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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Building the Perfect Beast - Necrons and Grey Knight Allies

So it's been awhile since I've discussed one of my favorite sixth edition armies - Necrons with Grey Knight allies. I know they are much hated and for good reason but I will say this... It's an army I can play competitively in tournaments while I work on my new Chaos Space Marine army. They are a lot of fun too.

I think there are two ways you as a reader can view this article - you hate it and that's it (if so then why even bother reading past this point?)... or you possibly can glean some useful information for Necrons and/or Grey Knights. I've found the two forces work best independently of each other except for certain situations such as when you focus fire on one particular enemy unit.


Originally I started with Grey Knights as my primary detachment and used Necrons as the allies but slowly I came to realize that while it's a solid combination it had some problems versus some of the more popular meta lists we see lately. So I decided to go back to the proverbial drawing board and completely overhaul the army.

I wanted to keep the units that worked best in the original list - Coteaz, Purifiers, Destroyer Lord, Scythes, etc. I also wanted to build an army that does well versus the armies that gave me the most problems while maintaining its existing power level versus the rest. To achieve these goals I needed more boots on the ground and more ranged firepower - switching over to Necrons as the primary detachment made these both easy goals to accomplish.

What Had to Go and Why

I really liked the land raider Crusader with psybolt ammo - its a tough nut to crack in sixth edition, lays down an awful lot of wicked firepower and is an excellent assault vehicle. I also really liked the Storm Raven for mainly the same reasons plus it's a flyer as well. These are two costly units though and the Storm Raven can present some major problems... Namely if it crashes and burns with a squad of Purifiers or Crowe inside you've just lost a big chunk of your army. So by dropping these two units I freed up lots of points that can go elsewhere and reach the two goals I mentioned above in the introduction.

While I'm a big fan of Crowe in sixth edition since he makes Purifiers scoring and is the master of the challenge, he also presented some major problems as well. Namely how do you get him into melee... Basically you have to dedicate one transport for one model and I found its just not worth it. If you put him in a rhino that's an easy target for your opponent to score First Blood plus it's just not very effective. I had the best success with him catching a ride in the Storm Raven but had my share of games where the flyer was shot down and he failed his invulnerable save while jumping out of the crashing wreck. This is directly tied to another inherent weakness of the Storm Raven... If it goes into Hover mode so the squad inside can attempt to launch an assault then it gives up its best form of protection in the process.

So these were the big three units I dropped from the army. I miss the land raider Crusader the most of all but then again  you can't have everything.

Hybrid MSU

To flesh out my army i looked at using the MSU concept to increase my number of scoring units. Armies I'll refer to as a hybrid MSU can be very strong now but not mechanized MSU featuring lightly armored transports... Heldrakes rape transports such as rhinos by vector striking them then flame whatever spills out plus they (disembarking units) are more clumped since its only 3" out of a wrecked transport. On the other hand running a good number of units such as five man Warrior squads is much more tactical than running 10 man squads which is one of the main strengths of MSU. The option to split Grey Knight units into combat squads works a lot better now in sixth edition. So if you have some MSU it can work very well.

Alpha Strike Protection

Using Coteaz along with a Strike squad provides an excellent defense versus drop pod armies which have come back en vogue now. Coteaz has his special rule We've Been Expecting You and Strike squads have the Warp Quake psychic power. These two units are also very effective versus annoying units such as Marbo, the Doom and Daemons... If they can't drop in close then they don't present nearly as much of a problem and you get a turn to shoot them first before they start to close in on your army.

By going over to a hybrid MSU build for my army it's possible to start with all my armor in reserve so I don't have to worry about any drop pods full of melta weapons - this goes right back to one of the key fundamental changes to my army. It also helps to greatly curb the dark eldar alpha strike as well. If they hang back the first turn then I can turn the proverbial table and pull a second turn alpha strike with my Necron flyers versus their fragile lightly armored skimmers.

To me it's very important now to build armies that don't easily give up First Blood (FB) and my new army meets this criterion due to the MSU component. There are certain missions such as The Relic and The Emperor's Will where just one bonus point can easily decide the game. Denying your opponent FB can go a long way towards winning these types of games.

If you're familiar with the types of armies I commonly play then you'll know I did not play any MSU type armies in fifth edition so this is a big change for me and it's working well so far.

The Necron Nemesis

So far I've mainly discussed the use of Grey Knights while just touching on a few of the Necron elements. Necrons are now the primary detachment though so they deserve some discussion as well.

Big Papa

I'm a big fan of the Destroyer Lord so he has remained in my starting line up. He can function as a mobile solo unit that is a major threat to many enemy units and with the emphasis now so strongly focused on the shooting phase you'll find that most infantry units don't really have an answer to him in melee should they be so unfortunate as to receive his charge. Mind Shackle Scarabs means that he is a major threat to any enemy dedicated melee character. I've got the points now to attach a squad of Canoptek Wraiths which confers their Fearlessness and helps him to weather a turn of shooting on the way into some serious melee.

I was recently discussing with some friends the value of a Necron Overlord riding in a Catacomb Command Barge (CCB) ... At first I just didn't see it but after going back to reread the rules for chariots I realized this is another great highly mobile dedicated melee unit for sixth edition. We all know just how awesome is the Sweep Attack with a Warscythe. The new rules for chariots provide some excellent buffs to a stock Overlord armed with only Mind Shackle Scarabs and a Warscythe:

• +1 armor save
• Fearless
• D6 S6 AP - Hammer of the Wrath attacks
• Cannot be locked in combat
• Cannot be challenged
• Can target any unit in base contact with the chariot

The CCB also has the following special rules:

Symbiotic Repair - The Overlord can expend one of its wounds to ignore a glancing or penetrating hit
Quantum Shielding - AV13 on front and side until it suffers a penetrating hit
Living Metal - Can ignore both shaken and stunned results

Finally the CCB is an open topped fast skimmer so it can flat out move up to 18" and gains a 4++ cover save. A great tactic (situational though) is to move in close to the enemy then Sweep Attack the next turn, disembark the Overlord and assault another unit.

There are a few disadvantages but I think overall the advantages far outweigh them plus the CCB comes with a heavy weapon (Gauss or Tesla - your choice) so you've got some more shooting as well.

More Shooty

As I said in the beginning one of my main goals was to increase my army's overall firepower. I dropped the land raider Crusader and Storm Raven which are both very shooty and can effectively target up to four enemy units together per turn due to Power of the Machine Spirit. Necrons though have access to several vehicles that are much less costly, have high armor value due to Quantum Shielding and have excellent ranged firepower that is perfect for dealing with enemy flyers (i.e., Tesla Destructor). If you play Necrons you know this and I'm taking advantage of it now.

The Bubble

I also decided to use a large swarm of Canoptek Scarabs as they can do so much for an army and here is another one of those situations where there is some synergy between Necrons and Grey Knights... Versus an assault army Scarabs can form a mobile shield wall to deny your opponent the charge versus your infantry. They are still very good at wrecking land raiders and can quickly tarpit units such as IG blobs. They are well worth the points and can go a long way towards the win.


I wanted to redesign my army so it is a top tier list. You don't see much about the army because it's not popular but that doesn't mean it's not competitive. On the other hand it still takes some serious thinking to create a balanced army using these two codices, which should be a main goal (i.e., balance) for all competitive players. I have a lot of experience playing both armies but found it to be quite a challenge to build what I'll call the ultimate list. I think I'm on the right road now and will have the opportunity to test its mettle at a GT here in Florida next month.

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