Thursday, February 12, 2015

Codex Review: Necrons

Now that we've had a bit over a week to digest the new Necrons, I've shaken out some of what I see as the winners and losers in the book, and the feel of the new Necrons. To begin, I have to say this feels like one of the most internally balanced (but good - I could argue Orks are internally balanced, but bad) books we've had since Eldar and Tau. By that I mean that the book doesn't cater to a single obvious choice in each Force Org slot and a general obvious build. It also doesn't appear to be over the top powerful, but still nearly in line with other 7th Edition books in terms of overall power.

The overall feel of the Necrons is that they are incredibly durable. The Decurion's Command Benefits certainly cater to this, and army-wide Feel No Pain via Reanimation Protocols is powerful. However, this is balanced by somewhat limited damage output and speed.

Necrons have very few low-AP weapons, don't have many high rate of fire guns, and generally have short ranges. Necrons can endure alpha strikes, but they're unlikely to deliver them in return.

Speed is also a bit of a concern for Necrons, with the only widely available transport being a Flyer that isn't as much of a bargain as before (though still good). Outside of being in a Night Scythe, Necrons have to more or less slog around the board. Though they have deep strike throughout the army to help add some ability to reach the far edges of the board, a speedy army can outmaneuver them.

Necrons will likely struggle with Eldar and Dark Eldar, and will no longer be king of the skies, making flying circus daemons and Tyranids a problem.

Now, with the overall feel in mind, lets look at a couple of the winners from each Force Org slot, starting with HQ:

Orikan the Diviner is the most standout option in the HQ section. He adds some serious buffs to any unit he is in, making them ultra durable. While slow, he is likely to be fully powered up by the time he reaches enemy lines, becoming just a monster. At 120 points, he's going to be the go-to HQ choice.

Nemesor Zahndrekh is my runner up. He comes with one of the few 2+ saves in the army, and brings some incredibly abilities to the table. His Adaptive Tactics let him choose new Warlord Traits each turn after the first. His counter tactics also let he and his unit copy multiple abilities from enemy units within 24". This ability is all the better when you consider that Allies of Convenience are considered enemy units, meaning an army can be designed to have allies giving Zahndrekh and his unit desired abilities.

Of the remaining HQ choices, Crypteks, Destroyer Lords, and Catacomb Command Barges will likely be the most common. Crypteks and D-Lords provide some nice buffs, while the Command Barge provides a bit of a nuisance factor that, while not as insanely durable as before, is still tough and can provide some strong support and mobility to a Necron army.

Moving on to Troops, there is not much choice, with only two Troop units. Warriors getting bumped to a minimum of 10 probably means they will be less common, though blocks of 20 and Ghost Ark dedicated transports are both viable uses of Warriors. Immortals are still strong units, with 3+ saves, Reanimation Protocols, and S5 shooting. They also provide the cheapest access to Night Scythes and are no slouches. That said, nothing about Warriors or Immortals is particularly inspiring, so expect to see minimum troops in most cases.

On to Elites, which is a fairly crowded slot. Honestly, I'm not sure I would call any unit in the Elites slot straight out bad. My favorites are probably the Triarch Praetorians and Stalkers. I know there has been a good bit of love for Lychguard, but as a Tyranid player, I know the difficulties of making a foot slogging combat unit work.

Stalkers are appealing in their bubble of buffs, which I think really unlock a couple of the rare shooting units in the Necron codex, and also provide an anchor to a foot-slogging phalanx. Praetorians have the mobility that most units really lack, which is what makes them strong candidates in my book. Putting Orikan in the unit trailing behind makes their high point cost easier to handle, as they will be tough to bring down.

For the rest of Elites, Deathmarks' Ethereal Interception makes sense now, and they're still good. Flayed Ones also got a boost and are now a serious threat to enemy backfields, though they suffer from the same problem Lychguard have in that they are slow once they Deep Strike or Outflank. However, Flayed Ones are cheap (for Necrons) and so can be used as good distraction units that will deal damage if they are ignored, and tough enough to absorb some actual firepower.

In Fast Attack, the obvious go-to is Canoptek Wraiths. I think just about everyone has heard that they're good, so no need to rehash it here. Second place for me would probably go to Tomb Blades, who at 24 points a piece will have a 3+ save and a S6 Ignores Cover small blast weapon. They also add mobility to the army.

Moving on to Heavy Support, Heavy Destroyers are the real winners here. Combined with a Triarch Stalker from Elites, these guys will hit with 97% of their shots. Add that to the Jump-Shoot-Jump ability from being Jet Pack infantry and they provide a nice gun platform for a good price.

Honestly, Heavy Support is where the codex seems the flatest, and even then, several of the units can be good, or at least useful. A Monolith, while lacking offensive output, is cheaper and more durable than a Land Raider, and has the interesting ability to pull Necron units that are out of position back into the main line. Will Monoliths be in every Necron Tournament army? No, but they're not bad either.

Overall, I am a big fan of the Necron Codex. I think it has a lot to offer for strong builds and also still retained it's flavor. I've heard several people bemoaning the change to Reanimation Protocol, but I really like it. I think it retains the feel of an implacable wall of metal soldiers stalking forward while streamlining the mechanic for game flow and also not requiring me to tip over models I carefully painted several times a game.

What are your takeaways from the Necron Codex so far?

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