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NINO: Necrons in Name Only (Part II)

NOTE: This review was written when Codex: Necrons was first released in 2011, during the 5th Edition rules.  Many of the objections raised in this and subsequent articles were addressed under the 6th Edition rules; please see this addendum to this series (October 2013).  You can find the review for the 2015 version of Codex: Necrons here.

I could go on and on about the fluff, including how ridiculously over-the-top the summaries of famous Necron incidents in history are (see “A New Epoch Begins”), but let’s move on, because the more I think about it, the more honked off I get.  Instead, let’s talk about how the new Necrons on the table, starting with their special rules.

Reanimation Protocols replaces the old “We’ll Be Back” rule, maybe because the game designers felt a little silly referencing an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.  WBB” allowed ‘bots to get back up from unsaved wounds on a 4+ on a d6, but not if the wound was caused by a power weapon, was from a weapon with twice the Necron’s Toughness, or if there weren’t Toasters of the same type within 6" of the stricken Necron.  Reanimation Protocols simplifies the process by removing the restrictions on what types of wounds can be saved against, but rolls to get back up can only be made if the unit has not been destroyed, and work on a 5+ instead of 4+. 

So, yes, Reanimation is easier to use and works against whatever gun the other guy shoots at you, but it’s not so good when you’re getting hit with massed bolter fire.  Why the designers just didn’t grant Feel No Pain to Necrons, like they’ve done to units in other armies (Ork Nobz, Tervigons, Dark Eldar with a few kills under their belt), is beyond me.  One can’t argue that an army of Feel No Pain guys is unprecedented, as you can field 120 Plague Marines (albeit at 23 points a pop) in a detachment.  But what do I know?

Ever-Living is a poorly-written rule that seems to be Reanimation Protocols for Independent Characters.  I’m sure you can find folks debating what exactly Ever-Living says or was intended to say on literally every 40K forum on the Internet, a food fight that I’m staying out of, thanks.             

Entropic Strike harkens back to the 2e Necrons and their tank-eating Scarabs.  You really don’t want your vehicles to be stationary against the Toasters.  Scarabs are going to be nigh-mandatory in each Necron army from now on, methinks, and they’re going to be the first thing most players shoot at. 

Living Metal has changed quite a bit from its previous version: in the past, it protected Monoliths from lance- and melta weapons, power- and chainfists, and Monstrous Creatures.  Now, it will most likely (2+ on d6) negate “Crew Shaken” results, and half the time (4+ on d6) do the same against “Crew Stunned” results.  Because, you know, apparently, the default special weapon in every Space Marine Tactical Squad or Space Wolf Grey Hunter Pack—armies you apparently never see, and certainly not in tournaments—is NOT melta guns.  At least, not where the game designers play.   

The old Phase Out rule, with its distinctions of which units are proper “Necrons” and which were not, is no more, removing a crucial—though distinctive—vulnerability that the army had.  This encourages players to field something other than masses and masses of Warriors (the cheapest “Necron” unit), which was, to be honest, a bit dull.     

All in all, I’m ambivalent about the new special rules: I like Entropic Strike and no more Phase Out, but the new versions of “We’ll Be Back” and Living Metal leave me cold.  Let’s flip the page and go on to the descriptions given in “The Army of the Aeons Past” section of each Necron unit, with references to the appropriate army list entries towards the back of the book.



"Hey, GW!  Where are our special rules for stopping vehicles and actually surviving assaults?  Hello? HELLO?"


The New Necrons, Part I: Overlords to Deathmarks
Disclaimer: I’m a tactical ant-head, prone to not knowing what I’m talking about (as evidenced here), so be mindful as you read on, because odds are good I’m wrong about a great many things.  If you want to read what smarter people than I have to say about Necron tactics, you’ll want to visit here and here. 

With that out of the way, first up is the Overlord, the new version of what was previously called a Necron Lord.  The Overlord is 10 points cheaper than the old Lord, with identical stats except for the Achilles heel of I2 instead of I4.  Meaning that your army commander is as vulnerable to that wonderfully-balanced Jaws of the World Wolf psychic power as any slow-moving Carnifex (which by now, ought to have “endangered species” status).  The Overlord’s base weapon, the Staff of Light, is as zappy as it used to be (12" range, S5 AP 3, Assault 3) but is no longer a power weapon.  Overlords can, however, exchange their Staves for other, more potent close-combat armament.

