Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Necron Frequently Asked Questions - Do I Give My wraiths guns?


Free hugs

There are plenty of commmon necron questions - wraith loadouts is one of them.

The one that I see a lot of is "do I put guns on my wraiths?"  I'll answer that, and I'll also go into the melee loadout while I'm at it.

Guns? No*. But why?

Wraiths are 35pts base, regardless of melee options.  You can pay 5pts to pick up a particle caster (S6, AP0, 1 damage, 12" Pistol 2) or pay 10pts for a Transdimensional Beamer (S4, AP-3, 3 damage, 12", Assault 1).  The particle caster is some decent incidental shooting, and the beamer will knock a hole in something.  

So, why are we leaving them at home?  Four reasons reasons.

1) BS4+ - wraiths just aren't that accurate.  A full squad of 5 (you can take six, but that gets ugly for blast) hits with 5 particle caster shots, or 2-3 beamers.  You're paying 25-50 points for that.

2) Charge range - if you're about to charge, and want to soften up your target, remember that dead models increase charge distance.  Remember that you paid to do this.

3) Wraith Form - you move through terrain without penalty.  This, on top of your T5/3W/3+/4++ defensive profile, means that you can avoid exposing yourself to fire, period.  At 3W, you're relying on your statline more than Reanimation Protocols to not die.

4) How Often You'll Shoot - You might get one turn of shooting.  So, the ideal scenario for wraiths is to sneak up on a target, then charge through terrain and tag it.  If you survive the enemy's turn after that, you should be trying to engage something else and possibly pushing deeper into enemy lines.  You can fall back and charge.  Anyone that knows what Wraiths can do is going to prioritize killing them once they're exposed.

*if you're paying power level, knock yourself out with a gun since points don't matter.

But X makes guns good!

I have seen a few arguments for bringing guns on Wraiths.  I don't really buy them.  It boils down to the fact you're paying points for crappy shooting.

"But shooting can do damage" - Yep.  Absolutely can.  Wraiths aren't reliable at it.  

"But I can shoot those pistols in assault!"  - You can, but how often are you going to do it?  Shooting pistols in assault matters when you're stuck in assault.  Wraiths don't HAVE to be stuck in assault.  Unless you're hitting something that's hidden to everything but the wraiths, you're probably better off falling back, shooting at it with other stuff, and then seeing if it's alive to worry about.

"But the beamer does 3 damage and that's neat" - It does, if it hits and wounds.  A given beamer has a 20% chance to kill a primaris marine, between BS4+ and S4.  It goes up to a little over 50% if you spend a CP on the Techno-Oracular targeting stratagem.  I seriously think you can find better places to spend that CP.

"But I can get to BS3+ with a technomancer and canoptic control node!"  - Absolutely an option.  This is neat if you're doing power level, I suppose.  However, the real fun/mean way to do that is bring a node and a failsafe overcharger to make those Wraiths go from WS4+ and 4 attacks base to WS3+ and 5 attacks base.  That's just bloody hilarious.  And also doesn't really care about the guns.

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is a $20 term for saying "you brought X instead of Y."  Or, you should compare what you're giving up to get a thing.  Assuming we're paying points, you're looking at 25-50pts for the guns, or the following -

2-4 Necron Warriors

1-3 Immortals

1/3 to most of a Lokhost Heavy Destroyer

~1 to ~2 Lychguard

~1 to ~2 Praetorians

1-3 Scarab bases

Basically, you can fill out other units, or start paying towards something beefier.  Wraiths are unique in that they're a tar pit / potentially killy unit with obscene mobility, but lean into their strengths.

A Note on Scarab Melee Options

While we're here - the melee options are free, and there are two of them.  You can take Vicious Claws, or Whip Coils.  Claws mean you swing 4 times at S6, AP-2, 2 damage.  Whip Coils mean you'll swing 8 times at S4, AP-1, 1 damage.

So, what do you pick?

I lean towards the claws.  Why?  The Necron codex doesn't have a lot of decent multi-damage weapon options (unless you want to drop 1d3 or 1d6, you're looking at Praetorians or assault Destroyer types).  Claws excel at stabbing Marines to death.  They can also do a number on vehicles as well.

