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40K: Necron Codex Review – Part 1

5 Minute Read
Nov 9 2011
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I received the new Necron codex this weekend and this review will hopefully nail all my thoughts on the book.


Well guys, it’s been quite a long time since I posted.  I had a lot of chores with the new house, threw a house-warming party, got a new position at work and I worked Blizzcon.  In short:  It’s been really crazy lately and I haven’t had time for any minis gaming.

First, some self-made rankings and numbers:
Overall Power: 7
Internal Balance: 8
External Balance: 7
Creativity: 9
Fluff: 9
The verdict:  A solid 8

What do all of these mean?  Let’s cover the obvious one first:  Overall Power.  By this, I mean how powerful I feel the book is.  Personally, it would be on the same level as Dark Eldar or a balanced Blood Angels list.  There’s an overwhelming weakness of close combat in the book, but isn’t that the weakness of Necrons in the first place?  I don’t see this as an issue; I see it as adherent to the original army’s design.  This book, like the Dark Eldar book, feels very good in my hands.  There’s a lot of unique weapons that the Necrons have available that will change the metagame for the better.  From the pseudo AV13 vehicles, to plentiful S7 power weapons with 2d6 armor pen, to teleporting Necron units, to long-range dominance in overwhelming firepower, the book’s got options.  The options are all pretty solid, but they’re not over the top or completely faceroll compared to the other books out there.

That brings us to our next category:  Internal Balance.  What do I mean by this?  I mean the book’s got viable options that can suit many a player’s playstyle.  There’s CC-heavy options via Wraiths, Flayed Ones and Lychguards, there’s great shooting options like Immortals, mass Warriors and Deathmarks, and there’s long-range anti-metagame options like the Doomsday Arks and Heavy Destroyers.  When flipping through the book, I didn’t see any glaring suck units and a bunch of different options that fulfill my needs.  There’s powerful long-range shooting, powerful mid-ranged shooting, and powerful CC options that are suited to building balanced army lists.  If you want to min-max on shooting, you can do that too:  Maybe not in the sense that you can spam out Razorbacks, but in the sense that you can counter-battery most RBs all day long.  There’s good units in the book, all of which are fairly competitive in price and function and there’s no obvious “bad” choices.  If I was to group units into categories of shooting, CC, long-range firepower..etc, I’m supposed to be presented with viable options everywhere.  In a well-designed book, there shouldn’t be a unit that outclasses everything else in its category and that’s what I see here.  The HQ choices are solid, not overpowered or weak, but the basic Necron Overlord does leave much to be desired.  I don’t mind it though, Matt Ward does give you the option to build your own lord if you want and that’s all that matters.  Don’t expect the flexibility of the Grand Master though, those kind of special rules lies in the Special Characters (which it should be).

For External Balance, I’m looking specifically at the book vs. the metagame.  How does the book fair against everything else that’s out there?  With a good amount of vehicles holding the AV13 flag and Skimmer status, I think the weight of Missile Launchers and Long Fang spam will go down a bit.  Anything less than 6 on a S8 missile is only going to glance and that’s not enough to strip away Quantum Shielding.  Combine this with the option to ignore Shaken on a 2+ and 4+ from Stunned because of Living Metal and you’ve got yourself a metagame changing scenario.  Since most of the Necron craft come with these two special rules as standard, I can see the meta changing to Lascannons.  Guess what?  All those Rifleman + Psybolt Dreads out there will be applying for new jobs.  Especially if you consider the return of the Monolith and the plentiful amount of Destroyers/Heavy Destroyers a Necron player can put on the board (D/HDestroyers in FA slot).  For those players already totting RBs with LasPlas or TLLC, this is good since you guys don’t need to change anything, but for everyone else rocking all rockets, there might be some adjustment.  Dark Eldar sees little change in how they play their game and Blood Angels will see very little as well.  Space Wolves might want to man it up with AC/LC Predators like me and Grey Knights might want to look at TLLC Dread variants.  Personally, I’m for anything that’ll spice things up a bit.

As for Creativity, this should be a no brainer.  When I examine a book, I look at one’s ability to write with the casual, mediocre and hardcore player in mind.  Are the units in the book new, exciting and fun at all levels?  Do they all have a purpose and not feel like trash?  I think Mat Ward did a good job bringing a dead book back to life (literally) and gave it purpose, direction and longevity.  None of the units are particularly dull and there’s a lot of interesting new ones.  Sure, one can argue that Necrons are now basically Tomb Kings in space, but I think that’s perfectly fine.  It gives them character and personality, not in a sense that Bob the Necron is a good guy at heart, but in a sense that players can relate to Bob if they wanted to.

Lastly, I’ll touch upon Fluff.  For the first time in a long time, I think Matt Ward did a good job with the fluff.  The last time he wrote good fluff was back in the 7th Ed. Daemons Army Book for WHFB.  Even though that book was broke as all get out, the fluff was spectacular and it’s still one of my favorite bathroom reads.  You know what I think it is?  Space Marines.  Matt Ward goes all super fanboy when he writes about power armor and you eventually get dreck like Draigo carving names on Mortarian’s heart.  However, like I said about the book’s creativity, Ward was able to steer Necrons in a new and better direction.  There’s genuinely a lot of cool stuff in the book and they’re all very well explained.  I loved reading about the different weapon systems, and a lot of the whys I had last book have been answered.  Overall, it’s very satisfying to read something you thought was going to be atrocious and having it smack you in the face after. It’s a very humbling experience.

Stay tuned for Part II of this review, then I’ll get down to the nitty gritty… 

~Have at it guys. -Hero

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