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Necron Codex 8th edition Review: Destroyers of Worlds

by | Jun 8, 2018

The Necron codex is primer on the gulf that separates Index from Codex, with not much changing between actual unit abilities and stat-lines, instead the added depth of Dynastic Codes and stratagems makes this one of the best gate keeper armies in the game. The Necrons are held back by the over balance on primarily three units and a troop tax most armies don’t have to deal with. It leaves the codex while powerful, it has just enough point inefficiency to not reach the heights necessary for the top tier. It though will leave most Necron players happy with tricks and combos to wake them from a long hibernation.

The Necron Codex clocks in at 120 pages, with only one new variant of an existing unit to expanded C’tan powers standing out from the average codex. The Necron codex is divided into four sections with the first being…

The Necron Legions

The Necron background section is an increasing refinement of the what has come before, with all the old stuff and some fantastic new wrinkles. The War in Heaven and tale of Biotransference are all there, but it is the expansion of the great awakening and diving into the individual dynasties that really makes things shine. The focus though is a little too heavy on the Sautekh as most of the special characters hail from this dynasty, but learning about the all the Phaerons and backstories of the lessor ones is great. Then you some expansion on the Triarch and clandestine plans of Silent King really gives depth to Necrons beyond being half crazed robots squabbling over scraps of a lost empire.

We also get the great galactic map and some language lessons on Necron Glyphs, the only downside is Games Workshop doesn’t know what to do with the Flayed Ones existence and not finding a way of have humans enjoy the fruits of Biotransference.

The Immortal Armies

In what could be parade of rehash, is done as well as possible with the photo assets Games Workshop possessed of the various Necron Dynasties. It is cool to see some Novokh, but I know Games Workshop has tons of more Necron art assets they could show for the Nihilakh or Mephrit, so it all feels like a rush job not allowing for much army inspiration.

The Dynasties Ascendant

The section everyone runs to first, the Rules

The Necrons standard universal rules are…

Reanimation Protocols: If a unit with this rule isn’t completely destroyed, at the start of your turn you can bring back models on a 5+. This is a great ability especially for multi-wound units, but against a dedicated opponent they will make sure any unit is completely destroyed before you get a chance to Reanimate.

Living Metal: Units with this rule regain 1 lost wound each turn. This is good power on the edges and forces your opponent to consider exactly how much fire power they want to dedicate to a unit.

The Necrons are made up of 37 units with a surprising amount of variety for a non-psychic xeno…

Imotekh the Stormlord: Imotekh clocks in at 200 point and isn’t worth the investment for what you get, unless you build a list around Flayed Ones, which will maximize all the abilities present, especially combined with My Will be Done.

Nemesor and Obyron: Traditionally coming as a pair, the newest iterations are still too many points when you take both providing only a trick you can find elsewhere, otherwise taking Nemesor alone just for Counter Tactics can neutralize many a force multiply character.

Illuminor Szeras: A fantastic model and still a efficient use of points, with Mechanical Augmentation giving a unit a 2 in 3 chance of a great bonus. The Master Technomancer also cannot be overlooked as Szeras bypasses Dynasty restrictions of the other Crypteks.

Orikan the Diviner: Orkian isn’t worth the 45 point bump from your average Cryptek to justify the potential for a sub-par beat stick.

Anrakyr The Traveller: Anrakyr might be a bit too pricey, but what you get is some great combo potential with Assault units like Flayed Ones and the Mind in the Machine is fantastic against Titanic units that may get to close to the Traveller.

Trazyn the Infinite: Unique fluff, but still underwhelming rules, but for 100 points can be justified if you think you can sneak a suicide run with his Empathic Obliterator.

Catacomb Command Barge: A balanced returned for a great unit, helped by the character rule, now your Overlord is fast and tough with some shooting ability.

Overlord: My Will be Done while not the best force multiplier is critical for the sometimes damage output deficient Necrons where you need all the bonuses you can get. Overlords are also not overly expensive, a very close equivalent to Space Marine Captains. As well most artifacts will be in the hands of your Overlords anyway.

Lord: A simple HQ choice that often gets left behind when you start to running out of points, but if you build lists around blob units a Lord is very important for wound re-rolls.

