Tales from the Underhive

A book review of the TALES FROM THE UNDERHIVE by various.

Books in the series:
Death’s Head by Josh Reynolds
Burned by Darius Hinks
Emp-Rah’s Eye by Guy Haley
Scar Crossed by Nick Kyme
Once a Stimm Queen by Robbie MacNiven
Dirty Dealings by Rachel Harrison

As this is a series of short stories I’ve decided to review them as an overall block instead of one by one. With the range of authors and styles presented there’s a little bit for everyone and each author puts their own twist on the grim gloomy world of the Underhive of Necromunda. The toxic, radioactive industrial wasteland that exists beneath the great industrial machines and megacity of the Hive above. These stories focus on short adventures by gangers as they attempt to survive within this hostile environment. Showing how some prevail and some fail against betrayal, cunning traps, the twists of fate and of love, the lust for greed and to escape and more.

As each one is short they take only around 10-20mins or so (on average) to read and thus present a neat bit of flavour to the Underhive. You don’t need much background to get into them, just a general awareness of the dark gritty world; yet if you know more you can see some of the links to the greater Warhammer 40K world. Each of these stories also follows a different gang, giving you a taste of the difference between the primitive Ratskins, the light and agile Eschers and the heavy, stim heavy Goliaths and others.

I found these enjoyable and a nice quick read and more than worth their price. That they are easy to get into without much background awareness makes them an ideal item for those new to the setting and for long time fans.

Buy now on Black Library as a set of 6 with one free
Also on sale as individual stories and on Amazon Kindle store.

Survival Instinct by Andy Chambers

A book review of the novel SURVIVAL INSTINCT by Andy Chambers.

Welcome to the Underhive! My first foray into the world of muck, steel, slag and sump and I feel like I’ve made a very good choice with this book. The story follows the adventure of Mad Donna, a ganger with ties to House Escher who is trying to go it alone in the Underhive, whilst also trying to lose herself from ties to one of the Great Houses of the Spire – the vaulted top of the Hive City where all is clean, bright, airy and a tiny bit safer. The story focuses on one key adventure in her life and brings the Underhive to life with sight, sound and smell. You get a strong sense not only of how variable and rich with lore the Underhive is, but also how utterly vast it is when on the hunt and yet, at the same time, how small it can feel when your character is being hunted.

Each chapter begins with a short background snippet, which early on focus on records of events and places. General snippets that add flavour and a wider view on the world which helps remind the reader that this is but one story in a vast place. As the story progresses those snippets get more focused on the back story of our lead character, a neat way to fill in the growing desire from the reader to know more of her history that neatly slots answers into place. It’s a powerful story telling method that is very well put to use in this book.

The book runs at a good fast pace and is heavy on action, but not at a cost of losing sight of building a story. There are slow sneaky periods; restful moments of calm and then mad moments of action.

All in all a very enjoyable read and a book that works totally as a stand alone read even if you’ve never read a single bit of Necromunda lore or background before.

Buy now on Black Library
Also for sale on Amazon and second hand in paperback on secondhand book sites.

Necromunda – Ideas/thoughts

So having finally gotten sick of building too many Witch Aelves for a while I’ve decided to branch out and pick up some Necromunda. The new edition amazed me when GW relaunched it earlier this year and the models a really inspiring and outstanding, esp when one considers that they are all plastic. They are full of character and that gritty grunge of the underhive and the dark dirty deadly world that the gangers live in every day.

So alongside updating the blog to include a reference of the Necromunda Black Library publications and starting to read the story of Mad Donna (I thoroughly recommend reading Survival Instinct); I’ve also started to collect together the beginnings of a House Escher Gang. Whilst I’m still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the postman each day, and thus parcels full of gangers and suchlike, I have been scouting around the net for some inspiration and ideas. I thus came across the fantastic work of Wargame Exclusive who manufacture some very high quality and high detail resin miniatures. Whilst their main focus is on 40K, many of the models have a very “ganger” style to them (quite a few are also very revealing/mature in style).

Whilst I’ve not yet bought any to properly review (though I’ve scouted around and found several videos by Spiky Bits on youtube reviewing them very favourably); I’ve already decided that I want to add several as optional models for my gang.