This isn't to say Whip Coils are bad - it's just that the Necron book has plenty of options for a volume of low-AP anti-infantry attacks.  Whip Coils also are liable to bounce against targets with decent saves or higher toughness.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Necron Frequently Asked Questions - Which Cryptek(s) Should I Take?


We are spoiled for choice when it comes to supporting HQs - the real trick is "which ones should I take, and when?"  The follow-on is "Are there cryptek-specific Arkana worth it?"

The Chronomancer is, without a doubt, the easiest to get mileage out of - but don't sleep on the others.  Except maybe the Plasmancer.

MVP - The Chronomancer

Unsurprisingly, this is a common sight.  The utility is straightforward - you give a <DYNASTY> unit a 5+ invulnerable save, and a re-rollable charge.  Your prime candidates are Scarab swarms and Warrior units.  You make a tarpit unit or a core troops unit even tougher.  

The Chronomancer-specific Arkana is the Countertemporal nanomine, which lets you halve the advance and charge rolls of a unit within 18."  Depending on the unit, you might actually keep them out of a charge.

ADDENDUM - Orikan the Diviner - so if you pay another 30pts over the regular Chronomancer, you get Orikan.  He's got a couple things over a regular Chronomancer.  The most useful thing Orikan does is let you put that 5++ and re-rollable charge on any unit, not just a Dynasty unit - so if you're bringing Praetorians, Orikan's worth a thought.  Otherwise, Orikan might go into his Empowered profile later in the game and be a slightly uglier beat stuck, but that's about it.

The Technomancer - Friend to Infantry and/or Canopteks

Ah, the Technomancer - AKA the old-school cryptek model.  Your baseline ability is with this guy is bringing back 1d3 warriors a turn, or one CORE infantry unit.  It's not as wide-open an ability as, say, an Apothecary, but it's in the baseline cost of the unit and you don't have to pay CP to do it, which is solid.  You can easily get 13-36pts of infantry back a turn.  In reality, getting Warriors or Lychguard back is where this gets good.

From there, you gotta decide whether you stay cheap, or you tech into the Canoptek Control Node or the Cloak.  The Cloak gives you speed, and lets you repair stuff.  The node gives your Canoptek units +1 to hit.  Combine this with the failsafe overcharge node, and THEN it gets real - wraiths and scarabs get ugly when you start hitting on 3s and get +1 to attack.

The Canoptek buff build is pretty reasonable if you tech into a couple Canoptek units.

ADDENDUM - Illuminor Szeras - this guy is technically a technomancer.  Think of him as a naked Technomancer with better shooting, and the ability to use his reanimation powers twice.  If you're going to use him, you're also bringing a couple units for him to buff with his random augmentation.  It's neat, but don't gamble on it.  I'd consider a couple Warrior blobs, and Lychguard, and maybe go from there.

Plasmancer - The Gradual Grinder

Do you like mortal wounds?  That's what this thing does.  It's about all this thing does.  It hands them out reasonably reliably.  

I like this thing for its simplicity, but that makes it a little bit tougher to use.  You'll get the most mileage out of it by sticking it behind a large unit, and just letting it roll mortal wound dice.

The problem with it is, of course, opportunity cost - you're giving up slots that could make your army more durable.  Your major Arkana is more range on mortal wounds.  It's not bad, but it keeps the Plasmancer as a one-trick pony.

The Plasmancer isn't bad - it fills a slot in our army that otherwise, only C'tan and a couple stratagems fill - but you could do better with that slot.  And if you are going to bring one of these, you want to bring it in a larger army so you can hide behind stuff and take your time.

Psychomancer - The Toolbox

The psychomancer gets a bad rap for two reasons.  First off, the kit is not the easiest to build.  Second, it's a wonderful toolbox - but versatility means you pay for stuff you don't use.  You need to get within 12" of an enemy unit during your turn, and then during your morale phase, you can pick from fur fun things - no actions, no ObSec, half advance/charge, or no Overwatch/Set To Defend, and the unit Fights Last.

So, the problem with this is range and timing.  Turning off ObSec can be huge, especially since we specialize in beefy blobs of Obsec bodies.  

Turning off actions is hilariously situational at that range - it will be scenario specific, more than anything.  People build around Scanners, but if someone's familiar with the Psychomancer, they may or may not skip out on the scenario-specific objectives.

