13 Feb 2015

Necrons - Unit Overview Part I

This is Report #361 my Lord. The reclamation process is proceeding with an 89% success rate. Adapted tactics have increased our legions' combat efficiency two-fold. despite the mortals' inferior technological advancements. The living shall be cleansed, my Lord. Our dominion of death is unstoppable.


I have elected to cover the changes made to the most heavily tweaked entries in the new codex, including various equipment choices and so on; this is why some, but not all, entries in a particular section of the codex are present here. However, the actual unit reviews will all be present, as will a final article that discusses all formations and detachments present in the codex.

Army Special Rules

Entropic Strike - Of all the various army special rules, and accounting for the buffs a Decurion Detachment provides to them, Entropic Strike has probably garnered the most conflict in regards to whether or not it is better or worse. Against vehicles, Entropic Strike no longer reduces the targets' armour value by one for every successful hit that then rolls a further 4+ on a separate D6 roll. That this was done before rolling for armour penetration meant that even a small unit of Scarabs would eat through almost any vehicle, or at least leave it with half of its armour value and thus vulnerable to further shooting attacks. The change to glancing automatically regardless of armour value against both vehicles and buildings on the armour penetration roll of a 6 brings it in line with Gauss - in fact, that it also automatically wounds on the to-wound roll of a 6 makes it the melee Gauss equivalent. This means that Scarabs are definitely less reliable for taking out most vehicles, though importantly they are now actually capable of taking on super heavy vehicles that were previously immune to any effect that reduced their armour values. They can also be used to fight against Toughness 7 and higher opponents now such as Dark Eldar Talos', Eldar Wraithknights and many Gargantuan Creatures.

In a sense, Scarab Swarms (as the primary unit the Entropic Strike changes affect) are better for taking on the titanic opponents found in 7th Edition and are better fighters overall, and functionally they require roughly four Scarab Swarms to destroy a 3 hull point vehicle that lacks saving throws and is Weapon Skill 1; by comparison, the old Entropic Strike rule would have required at least five Scarab Swarms to reduce the armour of a standard AV12 vehicle sufficiently enough for them to destroy it outright in one round of combat. In that sense, Entropic Strike is better if you have the numbers to destroy a vehicle outright in that assault phase, but it is worse if you need to rely on other units' shooting or a second charge to finish it off. I would say the overall buffs to Entropic Strike make it a more appealing special rule than before as it allows Scarab Swarms to fight far more opponents than they used to and it is strictly better against a wide range of targets - AV13-AV14 particularly. The removal of "stripping" a models' armour save is definitely not as useful as wounding automatically on the roll of a 6 regardless of the opponents' Toughness seeing as most enemies that it could consistently worry were single-wound models anyway.

Reanimation Protocols - Undoubtedly the most controversial but ultimately beneficial change the Necrons received with their new codex came with the buff to Reanimation Protocols, even if the reasons for it being better aren't immediately obvious at first glance. What fuels the controversy is that Reanimation Protocols has been brought in line with Feel No Pain and thus acts as a second save for all recipient units; that they are resolved immediately removes the "placing down/picking up" gameplay element unique to the older Necron codices. While it is a bit of a downer for those that loved taking their time to do this to help them embrace the army theme, ultimately it stream-lines the game even more, reduces potential rule clashes and saves a lot of time for both sides of a match featuring Necrons. As for how it actually works, it is most similar to Feel No Pain or even Warhammer Fantasy's dual-save system with armour saves taken before applicable ward or regeneration saves. Whenever models with the Reanimation Protocols special rule suffer unsaved wounds - as in, they fail their applicable saving throw - they then immediately make a Reanimation Protocols roll which completely nullifies the wound(s) on the roll of a 5+, subject to modifiers. This might seem identical in theory, but in practice it is just so much better in almost every way, though it will require a good deal of explanation.

