Sunday, May 13, 2012
Necron Melee Unit Analysis - The C'Tan Shard
Hi everyone. I've provided an introductory article on this subject a few weeks ago and am now covering individual units separately. I have been asked to cover some of the less popular choices (i.e., not including Canoptek Wraiths and Scarabs). As I have said before I'm not a big fan of Flayed Ones or Praetorians so don't expect to see much about those two units here. I have recently had some success with the C'Tan Shard including winning a local Ard Boyz style tournament. I know that the word on the Internet is that slow moving monstrous creatures will just get shot off the table. Without much reflection that might seem true but upon further analysis I think the C'Tan can be a solid choice. Sure there are armies that can blast a C'Tan off the table with one round of shooting but that's certainly not the case for every army and there are tactics that can help mitigate enemy firepower as well. An important factor to consider is how to tactically use the Shard... Are you planning to simply rush him forward or hang back and play goalkeeper simply protecting softer units such as your troops?
I have found that fielding a C'Tan coupled with two turns of Night Fight will often allow you to move the Shard into a prime position to launch an assault... The addition of being able to run units during the shooting phase has opened up a new set of dynamics. Consider that the C'Tan is T7 which allows the shard to shrug off small arms firepower such as bolters and lasguns. If your opponent is focusing a lot of firepower on your C'Tan that draws the heat off other units such as your Canoptek Scarabs and Wraiths which can move into prime positions to assault. I like to use a three pronged attack for my assaults. I've got the C'Tan, Wraiths and Scarabs moving towards the enemy under the cover of Night Fight. Sure the Shard is slow compared to the other two units but for a deployment such as Spearhead there is a lot less ground to cover in order to quickly reach the enemy line. There are some devious means of moving your C'Tan faster into the enemy rank and file...
You can teleport one non vehicle unit per turn through a Monolith's portal using the dimensional corridor ability and the unit can even come in directly from reserve. This can be risky as you might have to place the Monolith in harm's way to teleport the Shard. You have a good chunk of points invested in both units so you should carefully weigh your options before rushing in to use this delivery system.
So now let's take a look at some of the options available to your Shards...
C'Tan Manifestations of Power
I'm not going to cover every single power available. I'll simply discuss those I like the best. If I don't happen to cover a certain power you think is good then let us know in the comments section!
Gaze of Death
I like this one a lot. At the end of each combat you place the large blast template over the C'Tan and every model underneath suffers a S3 attack with no armor saves allowed. If any model suffers an unsaved wound then the C'Tan regains one lost wound. Note that these wounds don't count towards combat resolution. This is the most expensive power... It might not seem like much but it can break enemy units and keep your C'Tan moving along to engage other units. I think of this as an old school Nightbringer type of manifestation.
This is another expensive power that lets you redeploy d3 units before the game begins and after all Scout moves have been made. You can also move units into or out of reserve. I like this power a lot but it's only effective if you go first so it's going to help you roughly 50 percent of the time. This is great for the old bait and switch routine... I love to put my Wraiths into reserve, see how my opponent deploys then pull them back out again and set them up to attack a weak point in my opponent's battle line - this can really catch opponents off-guard if you do it right. I also like to reposition my Scarabs as well for the same effect.
While I don't use this manifestation I do think it's worth mentioning as it can be useful and is one of the cheaper powers. This one provides eight S4 shooting attacks at 18" range and is an assault weapon. The C'Tan is BS5 so you should be able to manage two to three wounds versus T4 units... Obviously it's even better versus T3 units. While this is not all that powerful its not entirely useless and lets you save a good amount of points if need be.
This is one of the more pricy powers and it's one of my favorites. This manifestation equips the C'Tan with a S9 AP2 shooting attack with 24" range and it's also an assault weapon. You pay for this one and it can be quite good... You've got roughly 60 percent the range of a lascannon and hit on 2+. This power is great versus mechanized armies as you can obviously crack open any vehicle.
This might be the most well known power and it is also one of the most expensive. At first I was really crazy about it when I was experimenting with a Tremor list but now I rarely ever use it anymore... It did come in handy this weekend though when I ran two C'Tan in my 2500 point list - one game three Battle Sister Retributors carrying heavy bolters died the same turn while climbing into a ruin! Heh. It's very random but it could also help you win a game if luck happens to be on your side. I prefer to run either a TAC or Wraithwing style of army now so this particular power is not as useful for me now.
The Worth of the C'Tan
Okay so I've covered some basic tactics for the initial deployment of the C'Tan and touched on their inherent resiliency. While they are nowhere near as good as they used to be they are also cheaper pointswise - especially if you don't load up on the most expensive powers. They now cost roughly the same as a landraider... The question is can they do as much for a Necron army as the ever ubiquitous landraider can for a Space Marine army? To me that's an open ended question and I will approach it as follows - whenever I design an army list for a tournament I want to include at least one unit that has what it takes to pop AV14. If you play armies that have a lot of access to melta weapons (e.g., Space Marines) it's simple to fulfill this requirement. Some other armies don't have it as easy though.
A common role for the landraider is to deliver a dedicated melee unit into the heart of the enemy line... Once that role has been fulfilled its not as important to protect the tank. I look at the C'Tan in a similar fashion except that the Shard must deliver itself into battle (unless of course you want to invest the points into a Monolith so you can slingshot your C'Tan). Prior to the new codex it seemed to like every Necron army I ran across had at least one Monolith and a C'Tan (aka The Deceiver) but things have changed a lot since the release of the new codex - its been around half a year since then and now other units have moved to the forefront such Overlords in Catacomb Command Barges, Canoptek Scarabs and Wraiths.
The Goalie - Protecting your Troops
Warriors and Immortals are good for midrange shooting but frail in most melees - especially versus dedicated enemy close combat units. One approach is to throw your fast melee units forward to force your opponent to deal with them first but not everyone wants to follow this route. There may be times when specific situations require that you protect your troops and the C'Tan can fulfill this role as a big deterrent versus assault armies. Alone the Shard might only serve as a speed bump but it can buy you some much needed time to reposition your troops. Coupled with a squad of Canoptek Wraiths they have a lot of synergy together and can hold up enemy assault units and often beat them. I am using VeilTeks in my TAC list so this is not so crucial for me but still versus fast enemy armies such as dark eldar it can work.
If you want to include a C'Tan the Shard is still quite strong as a dedicated melee unit but you need to build your list to help protect the C'Tan so that it can reach melee and wreck some serious face. As I said in the opening Night Fight can work well in conjunction with a C'Tan and some armies don't have a lot of high power long range shooting to take it down from afar. I have found that versus armies such as Space Wolves missile spam and even Imperial Guard the C'Tan can still be a serious threat. Fielding multiple dedicated melee units forces your opponent to decide which is the most immediate threat and react to that first. The C'Tan can be your second wave of assault barreling in behind those Scarabs and Wraiths. I don't use a Shard in my Wraithwing army but the C'Tan is definitely a cornerstone in my TAC list. I tend to use my C'Tan as a melee workhorse tackling the harder enemy dedicated melee units and of course the Shard has no problem quickly crushing weaker units such as tactical Marines and guardsmen should they be foolish enough to wander too close.