Cutting advance and charge rolls can help, but if you're within 12" of them, well, the Psychomancer and the screening unit are still in charging and shooting range.  It's a potential disruption tool, though.  

Making them Fight Last without Overwatch is another nasty thing - that last ability takes setup, but you're playing close.  It's situational, but someone's worried about the charge.

Arkana-wise, it's worth picking up the Atavindicator as well - it's essentially a Smite, though you roll 3d6 and compare to a non-Vehicle target (...note, there's not a character restriction here) and if you beat leadership, it's 1d3 mortal wounds.  

Addendum - The Cryptothralls

These guys are in here because of Crypteks, but you need to keep in mind they do more than turn off snipers.  They are cheap units that can perform actions and hold objectives.  Never underestimate how useful that is.  You can absolutely justify taking 1-2 units of Cryptothralls and never keeping them near the crypteks themselves.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Necron Frequently Asked Questions - Reapers or Flayers?

 The good ol' internet is FULL of lots of questions about necrons.  The most frequently asked question is 'Gauss Reapers or Gauss Flayers' but there are some others.  So, let's take a look.

Reapers or Flayers

Flayers are S4, AP-1, Rapid fire 1, 24" range.  Reapers are S5, AP-2, Assault 2, 12" range.

Short version - reapers are uglier, but need you to think a little more and build a little bit around them.  Flayers are more user-friendly, but give up strength and AP.  Reapers will do more work for you, and you're going to user large squads of warriors in the midfield.

STRENGTH - first off, S4 vs S5 is pretty significant.  Most infantry is T3-T4; reapers are better at wounding them.  Reapers also wound T8 on a 5+ - not always relevant, but bloody important when it DOES come up. (mostly vs. tanks, occasionally monsters.)

AP - not a huge discussion, really - AP-2 beats AP-1.  You have a stratagem to ignore cover vs. a target as necrons for 1CP; use it.  AP matters.  Beefy infantry tends to carry a 3++ or 4++ save - you  want to go against that, rather than their 0+ to 2+ save.  Reaper AP wins out.

RANGE - Here's where people get hung up on stuff.  Flayers shoot single shots at 24", double-tap at 12".   Longer range sounds easier to use, and it is. Let's be real - shooting S4, AP-1 shots past rapid fire is plinking, it's not meaningful damage output.  You average 20-man squad of warriors puts about 3 wounds on a marine stat line outside of rapid-fire.  

UP CLOSE - the meat and potatoes of the comparison is "does S5, AP-2 beat out S4, AP-1 at 12?" and the answer is 'yes' based on pure math.  Assuming equal squad sizes and hit numbers vs. marines, a flayer squad drops 11-12 wounds on a marine statline in range, whereas reapers drop 6-7 wounds.  If you go to T5, the reapers win hands-down.  If you start plinking at vehicles, reaper AP carries the day.

GETTING PAST THE WARRIOR DATASHEET - No army exists in a vacuum.  Neat, so what next?  What matters?

1) Getting into range - first off, most of the fighting Warriors do is going to happen either in your deployment zone or in the mid-board.  Second, 20 dudes with a Veil of Darkness is HILARIOUS.

2) Royal Warden - you're probably bringing `1-3 squads of warriors in a Necron army.  You should consider a Royal Warden to let them fall back and shoot after a charge, especially since you do your best damage within easy charge range.  For extra fun, bring a squad of Lychguard in your list, and let the enemy just guess which thing gets veiled.

3) Dynasty - Mephrit's +3 range makes the reapers a LOT more user-friendly.  15" range is a huge step up.  Nephrekh isn't bad either for the speed.


No.  Don't mix.  Ever.  This is a trap.  You have a squad that is confused in what it wants to do.  Reapers want to walk up and fire, advance and fire at -1BS, or just advance to get into position to fire next turn.  Flayers want to advance if they can't range anything, or walk/stand still and shoot.  The only time both weapons are happy is when you can walk into 12" range and fire.  Make your squads specialists, and go from there.


The answer is 'maybe.'  If you're bringing like 3x20 warriors in an army, there's room to consider 2x20 Reapers and 1x20 Flayers.  You will end up with a potential traffic jam, but the flayers might be able to plink and contribute.


