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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thinkin' 'Bout Metal Men

Some of you peoples have already seen the Necron codex, either in person or (gasp) by some kind of internet cheating robbery method; whichever it is, I'm not gonna judge. Being in at least one of those categories, this is my sort of pre-pre-pre-review of the book; basically, a jumble of thoughts from my first several read-throughs and the things that strike me about the various units and options and what is (and isn't) being discussed. It's going to be very ramble-y and disorganized, so try to bear with me.

The Necrons book isn't like the GK or DE books in one big way: nothing jumps out as super-amazing. There aren't any 10000000pt deathstar units, no "omg so awesome" abilities, nothing that totally blows you away with how good it is. What it has is a bunch of really solid options and units that, fit together well, I think can make a very strong army. If you pick things at random out of the codex... well, you won't be sad about any of them, but you won't have a good army, either.

Shooting is obviously their thing because they are SHIT in CC. Lychguard and a few of the other units are reasonable, but for the most part Necrons are just really, really bad at melee combat, and Reanimation Protocols can't save you from being Swept, they don't have Stubborn/etc, and they have low Initiative. You won't fold up into a box and die quite as badly as Tau do, but you're only a little bit above them and IG in terms of wearing the "punch me to death with the power of kicks" sign.

Reanimation Protocols means that Warriors are about as tough as a Marine in most ways, but don't be fooled- with no ATSKNF, you can be a lot easier to force off the table by breaking below 50%, getting Swept, etc. It does, however, mean that only torrent guns are going to be any real threat to you (and the occasional Heavy Flamer.)

Of the named characters, only Trazyn sparks much for me. His "hit all models" thing is a cute gimmick, but the real bonus is being a nigh-unkillable scoring unit that passes out Relentless. The Traveller also has some possibilities as a way to screw with the enemy's tanks (shooting with their LasPlas/Land Raider/Ravager could be painful) and he can bring a S8 Power Weapon on the charge, albeit only at I3. Stormlord is okay, but for his points cost he only does so much- some Crypteks can pull a very similar game. At 2K (and maybe 1850) you could build an army around him, though.

Overlords are, unsurprisingly, the default choice; making them a Phaeron will be a pretty good deal, since it means you can shoot to 24" after moving your transport. Catacomb Command Barges can dish out a bunch of Warscythe attacks if you turbo-boost, but doing so can leave you in a dangerous position, so obey the Dark Eldar rule and don't overextend yourself. Rez Orb is no longer a given, but it might be a reasonable buy if he's hanging with a squad a lot.

Destroyer Lords are kinda awkward, since they can't run with Scarabs anymore. Preferred Enemy does give them some brutal Warcythe attacks, but again, your low Initiative is gonna be problematic.

Royal Courts are going to be a very, very important part of building your army, because you basically will always have one. You can only get ONE type Harbinger in each court, which is easy to forget, and with the limitations on wargear it means you really need to be looking not at the fancy stuff, but at the basic weapon to decide which is going to be your choice. The Staff of Light they come with isn't bad, but there's really no reason to keep it when you have better options. Despair has a really nice template weapon (with semi-irrelevant AP1)- note that just as with Toughness, you wound against the majority value, so on Marines you need 4s and most other races you need 3s. Orks and Chaos will be 6s, though, and Tyranids are all across the board. Nightmare Shroud is awful, no reason to even consider it except as a gimmick. Veil of Darkness is nice, but it can't pull you from combat anymore. Still, free mobility is not a bad thing, as Gate Librarians have taught us.

Destruction kinda seems like the go-to to fill anti-tank role, which you are going to need. They're expensive, yes, but on par with Dark Lances (34pts for Warrior + Lance as opposed to 35 for Cryptek + Lance) and the lack of the actual Lance keyword is almost totally irrelevant; AV14 will get its butt broken by Entropic and double-Multimeltas. Gaze of Flame is once again trash, Solar Pulse can be good for limiting enemy shooting in the final turn or for taking advantage of positioning in the early game. Eternity has the worst of the weapons by a long shot, but it can be some pretty huge lulz against some characters and MCs. Chronometron is amazing and is the real reason you would want to consider it, but the 3++ cloak is... not even slightly worth it. Storm gives you a pretty nice staff that can suppress the crap out of vehicles, albeit with short range (but you're a short range army anyways.) Both the wargear selections are very middling, though. Transmogrification is worth it if only just for the name and feels very cobbled-together; Tremorstave is decent, if not great, as it can slow the enemy down some. Cruicible likewise tries to stave off the inevitable, which can be useful; Harp of Dissonance totally should've been the signature weapon, because as it stands it's awkward that you only get one.

