11 Mar 2015

Necrons - Unit Overview Part VI

For this final article in the Necron review series, I'll drop the cold and boring act; thank you all so much for your continued support of my work and the blog in general! Exceeding 1 million life-to-date views a few weeks ago was a tremendous achievement and one I couldn't be prouder of. With that in mind, let us get right into this last part of the overview featuring the Necron Lords of War.

Editors' Note: I deigned not to review the Formations and Decurion Detachment as I have not had enough experience with those as yet to really comment on them. However, I do rate all or most of them very highly based on what limited anecdotal and theoretical evidence I have. 

Lords of War 

Tesseract Vault - At first glance this seems like a much weaker choice compared to what it was back in 6th Edition with the Apocalypse release, though on further review I think its' main issue is that it is just too random with regards to the Powers of C'tan more than anything else. While one would previously have been forced to take only two of the ranged powers on a Tesseract Vault and often the price point would be higher after upgrades were accounted for, the user could guarantee the Tesseract Vault fired those weapons each turn. The new Powers of the C'tan give you the potential to fire any one out of six different ranged weapons, but each of them is both less powerful and - crucially - randomly determined. For a 500+ point model, having to roll to see what ranged weapon you use when you potentially need to destroy an enemy tank or super heavy can be disastrous; a Strength 6 AP4 template weapon will do nothing to those units, but a two-shot Destroyer weapon will. While I don't mind the functionality of the Powers of the C'tan on the lesser C'tan Shards because the abilities are more like extra value additions, they happen to be the major selling point of the Tesseract Vault over the significantly less expensive Obelisk. If it could choose which Power of the C'tan it could use each turn, it would fix one of the bigger problems with the unit - though obviously the generally weaker powers and the fact that you only get one a turn as opposed to two does limit its actual damage output significantly.

The four Tesla Spheres in its base wargear are very much appreciated and definitely are not to be underestimated, providing the Tesseract Vault with a whopping twenty Strength 7 AP- Tesla shots a turn that do help to supplement that otherwise supremely inferior firepower. The general consensus seems to be that you should use the Tesla Spheres for hunting monstrous creatures and medium to light vehicles while prioritizing infantry for the Powers of the C'tan as most of them are aimed at that particular unit type anyway. Using it in a suicidal role like an Imperial Knight can work as well, especially as you will never be able to fire all the Tesla Spheres at one target. Overall though, I look at the Tesseract Vault and the Obelisk and scratch my head as to why the former is almost twice the cost of the latter. The Vault gains an extra three hull points, the innately random (and thus unreliable) coalescent Powers of the C'tan and always suffers a Titanic Explosion upon its destruction, while losing the option to Deep Strike, the safety of a 3+ invulnerable save against enemy alpha strikes on the first two turns and the generally situational but sometimes useful Gravity Pulse. It just isn't worth that colossal points cost, and admittedly it never really was next to the 6th Edition Transcendent C'tan. For such an awesome looking model, I'm sorry to say that I just find it far too limited and random in its firepower to really justify that high price point, especially as it by no means the toughest super heavy choice you can find for its cost. 
Change? Weaker.
Competitive? No. 

Obelisk - Of the two Super Heavies in the Necron codex, this is easily the star sibling and the one you should consider if only because it is actually priced correctly relative to its capabilities. The Obelisk received a 35 point price reduction in the new codex, a significant change to its Gravity Pulse special rule and a massive boost to its overall survivability. Previously an AV 12/12/12 HP6 Super Heavy vehicle that barely classed as one with such poor armour values, the Obelisk has been bumped up into Monolith and Tesseract Vault territory with it sporting a far more impressive AV 14/14/14 and the same six hull points. For 100 points more than a Monolith, the Obelisk gains the many benefits of the Super Heavy classification and an additional two hull points while sporting generally superior firepower, all the while packing in more useful special rules. One could even infer that the Obelisk is what the Monolith should aspire to be rules-wise, though I guess the latter still has some kind of a place with its limited transport capabilities. The Obelisk also does not share the vulnerability to alpha strikes that many other Super Heavies - including the Tesseract Vault - are susceptible to with its Sleeping Sentry special rule and Deep Strike option offering a Necron players two methods of skirting that particular counter. Its Gravity Pulse has been reworked to now force dangerous terrain tests on all enemy flyers, skimmers, jetbikes and flying monstrous creatures within a huge 18" bubble, even forcing them through on swooping monstrous creatures and zooming flyers.

This is in contrast to inflicting an automatic Strength 8 AP4 hit on enemy flyers at a certain point in the turn within a 24" radius; which is better will generally depend on just how many flyers you see versus all of those other unit types. I prefer the new ability because it is much more universal and is still hilarious for potentially forcing swooping monstrous creatures to take grounding tests, causing Locked Velocity results on zooming flyers that then have a rough 33% chance of being outright destroyed, and just generally causing a wound or two to jetbike units. Overall, this is just a much more commendable unit than the Tesseract Vault not only because it improved out of sight in almost every way, but also because it doesn't over-pay for random and situational unique abilities. Sleeping Sentry is the ultimate defence against an enemies' first round of shooting, especially considering an Obelisk will sometimes struggle to get into range of anything in that first game turn. On the other hand, Gravity Pulse is a bit more narrow in its application but generally should have some effect on at least one enemy unit in an opponents' army; the mere threat of it can and will cause opponents to potentially reconsider moving to certain positions with their units, and the few times it does Immobilize a vehicle or destroy a flyer will certainly have its owner leaping for joy. Ultimately, it is tough as nails for its points while offering some significant firepower for its cost - for reference, if one can manage to get all four of its Tesla Spheres firing simultaneously then it has the rough damage output of four or five Annihilation Barges despite being priced at almost half the total of those. If you want a Super Heavy in your Necron army and want to stick with one in your codex, the Obelisk is your best bet by far. 
Change? Stronger. 
Competitive? Yes.

