Hello all, the Medicore Gamer here to give you some thoughts on the big gun of the Necron Codex – The Doomsday Ark. Doom! Doooooooommmm!! If you want to read up on more tactics check out Frontline’s Tactics Corner.
The Doomsday Ark is a heavy support choice for Codex: Necrons. You most typically see it in Necron armies running Combined Arms Detachments. To field one in a Decurion Detachment requires the Annihilation Nexus formation, which is covered in another tactics article. The Ark is oft overlooked but should not be. It brings several things to the battle that a good Necron general can use.
Like all Necron vehicles, the Doomsday Ark very durable. It comes with 11/11/11 armor and 4 hp, plus the ever-valuable Quantum Shielding. Quantum Shielding means that front and side armor are counted as 13 until a penetrating hit is scored. This dramatically improves the Ark, as it makes it immune to Str6 or less firepower until the shield is down. It is open-topped however, so it is more susceptible to damage if the armor is breached. Finally, its Living Metal rule allows it to ignore crew shaken results, and it can repair a lost hull point at the end of each turn on the roll of a six.
Let’s talk about armament. The Ark backs the biggest non-D gun in the game – The Doomsday Cannon. You can shoot the Doomsday Cannon at a lower profile, which gives you a 24” range Str 8, Ap3 small blast. But if you’re bringing something called the Doomsday Cannon, you didn’t bring it to fire the lower profile.
The Cannon’s high power profile gives you a 72” Str 10 Ap1 large blast – a weapon profile shared by very few other things in the game. The range means you can fire from one edge of the board to the other even in Hammer and Anvil. Strength 10 means you are causing instant death on T5 models, which is huge. Combined with the large blast, this means you have a legitimate chance of decimating units such as Centurian-stars, etc. Finally, the Cannon is a primary weapon, meaning it rolls 2d6 for armor penetration, picking the highest, giving you an 75% chance to damage AV14.
At this point, it’s worth reminding readers of two critical ITC rules affecting the Ark. First, even invisible deathstars can be hit by the blast marker, albeit with a BS1 for scatter. Second, a unit is only allowed to Jink if it is the chosen target of a shooting attack. Other models potentially affected by the attack may not Jink (e.g. other units besides the target unit that are hit by a Blast weapon). So if your big blast of doom scatters onto a different unit, say a bike unit, those poor fellows are not going to get their Jink save. This is important, as other than Tomb Blades, Necrons have little in the way of Ignore Cover shots.
Now, normally primary weapons carry a nifty rule: “A model shooting a Primary weapon shoots the number of times indicated on its profile – whether or not the bearer has moved.” But GW giveth, and GW taketh away, because the Doomsday Cannon’s high profile has the rule “Divert Power” which says “A vehicle can only fire a weapon with this rule if it remained stationary in its preceding movement phase.” And therein lies the single biggest downside to the Doomsday Ark – it’s functionally immobile. If you want to sling around the big pie plate, you have to remain stationary. That doesn’t mean you cannot pivot, as that is not movement, but it does mean you’re not moving off your spot.
Lastly, it is worth noting that the Ark contains two side Gauss Flayer Arrays, exactly like the Ghost Ark, for which it shares a kit. Each side is a salvo 5/10 Str 4 Ap5 array with the gauss rule, meaning to wound rolls of 6 auto wound regardless of toughness, and glance regardless of armor value.
Did you not hear me? It has a Doomsday Cannon. Dooooommmm! What more do you want! Don’t be greedy.
In short, the Ark comes stock. No modifications are available. The total package comes in at 170pts. It’s probably a bit overcosted, but not criminally so. And while it’s not a “must have” selection from the Necron codex, it can serve a valuable role and is worth considering.
So how can a Doomsday Ark be used? Well, let’s begin by talking about size. It matters.
Something I think is always worth discussion when considering a unit’s value in the game is the physical footprint it possesses. All but one (Purge the Alien) primary ITC mission involves holding objectives (arguably two, as the Relic is an odd duck). And at least 33% of every maelstrom secondary point will involve securing objectives. Now a game is played on a 6×4 table, but objectives cannot be placed within 6” of a board edge, so for objective purposes the board is really 5×3, or 2160 sq./in of potential space. And within that space are located objective markers, and a unit must be within 3” to contest it.
So let’s consider a typical model on a 25mm base. It projects an area of contention of about 11 sq/in. , or .5% of the total objective area. That’s a good baseline to keep as a reference point.
The Doomsday Ark is a big vehicle. It measures roughly 8”x4”. It projects an area of contention of about 110 sq/in. or 5% of the total objective area – a ten-fold increase in objective contesting ability from our baseline.
What does all that mean? It means the Doomsday Ark is made for backfield objective camping. It has good front and side armor from quantum shielding, and a range that can hit anything on the board, even from your own deployment corner. Couple that with the model size, and you can position the Ark over an objective and make it impossible to contest it by coming within 3” except for one side, forcing an opponent to come at the objective from a specific route, perhaps the one facing your Salvo 10 Gauss Flayer Array, for example.
Now to do this requires planning. The Doomsday Ark can be a useful addition to an army, but you have to commit to two things: terrain, and side choice. Each ITC mission begins the same way “Adjust and define terrain with your opponent.” The Ark requires some viable sight lines to work, and you may well need to adjust (fairly to your opponent) the terrain. You should not feel bad about this. Sun Tzu devoted an entire chapter of the Art of War to selection of battlefield terrain. No general in history has not tried to maneuver battles onto favorable terrain for his army. Adjusting the terrain in consultation with your opponent is part of the game – don’t skip this step.
Second, if you win the dice roll to pick sides, take 30 seconds and walk around the table and check out the sight lines from your backfield. Bring a laser pointer, it helps. I would guess that in at least 80% of the games I’ve ever played the player who gets to chose sides choses the side he is already standing at. We’re all naturally lazy. It’s human nature. But do yourself the favor and actually look at the competing sides from tabletop eye level and decide which one works best for you. If you neglect this step, you just wasted 170 points on a backfield long-range gun that can’t fire. If you take the time to position terrain and chose the best side, you can get several solid turns of Str10 Ap1 big blast shooting, and the ability to influence how your opponent moves his precious 2+ armor death star, or other nasty unit. All this can occur while your Ark sits atop a backfield objective like a fat Sumo wrestler, forcing your opponent to try and contest that objective on your terms, not his. When those pieces come together, the Ark can more than make up for its points.