The Rules Verdict
Though the Necrons are likely to be more competitive in tournaments, their overall internal balance is problematic and they will likely still struggle against GW’s favorites, the Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and Grey Knights. I would have given the rules 0b100 Scarabs if it weren’t for the annoying nerfs. In the Necron codex, Mat continues his gimmicky rules… full of ‘gotchas’ and caveats. Finally, it is hard to tell what Necron strengths are. Strap on your seat belt.
Initiative 2? WTF!?!
We really need to start here. Even if you love the new codex, you know you flipped through it, eyes widening as you saw each and every I2. Ouch! Need I say more? I don’t think many of us thought that we could actually get worse at close combat. Close combat is all-important in the 5th edition rules and I don’t expect that to change in 6th edition. Fortunately there are a couple units that are fearless and the Wraiths have Whip Coils.
We Probably Won’t Be Back
One of my big fears was that Mat would replace WBB with FNP straight up thus loosing one of the Necrons’ most iconic abilities. The new implementation is called Reanimation Protocols and does a fair job of preserving the flavor of WBB while minimizing some of the complex rules of WBB. (Although it should be said that all GW really needed to do was to clarify some rules to make the old WBB viable.) There are three issues with RP. (1) The way the ‘Ever Living’ rule is written makes things needlessly complex. Mat could have just made a couple statements about how ICs are different. (2) Though WBB can now ignore close combat attacks that ignore armor saves as well as AP1 and AP2, the save is now a 5+. At first it seems rather balanced but then you realize that Res Orbs, the item that provides for a 4+ save, is 30 points and must be attached to the unit to provide the benefit. I don’t think many people will be spamming these. Finally, unlike the superior Feel No Pain, Resurrection Protocols are not enacted until after the Morale check. When you consider how many Space Marine chapters have access to Feel No Pain, who would you say is more resilient to damage given Necron Initiative 2? RP doesn’t do much good for you when you’ve been swept. (3) It’s not available for the (new) most useful Necron units such as the Wraith and Scarabs. So, in summary, this is likely to become one of those sidelined capabilities that Necron players forget to even roll and then shrug when they realize it.
Invulnerable Saves aren’t meant to be ignored… (except by Grey Knights)
We all saw this coming. The mighty Warscythe (and C’tan CC attacks) no longer ignore invulnerable saves. I really enjoyed seeing the faces of my opponents when I told them that they don’t get an invulnerable Save and even enjoyed their banter when they told me how unfair it was. Now I have to tell them that they were right? [Crosses arms] Thanks, Mat.
Nikola Tesla would have something to say...
Tesla sounded so cool when the rumors were circulating. Now I'm quite disappointed. Though there is a chance that a full unit of Immortals could dish out 30 ST5 AP- hits, the law of averages tells us that it will probably only be about 13. Though this provides a range of 24", it is a bit underwhelming. I think I would have been happier with a 5 or 6 roll, where a 5 provided one extra hit and a 6 two. Oh well.
(un)Living Metal and Quantum ShieldingThe old Necron vehicles (actually, "vehicle") could survive a pounding by the enemy. It could shrug off attacks by monstrous creatures, metla, ordinance and other powerful abilities because the enemy was only ever allowed to roll one die for armor penetration. Not so with 5e Living Metal. Its version only allows saves against attacks resulting in crew shaken or stunned. With nearly everything Open Topped, like the Arks and Barges, Living Metal is likely to go unused due to the +1 to penetration rolls. Quantum Shielding is very unique but being that it only covers the sides and front of the vehicle, is extremely weak to assault. Finally, the Scythes don’t even have an option for Quantum Shielding making them extremely fragile. Necron’s used to be known for their resilient armor, but are now somewhat fragile.
Necrons are supposedly the masters of time and space yet have just as much trouble with Deep Strike as younger races? Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Not only did we see a serious nerf with the Monolith’s Deep Strike ability, the Veil of Darkness (and Monolith) can no longer teleport out of close combat should a Necron unit (other than the Canoptek folks) survive more than one round of CC. Only one power can still teleport out of CC and that is a special piece of wargear available only to a named Overlord. One huge improvement with Necron teleportation is that the Monolith can pull units from anywhere on the board as well as from reserve.
The Overlords are pretty much the old Lords but they have a lot more fun wargear options than before and the Phaeron ability will certainly be popular with the Relentless upgrade it provides. Many of their wargear options seem great until you remember that you are initiative 2 and might not get to even use it. Mindshackle Scarabs are an exception of note. Allowing Necrons to take over the mind of their enemy for the purpose of attacking one of their own unit, those little bugs may very well be their close combat saving grace.
