The Escher are a gang for the Games Workshop tabletop skirmish game Necromunda. Made up entirely of women, this gang specializes in venom-tipped blades, chemical warfare and speed.
This House Escher Gang article explains the lore of the gang, the options you have for building a sisterhood of Escher fighters, how to buy and build a gang and what interesting ways to play Necromunda an Escher gang offers you.
You’ll have to buy the Escher Gang book House of Blades to get the exact statistics and rules for the gang, but this article is meant to make it easy for you to figure out if the gang is something for you.
For more information about how to play Necromunda, see our main article about the game.
This is a guide for the physical Necromunda game and not the Necromunda PC game version.
Lore of the House Escher Gang
House Escher traces its roots in Necromundan society as far back as the planet has historical records. It has familial ties with the Noble House Ulanti, and more than any other of the six Gang Houses, the Escher retain an aura of nobility, even as they fight in the chaotic corridors of the Underhive.
Due to terrible sideeffects of centuries of genetic experimentation, males of the Escher bloodline are born so fragile that they can only survive just long enough to reproduce through a ton of medical assistance, so in practice, any Escher who is capable of carrying out any kind of useful job is a woman. Political leaders, gang fighters, chemical engineers and sages are all female, and this gives Escher gangs a sense of community unlike any other gang.
Through the centuries, House Escher has grown rich from its production of drugs, chemicals and elixirs, as well as the production of exotic animals and high-quality las weapons. They supply many of the other gangs with chems and drugs, even their arch-enemies House Goliath, who couldn’t produce their super-strong workforce without Escher drugs and gene alchemy.
House Escher’s power structure is strictly matriarchal, and the head of the house is the Matriarch Primus who has the final say in the Council of Crones. Before sisters of the House enter service in the gangs, they spend time as Wyld Runners, young hunters who prowl the wastes with their companion beasts and growing strong and cunning through surviving the hardships of the wilderness.
In battle, Escher gangs are skilled at both melee and ranged combat, but are especially known for their speed of movement and their skill with sword and knife. They support their finesse combat skills with gas weapons and chemically-enhanced ammunition for their guns, as well as with poisonous darts and gene-enhanced pets.
Fighters in a House Escher Gang
Like most Necromunda gangs, the Escher gang has Leader, Champion, Ganger, Prospect and Juve options among their fighter types. Each fighter type has a different credits cost, and each type determines what gear the fighter can take, what skills are available to them, and how many of this kind of fighter you can field in a game. The weapons lists and statistics for each of these fighter types can be found in House of Blades book.
Escher Gang Queen (Leader)
The Escher Gang Queen is a bit of a generalist if you compare her to the Leaders of other gangs. Her Weapon Skill, Ballistics Skill, Strength and Toughness are all the same value, so it doesn’t give you a clear idea of how to play her.
She does have 3 Attacks, though, which is above average, so it’s a good idea to give her a close combat weapon. Luckily, you have many options for doing so in her equipment list, such as the Shock Whip or Stiletto Sword available in the Escher Gang kit, or a Chainsword which you can easily find in any Space Marine play’ers bit box or off any bit shop.
For ranged weapons, the Combi-bolter/needler available in the gang kit is a good, if slightly expensive choice: Bolters do 2 damage and has an Armor Piercing rating of -1, and the Needler has the toxin trait, which gives you a chance to force the target to roll an injury roll and possible go Out of Action immediately.
If you used to play this gang with the rules in the Gangs of the Underhive book, note that the House of Blades rules has made the Gang Queen 5 points more expensive, as well as removing her flak armour as a free piece of equipment (this goes for the rest of the fighters as well). This means your old Gang Queen model is now 15 points more expensive if you want it to keep the armour.
Like any other Leader, the Gang Queen can make Group Activations, which means she can activate two other fighters along with her. This means it can be a good idea to have a couple of fighters equipped to complement the way you want to play your queen, whether it’s ranged or close combat.
The Gang Queen’s primary skill sets are Agility, Combat and Leadership, so this also supports a close combat and group based playstyle. As she gains experience, she will also be able to pick skills from the unique Escher Finesse skill tree, which has many options for increasing your Queen’s survivability such as letting her retreat after attacking or adding range to her close combat weapons.
In the House of Blades book, the Gang Queen also has access to Phyrr Cats as Status items, which is a fast-moving Exotic Beast with a pretty fearsome Talon attack.
