Necromunda: Hive War Review

Last Updated on May 26, 2021 by FauxHammer

Necromunda: Hive War is the newest starter set for the sci-fi skirmish game from Games Workshop. Replacing the older Necromunda: Underhive set, Hive War sees the all-female, all chemical warfare Escher gang go toe-to-toe with the insidious Delaque gang.

What exactly comes in the box? How does Hive War compare to Underhive? How easily does the set allow you to take your first steps into Necromunda? Grab your nosegay and keep some iodine pills – and maybe a shotgun – handy as we venture into the bowels of Necromunda.

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Necromunda: Hive War Review – Summary

Whilst Necromunda: Hive War contains nothing new per se, that doesn’t really matter. The box is tremendous value for money at £90.00/$150.00USD/120EUR and contains absolutely everything you need to start playing games of Necromunda.

The models are bursting with character, have just the right amount of detail, and come with an absolute slew of options for customisation. The sheer volume of customisation in the models can be something of a double-edged sword since whilst it does allow you to create a vast amount of combinations so that none of your gangers look alike, it can be potentially overwhelming to a hobby neophyte.

Necromunda Hive War Review Box

Whilst Necromunda is perhaps not the easiest game for a complete novice to wargaming to jump into (both in terms of the depth of the rules and skill requirement for assembly and painting of the models), you really can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a narrative-driven skirmish game.

Necromunda: Hive War is the complete parcel for the dyed-in-the-wool wargaming to dive into the seedy world of the underhive. It’s every bit as unforgiving and nostalgic as it should be.

Necromunda: Hive War Review – Unboxing

The Necromunda: Hive War box has a nice heft to it that really serves to hammer home the value contained within.

The box itself is made of the slightly flimsier card stock that Games Workshop have been opting to use in some of their more recent releases, as opposed to the sturdier kind used in the likes of Cursed City or Direchasm. It’s surely going to be a disappointment for the hardcore box enthusiasts out there, but it’s not really a problem at all.

Inside the box you will find:

  • 10 x Escher Gang Members
  • 10 x Delaque Gang Members
  • 20 x 25mm Necromunda Bases
  • 5 x Zone Mortalis Terrain Sprues
  • 1 x Necromunda Scatter Terrain Sprue
  • 1 x Large Blast Template
  • 1 x Small Blast Template
  • 1 x Flame Template
  • 1 x 12″ Measuring Stick
  • 6 x D6 Dice
  • 6 x Injury Dice
  • 2 x Scatter Dice
  • 2 x Firepower Dice
  • 22 x Tactics Cards
  • 22 x Blank Fighter Cards
  • 2 x Quick Reference Sheets
  • 1 x Double-sided Gaming Mat
  • 1 x Necromunda Hive War Token Punchboard (Assorted Tokens)
  • 1 x Necromunda Hive War Book
  • 1 x Necromunda Hive War Assembly Instruction Booklet

It’s every bit as weighty an offering as it sounds.

Necromunda: Hive War Review – Escher Gang

The Escher gang is perhaps one of the most iconic of all of the gangs of Necromunda. Not only are they quite striking in appearance, but they were also one of the two gangs available in the Necromunda: Underhive starter set that was originally released back in 2017.

The lovely Escher ladies.

If there was any doubt that Necromunda was a game heavily inspired by 2000 AD that was originally released in the early 90s… Well, you get the idea.

For all they are rocking the post-apocalyptic punk rock aesthetic to the point that they look as though they’re all ready to head off to Burning Man, there is a deadly grace to the Escher fighters. A huge array of weapon options – as is typical of Necromunda – are available, all of which conform to the more elegant Escher aesthetic.

Yes, that is a massive whip she is wielding.

It is worth noting at this juncture that the models included in Necromunda: Hive War are not new sculpts. These are the same Escher models originally released in 2017 (as the Delaque models are the same as those released in 2018). It may perhaps seem somewhat strange to many that the Escher gang has now been included in both of the 2 starter sets that have been released for Necromunda thus far.

“Cheers, love! The cavalry’s here!”

The short answer is that I don’t fully understand it myself. The Escher gangers do have a unique look – and unique silhouettes – but so do all of the gangs. I really like the Escher look, but I do feel that it would probably have been a good move to feature one of the other gangs for a bit.