So until such a time as I can pick them up, this post will act as a suggestion to others and a reminder to myself of which ones I’ve decided to pick. I’ve also included some photos (from their own website) at the bottom of the post. Note some of the models are partly nude/mature in theme.

Imperial Assassin
Imperial Puncher
Mechanic Adept Female Tech Priest Skull Keeper I freely admit this one isn’t for being a ganger, instead its simply an awesome sculpt to own – even if I might never feel confident enough to paint it
Battle Sister pin-up
Imperial Arsonist

Whilst the puncher and arsonist are clearly on bigger than standard bases for Escher, I’d still be willing to use them in games for both models (with opponents permission of course). Any House Goliath fans though, might find them to be ideal models for that faction, giving an option of a female alternative model.

 

Imperial Assassin

Imperial Puncher

Dice Theory – Witch Aelves VS Deamonettes

Here we can see maths theory taken into an expanded example where we test out a battle situation using two different types of equipment on Witch Aelves for the purposes of seeing the variation in how they perform on the tabletop. Remember these tests are only guides to performance and are not guarantees of performance. They make some major assumptions in order to make the maths simpler and more easy to digest the results.

Assumptions made:
1) No auras, command abilities, spells or other effects are applied to either side. These are the bare bones basic abilities of each unit (Fanatical Faith Rolls for Witches are included as they are a constant through each turn).

2) The test assumes that all models from each unit make it into combat. This is not always realistic nor possible (esp in the early phases of combat when there are the most number of models). However it does give a general idea of who has the greater chance of winning in any round of evenly pitched combat.

 

Witch Aelves with Duel Daggers

30 Witch Aelves VS 30 Deamonettes
Round 1

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(30-1))+5/6)*3 = 60.50
To Wound = 3/6*60.50 = 30.25
Deamonette saves = 2/6*30.25 = 10.08
Remaining Deamonettes 30-(30-10) = 10

Deamonettes
To hit = (2*10*3/6)+(((2*10*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 11.11
To Wound = 3/6*11.11 = 5.55
Witches Saves = =(5.56*1/6)+((5.56*5/6)*1/6) = 1.70
Remaining Witches 30-(6-2) = 26

Round 2
Witches
To hit =((4/6*(26-1))+5/6)*3 = 52.5
To Wound = 3/6*52.5 = 26.25
Deamonette saves = 2/6*26.25 = 8.75
Remaining Deamonettes 10-(26-9) = 0
30 Deamonettes VS 30 Witches
Round 1
Deamonettes
To hit = (2*30*3/6)+(((2*30*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 35
To Wound = 3/6*35 = 17.50
Witches Saves = =(17.50*1/6)+((17.50*5/6)*1/6) = 5.35
Remaining Witches 30-(18-5) = 17

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(17-1))+5/6)*3 = 34.5
To Wound = 3/6*34.5 = 17.25
Deamonette saves = 2/6*17.25 = 5.75
Remaining Deamonettes 30-(17-6) = 19

Round 2
Deamonettes
To hit = (2*19*3/6)+(((2*19*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 22.17
To Wound = 3/6*22.17 = 11.08
Witches Saves = =(11.08*1/6)+(11.08*5/6))*1/6) = 3.39
Remaining Witches 17-(11-3) = 9

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(9-1))+5/6)*3 = 18.5
To Wound = 3/6*18.5 = 9.25
Deamonette saves = 2/6*9.25 = 3.08
Remaining Deamonettes 19-(9-3) = 13

Round 3
Deamonettes
To hit = (2*13*3/6)+(((2*13*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 15.17
To Wound = 3/6*15.17 = 7.85
Witches Saves = =(7.85*1/6)+((7.85*5/6)*1/6) = 2.4
Remaining Witches 9-(8-2) = 3

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(3-1))+5/6)*3 = 6.5
To Wound = 3/6*6.5 = 3.25
Deamonette saves = 2/6*3.25 = 1.08
Remaining Deamonettes 13-(3-1) = 11