So, if you want a squad to sit on a backfield objective, you should ask yourself a question - do I want 10 warriors or 5 immortals to do it?  The immortals are cheaper, and while you have fewer wounds, you are T5/3+ base.  I'd lean towards immortals because of cost, and it's easier to hide five guys.  Warriors are built to run in squads of 15-20 to capitalize on their durability.  T4/4+ isn't much until it keeps coming back.  If you do go immortals, consider Gauss - it's cheaper, and the Tesla stratagem just needs a shot that you can get from, y'know, a Command Barge or something.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Thoughts on Tomb Blades, or Math Is Weird Sometimes

So, let's say you want your space undead fast and shooty - why not combine them with a bike?

Well, why not - but man, once you read the sheet, you've got some options to think about.  There's the question of which of three guns, and whether or not you're going to add any defensive upgrades onto these things.  After we look at those, we'll look at the Dynasty options.

The Guns
You have three options for guns, and you can mix and match if you really, really want to - you can go with the base Particle Beamer, the twin Gauss Blaster, or the twin Tesla Carbine.  Real talk here - my initial impression is the Gauss Blaster with that sweet AP-2, but we'll take a look at math and see what works out here.

I'm going to make some assumptions about math here - 
1) Run shots without help
2) Run another set of shots with My Will Be Done
3) Run shots in and out of rapid-fire range (when applicable)
4) Run shots in and out of Mephrit's bonus AP range
5) Shots against T3-4 infantry
6) Compare vs. variety of armor saves (2+, 3+, 4+, 4++) for common infantry targets

I'm going to compare the beamer and the gauss rifle.  Note that the tesla carbine has four shots and needs to pull off at least a six and a couple of hits to get the same number of hits as a particle beamer - so its output is similar to or lower than a particle beamer.

The Particle Beamer
Assault 6, S5, AP0, 18" range

Base shots - 6 shots > 4 hits > 2.66 wounds > 0.88 vs 3+, 1.33 vs 4+, 0.44 vs 2+

MWBD - 6 shots > 5 hits > 3.33 wounds > 1.11 vs 3+, 1.66 vs 4+, 0.55 vs 2+

With Mephrit bonus - 
6 Shots > 4 hits > 2.66 wounds > 1.33 wounds vs 3+, 1.77 vs 4+, 0.88 vs 2+

Mephrit + MWBD
6 shots > 5 hits > 3.33 wounds > 1.667 wounds vs 3+, 2.22 vs 4+, 1.11 vs 2+

The Twin Gauss Blaster
Rapid Fire 2, S5, Ap-2, 30" range
NOTE - AP-2 is the same vs 2+ armor saves and 4++; but when you factor in Mephrit, you get -3AP in rapid-fire, so any saves worse than 4+ armor don't matter

Non-Rapid-Fire - 2 shots > 1.33 hits > 0.88 wounds > 0.59 vs 3+, 0.74 vs 4+, 0.44 vs 2+/4++
Rapid Fire - 4 shots > 2.66 hits > 1.77 wounds > 1.18 vs 3+, 1.48 vs 4+, 0.88 vs 2+/4++

MWBD Non-Rapid-Fire - 2 shots > 1.667 hits > 1.11 wounds > 0.74 vs 3+, 0.92 vs 4+, 0.55 vs 2+/4++
MWBD Rapid-Fire - 4 shots > 3.33 hits > 2.22 wounds > 1.48 vs 3+, 1.85 vs 4+, 1.11 vs 1+/4++

 Mephrit Rapid-Fire - 4 shots > 2.667 hits > 1.77 wounds > 1.18 vs 2+, 1.48 vs 3+, 1.77 vs 4+ armor, 0.88 vs 4++

Mephrit MWBD - 4 shots > 3.33 hits > 2.22 wounds > 1.48 vs 2+, 1.85 vs 3+, 2.22 vs 4+, 1.11 vs 4++

What does the math tell us?

The particle beamer's got volume of fire over the other weapons.  This gives you two things - first, you're more reliable just because you throw more dice; second, you get more wounds and force more saves.  The twin gauss is technically a little more effective, but really pulls ahead when you go Mephrit and go My Will Be Done into 2+ armor.  

