The 9th Edition Marine and Necron codexes appearing at the same time handed us an exciting opportunity. As anyone who has encountered my alter-ego OVERLORD WINGS will know, I’m a keen Necron player, while fellow editor Corrode has been rocking out with Space Marines pretty much since their revised 8th Edition book launched. Both starved for games due to the ongoing tournament hiatus in the UK, the new books arriving represented a great excuse to mask up and throw down, pitting our armies new toys against one another and trying to get a feel for how things had changed. Let’s find out what happened!
Note: Apologies for the delay on this piece – we had originally planned it for last week, but the surprise arrival of the massive Marine Index revisions forced us to change up the schedule.
One of the things I found most exciting about the new Necron book is that it takes a bunch of options that could never quite out-compete the vehicles in the previous edition and gives them enough of a boost to make them workable. In 8th I basically decided that I wasn’t invested enough in playing Necrons competitively to buy and paint three each of Doomsdays and Doom Scythes, so my collection trends more towards the Infantry, Canoptek and C’tan side of things. While there are definitely some things on my shopping list to get everything up to spec, it feels a lot more like I can sling together a real list from what I’ve got.
For anyone who’s read the Necron review the list I used isn’t going to be a surprise – it’s the one I put together for the Necron review, assembled with this game in mind. Here it is again:
Catacomb Command Barge w/Tesla, staff of light, Warlord, Voltaic Staff, Skin of Liquid Gold – 145
Skorpekh Lord, Extra Trait, Extra Relic, Enduring Will, Veil of Darkness – 130
Technomancer, Cloak, Phylacterine Hive – 100
20 Warriors, flayers – 260
10 Warriors, reapers – 130
10 Warriors, flayers – 130
Nightbringer, Transdimensional Thunderbolt – 350
Skorpekh Destroyers – 105
Cryptothralls – 40
5 Wraiths – 175
4 Lokhust Destroyers, 1 Lokhust Heavy Destroyer with gauss destructor – 290
Ghost Ark – 145
Total – 2000pts, 10CP
Some of this is still being limited by what I have access to – most notably, I would definitely be running more Skorpekh if I had the models, but thus far only have a single copy of Indomitus to work with. That will be remedied very soon.
In terms of how it’s supposed to work, it’s a pretty standard 9th edition list – you’ve got a durable core that can push onto objectives, some mobile-ish melee threats to take objectives and present threat, and a few things for picking up secondaries when needed. My assumption is that the Cryptothralls and the footslogging Warrior unit go into Strategic Reserves most of the time, as that lets them pop up to threaten objectives or handle Actions as needed. The only tweak I made from the version in the article is to swap the Nightbringer’s starting power to Transdimensional Thunderbolt rather than Antimatter Meteor – now that the main target gets hit on a 2+, I think this is just a more efficient pick, and in some situations you can combine it very effectively with Malevolent Arcing from the Tesla on the Barge.
I know what you’re gonna say – damn those are some nice-looking Crimson Fists. And I say thanks, I think so too! If you look closely, however, what you might see is this guy:
Yeah I’m playing them as White Scars. The Fists book is boring and also bad, whereas White Scars let me fire around the table charging things and punching them really hard, so it’s a no brainer. Here’s the list:
HQ – 370
Master of Sanctity on bike – 115 + 25 = 140 – Warlord Wise Orator, -1 CP Chogorian Storm, Benediction of Fury, Litany of Hate, Strike off the Head, Mantra of Strength, Canticle of Hate
Korsarro Khan – 110
Chief Primaris Librarian – 95+25 = 120, -1CP Psychic Mastery, Null Zone, Might of Heroes, Psychic Fortress
Troops – 325
5 Incursors – 110
5 Incursors – 110
5 Assault Intercessors with fist – 105
Elites – 795
10 Assault Terminators with thunder hammers and storm shields, teleport homer – 435
Chief Primaris Apothecary – 80+15 = 95, -1CP Selfless Healer
Redemptor Dreadnought with macro-plasma and rocket pod – 175+5 = 180
Judiciar – 85
Fast Attack – 150
3 Inceptors with plasma – 150
Heavy Support – 360
Eradicators – 120
Eradicators – 120
Eradicators – 120
We’re playing on Corrode’s current preferred terrain set, looking largely as follows:
The major differences are that Wings brought his mirror to the top-right ruin to put some proper Obscuring terrain in the bottom left, and we slightly shuffled the positioning of the crashed lander pieces in the mid-board. The L-blocks and the larger GW ruins are both Obscuring, while the crashed Rhinos are Dense and Difficult Ground, with the lander just being Difficult and Light Cover, providing some impediments to mobility and firing lanes.
