top gaming you and your mates stand around yelling for either a 1 or 6 to be rolled, while the roller struts around the room shaking those dice in cupped hands before launching them across the table in the grand flourish to determine the game… before the room goes wild.

      In video games, the same scenario involve a small RNG number being generated in the corner of the screen, reducing all skill and care in the game to an uncontrollable CPU function. This almost invariable leads to endless forum threads with titles like “RNG is biased. Game sucks donkey bollocks”.

      It means that faithful adaptions are usually deeply underwhelming.

      • Evan_ says:

        Dunno, I loved Blood Bowl. Rolling the virtual dice may not have the same feeling as the real one, but it provided the exact same level of reliability than the tabletop one.

        I think pc gamers just aren’t used to a harsh RNG where an average attribute (like Agility 3) results failed skill checks half of the time. I personally find it great – once you incorporate the chance of failure, and adapt your tactic around it by prioritizing the most important actions.

      • pseudoart says:

        Hmmm… What we need is a “dice controller”. Bluetooth/wifi enabled dice with an accelerometer. It would be useful in a host of games. And more fun, even playing solo!

        … I’m not even kidding. I’d buy that! :P Not entirely sure how to prevent tampering, though. Talked to my GF about it – she suggested tampering could be detected just by the motion of the dice. If one side is weighted, it would be possible to mathematically detect that based on the movement of the dice. :O Does anyone know how to patent stuff? :P

      • MisterFurious says:

        I think you’re right but I also think that a big problem with these board game translations it that, while the games were really fun when you were 8 years old and playing with your friends, they really aren’t very good games. I’m sure I would’ve loved games like Space Hulk and Talisman if I had played them as a child but I didn’t so I have no Nostalgia Blindness when I play them now and they’re pretty shitty games. Playing them as an adult without that nostalgia or that social interaction or physical interaction with miniatures and dice, all the flaws of the game are right there in the open.

    • Snake726 says:

      It’s actually a Games Workshop licensing rule – none of the digital games can mechanically resemble the tabletop game. Probably they’re afraid of a digital game supplanting their first-party figure sales etc.

      Blood Bowl seems to be the exception; not sure why other than that it may have been deemed that physical sales of that game were dead anyways, or something like that.

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    Drib says:

    It’s a neat idea. Necromunda has always been a neat idea.

    Of course all the guys in that image up there look like they just raided a Bloodbowl sporting goods store.

    But regardless, I’ll have to keep an eye on it. 40k stuff is always so grandiose and stupid, and it’d be fun to play something a little more grounded and stupid instead.

    • stonetoes says:

      The Goliath gang more or less fit the Goliath aesthetic. The Esher gang more or less fit…the Goliath aesthetic. Hmmm.

  3. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Looks neat, seems they’re going with the designs of the gangs from the recent re-release of the tabletop game (which I’m very much okay with).

  4. GrinningD says:

    I was so excited for Mord that I went early access and I was so disappointed.

    The tiny number of warbands was painful but I can understand that they had to limit the model types because the game was an experiment and lacked the triple A funding.

    What absolutely sucked was the exclusion of a living multiplayer where your band could play and evolve against all the other players out there or maybe play with a limited number in a private campaign.

    You know, like Bloodbowl has proven time and again that people love.

    So while Necromunda has all my hairs on end with anticipation, my tail is swishing nervously that they will once again eschew the true draw of these games.

    Imagine if the only online play in BB was with a fresh squad of nameless dummies every match.

    You know, like XCom…

  5. Dlarit says:

    I hope they get rid of that mechanic Mordhiem had where NPC team mirrored yours in battle, should be variety in matches you take what you can afford and the other team gets bonus for being underdog. That feature pretty much ruined it for me.

    • stonetoes says:

      Yeah, I wish they hadn’t done that, the asymmetrical nature of warbands/gangs is one of the main appeals of Mordheim/Necromunda. “How will my gang of twenty scavvies with clubs fair against those four spyrer bounty hunters? Let’s find out!”

      Instead we got “If I bring an ogre, the enemy brings an ogre. If I bring two scouts and two heavy units, the enemy brings two scouts and two heavy units.” I liked Mordheim but it was really demoralising when that sunk in.

  6. poohbear says:

    lol your intro paragraph was funny as hell! “And that’s just the above-board, shiny side of the Warhammer 40k universe.”

    Seems like an original setting tho, my curiosity is piqued indeed!

  7. Dogshevik says:

    I liked Mordheim, I really did. But the more I played, the more difficult it became to overlook what a needlessly ponderous, clanking piece of machinery it was. The controller-oriented UI was a horror to use. The unit overview tried its best to hide abilities, stats and injuries in separate sub-menus with no logic to it. When clicking through your guys they were shown in the order you originally bought them, not in the order you just put them on the other screen. Or: You couldn´t look at buffs and debuffs at the same time. Why?

