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Necromunda: Hive War Review and Content Comparison

Necromunda: Hive War Review Starter Set

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Hello, everyone. While discussing the new starter set, I offered to review the set contents for anyone who was curious if GW didn't send out preview boxes to major sites. To my knowledge, GW hasn't done that (or at least, the sites they did send to didn't do a good job of optimizing their search engine results). So, here we go. I'll be speaking as a relatively new player who has done a fair bit of reading, and owns several books and a fair number of models and terrain already, but hasn't had a chance to get a game in yet due to Covid-19 restrictions. I also want to say that I'm discussing this in the context of people who've already done some research about the game, and are comparing their starting options, as opposed to reviewing the set as a standalone product. So, with that out of the way, let's get started.


EDIT: Okay, so as I reached the end of my summary of the contents, I realized I'd written a huge wall of text that most people will only skim, which isn't very helpful for a review. So, I'm going to start with a summary that answers the questions I had (or heard form other people) before I examined the box in detail.


  1. What am I, a player who already has the hardcover rulebook, missing out on by not having this book? Not much, really. The scenarios are variations of existing scenarios specially tailored to the terrain and playmat in the boxed set. Apart from that, the only things I found that weren't in the hardcover rulebook were rules for Booby Traps (which I believe are in Gangs of the Underhive instead) and rules for getting caught in doors (Which (I can swear exist somewhere else outside of the Rigged Door tactics card, but I can't find them). The simplified gang lists may also be useful for introducing a new player to gang building (they're not just excerpts from Gangs of the Underhive, as I noticed that the Escher Gangers have the buffed cool stat they got in House of Blades), but really, you don't need this book.
  2. Do I need the Hardcover rulebooks if I have this one? *If you want to expand to the full game, yes. The softcover book will suffice for playing against friends who also have the softcover book, but the Hardcover book contains a lot of information that this one doesn't, like the rules for Psykers, the rules for Campaigns, Scenarios with larger gangs, tons of fun scenarios and game elements in the section of the Hardcover rulebook for arbitrators, and the complete skill list. You're also going to want the House of X book for your chosen gang, since only the rules for equipment included in your gang's original boxed set are included.
  3. Okay, but what if I play Cawdor or Delaque? Does this softcover eliminate the need for Gangs of the Underhive while I wait for the release of House of Faith/Shadows? It depends. Like I said, the softcover only includes the rules for the equipment in the original Gang Box. Vital Special Weapons like Web Guns, Plasmaguns, and the like are not represented. However... Yaktribe's gang manager exists. Between that and the rules for weapon traits in the back of the softcover, you can probably get by until the release of House of Faith/Shadows, especially if you belong to an established community and people are willing to let you look up that one random rule/wargear entry you need.
  4. Is this boxed Set a good value if I don't like Escher or Delaque? For an existing player, I don't think so. There's nothing new in the box, and you probably have enough dice, templates, and the like. For a new player? Maybe? If you can resell the gangs for at least part of their value, I think you'd come away with at least some savings.
  5. Is this boxed Set a good value if I only want one of the gangs? If you can sell the other gang off, yeah.
  6. Do you regret purchasing the box? I don't, because I needed the terrain and escher models, liked the idea of starting a Delaque gang, and like having plenty of dice and templates.
  7. How would you rate the box overall? To use American Letter Grades, I'd give the box a C+ (Low Pass). It provides a good entry into the game, and it's a decent enough value if you want most of its contents, but it's not exciting to existing players. But it really wasn't for us. Still, the boxed set could have gotten a B if they'd just given us a sprue of Zone Mortalis Doors.


Okay, let's cover the contents of the boxed set. While the website and back of the box cover the basics, I'd like to go into a little more detail so you know exactly what you're getting.


1) First off, we have the 2 gangs. This is no different than if you'd bought a box of Delaque and a box of Escher gangers, almost down to the assembly instructions; The only difference between them that I can see is that the reccomended assemblies don't include names (Disclaimer: I haven't bought the Delaque Gang box before, so I'm not 100% the assembly instructions are identical there. But do you really care?)