We rolled on the table from the GT2020 and ended up on The Scouring. This is a pretty brutal mission – it has five objectives all relatively close together in the mid-board and uses Domination scoring, meaning that you need to be fighting for them pretty viciously to pick up Primary points. The Secondary is also a pretty attractive one – your units can spend a turn scanning objectives, and you get an incrementing number of points at the end of the game for the number of unique objectives you managed to scan, capping out at 15pts for four. Notably, the scanning Action completes either on your next turn or at the end of the game, so it’s especially favourable for the player going second, as they can dash to unoccupied objectives on their final turn.
The big challenge for me here is that his Terminator block is going to be great in this matchup and mission. It’s durable enough to tank most of what I can throw at it, especially with the Chief Apothecary removing any chip damage and getting models back up, and can brutalise anything I send into it. With the objectives so close together, and White Scars mobility, they’re also going to be able to rapidly move to engage whatever they choose. This is, as they say, a problem.
Luckily, some other things look more favourable for me. The Nightbringer absolutely can engage the Terminators, since their damage output is concentrated in a single phase, and can also go through all of the valuable characters like a hot knife. In addition, the ranged output isn’t gigantic – the Eradicators are good and the newly scary plasma from the Redemptor is nasty, but this list isn’t going to blow me clean off the board, and should also be reasonably limited in how much damage it can do out of the gate.
With that in mind, my plan was to take the second turn and then focus on spreading out to control lots of the table. The Veil of Darkness and the Wraiths can both help a lot with that, and the Destroyers can likely mop up a lot of the flanking units he might choose to deploy. Meanwhile, the Nightbringer and my Ghost Ark can have a go at contesting the board centre, with the Ghost Ark being an early push and then the ultimate scythe-wielding menace making the central objective a very scary place to be thereafter. With that strategy in mind, I picked the following secondaries:
- The mission secondary – the plan is to sweep up the flanks early, letting me lock in the two home objectives, then take the flanks at his end of the board later on.
- Assassinate – with enough targets, and the Nightbringer to try and rack this up, this seems like a reasonable call.
- Purge the Vermin – the new Necron secondary, rewarding you for clearing the enemy out of table quarters at the end of each turn. Again this felt complementary to my overall plan, and honestly just feels a bit over-pushed in general, so I wanted to see how that played out in reality.
This isn’t a subtle list – the game plan is to run the block of Termies forwards with character support, while the Incursors grab objectives. The Eradicators, Inceptors, and Redemptor offer some shooting support, protected by the Librarian’s Psychic Fortress bubble to give them a 5++ and keep them safe. Safer, anyway.
Something I hadn’t realised before the game (which luckily for me didn’t come up) is that Null Zone has now been changed to affect ‘units’ within 6″ instead of ‘enemy units’ so it once again cancels your invulnerable saves as well as your opponent’s. With the big block of Terminators relying partly on their storm shields this isn’t great although against anything AP-3 or lower it doesn’t matter that much.
I will confess that to a greater or lesser extent the motivation for this list is ‘I built an entire Deathwing army in 5th edition and haven’t put any of the Terminators back on the table since’ and with them going up to 3 wounds and the damage-reducing ability of the Apothecary it seemed like a good time to try them out again.
The mission is pretty good for me – I can put Incursors on the wings to grab wide objectives, and those are relatively close together so with the advancing + charging White Scars they can potentially threaten his holding units too if he puts down something relatively weak there. The Termies are very capable of storming up the middle, taking mid-board, and holding on tight to try and keep me holding 3 points at all times – which is a nice 15pts a turn.
Secondaries wise, I picked:
- Strategic Scan – i.e. the mission secondary. Picking up the first 2 required objectives is extremely simple here, and then I had faith that I could grab another 2 at a later point in the game, especially since my plan was to push out with the Terminators and hold mid early on
- Deploy Scramblers – an easy 10 points. The Incursors can do the early two rounds, and then with White Scars I can use Encirclement to put the Assault Intercessors into outflank and come in off his back board edge to hit the final scrambler and job’s a good ‘un
- Domination – my plan was to hold 3+ objectives all game. On a 5 objective board, that means I’m set up to score Domination every turn. Seems like an easy call.