On Range

So, let's talk about range - first off, you're on a platform with a 14" move and the FLY keyword.  Odds are good you can get into the range you want, unless you're digging a unit out of the corner.  So, let's look at the weapons.

Particle beamer - it's the shortest range at 18", but you're at full effect at 18 inches.  That gets you charged by jump troops, but foot troops are a bit far unless they can advance and charge.

The twin tesla carbine is full effectiveness at 24" - you're arguably the least effective gun, but you're definitely safe - very little in the game gets to you from 24" away in assault.  

The twin gauss blasters really need to leverage rapid fire to do the work - having a 30" range is neat, but rapid fire is the difference between 'incidental gunfire' and 'closed-casket funeral' - 15" is definitely in range to get tagged if someone wants to make it happen.  

Stratagem Considerations

There are two base stratagems Tomb Blades care about, plus the Mephrit-unique one.  Tomb Blades can pay a CP to turn rapid-fire weapons into assault 2, or fire assault weapons without penalty - obviously this is a little better for the tesla and particle beamer.

The other stratagem is just good for necrons in general - Disintegration Capacitors say we auto-wound on 6's to hit.  This again favors volume-of-fire weapons, so the assault weapons pull ahead here.

Finally, we've got Mephrit's Talent for Annihilation - the first three 6's to wound do mortal wounds in addition to normal wounds.  Again, we like volume here - so once again, the assault weapons pull ahead here.

It is worth noting that you could take a single tesla carbine for malevolent arcing - you just need one tesla weapon to target something.  For 5pts, it's an option to get mortal wounds.

Other Gear

You start with a 25pt model - you can go up to 30 if you upgrade from the particle beamer to either option.  You can proceed to dump plenty more points into these guys, but I question whether you'd do that.  Defensively, you are a T5, 2W, 4+ model that takes a -1 to hit vs. ranged combat. 

You can pay 3pts to go up to a 3+ save, or buy a 5++ save for 5pts.  You can also pay 3pts to ignore cover.  You could even, if you wanted to, mix and match the saves.  I think I'd rather get the 5++ or go without - volumes of AP-1 and AP-2 aren't hard to find, but 5++ will at least slow down higher-damage weapons.

I'd consider the nebuloscope's perk for tesla - yes, particle beamers like it as well, but the point of the particle beamer is cost.  Nebuloscope's take that away.

The Configurations

Keep It Cheap - particle beamers, nothing else - take 6-9 for 150-225pts in a unit, throw 36-54 dice at stuff, laugh.  Run mephrit.

Some Quality - Buy gauss, shadowlooms - 33pts a model, pay 198 for 6ea.  You're reasonably durable, you don't care if the inevitable rapid-fire fun coming back is ugly.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Death Guard Testing - Volume 2


Got another round in with these guys - and got my Helbrutes painted.  Remember, the mantra for painting chaos is "...where did all this trim come from?!"

The List

The Ferrymen

Lord of Contagion - WL Trait "The Droning", Relic "Ferryman's Scythe"

Malignant Plaguecaster - Relic - Putrid Periapt, powers - Gift of Plagues, Miasma of Pestilence, Curse of the Leper

3x Helbrutes (Multi-melta, combi-bolter, fist)

2x3 Deathshroud Terminators

15 Pox Walkers

14 Pox Walkers

2x5 Plague Marines (Blight Launchers)

2x Bloat Drones (flesh mowers)

5 Chaos Spawn (Grandfather's blessing stratagem)

2x Plagueburst Crawler (entropy cannons)

The Plan

Deathshroud Terminators can start on the board, or drop in where needed.  If the opponet leaves a place to drop them near a backfield objective, I can scramble, I can save a CP for a charge re-roll, or force the opponent to commit something more important than a random backfield squad to hold that objective, since these guys should be able to mulch most objective squads solo.

The Helbrutes and Lord of Contagion are a solid anchor against a variety of targets, and I need the anti-vehicle firepower.

Spawn are hilariously annoying to kill.

I need Crawlers for actual shooting attacks.

My troops hold objectives and take up space.

The Periapt is in there because Gift of Plagues isn't super-relevant after a turn or two, and I'd like to try to use another psychic power after that.  Maybe Curse will do more damage than smite for that CP.