Wear a mask.

Still, who doesn’t love badass warrior women? With their bright colours, mad hairstyles and penchant for chemical weapons, it’s hard to argue that Escher is probably the most “Necromunda” of the Necromunda gangs. They – in this writer’s opinion – embody the riotous nature of 90s wargaming most of all. Get them in the box.

Escher ganger models are bursting with attitude.

These are human-sized 32mm models with lots of spiky and spindly parts… and lots of options for all of those parts. Escher models should be handled with care and are definitely not the models I would suggest for any initiate to the hobby – be they child or adult.

But the wealth of options is undoubtedly the kit’s greatest strength – daunting as it may be. It’s something I’ve sorely missed from recent plastic kits, and it’s something that leaves the kits ripe for the addition of upgrade kits for alternate heads and weapons (of which there are already a number available for Escher gangs).

Necromunda: Hive War Review – Delaque Gang

As much as House Escher is the spirit of Necromunda, the Delaque models are probably amongst my favourite of the range.

Do the creep.

Whilst the Escher ganger models are very clearly based on the original 90s models, House Delaque was in dire need of a glow-up to bring them into the considerably more grimdark Underhive of today.

As masters of subterfuge and purveyors of information, the Delaque gangers look suitably creepy. There are visual call-backs to a host of creeps from a plethora of horror films; nightmare-fuel aficionados will recognise elements of Dark City’s Strangers, the Borg from Star Trek… even a bit of good, old Nosferatu.

Fabulous Bill cosplayer.

My feeling with a lot of the models from the world of Warhammer 40,000 is that the can often feel too busy – particularly in recent years. Not so with the Delaque. Cables and cybernetic implants are there, firmly planting them in the 41st millenium, but there are also lots of blank surfaces to provide a good contrast with the detailed areas.

The Delaque poses are excellent.

The Escher gangers all conform to a distinctive punk style, with each individual having their own take on the massive, spiky hair adorned with feathers, but the Delaque gangers are eerily homogenous in appearance. Creepy as this is, it also underpins the importance that stealth and blending in has to them – to the point that they all purge themselves of any outward manifestation of personality.

When you consider how difficult from a design perspective it must have been to strike the right chord with a group like the Delaque, it really is amazing what the sculptors and artists have managed to achieve with them.

When I say subtle, I mean subtle for Warhammer.

My one complaint about the Delaque is that they suffer from the age old problem that Games Workshop robed plastic models always seem to, which is that rather prominent seams occur upon the models where the two halves of the robes are joined. It’s really a minor thing, but it does mean that a lot more filling and filing is required on the Delaque than ever would be on the more scantily clad gangs.

The price of modesty, I suppose.

Necromunda: Hive War Review – Scenery

The bulk of Necromunda: Hive War is made up of the scenery included in the box. It is a goodly portion indeed – six large sprues of the stuff.

The first of these is an assortment of scatter terrain and plastic tokens that was included in the Necromunda: Underhive set from 2017. Most all of these can be clipped off as single pieces to be used as hazards, barricades, traps and chests.

A sampling of the lovely furnishings of the Underhive.

These are fairly modest pieces that can all be painted up fairly quickly and easily and are all suitably grim and beaten up. Skulls and bullet holes abound.

But the zone mortalis scenery is where it’s at.

A hapless Delaque ganger poses triumphantly in a zone mortalis courtyard. Lovely.

Featuring the distinct industrial-gothic mashup that Warhammer 40,000 is known for, the walls and columns can be stacked and arranged however you see fit.

No clips, no magnets – just a bunch of nicely detailed blocks for your little miscreants to kill each other on/around/beside. They do also come with various terminals, pipes and other industrial-looking gubbins that can be used to decorate them as you see fit, but I decided to leave them off so as not to complicate arranging my scenery.

The walls and columns go together incredibly easy and require very little cleanup. Of everything in the box these were easily the quickest and easiest to assemble.

Top view of a long wall section.

There was only one issue I really found with the walls and columns. As with all of the plastic in this box, it’s a very small problem. Some fairly large gaps are visible along the seams at the top, but these shouldn’t be too difficult to fill in. Given that these are on scenery rather than the models themselves it’s something that many people wouldn’t bother with.