Wings: The Necrons set up ready to push for the centre, with the Ghost Ark and big Warrior blob up front ready to strike up the board. The Wraiths stood a bit further back, intending to out-range the Eradicators and then push for the objective in the left-hand L-block on turn one. Meanwhile, the Nightbringer and Skorpekh Destroyers hugged the Obscuring terrain to the right, ready to strike forward or for the objective as needed. Finally, the Destroyers hid behind the low ruin at the back. The Cryptothralls and the final Warrior squad went into reserve.
Corrode: Over at the Space Marine end of the table, the Terminators deployed unsubtly – though their deployment was compressed by the Death Guard Rhino. The characters deployed in the shadow of the ruin (Wings had been gleefully telling me about the potential of the Nightbringer’s new Gaze of Death earlier on and I didn’t want to risk them being exposed to it, though I wasn’t really thinking about range and I should have been). The Eradicators are all behind the ruin wall along with the Librarian, and the Dreadnought is in the middle, to move up behind the Termies. On my left the Incursors could safely sit in a ruin and did so, while on my right they are in front of the characters. I definitely did not forget all about the Veil of Darkness when deploying the Master of Sanctity (here represented by an Outrider, since this game took place a week before the model was released).
Corrode won the roll off and chose to go first.
Battle Round 1
Wings: At the start of the first battle round the Necrons’ first command protocol activated – the Protocol of the Eternal Guardian, granting the army cover in the open as it had not yet moved, aiming to mitigate the damage from any early shooting. As it happened, this didn’t massively matter – the Space Marines pushed forward, with the Terminators using Wind Swift to tap one model onto the central objective, with the characters and Redemptor in tow. Meanwhile the two Phobos squads moved onto the nearby objectives and begun scanning them, and one Eradicator squad deployed Scramblers in the deployment zone. Finally, the Inceptors whooshed forward to act as the tip of the spear, unleashing their plasma exterminators on the warrior blob. This…did not go that well – with some mediocre shooting and good Reanimation Protocol rolls, only a handful of Warriors died. The Redemptor followed up by unleashing its macro-plasma, and hit… twice from six shots.
Come the Necron turn this humiliation was furthered by the combination of the Ghost Ark and the Technomancer reviving some Warriors. By the time they were done, the net losses from the squad comprised one model. With the Terminators in the board centre and the Marines having swept up the board, there was a space waiting behind their army that could fit the big Warrior squad, and preferring that confrontation to going after the Terminators, the Skorpekh Lord teleported them to the back with the Veil of Darkness (they having picked up My Will Be Done first). Corrode wasted 2 CP in Auspex Scanning them, which achieved literally nothing as his poor rolling continued (and would probably have been a waste even if it worked perfectly). The Wraths moved to secure and scan the safe objective to the left, while with nothing in strike range the Nightbringer floated up to lock in the Action on the one to the right – after all, it wasn’t like anything was going to stop them! They also cracked off a Transdimensional Thunderbolt first (since both things happen “at the end of the movement phase”), scattering a few mortals around. The Destroyers prepared to unload on the Inceptors or Terminators as needed, and finally to ensure that the Marines didn’t get 15pts for Primary on turn 2, the Skorpekh Destroyers used Translocation Beams to move into range of the central objective – as long as at least one Inceptor died, they’d contest it.
Unfortunately, Necron shooting wasn’t much more impressive than the Marines. The Warrior Squad popped Disintegration Capacitors and Relentless Onslaught and unloaded into the Incursors, hoping to do some real damage to the squad. Sadly they rolled just a single six, and some very poor wound rolls later and only a single Incursor died. Things weren’t much better at the other end of the board – the Overlord’s relic staff and Tesla did nothing to the Inceptors, forcing the Destroyers to spend their turn exterminating them. This they duly did with the heavy Lokhust blasting 5 wounds off the Redemptor. No combat for now, and we moved on to Marine turn 2.
Battle Round 2
The Necrons switched to the Protocol of the Sudden Storm, ready to get their hustle on.
