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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, March 13, 2012

Necron Codex Review part 7: Elites Part 2


C'tan Shard

Oh, C'tan; terrible before and now... well, we'll see. They get an okay statline S/T7 means they aren't immune to Bolters anymore and Plasma/Missiles are a lot more likely to hurt them as well, which is a pretty significant downgrade. WS/BS5 is nice, putting you above the par in both categories there. I4 and A4 mean that you're a pretty respectable melee combatant. W4 is pretty average for a MC of most any type, and a 4++ save is nice to have... except you get no armor save, which is immensely sucky. If means that those random Boltgun and Multilaser and Splinter wounds are gonna give you a really bad time- you can't reliably shrug them off the way other MCs can.

On the upside you are Fearless and Eternal Warrior, along with ignoring terrain of all kinds. You also explode when killed, doing AP1 wounds to anyone in the vicinity; I guess it's an okay retribution mechanic for if you die in CC, but not really very relevant otherwise. However, with a steep price of 185pts, all of this is incredibly unimpressive, so we're crossing our fingers to see what the "Shard Powers" end up doing and hoping that they are game-changers.

Entropic Touch is awful. If you are already getting hits (wounds) on a target with a C'tan, you are annihilating them anyways, bar some very rare exceptions. Gaze of Death is potentially devastating if you can get it to trigger and can mitigate your shoddy save once you're in CC, but actually getting the model there is going to be nigh-impossible and it's far, far too expensive. Grand Illusion creates a very powerful effect, but I don't think it's one that Necrons can particularly take advantage of- and, moreover, buying it requires investing a huge number of points that you wouldn't otherwise be spending, unlike (for example) Eldrad, where it comes as a tack-on to his other powers.

Lord of Fire is just too short-ranged to be relevant. If it worked at 24" or board-wide range? Sure, meltas and flamers are common weapons. But at 12", you just can't cover enough of the board to reliably keep the enemy from using such weapons against you, even with their short range. Moulder of Worlds if friggin' terrible- lots of monstrous creatures get shots better than that as a free add-on to their normal statline. Likewise Pyroshards- marginally better, but three-ish wounds on T4 targets simply doesn't impress me. Sentient Singularity is another cool ability with a radius of effect that is simply far, far too small. Swarm of Spirit Dust is very nearly a must-take- without it, you're relying on rolling a 4+ vs. all those Lascannons, Missiles, Autocannons, Psycannons, etc, which is simply not going to last. Time's Arrow just tries to make it scary in close combat, but doesn't really succeed- the hard part is GETTING to to melee, not winning once you're there. Transdimensional Thunderbolt is a Lascannon with shorter range; that's sorta okay, but you shouldn't be paying 200+pts for something like that.

Lastly we come to Writhing Worldscape. This has given a ton of people huge nerd-boners and gotten a lot of attention, but I'm here to say something that will make a lot of them very angry: it's just not that good. The so-called "Angry Earth" build relies on a lot of things; it wants to invest a significant number (350+, in most cases) of points into vulnerable characters. It wants to try and win a shooting war with inferior shooting forces. (News flash: many armies don't care if they can't move. They'll vaporize your threats and then proceed to midfield.) It wants to use a limited number (virtually never more than five, and usually four or less) blast weapons to immobilize the enemy, which is somehow "good against MSU," because I guess when the enemy has sixteen units and you can stop four of them, that's awesome?

End result, C'tan are crippled by the horrible overcosting of monstrous creatures, the lack of a good save, and their mediocre statline and abilities. T7 is good, to be sure, but it still means that Bolters can shoot you to death and larger guns will be a significant problem. Widespread presence of high-strength torrent guns, used for suppressing transports and the like, along with poison and similar effects mean that a 4++ simply does not cut it in this day and age- it wasn't enough for Tyranid MCs when they were rolling FNP or cover, and it isn't enough for a critter that does even less and costs even more.

Flayed Ones

Flayed Ones are awful. Don't use them. Done

Flayed Ones

Wait, wait, what? No, I already did this one. We're not going back. No, seriously, they aren't good. Stop saying they are.

