These figures are for Necromunda, the Games Workshop game of war in a hive-city. I painted most of these a long time ago, around 1995. First are the Goliaths, then some pics of other figs I've painted.
Ever notice how Goliath gangs in Necromunda are a little macho ... maybe a little too macho? Like Khorne armies always seem like they're overcompensating for something? Well here's a real man's-man Goliath gang. They're sort of like professional wrestlers, and they're called the Buns of Steele.
Everybody wants to play against them. When we were going to start another Necromunda campaign, I was talking with the guys at the game store about which gang I would play. I really like my Delaques, Redemptionists and Spyrers. But one guy said, "Shut up. Just bring the Goliaths, that's all everybody wants to see!"
So may I present Diamond Dick Steele and his "mates", the Buns of Steele. When they're not lifting weights or shaving their chests, they're talking about how ugly the Escher gangs are in comparison.
When fighting other gangs, the Buns of Steele prefer hand-to-hand combat. Well, not hand-to-hand so much as man-to-man. Juves, also known as punks, are armed with a knife and a pistol and then prodded towards the enemy by experienced gangers. The punks mob the enemy and hack them down. It works quite well. They have to spread out to avoid grenades. This tactic is called "The Chorus Line."
This gang is remarkably successful. Even a punk with two hand weapons is more dangerous in close combat than an experienced ganger with a rifle (which requires both hands). With cheap weapons and lots of punks, the Buns of Steele outnumber most opponents, so it's fun to rush the shooty gangs and tear them down like a wolfpack. A very flamboyantly dressed wolfpack, that is.
There are some traditions when playing the Buns of Steele. In Necromunda, if a ganger is hit and wounded he may sustain a flesh wound, be down or taken out-of-action. Typically to declare a model down, you say, "Man down!" The appropriate response is, "Where?!" (Sometimes you'll hear choruses of, "Does he live alone?!")
To distinguish the punks from the gangers, I modeled them with ponytails. Later, when they've earned their place in the gang, they can get the ponytail changed to a mohawk. But until then, ponytails are just easier to hang on to!
It's no wonder they don't dress in the drab, dirty rags of the underhive but in fine silks and capes. They don't try to match. After all, if you're going into combat, you should clash!
So here they are, the Necromunda gang voted "Best Dressed" and "Most Likely To Do A Liza Minelli Impression During Combat." These burly maniacs charge into combat, enraged and crazed, shouting their warcry, "Your ass is mine!"
So don't get captured by the Buns of Steele!
There is little more dangerous in the underhive than an experienced gang leader with close combat weapons. His increased stat-line alone can make him a monster. I armed Steele with a flail and a sword, potent weapons in a charge. The flail gets +1 Strength and can't be parried, while the sword allows him to parry enemy blows.
Leaders gain experience quickly if their gang wins battles. With improved stats (like Toughness or Attacks) and skills (like Step Aside or Berserk Charge), Steele's charge is a shocking, deadly assault. Since there are lots of juves and gangers to lead the charge, Steele rarely gets hit by enemy fire. Unfortunately, when the battle goes well for the Goliaths early on, Steele often doesn't make it to close combat because the enemy gang bottles out first.
The model I use for Steele is a metal Warhammer Quest Pit Fighter; it has all the style of a Goliath with just the right weapons. I painted him more tanned than the rest to maybe make him look a little older and meaner.
Here's what I learned when running close combat gangs in Necromunda: people will place their troops in small groups (firebases) in open areas and upper levels, and will blaze away at your charging boys. A couple times my Goliaths still made it to the enemy lines to chop the enemy down, but my losses were high.
Only the threat of shooting keeps them from gunning down your boys. I experimented with a couple heavy weapons, but eventually settled on a missile launcher. The problem with other heavy weapons is that they require high Ballistic Skill to be truly threatening. Because shooters in a close combat gang don't get many shots at the enemy, the Heavy starts with a BS 3 and never improves. A missile launcher is cheap and more likely to do some damage. Because of the explosion radius of the frag missiles, it forces the enemy to spread out a little and it can scare the enemy back into deeper cover. In most Necromunda games there's a lot less cover on upper levels, so a Heavy can do a lot of damage against gangers not on the ground. A missile launcher can make them move down where your charging juves can get at them. The threat of the missile launcher is greater than its effectiveness. I always place a ganger with a basic weapon within 2" of the Heavy to help if he gets shot, to provide a little added firepower and to protect him from infiltrators. I place the Heavy as high as I can, with the best view of the battlefield.
