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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, March 12, 2012

Necron Codex Review part 6: Elites Part 1

Of all the Necron FoC slots, Elites is probably the weakest- its units tend to be rather specialized and many of the "worst" choices in the codex are found here. That's not to say all of them are bad, or that there's nothing in the slot you might want, or you cannot make good use of the units here but if a Necron list has any slot open, it will probably be the Elites.

There are, however, a number of picks in this slot that can drastically help shape or build a strategy, for better or for worse, and along with FA it is the slot that contains the majority of the Necrons' melee defense/countercharge units, so enterprising generals may wish to consider the benefits of mixing in some of the more unusual squads here to cover for weaknesses.

Deathmarks get an Immortal statline (being only S/T4, unlike most of the other Elite/HQ units) and are slightly more expensive, coming in at 19pts per body. They can Deep Strike and may do so in response to the enemy bringing in any reserve units- as with Nemesor's ability, this isn't really very useful, as it will often just set you up to get shot. However, for small units that can DS into an isolated area and then set up shop it can be a decent plan. When they deploy onto the table- including DSing- you get to pick an enemy unit that you always wound on 2s with any Deathmark unit (and its attached characters), and this is their real golden ability. Their guns are otherwise okay, if a bit short-ranged- 24" Rapid Fire Sniper weapons.

The ability to share "marks" across multiple units is the main draw for Deathmarks; each individual unit is going to be somewhat mediocre, but combined they have a large number of enemies that they can aim at to get maximum benefit. Wounding on 2s with a barrage of shots can be a pretty big deal, especially with the Rends that you'll be able to throw in on top of that; if you can also finagle getting within 12" you can cause some major havoc - everyone knows how much pain Sternguard with hellfires bring right?

Deathmarks can also get a Night Scythe as a transport, and as with all units that can take such a transport you would be wise to do so, as the Scythe is an excellent buy even when it isn't carrying anything.

In the end, Deathmarks aren't providing a whole lot. A few small squads can provide quite a bit of firepower which, thanks to Rending, has some small duality but it's like the majority of firepower you have access to from your Guass and Tesla troop based weapons. The only upside is you can wound certain squads on 2's (and to get maximum benefit, you need to invest more points) and you have some reactive options available - though this isn't really reliable.


Lychguard are the Necrons' answer to Terminators, whom they resemble in many ways. They are of comparable toughness- T5/3+ is a bit worse against Boltguns and the like and obviously worse against Missiles, but RP helps bring them back above most such units in those terms. They otherwise have the standard "elite" Necron profile, but get A2 in the bargain, just like Lords do- and this is important, as it keeps them even with most other "elite" units. They are still I2 though, remember this.

For gear they come with a Warscythe each, which gives you a unit full of very heavy hitters, wounding almost everything on 2s and rolling 2d6 penetration, though you won't ID Marines without some other bonus. You're also ignoring armor obviously. The fact that you swing at initiative, rather than I1 like Fists is a secret advantage- going up against a bunch of Terminators you will consistently punch most of them down pretty effectively. However, they lack an invulnerable save, which is problematic for a melee combat unit; for this reason, the 5pt swap to Sword/Shield is generally the preferred option; this gives you a power weapon (S5, so still wounding on 3s- nearly as good) and a 4++ to shrug off those annoying melee attacks. The shield technically can reflect enemy shots, but you will virtually never get to actually use this ability, so I wouldn't worry about it. You are losing lots of anti-tank ability though with the +2D6 armor penetration (or S7) - this is really important against Dreads but weight of S7 attacks can help against fast moving tanks, too. S5, less so.

This does leave you with a problem, though- you sort of wish you could mix weapons so that you'd have some Shields to ward off attacks and some Scythes to kill big targets, but you have to swap the whole squad's gear or nothing. Enter the Necron Lord, who can come over from a Court- he brings along a Warscythe of his own to an otherwise sword/board squad and can have a Rez Orb or Mindshackle Scarabs for some additional tricks. Such a Lord is nigh-required for the squad, as it gives them some protection against Dreads and MCs so such units can't just tear through you with impunity.

Despite all of these potential positives, Lychguard are still something of a niche choice- they're largely stuck on foot (you can get them a Night Scythe, but since they'll likely be dumped into reserves when it dies, that won't help much) and are far from cheap, unfortunately being even more expensive than their Marine equivalents. As such, they will only sometimes be wanted in an army when you are expecting to run hybrid anyways and think that you'll need a strong melee presence that you otherwise lack (i.e. no Wraiths, Scarabs, or Spyders.) Such a list isn't entirely unheard of and they can be wedged into some other kinds of lists as well, but for the most part the "best" Necron armies will see little need for them in either configuration.

Triarch Praetorians

I've wavered a little bit on these guys, trying to find a way to use them, but after extensive consideration I'm just not seeing anything- they're really not any good. The flaws are all small but critical- a mountain built up out of tiny problems that compound on each other, one by one, to make a unit with no real role that costs too many points for what it fails to do. Mind you, Praetorians aren't godawful, they're merely incredibly underwhelming- anything they could do, another unit could do better and cheaper.

Their basic statline is a good place to start. WS4 isn't surprising, but it doesn't win them any points either. S/T5 is actually quite good- it means they will easily wound most everything in the game and those models will struggle to hurt them back; add in a 3+ save plus reanimation protocols and you have a fairly resilient model, especially considering they are jump infantry and can close distance quickly. I2 is standard for Necrons, but it's worth noting because "standard" for such a unit is still below the grade for the game as a whole- they really need something significant to make up for it. The killer here is A1- as expensive dedicated assault troops, there is absolutely no excuse for them to only be getting one swing and at WS4; it puts them well below other, similar units like Vanguard Veterans, Sanguinary Guard, Terminators, Honor Guard, Tyranid Warriors/Shrikes, etc. It's not simply a matter of price, either- Praetorians come with similar gear to such units and cost the same, but are inferior statwise.

Their rules and gear also fail to make up the difference; a power weapon as standard is basically the minimum requirement for an elite combat unit, lacking anything else in its place. The fact that it can be used for a very, very short-ranged shooting attack is an interesting bonus, but given the incredibly short range and inability to be used against vehicles (which will roll over or smash them with ease), its utility is limited. They are one of the few Fearless units in the codex, but with their inability to really achieve much of note, we can count this as only the tiniest of blessings.

I've been discussing Praetorians in their main configuration, but they do also have a weapon swap option- they can trade their power weapon/gun for a Voidblade and Particle Caster. You can be forgiven for not knowing what those are because they're both incredibly middling; the Caster is a S6 Pistol and the Voidblade is a Rending Entropic CCW. This config has the advantage of bringing them up to two attacks per model, but in turn strips them of their ability to actually hurt armored troops with any degree of reliability and without the weight of attacks... well go figure. Some people point out that Entropic lets them hurt vehicles but Scarabs get six times as many attacks for the same number of points and are more resilient to most kinds of enemy firepower- if you want Entropic, take them instead. Wraiths are similarly a fast melee unit, but they come with significant numbers of higher-strength Rending hits and W2/3++, making them more dangerous to most targets and harder to kill as well (though more suspeticble to instant death).

In short, Praetorians simply fail to really make a splash in any possible arena. They will beat basic Marines in combat, but everything else will still beat them. They are tough and can sort of fight, but not nearly enough of either to justify their price. They are an utterly milquetoast unit. (Interestingly, Praetorians are not allowed to take a Night Scythe as a transport, despite the vehicle having special rules to allow their unit type entry to it.)


That's part one! We'll look at the C'Tan shard, Flayed Ones and Triarch Stalkers next!

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