As mentioned, under the previous codex, the nigh-obligatory load-out for the Necron Lord was Resurrection Orb + Veil of Darkness.  You can still Orb your guy, but the Veil is now a Cryptek item and not as useful as it once was.  You will no longer be yanking your Veil-wearing Lord and his unit out of close combat and then shooting the bejesus out of the assaulting unit the next turn.  And I don’t even want to get into the fact that currently (pre-FAQ), under a strict reading of the rules, the Orb does not affect the Overlord.

One of my favorite options for the Overlord is the ability to upgrade to a Phaeron, making him and any unit he joins Relentless, good for de-nerfing gauss blasters.  Another is being able to take a tachyon arrow, a muy macho hunter-killer missile.  I know the ‘arrow is an expensive one-shot wonder, but with this codex, I’m happy for any anti-tank bone they throw me that doesn’t involve me buying vehicles.

What they call “Necron Lords” now are Overlord Mini-Me’s with fewer Wounds and Attacks, and not as many wargear options.  As I’m sure you’ve heard, you can attach them to Necron squads, though I’m not really sure why you’d want to.  None of the options make the Lord any shootier, the main attribute of the Warriors, Immortals, and Deathmarks you can add Lords to.  Instead, most options either make it tougher, or increase its close-combat abilities, but being tougher won’t help it when the rest of the squad gets run down during a Sweeping Advance, and close combat is not a place you want your Necrons to be in, anyway.


The Destroyer Lord is no longer considered a jetbike, because, you know, that would be awesome, and only Space Marines, the GW golden boys, get awesome stuff.  Like the Overlord, the Destroyer Lord has the craptastic I2, but it does get T6, not T5(6): hence, it gives the metallic finger to S10 weapons trying to Instant Kill it.  The DLord comes standard-equipped with a warscythe (a weapon that was NOT nerfed) and Preferred Enemy, meaning it’s built for close combat.  He starts off at 125 points, much cheaper than the previous version, and you can give him many of the same options as Overlords.  I’m thinking the best use for him, like Lychguards and the other dedicated close-combat ‘bots, is counterassaulting folks who get too close to your lines.

Crypteks are the Necron equivalent of Techmarines, and a step down, stat-wise, from Lords.  Like Lords, you can attach them to certain squads, and while they have numerous options, I’m certain you’ll see most of them with eldritch lances for long-range anti-tank goodness.  Solar pulses should help Necrons advance into firing range without taking a lot of fire themselves (not so much when fighting Dark Eldar, who have Night Vision, or Space Wolves, who have Acute Senses).             

As mentioned, Veils of Darkness are now a Cryptek item, and won’t save your metal butt from close combat any more.  Ether Crystals mess with folks trying to Deep Strike near your unit, and Lightning Field is an improved holdover from the old codex.  Seismic Crucible and Tremorstave are also useful from keeping would-be assaulters from charging your guys.

Only one eye, and he's still BS 4.  Imagine how good he'd be if he had two...


So, “no” to Lords with squads, “yes” to Crypteks with squads.  Let’s look at the dudes you can attach them to: Warriors, Immortals, Lychguard, and Deathmarks.  Necron Warriors are now 5 points cheaper but are more like the Tau than “The Terminator”: gauss flayers did not change, I’d rather have “We’ll Be Back” for them instead of Reincarnation, and their Armor Save is now 4+ instead of 3+. 

Warriors did not get options for special or heavy weapons, so they don’t hit any harder than they did before.  You can give them a Ghost Ark or a Night Scythe: gee, thanks, I wanted to spend more money in these rough economic times.  Warriors used to be MEQs (Marine Equivalents); now they’re wanna-be’s, scrubs good for not much more than planting on top of objectives and hoping no one comes to shove them off.  You can take as few as 5 or as many as 20 in a unit, depending on how many you want to lose in a Sweeping Advance.

Immortals are now Troops (formerly, they were Elites) and are much cheaper, from 28 points each to 17.  However, they’ve lost a point of Toughness (from 5 to 4) and gauss blasters have been downgraded from Assault 2 to Rapid Fire, basically halving their firepower when on the move.  You can exchange the blasters for tesla carbines, which are the same range and Strength and Assault 1, but with no AP (which, of course, makes it even harder for ‘bots to take out vehicles).  No, thank ye.  Immortals may also have Night Scythes as a dedicated transport.

Immortals were a solid unit under the previous codex rules, and though they were expensive, points-wise, you got what you paid for.  The equivalent of a Sternguard squad, they dished out a lot of firepower and could weather a lot, too.  They were not a unit that was “broken” or needed fixing (aside from the nerfing of gauss weaponry vs. vehicles).  Why the game designers gimped Immortals is something I simply don’t understand.



