Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Necrons - 9th Edition, Dynasties, and You


We have some solid options when it comes to picking dynasties now - we've got six stock dynasties, and a "build your own" buffet of traits.  Stock dynasties include stratagems, relics, a favorite command protocol and sometimes a character or two.  The build-your-own option trades out the stock perks for versatility.

Mephrit - +3" range / +1AP in half range - AKA "assault/rapid-fire love"

Mephrit is pretty straightforward and usable.

If you were on the internet, you saw far too many times where someone asked "flayers or reapers?" on warriors.  Mephrit gets reapers to 15", which is a lot more usable with transports and the Veil of Darkness.  Otherwise, the basic trait is great for making your small arms a bit more killy.  Your preferred protocol is great for your rapid-fire turn, as it strips cover AND might give you more AP if you roll a 6 to wound.  Note that another 3" of rapid-fire range usually doesn't mean that much, but assault weapons - IE Tesla - tend to like it.

The unique stratagem just helps more - you can get mortal wounds on 6s to wound, up to a max of 3.  Mortal wounds are always great, and most stuff with the volume of fire for this has AP-1 (maybe AP-2 if you're rapid-firing Flayers, because of the +1AP bonus.)

The relic is not BAD, per se, but you probably won't take it because you've got other options.  Your Royal Warden (...if you took one) gets a 36", rapid-fire 3 S6, AP-2 2 damage gun.  Again, this isn't BAD at all, but you've got some solid relics to pick from before this.

The Warlord trait is, interestingly enough, more stabby - +1A, +1S.  Compare/contrast to Enduring Will; this is a bit more killy but Enduring Will is a boon against multi-damage weapons.  Note that +1S gets most Lord weapons to S8, which is a significant break-point for your wound rolls.

Novokh - +1" to charges / +1 attack on the charge - AKA "CHAAAAAAAAARGE"

Like Mephrit, this is pretty+  straightforward and usable.

Do you want to assault things?  This is how you assault things.  A Lord with a Veil of Darkness and Implacable Conquerer next to some Lychguard and get ready to have some fun - you can do silly things like use the standard +1 attack stratagem for Lychguard, AND Novokh's +1 attack stratagem, AND +1S for CORE melee units.  Going to an 8 with a re-roll means you get about a 65% chance to make that charge.  Not guaranteed, but damned scary since it might be game-changing.

The exact bonus of a +1 to charge rolls depends on where you're at on distance - could be as much as ~17% (8 to 7) , could be as little as ~6% (12 to 11).

Your chosen protocol is decent - +1S and bonus AP on 6s to wound.  +1S matters mostly if it'll kick you from wounding on 4+ to 3+.

Your warlord trait is so-so - you get free mortal wounds on a 6 to wound.  I'd rather get more attacks or better attacks.

Now, the relic is pretty straightforward - it's good for +2 bonus attacks.  Again, it's straightforward, and useful.

Szarekhan - 5+ shrug vs. mortal wounds / re-roll a wound - AKA "Utility and psyker defense"

This is some straightforward stuff as well - you aren't necessarily pointed towards any given build, but your units with low-volume / high-quality attacks are going to like it.  This is by and large the most utilitarian dynasty, as you also get a stratagem that gives you a Deny the witch on a flat 4+.

Your utility extends to the Warlord trait - it lets you use one protocol twice.  The problem remains in guessing the flow of the game well enough to pick a protocol - so I'd recommend you pick one to double up on in the first couple of turns.

Surprise, surprise - your relic, the Sovereign Coronal, is ALSO utility - based.  Your command protocols are 9", and any CORE units within that range get both sides of the protocol.  So, yes, there's utility here - however, you need to REALLY get your protocols right.  I'd honestly skip this one.

I want to like Szarekhan, but the most reliable benefit is going to be the wound re-roll, followed by the mortal wound shrug and the psychic deny.

Nephrekh - Translocation / 6++ invuln - AKA "speed kills"

Nephrekh's 'translocation' lets you get an auto 6" advance in exchange for no shooting w/ assault weapons, AND it lets you fall back through models.  You'll probably use the auto-advance more than anything else.  Your mobility extends to your dynasty stratagem - you can slap a DYNASTY unit in deep strike (...sadly, no C'tan).

Your warlord trait and relic help you leverage this mobility into assault fun.  Anyone taking a shot at your warlord takes -1 to hit - this helps more when folks aren't swinging powerfists, etc. at 'im, but it's still very usable.  If nothing else, you get access to a pair of defense WL traits in this and in Enduring Will.  Your relic - the Solar Staff - is a Staff of Light with a better rate of fire - but the real perk is that if you land one of those six shots on target, you turn off Overwatch and Set To Defend on your target.

All in all, Nephrekh offers some obvious utility - it's beginner-friendly with Translocate, and anyone can make use of the speed and the Deep Strike stratagem.  The 6+ invulnerable save is neat - won't save you all the time, but might save you here and there.  Scarabs kind of like it, to be honest.

Nihilakh - Ignore AP-1 in your Deployment Zone / Obsec Enhancement - AKA "go read custom dynasties"

9th is  game of objectives.  Objective secured is always going to be useful.  Your most noticeable trait is that EVERYONE is now objective secured, and models that already have it count as +1 model for the trait.  Ignoring AP-1 in your DZ is kind of 'eh' at best - it's not bad, per se, but it's not super.  That's ok, ObSec matters.  

