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"How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Necrons?"
In my review of the new Codex: Toasters, I had lamented or whined (depending on your point of view) on how Necrons were no longer as tough as they used to be: basic Warriors now had a 4+ Save and Reanimation Protocols brought them back on a 5+. Worse, however, was that the game designers had done nothing to alleviate the Necrons’ Achilles heel under the 5th Edition rules: getting beaten in the Assault Phase and then easily chased down and destroyed by Sweeping Advances, brought about by their wretched I2. This, I said, was a major flaw with the new Necron codex, overshadowing what good things the new book had brought.
The point of this article is not to debate whether I’m right or wrong in believing that Necrons are much less resilient than they were before: you could make an argument either way. Rather, I’m here today to provide an alternative to those who are unimpressed with the new Necron codex but don’t want to sell or shelve their armies. What to do? One answer is to get dirty. I mean like “filthy-and-diseased” dirty.
Troops and HQ From
the Previous Codex
Using The Book of the Bad Guys to replicate an old-school ‘bot army, one can have Plague Marines stand in for Necron Warriors: T 4(5), Save 3+ and Feel No Pain nicely approximates the “extraordinary resiliency” I was discussing at the start. Squads can be up to 20 in number to recreate a phalanx of sinister battle droids tramping into battle. Bolters replace gauss blasters, albeit without the latter’s vehicle-killing ability: that’s definitely a minus. To help alleviate that drawback, the squad can pack two melta guns, and a Plague Champion (an upgraded Warrior?) can have a power fist, a combi-melta, and/or melta bombs. Better still, PMs have I3, one higher than Warriors did then or now, and are Fearless, so there will be no getting run down during a Sweeping Advance.
Casting Plague Marines as Necron Warriors comes at a hefty price, namely 23 points each, as compared with 18 under the old codex and 13 under the new one (of course, Warriors now only have a 4+ Save, so the comparison suffers a bit). Alternatively, you could save a bunch of points by using regular Chaos Space Marines and giving them an Icon of Nurgle, jacking up their Toughness to 4(5) but ixnaying the FNP. A squad of 20 PMs, including two with melta guns, is 480 points; 20 CMS with two meltas and the Mark of Nurgle are 370 points. In addition to not having FNP, you’d lose the Nurglers’ Fearlessness and blight grenades (though your Initiative would go up 1), and you’d want to make sure that the guy with the Icon is the last to die, lest everyone suddenly go back down to T4.
Everyone following along so far? Raise your hand if you have questions. And you in the back, 3rd row from the left: no chewing gum in my class!
A Necron Lord is easy to replicate using a Chaos Lord. While it’s true that there is no Chaos equivalent of a Resurrection Orb or Veil of Darkness, like your old Necron Boss probably toted into battle, your Main Metal Man will come with an automatic 5+ Invulnerable Save, as well as WS 6 and I 5 for kicking posteriors in close combat. Slap a Mark of Nurgle on him and you’re back up to the T5 (okay, T 4(5) to be precise) that you’re used to. If you eschew the Mark of Nurgle for Tzeentch, you not only get a 4+ Invulnerable Save, but you can also take a Deathscreamer daemon weapon, which nicely stands in for the old, muy macho Staff of Light.
If you gave your Lord a Destroyer body, then obviously, he’s got a Chaos Space Marine Bike. Hold that thought for now: I’ll discuss Bikes later on.
Elites and Fast
Attack From the Previous Codex
Under the new Book of the ‘Bots, Pariahs are no more, their role taken by Lychguard. Using the Chaos codex, these can be counted as Chaos Terminators, again with an Icon of Nurgle, iffn you so wishes. Pariahs had power weapons with built-in gauss blasters: Terminators come standard with power weapons, which you can upgrade to lightning claws, power fists, or chainfists as your cold, cybernetic heart desires. It’d be hard for Termies to replicate the firepower of gauss blasters, but they do come with twin-linked bolt guns, which you could upgrade to combi-weapons.
