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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Necron Codex Review part 3: Royal Court


Royal Court

This is the biggie in the HQ slot and the reason that the review is split the way it is; almost every Necron list will want a Court and, thanks to the Overlord being the default (and almost only) choice, most every one will have such a Court. Each Court can send one member to a squad, so it is possible in larger games to bring a pair of Overlords/Courts and have your squads toting around pairs of heavy weapons and other such niceties; this probably shouldn't be attempted below 1850, possibly even 2K, due to the points investment, but the fact that the option is there is very interesting. Let's take a look at some configurations for where you might split Court members to and why.

SOLIDARITY: The first, although possibly least common, alternative is not to do so at all, to keep the Court (or at least a major portion of it) together. This will be most common with Lords, since we can just take them stock with the Staff of Light and use them to spam anti-MEQ shooting for a somewhat reasonable price, but we can also make a "Derpstar" of them all with Mindshackle Scarabs, a unit that is perversely more dangerous the more powerful the enemy unit is but that dies badly to weak and numerous enemies like Guardsmen and Gaunts. We can also combine them to take advantage of the fact that the Court are allowed to ride in a Ghost Ark, which gives us an open-topped platform to shoot out of; Harbingers of Despair are especially scary here, as laying 10+ AP1 template wounds on a squad all but guarantees that they will fold. Doing so with the other guns tends to be less impressive, as we are probably better off distributing our shots more efficiently by hanging out with our troop squads.

DEATHMARKS: Of all the units they can join, Deathmarks are probably the most limited in terms of what they can gain. Most Cryptek and Lord configurations bring little to a Deathmark squad, but there is one notable exception- the Harbinger of Despair. Since the whole squad benefits from the 2+ to-wound against the "marked" target, the Harbinger's flamer will blast nearly every target underneath the template, and the ability to teleport around the battlefield (the better to snipe off weak units and avoid melee engagements) brings further utility.

LYCHGUARD: While a little more flexible than Deathmarks, Lychguard still have a fairly limited number of choices to pick from. They can make good use of a Warscythe Lord, being as he is the only number of the squad that can have a different weapon than the others, and he brings some insurance against Dreads and MCs that is much appreciated; a Rez Orb is not a bad idea here, especially if you have more than five of them. A Harbinger of Despair with Veil can help to get them where they need to go, but involves a fairly significant investment in points that will still have some major weaknesses.

IMMORTALS AND WARRIORS: Because these two are so similar in regards to what members of the Court they accept, I'll simply lump them together here for simplicity's sake. In both cases, your best option will be a Cryptek to bring some kind of shooting attack along; a Veil of Darkness has some merit to keep you mobile, but I would avoid it unless you are packing Tesla or have a Phaeron (so you can shoot past 12" and thus aren't worried about DSing in close to enemies.) Lords are, for the most part, substandard choices due to adding very little to the squad's primary mission (shoot the enemy) and Rez Orbs being expensive enough that you don't want to sink for them on every possible target.

Necron Lord

So let's talk a little more about Lords in particular; we'll follow with a discussion of the many kinds of Crypteks in a moment. Lords tend to be the "fighty" option of the two and for that reason they are going to be a lot less common than Crypteks are. Necrons aren't a melee force and the presence of a Lord, even toting a Warscythe, isn't going to majorly change that. While they do come with a quite respectable statline (including A2, which is nice), they have to make a choice between being able to shoot and being able to fight. Given their price, (almost triple the cost of a Warrior or twice that of an Immortal, even before upgrades), we are going to be hard-pressed to justify their presence based on shooting and as already noted, they aren't a deal-breaker for melee, either.

Thus, in a lot of cases you will see few or no Lords included in a Court, although they can do quite well in certain squads (larger Warrior units, Lychguard.) This isn't so much because there's anything specifically wrong with them as because Crypteks compete for the spots to attach to squads and generally bring something you need more to the table.


Speak of the devil... Crypteks are one of the best tools in the Necron arsenal for insuring that your list can deal with the kind of targets it needs to and this is no exaggeration. The type of Crypteks you bring will have a major impact on how your list plays, as their weapons have statlines that are practically unique within the Necron armory- for example, there are almost no other flamers or S8+ guns available cheaply.

The Cryptek statline is slightly worse than the Lord one (S/T4, A1, 4+ save), but they are also available 10pts cheaper if you keep them to the basic Staff of Light- which is an interesting option, as few armies get the chance to bring a squad of AP3 guns on the cheap. However, given you almost always want to be sending off Harbingers to as many squads as you can, you're much more likely to pay the premium to have Lords do this, assuming you want to go down that road. All of the Cryptek upgrades set their final price somewhere between 25 and 35pts, which is a real bargain considering what you get out of them.

Destruction Crypteks are far and away the most common you'll see and probably the most powerful as well. For +10pts, you get a S8 AP2 36" gun that's called a Lance but doesn't actually have the Lance rule. This ability to bring what is effectively a heavy weapon that can fire on the move (Assault 1) and bury it in a Troop squad is a fundamental part of how most Necron armies will bring good AT shooting to the table- and should you have two Courts, you can go hog wild with these squads, turning every one into a potentially-devastating source of firepower. Harbingers of Destruction not only give you better-Str shots than you get elsewhere, but are also AP2 and longer-range than most of your guns, netting you a real trifecta of bonuses. The upgrade wargear is much more varied- Gaze of Flame gives the squad Defensive Grenades, which is probably not needed most of the time - you're still going to die in assault; Solar Pulse, on the other hand, is a tool every Necron army can do with at least one of, if not two. With the ability to turn on (or off) Night Fight for a single player turn once (or twice) during the game is huge and there are so many applications of this. There are two basic concepts here though - use it early to limit armies with better ranged weaponry than Necrons to allow the Necron army to more effectively assert itself early in the game and use it late to minimise the potential damage an opponent can do to the Necron army to potentially swing the end game result. This ability to selectively shut down enemy shooting for a turn (or at least cripple it) combined with a large-bore gun, all for a reasonable price, make the Harbinger of Destruction the clear front-runner when picking a Court. Every other Cryptek basically needs to show a good case of "why not?" when considering what aspect they'll upgrade to other than Destruction.

