I am sure all of us have been in the same situation. You walk up to the table, look at your opponent’s army list, and decide on two Secondaries relatively quickly. Then you spend extra time contrasting and comparing a few unappealing choices for your third Secondary. I know I was in this situation during my tournament last weekend, and choosing this third Secondary poorly almost cost me a win (choosing a better third Secondary could have gotten me a win in my first game too come to think of it). As Necrons players how can we ensure we are going into every game with the opportunity to score the maximum amount of points possible?
Generally, choosing our first two Secondaries is easy. I tend to look at my game and decided which option from Engage, Stranglehold, Purge Vermin would be best, and then I look at Raise Banners or ROD to see which one of these options will give me the most points. With my first two Secondaries picked I usually find myself hoping my opponent’s list will lead me to an obvious third Secondary choice. Sometimes this works out for me, and sometimes it makes this choice extremely difficult.
A great example of this is my first game at my last RTT. My opponent was playing Vanguard Vets Spam White Scars. When it came time to select that important third Secondary I chose No Prisoners knowing I would comfortably get 6 or 7 points from killing the fast moving Marines who would undoubtedly be racing toward my Necrons. What I didn’t think about was the Secondaries my opponent had to choose from and how effective a Space Marine army is at scoring those Secondaries. 6 or 7 points from one of my Secondaries was not going to win me that game against an army that was going to score above that in all of their Secondaries. If I had planned more effectively during my army building I could have had a comfortable third Secondary that would have scored me more reliable points giving me the opportunity to win this game.
Necron Potential Third Secondaries
Necrons are not the best at implementing a third Secondary choice through list building. Drukhari can comfortably ensure they can pick Last Stand every game, Space Marines have Oath of Moment, and some other armies can use the psychic Secondaries. Building for Last Stand is tough for Necrons unless we go with a serious MSU build, but there is one Necron specific Secondary that can score a respectable amount of points.
Code of Combat is a very powerful Secondary that gets overlooked. Scoring three points every time a Noble kills a unit can be an excellent way to score more points than your opponent was expecting. This Secondary isn’t limited to one Noble kill per turn or phase, so having multiple Nobles on the board killing units at any point in the game can get you a ton of points. Catacomb Command Barges, while expensive, are an amazing way to accomplish this Secondary. They are inherently tough with Quantum Shielding and their ability to be screened out as a Character with less then 10 Wounds. Their Gauss Cannon is no slouch of a weapon, and it can take the few remaining wounds off of already damaged enemy units.
When picking this Secondary just be sure your opponent does not have any way to target your protected CCB with snipers or units like the Admech bomber planes. Losing your source of Secondary points too early in the game will make this plan backfire in a really bad way.
Grind Them Down is sometimes a popular choice for Necron players as a third Secondary, but it is so unreliable I can’t recommend it unless other options aren’t available. IF you go second and your opponent’s army has smaller units that can be killed throughout the game this can be a decent Secondary. Outside of this specific circumstance this Secondary is a trap. If your opponent goes second they now know how many units they need to kill in order to stop you from scoring Grind Them Down, and if your opponent can’t accomplish this throughout the game you were most likely going to win anyway.
No Prisoners has gained in popularity since the release of Chapter Approved 2021 with it now counting wounds killed instead of models. This can be an excellent fall back Secondary when nothing else seems viable. Space Marines, Admech, and Orks all give this up at a pretty decent rate of return. The downside here will be if you opponent has three strong Secondaries to chose from they will be able to outscore your No Prisoners score unless their army very obviously gives up a ton of points from No Prisoners. This will have to be something you take into account while playing your game by denying your opponent points in other areas such as in the Primary score.
Finally, don’t forget about the mission Secondaries. Some of them, like Direct Assault, make picking Secondaries a breeze. If your Necron army list cant fight and hold the middle objective in Sweep and Clear you may need to go back to the drawing board. Minimize Losses can be an excellent pick that almost guarantees 5 points with a real shot at getting 10 if you are good at playing a cagey game where your don’t allow your opponent to kill many of your units. Oh, and I am sure you know by now to just take Priority Target if that mission is in your tournament pack. 15 points for both sides to start the game seems fair (what a terrible mission Secondary).
Hopefully, these quick tips will help some of the Necron players out there score better in the Secondary category. The faction is having a tough time of it right now because we cannot play the trading game like Drukhari and we can’t rely on some absolutely bonkers synergies like Admech. Necrons, and other factions struggling around the middle right now, only have one answer to the top tier armies and that is to build an army that is capable of scoring three extremely high Secondaries while keeping the Primary even.