Round 4
Deamonettes
To hit = (2*11*3/6)+(((2*11*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 12.83
To Wound = 3/6*12.83 = 6.42
Witches Saves = =(6.42*1/6)+((6.42*5/6)*1/6) = 1.96
Remaining Witches 3-(6-2) = 0

Witch Aelves with Bucklers

30 Witches with bucklers VS 30 Deamonettes.
Round 1
Witches
To hit =((4/6*(30-1))+5/6)*2 = 40.33
To Wound = 3/6*40.33 = 20.17
Deamonette saves = 2/6*20.17 = 6.72
Remaining Deamonettes 30-(20-7)= 17

Deamonettes
To hit =(2*17*3/6)+(((2*17*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 19.83
To Wound = 3/6*19.83 = 8.5
Witches Saves =(2/6*8.5)+((4/6*8.5)*1/6)= 3.78
Remaining Witches 30-(9-4) = 25
Wounds from bucklers = 8.5*1/6 = 1.41
Remaining Deamonettes 17-1 = 16

Round 2
Witches
To hit =((4/6*(25-1))+5/6)*2 = 33.67
To Wound = 3/6*33.67 = 16.84
Deamonette saves = 2/6*16.84 = 5.61
Remaining Deamonettes 16-(17-6) = 5

Deamonettes
To hit =(2*5*3/6)+(((2*5*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 5.83
To Wound = 3/6*5.83 = 2.92
Witches Saves =(2/6*2.92)+((4/6*2.92)*1/6)= 1.3
Remaining Witches 25-(3-1) = 23
Wounds from bucklers = 2.92*1/6 = 0.49
Remaining Deamonettes 5-0 = 5

Round 3
Witches
To hit =((4/6*(23-1))+5/6)*2 = 31
To Wound = 3/6*31 = 15.5
Deamonette saves = 2/6*15.5 = 5.17
Remaining Deamonettes 5-(16-5) = 0

30 Deamonettes VS 30 Witches with Bucklers
Round 1
Deamonettes
To hit = (2*30*3/6)+(((2*30*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 35
To Wound = 3/6*35 = 17.50
Witches Saves =2/6*17.50+((4/6*17.50)*1/6)= 7.78
Remaining Witches 30-(18-8) = 20
Wounds from bucklers = 17.5*1/6 = 2.91
Remaining Deamonettes 30-3 = 27

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(20-1))+5/6)*2 = 27
To Wound = 3/6*27 = 13.5
Deamonette saves = 2/6*13.5 = 4.5
Remaining Deamonettes 27-(14-5) = 18

Round 2
Deamonettes
To hit = (2*18*3/6)+(((2*18*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 21
To Wound = 3/6*21 = 10.5
Witches Saves =(2/6*10.5)+((4/6*10.5)*1/6)= 4.67
Remaining Witches 20-(11-5) = 14
Wounds from bucklers = 10.5*1/6 = 1.75
Remaining Deamonettes 18-2 = 16

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(14-1))+5/6)*2 = 19
To Wound = 3/6*19 = 9.5
Deamonette saves = 2/6*9.5 = 3.17
Remaining Deamonettes 16-(10-3) = 9

Round 3
Deamonettes
To hit = (2*9*3/6)+(((2*9*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 10.5
To Wound = 3/6*10.5 = 5.25
Witches Saves =(2/6*5.25)+((4/6*5.25)*1/6)= 2.33
Remaining Witches 14-(5-2) = 11
Wounds from bucklers = 5.25*1/6 = 0.88
Remaining Deamonettes 9-1 = 8

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(11-1))+5/6)*2 = 15
To Wound = 3/6*15 = 7.5
Deamonette saves = 2/6*7.5 = 2.5
Remaining Deamonettes 8-(8-3) = 3

Round 4
Deamonettes
To hit =(2*3*3/6)+(((2*3*3/6)*2/6)*3/6) = 3.5
To Wound = 3/6*3.5 = 1.75
Witches Saves =(2/6*1.75)+((4/6*1.75)*1/6)= 0.78
Remaining Witches 11-(2-1) = 10
Wounds from bucklers = 1.75*1/6 = 0.29
Remaining Deamonettes 3-0 = 3

Witches
To hit =((4/6*(10-1))+5/6)*2 = 13.67
To Wound = 3/6*13.67 = 6.83
Deamonette saves = 2/6*6.83 = 2.28
Remaining Deamonettes 3-(7-2) = 0

Conclusions

Tabulated results from the testing:

witches and deamons

In the table the unit highlighted in bold wins the combat.

