So the first choice therefore (putting considerations such as the appearance of the models to one side) is whether or not the basic stats of the gang/team suit your favoured style of play – this is less relevant to necromunda for the reasons above, but can make a huge difference in bloodbowl, where choosing Dwarves if you want to play a passing game would be an horrendous mistake.
Each race however has a pre-defined preference for certain areas of development using the experience system. In a reverse of the statline situation, the wider variety of skills available in Necromunda means more option to tailor your models to a particular style, though the more random nature of skill selection can influence a fighter’s future more so than being able to pick skills to complement their existing abilities. It’s the skill selection however that I want to concentrate on, as the skills/skill tables you choose can significantly affect how your gang/team operates and can spring many surprises on your opponent.
Let’s take Necromunda first, and I’m only going to concentrate on the original 6 houses since I have little to no experience of the outlander gangs.
The skill tables look highly confusing at first when you look at them all together, but a little analysis shows a pattern – juves can access two skill tables, gangers three, heavies four and leaders six. Fairly obviously, the juves (who will eventually progress to become gangers) can only access skill tables that gangers will have available to them. All heavies have access to the Muscle, Shooting and Techno tables, with one more table tailoring their skill set to their house, half of the original house heavies get access to combat skills, with one each accessing Agility (Escher), Ferocity (Cawdor) and Stealth (Delaque).
Let’s use the heavies as an example of what I’m talking about therefore. Typically I would expect most gangs to equip their heavies with a heavy weapon (durr!) or a special weapon, as only heavies have access to the former and heavies and leaders the latter. This instantly makes the heavy into a fire support unit and you’d be pretty daft to have them on the frontline. However, the easy access to muscle skills (5 of which directly affect combat performance) and combat skills for most houses means that the heavy is actually your most able hand to hand fighter outside your leader. Equip these guys with a pistol and some kind of close combat weapon and they’d form a formidable combat presence to threaten any gang.
Let’s take this one step further then, Van Saar are typically the house everyone expects to be shooting at you, lots. Van Saar gangers also get access to Combat skills however, so you could quite easily equip a Van Saar gang to be solely dependent on combat, with two heavies and a leader backed up by several appropriately developed gangers.
So think carefully about the skill tables you select, as they can have a great influence on your playstyle and what an opponent might expect from you.
Secondly, let’s look at Bloodbowl, where the skill availability is considerably more available for personalisation.
Here, when you learn a new skill, you can pick your skill from a selection of tables, which are generally tailored to the racial characteristics represented by their statline (so elves get agility skills, dwarves get strength skills etc). The general skill table however gives a lot of flexibility to support those crucial doubles rolls (that give you access to all the skill tables) and whilst you won’t create an agile player using the general table alone, you can supplement certain areas, making elf teams more able to survive in a fight (Fend, Block, Dauntless, Frenzy, Wrestle etc) and Tougher teams better able to control the ball (Sure Hands, Kick, Shadowing for example). Imagine for example an Amazon team with all their linemen (women) having Block and Frenzy in addition to their default skill ‘Dodge’. I certainly wouldn’t fancy my chances on their offense!
So there you have it, if you do get involved in a skirmish campaign from one of GW’s specialist games (and I strongly recommend that you do, they’re great fun), do me a favour and think carefully about your gang/team selection to start with, even more carefully about how you want to play the team and develop its members, and most of all don’t be afraid to do something unexpected (but not stupid!)
Till tomorrow’s random musing, have fun, and remember – Chuck Norris is allowed to talk about fight club.