Lords have to fight with the Crypteks for space, so if they're bringing something, it had better be good. Their upgraded statline is irrelevant, as are most of the derpy upgrades they can get. You, too, can pay 80pts for one model with a 3++! Mindshackle Scarabs are worth thinking about, since they're one of the few ways you have to actually win a melee combat, since it effectively takes out one enemy model and gets you free hits (not swings) on the enemy, hopefully with their sarge. S5 means Hyperphase Sword is a pretty okay power weapon compared to Warscythe, since it mostly just lacks the 2d6 penetration, but I don't think either of them really pay for themselves, because you're simply not going to win any fights either way. Rez Orb is... I just don't think it's going to be worth the cost of the Lord and itself; 65pts is a LOT. If you've got a Ghost Ark or are with a big unit of Immortals, though, possibly maybe.

Also, A Royal Court is the only unit I know of that can legally start the game at zero models strong. (Even Wolf Guard have to at least have three models in their entry.) So you're totally allowed to take an Overlord and take a non-FoC using unit that has no models in it. Let your opponents play with that little zen koan of a unit a little bit, just on the off chance they think to hard and ascend to Nirvana (and give you a free win.)

Necron Warriors are getting sold short because everyone sees the 4pts for an Immortal and the +1S gun, 3+ save, and figures there's no reason to take them. However, the ability to have a Ghost Ark is really crucial- far too many people are underestimating them. With the Ark, the whole unit is pretty ridiculously survivable, as it adds to your AV13 spam, has a bunch of bodies in it (that can shoot out thanks to open-topped, also important for that Harbinger of Destruction you're carting around) and can regenerate guys if the enemy doesn't go the full distance and wreck/explode it. Make no mistake- bringing a unit of Warriors is about bringing survivability, despite their worse save compared to the Immortals. You also have an option for a Night Scythe, but... eh, in a sec.

Immortals, on the other hand, bring some pretty interesting shooting. S5 means once Entropic starts kicking in, you penetrate a bit sooner than anyone else, but lacking a transport they can shoot out of they will be exposed any time they do so. Tesla Carbines for free is a pretty good deal, since at 13-24" you're just better off that way and being Assault makes them able to shoot on the move without the need for a Phaeron.

The Night Scythe is a bit weak at first glance, but the ability to bring a large squad of survivable guys AND be a credible threat on its own (TL Tesla Destructor) is nothing to sneeze at. Fast means you can jet around and pretend you're Dark Eldar if you want, but in the end, you always have to get out if you want to do something. Don't try and make a melee assault army using these, it's just going to be awful and you'll hate yourself- you do NOT get to pretend you're open-topped when disembarking (same as the Monolith), so no assaults if you moved.

The Tesla guns are good. AP- is a downside, obviously, but in the end it really doesn't matter- S7 is mostly about shaking the enemy anyways. Just think of them as slightly differenter Psycannons and you'll pretty quickly see the kind of damage they can deal. Immortals are probably the only place the smaller Tesla guns are worth it, but you get them as sort of random bonus weapons sometimes, so take what you can get. Arc is only S5, not full strength like the main Destructor is, but it can still be a decent deterrent to the enemy clumping up, which is helpful- Necrons aren't super-fast, so they need something to let them maneuver so that their shorter-range guns don't get beat out by enemy positioning.

Deathmarks are pretty okay, but they have some competition in the slot. If you're running them, you want to be running multiples because their "wound on a 2+" thing only works for other Deathmarks. Despite the fluff, their ability to teleport in when an enemy unit does is not going to be used to get in close and murder them a lot of the time, unless the enemy is arriving near you; you can't afford to leave these guys unsupported. In a list that has a lot of anti-tank, they could be useful for mowing down different varieties of infantry reasonably well.

Lychguard are... well, they're one of your few potential counter-assault units, so one of them might be a reasonable choice. They are pricey, but T5 across the unit helps against torrent weapons. Warscythes are kinda the automatic weapon for them, since it lets you handle vehicles and such; the 4++ is really only good for maybe surviving to swing against other melee units.

Triarch Praetorians... I dunno, maybe they have a use, but they look like one of the few candidates for bad units in the book. They are semi-reasonable in close combat and have a good, if short-range shooting attack with being jump infantry, but they just don't impress for the cost. The weapon swap doesn't make them any better, since it gives up their ability to actually kill stuff for an Entropic melee attack. Sorry, Scarabs do that better and cheaper.

C'tan shards are just too expensive and have no real protection against too many of the guns floating around these days, like poison spam, Autocannons, Psycannons, etc. Writhing Worldscape (difficult = dangerous) and Swarm of Spirit Dust (Stealth) seem like the only viable way to run them, since that gives you okayish protection (they're small enough to get cover sometimes) while affecting the battlefield. If you get into melee with something, you will probably screw its day up pretty bad.

Flayed Ones are awful.