Your stratagem is 'eh' - you pay a CP to let infantry be able to shoot.  It's not great, but it can be useful if you just need a little more shooting.  In general, though, you don't want large, important units doing actions - but this is a nice backup plan.

Your warlord trait is just 'fight first' - not bad, but might save you if you don't nuke your target on the charge.  Your relic is similarly 'eh' - it's +1 to your save and ignoring wounds on 6+.  Going to a 2+ armor save isn't bad, but you've got better options, frankly.

I want to like Nhilakh, but frankly I think we've got better options - you'll see when we get to the custom section.  The real money-maker here is that ObSec frees up how you can build, and lets your faster units hold ground against non-Troops infiltrators.

Sautekh - Morale re-rolls / 18" rapid fire - AKA "Y'all like Gauss, right?"

You're here for the second one.  It's not hard to build around rapid fire, given that pretty much anything that can take a can can probably take rapid-fire.  Your stratagem piles on with the love, giving fellow Dynasty units a +1 to hit if someone just SHOT at it.  Honestly it's kinda gruesome if you just want to delete an important unit.

Your warlord trait is pretty utilitarian - you refund command protocols on a 5+.  Your relic is utilitarian and defensive - your warlord makes an enemy unit within 3" fight last - actually better than that, they can't fight until everyone else does.  It's neat if you get charged, OR if you want to get the drop on a nasty melee unit.

Overall, these guys aren't terrible.

Custom Dynasties 

You get to pick from one of eleven Dynastic Traditions (I'm skipping the 'we use another dynastic code') and one of seven Circumstances of Awakening.  You don't get unique warlord traits, relics, or stratagems.  I'm not going to touch every last one of these in depth, as some of these are partial re-treads of other Dynasty Traits.

Dynastic Traditions - Re-Treads

You can get Objective Secured (Nihilakh), Re-roll a Wound in shooting (Szarekhan), 6+ invuln (Nephrekh), and Morale re-rolls (Sautekh).  Really, you care about these when it comes to mixing them with Circumstances of Awakening, as it's that vs. the dynasty that includes this already.  Mixing Nihilakh's Objective Secured (or double Obsec with stuff that already has Obsec) is the real sexiness here.

Dynastic Traditions worth Looking At

Rad-wreathed is worth a look for assault armies - it's a 1" aura of -1 toughness.  S3/4 and S6 melee units care about this.  It's worth noting that, outside of a couple specific stratagems, this really helps Flayed Ones - they start wounding T4 infantry on a 3+, and T5 infantry on a 4+ - which REALLY matters with a volume of attacks.

Pitiless Hunters looks neat - it lets rapid-fire weapons double-tap out to max range.  Honestly, though, if you're really looking to buff rapid fire you pick up Sautekh or Mephrit and get their cool stuff, unless you just want to try it with a Circumstance of Awakening.

Skip These

Immovable Phalanx - if your INFANTRY stand still, they get +1 to save vs. 1-damage weapons.  Honestly, you'll use this on objective campers and stuff that's already stuck in assault.  Sounds cool, sounds fluffy - it'll kick in a couple times a game.

Contemptuous of the Codes - +1 to hit vs. Characters.  Um, neat, a to-hit bonus vs. one to three or four units.  I guess if you REALLY want your snipers to hit, this is a thing.

Severed - your command protocols work within 9" of characters instead of 6".  Protocols are neat and all, but seriously, it's a case of opportunity cost here.  Protocols are neat, but you're doing well if you managed to pick relevant ones for the first couple of turns.

Circumstances of Awakening

This is where it gets neat - you've only got one re-tread here, as you can get +3" range (Mephrit called, asked what's up.)

If you really want to go Canoptek-heavy, you look at The Ancients Stir - it's a +1 to move for Canopteks, and a 6" pile-in.  This is neat and fluffy more than anything, but faster Wraiths and Scarabs should scare anyone.

You can take Arise Against the Interlopers if you want to auto-wound INFANTRY and BIKERS on a 6+.  I mean, it doesn't sound bad but I really have to ask if it's worth giving up your regular stuff.  High rate of fire troops probably aren't going to worry about wounding infantry THAT much.  If you're worried about wounding T5 or T6 infantry/bikers, you probably also want more AP than wounds.

Healthy Paranoia is a re-tread of Mephrit's +3 range, so realistically if you want to run Reaper warriors or Tesla Immortals/Tomb Blades, ask if you want to mix it with another Dynastic tradition or take Mephrit.

Relentlessly Expansionist is the one everyone is (rightfully) raving about - move 6" at the top of the first battle round, but before the first turn starts.  This is so much utility it just ain't funny, especially since you can get out of your DZ.  

Isolationist looks interesting, as it's +1S for rapid fire shots within 12".  Going up to S5 on Gauss Flayers is neat (S4 to 5 matters vs. most infantry) but again, I feel like Mephrit or Sautekh might give you more.

Warrior Nobles is lol-tastic - your Nobles (all one or two of them) re-roll 1s to hit and wound in melee.  Um, sure, go ahead and take it, but do it for fluff reasons.  

Interplanetary Invaders is an interesting one - your vehicles can either fall back and shoot with a -1, or shoot in melee without a -1 on heavy weapons.  Honestly, the fall-back-and-shoot is cooler, but vehicle-heavy necrons seems...um.  I dunno.  I'm not feeling it.