Remember that you can take multiple equipment sets on a Leader, which means that you can have multiple fighter cards and models for it, so that you can field your Gang Queen as a close combat specialist in one game, and a ranged gunner in another.
Escher Gang Matriarch (Champion)
The Escher Gang Matriarch is a Champion fighter type, so it can use Group Activation with one other fighter, and it can take multiple equipment sets just like the Leader.
Her primary skills are Agility and Combat, and its statistics are very similar to that of a Gang Queen, but with fewer Attacks and and worse Leadership, Cool, Willpower and Intelligence statistics.
Since a Matriarch has equal Weapons and Ballistics skills, and it has the same equipment list as a Gang Queen except for one piece of armour, there is almost no end to what kinds of Matriarch loadouts you can choose. A Matriarch does have access to better pistols and close combat weapons than a standard Gang Sister, so consider options such as the plasma pistol, power sword or chainsword.
Since Champions can also do Group Activations, but not as part of an activation caused by the Gang Queen’s Group Activation, it’s best to keep it a bit away from the Queen, so consider who you want to run your Matriarch with.
Escher Death-Maiden (Champion)
The Death-Maiden is an alternative Champion fighter type for the Escher gang. She is an Escher warrior who has been brought back from death through chem-alchemy to fight alongside her sisters once more, and she comes with some interesting options.
First and foremost, her statistics are more specialised than those of the Queen and Matriarch, with a fast Move characteristic, a Weapon Skill of 2 (it doesn’t get any better than that for close combat) and even a good Toughness characteristic.
She can’t do Group Activations, but can take multiple equipment sets.
She has a special ability that allows her to reroll 1s when using Toxin weapons, which means you have more shots at causing the enemy to roll and injury roll. So, when equipping her, Toxin weapons such as needle pistols, stilletto knives/swords or venom claws, all of which you can find in either of the Escher kits.
The Death-Maiden is also required for two very cool Tactics for the Escher gang: One lets a Death-Maiden gain another activation if they take an enemy fighter out of action, which is definitely useful. The other one, however, triggers when one of your fighters suffer a Memorable Death, which means that they die immediately as the result of a bad Lasting Injury roll. This tactics turns that into an advantage, as that dead fighter immediately turns into a free Death-Maiden for your gang! If that’s not thematic, I don’t know what is.
Finally, the unique Escher Finesse skill set is one of the Death-Maiden’s primary skill sets, which means she is your fastest routes to getting some of those skills in the game.
The Death-Maiden is a pretty terrifying Champion, and I personally like the idea of having a Champion that’s all-in on Escher specialties such as toxins and moving fast into close combat.
Escher Gang Sister (Ganger)
The Escher Gang Sister is the standard fighter of an Escher Gang, and as such, they have access to some of the same weapons as the Leader and Champion fighter types, but they don’t get free skills, and their statistics are worse. However, they’re also a lot cheaper, so you can field quite a few of them. Along with Wyld Runners and Little Sisters, they have the Gang Fighter special rule, which means you have to have as many fighters or more with that special rule in your gang than fighters without it – to make sure you don’t fill your gang with Champions.
When they gain five Advancements in a campaign, they can become Specialists and start advancing like Champions and Leaders, and one Gang Sister in your gang can be a Specialist from the beginning of the game.
As long as they’re not Specialists, however, they can only pick their starting equipment among basic weapons, pistols and close combat weapons. This means some of your best options are the stiletto knives/swords, autoguns, and the cheap lasguns available in the Escher gang kit. When they’re specalists, you can add special weapons such as the “Night-shade” chem-thrower to the mix.
Gang Sisters don’t really excel at anything, but their Move and Initiative characteristics are pretty good, which lends itself pretty well to hit and run melee tactics, as Initiative is what you roll for when you try to retreat out of combat. This means you should definitely invest in flak armour or mesh armour for most of your Gang Sisters, since spending a lot of time in close combat without a Save roll is pretty dangerous.
Escher Wyld Runner (Prospect)
The Wyld Runner is a fighter type who stalks the wildernesses of the Hives along with their beast companions. It has the Gang Fighter special rule, so it counts as a “ganger” when determining the composition of your gang, but it has some interesting alternative options to those of a Gang Sister.
Since they’re considered reckless by their non-Wyld Runner sisters, other fighters don’t have to take Nerve tests when Wyld Runners are Seriously Injured or taken Out of Action, and they get to improve characteristics for less XP than other fighter types in the gang.