On their turn 2 the Marines did a better job of pushing out some damage. The Apothecary revived the dead Incursor and healed off all the wounds to the Terminators and Judiciar from Transdimensional Thunderbolt, then the Terminators and Redemptor moved to punish the Skorpekh for their insolence, with the Dreadnought also lining up some shots on the Lokhusts. The plasma did some decent work, blasting away the Heavy Lokhust and one more, but with the four dice in the pool from the heavy, the regular Lokhust got back up. Luckily for the Marines, some good rolls from various incidental shooting did manage to put two more down, leaving only two remaining in the unit. Things went less well in the continued attempt to remove the warriors, with the Eradicators achieving a whole lot of nothing trying to put them down, meaning the big threat at the back remained. Speaking of those, some Assault Intercessors popped up behind the Necrons to Deploy Scramblers. In the Fight phase, the Terminators engaged the Ghost Ark and Skorpekh, slamming the latter out of existence but narrowly failing to kill the Ark thanks to Quantum Deflection and Corrode forgetting his Sergeant existed. The Dreadnought also used a charge into the Skorpekh to shift up the board and threaten the Destroyers.
That, of course, put the Dread into strike range of the Nightbringer, who lofted their scythe ready to grant a final death to the interred Primaris hero. They also unleashed a lightning bolt and their gaze, continuing to scatter some mortals around. The Wraiths shot up the left flank to go after the Incursors and take their objective, while the big warrior blob and the Skorpekh lord pushed up towards the Eradicators. The Lokhusts popped back behind their ruin to focus on the Assault Intercessors, with the Technomancer using their Phylacterine Hive to put one back into the squad. The reserved warrior squad lumbered onto the table to take over the objective the Nightbringer had abandoned, and finally the Ghost Ark tried to move away from the Terminators. Unfortunately, they used the White Scar stratagem Butchered Quarry to attack as it fled (which allows the entire unit to make a single melee attack each), hammering it into oblivion and leaving the expelled Necrons to retreat behind a wall into relative safety. The Destroyers took out the Assault Intercessors, but the Warriors continued to roll like pants, only dropping a single Eradicator once the Skorpekh Lord added shots from their pistol. The Command Barge’s relic also continued underwhelming, only dropping a single Incursor. The fight phase was going to be where things needed to happen, and unfortunately for the Necrons things didn’t quite go as planned. The Wraiths slammed into the Incursors and put a large number of wounds through, but some great FNP rolls kept one alive (though at least not holding the objective, as the sergeant was the one left and was out of range). The real disappointment was the Nightbringer – after a CP re-roll four scything attacks went through on the dread, but the damage dice came up as three twos and a four, dealing six damage thanks to Duty Eternal and leaving it clinging to life with a single wound. The Skorpekh lord at least consoled the Necrons slightly by murdering a squad of Eradicators, but took some damage in return after consolidating into more.
The failure to kill the Redemptor stung extra hard as it left a unit in a second table quarter, meaning the Necrons only picked up 2VP from Purge the Vermin rather than the 4 that had been planned. The dreadnought also punched three wounds off the C’tan in return, leaving killing it in the Marine turn a real possibility – bad news.
Primary Total: Necrons 5 – Marines 5
Battle Round 3
Turn three saw the Protocol of the Hungry Void activate for the Necrons – but things were looking pretty dire and they needed a good turn to stay in the game. The actual outcome was mixed. The Terminators wheeled round to go for the Wraiths, while Kor’sarro dashed toward the cowering Warriors. On the right flank, the second Incursor squad moved up to engage the Warriors on the objective, while one of the Eradicators fell back from combat and used a stratagem to allow them to shoot, aiming to ensure that enough damage was done to the Nightbringer to take it down this turn (or blast the Skorpekh Lord if the opportunity presented itself). Three wounds were duly stripped from it in the shooting phase, and a few Necron Warriors were taken out on the right, then battle was joined. The Librarian went after the Skorpekh lord and despite needing 6s to wound through Whirling Onslaught just managed to take it out with the precise series of rolls needed – a 6 to wound and then a 5 on the d3 for damage, which became 4 damage thanks to the Scars dropping into Assault Doctrine. Any lesser roll wouldn’t have killed it. The Terminators, unsurprisingly, slammed the Wraiths out of existence but elsewhere there was better news for the Necrons – the Nightbringer got away with it (immediately deleting the dread for its insolence), and Korsarro barely scratched the warriors, even taking a wound in return, leaving some forces left on the bottom left. Sadly, on the right another major setback was hit – after the Incursors attacks three Necron Warriors remained, but one fled and the remaining two died to combat attrition, ceding the objective.