Eternal Conquerors + Relentlessly Expansionist - Obsec on everything and a free 6" move before the first turn is crazy useful.  It's just stupid useful, to be honest - literally any build can make a good use of this.  Move up, grab and hold objectives.  This also lets you deploy more aggressively, and then either exploit that OR adjust.

Rad-Wreathed + The Ancients Stir - Scarabs and Flayed Ones get the most out of this.  Scarabs are stupid useful, and with this they're faster and wound most infantry on a 3+ or 4+, and they throw a LOT of dice.  Flayed Ones will love it as well.  

In Closing

The Necrons have some solid options when it comes to picking their Dynasty.  If you want to go hyper-aggressive with assault, Novokh is your code.  If you like short-range firefights, Mephrit and Sautekh are worth a look.  The remaining dynasties have varying flavors of utility, but I lean towards Nephrekh for the speed and the deep strike.

The custom dynasties are full of neat, fluffy options - but you also have some crazy stuff, like army-wide obsec and a free 6" move off the bat with Eternal Conquerors + Relentlessly Expansionist.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Iron Hands - First Impressions in 9th


No one saw this coming, right?

I've taken a minute to pivot from Necrons to my good ol' Iron Hands.  The Space Marine book is a bit of a rebalance, and the rebalance will continue once we get the Forge World index.  This is me looking at Iron Hands in particular, rather than taking a holistic look at the Marine book.  I played these guys before Primaris marines were a thing. /olddreadrant

What Do Iron Hands Do That Other Marines Don't?

Chapter Tactics - Durability

Our chapter tactics have two parts - a flat 6+ shrug vs. damage, and our vehicles double their remaining wounds.

The 6+ shrug is not the most reliable thing in the world, but it's always going to be a factor in a game.  You will always take damage.  There's also the faint chance that a good 6+ vs. a two-damage weapon will let one marine soak two of these instead of one.  It's more funny than anything else, but it happens.  It also means our vehicles are likely to absorb a little more abuse.

Now, that "double remaining wounds" thing is something to build around.  This means that most vehicles need to get shot down to ~2 wounds before they're degraded, or one wound to be on the last profile.  Multi-wound vehicles really benefit from this, and the marine book definitely has some worth considering.

This also means you're probably going to watch folks play 'Bring it Down' if you use our chapter tactics to the fullest, but whatever - hose the dreadnought out, chuck another body in and go.

The Iron Father with Infantry

We still have our special character from the supplement - Iron Father Fierros.  He's a beefy named tech marine that throws out a 5++ bubble for infantry, has a +1 to hit buff, and can put 3 wounds back on a vehicle.  He's also no slouch in melee.  However, at 140pts, he's something you have to build around.

He's a little less attractive now that the chief apothecary doesn't hand out a 5+++ bubble, but Iron Father + chief apothecary + beefy infantry is a starting point.  Getting a bunch of beefy bodies on objectives and staying on them is a strategy.  I feel like you really want to run a bunch of 5-man units around this guy to make sure you live through shooting, but also don't make nasty anti-tank blast weapons more efficient.

One Nasty (if expensive) Overwatch

We still have a stratagem to hit on overwatch at 4+.  Granted, you're spending 2CP to do it, so it's definitely a "well, maybe" instead of a "LOL EAT IT!" move.  Honestly you either need to be shooting a LOT to make it worthwhile (IE - be a Redemptor with all the guns) or shoot at something that might get killed.

Devastator Doctrine Buff

Our Devastator doctrine lets you move and shoot heavy weapons - and if you don't move, you re-roll ones.  Note that we have a 1CP stratagem to let someone go back into the devastator doctrine.  This comes into play for, appropriately enough, Devastator marines - drop pod devastators (probably with, y'know, multi-meltas) hit on 3+ on turn one.  Foot devastators can either grab a great position and get re-rolls without a captain, or deploy conservatively and then reposition as necessary.

Note also that you can always roll back the doctrine for extra AP (for high rate-of-fire weapons) or to get re-rolls on stationary units.

Anti-Sniper Tech

Cogitated Martyrdom means that if your character is near infantry, they can hand off sniper hits.  Snipers are ugly, and even though marines are beefy, well - bounce enough rounds off their heads and they die.  Librarians and lieutenants in particular care because they generally don't have an invulnerable save.

Character Dreadnought Stratagem

You can only use it once, but one dread can be a character.  Anyone other than a Redemptor is 9 wounds or less, which means that you can use Look Out, Sir.   This has the obvious effect of making a dreadnought not die to shooting ASAP - most sniping weapons are meant for people, not walking coffins full of guns and rage.  You can hide some nice guns this way.

Another perk here is that dreadnoughts have Wisdom of the Ancients - for 1CP, they're a Captain or a Lieutenant for a turn.  You can either bring more detachments for more HQ slots, or bring a non-Redemptor dreadnought and let it pretend to be a Captain or Lieutenant as needed.  There are build options here.

Units of Note

The Redemptor

This guy got buffed in the new book, and Iron Hands are absolutely on board with it.  T7, 13 Wounds (and you don't notice any issues until you're on 3 wounds), an innate -1 damage thanks to Duty Eternal, a reasonable speed, and a lot of guns WITH a fist of 3+1d3 damage?  Yes please.

I'd default to paying 185 for the heavy onslaught gatling cannon and Icarus pod - then I'd trade the heavy flamer for an onslaught gatling cannon.  The storm bolters and fragstorm grenade launchers are close enough in performance as to be dealer's choice.  The Icarus pod is cheap enough at 5pts that I'll take basically 1d3 autocannon shots.  This loadout farts out a healthy 20 shots that wound most infantry on 3's, and in a pinch can chew up vehicles before you try to punch it to death.  Also, enjoy the look on someone's face when they charge this thing and you pay 2CP to crank out like ~30 dice that hit on a 4+.