The Lord of Contagion is there because it'll hand out re-rolls and do respectable damage.  I sat around trying to figure out how to make a reasonably kill regular Lord, and they aren't a ton cheaper than this guy.  I go with a couple lightning claws,  I take a balesword and a relic for a 2 damage one, which isn't bad.  Or I just go ahead and lean into damage and durability, and the ability to drop this guy elsewhere.  Plus, I wanted to try that silly "swing 15 times with cleave" relic.

Part of my plan was to use the Bloat Drones, Flash Outbreak, and The Droning to try to pin down a chunk of the other army.

The Opponent

I went up against Black Templar.  At a glance, the list included outriders, storm-shield-laden vanguard vets, biker chaplain, a trio of dreadnoughts around a master of the forge (2 venerable multi-melta guys, one plasma redemptor), a brick of hammer/shield terminators in front of Grimaldus and an Apothecary, and a trio of Crusader squads camping in the back.  See Also - half of us will be in your face now, and the other half, immediately thereafter.  Plus I guess some guys brought guns.

Game Summary

I went second - I deployed a touch too far forward, and this let his outriders and vanguard vets get into my lines on one side, annihilate a poxwalker screen (OH NOES!) and tie up a Plagueburst Crawler (...oh, no.).  I also screwed up deployment and lost a Bloat Drone turn 1 (...well, [REDACTED]).  I broke those guys free eventually with the help of the Spawn, and some Blightening and Trench Fighters on the Plague Marines.

Dreadnoughts traded blows in the middle; mine blew up first but had some truly garbage dice.  My Deathshroud secured his home objectives, so he swung into the midfield ones.

By the end, I lost by a few points.  I took Assassinate, Engage on All Fronts, and Scramblers to his Scramblers, All Fronts and Oath - Oath of the Moment racked up the points.  We both Scrambled, and we both did well on objectives and All Fronts, and I'd managed to nail three out of four characters.

Lessons Learned

Plagueburst Crawlers - These are now in the 'hard to leave at home' category.  We need the firepower.  Badly.  We just don't have guns.  T8, 3+/5++ makes them hard to kill - I lost one right at the end when a venerable dread finally got into 12" range and ran hot, and just  barely killed it.  Go ahead and pay 175 for the entropy cannons.

Bloat Drones - Expect these to get prioritized.  Anyone who's played against them more than once knows what they can do - they're fast, they mulch infantry, they heal, they can chew on vehicles, AND they can project Contagion auras.  Also, I have a hard time not starting with two.  I also don't really see the point of the sprays or the gun; the mower is just so much nastier and lets you heal in melee.

Plague Marines - even a five-man squad can spike damage for a few CP.  The Blightening is hilarious when you're engaged - the visual of three guys just dropping grenades at their feet is both great, and getting 18 auto-hitting S4 hits in melee is solid.  Trench Fighters is another winner.

Deployment In General - This army does not forgive deployment errors much at all.  My losses have in part been due to my screw-ups with deployment.

Plague Company Choice - As neat as The Droning sounds as a Bloatie + Flash Outbreak + Gift of Plagues combo, I'm not sure it's as cool in practice.  It goes off on turn two when everyone's moved up, and unless you're locking down slower troops, it's 'eh'.  If it's slow assaulty troops, they may be just fine punching the drone to death - a 2-3" move and an assault is probably still good enough.  

I feel like there are more reliable Contagion auras.  If I keep the Lord of Contagion, I'd tech into the relic Plague scythe that loses the -1 to hit, perhaps.

Lord HQs - I'm still trying to figure out why we'd bother with a regular lord, unless you kept it super-cheap at 85 points.  If so, you're purely getting a re-roll aura and a dude with a chainsword, which is hilariously lackluster.  Demon Princes are expensive, but bring out a ton of lethality and utility between psychic powers and the re-roll aura, and a nice heap of 3-damage attacks.  The Lord of Contagion is, for once, a decent middle-of-the-road choice.  He's about ~20 points more than a regular Lord with a weapon, he's got a neat upgrade, and he starts with a melee weapon that's solidly Death Guard.  Really, you only take a regular Lord or Terminator Lord if you want a combi-weapon.