While you’ll inevitably need a lot more scenery than is offered in Necromunda: Hive War if you really want to get the most out of the system (even if it is modular), what is offered here is more than enough to get you started.

Necromunda: Hive War Review – Wargear

Necromunda is a wargame that really concerns itself with the minutia of shooting people with sci-fi weaponry, and this is strongly reflected in the array and volume of wargear that comes in the box.

The first item of wargear you’ll come across in the box is a trio of translucent orange templates. These are your flame, small blast and large blast templates, and are used to work out how many people are struck but whatever weapon (or disaster) has struck in the game.

Given the absence of such special weapon templates from Games Workshop mainstay games Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Age of Sigmar for several years now, it may initially come as a surprise to many fans a bit longer in the tooth to see such tools again. After all, weren’t they removed with the aim of streamlining and speeding up play?

The mere presence of these utensils serves to highlight who Necromunda: Hive War is for. It is a product designed precisely for the sort of hobbyist that will generally know what a large blast template is just by looking at it. This is crunchy, old school wargaming wrapped up in 90s nostalgia with a modern veneer. If that wasn’t clear from the templates, the dice definitely hammer this notion home.

Gaming swag.

For all the dice look very similar at first glance, there are actually 4 different types of dice in the box.

While this might seem excessive given that they’re all D6s and could all – theoretically – be regular, old pip dice, I can tell you for a fact that having to consult tables constantly makes for very slow, painful gaming. Having custom dice for a game with as many moving parts at Necromunda speeds this up massively. Convenience is king here.

The dice themselves are of the superior chunkeh variety, which we all know are far more satisfying to roll and yield far better results than their inferior, smaller brethren. The symbols used are all very clear in what they denote, all very on-theme and are even colour coordinated with the iconic black-and-yellow found throughout the Necromunda art.

The inclusion of the Games Workshop measuring stick is a welcome one, though it’s perhaps a bit odd here given that if you’re struggling with the fundamentals of moving miniatures you’re going to have an absolutely horrible time playing Necromunda. Still, the idea with the box is that absolutely everything needed to play is here. They still only include one, mind, so you’re going to have to share it with your gaming buddy. Or just get a measuring tape, you stingy article.

Not too much to say about the cards. You get 11 blank fighter cards you can tailor to your own models, and 11 tactics cards to use throughout playing the game. The cards themselves as tarot-sized so they can hold a decent amount of information without you having to reach for your magnifying glass. The quality is decent – not terrible, but nothing to get excited about. You’re definitely going to want to invest in some card sleeves to prolong their lifespan.

Another review, another token splurge!

The tokens are largely included to help with keeping track of damaged fighters, status effects and activations. Again, they’re all very in keeping with the aesthetic of the game which is good. What’s really nifty is that a visibility arc checker that nests nicely on a 25mm base has been included to keep debates about what exactly a given fighter can perceive to a minimum.

Again, the card stock used here is decent. Not terrible, but not the best available either. Get yourself some coin protectors if you intend to make rigorous use of these tokens.


The battle mat included in the set is poor. Featuring a different floorscape from the Underhive on each side, printed on gloss paper. It’s a similar sort of mat that was given in Mortal Realms and the Warhammer 40,000 Recruit and Elite starter sets.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely believe that these sort of mats have their place. It just isn’t in a box set with a £90 RRP.

Necromunda: Hive War Review – Books

Mercifully, the assembly instructions that come in the set feature suggested builds for all of the ganger models. So whilst there is absolutely space for you to go as off piste as you like, Necromunda: Hive War is not a completely ruthless introduction to in-depth skirmish wargaming.

It’s still a bit surprising that there is no “Start Here” style introduction as has been rolled out into all of the other Games Workshop starter sets of late. I understand that the perception is that Necromunda is very much the deep end of the wargaming pool, but it’s been my experience that even the most complex video (and tabletop) games include some kind of tutorial.

Literary swag.

Lack of a tutorial/introduction aside, the 104-page softback Hive War rulebook is a fairly comprehensive introduction to Necromunda, and 2 double-sided Quick Reference placards are included in the box to help speed up play once you’ve begun to really grasp the rules of the game.