I have drooled over the plasma incenerator, mind you - I think if you're taking 3 dreadnoughts, you might as well take one.  S8-9, 2-3 damage, and AP-4 (depending on whether you overcharge or not) is hard to argue with - the only letdown is the random number of shots.  You trade out reliability for a little more range, and the ability to ruin the day of heavy infantry.

As far as support goes, Psychic Fortress isn't a bad pick - getting a 5++ on a dread or two can be clutch, as a 3+ armor save won't stop las, melta, or their xenos equivalents, and that's what the dreads fear.  A flat -1 damage is great versus weapons with 2 damage and a good rate of fire, but once you start doing 3+ damage at a time, well, the Redemptor starts noticing.  A 5++ is at least a chance to avoid some of that pain.

The dreadnoughts could also use some melee support - the fist HURTS when it hits, but at 5 swings on WS3+, it's definitely a quality over quantity thing.  Hopefully you thinned out the horde with all those guns.

The Invictor

Do you like distracting people?  Drop two invictors in the midfield, make the enemy kill them.  I lean towards the flamer just for the hell of it, though the autocannon does give you versatility in the event that deploying forward is dumb.

You WILL lose these guys in basically every game, mind you.  That's not the point.  The point is that they'll generally mess up the enemy plans, because no one can afford to have these things running around the midfield or backfield.

Most of what I said about the Redemptor applies here, but you trade durability for forward deployment.  These guys are only T6, and don't have Duty Eternal for the sweet -1 damage.  Consider infiltrators as an option as well.

The Razorback

It's not as scary as a redemptor, but transports do a few things for you - they protect troops, and if you're on an objective, a popped transport just farts out ObSec bodies on that objective.  Razorbacks get a mention here because the chapter trait means they'll put out accurate firepower until they're almost dead.

Remember also that 5 dudes in a razorback can take a combi-weapon, a special weapon, and a melee weapon.  Think about the job for the loadout - if you want a backfield camper, think about twin-las, then maybe a flamer, combi-flamer, and chainsword.  If you're moving up, I think you look into the assault cannon for the razorback and then consider plasma/combi-plasma/chainsword.

If you're bringing Razorbacks, make sure you're also bringing other armor - Razorbacks aren't super-easy to kill, but they're not super-hard to kill, either.

Devastator Squads

These guys have two big roles for Iron Hands.  The no-brainer is four dudes with multi-meltas in a drop pod - given a signum and cherub, that's like 9 multi-melta hits on a target.  They might get to weep before exploding.

The second is that dev squads have flexibility on the field - hide them in round one, or enjoy re-rolls if your enemy can't melt them on the first turn.  Remember also that for one CP, you can get re-roll 1s as well.  For the backfield squad, I'm torn between missile launchers and lascannons.  Missile launchers trade one strength and 2 AP for versatility.  Blast weapons say 'hello' to infantry - 12-24 shots from 48" away are a thing.

The other devastator options don't really call to me.  Heavy bolters and grav cannons w/ amps aren't bad, per se, but we can get volume of fire elsewhere.  I really want to like plasma cannons, but you really, REALLY want to re-roll 1s on guys that might blow themselves up.  If I really want plasma with a side of self-immolation, I might as well look at the Inceptors with plasma exterminators.

March of the Ancients + non-Redemptor

As mentioned above, you can hide a dreadnought.  If you opted to focus away from armor, or just want to hide a dreadnought, you've got options.  First off, I'd consider what you wanted to achieve from this - did you want to hide heavy weapons?  Did you want to bring a versatile, reliable buff bot?  Did you only want to bring one dread?  Also, you can always drop a warlord trait on these guys.

Venerable Dreadnoughts hit on a 2+ - if you want long-range fire, a lascannon and whatever else is a reasonable pick.  It'll run you around 145, but it's pretty solid.  I'd rather pay for the 2+ WS/BS than go with a regular dreadnought's 3+, if I'm going to invest CP.

Ironclad Dreadnought - Realistically you brought this as a hidden counterassault.  You get T8, and you lose out on shooting.  Sure, you can take a hurricane bolter, but Dreadnoughts don't get bolter discipline.  It'll also run you 135-145, depending on weapon options.  I think this is more lulzy than anything else.

Contemptor Dreadnought - this guy has fewer options, but has two big things that recommend him over other dreads - an 8" move (vs 6") and an innate 5++ save.  You also have 9W instead of 8, which is neat.  You're a flat 150, and can choose between an S7 assault cannon or multi-melta.  Honestly, I think this is the best of both worlds - you have a hidden heavy weapon, you have speed, you have durability, and you can still punch pretty well.

Librarian with Psychic Fortress

Ok, anyone can take these - but these guys can probably get a 5++ on some of your vehicles.  That's why you want to look at taking these guys.  Play up that durability.

Chief Apothecary

Durability's a theme here - pay the points to upgrade to the guy who can revive units for free.  Do it two turns, and you've turned a profit.  This also dictates target priority for the enemy, as one living Eradicator or Terminator suddenly becomes two - and characters start healing 3 wounds in combat.  For more fun, heal characters that have your 5+++ warlord trait.