Sure, you lose the Pariahs’ freaky anti-psyker abilities and Leadership penalties that they inflicted on enemies, but you have better armor, a 5+ Invulnerable save, and Deep Striking. All for about what you paid before for Pariahs. Termies are usually on bigger bases, so you might want to re-do yours—or not, because when every figure in your army is a proxy, are you really pressed about base sizes?
Alternatively, you can treat your Pariahs as Chosen and load them out with power weapons and/or –fists, which then Infiltrate. Speaking of close-combat Chosen, you can also run your Flayed Ones like that, but I prefer to count them as Possessed Chaos Space Marines. Freaky claws, plenty of Attacks, I4, Invulnerable Saves, the option for an Icon of Nurgle, and randomly-rolled special abilities (Daemonkin)—what’s not to like? Well, the price: Possessed are not cheap at 26 points each, which is more than you paid for Flayed Ones back then, and double what you’ll pay for them now.
When you get to the Fast Attack slots under the old Necron book, it starts getting difficult to find analogues in the Chaos codex, but we’ll make a yeoman’s effort. Let’s start with the easiest: Destroyers. We’ll count them as Chaos Bikers (with or without Icon of Nurgle), though you lose the jetbike abilities Destroyers had before. Of course, you’ve lost those anyway under the new Necron codex, because Destros are jump infantry now. There really isn’t any replacing gauss cannons with bike-mounted bolters: heck, even the nerfed gauss cannons in the new Manual of the Mechas are better than boltguns. On a more positive note, you can fold your Heavy Destroyers into these squads as Chaos Bikers using flamers, melta guns, or plasma guns.
Wraiths (called Canoptek Wraiths in the new Necron book) are fast-moving hack-n-slashy types: best treat them as Chaos Raptors, though they’re not going to be as choppy as the old Wraiths were (S4 as compared with S6, no power weapons unless you upgrade one to an “Aspiring Champion”). You can do the Icon of Nurgle thing here, bumping up Toughness like you might have done for other proxied units, or you can be more true to the original (and current) Wraiths and give them an Icon of Tzeentch. Doing so gives each ersatz Wraith a 5+ Invulnerable Save: not as good as the 3+ save Wraiths enjoyed then, and still enjoy in the new Necron codex. Alternatively, you can count Wraiths as Chaos Terminators with lightning claws and have them Deep Strike in, suddenly popping up among the enemy like the ghosts they’re meant to emulate.
“What about Scarabs?” you might ask. “How do you proxy them?” Previous versions of the Chaos Codex had Nurglings, which would also be considered Swarms, but the current edition does not. To be honest, it’s not easy to duplicate Scarabs’ abilities with Chaos, either in speed (under the previous Necron codex) or tank-eating ability (in the new). So let’s assign Lesser Daemons the part of playing Scarabs, with each base of ‘bot bugs considered a single daemon. It’s not good, but it will have to do.
Heavy Support and
C’Tan From the Previous Codex
The Monolith, however, could easily count as a Chaos Land Raider. Obviously, a Land Raider isn’t going to do all the freaky things a Monolith could do under the old book or can do under the new book: it doesn’t have a particle whip, it can’t teleport troops, it doesn’t Deep Strike. But slap a havoc launcher on it and daemonic possession, and it’ll be close enough.
As for the C’Tan—Nightbringer and the Deceiver—you can get away with casting either one as a Greater Daemon. Just as the Chaos Land Raider doesn’t replicate what a Monolith can do, neither does a Greater Daemon perform all the funky magic tricks the Necron gods can do. The benefit is that the Big Meanie from Hell is a lot cheaper than a Vampiric Star God. Also, he’ll have a better chance of appearing on the board close to the enemy, where he makes his money, than he would if he were a C’Tan.
Units From the New Codex: Necrons
going to ignore the special characters, because, if you really, really like Imotekh
the Stormlord with all his powers and such, well, you’re just going to have to
hold your nose and use the new Necron codex.
