Necrons Review: HQs: Destroyer Lord

Not a lot of units live up to their fluff, but in a few cases they actually do- and the Destroyer Lord is one that largely does, being a unit wholly worthy of the name. Click below to keep on reading, or check out Tactics Corner for more reviews and information.

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Easily the most mobile of the HQs (or at least the ones that can join squads), the Destroyer Lord is also one of the most melee-centric on the surface… but he does have some additional utility baked in that may not be obvious at a first glance, though typically it is in the melee role that he will shine best. Destroyer Lords are essentially just Necron Lords with a few extra bonuses bolted on, although changes to the statlines of the different HQs have left them stranded in somewhat of an odd place in that respect. But for all that they’re still an excellent choice and well worth fielding in many armies.

Let’s talk about the statline first, because it’s actually one of the main selling points of the unit. With Strength 5 and Toughness 6, not only can a Destroyer Lord wound nearly everything with ease, he also shrugs off attacks in a challenge from anything bar a Power Fist and is immune to Instant Death by virtue of weapon Strength alone (though of course Force and other special rules can still do it.) Three wounds puts him on par with an Overlord, as does three attacks and the standard Initiative 2, Leadership 10, and 3+ save. However, with only WS/BS4, they are noticeably lacking compared to an Overlord, hitting on 4s rather than 3s against standard targets. This is their biggest disadvantage, and one only somewhat mitigated by other factors. Finally, as Jet Pack Infantry, they get to largely ignore terrain and make the extra Thrust move in the Assault phase, which mostly makes up for the loss of their previous Jetbike status.

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The Great Destroyer

Destroyers come with surprisingly standard kit for a Necron character- Independent Character status, Reanimation Protocols, and a Staff of Light are all common feature to them, although it’s worth noting that the Staff is a change from previous editions where the Lord came with a Warscythe stock (and thus functionally acts as a 20pt price increase, despite their price technically remaining the same.) However, as with the statline, you get one extra bonus over other Necrons and it’s a big’un: Preferred Enemy. Not just for one faction or unit type, but for everything in the game.

Rerolling 1s against all targets on hits and wounds sounds a bit weaker than it is, though- remember, Necrons are BS4 in most cases, so you’ll essentially be getting to retry with half of all your misses. Applying to wounds as well is doubly-excellent, especially for the high-Strength weapons that many Necrons can have access to that will often wound on 3s or 2s. Rerolls are, often as not, one of the best things you can get in 40K and so having easy access to them on any squad you want is a pretty big deal.

Destroyer Lords have access to much the same wargear that an Overlord does, although they cannot take the ranged weapons (Gauntlet/Tachyon), little a problem as that actually is. As with the Necron Overlord, we will always upgrade to a Warscythe- it’s a fantastic weapon, made all the better by the speed and rerolls that we benefit from. (Note that, even with rerolls, we are actually worse overall in a fight against WS4 opponents than an Overlord is, although not by an enormous amount- and against anything higher or lower, we perform better.) This unfortunately ends up being a tax to raise our price to 130pts, but considering that, compared to the Overlord, we are paying 20pts to essentially mount ourselves on a “bike” (as we gain +1T and faster movement) as well as pick up Preferred Enemy, it is an entirely acceptable overall cost.

The survivability upgrades on a Destroyer Lord are a bit more debatable; Phase Shifter is certainly not priced unfairly, but as Destroyer Lords are often running with squads of Wraiths (who already have an excellent invuln) its functionality isn’t 100% required. However, that extra layer is always nice to have as a guarantee, so often enough we’ll shell out for it. The Phylactery is a bit more iffy, but should you have the points laying around it’s not a bad upgrade. The Resurrection Orb is virtually never worthwhile.

Our Artefact selection is likewise guided largely by the same guidelines as the Overlord, though with a few tweaks. The Voidreaper can be an excellent way to mitigate our lower Weapon Skill, although our innate rerolls make it slightly less necessary. The Nightmare Shroud, on the other hand, is exceptionally useful, as we will often be taking normal armor saves on our Destroyer Lords simply due to their forward-moving nature as they try to get into combat- and that free morale check is nothing to sneeze at, either. The other Artefacts are largely unneeded, although Gauntlet of the Conflagurator can be good for some giggles and Solar Staff has a few niche applications for reserve-heavy armies to insure they can’t be tabled.

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To Murder Everything

So where are we going to be taking a Destroyer Lord and what is he going to do? Well, the latter part is easy- he’s going to rush forward and murder the shit out of some guys, usually. Destroyer Lords are very aggressive characters in most cases, so it behooves us to make best advantage of that; however, they can also fill a role much like that of an Overlord, being used to anchor a battle line while providing support abilities if needed.

