Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I, Necron...

This is my first guest writing for 'The Emperor's Codex' (http://emperorscodex.blogspot.com/)
As my spawn has consumed my brain, and time, I find myself with little consciousness to write. What I want to write, I keep fiddling with and cannot commit to this blog with consistency...sooo, a friend has a blog, I like his blog, and with a psuedo-deadline/commitment to someone else's endeavor, I might actually write the 40k stuff I like more often! (though as per the norm, I mirror anything I write elsewhere here).

A wee bit ago (as in 6 weeks) I was accosted by a new addition to my household.
She (the squirming ball of stink that is my daughter) has infringed on all things 'hobby' and 'sleep', putting me off my feed...thus delaying this, my first writing for Darkmorals. So introductions;
Hi, my name's Mike and I have a problem, plastic-crack(or resin, or metal, but mostly plastic).
For as long as he'll tolerate my inane ramblings and self aggrandizing rants about the hobby we love, I will write guest abominati...articles for the Emperor's Codex!

So, now that the unnecessary is finished, to the meat! (note that this meat is for the masses who have the codex. as I don't have the inclination to write a unit by unit/rule by rule review...it'll be done to death elsewhere...I'm writing this from a sense of changes in the wind for the Necrons, and hopefully the overall environment. it's a review of direction and expectations, not rules/mechanics.)

The codex started as a little White Dwarf raider list (back when WD produced interesting stuff, and didn't cost you a car-payment to keep up with), grew into a list that truly frightened people for a bit and finally slid into ignominy as Imperial after Imperial Codex drove them under, with the help of 5th edition.
Enter the now.

The new 'dex has given us a few things, amongst them a new 'paradigm' of play.
-a base statline that is unique in the current 40k environ (some orkish stats, some marine stats, and the ability to resurrect regardless of the punishment meted out), AV 13 transport spam, and environmental manipulations out the Wazoo.
-the slow and steady advance of an implacable foe, under the umbrella of almost 'mystical' technologies that defy logic (in a fluff sense) and sidestep many simple/reflexive countermeasures.
-an entirely new 'universe' of ideas to work into the ever(if slow) changing 40k universe.

I shall elucidate.

-Paradigm shift.
The basic Necron statline (troops, and other related units) have changed from a MEQ line with low init, to it's own unique pattern. Variation between units, both troops and other categories, play hob with the normal 'cut and paste' mentality many modern 'dexes have. Beyond Ldr, abilities and Attacks, most armies revolve around a very clear performance pattern.
On the surface, Necrons seem to as well. But an inconsistent Save characteristic coupled with 'Reanimation Protocols'(WBB's new clothes), unit regenerating transports and Res orbs (that are expensive to spam, but can be if you really wish to), your opponent(s) will be making shooting/assaulting decisions based on a wider than normal spectrum of hurdles. Conversely, it will require greater acumen/thought on your part, as a Necron player, to fully capitalize on a synergistic mix of these unit patterns.
This adds elements of choice and commitment to your opponent's play and projections, and any time you can increase uncertainty or commitment decisions you also increase the chances for error.

Armour 13 is the new 'norm' for these guys. Their primary vehicles are slow, relative to other open topped skimmers etc, but tough.
Quantum shielding adds the +2 to AV 11 skimmer's front and side facings, but is lost with any penetrating hit. But wait, how often does an open-topped skimmer survive a penetrating hit in our melta/AP-1 happy environment of today? Yeah, it happens...but not enough for that 'downside' to matter. I'll take the fading AV-13 at least equal to a consistent AV-12.
AV-13 is quite tough, coupled with the devastating weaponry and open topped fusillades that can be delivered from the core vehicles in the list. Steady advance with punishing fire and resilience? Oh yeah!

Armour Degradation adds to the shift in mechanics. With Entropic Strike, multiple options exist in the codex to actually REDUCE an enemy vehicle's armour values or even negate armour saves on models. Though the latter is of negligible value against most opponents, the former can be devastating. Scarabs have this, finally elevating them back to not only viable but actually important in the greater scheme of the Necron strategy. Enemies projecting their tin-cans into midfield, counting on them to 'park' on the center, may well watch their vehicles truly become 'paper-tigers'.

-Tortoise and Hare.
Slow and steady wins the race.
This Codex has the potential to be an abject lesson in superior technology and attrition.

The Necrons have characters and wargear that produce night-fight conditions on a whim, nullify said conditions for their turn, other abilities to interfere with deep striking units (albeit not grand, can punish close in strikes) and finally slow down incoming assaults.

Working with Reanimation Protocols and AV-13, these manipulations make for a steady grinding advance that dictates enemy engagement through control, NOT maneuver/speed. Unlike IG and Tau, though, the army steadily advances instead of just(generally speaking) parking and blasting. That is partially a function of ranges, which overlap effectively in the 12-36" bracket, but focus at the 24" break for consistent punishment. Some units do reach out and touch extremely well, but they either have to get very close to do it, are exposed small units of Jump Infantry or are limited in effectiveness on the move (Doom Scythe, Destroyers and Doomsday Ark respectively...the 3 D's?).

-new Universe.
Fluff, now we have it!
Necrons really never had a developed fluff. The WD list from way back when was anemic, pretty much just an excuse to add models to the line in a growing game. It was interesting, and hinted at things, but never developed a real picture of these 'robots'.
The first true Codex made a race that didn't quite fit. The fact such a numerically small race, that was NOT devastatingly powerful on a model-by model basis, could have been instrumental in the downfall of the 'Old Ones'...and a major threat to the galaxy in 'modern times'...made so little sense. The characterization of near drone like slaves also lent little to the mindset of 'role-playing' your generals, something that keeps the hobbyist interested in developing characterful models, and kids introduced to the game intrigued.
This Codex changes all of that, adding a depth that frankly I didn't expect. Now, amongst other things, there really are legitimate reasons for civil-wars. There's a greater understanding of the 'War in Heaven'. There is a deeper delving into the 40k history and universe. And with little or no fluff to 'violate' in the past, even Matt W can't be vilified (this time) for ret-conning the 'history' we have grown to love! (so to shore up DrkM's last 'rant', shut up with yer whining...I've loved Necrons since 2nd Ed, I AM a Matt Ward basher/hater, and I LOVE this change).

This Codex review was brought to you by the letter 'F', as in Fan-Boy!
I don't normally laud GW, and have grown to become one of those bitter addicts who can't put down the plastic-pipe he keeps puffing on.
I have had Necrons in my army rotation since near the end of 2nd Edition, and after what Matt W did to my beloved BA and GK, I FEARED what was coming. Dreaded it, in fact...BUT, I was pleasantly surprised.
With good choices available in every Force Org slot, mixtures of firepower ranges, types, and a dearth of Melta I believe the Codex to be balanced and strong.
I DO believe that in the current 5e environment, they will be a middle-ground competitive (mid-tier competitive for those that believe in tiers) list after the dust settles and people begin to adapt (lascannon additions replacing some missile spam to nerf Quantum Shielding, more aggressive forward projection play etc etc), but I see some more subtle hints under the wrapper of 6e to come...and if they don't do what they did to Daemons and other edition-transitional codices, 6e may truly become the 'Edition of Xenos' (or at least baddies).

Thanks for listening to my rant, and if any commentors want to ask me to go into detail on my 'sense of things' in the 'dex, I will answer....but it's not my blog, and I've already expounded too much to actually do a rule-by-rule/unit-by-unit assessment in the main body!