Monday, November 11, 2013

Reanimating the Necron Airforce

By Chris Vinton

I blew the dust off my necrons to take to Indiana and it was quite the learning experience.  I've played them since they came out and they are my go to army.  Because of how long I've played them I am able to wield them as if an extension of myself.  Until this weekend I didn't notice but it seems as if the world around me is forcing me to evolve...or devolve.

If  you read through my write up, you'll know that my force I brought to Indiana was a wraith wing list.  I knew it was an old list and it was very different than my typical troop heavy list.  I've never been a fan of an elite army but after playing a game in the basement I tapped into the overlord within and understood how this works.  However, I found my self out classed even with a table full of what once was the badass 12 year old wet dream army.

Wraiths suffer what all elite armies suffer.  High volume, low strength fire.  With harassment units like seer counsel bikes, deamon flicker fire, tau missile sides, henchment storm bolters and all the other high volume low strength fire in the game it makes the survivability of these units plummet.  Toughness 4 even with 2 wounds, and even with a 3++ just isn't enough.  Couple that with the finer things of tournament play like "How are you going to score first blood?" and "How are you keeping your warlord alive yet effective since you need him to produce as part of your win strategy?"  and you start finding yourself saying "I guess I'm not!"

So what are you left with?  Not much.  A lot of what used to be very effective in the book has lost a lot of punch.  Troops are in constant fear of tau pie plates and more rare but still terrifying Helldrake.  AV 13 can weather punishment but eventually these guys always gave up first blood.  The necrons don't have rhinos to blow up first turn anymore, thus giving your opponents two turns of trying for first blood on them.

I was able to limp the command barge into the early months of 6th but after they changed to sweep attack to the movement phase that only gave him an effective 12" threat for that.  In 5th he was a monster, threatening a 24" bubble with that deadly sweep attack (God I loved explaining that to people and their escalating "what?" response eventually ended with a "WHAT?!" when all game mechanics were finally explained for these guys)  Now he is much less a rock star and no long truly viable.

Spyder farm? Survivable but not really effective as far as I can theory craft.

Now insert the Night Scythe.  Yes its been done, yes most people have faced one and yes they went out of style.  But like all fashion trends, I think they can come back around.  They are truly the last surviving gem in the necron codex.  In my last 6 games with the necrons my night scythes were the true workhorses.  Why?  Because they break game mechanics.

I read an article about the missuses of the word broken and one place they said it was properly applied was when applied to the scythe.  Not because of the points cost (which it is under costed, and there is a long discussion about that in the article too and I think they end up justifying the cost, in my opinion) but because of the way it thumbs its nose at the basic rules of the game.

Transport capacity.  Not exactly broken, but it holds 15 models. Much more than most basic transports for other armies.  Most people that don't play necrons don't know this, but it does.  Couple that with the fact that it can hold infantry, jump infantry and bikes means that you can have a destroyer lord jump in one and buzz around the table.  You can have tomb blades get out of it.  Wraiths can ride in it.  Or you can simply have 15 warriors get out on an objective that is almost anywhere on the board.

Speed.  The scythe can move up to 36 inches int he movement phase and then another 12 in the shooting.  No different than other super sonic fliers, but unlike other supersonic fliers, it can transport models at that speed.

The mighty Tesla Destructor.  A weapon build for 6th edition.  Getting an additional 2 hits on a roll of a 6 was cute in 5th, but is vital in 6th.  This weapon esentiallly negates any draw back of snap firing.  Twin linked gives me an average of 6 hits when snap firing.  I generally get just as many hits snap firing as I do regular shooting. In fact, sometimes, I'd rather snap fire.  On my barges for example, I would usually shoot the under slung gun main fire, and the destructor as snap fire.  And because of this weapon, unlike other fliers, I hardly ever have to consider..."Do I want to Jink??"  99% of the time...Yes.

Transdemensional Beamer.  Here is the real 'broken' part of the night scythe.  Unlike any other flyer transport in the game, troops can get on or off this vehicle nearly as they please.  Drop them off before, or after anywhere from where it starts to 18-36" and you have some serious last turn objective grabbing power.  The only draw back (if it is one) is that if it moves over 24" the troops can only snap fire.  The only time this matters to me is when I run the Columbia Death Squad.  That only really keeps me from reaching out to the opponents table edge to kill something.  Other than that the whole table is pretty much fair game.  But as it relates to 'Playing the Mission', the fact that I can jet around 36" to land snatch last turn is huge.

The Scythe also bawks at the rules of flyer crash.  Normally when your flyer crashes, the troops take st 10 no armor save hits and crumple like dried leaves.  Not here.  These guys go into on going reserves, no damage taken.  Which is perfect for having those who's rides crashed walk on and take your back field objectives.

The Scythes survivability by being able to jink at will, as well as having flyer protection as well as living metal special rules will keep these guys in the air longer than you'd think.  AV 11 all around keeps people from getting the bolter fire pot shots on rear as well.

But the most important thing is the shift in the meta.  People seem less concerned about flyers.  Generally lists have opted out of the quad gun for a coms relay or just dropped it and only have one dedicated anti-flyer unit.  Tau can marker light to deal with fliers but that too has fallen off or at least isn't enough to content with the 6-8 flyers a necron list can easily bring.  You might get one to two flyers knocked down, but that one anti air unit is a high priority and will quickly receive the full weight of that list.

I want to really try to see how far I can push the air force back to the mainstream and turn some heads by blowing the dust off this list.  We'll see what happens and for struggling necron players maybe this revamp might be the answer for you.  Feel free to chime in and let me know how you've evolved (or devolved) your list to answer the tau/eldar menace.


  1. Great read! I have all sorts of ideas and plan on tinkering out a bunch of lists. I'll keep you posted!

  2. So i should keep my sky rays in my list? It has been a while since i faced cronair, it would be a tough fight.

  3. The tau around here calmed their anti air down and shifted toward using markers to augment their B.S. if they run into flyers, so they by no means are ready for the high volume of fliers, eldest are a tougher nut but can be cracked with focused fire on the serpents to down them, also storm teks do well against them, so yeah, air is great, though I would say the only shift is less heldrake and more scythe for me.