The launch of the Necrons for Battlefleet Gothic last year prompted a collective shudder and expression of "ugh..." from any serious BFG Admiral. Since then, the Necrons have been tempered a bit, but they still remain quite the formidable foe.
Why are the Necrons so tough? There are plenty of theories out there, some of which hold truth, some of which amount to defeatism (and would certainly be corrected by a swift cuff from the Fleet Commissar if uttered on the bridge of an Imperial ship). The "official" explanation from our friends from Fanatic is that we're all suffering from "N.A.S.", or "New Army Syndrome". Don't go out and buy crates full of Cipro just yet. New Army Syndrome is a way of saying that we haven't quite adapted as players to the unique problems Necrons present. This is something that will be covered in this article.
Nevertheless, (since we've now defended the Fanatic flag) it is plain for anyone with some adaptive use of the Smotherman formula (or using comparative points figuring) that the Necrons are terribly underpriced. If one calculates out Necron ship costs without all their extra rules advantages, and treats their specialized weapons as the weaker, generic ones (eg: lightning arc=weapons batteries, particle whip=lances) you can already see that the ships outweigh their listed costs.
But again in Fanatics' defense, the Necrons do suffer from some most curious maladies. These limitations, if exploited properly by the intelligent fleet commander, can mostly offset the Necron's vast advantages.
Certainly, the folks at Fanatic made a VERY wise decision with their most telling Necron amendment. Apparently, most of the Necron's armour strength results from the direct manipulation of the ship's structure by intelligent, living energies. When a Necron ship uses the "Brace for Impact" special order, their fine control must be curbed, and the ship's 6+ armour is reduced to 4+. They do, however, increase their save to a 2+.
Critics then argue: "Why would the Necron ships ever go on Brace for Impact? With 6+ all-round armor, they don't even need to." Ah Grasshopper, but do we not have armor-piercing weapons? Next time a Necron ship or squad approaches, hammer them with as many lances or bombardment cannons as you can muster. The Necron commander will be forced to take a pounding or save hits by Bracing for Impact. If they choose the latter, they will then be at 4+ armor for the remainder of the turn, and grossly at the mercy of any weapons batteries, attack craft, or torpedoes you may throw at them.
Another important ammendment made to the Necrons by Fanatic is the functioning of special weapons. The Star Pulse Generator, Energy Drain, and Nightmare field are all disabled if the Necron ship is crippled or on ANY special orders. This is yet another reason to use your lance strength to get your Necron nemesies to "Brace For Impact".
"Shields are for Wussies!":
Good going with extra save, Necrons, but it can't protect you against teleport attacks. Necrons have no shields. Getting in close to Necrons is tricky, but once you do you can make as many teleport attacks as you want. Fleets which add pluses to their Hit and Run attacks can not fail.
This brings us to our next point: ordnance. In case you hadn't noticed, the Necrons don't have any: none, nil, nadda. Scarabs launched by ships with a hive can make attack runs to nearby enemy ships, but they can't become ordnance markers.
Even though the Necron capital ships have fairly good turret ratings (3 for the cruisers, 4 for the tombship), they are nonetheless left most vulnerable to ordnance by their inability to intercept it before it reaches their ships. If you know you will be fighting Necrons, include LOTS of ordnance capability in your fleet. Fighters shall only be useful for keeping enemy turrets occupied and intercepting scarab attacks. Throw as many waves of bombers, assault boats, and torpedoes at your enemy as possible. Try to coordinate this with a armor-piercing attack (and cackle evilly if the Brace for Impact), and you may just do some serious damage.
Nightmares are Scary:
One thing to watch out for with Necrons is the Nightmare field. Only ships with Sepulchre (the Tombship, the Reaper, and the new Shroud Class) may use the Nightmare field, but for ships that do have this upgrade it is an advantage. Manned ordnance (attack craft and boarding torpedoes) is particularly vunerable, as it is destroyed 4+ (a 50% chance). Remember that the field is disabled if the ships ANY special orders or crippled. You might want to time your ordnance attacks based on this. Remember that normal torpedos are not affected.
Eldar in Particular:
Eldar players in particular have dreaded the coming of the Necrons. Many Necron weapons systems offer no save for holofields. The most morale-crushing sentiment of all is that the Necrons have robbed the Eldar of their most valuable assets: their speed and maneuverability.
Take heart, children of Khaine! The Eldar have not lost their rule of the stars yet to these Mechanical Mon-Keigh. Below are some specific tips for Eldar players on how to smite the Necron fleets:
The Necrons are indeed a most unorthodox fleet. This has created a sense of hopelessness among many fleet commanders, since we are unable to deal with them using orthodox fleet tactics. However, they do have weaknesses, as has been shown here. Know thine enemy, know thyself, and there is no battle one can not win. Good luck, my fellow captains.
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