The model is a neat conversion. It's just a plastic Goliath, but there's no missile launcher in Necromunda to arm him with. So I got a Warhammer 40k Space Marine missile launcher. Of course, a cape is necessary to indicate he's made his way in the gang.
Someone has to drive the juves into battle, and that's Codsaw's job. Armed only with a custom-made chainsword mounted firmly to his large codpiece, Codsaw chases the juves towards the enemy. There's nothing special about his stats or armament; I treat him as just being armed with a chainsword and a knife. But I have seen foes panic at the sight of him coming within charge distance!
Codsaw and the other gangers need to either join in the charge against the enemy or stay a couple inches back. Otherwise grenades can take out the front rank, blocking the path for a second row of men. This model was the inspiration for the gang. He's almost the only plastic Goliath I chose to paint well and do any modeling with. He's my favorite.
These three gangers are armed like the juves and along with Codsaw, are the second wave charging into close combat. (I normally can't afford all three in a beginning gang.) Sometimes I mix them into the "Chorus Line" attack if the terrain allows it. One long chain across the table of angry, berserk lunatics built up into a 'roid rage will make the other player check his deployment again.
Dark Shaft, pictured below, is reputedly not someone you want standing behind you.
These three gangers are armed with basic weapons, a lasgun, an autogun and a shotgun (respectively). I deploy them like normal Necromunda gangers: find some nice cover to shoot at the enemy. Normally Slick Rick with his lasgun is kept within 2" of the heavy Jake the Snake, while Spandex Dan and Python Paul are kept together to provide cover-fire for the charging gang members. Naturally, since these guys are experienced gangers, they choose to wear capes. (Former members of this group were named Siegfried and Roy.)
Also known as juves, twinks or "land piranha", I rarely name these figures. They don't last long enough. I've had up to 5 punks in the gang at any one time. I arm them with a pistol and a knife or some similar combination, then deploy them as close to the enemy as possible -- in light cover, and always on the ground. When my turn comes, they move at best speed towards the enemy. Deploy them on the ground because there's more natural cover there. If the enemy deploys on upper levels (as most Necromunda players do), the punks can run underneath them. Then the punks can run up the ladders and charge the enemy. The enemy often doesn't get much of a shot at them when the close combat is vertical instead of on a horizontal plane. The key to getting into close combat is to know when to get some cover while still maintaining forward movement.
Too much hesitation and the enemy will pick on the few shooters you have (that they can see). You don't want your small number of shooters to trade shots with the enemy gang for too long while your ground troops slowly sneak through cover. Too much berserk charging is bad too. Obviously it might leave you open to easy shots. It might disperse your troops or change their formation so that you don't get a group charge. Haphazard, onesey-twosey charges can be bad. And by charging recklessly, you might bunch up, making yourself a target for grenade attacks. Hope that the punks get captured. A rescue scenario is very good for a close combat gang like the Buns of Steele. But don't fear cutting them loose. If a punk gets too many wounds, which they are likely to do in close combat, they may become a liability. In that case, strip them of their equipment and get a new punk.
Once when rolling up the Buns of Steele, I rolled two Settlements. These can provide new juves. Some gangs don't want them, as juves need food but aren't of much use in combat. But free punks proved so beneficial to this gang that I recommend doing anything you can to capture Settlements.
A close friend of Diamond Dick Steele's is Rock Hard (they were once "roommates"). I liked the model and decided to use it for fun, and lo-and-behold, he fixed a problem with the gang. Lurking on the fringes of the chargers, the Bounty Hunter can be a real sniper. He's hard to shoot at because he's on the ground with the charging punks. Given a choice between the concealed Bounty Hunter and the ravening close combat specialists coming within charge range, the enemy rarely shoots at the Bounty Hunter. This lets him pick and choose a spot to set up in, providing cover fire for the chargers. It forces the enemy to keep their heads down, rather than standing up to shoot down fire lanes.
One thing about the three-dimensional aspect of Necromunda battles is that up is not always good. True, placing a model up on a high level gives him a good look down on the battlefield, while the very floor provides cover from people shooting up at him. This is called "look down, shoot down."