Cryptek: When building reanimation combos a Cryptek is just as important as a Resurrection Orb and with the Canoptek Cloak it gives the Cryptek speed to be where it is needed most and an extra repair bonuses for your Necron vehicles.

Destroyer Lord: Since Destroyers are a must take, by default the Destroyer Lord is the same, with bonus of dealing out a decent amount of damage when called upon in assault.

Warriors and Immortals: The Troop choices are the weakest link for Necrons with only Tesla Immortals making a bit of a comeback. The problem is not the units themselves, but 8th edition focus on cheaper Troop options to create cheap Battalions and Brigades.

Lychguard: When you are done adding up the points Lychguard just don’t hold much weight, if only they were 3 wounds could you maybe justify the mostly mediocre resilience and damage output.

Deathmarks: An underused unit shocking for one of the best snipers in the game, with only weapon range being a drawback, but being able to deploy where you need to be makes that drawback mute. The ability to shoot on your opponents turn shouldn’t be underestimated either, as it can force your opponent into dedicating resources he wouldn’t otherwise.

Flayed Ones: Another underused unit, but one limited because the models themselves are expensive and hard to find. Flayed Ones make assault Necrons possible and with the many combos to get them close to your opponent, they are a cheap and fantastic damage dealer everyone opponent must kill to the last.

Triarch Praetorians and Triarch Stalker: A missed opportunity, as the fluff for these units gets expanded their role on the battlefield doesn’t, unable to take advantage of Dynasty Codes combined with high point costs.

C’tan Shards: You can make a justification for every C’tan, with the Deceiver being almost an auto-take, with at least one Transcendent C’tan included. Only the Nightbringer doesn’t hold up as Games Workshop ran out some creativity for this one.

Canoptek Wraiths: This unit has taken hits over the years and editions, but still is a strong unit especially if you feed it Command Points. The Canoptek Wraith are still cost effective and while not the damage dealers of past, can certainly hold up even against the most dangerous units turn after turn.

Canoptek Scarabs: Since every other Swarm unit is a Troop choice, why can’t Canoptek Scarabs be too? Since you cannot create the super farms of the past you won’t be seeing many of these little gibblies around much.

Tomb Blades: A great unit, because mult-wounds and reanimation = win. Just don’t go upgrade investment crazy, keep it simple with Shieldvanes or Nebuloscope depending on the role you want them to play.

Destroyers: When I say every Necron army should have at least one unit of Destroyers, I mean EVERY Necron army needs at least one. Destroyers can do it all and provide multi-damage output Necron armies lack elsewhere.

Heavy Destroyers: As a dedicated unit, they are just too many points, better off just adding a single one in your Destroyer units.

Canoptek Spyders: A mighty unit has fallen, but one worth considering when you consider a Cryptek vehicle heavy army. Also don’t underestimate a Gloom Prism giving you some Psychic defense against powers like Null Zone or Warptime.

Monolith: This iconic unit has some utility with an array of abilities to draw a lot of attention from your opponent, but just not worth the almost 400 point price tag. If only it had Quantum Shielding…

Annihilation Barge: A classic case of Games Workshop over learning a past point cost mistake. Still, if you can keep it alive the Annihilation Barge can deal out a ton of Tesla shots.

Doomsday Ark: One of the hidden gems of the codex, with just the right amount of tweaks to make it a great damage dealing platform. As the meta turns more and more to Titanic units the Ark is a great investment.

Ghost Ark: A underused unit, where you only need one to be effective. The synergy with this unit is fantastic, as long as it and the units it can heal stay alive long enough.

Doom Scythe: Made only viable because of a Stratagem, otherwise just take a Doomsday Ark instead.

Night Scythe: If you can’t afford a Monolith and want some portability, the Night Scythe still has a role to bringing whatever unit you need to the right spot.

Obelisk: It’s bigger brother steals the spotlight, but with most armies using units with Fly it should get more play, especially when taking advantage of the Gravitic Singularity stratagem.

Tesseract Vault: It is the cute trick list when you see people running three of these things, but one made impotent by a few simple psychic powers. The Tesseract Vault though beyond being in gimmick lists, is really powerful and should end up being part of many competitive Necron lists, just not taken as three, but as one.

