Necrons taking a top 4 spot at the Lone Star Open was a shock for some of us out there in the competitive community (especially some of us Necron players). Congratulations to an event well played by that Necrons player! It took more then a solid army list to go so far at such a large event, but taking a look at the 4th place Necron’s list we can see something that varies vastly from most of the Necron army builds pre-Admech Codex. This list contains zero Necron Warriors, and has it’s troop slots filled up by Immortals. Let’s compare the Necron Warrior with the Immortal, and see if this was the secret sauce Necrons have been missing all along.
Let’s start with the unit that did some work at the LSO in the Immortals. These bigger, beefier, Necron troops were the mainstay of 8th Edition Necron builds, but fell quickly out of favor when the new 9th Edition Codex dropped. Immortals come in with some advantages over their more numerous counterparts right off the bat in the form of Toughness 5, a 3+ save, 2 Attacks, and an amazing ranged profile for a Troops unit. While Immortals can only be taken in units of up to 10, they can also be taken in units as small as 5 giving Necron players access to cheap (ok, not that cheap, but cheap for Necrons) backline objective holders.
Warriors are cheaper than the more elite Necron troops coming in at 13 points per model instead of the 17 points for an Immortal, but this slight points decrease comes with a real trade off in both defensive and offensive capabilities. Warriors are downgraded to T4, 4+ Save, a single attack, and, while the Reaper has the same offensive output as the Gauss Blaster, a range that is significantly less at 12 inches.
The humble Necron Warrior does have one huge advantage over the Immortals in the category of unit size. In another Codex the ability for Necron Warriors to be taken in blocks of 20 would not tip the scale in their favor against the other Troop option in the Necron’s book, but Reanimation Protocols makes this larger unit size a big deal. As far back as 6th or 7th Edition an effective strategy against Necrons was to obliterate entire units so they did not have the ability to reanimate throughout the game, and while the 9th Edition Necrons Codex changed Reanimation Protocols to work on a per attack basis it is still more effective the larger a (single wound) unit is. 20 Warriors gives the Necron player many more chances to roll for reanimation. Bringing along with those Warriors a Resurrection Orb, and the Warrior’s ability to re-roll 1s for reanimation protocol, just stacks the odds more in the favor of the 20 Warrior brick.
Unfortunately, a block of 20 Warriors is not as resilient as they were a month or so ago. Unlike almost any other army in the game the Admech Codex has the ability to remove 20 Necron Warriors from the tabletop with maddening ease. A unit of Skitarii Vanguard smokes 20 Warriors without breaking a sweat (assuming they are getting the proper buffs from the slew available to Admech players, and they will be don’t you worry). 20 Skitarii Rangers have a slightly tougher time removing the entire block of 20 Warriors in one go. Unless they get within Rapid Fire range with their 2CP Stratagem to give a unit 80 shots, or the Admech player brought 60-80 Skitarii total leaving plenty of shots to spare.
This is when the Immortals begin to look more appealing. With their T5 and 3+ armor save they are slightly more resilient to Admech shooting, and can even shoot back themselves with some effective fire power. Not into the Lucius defensively buffed Skitarii, but with their 30 inch range they should be able to put shots into something.
Now I can’t lie to you, my loyal readers. 20 Vanguard are going to smoke just about whatever a Necron player puts out for the Admech player to shoot at. Short of a Vehicle or 10 Lychguard nothing in the Necron’s Codex has a chance against the Admech firepower for long. Spending just (ugh) 170 points on this unit instead of the 260 for a block of 20 Warriors is a decent upside also knowing that once the unit pokes it head out to claim mid-table objectives it is most likely toast.
So, are the Immortals the new hotness? The answer to all our Necron problems? The answer is: it really depends. While Immortals do have slightly better play into Admech they don’t give any advantage against most other factions. Most Space Marine lists will thank you for taking 10 less bodies per unit so they don’t have to shoot their entire army into those pesky blocks of Warriors, and Drukhari will laugh in poison at the Immortals T5 profile.
The choice to take Immortals or Warriors will come down to what is popular in your specific meta. Both Warriors and Immortals have their separate up sides and downsides, and it really depends on the terrain density of the tables your local tournaments have along with the normal factions that can be expected to make an appearance at the top tables in your area. I do know the conclusion that I came to for my personal Necron list. Admech are a Codex in a league of their own. I am only going to beat an Admech player if I am a MUCH better 40k player then they are. If this is the case I can do that with 60 Warriors or 40 Immortals, but I know the 60 Warriors are more of a pain for the other armies I’ll need to play along the way.