Triarch Stalkers are the rage of the internets right now thanks to some utility abilities and a double-Melta weapon as well as adding to AV13 spam, but note that your combat stats are pretty awful (no DCCW, mainly), so all it takes is a unit of Scouts or something charging you to basically lock it down for the rest of the game.

Wraiths are actually useful now, being very mobile and cheap enough to consider. Note that they can't turbo or roll to stand back up anymore, but given the decrease in price that's nothing to complain about. Whip Coils are a nice little thing to mix 1-2 of in, but you don't want to sink too many points on it. Oh, and they secretly gained a free wound while no one was looking, which can let you do some allocation stuff but I wouldn't spend overmuch on it. Also note that they got super-slow while no one was looking and will thus be striking after anything that isn't caught in a whip.

Scarabs are a fantastic deal- yes, no more jetting for a 2++ or moving unhindered through terrain, but their threat range on any given turn is similar and Entropic means they can give tanks a really, really bad day. Nibbling down enemy armor to the 7-9 range and then blasting them with all those mid-strength guns that Necrons have in abundance will be a very valid method of killing tanks, I think- just expect the Scarabs to die once they've done their thing on T2 as the enemy concentrates fire or charges them in melee.

Tomb Blades... eh, I'm not sure yet. They have several middling guns they can bring and can be reasonably survivable, but they aren't cheap and can't JSJ/hide in cover the way that Reavers can. I don't think Necrons need a harassment unit, so they will probably get passed over for other stuff.

Destroyers (and Heavy Destroyers) have had some back-and-forth on them, but I think they serve a purpose; being one of the few low-AP guns Necrons can bring, there is some potential there, and Heavy Destroyers, used carefully, can get some of those killing shots you need on vehicles. Whether they can beat out super-cheap Scarabs for quality is another matter, but I think there is a good argument for using them. Remember, there aren't a lot of other ranged-shooting choices in the FA slot, which ups their value considerably.

Doomsday Ark is pretty meh- its main gun will be kinda awkward to use at times, though it does some with some secondary ones at least. Open-topped may be a killer, though.

Annihilation Barge has been overlooked a lot- it's AV13, it has some pretty strong guns, and it is comparatively cheap. Especially when playing below 2K, it's going to be worth considering in that second or third HS slot.

Monoliths are way, way easier to kill now in like ten different ways, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeve. Note that they are the ONLY tank in the army and, as such, the only thing that can Tank Shock- Necrons don't get an upgrade for it like Dark Eldar do. (As a matter of fact, Necrons don't get many upgrades period for a lot of their units.) It can no longer do... well, most of the things it used to be able to, but it can try and eat anything that gets too close and has the unique distinction of being the only way to bring a unit in from reserve on turn 1 with its Gate. Overall I think they're a somewhat poor fit for the army, however, so I don't see them making a strong appearance.

Doom Scythe... well, everyone knows about this guy. He's super-good, but short-ranged. Use Night Fighting to mess up your opponents and have it do its thing.

Spyders... rrrrgh, as a Tyranid player they make me angry. SO ANGRY. Wound differentiation in the squad? Yup. -1W -2A compared to a Carnifex? Yup. 120 FUCKING POINTS CHEAPER? YUP!!!! THANKS GEE DUB! Blargh, okay, enough of that. They are priced pretty well to act as a support unit with counterassault capabilities for when your guys get in trouble; not a lot of things are going to be able to actually hurt them effectively, and those that can will often have a bad time with all the torrent shooting you put out. Gloom Prism is your only psychic defense, so if you're taking them you probably want to invest in that at least. The ability to support your Scarabs will be a bit awkward to position them for, but when it works it will be really handy as it can prolong your ability to whittle vehicles down by several turns.

So what do we get all in all? Well, there's an obvious mech spam build that makes itself known, but with very expensive options across the board it's going to be tricky to manage. Nothing the Necrons get comes cheap, so eking out those last few points to add more models is going to make a real difference.

The codex has a ton of torrent-style shooting with mid-strength (5-7), but almost nothing above that except on certain specialized units, so taking advantage of those units will be important. Unlike the other Ward books, you have no FoC swaps and only two troop units, fairly similar to each other- I'm actually kinda disappointed on that front.

The fluff still allows you to play the old, mindless Necrons if you still want to, but it paints the general Necron race as more of vaudeville mustache-twirling evil gentlemen than anything else; Necrons are classy evil, the kind that informs you of your doom well in advance so you may prepare for it. I like that, because that was something 40K didn't have a lot of before; DE and Chaos are too much of psychopaths to really fit that mold properly. There's some things in there that I'm not so much a fan of, but all in all I think it's good times.

So, with all that text spewn out, thoughts? Comments? Things I missed? Things that I'm totally wrong and dumb about?

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