Champs’ Army Update: Necrons
They ruled once. They will rule again.
Or will they? I am not so sure. Ever since its March release date I have been scratching my head at trying to figure out how this army works. It could just be me but, like any fanboy, I jumped at the chance to abandon my current project and spend a fortune on new models that I liked the look of but would almost never get around to painting. Why finish one project when you can have five ongoing eh? That Forgebane box was just too much of a tempter.
I’ve always liked the Necrons but make no mistake, I am not an experienced player with them. I picked up the codex in March and had good read through each unit and my overwhelming feeling was ‘meh’. Most of the 8th edition codexes I have read had some very obvious standout combinations or units that are very obviously an auto-include. I didn’t get that feeling with this codex and at least from an initial glance it appeared that the Necrons were missing the more standard buffing characters and paying heavy taxes for buffs that were not anywhere near as effective or as widely useful. Take a Lieutenant for example and compare that with a Lord. Realistically you don’t take either of these for their shooting or combat prowess, you take them for re-rolls 1’s to wound. The Lieutenant at 60 points buffs all units within 6”, the Lord however costs 93 points bare bones an only affects infantry models. Why? OK, a Lord is T5 and regenerates a wound a turn. Meh.
A general lack of access to cheaper HQ’s that provide comparable buffs to other armies seems to be a problem. Looking again at the different between a Captain and an Overlord. A Captain or Chaos Lord can buff anything within 6” to re-roll 1’s and come in at bang on 74 points basic, whereas you need to field an Overlord at 94 points basic to get access to My Will be Done which again can only be applied to one infantry unit per turn and adds one to the hit roll, advance roll and charge roll – I just don’t see that as a fair trade off for the points you have to pay and puts the Necrons HQ choices at some of the least points efficient I have seen in 8th edition. This for me makes the Cryptek the standout choice by far.
You may disagree with me, that is just my view. I don’t particularly like the rinse and repeat mechanic of re-rolls everywhere but I also believe you need to be consistent with the approach.
Now for me it wasn’t all doom and gloom. What I like about the overall mediocrity of this codex is the variety we are likely to see. I think three main semi-competitive builds will likely become the default – silver tide, destroyer spam and wraith spam, even with the rule of three you can get 18 in a list with plenty left but there are reasonable arguments to suggest tomb blades could be viable too, any unit with an in built -1 is a solid choice for me. Full competitive would perhaps see an emphasis on mortal wound output using multiple Tesseract Vaults and numerous Powers of the C’Tan, even if they do not benefit from dynastic codes, – I saw a list recently that fielded four of them, horrible but effective. Silver tide would probably be my choice for the rule of cool list but I think with the sheer weight of dakka dice in most lists these days it really isn’t difficult to kill a 20 man unit of warriors in one turn, denying the reanimation protocol roll which is all important. Wraiths are expensive but extremely durable and Destroyers with the use of a certain extermination protocol stratagem can be devastating.
While I found myself pining for a decurion, I was committed to this army and wanted to choose a list that had punch but wasn’t ultimately a ‘competitive’ spam list. I opted for Mephrit largely because I thought the orange look was cool and a bit different and it best suited the sprawling mass of warriors I wanted to build. Other commentators have stated that Solar Fury is a bit of a trap and it can be if you aren’t smart about how you use it but when used well, it can be devastating especially when twinned with tesla, MWBD and talent for annihilation.
I have built and painted a Batallion so far;
HQ1 – Catacomb Command Barge
Warlord (Immortal Pride), Lightning Field, Warscythe, Gauss Cannon/Tesla (magnestised), Resurrection Orb
I like this unit because it can be used in a bunch of different ways, its also a really cool model. The Lightning field is almost a default choice for the CCB as it gives it a 4++ for a bit of extra durability on top of quantum shielding and living metal. It also delivers mortal wound output to models within 1” at the start of the Fight phase which is a nice little addition.
The other good way to use this is as a character assassination barge which I might try out. Give your warlord the Merciless Tyrant trait and it adds 6” to the range of all assault weapons fired by your warlord. The warlord can also target characters even if they are not the closest models. Combine that with a Tesla Cannon (assault) and the Voltaic Staff (assault) and you have a really handy way to disrupt enemy buffing units which can be extremely powerful but is quite situational.
However, I am more likely to use this as something that sits fairly close to my warriors/immortals so they can benefit from the warlord trait which for me is the nearest thing to an auto take in the whole codex if you are running a more conventional battalion.
HQ2 – Cryptek
Staff of Light, Canoptek Cloak
There has been some debate over actually how beneficial it is to have a 5++ on a warrior blob. After all, how many -2/-3 hits are they really likely to take? No one is going to be chucking lascannon fire in to a unit of warriors anytime soon so it would be understandable to argue for the Canoptek Cloak for that extra movement, the FLY keyword and the ability to heal my warlord D3 a turn if required. I can understand both arguments but I have gone for the Cloak as I see it has more benefit for my list. However, if I were to have a unit of Destroyers nearby, well that’s a whole other decision and I’d probably pay to deep strike them in anyway.
TR1 – 18 Warriors
TR2 – 18 Warriors
Why are they not units of 20 you ask? For literally no other reason than they come in boxes of 12 and I don’t want to buy 12 more for 4 models. Warriors are a classic Necron unit and I wanted a couple of blobs of them as they should form part of a proper authentic Necron force. Mephrit does make them interesting but being in 12” range of anything will usually mean problems. I plan to use these guys largely to protect the more important stuff and hold objectives in my deployment zone while peppering or generally harassing advancing enemy units. They are not going to tear chunks out of armour or obliterate elite units so probably best left to do what they do best, stay out of charge range and shoot. They will be auto passing morale and they will be reanimating on a 4+ so I think they are viable but I definitely think 12 points for a model is overpricing them slightly, they are not as durable as they were in 7th edition for me.
TR3 – 10 Immortals
The more competitive way to run this list would be to have 2x 10 immortals units and 1x warrior unit of 20. Immortals are very good and from what I’ve seen probably benefit from Solar Fury more than Warriors primarily because the Tesla element they can put out at -1 can actually destroy units in one round of fire with talent for annihilation and MWBD making them very valuable indeed. Point them in the direction of a 10 man space marine unit and wave them goodbye. A decent tactic with these is to use Veil of Time with an Overlord or another named buffing character to drop them right to where they can be most effective. Personally I just love the idea of a mass of metal robots advancing up the board that just wont die.
So that’s where I am at right now.
If any Necron players out there want to suggest where the list goes from here I would be very open to suggestions. Great to hear feedback on any units you have success or epically failed with. Leave a comment.
I’ll leave you with the prophetic words of Anrakyr the Traveller:
Our people are awakening, and soon all of the galaxy shall be ours once more.
Further updates to follow.