Most lists that want a Destroyer Lord will be pairing him with another fast melee unit, such as Wraiths, Scarabs, or Praetorians (with the former being by far the most common.) The Destroyer Lord is an excellent complement to such units- he gives them all rerolls when in combat and can potentially tank certain kinds of shots for them if needed (like an inconvenient shot that is causing Instant Death on the Canoptek units), but they also serve him well by being able to absorb the general volume of shots coming at the unit and providing additional hitting power in combat. Wraiths in particular suit him well, since they can swing ahead of most units and cut down on the number of attacks and chew up horde units, which the Destroyer Lord is ill-suited to fight. The fact that they are Fearless is an extra boon, as it means that unlike standard Necrons we have no fear of our unit getting Swept after a bad round of combat.

As I said, though, that’s not the only use for a Destroyer Lord- for a few points more, they can do nearly everything that an Overlord can do and then some. By running them in a similar configuration, we can make the same use of their melee prowess to ward off anyone who might have thoughts about getting into assault with our hordes of robit skeletons- however, even prior to that the Destroyer Lord will already be providing his Preferred Enemy bonus to the unit, improving the effectiveness of their shooting by a noticeable chunk. If you’re not running a Decurion, he is most always a superior choice in this respect.

Of course, in a Decurion there’s another way to get the Destroyer Lord- namely, the Destroyer Cult. He is actually surprisingly awkward in this respect, as standard Destroyers already have Preferred Enemy and thus do not really benefit from his joining up with them. This is why, ideally, you have some other unit for him to join to such that his usefulness is maximized- he still is often a bit of a “tax” in cases like these, but we can minimize that tax as much as possible (and every once in a while he will be absolutely golden.)

However, despite their combat prowess a Destroyer Lord is not invincible. Even with maximized upgrades, they will still often lose fights to top-tier combatants in the game (Chapter Smasher, Draigo, Knight Warlords, etc.) In particular, anything that causes Instant Death or multiple wounds can be very hazardous for a Destroyer Lord; they can get the 4++, but you really don’t want to be stuck in the position of failing a single save and watching your HQ disappear. Destroyer Lords are actually a bit of bullies, as they prefer to be kicking in the teeth of weaker characters, whom they can dispatch with relative ease while the rest of their squad plays cleanup. If something really dangerous comes knocking, make use of that mobility and get the heck out of dodge!

Despite my lack of focus on it so far, a Destroyer Lord’s mobility is one of their biggest advantages. Most Necrons are slow, slow, slow and so having a HQ that can not only cross the field with relative speed, but also be a strong fighter and support element while doing it is quite the nice little surprise. Speed is one of the two most critical elements on a melee unit of any kind, along with survivability, and the Destroyer Lord has both. Use that to engage the targets you want, not the targets your opponent tries to present to you and never be afraid to maneuver to force the enemy into bad decisions; sometimes wrecking your opponent’s plan and putting them on the back foot is just as good as killing their units. A squad of Wraiths with a Destroyer Lord mixed in can look absolutely insurmountable to many players and cause them to panic and make bad decisions; often enough, this will win you the game on its own as their strategy disintegrates and they compound mistakes on mistakes. Take advantage of this element of threat, but remember that cooler (and more experienced) players probably will not fall for it- they will know what your unit can do and how to handle it.

Ending Thoughts

Destroyer Lords are fast and versatile units that will often be a prime HQ choice when you actually do have the choice to take them- though obviously this won’t be so in a Decurion, which is one of the most common Necron setups. However, they’re more than just relentlessly-aggressive characters, so always keep in mind what enemy you’re facing and what you need- will sending them forward actually make a difference against the enemy, or is it just a waste? Will adopting a more defensive pose with your HQ benefit you more, such as against Deep Strikers or late-game objective grabbers? The Destroyer Lord has plenty of potential uses, so don’t lock yourself into thinking of him as only being capable of one thing.

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

19 Responses to “Necrons Review: HQs: Destroyer Lord”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius November 20, 2015 12:17 pm
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    I love my Destroyer Lord! He is just a bad ass.

    • abusepuppy November 20, 2015 12:48 pm
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      Yeah, very rarely does mine disappoint me, and often enough he’s a total wrecking ball. Which is great, because I ended up doing a neat conversion with him and getting to use a cool model is always a plus. 😛

      • Reecius
        Reecius November 20, 2015 1:15 pm
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        Yeah, same here! I really like the conversion I made for mine and that I can use him on the table, too!

        • abusepuppy November 21, 2015 12:35 am
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          Of all the things the Necron book did first in 7E, I think making bad (or mediocre) units good was the best. There are still some misses- C’tan, Annihilation Barges, Doom Scythes, and Scarabs jump to mind- but for the most part it has a lot of very solid units.

  2. Deuce11 November 20, 2015 12:21 pm
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    Making me rethink my phase zhifter. Damn/thank you AP.

  3. Deuce11 November 20, 2015 12:28 pm
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    What’s a better combo:
    Destroyer Cult + Judicator Battalion
    OR
    Destroyer Cult + Deathmarks?