Alright, let's break this down. First of all, Deep Strike and Infiltrate are practically irrelevant because of your lack of Fleet and necessity to bring large numbers of models in order to threaten anything. You will pretty much always be starting a significant distance from the enemy (more than 18") and rarely getting much closer than that. Second, you don't have WS5 nor any kind of special ability in melee- no Rending, no Power Weapon, not even Meltabombs. That means that a lot of targets will be effectively invulnerable to Flayed Ones- things like Dreadnoughts or Terminators with FNP. Three attacks is nice, but by themselves they are not really going to scare anyone when backed by WS4 and S4. Third, you still have that shitty I2 and a 4+ save. That means that everyone is going to go first and you aren't tough enough to really take the hits- remember, each Flayed One costs as much as a Marine, and you're going to lose a lot before you even get to make the charge, and more when the other guy punches you first.

So you're going to lose combat, and without Fearless or something else there's a pretty good chance that you could break- Ld10 only goes so far. And then I2 comes back and bites you in the ass as you are pretty easily run down by most armies and the whole unit wiped out. So if you're charging a pack of Guardsmen and you're at full strength because for some reason they didn't shoot at you? Yes, you'll win, congratulations. But against enemies that aren't dumbtarded you are going to have to chase them for several turns while getting shot and then weather a barrage of attacks before you get to swing with your few remaining guys. Does having eight Flayed Ones sound awesome and like you should win a fight? Guess what, you kill two Marines with that. Their Power Fist alone kills almost that many of you.

Oh, and some people will say "they're a distraction" or that they "take pressure off other units." That isn't how the game works; you pay points to put units in your list, you don't get things for free. Good "distractions" are a threat on their own- my Meltavets or LasPlas or Thunderwolves or Annihilation Barge or Tervigon or Ravager or Purifiers are all "good distractions" because they force the enemy to deal with them or suffer consequences. If the only defense you can muster for a unit is "they might shoot at this instead of a good unit," you should've taken that good unit instead with the points you're wasting. There are better melee threats available in every respect- faster, cheaper, more dangerous. There is absolutely no reason to take Flayed Ones.

Triarch Stalker

Although this guy got tons of press when the codex was first leaked, attention has since slowed to a trickle, mostly held only because of the various attempts at conversions folks have tried. Certainly the lack of a model has been part of what has kept him down, but that can't be everything- 'Nid, SW, DE, and other armies had model-less units that still make big waves in the tournament scene despite the lack.

The truth is that the Stalker, while it has a number of ups, also has a lot of downs. Its gun is pretty excellent and brings a statline that can't be gotten elsewhere- Melta is a big deal, as I'm sure everyone realizes by this point, and AP1 is found only a few other places in the book. However, it's still only one gun with two different fire modes- and that means one glancing hit can put you out of action. It's also quite weak in melee, being a walker without a DCCW- this makes it vulnerable to just getting tied up by five Marines and kept there, unable to shoot, for a long time. They may not hurt it, but if they can keep it occupied that's often enough. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that it has to keep much more towards the front lines than most shooting Dreads do- 24" range on its gun is a world of difference from the 48" on a Rifleman.

The Targeting Relay rule offers to bring some additional utility to it, "marking" a unit that it hits and giving everyone else twin-linked when shooting that target. This makes using your Stalkers early in the shooting turn pretty useful, as they can guarantee that their targets will die, one way or another. It can help bring down squads of infantry as well if you have taken care of the tanks or nearby targets are more important- multiple squads of Warriors, Immortals, Deathmarks, etc, shooting with rerolls can get ugly very quickly. The option to swap for a twin-linked Heavy Gauss Cannon or a Particle Shredder exists, but I'm skeptical of both of them- the Gauss is pretty much strictly worse than the Heat Ray except in terms of range, and frankly your other guns don't have enough range to reach targets beyond the range of the Heat Ray anyways, so I think it's largely wasted. The Shredder is simply bad and shouldn't even be considered.

The Stalker's main role will be adding AV13 saturation to certain types of lists- since it brings a good amount of anti-tank as well as some reasonable anti-infantry (mainly from its twin-linking effect), its presence is not unwelcome. Most other lists, however, will see the somewhat steep price tag and decide to pass, as there are some very strong choices in other slots that are likely to be a bigger draw.

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