The Necrons needed a perfect turn from here to get back into it, and just didn’t quite get it on any angle. It started well – the Nightbringer now had a clear run on three characters, and immediately murdered the Judicar with the Gaze (Corrode: rememeber how I said I was worried about this?), then lining up a charge on the Chaplain and Apothecary. The Destroyers also re-emerged from cover to draw lines on the Incursors, while the sneaky Cryptothralls snuck onto the objective they’d recently relinquished, ready to action away in relative safety. The Warriors engaged with Kor’sarro fell back, opening him up to being shot and charged by the Barge. Finally, the still-numerous Warrior squad wandered up, ready to engage the Eradicators and Librarian. Shooting looked promising but once again proved agonising for the Necrons – one Incursor clung on through the Destroyers’ barrage, while the Barge put four wounding hits onto Kor’sarro with the staff, but he proceeded to make all of the saves. It would all come down to the Fight phase, with the Nightbringer multi-charging the Chaplain and Apothecary and the Barge going in to Kor’sarro. The Nightbringer split their attacks, and started strong by taking out the Apothecary, but once again fluffed it going for the Chaplain, leaving him up. The Barge also had a stellar go at taking out Kor’sarro, putting three further wounding hits in, but only one save failed, leaving him alive on three. Unfortunately, since the Chaplain was still up this meant he still had wound re-rolls, and one-rounded the Barge in response.
Primary Total: Necrons 5 – Marines 10
With their Noble dead no further Necron Protocols activated, and with the last roll of the dice having failed for the Necrons the Marines largely moved to mop-up mode, taking out the Nightbringer, two of the remaining Destroyers and the Warrior unit that had been bothering Kor’sarro. The big Warrior unit continued to hold the remaining Eradicators and Librarian in place, but there wasn’t much else the Necrons had to exploit this. The Cryptek and Cryptothralls tried to prise the last Incursor off their objective, but only took him down to a single wound.
Primary Total: Necrons 5 – Marines 25
The Incursor had a good go at punishing the Cryptek for their insolence, charging them and nearly taking them out but for a good saving throw. This allowed the Cryptek to claim the small moral victory of retreating to stand behind the Cryptothralls as they removed the Incursor with their eye beams, but that was it, and the game ended.
Primary Total: Necrons 5 – Marines 40
Primary Total: Necrons 5 – Marines 40
- Assassinate: 6VP
- Purge the Vermin: 8VP
- Strategic Scan: 10VP
- Total: 24VP
- Deploy Scramblers: 10VP
- Domination: 15VP
- Strategic Scan: 15VP
- Total: 40VP
Marine Victory 80VP-29VP
Boooooo. Shame the Necrons couldn’t pull off a win for their triumphant return, but a good learning experience all round. In terms of how the game went, the main mistake I think I made was pushing the Ghost Ark too far up turn one – once I’d decided to sacrifice the Skorpekh (I think the right call) it didn’t need to push so far into danger, and keeping it further back would have forced Corrode to make some harder choices about how to engage on that turn, either leaving it alive or forcing the Terminators to come further up the board and allow the Wraiths to operate without being counter-attacked for a turn. That might have given me a bit more to play with. The other option turn one was to use the squad of Warriors from the Ark to contest the central objective (translocating them past the Difficult Terrain), and keeping the Skorpekh back for a strike at some later point – also plausibly a good option, though at the time I felt the ObSec was more valuable. As predicted, the presence of a terrifying melee bomb substantially diminished the value the Skorpekh offered, as they couldn’t profitably play with it, making trading them seem like good value.