Are those...crowns they're wearing?
Did they all just get picked to be king of the prom?

Lychguards are the new Pariahs.  Pariahs were Fearless, gave psykers the willies, and lowered opponents’ Leadership to 7 (oftentimes, a very useful ability).  Their Warscythes had built-in gauss blasters so they could stride up the field, blazing away like Immortals, and then kick ass in hand-to-hand combat: their I3 didn’t matter, as they were S5, T5.  They were expensive (36 points each), didn’t count for Phase Out totals, and couldn’t be teleported by Monoliths,

The good news about Lychguards is that you can take more than one unit of them (Pariahs were 0-1), they can have Night Scythes for transport, and you can use your old Pariah figures for them.  Their Attacks went from 1 to 2, while their Initiative went from 3 to 2: let’s call that a wash.  The bad news is…well, where to begin? They’re more expensive (40 points a pop) and they’ve lost their built-in gauss blasters, as well as the Fearlessness and hoopy ability to mess with psykers and enemy Leadership.

Sure, you can upgrade their toys to hyperphase swords and dispersion shields, but that only adds on to the lots of points (200 minimum) for guys with no guns in a “shooty” army.  You could spend the same and have 15 more Warriors or 11 more Immortals.  With WS4, S5, T5, and a 3+ Save (4+ Invulnerable with shields), Lyches look like a “tar pit” that should bog down enemy troops looking to assault your lines (though that I2 worries me in case they lose combat).  I prefer cheaper “speed bump” units, with the expectation that they’ll intercept the attackers, get killed, and leave the assaulters standing out in the open to be shot on my turn.  But that’s just me.

Deathmarks debut with this version of the codex and…sheesh, I don’t know what to think about them.  They’re snipers who can Deep Strike in on your opponent’s turn when any of his units come on from reserves, whether on the board edge, by Deep Striking, daemon-summoning, whatever.  They’re a rapid-response unit meant to counter enemy maneuvers, but because they arrive on the opponent’s Movement Phase, they could be shot at and assaulted as soon as they come down (of course, before that, you have to see if they arrive safely in the right place; I don’t know about you, but my Deep Striking rolls are usually wretched).

Assuming they don’t get killed, they can fire in their Shooting Phase with a Rapid Fire AP 5 Sniper weapon, thus wounding on a 4+ (2+ if they use their Hunters from Hyperspace ability), with rending and pinning (and considered S3 vs. vehicles, of course).  They can have a Night Scythe transport (more about this plethora of transports later on) and cost 19 points a pop.  Oh, look: it’s another infantry unit that kills other infantry and does skadoosh against vehicles.  Ehh.  The models look cool, but I’ll pass.  

            No offense.            

The New Necrons, Part II: Flayed Ones to Spyders
Our next entry is another reworking from the previous codex: Flayed Ones.  I wasn’t a big fan of them before, preferring (in order) Immortals and Pariahs for my Elite choices, but at least they had Terrifying Visage, Move Through Cover, and 2 Attacks each going for them.  I like the new Flayed Ones even less.  And no, I don’t care that they’re 5 points cheaper. 

The new version has retained Deep Strike and Infiltrate, and raised Attacks to 3, but worsened their Armor (from 3+ to 4+) and Initiative (from 4 to 2, just like all the other “new” Necrons).  Someone in the GW design team apparently decided that all robots were slow, which would explain why machines have never replaced humans in real-life factories.  I’ve already whined enough about how bad the new fluff is, but the backstory for the Flayed Ones is particularly awful.



Hey, dude in the back, halfway behind a rock: wouldn't it be easier to kill people
 if you'd stop carrying around your last victim?  It'd free up your other hand.
Just, you know, a thought.

Triarch Praetorians are another expensive (40 points each) mess.  They’re jump infantry with extremely short-ranged firepower (6", S5 AP2 Assault 1) and power weapons.  Alternatively, they can swap out their gear to double their range with particle casters and get voidblades, which rend and have Entropic Strike.  They’re going to have to get in close to the enemy to be useful, and they do have S5 and T5 going for them, as well as being Fearless (to avoid those unit-breaking Morale tests).  But that I2 still annoys me, and their single Attack each doesn’t allay my worries.  If you put a gauss flayer to my head and made me choose between them and Lychguard, I’d go for the Praetorians, but I still prefer other Elite choices.