What we can see from these results is very interesting. In the first situation where the witch aelves have an extra attack they are able to win combat in just two rounds when they make the first attack on the opposing force. If they were to gain an extra attack from their aura (being within 8 inches of a hero) there could even be a chance of them wiping out the entire Deamonette force with a single round of combat and some lucky rolls.
Meanwhile on the receiving end of attacks the witches with double blades crumble as their native +6 save doesn’t manage to save many of them, even when combined with additional +6 Fanatical Faith saves.

When we come to bucklers though we see a different series of patterns. The most striking is that the witches with bucklers win both situations of when they attack first and when the opposition attacks first. They are slower, however, to kill the Deamonettes when making the initial attack and, whilst they have a higher save, the greater number of attacks hitting them in rounds 2 and 3 take their toll, though the difference isn’t much (26 in the first and 23 in the second).

What this shows is that the most reliable all round choice for Witch Aelves, when faced against a unit with a high number of attacks and a weak save, is the Buckler version of them. However it also shows that if the Witches with Double Daggers makes the first strike then they are able to win the combat in one to two rounds. This would leave them ideally suited to following up those two rounds of combat with further actions; whilst Buckler equipped Witches take one to two turns longer (depending on if they attack first or second). Four turns is a long time in a game, considering that could be 5 turns into the game (assuming the first turn lost to positioning models ready for the charge). That makes the bucklers weaker on the alpha (first) strike, but durable and able to at least tar-pit and hold the line otherwise.
The results also suggest that if a hero was within 8 inches, and thus Witches get one extra attack, the performance would increase quite significantly for both forms of witch. Indeed it would speed up nearly all results by one round, thus speeding up combat and surviving more witches.

This shows that the buckler is must certainly the most all round good and versatile. Able to handle itself well and survive in either attack or defence rolls. The Duel Blades is a trickier beast and superior only when its making the initial attack.
Furthermore keep your heroes close, that +1 attack is going to be a major deciding factor in if your unit sweeps past others and has turns and models left to remain a threat; or gets tangled up for what could be half the game.

Black Library – Specialist Stories

Below is a collection of the short stories, collected editions and novels published by the Black Library in relation to a host of GW’s specialist games such as Bloodbowel, Necromunda, Shadspire and others.

Notes:

  • Most short stories sold on their own are digital only, whilst many anthologies and collected editions are also sold in paperback/hardback
  • As quite a few of these books are much older (from the first era of many of these specialist games) they are often sold as ebooks only from BL at this stage. However there are often copies around second hand so check out ebay, Amazon and AbeBooks for a chance to get hold of physical copies.

Necromunda

Collected Editions

  • Tales from the Underhive (Outlander, Salvation, Survival Instinct, Junktion, Fleshworks, Back from the Dead, Kal Jerico: The Omnibus, Status Deadzone)
  • Necromunda Week: The Bundle (Death’s Head, Burned, Emp-Rah’s Eye, Scar Crossed , Once a Stimm Queen, Dirty Dealings)
  • Kal Jerico: The Omnibus (Blood Royal, Cardinal Crimson, Lasgun Wedding)
  • Status Deadzone (Badland Skelter’s Downhive Monster Show, Bad Spirits, A World Above, The Daemon Bottle & Rat in the Walls, Descent, Rites of Passage, Sisters, The Day of Thirst, The Lake by Tully, Mark of a Warrior)

Novels

Short stories

  • Death’s Head
  • Burned
  • Emp-Rah’s Eye
  • Scar Crossed
  • Once a Stimm Queen
  • Dirty Dealings

 