Wyld Runners are really fast, have very low Strength, but are otherwise similar to Gang Sisters when it comes to statistics.
Their equipment list is much more restrictive than that of Gang Sisters, but they have special options such as the wyld bow (with its various ammo types) and the whip, as well as the Status Item Exotic Beasts called the Phelynx, which are these insane little things that attack random fighters in melee, but have the Toxin trait on their attacks if they roll a natural 6.
A Wyld Runner can turn into a Gang Matriarch instead of a Specialist when she has five Advancements in a campaign, but they’re really cool additions to your gang in their standard form as well. Both the Wyld Runner and the accompanying Phelynx are made to be unpredictable and work well fighting on their own, so they are fun to use as scouts or flanking fighters.
Escher Little Sister (Juve)
A Little Sister is the cheapest fighter type for the Escher gang, but like all other Juve fighter types, their statistics are pretty bad, and they only have access to the most simple weapons.
What they excel at is helping you get the model count of your gang up, and this is always an advantage, because more fighters means more activations, which means more chances at carrying out important actions.
If they survive, they can become Specialists, and they can increase characteristics cheaper just like Wyld Runners, but you can also just use them as cannon fodder. I would give them stiletto knives, mostly, since their Ballistics skill is really bad and Toxin weapons have a chance to take down even the strongest enemies.
The Phelynx and Phyrr Cats that different Escher gang fighter types can take as Status items are the unique Exotic Beasts available to Escher gangs, and they’re both fast and pretty good in close combat for their credits cost. They’re detailed under the relevant fighter types above.
Unique Hangers-On and Brutes
The Escher gang has a couple of unique Hangers-Ons and Brutes available to them.
The Apprentice Clan Chymist makes chem-alchemy elixirs (see below) cheaper for your gang, and they also have a chance to turn Gang Matriarchs and Queens into Death-Maidens if they die from a Memorable Death roll.
A Shivver is an Oracle your Queen or Matriarchs can visit during the post-battle sequence to have their future foretold, which can give you anything from a free Bounty Hunter for a turn to you fighter freaking out and going into recovery.
The House Escher Khimerix is a massive monster cat created in Escher labs with terrifying melee attacks and two options for ranged weapons where one is a blast weapon and the other is a template weapon. It can regenerate wounds and has a chance to increase the Strength and Damage of one attack dice by one. It’s a fearsome creature, but there’s no model for it yet, so we don’t know how big it’s suppposed to be or what exactly it’s supposed to look like apart from one piece of artwork in House of Blades.
House Escher also has to two unique House Agents which you can hire for one battle at a time.
Necrana is an Agent version of the Death-Maiden who is really hard to kill.
Cyniss is a Chymist with a wrist-mounted needler with two firing modes.
Weapons and Wargear
The Escher gang has access to a wide variety of weapons across its equipment lists, but here are a few highlights:
- Cheap lasguns: Lasguns are long range guns that are reloaded automatically. Bringing a few of these makes sure you’ll never run out of options for taking a shot at range.
- Toxin Weapons: Weapons with the Toxin trait, such as stiletto knives/swords, throwing knives, needle pistols and needlers, don’t damage enemies, but have a chance of forcing an injury roll upon them instead, meaning they could go directly out of action. This is especially great against fighters with more than one Wound, since Toxin weapons are just as likely to take out a 3-Wound monster as a 1-Wound fighter with the same Toughness statistic. These weapons can be modified with the Toxic Ammo system, which lets Escher fighters craft toxins between battles, giving Toxin weapons extra effects such as causing enemies to bleed, attack the nearest fighter, or become Broken.
- Gas Weapons: The “Nightshade” Chem-Thrower also has the Toxin trait, but hits everything within range of a template marker, so it can hit multiple targets. The same goes for the Choke Gas and Scare Gas grenades – and all of these can be modified to have other terrifying effects through the Gaseous Ammo system, which lets Escher fighters purchase gas concoctions for their Gas weapons between battles. The Gaseous Ammo effects include making enemies go Blind or Insane.
- Stimms: Between battles, Escher fighters can also create Stimms, powerful drugs that grant them various effects. One of my favorites is Bad Blood, which makes every enemy in base contact with your fighter take an Initiative check if your fighter suffers a Wound or Flesh Wound. If they fail the check, they act like they’ve been hit by a weapon with the Toxin trait! Being so pumped with drugs that your blood can kill your opponents is peak Escher.