There are also several named lords and as I already mentioned, the Tomb Kings theme is very dominant here. I won’t go into each of the HQ’s but their powers are very broad. Imotekh, for example, has the ability to make the entire battlefield follow Night Fighting rules. Orikan can make alter the battlefield terrain. Etc.. The only one I think it completely useless is Illuminator Szeras. He can upgrade the Toughness, BS, or Strength of a single unit of Warriors or Immortals. Well whoop-dee-doo. Several of the Lords also have what seems like powerful close combat abilities, but lack power weapons and still only have Initiative 2. In general, HQ’s in a Necron army are going to fulfill support roles in armies and occasionally hop on a Catacomb Command Barge for sweep attacks.
Destroyer Lords, with their Preferred Enemy (Everything!) is going to be pretty great. I wonder if Mat left out the Phase Shifter option on purpose. Probably so... Arg! These guys are almost amazing.
Royal courts can consist of 0-5 Lords and 0-5 Crypteks. These guys act as independent characters but can be split from the HQ at the beginning of the game. Like with Space Wolves, these guys don’t take up a FO slot.
Crypteks have a lot of useful powers and are likely going to be popular in most lists due to their synergistic nature. They are, however, somewhat confusing and gimmicky at times. In fact, I found the whole Cryptek section very confusing. I think I have it all worked out now (thank you Internet), but in typical GW fashion there was a buzz on the forums about what is meant by that little *starred* bit on page 90 of the 5e codex. I think we all shook our heads at that one.
The standard Lord is a bit of a nerf from its former self. It is stripped of all but one of its Wounds and but still has access to a lot more wargear. One thing that is kind of nice is that at 35 points you can really spam these guys, using them to embed a power weapon in your squads. Like with the HQ’s, many of their close combat abilities are somewhat limited at I2. But, they do have Mindshackle Scarabs!! I wonder what 5 of these guys, all with MS, could do… [ponders]
When I read the rumors, I was floored to hear that Necron Warriors were becoming less Elite. Of course the truth is that the Immortals simply became the new Warriors and inherited their stat line (except for their guns which are better than the old/new Warriors). Both got a drastic point reduction. This is all well and good until you realize the huge shooting gap this left in the Elite slot. Even with relentless, it will take a couple squads of Immortals to dish out the same firepower as the old Immortal at 24”. The good news is that they are more than half off.
Catacomb Command Barge
The sweeping attack is certainly interesting and it will help to protect the unit, which is quite possibly the backbone (no pun intended) of your entire army. One of the more most interesting abilities of the barge is that it allows for sweep attacks. This is great if the Overlord it carries has a Warscythe. Unfortunately many of the named Overlords are not equipped with them. Finally, the Symbiotic Repair ability sounds useful in the case where you are using the CCB as an attack chariot of sorts. I expect this vehicle to be quite useful to next generation Necron players... Especially with lots of Rune Priests around.
If you get past the gimmick of the ark, this dedicated transport has a lot of potential. Not only does it have two Flayer Arrays, but it is Open Topped allowing the Warriors inside to shoot out of it. Not bad. It is rather expensive for a dedicated transport, but I don't see Warriors leaving this unit until absolutely necessary. Another feature of the Ghost Ark is that it can repair up to D3 Warriors per turn. Just like you my first thought was "hey my second WBB is back" (no pun intended). Then I realized that on a roll of 1 the Ark takes a glancing hit with no saves allowed. WTF! At 115 points, that is a bit risky for my tastes, even with Living Metal. This is nice by it is aThe bad news with this vehicle is that it can only carry Warriors and other IC's. No Immortals allowed. Sorry.
The Night Scythe is the dedicated transport for virtually everything else in the army. It is MUCH more fragile than its Ghost Ark sister, but can go supersonic. Still, with AV11 and no Quantum Shielding, this is a risky investment. Good news (since it is supersonic) is that if it is destroyed, the 'payload' returns to reserves. No firing points either, by the way.
To fill the gap left by the old Immortals we have the Deathmarks. These units seem to be causing quite a bit of discussion on the fanboy forums. Their usefulness remains to be seen but weighing in at a point more than the old Warrior models, they certainly are not bargain shopping. Still, they do have a rapid fire Sniper rifle and that saying something. I'm not sure what its saying, but I'm sure it's something very confusing.
Lychguard and Praetorians
On the surface the Lychguard seem powerful. They have some resilience to shooting attacks and their shield is a nice touch, but it has a major flaw. (This is one of those damn caviats I spoke of earlier.) Their Dispersion Shield only works with shooting attacks that use its 4+ Invulnerable save. This means that only AP1 and AP2 shooting attacks have a chance of bouncing. Ho-hum… The Praetorians, though have one less attack are Fearless and much faster. The Rod of Covenant is not bad either (though only has a 6” range). These guys are probably a better bet but I guess we'll see. Either way you go they are only Initiative 2 so ... there you go. Blah.
