Let me preface this post by saying I absolutely love 8th edition and what it has done for 40k. It has brought so many races back into the fold competitively and has really opened up lists and model options for almost every army (compared to 7th).
There are however some flaws that need fixing and hopefully these will be mostly ironed out in the next few months as we get the next wave of codex releases to buff some armies in dire need of some help (Tau, Necrons, Dark Eldar, Orks).
I love my Necron army and when 8th rolled around I was absolutely excited over the new rules. Changes to reanimation protocol seemed really fluffy and upon initial reading, really strong in the game. A few practice games in and already the cracks were starting to appear in the army and were a sign of things to come. Wraiths hit like a wet paper bag, the flyers were completely outshone by other races and their cheaper flyers, flayed ones were a waste of time without Imotekh, Tomb blades suffered from the biker points fiasco and haven’t yet recovered, Tesla didn’t keep up with other armies weight of dice and Gauss was nerfed into a middling buff for our guns.
Necrons went from an amazing army in 7th ed that had highly mobile elements (night scythe teleports), a resilient core of troops (5+++ saves and multiple ways to manipulate that) and the entire army (with Gauss) could strip away hull points from vehicles through weight of fire. 8th edition fundamentally changed the game and unfortunately the designers didn’t overhaul Necrons to suit this change.
Vehicles got wounds (more wounds than they had hullpoints) and suddenly our ability to strip hull points was changed to a simple -1 or -2 AP which left most vehicles with a 4+ or 5+ save to ignore our small amount of wounds dished out (wounding on 5s mostly). Our ability to use our special teleports (Scythes, Monoliths) was severely diminished by the changes to reserves. You now completely lose all units that aren’t on the board by the end of turn 3, you also can only use each teleport once per turn to bring in a unit. No longer can we teleport squads of immortals onto objectives late game, or bring in big units of lychguard and warriors from our monoliths after they have reached the enemy lines and we have picked away at their forces.
Finally we have the changes to Reanimation Protocols, this used to function as an extra save after every other save (armour, invul, FNP and then reanimations), this resulted in an army that was incredibly hard to put down but was a bit less fluffy than the old 5th edition version of warriors standing back up. The 8th ed change was much more fluffy (standing back up all game long) but players quickly worked out the fatal flaw in the system. If your opponent is smart they simply blow away entire units and stop you getting reanimation rolls. This, coupled with the changes to Res orbs and the FAQ nerf that made fleeing models no longer get reanimation saves, has decimated our ability to hang around long term and is considerably weaker in a competitive sense than the Deathguard Disgustingly Resilient roll.
Two of the biggest ITC tournaments for the year were held over the recent weekend. In Australia we had Cancon and a 128 player 40k tournament, featuring some of the best players in Australia. We also had the Las Vegas Open which featured some of the worlds best 40k players competing in a 447 player tournament. As expected there were a huge amount of races on display at both of these tournaments including Necrons. I have combed through the final results and have come up with the placing of all the Necron players at both events.
30th, 83rd, 91st, 120th, 123rd
80th, 129th, 252nd, 277th, 336th, 341st, 354th, 368th, 375th, 390th
So what can we see from these results and what does it mean for Necrons? For starters, looking at all the lists I had access to, it seemed like most Necron players were taking fairly similar lists overall and that isn’t surprising considering our power level right now. The lady who placed 80th at the LVO and the gentlemen who placed 30th at Cancon obviously had a fairly solid tournament and are clearly really good players to take Necrons that high. Unfortunately, looking at the rest of the results, we are heavy skewed into clumps towards the bottom of the rankings. I feel as if the LVO in particular shows this well as we have almost every single Necron list between 250 and 375, I don’t suspect all these players played all that badly or took particularly poor lists, I think it is a reflection on where Necrons are at right now.
The reason for these poor results are how one dimensional Necrons are right now. A good tournament level player will almost never let you have a reanimation roll, they will blow away units. They will also focus down your very limited anti tank options early which will leave his vehicles room to go wild over the course of the game. Our middle range bracket also starves us of a turn of shooting early on and a lot of 8th ed games are practically over in 3 turns. Finally our only solid tricks (teleporting Crons) is fairly predictable and easy to counter with good deployment (restricting the teleport zones). All of this combined results in our very poor showing at these major event.
The Bright Spark Of Hope
GW has just announced that Necrons are due for a new codex and boy am I excited to see what they are going to do to fix the army. Rumours are they are going to overhaul the army to try and fix some of the issues I mentioned above. I sympathise with the designer tasked with this overhaul as I think Necrons (along with Tau and Dark Eldar) are very tricky to buff traits without breaking the balance of the codex. I would like to see simple things like purchasable upgrades for wraiths to add more hitting power to them, tomb blades being fairly costed so they actually see play, way more anti tank options (8th ed is full of vehicles and frankly 1 shot AT weapons are not worth it), something to address Reanimation Protocols short comings and how they can fix that without breaking the fluff again.
Finally I want to see our characters done properly, it was a bit silly having the main Necron leader (Imotekh) only buff a single unit in our entire index. I eagerly look forward to the codex and blowing off the dust of my Necrons so they can finally get back into 8th edition.