    The matches themselves took way longer than they had to. Not because you pondered interesting decisions, but because you stared at the same animations and loading times for most of the time. Esp. when you just wanted to skip turn with your guys. And you did that alot, because the story missions required trudging to the magical doodad and then some more while 90% of your guys just twiddled thumbs. (If you could even find where you had to go on the unhelpful 2D maps) And don´t get me started on the mechanic of story missions with endless respawns. Or regular missions where the enemy always exactly mirrored your warband.
    Also: No line of sight or range indicators for shooting.

    I don´t want to write off Necromunda yet. In fact, I want it to be good. But even if it was often fun, Rogue Factor´s previous work was more than a little rough around the edges. It just wasn´t good craftsmanship. They really need to step up their game when it comes to the basics or this will be an embarrassment.

    • batraz says:

      Same experience here ; I got lost for hours on my second story mission, and bored to death by loading times. The game had something though, interesting peculiarities. I hated the mirrored teams but loved the post mission rng roulette when one of your guys went down, it made your ugly survivors more precious to you. If they can make it work and make it pretty I’ll buy it again. WH fans like pretty don’t they ?

    • Evan_ says:

      My Main problem with Mordheim was that unskilled starter teams were super-basic, and their fights were very dull because of that. I really started enjoying it once my units started to be specialized for their purpose. Too bad it takes 10-20 hours to get there, so most people who tried it have only seen the dull parts.

      It didn’t help that the devs felt necessary to link like 10 skills to all the different attributes, and most of those were useless and/or bad. And of course the AI teams always picked randomly.

  8. Aetylus says:

    Sooooo looking forward to this.

    I’m one of those people who loved Mordheim and the engine should fit Necromunda even better. Mostly I think my enjoyment is because Mordheim has a properly different tactical engine (other than Valkyrie Chronicles).

    I’ve nothing against the Xcom mechanics – they are very good – its just that so many others are copying Xcom that it threatens to stagnate the whole turn based tactics genre the way cloning of the original Civ stagnated turn based strategy for a good decade or so.

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      phuzz says:

      I’ve been secretly crossing my fingers for a total-conversion mod for X-COM (1 or 2) which turns it into Necromunda (but presumably with the names changed enough to avoid receiving drop-pod full of lawyers).
      No luck yet.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      Another Mordheim lover here. Some commenters have said the systems behind it didn’t work so well, and I actually tend to agree, but I thought it was pretty great nonetheless, and had all the stuff I used to love about the tabletop. Some story missions were a mess (particularly those in the sorcerer’s library), but others were quite memorable (like the Skaven assault on a ruined temple of Sigmar). We’re also talking about an indie, underfunded studio here, which made a great little game with scant resources. I hope that Necromunda not only benefits from Mordheim’s success, but also that it itself is successful so that we eventually get a better, bigger Mordheim 2.

  9. LennyLeonardo says:

    Is there a “whip your brother on the knuckles with the range ruler” button? That’s mostly what I remember about Necromunda. That and all my Spire Hunters dying.

  10. doglikesparky says:

    Looking beyond gaming, I’m not sure about the future being a grimdarkness of perpetual war full of obsessed xenophobes. That’s pretty much the present, isn’t it?

    • Coming Second says:

      40k stopped being fun to me when it became obvious a lot of people into it see its universe as wish fulfillment.

      • Slazia says:

        Really? It’s been ages since I went to the stores or played the tabletop version, but I don’t remember that.

  11. merbert says:

    Jesus H Christ……that is some truly god-awful voice acting in that trailer.

    • Skabooga says:

      Sounds pretty typical of the way gangs talk in my corr-ee-doors.

  12. SaintAn says:

    I don’t get the draw to this over more Mordheim. The style is like an Unreal shooter or Quake, but as a turn based tactical game.

  13. Daemoroth says:

    Oh FFS would they GET OFF THE HUMANS for ONE game PLEASE!?!

    SOMEBODY please remind Games Workshop that they have races OTHER than Humans, and that we’d like to actually play AS some of them.


    Every announcement I have a faint hope to see Tau or Necrons and every time it’s more humans, “space” humans that do the same stuff any modern humans do, only on a bigger scale: bigger armor, bigger weapons, deeper voices.


    • Vickers says:

      are you serious? You can play as vampires, skaven, and chaos in Mordheim. Not to mention the fact that the human mercenaries employ ogres.

      As for necromunda Tau and Necrons would be completely implausible, although there were some supplemental races like chaos, orks, and genestealer cults.

      • Daemoroth says:

        Mordheim is Warhammer Fantasy, this looks like WH40K-based. You’ll notice that my complaint about space marines would indicate some tendency towards 40K, which hasn’t seen significant non-human/ork/eldar choices since Dawn of War, twelve years ago.

        We eventually got Tau in Gothic: Armada, but that’s skirmish-only.

        Sorry, I’m salty, not at you but at GW. :'( I just want to see a major involvement of some races other than the basics. So sick and tired of the same flavours, at least the WH Fantasy games are doing a much better job of it.