Hello, all of the wargaming boys and girls of internet land! Scuba Steve here to walk you through another Necron Review. Today, we are going to be talking about the Annihilation Barge and how you can use it to wreck face on the table top. As always, for more tactics articles, be sure to check out the Tactics Corner!
Sweet, Sweet Annihilation
Alright, let’s get right into this thing, the Annihilation Barge is a swanky little skimmer with a whole lot of attitude; for its point cost it packs a lot of punch and and has a surprising amount of endurance. You don’t see them on the table too often (which is a damn shame), so let’s make to collective decision to get these bad boys on the table! Before any models hit the table, it is good to have an awesome understanding of what the unit has and how you need to use it!
- Gauss Cannon (Essentially, a twin linked Space Marine/Jet Bike killing gun, use it and love it)
- Twin-linked Tesla Destructor (Decent strength, extra hits on 6’s, no AP though… but that’s okay, it’s Twin Linked)
- Quantum Shielding (One of the greatest vehicle upgrades of all time)
- Living Metal (Basically, It Will Not Die – but on a 6)
- May switch out Gauss Cannon for a Tesla Cannon for free. (Decent strength, extra hits on 6’s, no AP, probably not as awesome as the Gauss Cannon)
So, what’s the good and the “just okay”?
- Gauss Cannon: Good! The two primary weapon options on this vehicle are both Heavy 2, the Gauss Cannon definitely wins out over the Tesla Cannon because all of its shots are AP 3. Being able to pick apart Space Marine and Eldar Jetbike squads is a major asset. Additionally, it has the Gauss special rule, so you auto wound and auto glance on 6’s to wound/penetrate.
- Twin-Linked Tesla Destructor: Good! Even though this weapon doesn’t have an AP value, it makes up for it by having a high rate of fire AND a high strength value. Additionally, if you roll any 6’s when firing this weapon, you gain an additional two automatic hits!
- Quantum Shielding: Good! Holy crap, is this ever good, this lets this little vehicle get a front and side armor of 13 until someone scores a penetrating hit against it. Wow… like… wow… Suddenly, you have a little skimmer that is basically indestructible to all small arms fire, you really do need (at least) strength 9 to reliably hurt it.
- Tesla Cannon: “Just okay”… This is a little bit disappointing when you compare it to the Gauss Cannon, even though it has higher strength, it lacks an AP value AND doesn’t have a high rate of fire (unlike the Tesla Destructor). I would suggest sticking to the Gauss Cannon to reap the benefits of the marine killing AP value.
- Living Metal: “Just Okay”… When you compare the new Living Metal rule to the old one, this is definitely much worse, however… the unit automatically comes with this special rule, so you may as well use it. The reason this special rule plays against this model is due to its Open-topped vehicle type; the chances of an explodes results taking place is much more possible.
Harness the Power of the Barge
So, how are you supposed to use the Annihilation Barge effectively? I believe that there are three very strong roles that an Annihilation Barge can fill in a Necron army (both competitive and casual).
Role #1 – MSU Hunter: Because the Annihilation Barge doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of firepower, it isn’t the most effective choice to glance vehicles to death with Gauss however, with a high Ballistic Skill and all Twin-Linked Weapons, the chances of you hitting with almost all of your shots is very high. So, the challenge here comes down to targeting the shots you do get correctly. The Gauss Cannon just screams “Shoot me at marines! Shoot me at Eldar! I can do it, trust me!”… and it isn’t wrong… With the proliferation of Eldar and Space Marines in the competitive meta, there are more and more small, 3+ armor, units (Tactical Squads and Jetbikes). These are your primary targets, they are small enough units that your two AP 3 shots from the cannon are enough to dismantle combat squads easily and force the Jetbikes to Jink (which reduces their effectiveness greatly). Additionally, these units are totally unable to hurt the Annihilation Barge because of its Quantum Shielding! Bolters and Scatter Lasers don’t do anything to Quantum Shields, no matter how much your opponent wishes they did. – See example below…
Reece, Reece, Reece… Tsk… Tsk… Tsk… Bolters do nothing to my Quantum Shields. Have to respect the enthusiasm though… Anyways! Bottom line, you don’t have to worry about the little weapons, your opponent legitimately has to dedicate high strength weapons to killing an Annihilation Barge, which is ultimately a poor choice when you compare the threat rating of an Annihilation Barge to your larger units, this will help to guarantee that the barge will stick around for most of the game.
Role #2 – Objective Grabbers: Even though the Annihilation Barge isn’t a fast skimmer, it is still a vehicle and has the ability to move 12″; with TL weapons, you don’t mind snap firing, if you really need to. Even though they aren’t the fastest unit in the entire game, when you compare them to your slow moving Necron infantry, these things are real speed demons. In conjunction with the role discussed above, the Quantum shields make it so that this unit cannot be easily blown off of an objective. Ultimately, if your opponent is going to dedicate heavy weapons to try and kill an Annihilation Barge, simply Jink. With AV13 front and side, the chances of a glance/pen are relatively low with anything strength 8 and below, then you add another layer of dice to the stack by Jinking. Your opponent can waste a great deal of heavy weapons fire trying to blow this unit off of an objective (Let them waste all the shots they want on this little skimmer, it simply means they are ignoring the other parts of your army, the longer they ignore the Necron blob walking up the table, the more difficult the end of the game is going to be for them).
Role #3 – Flank Guards: Because of the Annihilation Barge’s sturdiness, it is a good strategy to have them flank the table, they can snag objectives on the edge of the board, target opposing Outflanking units, and deter your opponent from dropping their meltaguns near them (If your model is hugging a board edge, your opponent will not be inclined to dedicate a pod of marines to try and kill it, if they do… watch the dice gods reap their vengeance on that player’s prideful nature – #livingforthemishap). You can even set up the effectiveness of this strategy by placing an objective closer to a board edge, so it is easy to snag with the barge. Additionally, your opponent’s Outflanking units are usually very small (scout squads, deffkoptas, rangers, etc…) and as we discussed above, the Annihilation Barge kicks some serious ass at destroying units like this.
So… Why don’t we see them more?
I believe that the Annihilation Barge is left on the shelf most days because it doesn’t easily fit into the Decurion Detachment. The formation that includes Annihilation Barges (the Annihilation Nexus) requires you to take a pair of them AND a Doomsday Ark (Little over 400pts); so… it’s expensive, and when you want those points to squeeze more Canoptek Wraiths into your army, letting the Annihilation Barge go can be an easy choice. Additionally, if you’re playing a Combined Arms Detachment, they unfortunately take up a Heavy Support slot. When you compare it to the other Heavy Support slots (Heavy Destroyers and Canoptek Spyders), you have to make some pretty difficult choices. But, in the sake of fairness, the Decurion Detachment does give them the ability to ignore Shaken and Stunned results, which can be very useful.
The Annihilation Barge may not be the most popular choice in the Necron Army, but it does have a place and is actually very useful in many different ways. Ultimately, the inability to easily drop them into a Decurion Detachment drastically reduces their presence on the battlefield, however… Necron players, I challenge you! Work these little gems into your list! They have such an awesome model, strong rules, and can be used very effectively on the table top! Follow these steps and the Barge will not disappoint.
Scuba Steve – Signing Out