- Chem-Synth: This piece of equipment gives a bonus to your Toxin weapons so that they treat enemies’ Toughness as being lower than it is, so if you’re going for a Toxin build for your fighters, bring one of these where you can.
The unique Escher Finesse skill set lets your Escher fighters embody the tactics of their House: most of the skills are about movement, letting you retreat more easily, move over fighters or even “teleport” with the Somersault skill.
They can also improve your fighter in combat, however: Combat Virtuoso increases the range of your sword and knife attacks on your own activations, which means you can attack enemies without them being able to make Reaction attacks.
The Finesse skills are generally very useful, but since only the Death-Maidens have them as their Primary skills, you’ll have to play the campaign for a bit before you have wider access to them.
Apart from the Death-Maiden specific Tactics mentioned above, the Escher Gang Tactics often involve giving a fighter a free Chem-Alchemy effect (so Stimms, Gaseous Ammo or Toxic Ammo) or applying a movement buff to many of your fighters.
One of my favorites is the Predatory Phyrr tactic, which uses the Horrors in the Dark rules from one of the scenarios in the Necromunda Rulebook on enemy fighters for one round. This means that enemy fighters who are not close to their comrades have to make a roll to see if they’re attacked by horrible monsters, or just freaking out because they think they heard something scuffling around. That’s a great tactic for creating the sense of the Escher bringing all sorts of gene-modified horror cats along with them when they go to battle.
Escher gangs also have access to a selection of gang terrain that you can purchase and place before a game begins, as well as a range of Alliances and even a Bounty Hunter called Betti Banshee who can debuff enemy actions. The House of Blades is stuffed full of options for your gang, so what we’ve covered here is just an overview of what you get.
as a House gang, Escher plays the Dominion Campaign pretty straight-forwardly as it is described in the Necromunda Rulebook. They have access to special territories that give them easier access to chem-synths, medicae kits and Gas/Toxin weapons, or the ability to re-roll some Lasting Injuries rolls.
Pros and Cons of the Escher Gang
+ Highly specialised around Gas and Toxin attacks, which allows you to send enemy fighters directly to Injury rolls rather than just damaging them
+ Death-Maidens and Wyld Runners are interesting alternatives to standard Champions and Gangers
+ Good at hit and run tactics in close combat with good Initiative stats and Finesse skills
– Somewhat lacking in survivability
– not specialised in ranged firepower
Building and Painting Escher Gangs
There are two plastic kits available from which to build Escher gangs at the moment:
The Escher Gang kit builds 10 fighters, with options for an Escher Gang Queen, Escher Gang Matriarchs, Escher Gang Sisters/Escher Little Sisters.
It contains a wide variety of generic weapons such as lasguns, autoguns, pistols and knives, as well as special weapons such as a combi-bolter with a needler, a shock whip and a chem-thrower.
Forge World sells upgrade kits for this kit: Escher weapons kits 1, 2, 3 and the Escher champion weapons kit adds many weapons in an Escher style, such as chainswords, heavy stubbers, melta-guns, flamers and so on. They also sell an upgrade set of alternate heads for the Escher Gang kit.
The Escher Death-Maidens and Wyld Runners kit builds 2 Death-maidens, 4 Wyld Runners and 4 Phelynxes.
Keep in mind that fighters can be built with a lot of other equipment than what’s available in these boxes – in Necromunda, that’s the whole point. Use whatever bits you have available to represent the fighters you want to field in the game.
Forge World also has a few single model kits available for House Escher: Three Escher Champion kits with different loadouts, a set of 2 Phyrr Cats and Kria The Huntress, an Escher Bounty Hunter.
When it comes to painting Escher gangs, don’t be afraid to use bright, powerful colors, and even using many different ones on the same gang. Remember that Necromunda gangs aren’t military forces: They’re not supposed to be camouflaged. Quite the contrary, actually, as being intimidating and cleary showing your House allegiance is just as important a part of your outfit as the ways in which it offers you protection on the streets of the hives. Bright colors work well with a variety of skin tones as well, so don’t feel restrained to the very Caucasian feel of the box art for the plastic kits.
This video from Warhammer TV does a great job of showing how to achieve the bright color scheme of the box art, but it’s a couple of years old, and you would be able to make your scheme even more vibrant with Contrast paints such as Iyanden Yellow today.