The C'tan on the tabletop

 I've now had some time with C'tan on the tabletop.  I spent some time brainstorming how best to use them.  I've run them, run up against them, or watched them a chunk now.

So You Brought a Centerpiece

A C'tan is a hefty chunk of points - 350 points of mortal wounds, love, assault power, and battle-dictating survivability.  Simply by being on the table, a C'tan begs a question of the opposition - "Do I try to kill it, or do I try to feed it chaff?"  Some armies just aren't going to have chaff, and they're going to have to figure out how to handle the C'tan.

Stumbling Blocks for the Centerpiece

Note that C'tan are vulnerable to crap rolls - if you fail a power of the c'tan, you can't re-roll it.  Similarly, bad melee rolls make you cry - anyone that can degrade to-hit rolls or mess with wound rolls is liable to give your C'tan a bad day.  Similarly, anyone with the ability to mess with charge rolls can give them a bad day.

Of particular note are any units that have innate rules or stratagems for wound rolls - dropping to a 4+ to wound due to Quantum Shielding or Transhuman Physiology is a big deal.  

Note also that 3W infantry are in a weird spot for C'tan (other than the Deceiver) because you're looking at 1d6 damage per hit (or flat 1 for the Nightbringer's sweep attack).  Even if you blow through their saves, you still have a 50/50 chance of killing them with random damage.  2W infantry aren't as big a worry unless you're the transcendent C'tan, the others can generally power through.

None of the C'tan are really thrilled at the thought of chewing on a horde of models, but you brought support for that, right?  Like seriously, My Will Be Done on a bunch of warriors and a veil is a pretty reasonable investment.

Command Points and C'tan

Seriously, be prepared to burn several on a C'tan.  You should consider the 1CP 'use a random power' stratagem - this is part of your damage output.  It might or might not work, but it's decent investment.  If you brought the Void Dragon, it's not unreasonable to think about a CP for a re-roll in the shooting phase.

For the dead gods' sake, save one for the charge.  Failing a charge with a C'tan is a significant blow.  

Keeping one around for a re-roll of a 4++ is an iffy thing at best - it depends largely on what the dice do.  If your opponent has decided the C'tan should be dead, then a timely re-roll may result in you drawing fire that could maim other stuff in your list.  The C'tan puts the opponent on a schedule, and missing a wound in a phase can be pretty important.  Taking hits back in melee depends largely on matchups you should be dictating.

Chip Damage and Army Composition

Something else I've noticed in the shooting phase - if you have a heap of units, it's not too hard to chip off the wounds.  And here's where army composition comes into play.

Necrons brought C'tan, only infantry - all the anti-tank goes into the C'tan until 3 wounds come off.  This isn't a bad outcome, but it's nicer if you're absorbing higher rate-of-fire weapons that would otherwise go into your multi-wound models

Necrons brought C'tan, other targets (IE - vehicles, Destroyers) - now it gets interesting.  Your hope is that the C'tan's 4++ absorbs the bulk of the firepower.  Alternatively, you bring something beefy along with it - charging monoliths are uglier than you think.

C'tan vs. small arms - you are T7, 4++ (Void Dragon gets a 3+/4++, but AP-1 isn't THAT rare) - S4 gunfire in small chunks is actually user-friendly on your opponent - three failed saves from boltguns are just as useful as a dozen.

Strategic Reserves?

Gut says 'no' on this - and here's my logic.  The instant a C'tan hits the table, it dictates the fight.  It moves, it drops mortal wounds, and unless it's turn 1, it's probably in assault.  Hell, if the enemy moved towards you at all, you might be in assault already.

Now, pull it off the table.  On the bright side, the enemy can't shoot it, and you can keep them guessing, right?  Well, first off, you're giving up C'tan powers.  Second, you have to come in off a board edge - if the enemy focuses on a flank, congrats - they get to dictate your deployment, which is the opposite of what C'tan should be doing.  Third, that's a turn that the C'tan isn't really contributing - you're down 2CP for the reserves, and should assume you'll want a third CP for the charge re-roll.

Did Your Opponent Bring a Balanced List?  Did You?

Realistically, this is the biggest question that you'll run into.  If the opponent is relying on one phase to do the bulk of their damage (IE - Tau/IG for shooting, demons for assault, etc.) then they'll hate the C'tan.  If you can avoid getting tied down, great.

If your opponent brought a list that can do damage in 2-3 phases easily (IE - they have psykers, guns, and melee weapons) then they're in a reasonable position to kill the c'tan.  You'll definitely want to pay attention to what it fights, and if you can seriously mess with the enemy's ability to hurt you in a phase (IE - murder a psyker or two, because the dead don't smite) then go for it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Necrons in 9th - Brainstorming Builds, Part 2 - C'tan shards and you

Right in the wallet

 I've had some thoughts on how I'm going to organize my Necrons in the new edition.  One question you should ask yourself is of course "Do I want to build around a piece of a star god that we captured and weaponized?"  Do you like mortal wounds?  Do you like dictating the flow of battle around one big piece that's terrifying and beautiful?

If you said 'yes', then you're in the right spot.  We've got four options - The Nightbringer (for chopping up stuff), the Deceiver (because pre-game redeploys are fun), the Void Dragon (who hates vehicles and is pretty choppy), and you can take a Transcendent C'tan shard if you want to go cheaper and have vaguely custom options.

We'll take a look at what they have in common, how they differ, and then employment of them.

