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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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Monday, April 2, 2012

Necrons & MSU

Digital Wastrel

There has been quite a bit of debate about this topic of late so I thought I'd lay some information down on it. The end conclusion is going to be something familiar to most who read this blog, have worked with recent armies in 5th edition or work in a scientific field - a compromise is often 'best' but there are both positives and negatives to each stance. The opposite of MSU (multiple small units) is of course larger units. There are both strengths and weaknesses to both concepts within the 5th edition paradigm of 40k and it'll be these strengths and weaknesses we are going to apply to the Necron army specifically.

It is the belief that MSU only works for Marines. Although MSU works very well with Marines thanks to their solid all-round statline and cheap but relatively durable transports, other armies are quite capable of working this concept into their lists. Whether partially or completely though is something different and we'll often fine, outside of a few exceptions, Marines are going to be the more effective pure MSU builds whilst non-Marines often do better incorporating but not fully embracing the concept. Necrons fit into this mould quite nicely whilst still having MSU options.

So let's look at this in the light of the Necron codex. The majority of this is focused on Immortals and Warriors as they are the unit you can take the most of whilst also bringing in transport options to play. In terms of MSU units, Immortals are really your best bet. With a statline nearly identical to a Space Marine and S5 guns to boot, Immortals can easily spam out your Troops selections with minimum squads and leave you with a solid scoring presence better than a similar number of Marines thanks to Reanimation Protocols (though slightly more expensive). Necrons and specifically Immortals, then have two nice advantages which work well within this theme. Royal Courts can add squad members to those Troop units and effectively create more scoring models while simultaneously providing said units with extra utility from the basic addition of anti-tank to game affecting abilities (i.e. tremorstaves, solar pulses, harps, etc.). This obviously jumps the price of each individual unit up quite a bit though...

Night Scythes are also a good reason for MSU - like many transports out there, Night Scythes provide extra firepower but can only be bought when specific Necron units are bought. Having less units means less Night Scythes. Although their cost is higher than your standard Razorback, consider for an extra 25 points over an Assback/LasPlas you're getting 12" extra movement, skimmer status, deep striking options (yay?) and suppression resistance. Yes 100 points is expensive for AV11 but Night Scythes are not to be underestimated and can really make good use of Night Fight and their movement to bring their Tesla to bear.

On the flip side however, well not everything is an Immortal and your average statline outside of the Elite units (T5/3+) isn't as good as your bog standard Marine. A Warrior for example is T4/4+ and whilst Reanimation Protocols can bring their survivability to a similar level for less points, MSU generally does not take advantage of the RP rule. It can and it often will come up, but it's a lot easier to torrent down units if they are only 5-7 strong compared to 15-20. Such large squads are more likely to benefit from RP and are excellent places for the expensive Res Orb to really jump their durability. Small squads do not have this advantage. That being said, RP is not something which to base an entire strategy on. A unit can still be wiped in a single phase even if it is large(ish).

Which brings us to... the obvious counter - Necrons are really weak in combat. Whilst their overall statline is pretty solid, few units have buffs to their WS or Attacks and most units are I2. This means when they lose combat and run, they are very likely to be run down and unlike Marines, they do not have a rule which binds all other rules to its will and thus can survive being swept. That 15-20 strong unit therefore has a major fatal flaw and whilst you can limit this (Necron Lord attachments, bubble-wraps, etc.) running a list solely of units like this is going to require you to sink a lot of points to mitigating this weakness or have something your opponent can really exploit.

When all is said and done however, it really depends on the squad within the army whether or not MSU or larger squads is the way to go. Small Warrior squads, even with Crypteks, are not something you generally want to see a lot of. Even with Ghost Arks, T4/4+ (perhaps with two T4/3+ models in there) isn't the most resilient of statlines and you're going to need more bodies if these guys are going anywhere other than backfield (where they can make a "cheap" scoring option with Lance/Harp Crypteks in Ghost Arks). Small Immortal squads are something different entirely, especially with attached Crypteks and the potential for RP. At the same time, running slightly larger squads (i.e. 7 strong) isn't going to be a bad thing though the only benefit is more bodies & S5 firepower (you're not gaining extra access to special/heavy weapons). The more Immortal/Warrior squads you are able to fit into the army construct however, the more Night Scythes/Ghost Arks you can run.

FoC slots and can hand out more hurt with one unit but have a bigger footprint. Other units such as Wraiths don't really work as well at smaller squad levels as they need the extra attacks and bodies to damage the opponent and not pee their robotic panties over missile launchers.

All of this can be applied to any unit within any codex but with such a diversity in basic statlines and how certain rules interact within the Necron army, Necrons are very capable of running both MSU and non-MSU units. Running a full MSU army is also quite possible but obviously within a specific unit framework. In theory, mixing both constructs into an army list appropriately while simultaneously covering other important bases (anti-tank, anti-infantry, scoring, etc.) is going to produce the most robust, efficient and flexible lists. Simply dropping in a large unit into an MSU army isn't going to work unless you put some work and thought into it, just like adding a couple small units onto an army based on large units is going to bring more pain than gain.

Next post you can see SirBiscuits attempt to bring this concept to life in a 2000 point list =D.

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