Bloodbowl

Collected Editions

  • The Blood Bowl eBook Collection (Blood Bowl, Dead Ball, Death Match, Rumble in the Jungle)
  • Death on the Pitch Omnibus (The Hack Attack, Pride and Penitence, Mazlocke’s Cantrip of Superior Substitution, Foul Play, Scrape to Victory, The Skeleton Key, A Last Sniff of Glory, Hoppo’s Pies, Da Bank Job, Doc Morgrim’s Vow, Fixed, Manglers Never Lose)

Novels

  • Blood Bowl
  • Dead Ball
  • Death Match
  • Rumble in the Jungle

Short Stories

  • The Hack Attack
  • Pride and Penitence
  • Mazlocke’s Cantrip of Superior Substitution
  • Foul Play
  • Scrape to Victory
  • The Skeleton Key
  • A Last Sniff of Glory
  • Hoppo’s Pies
  • Da Bank Job
  • Doc Morgrim’s Vow
  • Fixed
  • Manglers Never Lose

Shadspire

Novels

  • Shadespire: The Mirrored City

Warhammer HORROR

Collected Editions

  • Invocations (He Feasts Forever, The Healer, Growing Seasons, Supplication, A Sending from the Grave, Flesh and Blood)
  • Anathemas (Suffer the Vision, These hands, These wings, A Deep and Steady Tread, The Shadow Crown, Voices in the Glass)
  • Maledictions (Nepenthe, The Widow Tide, No Good Deed, Crimson Snow, Last of the Blood, Predation of the Eagle, The Last Ascension of Dominic Seroff, Triggers, A Darksome Place, The Marauder Lives, The Nothings)
  • The Harrowed Paths (A Threnody for Kolchev, Vox Daemonicus, The Thing in the Woods, Hab Fever Lockdown, Voices in the Glass, Skin Man, These Hands, These Wings, A Deep and Steady Tread, Mud and Mist, Suffer the Vision, The Funeral, The Shadow Crown, Runner, Miracles)
  • The Vampire Genevieve (Drachenfels, Genevieve Undead, Beasts in Velvet, Silver Nails)

Novels

  • Dark Harvest
  • The Oubliette
  • Sepulturum
  • The Deacon of Wounds

Audio Stories

Darkly Dreaming

Short stories

  • The Hunt
  • He Feasts Forever
  • The Child Foretold
  • Skull Throne
  • Five Candles
  • Nightbleed
  • A Moment of Cruelty
  • Pentimento
  • The Cache

Dice Theory! A basic introduction

What is it?

Dice theory is about calculating basic probabilities which thus lets you estimate the success and fail rates of model performance, equipment and abilities. This then lets you judge their performance against other models, both your own and the enemies. From there you can use it to help you build army lists, make choices on the battlefield and evaluate results of battles you take part in.

Is it hard?

No. This is fairly basic maths that (with a bit of a reminder) most people can understand pretty easily. Yes if you really want you can take it far further with complex statistics and comparison methods, but for most users the best results are going to be just looking at the basic results. Though if you are keen by all means take it further!

Lets get started!

Note for this discussion the / line is being used to show a fraction not a division sign (although note that to put any fraction into normal numbers you simply treat it as a division, just be sure that you do any division before any multiplication when doing your sums)

The first core concept to understand is how to represent rolling in maths. The Warhammer games are easy in this regard because the random elements introduced by dice rolling are all done on the good old D6 – the six sided dice. Therefore you know that in pretty much all cases the probability of anything happening is going to be out of six.

So lets look at a model – the Daughter of Khaine Witch Aelf. This model has a To Hit value of 3+, which means any roll on a D6 which is a 3 or higher will hit.

A 3+ means that a roll of 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the dice will succeed. So that is a total of 4 possible rolls from a dice with 6 sides. We can write that as 4/6 and can also be divided to give 0.6666 to infinity (it never ends) which can be simplified to 0.67 (which is a perfectly fine level of accuracy for dice theory)

So if one recalls that a half is 1/2 = 0.5 we can see that for a “To Hit” of 3+ a model should be hitting more than half of the time when the dice rolls. It won’t be every time, but its a pretty good success rate.
However landing a hit is only part of an attack, you also have to roll to wound. A Witch Aelf has a To Wound roll of a 4+, so a roll of 4, 5 and 6 will land a wound. That is 3/6, or 0.5 (yes same as 1/2 – a half). Now because to wound depends first on the chance of the model hitting we have to combine the two results.