Well, if they are going to nerf the C’tans then they might as well let us take multiple and give them amazing powers. These guys lost some Strength and Toughness, but now have some impressive abilities that complement other powers from HQ and Crypteks. I expect many a list to be built around their abilities. The bad news is that the unstoppable power of the Deceiver, with his ability to 'bounce' from one combat to another is gone. In addition, they no longer ignore invulnerable saves. Though very powerful, they are no longer the answer-all to counter assault. They live up to at least the second part of their name.
Flayed One Pack
I was really excited about the possible changes to the Flayed Ones. What a disappointment. Although these guys got double the squad size and a cost reduction, they don’t really fill any useful role in the army except for flanking (possibly). They do get an additional attack but their Save is no better than a Warrior. Finally, they lost Terrifying Visage. I don’t expect to see too many of these guys on the battlefield.
Again the model has a damn driver in it, but the rules are actually impressive on this bad boy. I very much approve of the Targeting Relay. That will, no doubt, come in quite handy for medium range shooty lists. Twin-linked Tesla? Yes, please. The confusion I have on this is the choice of the name ‘Stalker’. I thought we already had one up on Forgeworld. And, NO Mat, you are not allowed to put a saddled Necron on back of the Tomb Stalker.
These guys live up to their name now. Though they no longer have Reanimation Protocols (WBB), they are wicked in combat. With a squad size of six, they can generate 24 ST6 Rending attacks on the assault. Not only that but they have Whip Coils which force opponents in base-to-base to Initiative 1. Nice! One … oddity with these guys: the Transdimensional Beamer. Sure, I’ll take a Heavy gun that prevents me from assaulting and forces me to sit here and be shot at. WTF? I think the only time these will get used is in an attempt to take advantage of the Wraiths’ second wound for purposes of would allocation.
Canoptek Scarabs and Entropic Strike
Holy crap! I almost choked on my Ozarka when I read about Entropic Strike and Scarabs. Wow! These little guys are a huge thumbs up for me. You have the same exact stats with the bugs, but you also get Entropic Strike, which allows you to reduce the armor of models hit by them. Wow! I want a pet Scarab! GW, get on it! Though they lost Jet Bike, they gain an 18-24” assault range with the Beasts rule. They are going to be more vulnerable to blasts so cover is going to be critical. One thing I just know is going to be a problem: entropic damage allocation. Hmm… I’m just going to love explaining that to a player with a bunch of Nob Bikers.
Tomb Blades and the Nebula-noo-six-oscope
Tomb blades still have me a little confounded. They look like they could be descent but then I see what else is available in the fast attack slot and I wonder why I would take them. They have a rather weak gun and even though they are Relentless, they only have a ST5 AP- rapid fire with a pretty low chance of rolling a 6. The Particle Beamer seems an obvious choice for these guys. I suppose it remains to be seen how useful they will be. I feel I must comment about the Nebuloscope. Now here’s an example of totally useless upgrade for the base model. When your main weapon is the Twin Linked Telsa, a lower Balistic Skill is actually an advantage. I can see it being useful with the Particle Beamer.
The Destroyer, the mainstay of all of us who stuck with the Necrons through the 5th edition travesty is now Jump Infantry? [Big Sigh] They didn’t stop there. They changed the gun from ST6 AP4 Heavy-3 36” to ST5 AP3 Assault-2 24”. Though I appreciate the MEQ killing power of AP3, the reduction in range is a serious issue. Combine that with the loss of ST5 AP4 Assault-2 power of the Immortals, which are now Rapid Fire, and you have a HUGE problem. They did inherit Preferred Enemy (everything) but I don’t see how that helps these guys at all. The last think you want them doing is getting into close combat… though it is a lot more likely to happen with the range reduction. Finally, the Heavy Destroyer unit is no more. It is combined with the Destroyer unit. This creates some serious internal balance issues. Once again most of the powerful Necron units can be found in the Fast Attack slot (Wraiths, Scarabs and Destroyers) and one of our key methods of taking down armor is also Fast Attack. You can upgrade up to three of the Destroyers with the Heavy Gauss Cannon. I don’t think this will be a popular option considering that the differing ranges of the two guns. Ok, but the extremely overpriced Heavy Destroyers of old got a big price cut, right? Nope. Sorry. It is only 5 points cheaper than 3e to get a ST9 AP2 Heavy-1 gun. The good news is that the basic Destroyer cost has been reduced by a whopping 10 points. Not bad but I’m still not happy with this change.