Common Traits

I. Durability

Necrodermis + Living Metal is what draws a lot of the attention here.  You have 9 wounds at T7 and a 4+/4++, but the kicker is that Necrodermis means you can lose a max of three in a phase and you get one back during your command phase.  You aren't worried about a volume of fire all at once, but the trick is that you can be papercut to death.

How nasty this is depends on the matchup - there are seven phases in a turn. - Command, Move, Psychic, Shoot, Charge, Fight, and Morale.  We can pretty safely discount command and morale as phases where you see wounds happen.  Movement matters if they have bombers, as those just need to move over you to threaten mortal wounds.  The psychic phase, if applicable, should make you think about positioning relative to psykers - our psychic defenses are somewhat limited beyond Spyders, a stratagem, and killing psykers.  The charge phase gets a mention just because overwatch happens here; a lucky shot or a good overwatch can knock off wounds.

II. Mobility

They're 8" move with the FLY keyword.  It's not slow, but there's really no other way to speed them up.  You get no buffs from the rest of the army because of keywords.  The only way to go faster is to advance and hope for a good roll, but you'll maybe want to do that once because they turn off your Powers of the C'tan.

III. Powers of the C'tan

There are six basic powers, and each C'tan knows two.  You pick when you build, but can spend a CP to change out a power.  Note that the named shards have a unique power + a normal power, whereas the transcendant shard picks two.  These are all damage-dealing powers with short to medium range; you're looking at 9-24" range.  If you're not quite sure what you want, Antimatter meteor is pretty reliable for damage output with minor targeting restrictions, and Transdimensional Thunderbolt has solid range.

Note you can also pay a CP to use another random power - you use your powers, and then drop 1d6 and immediately use that power.  There are worse ways to use CP than on more mortal wounds.

IV. Brawling

C'tan are all pretty nasty in melee, and outside of the Void Dragon, no one picked up a gun.  You have a heap of attacks hitting on 2+ - the exact type of melee output depends on the shard you picked.  Note that you can also ignore invulnerable saves with the Entropic Save stratagem.  If someone kills you, you might also explode into mortal wounds.  At least that probably won't happen during deployment.

In general, a C'tan's game plan is move up, unload powers, charge, punch stuff to death, unload powers, try not to die.  It's not exactly subtle, but it does dictate the flow of battle because it's likely to last at least a couple turns.

V. List-building restrictions

Note that you can only fit one C'tan per detachment.  You can take multiple, but you're down 600-700pts and some CP for them at that point.  My initial preference is to take 0-1, but I suspect we'll see double-C'tan lists.

The C'tan Themselves

Shard of the Nightbringer

This is getting the most press.  The Nightbringer is all about murder in the assault phase.  Drain Life is half your money-maker here - enemy models can't ignore any wounds they would lose.  This turns off stuff like Disgustingly Resilient and Necrodermis.  The half is the six attacks with the Scythe of the Nightbringer.  Either you try to clear a horde with the Reaping Sweep - you make two attack roles at AP-3 and 1 damage, which is a nice dozen dice - or the Entropic Blow, which is a beefy S14, AP-4 1d6 damage that ignores invulnerable saves.

This makes the nightbringer great at crushing vehicles - on the charge, you can expect to do an average of 14.5 damage to a T7 or lower vehicle.  If you go into something T8, that drops a little lower - but you're still dropping 4-5d6 of damage straight to the wounds, unless the dice laugh at you.

The nightbringer can also do reasonably well at trashing smaller units - a dozen attacks with the sweeping blow is good for 8ish wounds. 

His unique power - Gaze of Death - is noteworthy for being able to target characters.  You drop 3d6, and each 4+ on those inflicts 1d3 mortal wounds.  It's a little swingy and short-ranged, but mortal wounds are mortal wounds.

At the end of the day, the Nightbringer is at its best tearing vehicles apart and shredding smaller units - or forcing larger ones to fall back.

The Nightbringer should watch out for melee opponents that can do 3 wounds a phase reliably, and anything that can mess with wound roles - Transhuman Physiology in particular is annoying, as the nightbringer really wants to wound on 2+ or 3+ vs. multi-wound infantry.

 Shard of the Deciever

This is the thinking ovelord's C'tan shard.  Grand Illusion lets you redeploy up to three NECRON units in your deployment zone, or put them into strategic reserves.  This guy also has deep strike, unlike the others.  You redeploy before the first battle round begins, so you get to react to whoever has first turn.  This will almost always be useful, because it makes your opponent worry.

The Deceiver also has a nice defensive ability in Misdirection - attacks targeting it take a -1 to hit penalty.  Given the way that you can inflict no more than -1 to hit, this isn't as big a deal for some melee weapons like powerfists, thunderhammers, and other stuff - but it's not a bad thing at all.

Melee-wise, the Deceiver is decent and reliable.  It has five attacks with S7, AP-3, 3 damage fists.  It's not nearly as out-and-out murderous as the Nightbringer or the Void Dragon, but it's plenty workable vs. infantry and light to medium vehicles, but maybe don't go trying to kill a night.

The Deceiver's unique power - Cosmic Insanity - is fun enough.  It's your Ld10+1d6 vs. the opponent's Ld + 1d6, and they take mortal wounds based on how much you beat them by.  Supporting this guy with flayed ones isn't the worst you could do, as they're about your only leadership debuff in the book.