Firstly, resolving the Reanimation Protocols rolls in a way that discounts wounds means that you no longer have to worry about the unit fleeing or being destroyed outright before it can reanimate. Functionally, it also means that in previous cases where a Necron unit would have been destroyed outright; say a squad of Immortals suffers 10 unsaved wounds that are AP3 and have the Ignores Cover special rule. In the previous rules, the unit would have been destroyed outright and no reanimation rolls would be allowed; in the new rules, they instead get that number of "Feel No Pain" rolls in essence, meaning any that survive would do so unalike to the previous editions. This is a huge buff on its' lonesome but it gets even more ridiculous where close combat and morale are concerned; seeing as Necrons will suffer "less" unsaved wounds than before with the Reanimation Protocols moving up to being a secondary saving throw, they will suffer less casualties in all scenarios and thus reduce the chances of them losing a combat, failing their morale test and fleeing - the same is true when they have to test in other scenarios in the sense that they might lose less models and not be forced to take a morale test. One must also remember that as it is done for each unsaved wound a model suffers, units such as Destroyers or the various multiple-wound characters in the army got a massive improvement as they can now make more than one Reanimation Protocol roll in a phase potentially as they roll once per unsaved wound suffered. This means that a unit of six Destroyers with twelve total wounds that suffers eighteen unsaved wounds can thus make eighteen Reanimation Protocols rolls, rather than hoping they had one model left and making five rolls to see if the models got back up.

When one considers Reanimation Protocols in this way, Necrons are just insane and received a massive buff by having what amounts to army-wide Feel No Pain, while one must not forget that the Necron' exclusive version of this is better because it actually works against Instant Death. The potential to get back up was nasty but could be easily countered by focus firing on a given unit so they couldn't make those rolls; now, no actual counter exists save for employing large amounts of weapons that are Strength 8 or natively cause Instant Death. The only true downside of the new Reanimation Protocols is that rolls made against wounds that inflict Instant Death receive a -1 modifier which would thus normally see them "saving" on a 6+ rather than a 5+, but with all the various ways to boost a units' Reanimation Protocols roll by 1 (the Decurion Detachment being the stand-out) this is basically a moot point seeing as doing the same in the previous codex would likely see the Necron unit wiped out before it could reanimate anyway. If you take that aforementioned Decurion Detachment as doubtless many competitive and themed Necron lists will because of its many insane benefits and few actual weaknesses in terms of restrictions and unit composition, almost the entire Necron army benefits from 4+ Reanimation Protocols and thus gets a 5+ against Instant Death. Oh, and many Necron units are under-priced considering their abilities even without considering the impact Reanimation Protocols has for them. I can only express my natural reaction to this with one word; yikes!

Living Metal - On its own merits, this rule seemingly received a "nerf" compared to its previous incarnation but is surprisingly tight in that comparison much like the new Entropic Strike; however, what must be kept in mind is that it is strictly better when viewed in the context of the awesome Decurion Detachment. Before we get into that though, let us look at the core changes to the rule itself; Living Metal now fully ignores Crew Shaken results without the need for a separate D6 roll, though Crew Stunned results are no longer affected by this rule and thus Necron vehicles are more susceptible to it, even if they only ignored it on the D6 roll of a 4+. This isn't too much worse than it was considering that the most common result on the 7th Edition vehicle damage result by far is Crew Shaken, while the prior version of Living Metal only nullified Crew Stunned results 50% of the time. That it now also provides Monoliths, Obelisks and Tesseract Vaults with an inferior but still handy version of It Will Not Die that manifests on the roll of a 6+ instead is a nice extra buff that sees me calling it a more of a middling change. Unlike Entropic Strike that receives no benefit from the Decurion Detachment, however, Living Metal receives a massive buff in the Necrons' unique method of building army lists as it then entirely ignores both Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned rather than just the former. That's pretty powerful for Necron vehicles even if they still lose a hull point when those results are rolled, providing each of them a greatly improved and free version of Extra Armour.

Warlord Traits

The Necrons have a great set of Warlord Traits that all complement the army (or a Necron Overlord) very well and make the recently reviewed Grey Knight Warlord Traits seem horrendous by comparison.

Enduring Will - Of all the Warlord Traits in the game, this is probably one of the best and is easily the one any kitted out Necron Overlord wants most. Even though they no longer have the awesome easily accessed 2+ armour save and 3+ invulnerable save of the past, being Toughness 5 characters that have "super Feel No Pain" and easy access to It Will Not Die still makes this a ridiculous buff to get. This is made doubly better by the fact that Necron Overlords are now scarier damage-dealing models as well with the buff to their Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill values.