The book features lots of evocative artwork of the gangs in addition to the usual miniatures showcases, and contains plenty of narrative and lore to really help build the setting in the mind of the player as much as it does on the tabletop. Rules for the main gangs of Escher, Delaque, Goliath, Orlock, Van Saar and Cawdor are included in the book, too. So whilst there are several expansions and other books available for Necromunda at the time of writing, you will certainly find enough to keep you busy for a while with this book alone.

Be open-minded and patient in approaching the rules for the game. There is a steeper learning curve to Necromunda than other Games Workshop games so it may take you a bit more adjustment to get to a place where you can confidently play the game without constantly referring to the rulebook. You’re in the deep end of the wargaming pool with this one so don’t worry if you feel a bit lost at times.

The next section of the review would typically feature a chronicle of my attempt to understand and execute the rules of the game. However, with the way the chips have fallen for this review, I was unable to get the game played and get the review out in time. I will hopefully be able to update the article later with an account of how learning the game went for me, or I may even do it as a separate article.


Necromunda: Hive War Review – Price and Availability

The quality of the box and the floppy gloss paper mat aside, £90.00/$150.00USD/120EUR is still an excellent price for what is offered. Let’s take a deeper look at the value on offer.

Escher Gang£26.00$42.00€34.00$70.00
Delaque Gang£26.00$42.00€34.00$70.00
Necromunda Barricades and Objectives*£11.25$17.50€15.00$30.00
Necromunda Zone Mortalis Columns and Walls£50.00$80.00€65.00$140.00
Necromunda: Hive War Rulebook**£20.00$35.00€25.00$55.00
Necromunda Dice Set***£10.00$15.00€12.00$28.00
*This figure is based off of 50% of the RRP on the set since only 1 sprue is included in Necromunda: Hive War
**This figure is an approximation off of what GW typically charge for softback rulebooks.
***The Necromunda Dice set isn’t available in all regions. This is an approximation based on what GW charge for similar dice sets in those regions.
Box Value£143.25$231.50€185.00$393.00
Retail Cost£90.00$150.00€120.00$250.00
Total Saving£53.25$81.5065.00$143.00

It’s hard to argue with a price that nets such a substantial saving and gives you – in this writer’s opinion – a collection of some of the best-looking sci-fi miniatures and scenery that Games Workshop produce. Given the depth of a game like Necromunda, this set could keep you busy for a very long time painting and gaming.

As we always state, it’s a good idea to check in with your FLGS to see if they can get you a copy of Necromunda: Hive War. Even if they’re unable to offer you a discount on the RRP (as such stores often do), just remember that independent retailers need your support now more than ever with all that’s gone on in the world. So if you want your local gaming hub to stick around, get down there and splash the cash.

Necromunda: Hive War Review – Final Thoughts

– Two incredible, mad warbands
– Literally everything you need to play
– Immense value for money
– Great scenery
– Necromunda is an awesome setting
– Deep, narrative-driven gameplay
– “Welcome to the Underhive, b***h!”
– Fiddly miniatures with lots of small parts
– Floppy, paper gaming mat

Whilst I feel I’ve been a bit pedantic with my grumble about the mat, it’s quite difficult to separate a set like Necromunda: Hive War neatly into “pros” and “cons” since a lot of the things that people would take issue with will be – in the eyes of many – exactly what makes it such a strong offering.

Yes, the miniatures have lots of small, fiddly parts, but one of the best parts of Necromunda is the ridiculously detailed loadouts your fighters can have and having their miniatures represent that exactly. The rules have a complex, old school feel, but they were written with the idea of streamlining a 90s wargame without changing it too much.

My friend has often said that the further you get away from the conflict of the Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000, the more interesting a setting it becomes. For me, there is nowhere this is more apparent than in Necromunda.

Necromunda: Hive War offers some of the best sci-fi miniatures on the market and entry into brutal, in-depth skirmish game at a great price.

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FauxHammer's dwarf/duardin enthusiast (every group has one, right?). Benjamin Porter lives in Glasgow, Scotland with his wife, baby son, a cat that thinks it's a god, and a hyperactive tortoise. He enjoys painting and collects just about every sort of miniature. But mostly Fyreslayers, Stormcast Eternals and Ancient Greeks.

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