Yep, you guessed it, a quick look at the Necron Codex, which dropped on Saturday 😀 Looks like there are lots of guys out there who are breathing a sigh of relief, as their army got a long-awaited revamp. McKellar, Kevin, Paul, I hope it was worth the wait!
One of the first things you notice when flipping through the book is that there’s finally a bit of variety in the damn army. It’s not just a bunch of slightly different sized silver dudes and two big, black pyramids beside them. There’s transports, flyers, walkers, jetbikes, jump infantry, you name it. Some of them with some gnarly weapons and abilities. Pariah-type dudes that don’t suck? Scarabs that eat your armor? An actual gun called the “Death Ray”? Cool!
The book also injects a bit of personality into the ‘Crons. They aren’t just a bunch of tools following around the C’tan, not anymore. They have a heavy dose of Egyptian/Khemri style fluff, obviously, but also some Geth and Cryx/Warmachine type action going on as well.
As with the Geth, the Necrons gained a lot more of their higher brain functions now that more of them have woken up. As they build up their numbers and they shake off the side effects of their 64 million year nap, the idiosyncrasies of their leaders’ personalities are once again emerging. You have psychopaths bent on destruction of the living, mad kings who think they are still in their glory days and collectors who are more interested in stealing artifacts than killing the enemy… lots of different personalities to catch your interest. I bet you never thought you’d hear that when describing Necron lords!
Some of them are just plain dicks, too.
You have ruled this galaxy for ten thousand years, yet have little of account to show for your efforts. Such failure must be as depressing to bear as it is pathetic to behold.
-Imotekh the Stormlord to Marshal Helbrecht during the battle for Schrodinger VII
I really like the one quote of the Silent King as well:
Through technology we thought to defeat the natural order. But the onset of eternity cannot be denied forever; the universe will see us humbled for our presumption.
Yet its methods of attack are limited. We long ago removed our bodies from mortality’s grasp and bartered away our souls for technological baubles and the trappings of power. Our minds, then, are all that remains for us to lose, and it is here that the next stroke against us will fall.
Though our individual afflictions may take different forms, sooner or later we will al be lost to madness.
– Szarekh, Last of the Silent Kings
I guess that explains the crazies, like Nemesor Zahndrekh!
The way that the army plays on the battlefield will be very different. With all the new units, and some funky new wargear as well, they can wage war in one of many different styles.
They can do the horde thing, with wave after wave of cheap and durable troops. Or they can spam vehicles, with some pretty badass looking walkers (Triarch Stalkers), transports, and all kinds of fighter jets or heavy weapon barges for heavy support. Or they could do a legitimately dangerous close combat army with stuff like Scarabs, Wraiths, Praetorians, Lychguard, or whatever else.
They have a ton of funky different forms of combat weapons available to their elites, and I fully expect a lot of folks to take Mindshackle Scarabs all over the place. These guys can put a deep mind fuck on their opponents’ heavy hitters, ensuring they will be swinging against friendlies instead of attacking the Necrons. Powerfist sergeants everywhere are gonna hate these things with a passion, as they must take a Ld test on 3d6 or inflict D3 hits on their own squad instead of attacking normally. These buggers work in every assault phase, as well. The only trick is that they work against one random model in BTB, so you have to be careful to ensure that the model with the scarabs is only touching models worth hijacking. But still, this should add some real survivability to the ‘Crons and their characters.
I also noticed some interesting trends with this army, and I see that some other folks online are picking up on it, too. If you’re even vaguely familiar with Warmachine, you can’t help but notice the Cryx influence. Some of the color schemes in the book really emphasize it (with the glowing green innards and black carapace), but it’s in the rules, too. Crypteks give you a lot of cool abilities, and they stack brilliantly with each other, the C’tan Shard powers, and some of the special characters’ abilities.
