Like so many others, I eagerly purchased a Necron codex this weekend and read through it with eager eyes. It has been a long time coming, and our robotic friends have finally awoken since they went into stasis back in third edition.
The first big change people will notice when reading through the codex, is that the backstory for the Necrons has changed a great deal. They are no longer a race of slaves to the C’Tan, now they have a lot more personality, and throughout the story and the army list you can see echoes of their lost humanity. (yeah I know its technically Necrontyrmanity) The C’Tan are now the slaves, not the masters, and each tomb world is its own Fuedal kingdom. I think the storytelling in this book is really good, and MUCH better than the dreadful, over-the-top grey knights fluff. (I swear they got a 10 year old to write the Draigo description) I loved the accounts of the War in Heaven and I’d really like to see more stories set in that time.
I for one really like this change. I found the old Necron fluff to be incredibly boring. Now you can develop entire histories, motivations, and color schemes for your Necron forces. This ability to express yourself through your army is one of the fundamental strengths of 40k so I’m glad Necrons now allow you to do so.
Ok onto the actual rules. Necron players now have a wide range of choices, and lots of interesting combinations of powers. I think overall the codex is very well balanced. There are tons of good units and I think there will be a variety of effective army builds. Everyone’s first reaction upon picking up the codex is to pick the Storm Lord as their HQ. However, I’m not planning to use him. He is indeed just flat out the best choice if you know you are playing against Imperial Guard or another mechanized MSU army, but he is also a liability against a lot of armies. Once the night fight ends he’s not that great, so if the enemy plays from reserve, or you roll poorly, I think hes going to be disappointing. All in all I think some other characters, or just a nice and cheap overlord will be more versatile choices. Every army should have at least one solar pulse though. The ability to hamper an opposing army’s alpha strike, then hit with your own just cant be overstated.
Another cool feature is that you can see signs of 6th edition throughout this codex. Why would you want to deepstrike deathmarks right next to an enemy unit on their turn? Well, maybe like you can do “interupt” shooting attacks in 6th edition. Why would you want to deepstrike flayed ones and what is their role in the army supposed to be anyway? Looks like the rumors about charging after deepstrike could be true. There are other hints of changes to come, but I’ll leave it at that. I think that just like the Dark Eldar codex, even though it is already good, this book is really going to shine when 6th edition rolls around.
So whats the overall verdict on this army? Well I can’t say after a few hours reading it, but my initial impression is very positive. I think the Necrons are going to be very balanced, while at the same time directly countering some dominant builds that haven’t had any main predators for a long time. For example, this is the first army that is an honest to goodness counter to mech IG, or razorspam grey knights. Night fight + lightning+a billion awesome robot bugs = dead mechanized MSU. As for Grey Knights, honestly I have never understood why people got so bent out of shape about them. I think the main reason you saw so many Grey Knights in tournaments was because they are a fun army to play, and are easy to collect! Necrons will do fine against them. Psy-riflemen dreadnoughts won’t be all that scary when its dark, and are just scarab food waiting to happen. Necrons will have lots of ways to get rid of deathstar units like paladins. (Particle Whips, Monolith glowy door of doom, and, for the really devious among you, multiple Mindshackle Scarab Lord units)
So I for one am excited by this new codex, and I think it is well written. Adding yet another extremely unique, effective army to the meta-game makes me impatient for upcoming tournaments! So to all you players out there with Necron armies in cardboard box stasis-sleep, go pick up some cool new models and the new book, you won’t be disappointed.