Eternal Madness - While Necron combat units are generally few and far between in the codex, providing the Zealot special rule - conferring Fearless and Hatred in unison to the character and his or her attached unit - to a Necron character is still frightening to say the least. Necrons are still vulnerable to Sweeping Advances and thus Fearless is a huge buff, especially for giant Necron Warrior squads that are so good at camping on objectives. Hatred also makes the much-improved Lychguard and even Flayed Ones absolutely insane in combat for their points, the latter unit being among the games' most deadly combatants in terms of points efficiency even before adding Hatred to the mix.

Immortal Hubris - One of the few minor issues with Necrons is fleeing from combat or being pinned as their army-wide Leadership 10 doesn't make them immune to modifiers or failing the occasional crucial morale test. They have it where it counts everywhere else so having one small weakness can't hurt, but this particular Warlord Trait basically guarantees Necrons will never have Leadership issues if being Leadership 10 wasn't good enough already.

Hyperlogical Strategist - Functioning as the new incarnation of Imotekh's old special rule of the same name - coincidentally, this is his preset Warlord Trait - this favours a reserve-based list very well; that Necrons have access to large quantities of flyers and Deep Striking units means this will usually give you some tangible benefits. The bonus to Seize the Initiative rolls is a bit more limited and situational but nonetheless appreciated, especially as the high mobility of most Necron forces makes them one of the deadlier opponents to be Seized against.

Implacable Conqueror - Providing Necrons with both the Crusader and Relentless special rules in such a large bubble is doubtless an impressive buff, especially as even the bare-bones Necron Warrior can be scary in combat when taken in massive numbers; fire forty rapid fire shots with their Gauss Flayers, then charge in with forty Strength 4 attacks from a unit of 20! It essentially functions as the old Phaeron buff with the addition of Crusader, allowing you to randomly receive it for free and provide it in a radius rather than paying for it to affect just a single unit.

Honourable Combatant - If you kit your Warlord - usually a Necron Overlord - out for facing enemy characters with the usual Warscythe, Phase Shifter and possibly the Nightmare Shroud, this Warlord Trait is actually pretty darn scary. Your Warlord is incredibly points-efficient and nasty in combat regardless, while gaining re-rolls to hit in a challenge basically solves his only issue of hitting opponents; Strength 7 AP2 melee attacks at Initiative 2 (importantly striking before Unwieldy weapons) are enough to punch through most enemies. Gaining Hatred for the rest of the game if an opponent refuses a challenge carries the re-rolls to-hit buff over into regular combat outside of challenges. Being forced to issue and accept challenges isn't great but at least it isn't as bad as it used to be in 6th Edition (Chaos Space Marine players are probably still rejoicing).

Armoury of the Ancients

Death Ray - The change to the way in which a Death Ray fires is a rather massive tweak considering how unreliable small Blasts are in practice, though the weapon does have one rather massive buff that makes it a devastating anti-tank weapon. Hitting 3D6" worth of models in a straight line versus a small Blast is generally a wash depending on how unit coherency and placement are determined, but I preferred the former for its inability to "miss" and greater potential to hit more than one vehicle at a time. However, adding Lance to its' profile instead makes it one heck of a tank hunter; Strength 10 AP1 with Lance has such a crazy chance of outright destroying even Land Raiders compared to the vast majority of other anti-tank weapons in the game, as Tyranid players with Zoanthropes will no doubt affirm. That the Doom Scythe is a zooming flyer that can move 36" and fire its 24" range Death Ray with a Ballistic Skill 4 small blast in conjunction with that basically unchanged twin-linked Tesla Destructor makes it a tank hunter with few equals considering its' points cost.

Doomsday Cannon - The titular weapon of the previously non-competitive Doomsday Ark, this has received a pretty massive buff with both its primary and secondary weapon profiles increasing in both of their respective Strength and AP values (though the primary weapon was and remains AP1). The primary profile now fires a Strength 10 AP1 Large Blast that puts even a Vindicator to shame, though the more important buff is to the secondary profile as it now fires a Strength 8 AP3 Small Blast; this is far more significant an improvement than going from Strength 9 AP1 to Strength 10 AP1, after all. Another important change is that the Doomsday Cannon gained the Primary Weapon trait for the primary profile, meaning it now rolls 2D6 picking the highest for armour penetration rolls made against enemy vehicles but it also allows the Doomsday Cannons' other weapons to fire at full Ballistic Skill.