Either that or run him as a Chaos Space Marine character such as Abaddon the Sore Loser or Huron or any of
First up are Crypteks, the Necron counterpart to the Techmarine. Alas, the Chaos codex doesn’t have Techmarines, which makes you wonder how the Spikey Guys keep their motorpool running, now doesn’t it? No matter. If you like the Cryptek model, you can treat it as a Chaos Sorcerer, with his psychic powers standing in for the neat technological toys the Cryp has.
I’m not wild about them in the game, but my, the models for Deathmarks are sweet. These can easily be Chaos Havocs, with, if you like, an Icon of Nurgle to approach some of the Necrons’ resiliency. Alternatively, you could consider them Chosen, but there are other Necron units (Immortals, Lychguard) who could fill that role.
Triarch Praetorians are jumpy-jump close-combat types, so as you’d expect, Raptors can sub for them, with or without Icon of Nurgle, etc, etc. At the time of this writing, there isn’t a model yet for the Triarch Stalker, but when it comes out, you can count it as a Defiler. Tomb Blades are Necron jetbikes, so Chaos Bikers will have to do for them. You lose the hoopy way that jetbikes ignore terrain and the even hoopier tricks that Blades have, but it’s the best you can do using the Chaos codex.
Now we move on to the new Necron vehicles (not all of which have been released yet, as I type this in early February 2012), and the Chaos analogues become sketchier. Ghost Arks are the main Necron transport, but they’re really not comparable to Rhinos, as the latter don’t have quantum shielding, gauss arrays, or the ability to reanimate nearby troops. Nor are Rhinos skimmers or open-topped. However, Rhinos are what you have: slap daemonic possession and havoc launchers on them, and call it “close enough.”
The Ghost Ark kit can be used to build a Doomsday Ark instead, a Heavy Support monster that fires a Great Big Wad o’ Burny Death down the field. Sounds like a Vindicator to me, with or without daemonic possession, as you choose. Yes, you lose a LOT of range (the doomsday cannon’s 72” vis-à-vis the demolisher’s 24”) and a point of AP (1 to 2), but you pick up a point of Strength (9 to 10). You also lose the skimming ability of the Ark, but you take the good with the bad, mon frère.
The Doomsday Ark might not look like a Vindicator, but it can act as one
Like the Arks, the Catacomb Command Barge and the Annihilation Barge can be made from the same kit, and here, the wheels really fall off the bus. If we were trying to use the Space Marine codex, we could say that the Barges count as Land Speeders (of whatever variety you prefer—lately, everyone on the Inerweebs are all fappy about Typhoons). Spikey Droogs don’t have Speeders, though, so you either count them as Chaos Dreadnoughts or you’re basically boned. Dreads are a pretty piss-poor analogue, I must say: they’re not skimmers; they’re not open-topped; and—in the case of the Command Barge—they’re not fast. But there it is.
The Night Scythe and the Doom Scythe models aren’t out yet, but if/when they’re released, you could use the former as a Rhino and the latter as a Predator. In doing so, you lose the Necron versions’ speed, skimming, Deep Striking and—for the Doom Scythe—the bitchin’ death ray. Does anyone say “bitchin’” anymore? I think I’m showing my age….
all well and good to do that, but be aware that your point costs are probably going
to go through the stratosphere. For an
illustration of that, see the table below for how much a sample Necron army would
cost using the new dex vis-à-vis using the Chaos codex. To keep comparisons similar and out of the
apples-to-oranges realm, I didn’t pick any wargear or options other than the
aforementioned Icon/Mark of Nurgle for troops, and daemonic possession for
As for me, I’m going to give the new Necron codex a try. I don’t like that the book made Warriors (of which I have 60) weaker, and I’m not happy that the game designers didn’t do anything to address the ‘bots’ propensity for getting beat down in close combat and then run down in Sweeping Advances. But I think there are some solid unit choices available in the new book, so I’ll go with those and hope for the best.
I’m looking forward to trying out my converted Night Scythes, and I want to see how the Triarch Praetorians do. If worse comes to worst, I always have the option of using the Chaos codex, as I’ve described. To me, either is better than simply shelving or selling off the army. No matter what you choose to do with your Necrons, good luck to you!
NINO: Necrons In Name Only
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