Imotekh the Stormlord - As before, Imotekh shares the same basic stats as a Necron Overlord plus some cool unique special rules and wargear choices - overall, he's probably a better character than he was. For one, his "lightning" can only ever work for a single turn rather than usually numerous turns, but it is more likely to hit a unit each time albeit with reduced damage potential due to the hits themselves being Strength 6 rather than Strength 8. He no longer Seizes the Initiative on a 4+ but his new Warlord Trait Hyperlogical Strategist serves as a more than adequate replacement, allowing him to Seize on a 5+ and modifying his players' Reserves rolls by 1 to your benefit. The buffs to both his and the Overlords' stats with Weapon Skill 5 and Ballistic Skill 5 definitely make a difference, especially now that he has a tweaked Staff of the Destroyer. Instead of firing off a beam once per game at Strength 6 and AP1, the Staff of the Destroyer can be used as a ranged weapon instead of Imotekh's Gauntlet of Fire each turn; this manifests as a Strength 6 AP2 Assault 3 gun with a somewhat limiting 18" range. Overall, it's a very nice buff to his damage output and combines well with the Gauntlet of Fire to give him a lot of versatility with regards to killing different types of enemies at range. Much like Nemesor Zahndrekh, he retains his awesome 2+ armour save albeit with a reduced 4+ invulnerable save down from 3+; however, the oft talked about change to Reanimation Protocols makes him far more survivable than previously and a downright monster to kill in combat. Throw in It Will Not Die and Imotekh can reliably soak up challenges and hold up nasty opponents that would otherwise crush most Necron units single-handed.

He even keeps his more situational Bloodswarm Nanoscarabs special rule which lets Flayed Ones re-roll their scatter dice when Deep Striking, though this ability is certainly more valuable now that those afflicted with the Flayer Virus are far more competitive than before. Factor in a 35 point reduction to his total points cost and Imotekh is definitely a superior addition to the Necron force than his previous incarnation was, especially as one need not over-pay solely for a few gimmicks now. Heck, his gimmicks are mostly outright stronger now too; he can Seize the Initiative against Ork armies, and his Bloodswarm Nanoscarabs work for all Flayed Ones rather than just those Deep Striking near a specific enemy unit, His Lord of the Storm rule is less intimidating but ultimately it still gives Necron players that guaranteed first round of Night Fighting which is still very useful even in 7th Edition, providing an army that has tonnes of Jink-claiming units a free +1 cover bonus. While I generally wouldn't have bothered with Imotekh competitively in the previous codex outside of using him purely for his gimmicks and tankiness, one can actually justify using him at a high level of play now. He essentially pays around 40-50 points over a similarly equipped Overlord for his Lord of the Storm, Bloodswarm Nanoscarabs, Staff of the Destroyer and guaranteed Hyperlogical Strategist Warlord Trait which is definitely not a bad trade-off for such a character. Of course, the main issue with Imotekh is that he isn't a HQ choice and thus cannot fulfill that mandatory part of a Combined Arms or Allied detachment, while that Lord of War slot will generally be better suited to an Obelisk anyway to provide the army with something it really needs. In closing, I do like Imotekh and think he would be a decent to good choice in many Necron lists - and particularly those that are based a lot around flyers or Flayed Ones - with the only two issues really holding him back being his lack of a proper melee weapon and the fact that he eats up a super important Lord of War slot. He doesn't quite compare to Nemesor Zahndrekh in particular but then the former should always be a superior option as a more generalist choice anyway. 
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes. 

Thank you all for reading this sixth and final article in my Necron Unit Overview series! It has been a pleasure reviewing the first truly exemplary codex of 7th Edition and quite easily the most well designed in years, a fact that has attracted many old and new wargamers back to the hungry hands of these ever-living automatons. I hope you enjoyed this entry and look forward to reading your feedback!


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  2. Which codex will you do next? Blood Angels or Dark Eldar by any chance?

    1. I'd really like to know when there will be the next entry for the Orks. Are there any infos on when they will be continued?

      Still loving to read these overviews, keep up the good work!

    2. Totally. Love your work Eels. Keep it up. :)

    3. @Robert I'm probably going to cover Dark Eldar next as from memory they were released before Blood Angels.

      @Der T I've been struggling to get writing with any regularity lately but I'm hoping I can restart them soon, probably in a few weeks. It all depends on whether I can actually get back into the groove as usually I refuse to release poor quality articles just to get them out quickly.

      @Seiza Cheers mate!

      Thanks all for your comments!

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