Like what Elite units?  Well, let’s skip the Triarch Stalker for now (even though it is next in the book); I’ll cover it with all the other vehicles.  Let’s go instead to the C’tan Shards, the sop thrown to those folks who shelled out big bucks for the Nightbringer and Deceiver models.  As I mentioned before, the previous versions of the C’tan were heinously expensive, made Necrons much easier to Phase Out (Nightbringer cost the same as 20 Warriors), and weren’t that effective.  Shards are cheaper (starting at 185 points), have a variety of amusing abilities, and even get Invulnerable Saves (something that not a single Tyranid Monstrous Creature seems to have evolved yet). 

Rather than drop points on Lychguard or Praetorians for counterassault capability, I’d rather push a C’tan Shard in the face of enemy coming to get my ‘bots.  WS 5, S7, T7, I4, A4, and the Shard even has the Eternal Warrior special rule, to keep psykers from punking it with force weapons.  If you kill it in close combat, it pitches a S4, AP 1 hissy fit to anyone within 6" who will listen. 

Moving on to Fast Attack, we have Tomb Blades.  The intro fluff for them goes on and on about them flying in odd patterns, making them hard to track, but the Blade is just your typical jetbike.  Typical, that is, unless you add shadowlooms at +10 points, which increases its cover save to 2+ when turbo-boosting.  Alas, I find myself not caring much, as the Blade comes standard with twin-linked tesla carbines, which do nothing for me, especially when I consider well-armored foes.  Better, methinks, to upgrade to a particle beamer (S6, AP 5): now you have my attention, good sirs, even if the Blades then weigh in at 40 points each (counting the nigh-mandatory shadowlooms).


For the same 40 points, you can purchase a Necron Destroyer, once a truly sweet ‘bot unit that has been senselessly powered down in the new codex.  Like the Destroyer Lord, it’s now jump infantry, not a jetbike; it has Preferred Enemy, which is ludicrous for a “shooty” unit; and the gauss cannon has gone from 36" S6 AP 4 Heavy 3 to 24" S5 AP 3 Assault 2.  Before, it was a really fast, long-range fire platform that could stop light vehicles, especially worrisome transports like Rhinos.  Now it’s a slower, shorter-ranged infantry killer.  No, game designers, I don’t care that it’s 10 points cheaper: stop cutting off the ‘nads of good units and trying to tell me that it’s ok because I can save a dime here and there.  I’d gladly pay 50 points for the old Destroyer.



It's not you, Necron Destroyers: it's the game designers. They're...confused.

One good thing is now you can take Heavy Destroyers as Fast Attack instead of Heavy Support.  The heavy gauss cannon has become Assault 1, so that the now jump-infantry Heavy Destros can move and fire, but other than that, their big gun hasn’t changed—thank the star gods.  The Heavy D is 5 points cheaper: hey, GW, can I just pay the 5 points and make them jetbikes again?  Whattya say?

Despite them going from I6 to that lame-ass I2, and from moving as jetbikes to becoming jump infantry, I prefer the new Canoptek Wraiths to the previous version.  Why?  An extra Attack, Rending, Fearless, and whip coils (which I’d rather have then a particle beamer or transdimensional beamer).  CWraiths start off a smidge cheaper than the old Wraiths, but will probably be about or a little bit more pricy, depending on how you outfit them.  The Wraith was a good unit before, and I believe it’s gotten better.

I can’t say the same about Canoptek Scarabs, which went from moving as jetbikes (including 2+ cover saves for Turbo-Boosters and being Swarms) to being Beasts: 6" move, d6" run, 12" charge, no 2+ save.  True, they get Entropic Strike, which is better than the disruption fields they used to have (dis fields were like gauss weapons for close combat against vehicles).  Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I suppose.  I still like Scarabs (especially tying up Devastator and other mondo-shooty squads with them), but I’m going to miss that save.

I do know that I like Canoptek Spyders better than the old Tomb Spyders.  Better WS, better BS, more Wounds, more weapon options, the ability to fix vehicles and fend off psychic attacks (including that annoying-as-all-get-out Jaws of the World Wolf), and it still poops out Scarabs.  Base cost 5 points cheaper?  I’ll take two, please.   

Next time out, I'll talk Necron vehicles.


Part III coming soon! 
NINO (Necrons in Name Only), Part I
NINO (Necrons in Name Only), Part III
Necrons Renewed: An Overdue Addendum


Posted December 2011.  Necron  images copyright GW 2011.  Used for review purposes.

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle