Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Order: Idoneth Deepkin Part 1 - The Lore (Warhammer Age of Sigmar Battletome Review, 1st Edition)


While the return of the aelves to the timeline was something celebrate, one section of the Daughters of Khaine battletome turned a few heads. Rather than the three direct descendants of the elves of the Warhammer Fantasy world people suspected we would see, instead, we ended up with four. This last one was mentioned only briefly, but those stories grabbed the attention of readers with mentions of an aquatic race of hunters who rose up to assail those on land in raids. 

Rather than keeping their readers hanging in a Blizzard style dragged-out affair, the book has instead been printed in record time right after it. Unfortunately, that seems to have been for both better and worse. The book is good to be sure, and it does contribute in fleshing out the new setting, but there are a few odd shortcomings which seem to be borne of a rushed production more than anything else.

The Good



The immediate strength of the Idoneth Deepkin stems from the nature of their creation. Like many other books, a great emphasis is placed on their history, development and why we have not heard nor seen them before now. The story is told in a usual manner, informative but with a quality which is trying to still utilise qualities of retold epics. What's interesting in this regard is that Games Workshop has been taking this a step further of late, and making sure that it covers details largely unique to the Deepkin.

The Deepkin themselves were among the first souls to be freed from Slaanesh's captive form, and were taught by Teclis to retake the mystic arts. However, their souls had a few odd qualities to them. The first among these was that they were those tied to the ancient god of the sea, Mathlann and this influenced their creation along with their time while consumed by Slaanesh. As a result, they appeared fine at first only for obvious imperfections and flaws to emerge as time goes by, forcing them to retreat into the depths and part ways with Teclis. This was far from amicable. That's the basic description, but the full version grants readers an immense amount of information in terms of events, actions and how they aelves have been adapting to this new world. The parts surrounding Teclis and Tyrion are of obvious importance, but the book emphasises only the parts the Deepkin themselves would be directly aware of. As such, many of the events surrounding Morathi covered in the Daughters of Khaine Battletome are completely absent.

What makes this such an interesting move is that it leaves several points in question. This isn't quite the whole War of the Beard style unreliable narrator with two intentionally contradictory terms. Instead, it makes it clear that every side only knows so much, and the obvious blind spots are to be delved into by other books. This makes the world much more expansive as a result, because you are not losing anything directly relevant to your faction of choice, but there are certain facts which can be fudged or missed. It also means that, while the book is working to create a single cohesive setting with some variation, rather than having everything set in stone.

Much like a number of previous releases, a great deal of emphasis is placed on establishing the faction's background. As a result there's a real sense of legacy, history and meaning to this faction. They're clearly a well-established part of this world despite their recent release, and the book does an excellent job of working them around many points such as avoiding the previous conflicts. More impressively still, their reveal carries all the impact you would expect. They are drawn further and further into the war upon their discovery and only align with Sigmar's lot out of necessity rather than a true desire to follow his new alliance. What's still interesting despite this is that the book manages to avoid the spiteful or self-serving elements you would expect from this. Several points note that the Deepkin attempt to bury the hatchet with those races they previously wronged, and there is not the inherent sense of malice you would expect to accompany their ruthlessness.

Interestingly still, their background has a storytelling quality to it that most books have struggled to fully capture in many cases. While it isn't the same directly informative works found in many 40,000 books or the overtly stylised versions Fantasy favoured, there is a sense of being a grand epic to it. The discussion of vast figures, powerful sorcerers, fallen gods and reclaimed civilisations really is Age of Sigmar at its best. This is less the low fantasy warfare of the past, and more akin to almost Conan-like works with entirely new concepts to them. It really helps to separate the two, and the style is a type of fantasy that Games Workshop has rarely attempted to examine before now. On the whole, this helps it to stand out, and it makes the Deepkin have a sense of impact to them.

The race itself retains a number of very interesting qualities to them, and perhaps the most prominent among these is how they operate in and out of the water. Obviously trying to adapt any ocean-bound race to land was going to be an uphill struggle, but the writers work around this via a number of spiritual means, which draws a sense of this group being the AoS setting's Wild Hunt. A great deal of thought has been put into many of their powers and methods, and it manages to remain balanced without the typical problems of a single ability being too powerful or underwhelming. It's a good skeleton for the faction to work from, and the timeline offers a multitude of events where this comes into play and reshapes them.

Finally and most pressingly, the various factions here aren't the usual throw-away ideas you would expect. While it's true that more than a few of them still fall into the gimmick angle (one is best at controlling beasts, another has renowned archers etc) others go beyond this. There's a much greater sense of history to them, and it helps to subtly reinforce a few points about them - Specifically, the Greek visuals, in that they are a loose-linked alliance of various kingdoms which have split off from one another. There's more than enough to pick out one a player likes or even to utilise ideas from them to spawn a new kingdom, a-la Adeptus Astartes chapters and their successors. Plus, there's the added bonus of how the artwork depicting them is more than a simple recolour, and effort has been put into each one.

The Bad



There's no easy way to say this - The great failing of the Idoneth Deepkin is that they are this setting's Dark Eldar. This isn't some general comment on their archetype, role within the setting or even their visual concepts. This is a comment on how they are structured and their defining qualities. You have an army of elves who live far apart from the world of mortals and yet outside of that of magic, across multiple sub-realms linked by a magical gateway network. They emerge on occasion to raid other species, because their link to an ancient god means they must constantly feast upon the essence of other beings to sustain themselves. They are the dark mirror of the other survivors of their race, and their society is heavily divided into a caste system. Those of a natural birth are regarded as having greater prestige than those born with flawed and more artificial qualities. Oh, and then you have the whole beast-master trait as well.


Now, this isn't to say that having the similar sadistic corsair concept with them would be bad. Nor that more than a few elements from the other universes could not be lifted to make use of this. However, the problem lies in the fact that it never manages to push beyond those qualities. It's not so much a homage as a duplication, and while their history is the strongest point which separates them, little else here works. We know nothing of their society short of certain dietary and caste elements. Their nature, traditions, views of the world and many other ideas which might help to further define them are either too out of focus or go completely unexplored. As a result, the Idoneth Deepkin never feel like the Idoneth Deepkin. Instead, you read them and think "Ah, Fantasy Dark Eldar, got it!"

Even accepting the above, however, there are still more than a few other issues. In their own timeline the Deepkin have a noted lack of victories or true accomplishments. In much of their timeline, events either note them hiding from their enemies or losing battles so badly that they need Sigmar's warriors to win. Save for the odd coastal raid or an offer of aid, much of the time they are losing major battles or being overrun by their foes. It's an old issue when it comes of Elf/Eldar equivalents, but for the most part Age of Sigmar has been subverting this. Even with the Sylvaneth, with much of their history detailing a flight from an advancing foe and repeated losses, were given a chance to seriously turn things around and prove their power. The Deepkin lack this specific type of battle or two, and as a result, they come across as irritatingly weak in a number of ways.


The book also fails to truly provide the reader with more of a definitive impression on just how their everyday life works. As with more than a few other armies, the focus is placed on a few defining traits, in this case largely their hunger for souls, worship of a dead god, and predilection for raids. The problem is that these are notable aspects, but the book doesn't truly do enough to push past this or show them in any greater depth. A few certainly can get away with this at times, with the likes of the Fyreslayers or Daughters of Khaine being absolved due to their nature as a cult. However, the Deepkin are supposed to be a full civilisation, and it seems as if there is one massive thematic and detailed blind spot in regards to how they are envisioned in the reader's mind. Once it moves away from open conflict, there is little to truly sink your teeth into or get more of an idea of how they are supposed to behave as a whole.


Curiously, the book also has a distinct problem when it comes to offering the reader something of an essential aspect in most books: That of an internal perspective. We are told certain things, points known only to the Deepkin are outlined to the reader and the gradual creation of their civilisation is given a satisfying level of detail. With that being said, there are few additional touches or qualities to truly help this seem like an opinionated viewpoint from their own perspective. There are no quotes from their members, no tales of battles from the views of a member of their kind, nor even descriptions of their realms in a manner which makes it feel more real. This creates a sense of odd disconnect as a result, and it lacks a hook to make the work much more engaging as a result.

The issue of a lack of inner viewpoint can be best defined by how the book uses characters. High King Volturnos (the only named Deepkin of the book) is limited only to a small segment of a bigger page, which spends more time outlining his features over any personal quirks or accomplishments, while several are devoted to the Eidolon of Mathlann. One is a member of their species, a figure who can serve as a representation and anchor for a view of the species or civilisation. The other is an arcane creation built out of their history, souls and linked to their dead god, emphasising their religion. One offers a view on their people, while the other tries to comment on their culture. Neither is inherently bad, but the fact that the latter is prioritized over the former, it ends up suffering from the opposite of a usual problem cited in past codices. Were this emphasising an unknown quality such as with the Necrons upon their introduction, the Tyranids or even the Legion of the Damned it might have worked. The problem is that it still desired to make this race sociable and somewhat human, so rather than benefitting from this, it instead ended up stumbling. For a work which needs to make a strong impression from the very start, it misses several vital components as a result.

The Artwork



No matter what you say about any book these days, there's no denying that the artwork is almost consistently top notch. It's rare to truly find a failed book these days, and this Battletome isn't about to break that streak. The art present here is beautiful to behold, capturing the disturbingly elegant qualities of the Deepkin. Effort is clearly made to try and emphasise their distinctive visual qualities and separate them from almost any other army present and, while it typically sticks to more photo-realistic works, it isn't above the odd stylised piece here and there. Equally, while the book shows little of their domains, those which are shown are extremely memorable. From shimmering magical gates to the shadow of a vast creature with a city built into its back, it's enough to keep them in your mind.

Plus, it has to be said, the Greek inspired visual imagery of the army does work to benefit the art in many places. The design department went above and beyond with the design of these models, and many such as their spiritual incarnation (well, Avatar substitute) are perhaps some of the best creations in Age of Sigmar to date. Keep in mind that this is coming from a devoted Kharadron Overlords player.

The Verdict



As a whole, this work has promise but this first impression is deeply at fault. There are more than enough good elements to be found in here, and a number of great ideas which can work as an excellent unique basis. It's also a good depiction of just how to use a marine-based army without limiting them completely to water. However, there's no denying that the core of the work all too closely resembles that of another prominent army, from their driving force to the very way in which their society is structured. Some armies can get away with this for one reason or another, and a few have very closely skirted this territory before. However, the Deepkin are the first to have truly crossed a line, and the next Battletome definitely needs to flesh them out, moving them away from the Spelljammer style Dark Eldar. After all the Sigmarine jokes, it's honestly a surprise to think the company would try this.

So, that's the lore done then. Join us tomorrow when we move onto the rules.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Warhammer 40K Lore: Why the Dark Eldar Get It Right


So, you might be wondering where the Codex: Dark Eldar review is. I'll go into more details on why we're not covering that tomorrow, but for the time being this is going to focus on something we have needed to cover for a long time. Specifically why the Dark Eldar - or Drukhari now - have become a personal measuring stick to judge all others by in terms of lore. 

Some of you are likely scratching your heads at the above comment. As concepts go, the Dark Eldar can seem like the sort of creation which verges on camp. Aside from the BDSM imagery and aspiring for little more than piracy, they're vampires which feed on pain more than blood. Even if you account for their more unique qualities which give them some extra depth such as their history, the nature of the Webway and She Who Thirsts, on its own it doesn't seem to be enough. These issues are likely part of why they lay in something of a slump for twelve years, ignored by all but a few authors.

Even the main characters can often come across as archetypes, with Vect as the Chessmaster overlord and Duke Sliscus as the risk-taking adrenaline junkie. They're not overly cliched, mostly, but their bare essentials seem to be unremarkable. However, there's ultimately one thing which makes this faction infinitely greater than the sum of this parts: The fact that they are treated as a civilization with an army, and not an army with a nation attached.

Whenever you read, examine or even just skim over the lore within the codex, you will likely notice one thing. Far more time is spent building up a sense of a self-enclosed world and ecosystem than almost any other book. Take, just for starters, the descriptions of Commorragh's trans-dimensional state and how it is structured. Each codex goes into detail in terms of how the city is built upon ruins upon sub-dimensions upon forgotten territories. The realm itself isn't simply divided up into sections or districts so much as entirely new areas, and each has a history to it. Even when the codex does not deign to offer a wholly detailed or comprehensive version of this, you're still given a good impression of its nature. More importantly, it also details just why it is there and how it fits into the larger scope of the city itself. Some certainly link to units, but they are not utterly beholden to them and they do more than simply serve to promote or focus on a single miniature.

Many of the unit descriptions themselves did more than merely describe their capabilities. Instead, they often went into detail surrounding how they lived within the Webway and the role they served. This is easy to perform with certain cases, and most armies can pull this off with HQ choices. The likes of the Haemonculus, for one thing, is an easy unit to do more than outline its role on the battlefield. However, the Dark Eldar often take this to the next level. The likes of Scourges and Mandrakes have detailed descriptions which mention how they favour parts of the city, how they operate there and how they are regarded. The former in particular could have easily been a forgettable throw-away cannon fodder unit, but they instead have a much more detailed and distinct background to them than what most other units are granted.

Even before getting to the major factions within the city, the Kabals and various cults, you have a full ecosystem. You have a tiered hierarchy, a group of figures and various individual domains which stand apart from one another. Each is also told with an abject emphasis on atmosphere and detailing their impact among the population of Commorragh. To offer a video game comparison, most codices (especially those of the Imperium) are Age of Empires. They have a variety of sub-factions and distinctive visual looks, but ultimately every unit, every creation, is there to fight and die in battle or supply that army. The Dark Eldar, however, are more akin to Dungeon Keeper. Every unit has its distinct quirks, agendas, rivalries and issues to deal with. Your base of operations isn't simply a production line to deploy more units, it's a world unto itself and when not directly commanded your units will wander about fulfilling their own desires. While neither is bad mechanically - and again, this is purely a generalized examination of codices - the latter offers far more character in terms of its narrative depth. It also means that any unit, even the cannon fodder, are directly representing some part of the city thanks to their presence.

Even the stories themselves tend to often focus more on power plays, acts of triumph and political machinations over the usual conquests. When the kabals fly out in search of new prey, it is done in the name of furthering their power and status within the city, along with survival. Their mission, their battles and wars, are ones of industry and survival as much as service to some greater power. There's a bitterly spiteful pragmatism to each act, and when they do claim glory it is in the name of carving out their own personal legend. It's that odd contradiction which slots so perfectly well together, something which is less Space Knights Templars than it is the Godfather meets Hellblazer

So, you might be wondering if this is truly different from other xenos armies. While we briefly discussed the Imperium, others like the T'au Empire, Necron Dynasties and Craftworld Eldar each have cultures and histories in of themselves. That's true, but the focus is always in their nature as a military force. Take the T'au Empire for starters, what do we actually know of the Empire itself? We know there are five castes, that they are divided up into Sept worlds and that they induct species. Fine, but what else? Even when those species show up as auxiliary units, they lack that same distinct individual quality found within those of Commorragh's raiders. The Vespid, for one, are offered only a brief if well-told history, but little in the way of their role as a small cog within a much bigger machine. Equally, the book places a clear emphasis on the Fire Caste over all others, so we learn much of their military, but little of their inner workings. The same is true of the others in this regard as well, and the codices rarely break away from this. It's been a long-standing issue with the Craftworld Eldar in particular, and something that the writers have only just started to remedy.

You can obviously argue that the Dark Eldar have an inherent advantage in this regard, and you would be right. However, the entire army was reworked and retooled back in the Fifth Edition to take advantage of this benefit. Rather than the usual betrayal or horrible botch job that Edition was infamous for, that codex remained true to their core themes and instead only enhanced them. It took advantage of the same core concepts, and reshaped itself to better work with its most essential ideas while remaining loyal to its image. It would be easy for the aforementioned factions to do something along the same lines. Challenging to be sure, given the fact their units are less a part of a city's culture than a devoted military, but it is still possible. Even those of other games have begun following similar themes, with the likes of the Kharadron Overlords retaining a similar structure in how war is often business for them. It's for this reason that, every time someone asks what codex to look into for inspiration, I always end up pointing to a codex of this faction.

None of this is to say that the Dark Eldar (oh fine, the Drukhari) are the be all and end all of this. The Codex: Tau Empire of the Sixth Edition is a stellar example of a fine work with many strengths, while the likes of the Black Legion supplement offers a fine example of how to utilise and build a culture from Chaos. It's simply that the Dark Eldar, of late especially, have always done it most effectively.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Codex: Necrons Part 3 - Stratagems, Tactical Objectives, Relics and Warlord Traits (Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition Review)


The latest edition of Codex: Necrons has already seen quite a few notable changes from the past Editions, to the point of reworking entire units. It's still recognisable, but you can tell it has been heavily retooled at certain points. That's not going to change any time soon, as this part still retains more than a few odd alterations. Some are for the better, others for the worse, and one or two seem to thematically clash against the nature of the army in question. It seems to be the case that the development team is trying to have them fit something of a new niche while still fitting into their older role.

However, what needs to be stressed is the fact that this one seems to have also been made with stratagems in mind. By this I mean that, while certain units are relatively useless on their own, they gain a new lease on life when combined up under a formation. On the one hand this does offset the old problem of having certain units remain useless thanks to a poorly written rule or two. On the other, this is yet again pushing strategems to the forefront and rewarding sticking to a pre-set build over true creativity. To see exactly what I mean, take a look at the section below.

Strategems


These can be divided up into several groups. The first are universal ones, which can be used with all groups. The other are devoted to specific dynasties, as they relate to their personal quirks and styles. I personally quite like this, and it's one of two sets of over-arching rules which tries to reflect the more varied nature of the factions often found within large-scale forces like this.

Universal Strategems -

Adaptive Subroutines (1 CP): A single Canoptek unit can advance while still retaining the ability to shoot on the turn that this is activated. This can stack up well with a few general tactics and works with how the army can quickly fall back, withdraw or regroup as required. It's a nice option, especially if you're using an army largely bereft of transports.


Amalgamated Targeting Data (1 CP): This is activated in the shooting phase and works with Doom Scythe aircraft. However, it only works when you have a trio of them operating within 6" of one another. Rather than shooting their Death Rays, you can pick a spot within 24" of them (in front or behind) and roll a D6 for every unit within 3" of that location. It hits on a 4+, with a +1 to the result if the unit has more than five models in it or -1 if they are characters. It then inflicts 3D3 mortal wounds on them. This is very good for a multitude of reasons, but it is both expensive and difficult to properly set up. That said, it's a useful way of quickly shredding hard targets grouped together and quickly causing all sorts of problems for massed charges by enemy units.

Cosmic Powers (1 CP): This is a power booster of sorts for the C'tan, as it swaps out the powers they have at the time for others. It's an okay benefit for the unit to have, and it does mean that you can pull off a few sneaky tricks. That said, there are much better ones on here.

Damage Control Overrides (1 CP): This is a very cheap and surprisingly useful one, as it allows you to pick out a vehicle on your side (specifically a Necron one) and it uses the highest level on its damage chart. It's a good option for late game bounce-backs and to pull surprise maneuvers.

Dimensional Corridor (1 CP): Welcome to another of the teleporter tricks the army can pull. This allows you to pick out an infantry unit more than 1" inch away from any hostile targets, and then allows you to immediately place them within 3" of a Monolith. While this counts as having had them just disembark, they can move normally, so your melee focused mobs can use it as a method of surprising an enemy squad. Overall, while the downside is that it requires a Monolith, it's a useful and surprisingly nasty one to have.

Dispersion Field Amplification (2 CP): This is one for the Lychguard, as it ups their dispersion fields to have a 3+ invulnerable save. More interestingly, it also causes some damage to bounce back, as rolls of 6 when shooting at them trigger a mortal wound on units shooting at them. This can be very effective in dealing with the Tau Empire, especially in overwatch situations, even if you don't end up killing much with any returning fire.

Disruption Fields (1 CP): This obviously only has a few uses, as it allows you to buff an infantry unit's Strength by +1 for that turn. With the likes of Flayed Ones it's exceptionally good, and there is the additional bonus of how it doesn't bar characters from accessing this ability. That said, outside of buffing a charge or the like, you're not going to use this one too often in most games.

Dynastic Heirlooms (1 to 3 CP): You gain an extra relic, the quality of which varies depending on the cost. It's as simple as that.

Emergency Invasion Beam (1 CP): This is an odd one, and it's one of those we mentioned before which helps to save a unit from being completely useless. In this case, it's the Night Scythe, as it allows them to become suicide rush transports. In effect, once the last Monolith or Night Scythe is destroyed, the undeployed unit within is immediately placed on the battlefield. 

Enhanced Invasion Beam (1 CP): This allows you to set up two units from a monolith or night scythe instead of one. It's excellent in combination with the strategem above, as it can be used at any point. So the two can double up.

Enhanced Reanimation Protocols (2 CP): This allows you to reroll results of 1 with Reanimation Protocol rolls, but only for one unit. It's not bad but the cost makes it a bit situational. It's best left for times when you are intentionally having a single squad draw as much fire from the enemy as possible.

Entropic Strike (1 CP): This is given to a Necron character before the game starts, and it's clear to see why. In effect, the first turn of attacks it makes bypass invulnerable saves. The obvious downside is that you need to make sure that these are delivered correctly, otherwise you can end up having a player forcing you to waste them on a needless target.

Extinction Protocols (1 CP): It's a reroll all hits and wounds in shooting or melee, but it only counts for units with Destroyer in their name. Yes, that includes the Lord. Pretty good on the whole, and it can cause all kinds of hell when you have them ripping through units like there's no tomorrow.

Gravitic Singularity (1 CP): Select an Obelisk at the start of the shooting phase, and from there on the Gravitic Pulse mounted on it causes Mortal Wounds on a 4+. This turns it into the best anti-air vehicle on the Necron side of things.

Judgment of the Triarch (1 CP): A unit of Triarch Praetorians gain +1 to hit for a full turn, but it needs to be activated before shooting or fighting. It's good but not especially great and you'll usually find yourself discarding it in favour of a few more versatile options.

Phaeron's Will (1 CP): This allows you to use My Will Be Done or Wave of Command twice in the same turn. On the whole, a pretty good deal.

Quantum Deflection (1 CP): A bonus for keeping certain vehicles alive, you activate this once a model you desire to protect is targeted. From there on, you can subtract 1 from the result of rolls made against it.

Repair Subroutines (2 CP): this allows you to have certain units get back up continually throughout the turn, but you need to select a Canoptek for it to work with. This is best used with some of the more fragile choices, but it means that every time they are fired at you have an opportunity for them to get back up. It's a good deal for the right army.

Resurrection Protocols (1 CP): If your character dies roll a dice. On the result of a 4+ they will come back with one wound. This doesn't work with C'tan or Trazyn (for obvious reasons) but it does work with vehicles, so it's well worth considering if there's a good chance your hero will be bumped off.

Self Destruction (1 CP): This turns your scarabs into suicide bombers. Pick out a model from within the unit, have them run in and then select an enemy unit within 1" of it. boom. It dies and on a 2+ it deals D3 Mortal Wounds to an enemy target. You're limited to only one at a time, but with a Spyder to churn out more, it means you have a supply of kamikaze scarabs to cause all sorts of hell within the enemy army. It's immensely fun to use.

Solar Pulse (1 CP): This is another option which removes cover from an enemy target, limiting their capacity to benefit from hiding behind objects. It makes it a useful option for line-breakers.

Wrath of the C'Tan (2 CP): Star Trek puns aside, it's a good one for immediately making a bit more use of your C'tan. Roll a D6 after activating this, and select the appropriate power from the C'tan table. They then instantly use that. This can double up, allowing you to use multiple versions of that power on the same turn. It's a bit costly for something which relies on a random result, and it's still extremely situational. Again, it's one which isn't useless per-say but you might find yourself struggling to employ it in most situations.

Dynasty Specific Strategems -

These are in short supply, and they are only meant to have a slight influence in each fight. However, like the above options there's no truly bad option. Even the worst among them is still a solid bonus in the right situation. These only work with their units, of course.

Blood Rites (3 CP): A Novokh stratagem which activates at the end of the fight phase. You can then immediately launch another volley of attacks, and hurt a few more people. Time it correctly, and this can be a very good way of ripping a hole in an enemy line.

Methological Destruction (2 CP): A Sautekh one here, this activates after one of their units cause a wound on an enemy target. At this point, every single last unit from this Dynasty immediately gain +1 to hit on that unit for that phase of the turn. It's a good versatile and quite potent stratagem which can help to kill off a much stronger and expensive unit. Plus this stacks with Stalkers as well.

Reclaim a Lost Empire (2 CP): A Nihilakh stratagem which starts at the end of your turn. It requires you to select a unit from your own army and if it is within 3" of an objective or was standing still, it gains an additional attack and +1 to their saves for that entire turn.

Translocation Crypt (1 CP): A second Nihilakh one (aren't they lucky) but a much more basic option. During their deployment, you can set up one of their swarms or infantry options to Deep Strike into enemy lines even if they are not usually capable of doing so.

Talent For Annihilation (1 CP): Finally, here we have the Mephrit option on here. It works during the Shooting Phase, as you pick out a unit and then any 6 allows you to make another roll. Sadly this isn't a true "exploding sixes" option, but it massively buffs the output of firepower a single unit is usually capable of.

Faction Rules (Dynastic Codes)


Well, this was a nice surprise to have. It's not quite the old tailored option a-la chapter traits, but it is still quite a good overall bonus here. It's closer in many regards to what Space Marines usually have today, or even some of the stuff seen with things like the Overlords in Age of Sigmar. Overall, it's a nice way of giving a bit of distinction to specific groups. It's just a shame that you can't build your own as well.

Solar Fury (Mephrit): You get -1 to AP when shooting at units within half of your weapon's maximum range. It's good for close range firefights, and it's so broadly distributed among your army that you can use it to completely change your tactics. It encourages greater mobility and close range firefights, which is largely the opposite of the typical Necron method of engaging enemy forces. So, a pretty damn good one even if it's lacking further details.

Translocation Beams (Nephrekh): With this you can always advance on a 6", and a 7" when using My Will Be Done. It speaks for itself really, and it's a good option if you're relying on a relentless advance to claim objectives with infantry.

Aggressively Territorial (Nihilakh): Units that didn't move or disembark from vehicles can reroll 1s to hit when shooting. This counts even during overwatch and overall it's not one I'm a big fan of. It's good, but it doesn't do enough to change the faction's play style or forces them to utilise new methods of approaching a new foe. In terms of rules this will be welcome, but in terms of character it leaves much to be desired.

Awakened by Murder (Novokh): You can reroll every failed hit you make when a unit is charged, charges or makes a heroic intervention. Not bad really, and it does work for mass Scarab armies or the like, along with Flayed Ones. Same criticism as the above problem really, but it's not half as bad. At least this one is encouraging the player to focus much, much more on melee.

Relentless Advance (Sautekh): This one focuses on heavy weapons as it offers no penalties when firing those on the move, and when advancing all guns count as assault weapons. It's an interesting one, and the benefits to heavy weapons are good, but it feels underdeveloped. Destroyers, for one thing, gain no benefit from this and while the idea is that you're constantly moving about while firing, it doesn't really do enough to dramatically change your army's layout or how you utilise them. It's okay but that's about it.

Tactical Objectives


Pretty boring overall, barring two exceptions.

Endless Legions - The more you lose, the more you win. You need to keep track of how many successful Reanimation Protocol rolls you make, and after getting to 10, this grants you a Victory Point. It sounds odd, but it works well in combination with a few other abilities and allows you to quickly stack up Victory Points. That said, poor luck can work against you still, making any total losses hit much harder.

Dust and Ashes - It's a typical option here. If the character you pick survives the battle then you gain a Victory Point. Basic, direct and a bit boring really.

Reclaim and Recapture - Roll a D6, and if the result is odd or even results then you get D3 Victory Points for holding the relevant numbered objectives at the end of the turn. It's difficult to pull off, and the D3 element can be very, very harsh at times unfortunately.

Age of the Machine - Destroy an enemy vehicle. Yeah, that's it. The only interesting bit really is how it stacks up over time, as if you destroy three then you gain D3 Victory Points, and three extra points if one vehicle blown up counted as Titanic.

Slaughter the Living - Gain a victory point for annihilating an enemy unit. Nothing else, that's it, just wipe them out and you gain a point.

Code of Combat - it's the Highlander one, where if you have a character kill an enemy character then you gain a point.

Warlord Traits


Enduring Will: Reduce all damage inflicted on your Warlord by 1, but to a minimum of 1. A good option if you're looking for something to stack up for an extra point of defense. On its own it's okay, but you will want something extra atop of this if you end up with it.

Eternal Madness: Upon charging, you can re-roll failed wounds. This also counts for when he is charged or intervened heroically, which is overall a good bonus in most situations. A bit generic but far from useless by any means.

Immortal Pride: All friendly units of the same Dynasty from this Warlord within 6" automatially pass morale tests and can deny a single psychic power per turn. That latter point makes it easily the most potent option on this list, as they fall extremely short of psychic defenses otherwise.

Thrall of the Silent King: The Warlord's aura abilities are enhanced by 3". A nice option to be sure and given how many abilities only have a range of 3" in this army, you will usually find a use for it.

Implacable Conqueror: All units of the same Dynasty within 6" of the Warlord can re-roll charge rolls. Best left for those with melee engagements in mind, but shooting armies will find little use for this.

Honorable Combatant: Your warlord gains D3 extra attacks against another character, if he aims them all at the same target. A good buff if you're looking to go through your Warlord's opposite like a buzzsaw, and settle duels quickly. You just need to be sure that your Warlord has been built with melee in mind, otherwise it means bugger all.

Relics


Gauntlet of the Conflagrator: This is a Gauntlets of Fire variant, with a 8" range which can only be fired once per battle. On the upside it automatically strikes its target and can select multiple targets within its range. Roll a D6 for every one of those, and they suffer a Mortal Wound on a 6. This seems initially useless, until you consider what effect ti can have on massed swarms. Against twenty or even forty man units, this would inflict some horrific results before charging into battle.

Lightning Field: It offers a 4+ invulnerable save, and when in melee you roll a D6 at the start of the Fight phase. Every unit within 1" of it (enemies only thankfully) suffer a Mortal Wound on the roll of a 4+. It's an extra way of ripping apart units and hurting people all that much more, Plus, it's a nice method of self defense for some of the more fragile characters in the army.

Nanoscarab Casket: This is a one limited only to Destroyer Lords, and it grants them a fair bit more durability. Rather than regaining a single wound per turn, you recover D3 at a time. This also activates at the beginning of the opponent's turn, and the first time the bearer is killed they can revive themselves with 1D6 wounds remaining. This is a must for any army with a Destroyer Lord in it.

Nightmare Shroud: Add +1 to the warlord's standard armour save, and -1 to the Leadership of all enemy units within 6". Nice but not essential.

Orb of Eternity: This swaps out the Resurrection Orb and allows the carrier to offer a second bout of Reinamiation Protocols for any unit within 3" of the carrier. You also have +1 to the result, so for assault focused groups or the like it has its benefits. As usual, the extremely short nature of the range can work against it though.

Sempiternal Weave: It's a returning item of wargear from the Fifth Edition, and it's not exactly the same item. It now grants +1 Toughness and +1 Wounds to the carrier, which is a nice buff even if it's relatively simple in its nature.

Veil of Darkness: An odd one, this allows the wielder to activate it once per game and teleport both themselves and one other unit across the board via Deep Striking. The odd part stems from the fact it's completely free, and how it often benefits any HQ choice. There's really no reason not to take this one in almost any army, especially those with melee or close range combatants.


The Voltaic Staff: A weapon exclusive to the Mephrit Dynasty which is switched out for the Staff of Light. While it works the same as the Staff of Light in melee, it has a few bonuses in range in the form of an extra point of Strength AP and D. Oh, and every roll of a 6 while wounding inflicts a Mortal Wound. Not too shabby really, and it's a good way of inflicting some damage at arm's length if you don't want to get up close and personal.

The Solar Staff: As above, this is something which serves as a replacement for the Staff of Light, offers more firepower and is exclusive to a Dynasty, this time Nephrekh. It has a -1AP, shoots twice as much as usual and blinds infantry models on a 4+ when hitting them. So, that's a -1 to overwatch while shooting at them. Yep, another one to cause the Tau Empire all kinds of hell.

The Blood Scythe: This is a melee version which switches out the usual scythe weapons, and is exclusive to the Novokh Dynasty. It offers D3 more attacks than a usual warscythe, and that's about it.

Timesplinter Cloak: Something which isn't a weapon for once, this belongs to the Nihilakh Dynasty. Once per game you can reroll a hit, wound or damage result roll. Tis would be fine, but it also offers a Feel No Pain bonus of 5+. It's useful for the added durability as much as anything else, and it's a good way of ensuring that they stay standing long enough to inflict a bit more damage.


The Abyssal Staff: Another one which swaps out the Staff of Light and can only be carried by figures of the Sautekh Dynasty. It's the same old song and dance, of the same melee result but with some bonuses for shooting. In this case it's a 12" Assault 1 weapon which automatically hits and issues 3D6 damage. This is extremely potent in overwhelming tough armour or cracking open tough targets which are infantry more than dealing with swarm units, but it's hardly limited on options there either. Overall, probably the best among the Dynasty exclusive options.

The Verdict


Codex: Necrons is good despite a few criticisms and it does push to experiment with past concepts. On the whole, it's a good and fairly solid work in terms of basic firepower while also trying to offer a little bit extra in terms of creativity. I personally think that it could have pushed further with many points, and a few key points are ill formed and seem only partially finished. Still, it's a decent book and a well rounded, fairly balanced option which still retains all that made the Necrons fun. Well, save for the fact they were once the bane of psykers anyway.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Codex: Necrons Part 2 - Special Rules and Units (Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition Review)



So, with the lore over and done with we are onto the tabletop gaming segment again. This first half will delve into the essential skeleton of the army, while the next will cover the likes of strategems and secondary elements. If you're wondering why this took so long, keep in mind that this is a major rules change for an army to a new system, and the Necrons have an obscene number of characters. Really, some of the Space Marines armies can be just as bad, but these ones take multiple games each to fully get to grips with their quirks.

To give you a short analysis from the start - It's evident that the Necrons have been made with more of a defensive angle in mind. It's not some titanic transformation or even an outright alteration over their past selves, but a multitude of ideas, designs and stats seem to back their capacity to take damage over dishing in back en mass. They can certainly hurt an enemy, and hit them hard, but even in comparison to previous editions they seem to lack the speed of certain units and their capacity for firepower is focused on a handful of high damage units. The sort which are closer somewhat to those of the Craftworld Eldar in nature, thanks to how they fulfill one single job and do it exceptionally well, but are something of a one-trick pony. 

The nature of their strengths marks the Necrons as a stark contrast to most other forces in the game.  Most tactics will rely on an army's capacity to withstand substantial damage and keep going over wiping out whole units, while their strongest elements only have limited avenues of attack. That's the TL:DR version of this review at any rate, but you're probably here for more than just this. So, let's get on with the show.

Special Rules


Many of the old favourites show up yet again here, and if you know them from previous editions you will almost certainly recognise them here. You can imagine just what they are, but there have been a few minor alterations

Reanimation Protocols: Personally, I think it's still a damn shame they changed "We'll be back!" to this name, but there we go. In this version of the rule you have a 5+ to roll for each downed model, to bring them back and send them into battle again. If the model had more than one, then it returns with its full complement. This means the likes of the Lychguard aren't going to go down without having a chance of getting their points back. These units can only emerge 1" away from enemy combatants while remaining within squad coherency of the unit they killed.

Failing a roll to bring a unit back doesn't mean that you can't stop and try again later on, so only the outright destruction of a squad will take them down. You're rarely going to have a unit recover from a single model within a game, especially as LD10 only remains immune to morale tests until you're down to a fraction of the unit's strength. However, this does mean that you can bring one back to fighting status with an especially lucky roll. 

Overall, it's a decent take on the rule. Simple, direct and with a few obvious flaws but some immense benefits which sticks to the thing the Necron Dyansties are most infamous for: The fact they simply won't stay down.

Living Metal: This is the second half of their bionic state, and another point which emphasises their capacity to withstand immense damage. In effect, any unit with this rule attached recovers one wound per turn as standard. This can be enhanced and extended through a number of other means, but it means that your more expensive options will not die to a few unlucky rolls at the start. Plus it helps that most of their vehicles come with this.

My Will Be Done: A special rule which is widespread throughout the army's HQ options, this permits any infantry unit within 6" to gain +1 on Advances and Charges. Furthermore, there is a +1 to hit in shooting and melee. It's your common or garden inspiring presence sort of buff, and you'd have an easier time counting which armies lack this over those that retain it. At 6" its effects are limited, so you will usually only be able to transfer this effect onto two squads at the most in the vast majority of situations. Unless you want to blob up to make your Necrons a prime target for artillery, anyway.

Quantum Shielding: This is another special rule widespread across a general category, this time their vehicles. This counts for everything save their flyers, and gives these units an incredible level of toughness. In effect, if you can roll under the damage of a successful wound on a D6 then you can ignore it. Combined with Living Metal this means that the vehicles can usually tank most Strength 10 AP 1 attacks, or even the likes of the venerable lascannon. However, they are still vulnerable to attack spams. More than a few Space Marines players have already taken to having Sternguard drop in outfitted with Plasma guns to spam shots into these things. It tends to quickly bring them down unless you have an effective counter at the ready.

Their Number is Legion, Their Name is Death: This is Objective Secured under a new name. This seems to be a running trend throughout this Edition as, despite its strengths, books have this habit of taking the same basic ideas and rebranding them for other armies. This has been about since Second Edition in some form or another, but it has been becoming much more widespread of late.

Units


This is going to be a bit shorter than our last look at a few armies. The Custodes and Khanite remnants of Age of Sigmar were both minor armies which had been newly established. By comparison, the Necrons are a vast force which retains a multitude of verying unit designations and types. We will be going into each of them in turn, but some might simply say "Remember last codex? It's the same thing again, just with some of the powergaming removed."

HQ


You can tell this was an army heavily reworked in the Fifth Edition, can't you. Really, the sheer volume of special characters alone singles this out as that.

Overlord: Your generic big boss character, by which I mean the powerful head of an army who isn't among the vast multitude of named choices present here. This said, he has undergone something of a downgrade from his past self, as you have fewer weapons options to pick out and work with and only one non-damaged related upgrade. Outfitted with the Staff of Light as standard, he can now pick up the Voidblade, Voidscythe, Warscythe or a Hyperphase Sword in their place and a Resurrection Orb if you want to have any sense. His main benefit for being taken here stems from the fact he has My Will Be Done, something which the standard Lord lacks.

Honestly, the Overlord is just slightly too expensive to justify fielding. As you can take Anrakyr for just a few more points, and it has limited benefits over the much cheaper Lord, the Overlord ends up being an odd third wheel.

Lord: This will be your go-to option for most smaller scale armies for one big reason: He's cheap and yet effective. For 119 points you can fully kit him out with a Resurrection Orb and Warscythe, making him an effective means of bolstering troops while lopping off heads. You're mostly going to want him for the Resurrection Orb more than anything else, but he can hold his own in most fights. It's just a shame he wasn't granted a more diverse number of items and wargear as standard options.

Cryptek: The Cryptek is an odd one to be sure, as he fits into a bizzare role of a Farseer but with even more defensive options than normal. That and none of the psychic defenses. In effect, you keep him close to any unit which serves as your anvil and hold him there. He can grant a 5+ Invulnerable save to nearby forces while also adding an additional point to Resurrection Protocal rolls. This means that you can have a mob of Warriors standing and withstanding continual fire without going down, but he's not the sort of person you will want to get into a close-range fight. That said, 3" is a bit too short of a distance to extend these abilities to other forces.

Admittedly, the Canoptek Cloak rule does mean that he can sacrifice his standard Invulnerable buff to keep up with faster moving units. As such, he can be used to make your standard APCs and Destroyer squadrons that much more durable when racing toward an enemy target. It also means he switches gears from mechanical Farseer to Techmarinetron, as he can buff Living Metal rolls. A good choice for most armies if you're not after a hard-hitting combat monster of a character. For that, you need to just look at the next guy.

Destroyer Lord: The Destroyer Lords are usually the best option for most people in past games. You lost little in the way of firepower, gained a great deal of speed and for just a few more points you could cause all sorts of hell with flanking attacks. The Destroyer Lord of this Edition is not quite the same, as his benefits now only buff other Destroyer variants, but his usual additional power and durability remains present with +1 wounds and attacks. The massive downside to him now is that his Resurrection Orb is a one use item, meaning that you will typically want to go with a Lord for such options. Overall, he's a good offensive option, but you are limiting your army's greatest strength to offer them a bit more in the way of offensive capabilities.

Catacomb Command Barge: Yep, we have vehicles in here. If you're expecting me to rail against this, then you're going to be sorely disappointed as this is quite a nicely well-rounded unit. The vehicle is definitely a bizarre one, as it can charge flyers and engage them in close-combat via Warscythe, and there's the 12" version of My Will Be Done which makes it incredibly useful due to its overall speed. The main obvious issue is the fact that it's an obvious bullet magnet and can be more easily picked out by enemy guns. This isn't going to change in most lists, even those which relies on distraction tactics to enhance its chances of survival. With that being said, it has a Quantum Shielding and a Gauss or Tesla cannon as standard, but these do not degrade with continual damace. So, it can afford to withstand a fair amount of firepower despite this flaw.

Imotekh the Stormlord: Here we are onto the characters. The Necrons have a lot of them, which can can put in part down to their re-write during the Fifth Edition AKA character central. Despite the major gameplay shift of this edition, most have retained their same general role and strengths. In the case of the Stormlord here, he gives +1 re-rolls to nearby units of Flayed Ones now and comes with both a buffed Staff of Light and Phylactery.

His special rule, the Lord of the Storm, now has a 48" range and can pick out any non-character target from within that range. This is going to be his main benefit, as you are inflicting D6 Mortal Wounds onto that target with a slim chance to bounce it into other enemy forces within 6" (if you are lucky enough to roll a 6). He's effectively one gigantic cannon, but he's useful in ripping tanks to bits and whittling down elite brick-shit-house units. In effect, he's basically a hammer in this regard. He's mostly good at one job, but when he's used he does it exceptionally well.

Nemesor Zahndrekh: Zahndrekh is one half of the two-man act with Vargard Obyron, and is halfway between Grand Admiral Thrawn and Old Man Henderson. He's completely cracked in the mind, but can pull off some incredibly effective tactics even while trapped in hallucinations of the past. His rules reflect this well, as he comes with multiple buffs for his units, along with one of the single best debuffs a Games Workshop license has seen since Malekith was trolling fools with his sword.

Counter Tactics means that you can switch off all "aura" abilities on a character if they are within 12", allowing you to rob them of a major benefit. Equally, Transient Madness allows him to hand out a buff of +1 attack, +1 BS, or the ability to reroll charges at random while using My Will Be Done as well. He's certainly a bit unwieldy as with the previous example, but you can work him into a surprising number of lists.

Vargard Obyron: This is Zahndrekh's much more sane counterpart and the combat-focused man among them. With a +2 save he can do his job as a bodyguard, taking blows from Zahndrekh and using his power of Cleaving Counterblow to launch all of his melee attacks even when he is killed at close range. Ghostwalk Mantle also means that he can jump across the board with a full unit of infantry if they are within "6 to where Zahndrekh is standing. This is easily his best use, as it means you can suddenly reinforce a position with extra troops.

Orikan the Diviner: The Diviner here is what you would expect as a buffed Cryptek, and he can use the same abilities to the same basic effect. More or less all of his abilities are at a longer range, with his rule of The Stars Are Right allowing him to add extra stats bonuses for himself among other things. Of all the characters, he's the main one worth considering due to his relatively low cost in comparison to the standard Cryptek.

Anrakyr the Traveller: As the Traveller is best known for ripping people to bits, you can expect him to be doing much of the same again here. For starters, while he has lost his Furious Charge ability he is now Strength 6 with a Strength 8 Warscythe as well. He can also buff all nearby Necrons units with an extra attack, so long as they are general infantry options.As his My Will Be Done ability is not limited to a single Dynasty, this makes him an excellent choice when teaming up with other players or combining together various factions. Oh, and best yet Mind in the Machine is shot from his position due to the wording. Rather than the other armies, he still uses the wielders down BS, but it means you can pick up a Meltagun from a unit and then fire it from his base.

Illuminor Szeras: The Illuminator is easily one of the best army support options in this army now, thanks to how his special rule has been buffed. For one thing, now he can buff one Warriors or Immortals unit per turn, albeit with the issue of a 1" limited range. So, you're going to want to keep him very close to certain mobs whenever possible. While he lacks the 5+ Invulnerable save, he has more methods of buffing allied stats lines and pushing squads into inflicting more damage. He's good, but definitely more than a little fragile as a result.

Trazyn the Infinite: The famed skull-faced troll of a collector is back once again. Trazyn retains his ability to utilise Surrogate Hosts to take control of other bodies upon his death on the roll of a 2+, with an additional D3 roll to see how many wounds he emerges with. He can also inflict D3 Mortal Wounds on a target thanks to his Empathic Obliterator, and can perform his usual thieving acts. He's not the most beneficial character on here, but his cheap cost and ability to quickly ruin an enemy army's big gun is a welcome benefit.


Troops


Necron Warriors: So, sadly the Necrons are still largely limited to a standard Troops choice and a slightly more buffed Troops choice. The Warriors here can show up in 20 man mobs, and can be outfitted with Gauss weapons which will do significant damage to more heavily armoured opponents. While costly, the larger numbers are recommended as usual, thanks to the fact that they are both the best unit to draw fire from enemy squads and will stand their ground while under constant assault. These are the backbone of your army, but the problem is that they're something of a one-use creation. You can easily find yourself outmaneuvered and in close combat they serve as more of a speed bump than anything else. A little more variety on the Troops front would have been nice, but it seems that the Warriors are there to die while the Elites do their job.

Immortals: These guys are the somewhat more glamorous version of Warriors and have a little more variety to them. Unlike their counterparts, they can be outfitted with Tesla or Gauss weaponry, but both focus on using the unit in a ranged capacity over melee. They definitely benefit best while being buffed from an HQ choice, but they are more than durable enough to withstand most immediate attacks. This Edition does offer benefits and detriments to both options as Teslas are better with more lightly armoured units of limited numbers, while Gauss are your standard vaporize everything option.

Ghost Ark: The Necron alternative to the Rhino serves as more of a support unit in this Edition, as they can offer a surprising amount of basic fire to supplement squads. Each can offer the same level of firepower as a 10 man squad of Warriors and can also offer repair benefits to nearby squads. Warriors within 3" of the transport or while embarked can make a second Reanimation Protocals roll to bring your units back up to full strength. This makes them a vital asset if you want to withdraw quickly and re-deploy elsewhere. Keep in mind that, with all their benefits, they are still fragile however. The Quantum Shielding helps against singular attacks, but spamming will quickly overwhelm it, while against melee attacks your best option really is to run.


Elites


Lychguard: So, the Lychguard are a bit of an odd one, as they have undergone a few notable changes but still fulfill the same role. For one thing, they're your easiest option to get cheap Warscythes to hack enemies to bits with and they can also serve as true bodyguards now. When they are within 2" of a character, they can take a Mortal Wound in the place of a character on the roll of a 2+. This might make them sounds like more expensive alternatives to Gun Drones, but the fact they can keep getting back up is a major bonus. As is the fact that they can do more than stall the opposition in close combat. 

Their main problem is that, while they have a good stats line with 2 Wounds and 2 Attacks, they are limited by a 5" move distance. As such, you're going to want to eject them out of a Monolith and engage in melee at the earliest opportunity.

Deathmarks: So, we jump from the melee masters to the snipers now. Besides the fact that they can pick out and murder characters, their shots turn into a Mortal Wound on the roll of a 6+. Their added benefit of being able to Deep Strike means that they can inflict some serious damage early on and arrive as a very nasty surprise to an enemy player. Top this off with their capacity to Rapid Fire and, while they lack durability and melee prowess, most armies should consider taking one squad of these.

Flayed Ones: The flesh garbed maniacs have taken one step back and two steps forward. While they suffer from lacking one attack from the last Edition, they are much cheaper, and their +1 to nearby enemy Morale tests means that they are a more viable option with most assault tactics. They have not quite escaped their glass cannon status, but their ability to Deep Strike and re-roll failed wounds means that they will deal an immense amount of damage. The fact they still have 3 attacks per model means that they can still afford to take a fair few losses as well.

Triarch Praetorians: The jump pack brigade returns, turning in their scythes for Rods of Covenant or a Voidblades and a Particle Casters. They retain most of the strengths of the Lychguard but have the benefit of flight and a broader variety of weapons. The major downside is the fact they cannot access Dynasty related abilities without the benefit of a Special Character.

Triarch Stalker: The big walker is surprisingly beneficial as a substitute markerlight, as they add +1 to every shot made by a unit they fired on. This only counts for that turn, and it's their main benefit as their Heat Ray is a waste of points while Particle Shredder is a good counter to hordes but you have most units which can already offer that benefit. Furthermore, the Twin Heavy Gauss Cannon limits its maneuverability, which can be a problem as it's still surprisingly fragile. The Stalker is useful and will usually make its points back if played properly, but it can fall to bits with a few too many concentrated strikes.

Nightbringer Shard: Yep, here we are onto the C'Tan. These guys lack the strength of their older lore versions, but on the tabletop they are... Still pretty bad for their cost actually. They have a 4+ Invulnerable save, which doesn't offer them much in the way of durability for their costs and it still suffers from a surprisingly weak Strength and Toughness. The main benefits from this edition stem from the fact they have the Character designation now, meaning it's harder for enemy squads to blow them apart at range. Most people will use these as suicide bombers, as they can D3 mortal wounds on a 4+ to everything within 3" when they die thanks to the rule Reality Unravels. 

Oh, he does count as Strength 7 when attacking vehicles now, which is and isn't helpful. On the one hand, yes this causes serious damage. On the other, this is a Necrons army. Most units can hurt vehicles by sheer volume of fire with decent anti-armour guns.

Deceiver Shard: So this one is mostly the same as the Nightbringer but it swaps out its melee advantages for something called Grand Illusion. It allows the player to re-deploy the Shard and up to D3 units anywhere on the board so long as they're outside of 12" from enemy forces, right before the first turn begins. The downside is that they cannot charge, but the upside is that this can cause all sorts of problems for your enemy. out of the two, the Deciever is by far the more useful shard.

Fast Attack

Canoptek Wraiths: The Wraiths here are fast and extremely tough, but you can't simply throw them away as disposable fodder anymore. This is largely due to a substantial price hike in terms of points, and while they have a 3+ Invulnerable save and multiple wounds, you can expect them to die when outnumbered. Admittedly, their major draw is the fact that they can retreat and attack without the usual disadvantages, such as the ability to phase through units and walls. Just don't expect them to do much against horde forces. Their weapons are useful for shredding the likes of Terminators or Mega Nobs, but they are singularly useful against those targets.

Canoptek Scarabs: These are the opposite counterpart to the Wraiths, as they can rip hordes to bits but suffer against more expensive foes. Well, most of the time. Their nature means that they have some benefit in slowing down Terminators and sometimes overwhelming them thanks to a sheer volume of attacks. Their ability to fly combined with a 10" movement means that they are surprisingly speedy and serve as a good counter to bog down certain opposing squads. They are relatively fragile, however, and they will die quickly in the face of constant attacks. Often they are best deployed in combination with stronger forces as a meat shield when not thinning out mobs.

Tomb Blades: These guys are double Immortals in almost every sense, with twice the wounds, guns and a +1 Toughness stat even if they don't hit quite so often at range. While they only have a 4+ save, their 14" movement means that they are useful in performing flanking attacks and spamming massed shots against massed targets. More often than not you can use these in combination with another Fast Attack option to thin enemy numbers and then finish them off. The addition of Nebuloscopes means you can ignore enemy cover, which is a definite plus if you're looking to dislodge an especially persistent foe.

Destroyers: Here we are with the classics then, as the Destroyers were typically a favourite choice for past armies in throwing them against opposing forces. It's not hard to see why, as they are excellent butchers of anything with a decent Toughness and armour value. Even with their extra firepower, they're not quite powerful enough to serve as vehicle killers or even transport poppers, but they make up for this with decent speed and durability. The issue is how many you take, as they are expensive per model and can be rapidly brought down with a few too many strikes. They can be used well, but you need to seriously consider how best to utilise them and where to deploy them. There are better options though.

Heavy Support

Heavy Destroyers: The Heavy Destroyers here are the opposite of the Destroyers, as they can blow open most medium range vehicles without too much difficulty. A 3+ hit with the ability to re-roll ones makes them invaluable against more transport heavy armies as well, and their maneuverability means that they can counter most inbound targets. This is further assisted by their capacity to move and shoot, and a 36" range is nothing to sneeze at either. Just keep in mind that they can die very easily, so you will want to take them in trios and hide them behind cover whenever possible.

Canoptek Spyders: So, we covered the small bugs, now it's time for the guardians. They are mostly used as Scarab factories, pumping out more and more small mobs to deal with larger numbers of enemy units while drawing fire away from them. They can take a fair number of attacks, but their own firepower leaves something to be desired. If you need to take them in an army, make sure you have plenty of vehicles for them to use their construction claws on, to fix up D3 wounds per turn on.

Monolith: For a long time these things were utter nightmares which overshadowed even the Land Raiders. Sadly it seems that golden age has passed, as they are vastly overpriced for their capabilities these days. At 380 points you have far, far better option to take for those points and their Deep Strike capacity usually only serves as a minor distraction. There are some strategems which can work well in combination with this lot, but on their own you should skip this nine times out of ten. Well, unless you want to have them quickly throw out a melee focused band of Necrons.

Annihilation Barge: This one is most definitely a glass cannon by any standard, as its eight wounds can be quickly shredded with the right kind of gun line. Its Strength 7 main gun is a good way of quickly cutting through most infantry choices which could threaten your mob units. It can serve as a severe irritation to most armies, and its capacity to quickly re-deploy and withdraw means that it can serve as a somewhat mobile artillery piece to cause the enemy problems. It's good, but like so many things it has been built primarily with one type of enemy in mind.

Doomsday Ark: The Doomsday Ark is the best of the bunch here, but it's yet again an irritatingly fragile vehicle in many regards. The main Doomsday Cannon is best used while the vehicle remains static, which boosts its overall capabilities and stats. This is definitely beneficial to the vehicle thanks to its extreme range, and the fact it can easily be reduced to a burning wreck if you fail to pass a few saves. In effect, keep this one well hidden at the back of your army, possibly with a Spyder close by.

Transcendent C'Tan: With the smaller shards done, now we have the big one. The Transcendent C'Tan has undergone a few major rules changes since last time. While it still benefits from the basic stats line of a Shard, it now has a multitude of new powers, abilities and special rules to alter how you use them. Also D6 damage on their melee attacks, which is a step forward and a step back in terms of its capabilities. However, you can now have Fractured Personality as a rule to work with. This one means that they have two powers to choose (or roll, anyway) from and can use one at a time from the following list:

Cosmic Tyrant: The C'tan can cast two Powers of the C'tan at once.

Immune to Natural Law: Gain +1 to saving throws, giving it a 4+ invulnerable save.

Sentient Necrodermis: Heal D3 wounds at the start of each turn.

Transdimensional Displacement: Add 12" to this model's movement when advancing rather than rolling.

Entropic Touch: Re-roll all failed wounds in the Fight phase.

Writhing Worldscape: Enemy units within 12" do not gain save bonuses from cover.


Overall, I can certainly appreciate the fact that the designers tried to make this model more distinct. That said, it is still an awkward one to use, and all too often tactics or uses of this model rely on you getting exactly the right ability with each roll. It's the same sin too many older Warlord lists committed. It's not bad, but not great either overall.

Aircraft

Night Scythe: The first of the airborne death croissants is largely what you would expect from last time. It offers the same portal as the Monolith and is much cheaper by far, and has more maneuverability thanks to flight. However, it does lack the benefit of Quantum Shielding, and it's as fragile as you would expect from any small flyer. Its weapons have been reduced to Strength 7, however so you will be limited in just what you can blow up and where. It's good, but it requires a steady hand and careful thought on how to use it.

Doom Scythe: This one is effectively a lower grade Doomsday Ark, with the same weapons but a much more limited capacity to hit its targets. It can survive a bit more thanks to its airborne nature, assuming it dodges it, but it ultimately falls into an odd area where it doesn't quite accomplish anything. Anything it tries its hand at, something else does it much better. It's not exactly useless, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason to take it outside of Strategems.

Lords of War

Tesseract Vault: Yeah, believe it or not, but the C'tan prison counts as more of a threat than the actual C'tan themselves these days. Admittedly, it's not hard to see why. With a Transcendent C'Tan locked up inside it, the Vault constantly spews out Mortal Wounds with its barrages, and it can use the first three rules of the Transcendent C'tan's buffs. It can also use four per turn as well, just to make things truly nasty. The main downside is that, while it has 28 wounds, it cannot hide behind units as the C'tan can now and it lacks melee capabilities. Also, the second it shows up, you just know every gun on your enemy's side will turn its way. This makes it something of a pricy distraction, but a surprisingly effective one in a few ways. It takes a fair bit to kill, it will deal damage back, and when it does finally fall, it ejects a C'Tan in the enemy's face. There are better Lords of War, but it's hardly the worst vehicle to ever cost so many points.

Obelisk: This is an alternative to the Vault, as it shares a number of characteristics but with a few tweaks here and there. For one thing it has a higher Toughness of 8 and is capable of flying, along with the sheer volume of firepower it can pump out. So, anything looking its way will end up facing a full twenty hits (yes, hits, not shots) at Strength 7, and it can Deep Strike in. The downside is that it is Titanic, so macro weapons will have a field day with this thing.

The Verdict:


It's alright. There are some obvious flaws here and there, and once again it's a codex which is playing it safe with the new rules changes. With that said, there's really no major sin committed by the book, and there is still a push to experiment with a few previous ideas. When things work they work well, when they don't it's more a case of them being a third wheel. Even then, there are a few bonus qualities which do help them in a few ways, such as the strategems. Necron players will definitely need to spend much more time relying on more carefully constructed armies over sheer firepower in this Edition, but the core rules are okay.

So, that's this bit done. Next time we will be finally finishing off this damn thing with everything else in the book.