What happens when you turn a Ghost Ark upside-down? The Doomsday Ark seems quite powerful at first, ST9 AP1 Large Blast. Then you start thinking about it. It’s not ordinance so its usefulness against vehicles is limited. There are WWI inspired Imperial Guard tanks that can deal out more death than that. I even read a crazy quote from Mat himself that said he felt he had to make the Doomsday Cannon even more powerful when he saw the model that the design team had created. Mat could have done something interesting with the Doomsday Ark by making the blast marker ignore the half damage when the marker doesn’t land over a vehicle. This would possibly justify its cost.
The Annihilation Barge certainly can dish out some hurt (at medium range) for a reasonable point cost, but they certainly are not a replacement for the Destroyers of old. Plus you cannot take them in squadrons. I’m not quite sure where they fit into lists. Twin-linked Tesla is great but unreliable. The Destructor’s Arc capability is useful but it is only used once per shooting phase, not for each shot.
The Monolith travesty
The new Monolith is a shadow of its former self. Let’s tally the differences. The Monolith’s teleportation power is severely weakened. It can still deep strike but can no longer ignore enemy models when it arrives on the battlefield. This is a serious nerf because of the shear size of the Monolith model. At 36” square inches, it is going to be much more difficult to Deep Strike this bad boy. By why would you want to? Living Metal sucks now. [Sigh] Ok, so let’s say that the new Monolith successfully Deep Strikes and survives the onslaught of Melta that is sure to come. We can assault out of it right? Nope. The new rules for the Monolith says that units coming through its portal act as if they are emerging from a vehicle that moved at combat speed. [Hangs head] So what did they do to make it better? Well, the Monolith can now teleport units from reserves as well as from anywhere on the battlefield. It can also teleport any non-vehicle model (not just so called 'Necron' units as in 3). That’s pretty nice. It is at least going to be useful to pull units out of harm's way. In addition, it can use the portal to force nearby models to make a Strength check or be removed. It’s powerful, but has a limited range. For such an expensive unit that can no longer ignore enemy units on Deep Strike, this is a pretty useless power... unless someone tries to block the door.
The Monolith can also fire all its weaponry when it moves. Does that mean I can Deep Strike the Monolith and fire the Gauss Flux Arc?!?! Yes, but the Gauss Flux Arc is now ST4 AP5 Heavy-3 and individually targets up to four units using standard turret rules. Shit! So, I suppose the Monolith will be relegated to its role as heavy support. Nope. It also looses its ability to allow second WBB rolls and its Particle Whip is now ST8 with no AP1 hole. WTF, Mat? I still remember the first time I fielded the Monolith. I proudly sat it down on the table during deployment while my opponent said, “Wow! What is that?!” to which I proudly replied “You’re looking at the toughness tank in the game. Remember it well.” Damn you, Mat! I guess that title now belongs to the Land Raiders with Fortitude, which I might add, the same friend that asked that question now uses. [Grimacing look]
It is almost as if GW decided that they wanted people to have a good reason to buy the new models by nerfing the old. At least it is $cheaper$, right? Uhm… nope, they actually raised the price.
The Doom Scythe and its Death Ray. Unless the 6th edition rulebook somehow makes these flyers much harder to hit, this is going to be one of those vehicles that everyone talks about and no one uses. The ‘Death Ray’? Seriously, Mat? What is Mat’s faddish with powers that work by drawing a line from point A to point B? Get over it. It’s a line. Maybe he can make the next power he thinks of use an arc and then GW can sell protractors. They can call them 'Protractors of Doom'. The Death Ray sounds impressive but it has limited range and the Doom Scythe is a nice big target. There goes 175 points down the drain. The Night Scythe seems a little more useful, serving as a dynamic portal for Immortals and many Elites and it only costs ya 100 points. Not too bad but still quite fragile. What’s funny about this is that it is one of the only new vehicle that is not Open Topped yet it is the one that could most benefit from it. Alas…
Canoptek Spyders (why did Mat add ‘Canoptek’ to everything?) are extremely useful in the 5e codex. Not only are they capable of farming Scarabs, they have the Gloom Prism which guards against psychic powers. Though I don’t think this codex really hit on the same level of anti-psychic themes in 3e, I’m glad to see that bit there. Anything that might make a Space Wolf or Grey Knights player frown is ok in my book. Pitty this is the only anti-Warp power in the book.
So maybe someone can fill in the blank for me. "Necrons are the best at ______." Not so easy, is it?
Once again, Necron players need to grab for straws to knock down vehicles and heavies, not withstanding Scarabs. In this codex the particular straw of interest is the Eldritch Lance and Cryptek spam. Even in this uninspiring fluff I don’t think the idea was to have 10 Crypteks in a list. It certainly isn’t my vision of the Necrons. Necrons are, by no means, the most powerful medium range shooting army. I believe that title is still well within the hands of the Grey Knights… Necrons are now forced to use a careful combination of powers, entropic strikes, and unconventional long ranged attacks to overwhelm any enemy with Gauss goodness.