    • abusepuppy November 20, 2015 12:46 pm
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      Judicator Battalion wants you to be running a mostly shooty army with some melee components (at the very least, the Praetorians themselves.) The DLord can easily join up with them while the other parts hang back. If you’re willing to sink for the additional unit of Heavy Destroyers (and/or have other shooting units to complement), I’d say it could work reasonably well.

      Deathmarks don’t have any inherent synergies with the Destroyer Cult other than the ones native to the DLord itself.They’re not a bad combination, but their main advantage is that they are relatively cheap and don’t strongly commit you to any one plan.

  4. fluger November 20, 2015 12:31 pm
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    I like him in the Destroyer Cult formation.

  5. Dbiesto November 20, 2015 12:45 pm
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    I am very grateful they got rid of the 2+ Save upgrade on Destroyer Lords. They are still just as/ more brutal than they used to be with the new rules.

    • abusepuppy November 20, 2015 2:11 pm
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      You can still get a 2+ with the relic, but it’s a lot more expensive.

      • Dbiesto November 20, 2015 3:25 pm
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        Well, that 2+ save will be very useful in shooting/ assault phase. He could tie up any non mc non ap 2 squad. I told myself I would be pure CSM/ Daemons but it’s probably going to be awhile before they get any new non FW. Might build a 1500 necron army, really digging the tacs and forms, especially now that wraiths got even buffer (t5 > t4)

  6. Requizen
    Requizen November 20, 2015 2:07 pm
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    It’s interesting, out of all of the HQ units in the book, the DLord is the only one that innately boosts the shooting of a given unit (other than Zahndrekh switching Traits). Preferred Enemy is big – putting it on a blob of Warriors or Immortals can make them deceptively strong at killing things.

    In Assault, keep in mind that while the Overlord doesn’t bring PE, he brings WS5, which can be invaluable against many opponents. But, he is immune to S10 ID, unlike the Overlord, so take it into account. I like to run my Deathstars with one of each, haha.

    Have you had success putting him with Wraiths? I find that often you’re at the mercy of the Thrust Move rolls to keep up, and it often leads to odd strung-along Wraiths that can have trouble getting good charges.

    I’ve also tried running him solo a time or two. With 2+/4++/IWND/Warscythe in a Decurion, he’s pretty resilient against many armies. He’s basically a Monstrous Creature that can tank up lots of things and tie up/kill lots of things that aren’t Assault deathstars or GCs.

    • abusepuppy November 21, 2015 12:44 am
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      Szeras can also enhance shooting (thanks to his +1BS trait), but that’s really a quibble- the DLord is easily the best (and most consistent) way to add shooting via an HQ unit.

      Hitting on 4s against MEQs is definitely the biggest disadvantage compared to an Overlord- however, note that even on the charge the DLord averages more hits, even if with a lower potential damage. But not dying to S10 is a big deal with walkers and Wraithknights, so he’s typically my go-to for a melee HQ.

      I’ve found he works well with Wraiths, yes; they don’t drag his Toughness down so much (only “losing” one point there) and he can absorb S10 hits for them. Lacking Fleet is a bit of a drag on them, but they’re generally so fast it’s not a big deal- and having a consistent way to cut through armor saves (or penetrate tough vehicles) is very nice. Rending is awesome, but sometimes you just don’t roll any sixes. Since you have to average 5″ or less on his movement several turns in a row to get him “strung out” I rarely find it to be an issue- and since I normally put him up at the front of the squad, it’s even less so.

      Having the DLord split off and hit things on his own is definitely a possibility, althoguh I wouldn’t want to run him without _some_ kind of unit to hang out with. ~160pts for a three-wound “Monstrous Creature” like him isn’t actually a great deal- but hiding in a squad is a different matter.

  7. MRC November 20, 2015 11:57 pm
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    Did I miss something? Destroyer Lords are Jump Jet infantry, correct? As such, they can DS, are Relentless, and have Jump Shoot Jump, but they still only move 6″ a turn, and thus are NOT good mobility counterpartsvwith Wraiths or Scarabs or Triarch Praetorians, etc.

    • abusepuppy November 21, 2015 12:37 am
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      Though they can only move 6″ in the movement phase, they can move 2d6″ in the assault phase as well- so in most turns, you end up “leapfrogging” your squad, falling behind them during one phase and catching back up later on.

      • Martin December 15, 2015 11:38 pm
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        Interesting! So it is possible to assault move a destroyer lord even if the unit his is joined to doesn’t have that ability?

        • abusepuppy December 16, 2015 2:48 am
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          Yes. The rest of the unit has to stay still, obviously, but the DLord is free to jet about. Similar stuff can occur with Eldar jetbikes and Tau battlesuits in mixed units.

          • derklonk May 20, 2016 12:56 am
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            I really wanna try this too! I thought, the DLord would “suck” the Wraiths down to 6″ and thats it.

  8. derklonk May 23, 2016 12:52 am
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    The DLord is my favorite HQ! But what I leraned is never to run him alone! I lost him once very quickly against grav weapons…