But let's say we have the ground level, and three levels above that. The top level (3) usually isn't connected with walkways to other buildings like levels 1 and 2 are. So if someone sets his Heavy up on level 3, all you have to do is get a model underneath him. The Heavy can't go anywhere. There's no way off his island; he can't shoot through the floor; and if he isn't careful, he can be charged from below. Add to that, while carrying a heavy weapon, he's no good in close combat. So the standard practice of placing shooters on levels above the ground is dangerous. It can isolate models and leave them ripe for attacks from below. That's why I place my charging Goliaths on the ground. People who have played against this Goliath gang before place almost all their models on the ground too. Otherwise, once the Goliaths are underneath them, the game is over.
Close combat is far deadlier than shooting. Any model that goes down and has no friendly models near it is automatically out of action. Here's a true-life example: Dark Shaft was charged by two enemy gangers. With his +1 Attack and +1 Toughness, he won against the first attacker, who rolled a 6 and was out of action. The second also lost, but was only knocked down (rolled 2-5). BUT, because there was no one else nearby, he was automatically taken out of action. THEN, to add insult to injury, Dark Shaft got a 2" follow-up move ... and used it to touch another enemy model who was down nearby. This counted as engaging another model in close combat, and without support, that model was taken out of action.
The look of shock on my foe's face was priceless. Three of his gangers were taken out of action on his turn and it was my turn to charge next! This was an extreme (but true) example, but the important point is that going out of action is much more likely in close combat. All sorts of rules pile on to make it worse. For example, you get a lot more Attacks in a charge than one shot per turn. And lots of close combat weapons have higher Strength scores so they do more damage than shooty weapons. So what if the enemy gets one S3 shot per turn with penalties for range and cover while you close the distance? Once there, even a charging juve is a scary thing.
The fear factor of the Buns of Steele is high. A well-organized gang (or army or warband or whatever) implies a successful win-loss record to some people. Also, the rather unusual motif of this gang keeps people laughing long enough not to take it seriously. And those who know the gang know that autoguns aren't enough to stop them. So the mind game is pretty much won.
Because I use juves, my gang is much larger than others (11 models at start, quickly jumping to 13-15). But some gangs only start with 7-9 models. Within a couple games, I could outnumber them almost 2-to-1. A charging juve with two hand weapons is a match for a ganger with a rifle, so I've seen some shooty gangs that had no real chance of winning against the Buns of Steele.
Outlanders are imbalanced in comparison to the regular gangs. Outlander gangs, with their special rules and weird weapons, can mop the floor with beginner gangs. Beginner gangs don't have enough firepower to do anything against zombies, for example. But this gang loves most Outlanders. Oh, yes. Any chance to mob up and charge is a dream come true. For the cost of one Scavvy Scalie, I get four juves. Scavvies, Ratskin Renegades and Redemptionists can barely feed their gang members, so the potential losses they would take from a fight with a close combat gang could finish them off. It's worth throwing down with these three gangs, as they can't survive a really bad loss.
Spyre Hunters are another story. I avoid them after facing a "gang" of four Jakara's with monomolecular swords. I also haven't played against other Outlander gangs.
Update (12/20/07) -- This sounds good until the Outlander gangs get experience. A Scavvy gang can choose zombies every time, meaning on average you're going to be outnumbered, and they get free hand-to-hand models to slow you down. Couple that with tox bombs, and a monkey running an experienced Scavvy gang can beat this Goliath gang.
- - Use grenades. It's that easy. If my guys are within charge range of you, they're within grenade range. A smoke grenade has screwed up my whole day.
- Don't set up too high. Deploy on the ground if possible. Make sure that if a model is above ground level, it can get away. Without walkways to get somewhere else, he's trapped.
- Choose scenarios that benefit shooting or reduce the numbers of my gang. Or preferably both. Ambush is good for you; Shoot Out is good for me.
- Set up fire lanes. These are corridors of terrain the attackers will have to move down while you shoot at them.
- Use Treacherous Conditions from Outlanders, p61. Several results are bad for movement on the ground, especially Bubbling Slime.
- Count on my missile launcher to deviate and hit my juves. It happens often enough, you might as well count on it.