Shard of the Void Dragon

If you hate vehicles, and like punching stuff to death, this is your god-pokemon.  It's the only one that starts with a gun -  the Spear of the Void Dragon is essentially a lascannon that goes from 1d6 to 3+1d3 vs. vehicles.  If you manage to shoot over a unit, that unit might take a hit as well, which is a neat extra.  Or just a really dead guardsman.

The Dragon isn't a slouch in melee, either - S9, AP-4, 1d6 damage (or 3+1d3 vs. vehicles).  The dragon also gets another 1d6 S6, AP-2, 1-damage swings with random Canoptek blades, so you've got something vs. larger units.

The other reason you go after vehicles is this is how the void dragon shard heals itself - kill a vehicle, drop 1d6, and regain a wound on 2+.

In case it isn't obvious, the Void Dragon murders armor - you're doing 4-6 damage per hit.  Average damage on a charge is 12.5 unless you found a random T9 vehicle.

If you're fighting infantry, be mindful of how many you're trying to kill in a given phase and how many wounds they have; 5+1d6 attacks isn't going to kill a fresh squad.

Voltaic Storm is a pretty reasonable power - against infantry, it's 1d3 mortal wounds on a 2+.  Now, if you're close enough to hit a vehicle, that goes up to 1d6 mortal wounds AND halves the number of wounds on the vehicle for purposes of the vehicle's profile.

Transcendent C'tan

First off - these are 280pts, vs. the 350 for named shards, so if you think you're getting less, there's a reason.  You can tailor them a little - Fractured Personality lets them pick one, or roll for two at random and re-roll if you get doubles.

Your melee damage is lesser than the named shards - you swing five times at S6, AP-4, 1d6 damage.  You're workable vs. infantry, and can help mop up vehicles.  Your best source of damage output is taking Cosmic Tyrant and firing off two C'tan powers a turn.  

The other traits are so-so at best - you can get some defense vs. a charge, slightly better melee power (+1S, +1A), or a deep strike.  On the face of it, I like Immune to Natural Law, since it means wound rolls of 1-3 always fail - but this only really comes into play for S8+ weapons, and only really, REALLY inconveniences S14+, as you're already T7.  You shouldn't be punching healthy melee knights anyway.

Where Shards Fit in a List

If you bring a Shard, you're building around it - named ones run you 350, and the regular one runs you 280. 

Command Points

Save a few CP for these guys - you'll want to make that first charge, and you'll probably want to use Dimensional Destablization for extra wounds.  You may or may not end up needing Entropic Strike - so that's anywhere from 1-4CP in a couple turns.


Consider deploying them last, for two big reasons - first, you want to pick your targets and you're a melee unit; second, Necrodermis is something the opposition plans around - make them deploy as much as possible before you pick your spot.

The Deceiver gets a mention here - you can redeploy 3 units, including the Deceiver.  It doesn't matter quite as much, but I'd still probably deploy the Deceiver.  The redeployment option is also why, if I were going to take two C'tan, I'd probably take the Deceiver + one other, as placement is going to be crucial for them.

Your List

In general, the C'tan all want to operate with some support - they can hand out mortal wounds at short-to-medium range, and tear up stuff in melee.  You should probably build a balanced list - the C'tan is a missile you're firing at a couple enemy units and the enemy's plan.  Deploy near some of your anti-infantry support, as you'll want them to soften up your charge target, or clear a hole for you to charge something juicy.  

Additionally, consider taking Protocol of the Undying Legions for turn two - getting two wounds back on living metal is bound to be demoralizing to the opponent, and may keep you alive for another turn.  The longer the C'tan is alive, the more disruptive it is on the table.

I waffle between saying that the shards need to be built around individually, and thinking that they're all close-ish enough to appreciate a balanced list.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

New Necrons - Command Protocols and You, Initial Thoughts


Command Protocols are a brand-new addition for Necrons in 9th edition.  On the one hand, flexible army-wide buffs sound kind of neat.  On the other hand, that customization is going to make you do some decision-making, and that can go wrong.  I'm going to take a swing at de-mystifying Command Protocols for the average Overlord here.

Once you look at your list, you can make a reasonable guess at a protocol order list, and then go from there - the enemy list might get a vote, but I suspect you'll change few things.

What Do I need to do for Command Protocols to Work?

You need to meet several criteria -

1) Army is from the same DYNASTY

2) have a living NOBLE on the field at the start of the round

3) units must be within 6" of a CHARACTER to benefit from it

Bottom line - it's not hard to get a benefit from this.  You are probably going to have a NOBLE as an HQ choice unless it's a tiny game, and most of our NOBLE guys aren't itching to get into melee.

Remember also that if you've got some isolated units (for whatever reason) they aren't getting protocol support.

The Challenge and the Perk of Command Protocols

You have six protocols - and you pick five, in any order, to be in effect for the game.  If you go past five turns, then the last protocol is in effect for turn 5+.

Note that the Szarekhan-specific warlord trait, The Triarch's Will, lets you double up on a Protocol.  Note also that if you bring the Silent King, he is required to be your warlord, and he takes this trait by default.  Doubling up on a trait can be helpful.

The Protocols And Their Uses

There are six protocols.  Each has two effects.  You pick one, but each of the main Dynasties favors a Protocol and thus gets both.  If you picked a custom dynasty, you don't have to worry about it, because you don't favor it.

In general, the protocols fall into either 'useful at a predictable point in the battle' or 'might be situationally useful.'