To Hit – multiplied by – To Wound = Number of wounds scored.

4/6 * 3/6 = 0.33
0.67*0.5 = 0.34 – Note there is a tiny difference here because we used the rounded value instead of the infinite for 4/6. In terms of dice rolling this difference is negligible.

So now you can see that for a single Witch Aelf making a single attack, it has under a half chance of landing a wound each time. In fact doing the maths with the proper values its exactly equal to 1/3.
Now we can take that understanding and improve it further. Lets say we’ve got 10 Witch Aelves in a single unit. They each have 2 attacks, 3+ hit and 4+ wound and deal 1 damage with each hit. Also there is one leader in the group who has a +1 to hit. Let us assume that you get this unit into close combat and that all 10 models are in range of the enemy.

We thus have:
9 models make 2 attacks each with a To Hit of 3+.
1 model making 2 attacks with a To Hit of 2+ (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)

We can write that as:
The attacks made by the regular models*to hit chance + attacks made by the leader*to hit chance = total attacks
(9*2*4/6) + (1*2*5/6) = 13.67
12 + 1.67 = 13.67

So from 10 Witch Aelves we can estimate that they will make 13.67 attacks. From there we can work out how many times they will wound from those attacks. Because they all wound on the same 4+ score this is even easier and is simply

Number of attacks*to hit chance = number of wounds
13.67*3/6 = 6.83

So from 10 Witch Aelves you can expect to make 6.83 wounds (which you could round up to 7 if you wish). As 10 Witch aelves make 20 attacks total we can see that it matches our earlier maths of  being around 1/3rd of the attacks

1/3*20 = 6.67

The leaders bonus makes a little difference, but not a huge amount in this comparison, but likely pushes it closer to a full 7.

 

Now in this test these Aelves were not attacking anything, but if we give them an opponent – say a nasty Deamonette of Slaanesh – we can see how things might fare.

A Deamonette has a basic save of 5+ (works on a 5 and 6), and we are making a (rounded up) 7 attacks against them. So that would be:

Number of wounds*save chance
7*2/6 = 2.3

So we can expect them to make around 2 saves, which would mean they’d lose 5 hit points; which as each Deamonette has only 1 wound, means they would lose 5 models.

In practical terms we now know that if we take our unit of 10 Witch Aelves and attack a unit of 30 Deamonettes, we are only going to have a chance to kill around 5 of them in any one turn of combat, which is not that many from such a large unit. In contrast, if we were to charge a unit of 10 Deamonettes we could expect to take out around half the unit!

 

Whilst experience on the tabletop can also teach these very same lessons, a little bit of maths theory can let you better understand these concepts in less complicated manner.
Furthermore its not beholden to wild-chance that real dice will give; for example you could attack 30 Deamonettes with your 10 Witch Aelves and kill 15 of them with some really super lucky dice rolls for you and some bad saving from your opponent. An experience like that might make you think your Witch Aelves are superpowered and thus charge them into Deamonettes (and other similar units) like that again, only to get crushed when you kill a more “normal” number of 5 and they make a far superior return attack.
It can also help a lot when you want to compare things, such as different unit types or weapon choices on the same unit. You can test out what the wounds will likely be, but also see how different special effects might or might not become more critical to the importance of a unit The next article covers this in more detail by comparing the Witch Aelves with duel blades and Witch Aelves with bucklers.

Remember Dice Theory is not replacing gameplay and actual experience. It makes assumptions about the game situation and often you might compare things at the extreme ends (eg comparing 10 witch aelves and 30 witch aelves) to see the patterns or differences in the units. Furthermore its not taking into account positioning, range, cover etc…All essential gameplay elements that contribute to an overall success. Indeed in this test we’ve assumed that you’d get all 10 models in the unit into close combat – in a real game you might lose several on the way and might also not be able to move all of them into position to attack. However if you know that about 1/3rd of your hits are going to cause wounds and most of those will kill you can at least plan with that in mind accordingly.