Gauss Weapons - While most Gauss weapons remain unchanged in terms of Range, Strength, AP and Type, the actual Gauss special rule itself has seen a huge improvement with the addition of automatically wounding opponents regardless of their Toughness on the roll of a 6 when rolling to wound. This allows even basic Necron Warriors with their Strength 4 Gauss Flayers to threaten mighty Wraithknights and Hierophants while still maintaining their insane ability to automatically glance vehicles and buildings on the roll of a 6 when rolling for armour penetration. Basically, if there was ever a reason to not run Gauss over Tesla for units that can choose between both, that reason has been squashed completely. Of course, I do need to mention the important change to Gauss Flayer Arrays; as they are now Salvo 5/10 weapons with a 24" range that are mounted on vehicles which are innately Relentless, Ghost Arks and Doomsday Arks now get double the shots from their Gauss Flayer Arrays at targets over 12" away. Stealth buffs are the best kind!

Rod of Covenant - The sole weapon choice of the venerable Triarch Praetorians who themselves saw a major points drop in the latest codex, this has the same basic stats for the most part but has crucially doubled in range and now functions as a standard AP2 melee weapon. While this does mean they don't get the Strength bonus they used to have in combat, that they have a shooting range equal to their maximum charge range makes them far more ideal and gives you greater potential to actually use the damned things.

Tesla Weapons - The changes to these should come as no surprise to anyone who has been on the receiving end of an Immortal squads' Overwatch as getting the extra hit bonus even when taking Snap Shots was just a bit ridiculous. Thankfully, they still provide the extra two automatic hits when rolls of a 6 are made, just not when Snap Firing; with the buff that Gauss received, I can definitely see most units favouring the latter weapon type when the choice is available for Gauss weapons' greater threat range and actual AP values. Unlike what some rumours mentioned, however, the profiles of the Tesla weapons themselves received no changes, meaning Tesla Destructors are still awesome tank-hunting weapons.

Flayer Claw - While this change only benefits Flayed Ones and I will be covering them in their own review, I simply can't stress enough how big of a buff they received just with the addition of one special rule to their melee weapons. Flayer Claws - and mind you, all Flayed Ones have two sets of these - now have the Shred special rule (and have their own entry!), meaning those previously avoidable Flayed Ones are now dirt cheap assault units that re-roll all failed to-wound rolls against opponents in close combat. Unless they get unlucky and face a Toughness 8 opponent or AV11 and better Walker, Flayed Ones are now one of the best combat units in the game on efficiency alone. I give praise to the forum users that did the maths and worked out that the equivalent points of Flayed Ones will make a mess of many of the nastier melee squads around, even including Ork Meganobz and Terminators with Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields.

Whip Coils - A small note before I begin; I will retract and edit this particular review if it is proven that Wraithflight allows Wraiths to strike at Initiative when charging through terrain, but as that is still hotly debated I will go with the assumption that Wraiths still strike at Initiative 1 when charging through terrain. Anyway, this is one of those changes I saw coming from a mile away given the fact that Tyranid Lashwhips saw the exact same rework, though it still hurts nonetheless. Whip Coils now have the Swiftstrike special rule which increases the Initiative of the bearer by 3, usually to Initiative 5. Seeing as only Wraiths can take these and they are a dedicated melee unit that lacks assault grenades, it goes without saying that forcing opponents to strike at Initiative 1 will usually be better than the fewer times that Initiative 5 might allow the Wraiths to attack first. Still, Canoptek Wraiths are even more insane in this book regardless of the Whip Coil change so this is basically moot; the upgrade is still very good for its points but no longer the auto-take it used to be.