Code of War

The final section of the Necron codex including Battle-forged abilities, Stratagems, Warlord Traits, and Artifacts.

Their Number is Legion, Their Number is Death: Objective Secured, for the troop choices, like most armies in the game.

Dynastic Codes

Sautekh: We have already seen a few other codexes get this faction ability, but with Necrons the most productive weapons are already assault, making it really only useful for moving Heavy Weapons. As such this is one of the weakest of the Dynastic Codes, but one that you might be forced into with the amount of special characters in this Dynasty.

Mephrit: A sneaky good Dynastic code as many weapons (Tesla) don’t have any AP modifiers, so having this really helps and makes even units like Destroyers that much more deadly.

Novokh: Necrons are not known necessarily for there close combat prowess, but this Dynastic code makes many units very reliable, especially combined with a Lord. Still, only Necron players building lists for the Fight phase makes this Dynastic code an option.

Nihilakh: This is a pretty powerful Dynastic code for static gunline armies, but limited by the many short range weapons Necrons have, forcing you to move often for at least one turn. It is very powerful especially for units like a Doomsday Ark and with My Will be Done most units will be hitting on 2s re-rolling 1s in no time.

Nephrekh: Perhaps the most dynamic of the Dynastic codes as it really can put pressure on an opponent when you use units like Wraiths or Tomb Blades. It also means you can move through terrain unimpeded, a very underrated ability, especially in the hands units that normally cannot travel through certain terrain otherwise.

Stratagems: The Necrons get a bevy of stratagems that really help this army out. Leading the charge is Extermination Protocols, any C’tan stratagem, Enhanced Reanimation Protocols, and Adaptive Subroutines. Of the Dynasty stratagems, Blood Rites is obvious choice for Flayed Ones, Translocation Crypt to put units away for later, but Reclaim a Lost Empire is fantastic for any shooty army. The best part of the Necron stratagems is none are overpowered, forcing you to build a list around a single one, but instead so many are so just good enough, that with a varied army you will be throwing them left and right to boost your army with many tricks.

Powers of the C’tan: The powers of the C’tan are a critical component to almost every Necron army. This is the reason you just need to take a C’tan and with the choice of amazing stratagems you won’t have to worry about having the right power for a particular fight. This is psychic powers that can’t be stop and the only way Necrons can deal mortal wounds effectively. This is why most Necron armies include at least one or two C’tan or Tesseract Vaults.

Artefacts of the Aeons: The basic unique items of Necrons are pretty great. The Orb of Eternity, Veil of Darkness, and Nanoscarab Casket all have a roles to play. The best being the Veil of Darkness as anytime you can jump across the board is extremely powerful, and often seen in the hands of Destroyer Lords everywhere. As for the Dynasty items, only the Solar Staff is truly useful for a Nephrekh army.

Warlord Traits: The Necrons don’t get a bad set of Warlord traits, but nothing that really stands out. Immortal Pride and Implacable Conqueror stick out for the basic ones. As for the Dynasty traits, most players would run straight to Hyperlogical Strategist for the Command points and Skin of Living Gold to a certain extent.

The Necron codex ends with the point section and the always forgotten Tactical Objectives page.

Final Verdict

The Necrons have always straddled the line between shooty and resilience, but the new Necron codex tries to diversify the army with the help of Dynasties and other goodies. The only problem is, it still feels like Games Workshop doesn’t know what type of theme they are trying to go with the army. Every other xeno army has a pretty identifiable niche, where the Necrons feel like just metal Space Marines.

This means Necrons often do things well, but not spectacular, this hasn’t changed with the new Codex. You also still cannot run armies just around the different segments of the army. This is a good thing though, it means the best lists are mixed affairs and require good generalship to master. The Necrons are not about extremes, so having some shooting, some tar-piting, and Destroyers + C’tans should do the trick for most players. At best you should win 2/3 of your games with some practice, but Necrons will suffer from point inefficiencies filling up there Troop slots and too much investment in the units you must take to be competitive.

Necrons, should stay clearly be a middle of the pack army for the foreseeable future and that is good when compared to many armies out there.

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