Harbingers of Transmogrification are an interesting alternative in that they do something very, very different from Destruction- rather than adding significantly to your firepower, they aim to slow the enemy's movements and possibly immobilize vehicles, giving other guns (or Scarabs) the opportunity to do their damage. The small blast also has the potential to punish disembarked squads to a reasonable degree, adding some secondary functionality to the weapon. The lower price (5pts) of the gun helps make this a viable option, as if you're looking to include Tremorstaves in a list you're going to want a lot of them to insure that you can slow as many targets as possible- this will also probably mean maxing out troops to whatever degree you are able to in order to facilitate this. The add-on gear is fairly worthwhile; Seismic Crucible subtracts d3" from the charge distance of one unit nearby, which can stave off an assault for an extra turn when paired with DT tests and Harp of Dissonance gives you a S6 Entropic shooting attack at unlimited range. Being that it is the only other "real" way to get Entropic in a list aside from Scarabs, it's well worth considering for the ability to consistently grind a tank's armor down, particularly from afar. Backfield objective squatter anyone?

Harbingers of Despair carry a devastating anti-infantry tool, a flamer with AP1 that wounds against Leadership (with nominal strength 8.) Due to the majority Toughness rules (which still apply here, just with Ld substituted) it means that against most units in the game you will wound on a 4+, or even better vs. Guardsmen, etc, though occasionally worse. The problem with Despair, unlike the previous two, is that it has a very short range, part and parcel of being a template weapon. For Necrons, this means that you NEED to kill the target that turn or they're probably going to charge you and this is generally bad for Necrons. Hiding in a Ghost Ark can mitigate this, as can the fairly impressive damage output of the Cryptek and whoever he's hanging with, but it's certainly worth thinking about how often you expect to be in range for using it. The Nightmare Shroud adds a second, longer-range option that forces a Morale test on the target- potentially a very handy addition for low-Ld units at longer ranges (Broadsides, etc) or breaking Deathstars by virtue of sheer number of checks. Veil of Darkness lets the unit DS around the field pretty freely, which is a very useful mobility tool but will only really work in more foot-oriented lists; note that you can no longer Veil away from close combat. Its fairly hefty price tag is also a deterrent, so expect to see a lot of bad lists that involve Veiling one huge unit (20 Warriors, 10 Lychguard, etc) around and more rare ones that use it well. It's still not very reliable and can put your unit straight into the enemy's clutches or completely irrelevant in terms of shooting (out of range) but can provide some excellent mobility options regardless.

Harbingers of the Storm are something of an odd duck, since they get a very short-ranged weapon that doesn't innately mitigate its own issues. It will, however, reliably shut down pretty much any vehicle that happens to be in range, and in this respect it's basically an ultra-powered version of the usual ability of Gauss to shut down tanks. The upgrade is also free, which makes the Cryptek almost criminally cheap for the number of hits he can put out- but again, short-ranged attacks in an army that hates melee is something to think carefully about. Like the Tremorstave you will probably need to focus a fair bit of your army if you want to make use of the Harbinger of Storm, but insomuch as you do that it can be a very fine choice. The two upgrades, both of them fairly cheap, punish assaulters and deep strikers respectively, both of which are handy enough you may want to think about them (though the DS one is definitely the better.)

Lastly and leastly, we come to the Harbinger of Eternity. Unlike all the other Harbingers, this one doesn't swap his Staff for a gun- he gets... a melee weapon? And a shoddy one at that, since it only works if you can push a S4 non-power weapon wound through onto a model, and it only matters if that model has multiple wounds to start with. So yes, once in a blue moon Draigo or whoever will fail his save against this and you will be ecstatic, but the other 99.99% of the time it will be meaningless. The Timesplinter Cloak is likewise a complete waste, as paying 30pts for a 3++ on a one-wound model is retarded. Chronometron is the only real piece of interest here and it gives you one reroll per phase. Now, that's kinda neat, but keep in mind you're paying 40pts for this privilege. How worthwhile is that? On Deathmarks... never. On Lychguard... very iffy; you could've just bought another Lychguard instead, so you need to benefit from it twice for it to really pay off (and the extra LG would've contributed more attacks in the meantime as well.) In a Warrior/Immortal squad it can be sheltered-enough to give you some benefit, since you're rerolling a miss on your turn and a save on theirs (potentially), but it still has to compete with the presence of one of the other Harbingers, which will almost always be better. (Another Lance > sometimes getting another S4/5 hit.) The only time it will really shine is in combination with Imhotek or Orikan, where it can do more than randomly try and make the squad a little more efficient.


There are a lot of options with your Royal Court and whilst the most basic setup (Destruction Crypteks with some Solar Pulses) may seem the most obvious, there is a lot of use which can be gained by using the other Harbringers and even Necron Lords. It's an expensive investment when you add in the Overlord buy-in and you'll often be spending 300+ points on 10 models but those models can add an extra dimension to your list beyond raw power whilst potentially adding such as well.

Next post will cover those special characters, particularly in comparison to their nameless brethren!

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