In terms of the things that did work well, the Nightbringer was predictably terrifying. I cannot stress enough that they rolled like complete ass all game, and yet they still picked up a respectable harvest points wise and dictated the flow of several turns. Happy with that, and expecting to use them plenty more. The big Warrior blob also performed – while they didn’t kill much, the resilience is the real deal now, and they acted as a substantial distraction and tarpit all game. Cryptothralls are also confirmed to be an absolute bargain, and absolutely the action performers you want. Finally, the Lokhusts did fine work, reaping a healthy toll and demanding to be dealt with. I highly recommend sticking a single Heavy Lokhust in squads of smaller ones, as being able to take two hits from a flat three damage weapon (as here) is very valuable, and if they and another die you have a decent chance of getting one back. I do feel like these ended up a bit pricier than they should have, mind – as definite losers from the new version of RP, shaving 5-10pts off of each might have been reasonable.
In terms of mid-level performances, I’d tap the Wraiths and Skorpekh Lord. The Wraiths had a tough matchup here just because like the Skorpekh the Terminators threatened to kill them instantly once touched, meaning their useful lifespan with all the objectives so close together was going to be limited. The speed on them is still very nice, and against a less melee-focused Marine list I think they’d have achieved more. The Skorpekh Lord, honestly, just got kind of unlucky – taking three points of chip damage from basic close combat attacks on the first turn he engaged was a blow he never recovered from. I am wondering, however, whether in the same role an Overlord with Voidscythe and a Reanimation Orb could be better, as that would help to heavily increase the threat the Warrior Squad presented, and be able to roll the dice on Resurrection Protocols in an emergency.
Taking everything together, my expectation for what I’m going to do next with this list is to shift towards Novokh. The big drawback of the Warriors was that while they tarpitted stuff they didn’t really kill it – but if I’d been able to double their attacks while swinging at S5 AP-1, I could actually have shifted something. To support that, I’d likely take a Chronomancer rather than a Technomancer – give the big blob a re-rollable 8″ charge on the turn they teleport, plus a 5++ for your opponent to chew through on the return, and you have a serious threat. More Gauss Reapers is also on my list – I have a horrible suspicion that despite stratagems pushing rapid fire, the reapers are just going to be better in a whole bunch of situations. Finally, I want the Skorpekh to be rolling as a unit of five with a Plasmacyte in tow – at that point, especially as Novokh, you can amp them up to be something that will actually take a huge chunk out of a big Terminator squad, giving me the capacity to actually compete on the terms I want to against melee armies. To pay for these changes I’d swap the third Warrior squad for five Gauss Immortals (as I expect putting them in Strat Reserves is going to be their normal role so the cheaper unit is a fine substitute) and probably cut the Wraiths in favour of as many Scarab bases as I can get for the points – these are also pretty nifty as Novokh because between self-destructing and getting in auto-wounds at AP-1 they are surprisingly dangerous. That’s the plan – you’ll be hearing more about Necrons from me in the very near future, and I’ll have a list by then.
Well, I picked up a massive win so it all worked brilliantly and nothing needs to change, right?
In reality I got enormously lucky throughout this game. At one point my entire primary scoring relied on two Incursors sharing three wounds between them who’d just kind of not died when they really should have. I threw the Redemptor away (though drawing the Nightbringer up there for a turn and away from the Terminators was fine, I guess, and it was very funny when it stayed alive on one wound) and allowed the Veiled unit to drop in to my backfield and cause me no end of problems throughout the game. Despite the Terminators being very simple in concept, 10 of them is quite unwieldy and hard to use to their maximum effectiveness, especially with so many characters floating about. I do wonder if I should have just Strategic Reserved the Eradicators – I like having the CP and I like having them on the board, but on this map they were going to struggle for range T1 and taking them off would have meant the Veil Warriors didn’t have much to shoot at – or maybe wouldn’t have bothered at all.
I also wasted the Inceptors, a unit I haven’t yet gotten a good feel for and should probably stop utilising by throwing them forwards turn 1 to blast something for the sake of it and then watching as they die. In this case it kind of worked out purely because they absorbed a lot of fire, but they probably shouldn’t have been taking all that shooting because the Destroyers have a very high chance of flat wiping them out and just kind of didn’t. Again, something to think about deep striking or otherwise using differently than I do right now.
All taken together though, this was a really fun game and it was cool to get the new books on the table slamming into each other. Subject to a few annoyances I like the new Marine codex a lot, and I’m looking forward to trying out more of its new possibilities. The Necrons also seem very cool and presented a much stiffer challenge than the previous book would have, especially for this kind of melee- and Warrior-focused army.