Orikan the Diviner and a C’tan shard makes for a nasty combination. Orikan can make the entire board count as difficult terrain on turn 1, and units moving through actual difficult terrain move the lowest of the 2d6. Stack this with the C’tan ability to make all difficult terrain count as dangerous, and you can really make your opponent afraid to move. Especially if they are moving through terrain that’s already dangerous, as they would fail on a 1 or a 2 at that point. A horde of Orks or Nids would be in pretty rough shape if they got hit with that combo. And, possibly the worst part in a competitive setting, they would have to roll a bajillion dice to move in that first turn, which could really chew up the clock. Time is often the enemy when you play with a melee horde.
Granted, not all armies are gonna give a shit about dangerous/difficult terrain on turn 1, but against some foes it could be a really big deal. This is just like in Warmachine, where you combine a few units/casters’ abilities and hope that your opponent happens to be susceptible to them. Warmachine builds that rely heavily on knockdown, for example, are kinda useless against builds that are immune to knockdown 😛 But that risk/reward thing makes for interesting matchups.
Speaking of Orikan the Diviner, he’s got a very Warmachine style ability called The Stars Are Right. As a “consummate astromancer”, as the book puts it, he has the ability to transform into a total beast when the stars align just right. You have to roll a d6 every turn to see if he turns into this juiced up monster, and once it turns on, it can switch off just as easily… but for a couple of turns a game, his very mediocre 4’s and 2’s statline becomes a mix of 5’s, 7’s and 4’s.
Without getting into any details that will get me in trouble with the IP police, it’s plain to see that he gets really damn good in combat for (hopefully) a few crucial moments in the game. If that’s the definition of a Warcaster Feat, I don’t know what is. Did I mention that the Staff of Tomorrow is a power weapon that re-rolls to hit (due to being time-shifted slightly into the future)? That’s not bad. Oh, and he also has a 12″ S-test-or-die shooting weapon and a 4+/3++ save. And Reanimation Protocols. For a few glorious turns, this guy’s amazing. With some bad luck, however, he’ll blow his power at the wrong time and be a bit of a pushover.
That’s just the thing with these guys. They have a lot of crazy one use only powers, some funky wargear, and almost always a soft underbelly that you can find a way to exploit, just to keep things fair. Lots of these characters either have a mediocre stat or two, or they are missing one piece of wargear that would turn them into an absolute beast.
Imotekh the Stormlord, for example, has some badass abilities that blanket the table in Night Fight and inflict random S8 lightning strikes on enemy units for a random number of turns, he’s got all the defensive gear you could ask for, he lets you sieze the initiative on a 4+… but he has a Gauntlet of Fire instead of one of the nastier close combat weapons. Re-rolling to hit/wound is nice, but it’s no Warscythe (+2S power weapon with 2d6 armor pen against vehicles).
There’s also some more buff/debuff action going on, between the special characters and the Crypteks. Nemesor Zahndrekh, again, has some pretty cool abilities that augment your own units and strip special rules away from the enemy. Giving one of your units Night Fight/Acute Senses, Tank Hunter, Furious Charge, etc. could really help turn the tide. Likewise, taking them away from the enemy could do the same. I like these types of units that work indirectly, it’s a cool mechanic.
Summing it all up
Overall, this looks like a pretty cool book. I always hated Necrons, but I can honestly say that I like this new approach to them. They’re no longer one of the Vanilla Marines + (Blank) = Win type armies.
They have personality, they have style, and they introduce some very unique and interesting game mechanics into the mix. This won’t be just another “park your wall of transports on an objective” sort of army, and they even have a few special abilities to mess with said wall of transports lists (ie. Doomscythes’ Death Rays). I think they will be a very welcome breath of fresh air for the meta… and once again, who’d have ever thought we’d be saying that about Necrons for chrissakes?
If I have to assign the book a letter grade (and I’ve set this precedent already so I probably should), I think have to give it an A. I’ve heard a bunch of different people talk about how they can’t wait to play a game against the new Necrons. I can’t think of a better compliment about a new book. When was the last time you heard someone say that about Grey Knights?