2) Next, let's look at the terrain.  You get the following

  • 3 Sprues of Zone Mortalis walls, building 5 short walls and 2 Long Walls. For comparison, the Zone Mortalis Columns and Walls kit builds 4 short walls and 1 long wall.
  • 2 Sprues of Zone Mortalis Columns, building 4 columns. For comparison, the Zone Mortalis Columns and Walls kit builds 6 columns
  • No Zone Mortalis doors, as opposed to the kit, which has two large doors and two small doors.
  • 1 Sprue of Necromunda Barricades and objectives (Available seperately in a box of two sprues... If you can actually find it for sale).

So, the obvious complaint here is the lack of doors. And yeah, their absence will be felt in games with just the boxed set. One thing I will say, though, is that the ratio of walls-columns combines very nicely with the actual Zone Mortalis Columns and Walls kit. Still, no Zone Mortalis game is complete without doors.


3) A gloss-paper playmat designed to go with the Terrain. The mat in question is about 16" X 20", which is a weird size that isn't really compatible with the 30" x 22.4" cardboard playmats GW uses for Kill Team and 40k, nor the 12" X 12" plastic Zone Mortalis Tiles. It's not especially sturdy, and too small for full size games, but it will suffice for playing through the learning scenarios.


4) 2 sets of eight Necromunda dice, each consisting of 3 regular d6s, 3 Injury dice, a scatter die, and a firepower die. Together, these 2 sets will cover 99% of scenarios that come up in Necromunda that don't involve the Arc Welder. And given that the Arc Welder is a flaming piece of garbage that has a 21% chance to blow up whoever fires it, you're probably set.


5) The same flexible plastic 12" ruler that's in most GW boxed sets.


6) A set of templates, consisting of a 3" circular blast, a 5" circular blast, and the teardrop flamer template. These aren't available seperately from GW anymore, but they're plentiful on the secondary market, and you can also download pdfs that can be used to make homemade ones with a sheet of printer paper and some thin cardboard for a backing.


7) A sheet of cardboard tokens, including a sight arc template for the 25MM base, a pitfall marker, and enough panic tokens for every model in the box, as well as some other assorted tokens. Handy, but you can make your own with this official PDF on the Warhammer Community site


8) 22 blank fighter cards. These are useful, but if you're going to be playing in a campaign, they're going to get messy from all the updating.


9) 2 Quick References. These are almost identical to the one in the back pages of the Hardcover rulebook, but you're missing the lasting injuries table


10) 2 sets of 11 tactics cards, consisting of

  • 8 Universal Cards from the Original starter set; ...Click, Last Gasp, Blood Debt, Gas Trap, Group tactics, Lucky Find, Melta Trap, and Frag Trap. Group tactics has been nerfed to require all particpants to perform the same actions, for some unfathomable reason. Also Gas Trap is now available to all Gangs, which is nice, I guess
  • 3 Universal Cards from other Sets; Beast Lure and Proper Preparation from the original Escher tactics pack, and A Good Day from the original Goliath pack

It's no secret that tactics cards are very hit or miss, and these reprints are no exception. Use them if you like, but I highly reccomend looking online for a house ruled system and proxying the cards you want.


11) A 104-page softcover rulebook. The question of what this actually contains is what actually inspired me to write this review; specifically, so I could answer two questions; What are existing players missing out on if they don't buy this book, and will new players who start with this set need to buy the $60 hardcover rulebook.  I've written an extended side-by-side comparison in the spoiler below, but I realized that it was turning into a wall of text so I put in the spoiler below. The short version is that the softcover is a servicable learning tool for new players, and a servicable rules reference if you want to leave the bulkier hardcover behind, but it doesn't replace the Hardcover.



Edited by Squark, 17 May 2021 - 10:04 PM.

  • Firedrake Cordova, Noserenda, Squeakula and 12 others like this





  • 163 posts
This hobbyist appreciates your write up Squark. Good job in staying objective with your review.

The initial starter box was $150 AUD (often discounted to $120) so I said that I would purchase Hive War if it was similarly priced. Being $250 AUD and not contributing anything new, I think I'll keep my hobby funds for something else.
  • walter h likes this

The greatest contradiction of chaos is that it is a realm in constant flux, yet the gods themselves never change.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Necromunda: Hive War, Review, Starter Set

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