1. Protocol of the Eternal Guardian - favored by Nihilakh

Directive 1 - gain light cover if you didn't move

Directive 2 - may hold steady/set to defend if you are not already engaged

USAGE - This is defensive/situational - are you stationary outside of cover?  Are you expecting to get charged?  It's not bad, per se, but you're gambling on knowing when you're hunkering down outside of cover (...which is an iffy move and depends on the board) or when you're getting charged (which depends on the enemy, which may be 'never' or may be turn 1-3).

Note that Nihiliakh doesn't need this as much if they're already in their deployment zone, unless they're getting charged.  Fluffy, sure, but not as important.

2. Protocol of the Sudden Storm - favored by Nephrekh

Directive 1 - +1 to movement

Directive 2 - may perform an action and still shoot

USAGE - Directive one is a reasonable first-turn choice unless you know you're getting charged turn 1.  Get as much ground as you can.  Directive 2 is situational - you take it if you're going to perform actions, and you've got a better option for earlier turns.

3. Protocol of the Vengeful Stars - favored by Mephrit

Directive 1 - +1 AP on unmodified 6s to hit in shooting

Directive 2 - no cover benefits for target if firing w/in half range

USAGE - This is situational either way.  You need to be unloading with massed firepower to get something out of it.  This is unlikely to be an early-game power; it's more of a 'nice to have' than anything else.

4. Protocol of the Hungry Void - favored by Novokh

Directive 1 - +1AP on unmodified 6s to hit in melee

Directive 2 - +1S on melee attacks when charging, charged, or making heroic interventions

USAGE - Situational.  If you're melee-focused, you're probably aiming for turn 2 charges (unless you think the enemy is running into the midfield and will let you get a turn one charge, in which case go ahead).  

5. Protocol of the Undying Legions - favored by Szarekhan

Directive 1 - Each time this unit uses its living metal ability, regains an additional wound

Directive 2 - Each time you roll reanimation protocols, re-roll one dice

USAGE - I'd say the earlier you use this, the more you'll get out of it.  Most armies are going to hit you the hardest on either turn 1 or 2.  This is an easy ability to slot in there.

The only thing that might make me think a little harder about this is a C'tan and my matchup - some armies can put damage on them in more than one phase, and getting 2 wounds back vs. 1 wound may be the difference in keeping a C'tan around another turn.

6. Protocol of the Conquering Tyrant - favored by Sautekh

Directive 1 - +3 to aura abilities, max of 12"

Directive 2 - may fall back and shoot, but takes a -1 penalty

USAGE - I'm a little 'eh' on directive 1.  Directive 2, though - if you think you're going to take an assault on some shooty troops on a given turn, then this can be money.  This is probably a turn 2 (if you're using veil on a warrior blob) or turn 3 power for that, depending on matchup.

Sorting The Directives

Solid early-turn picks - 5. Undying Legions, 2. Sudden Storm.

If you're not sure, Sudden storm will help you get positioning and Undying Legions will help you take a punch.  

I'm Going To Hurt You This Turn - 3. Vengful Stars, 4. Hungry Void

If you're pretty sure you're going to unload on a given turn (either by shooting or by assault) you pick the appropriate protocol.  It's a bit of a gamble, but odds are this is turn 2 or 3.

I Think I'm Going To Get Into A Situation Here - 6. Conquering Tyrant, 1. Eternal Guardian, 2.2 Sudden Storm

Conquering Tyrant's great if you think you're going to get charged and need to fall back, otherwise it's 'eh'.  Eternal Guardian's useful if you're going to stand still in the open or get charged that turn, but I'm not sure you can necessarily predict those without seeing the field or just messing up.  The second part of Sudden Storm may be situationally useful - but again, the situational stuff all competes with more generally useful abilities.

Thoughts on Picking The Directives

The first three turns are likely to be the easiest to predict turns and the most important turns.  You know what the board looks like, you know what the armies look like, and you can make guesses about deployment.  Turns 4-5 are either going to be mop-up or harder to guess, depending on how the dice and the plays have gone.  I'll refine this as I get more games in.

Shooty Necrons w/ assault elements vs. Shooty army

Turn 1 - Undying Legions (for resilience)

Turn 2- Sudden Storm

Turn 3 - Vengeful Stars

Turn 4 - Hungry Void

Turn 5 - Whatever you feel like

The idea is to take the hits on turn one, move up, open up, mop up, and then hopefully win or be dead.

Shooty Necrons w/ assault elements vs. Assaulty Army

Turn 1 - Vengeful Stars

Turn 2 - Conquering Tyrant

Turn 3 - Hungry Void

Turn 4/5 - whatever you feel like, probably Undying Legions and then Eternal Guardian

The logic is that they'll move up - hopefully you deployed in a manner to avoid a turn one assault.  Shoot them, get assaulted, fall back and shoot, then punch them and hope it worked.

Assaulty Necrons

Turn 1 - Sudden Storm

Turn 2 - Hungry Void

Turn 3 - Undying Legion

Turn 4 - Vengeful Stars

Turn 5 - whatever you feel like

Move up, charge.  Turn 3/4 could be swapped out; it's a matter of how many guns you brought for mop-up work.

Closing Thoughts 

My gut says that there's a few camps on protocols.  Some folks are probably all "OMG what do I do, too many options!" and some are all "It's not marine doctrines, ergo it's garbage."

I think once you look at them, and split them into "generally useful" and "situational" and look at your list, you figure out an order of operations pretty quick - especially once you realize you should worry mostly about the first 2-3 turns.