Chronometron - Much like the Kustom Force Field before it, the Chronometron now provides a 5+ invulnerable save to the bearer and his unit against Shooting attacks instead of providing a single re-roll on a D6 each turn. This is obviously a much more efficient use of the points and provides a truly potent effect as Ork players will no doubt tell you, though it is debatable whether Ork or Necron units make greater use of it. A 5+ invulnerable save stacks so well with a further 5+ Reanimation Protocols roll to remove the previous counter of AP3 Ignores Cover shooting against Necron infantry, though at the same time there are many situations where the unit will be able to claim an armour or cover save. Orks, on the other hand, rarely get to use their armour saves against shooting attacks and also find cover sparse if they are run as an assault force, giving great value to that 5+ invulnerable save. As far as the items themselves are concerned, I prefer the Chronometron as it isn't limited by a 6" bubble and is half the price of the Kustom Force Field; not being able to provide the save to a vehicle doesn't really matter when the majority of Necron vehicles can Jink and are generally far more difficult to destroy than Ork vehicles.

Dispersion Shields - While this previously had a pretty cool but generally limited "reflection" unique rule and provided the bearer with a 4+ invulnerable save, it is now a Necron Storm Shield in all but name as its sole benefit is to give the wielder a 3+ invulnerable save. Heck, it even shares the inability to claim a two-weapon bonus with the Storm Shield if the comparison wasn't already obvious enough. If Lychguard weren't good enough already in the new codex with the gigantic points reduction they received, the re-imagined Dispersion Shields definitely sealed the deal and help to ensure that Lychguard have stamped out their own place in the world of Terminator-equivalents.

Mindshackle Scarabs - While I've personally seen people jump up and down about how much worse Mindshackle Scarabs are now, I think every rational gamer can agree they needed some dramatic changes. While causing Fear and forcing units to take Fear tests on 3D6 rather than the usual 2D6 is a pretty limited ability considering so many factions have And They Shall Know No Fear or Fearless and this was the case even when Fear was introduced back in 6th Edition, it's still decent for its' low points cost in certain match-ups. Still, these are previously mandatory points that can now be saved for better use elsewhere.

Phase Shifter - A massive points decrease coupled with the change from a 3+ invulnerable save to a 4+ invulnerable save makes the Phase Shifter a more price-worthy upgrade overall and the exact equivalent of a Space Marine Iron Halo. While most Necron players would probably prefer being able to spread 2+ armour saves and 3+ invulnerable saves around multiple characters, I do slightly favour this particular change as Necron characters are generally more survivable anyway with the changes to Reanimation Protocols, Phylactery and so on.

Phylactery - Speaking of Phylactery, the switch from Reanimation Protocols bringing models back to life to instead acting as a secondary saving throw obviously mandated a rework for this age-old piece of equipment. For a few handfuls of points, a Necron Overlord (the more wounds, the better the effect) can gain It Will Not Die through the use of Phylactery which is a pretty nice buff given that you can take a Reanimation Protocols "save" for each unsaved wound inflicted on a Necron character. This will likely be a standard equipment option for many Necron Warlord choices as it helps to turn them into living wound sponges.

Resurrection Orb - About the only truly negative impression of anything in the codex I've had so far is to the Resurrection Orb, standing alongside the Phylactery as one of the classic Necron wargear items. Unlike its' counterpart, the Resurrection Orb did not fare well at all in the new codex; it now only works once per game and allows the bearer and his unit to re-roll all failed Reanimation Protocols rolls for the duration of the phase in which it is activated. While re-rolling what amounts to a Feel No Pain "save" is pretty good, it isn't worth that high of a points cost when it only works for a single phase of a turn. You may as well just pay more points for a Cryptek that provides a +1 bonus to a units' Reanimation Protocol rolls as long as he survives while getting all the other benefits of a two-wound character with a Staff of Light. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that almost every Necron character model imaginable holds a Resurrection Orb, not even mentioning that it would probably be worth it if it actually worked for a full game or even player turn.

Analysis of the mortal species' indicates that the reclamation process will require numerous day cycles to complete. The two slave-races have hindered our progress, but their assimilation is inevitable. Provide your assessment of our tactical approach when possible, my Lord, and we shall renew our efforts.

1 comment:

  1. I've been forced to adjust my DE list completely because of the Decurion Reclaimation threat. My list now features Eldar allies with a Lynx sporting Strength D Pulsars.