Necron Unit Tactica: Destroyer
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For about the same point cost as a Space Marine attack bike with heavy bolter, you get a jetbike, with a Gauss cannon that has the same range and rate of fire as the bolter, but higher strength and the Gauss rule. On top of that, the Destroyer cannot be instant killed by meltaguns or lascannons. This is a real bargain.
Battlefield Roles of the DestroyerThe Destroyer is a good all-rounder. It can mow down medium and light infantry with ease, penetrate the frontal armour of light tanks and skimmers, and even score a lot of glancing hits against the frontal armour of heavy tanks (AV 13+). Under 3rd edition rules, they were the best way to kill tanks available to the Necron list. Under 4th edition rules, obscured target status is no longer an automatic glancing hit, so they've taken a back seat to Heavy Destroyers for heavy tank busting, but can still do it. When targeting marine equivalents (MEQs), they usually wound on 2's but can't penetrate the armour. Still, the high rate of fire, good ballistic skill and high strength means that they're adequate at killing MEQs. Super heavy infantry (like Terminators) should be left to the Heavy Destroyers.
The Destroyers are too few to do all the killing. Use the superior range and speed to neutralise enemy units that are a threat to the Necron army as a whole, or that are too fast or long ranged for the other units to deal with. Tanks with ordnance and heavy weapons squads are a threat to the whole army. Transports and Tau battlesuits can be hard for the slower moving elements of the Necron army to target. Even a "crew shaken" result will stop a Leman Russ from firing its battle cannon for a turn, buying an extra turn of firing for the models it would have destroyed.
The Destroyer's weapon has the same range as a heavy bolter, so it will often be outranged by enemy tanks' heavy weapons. That means they'll usually get the first shot in. The Destroyer does have the speed of a jetbike, so it can often move to get closer or to score side hits. Turbo-boosting will get the Destroyers into range and mitigate the effects of the enemy first shot by giving an invulnerable save. Many players like to keep the Destroyers close to the Lord to gain the benefit of the Resurrection Orb for the early turns of the game, however.
In an assault, Destroyers are pretty weak for their points cost. They can shoot and then assault in the same turn, and their high Toughness gives them some protection against low Strength attackers. Generally speaking, it's not worthwhile committing them to an assault unless the opponents are very weak in close combat and you can beat them, or to shield the Destroyers from opposing shooting. Static Tau or Imperial Guard are examples of enemies you might want to assault with the Destroyers.
A good general rule when playing 40K is "match AP to saves". Destroyers are highly efficient at killing 4+ save models. Models with worse saves can be left for the Warriors; models with better saves can be dealt with by either Heavy Destroyers or the Monolith.
The Destroyers' high speed also makes them excellent late-game table quarter grabbers.
In summary, Destroyers are the Necron equivalent to heavy weapon teams. Ask yourself, "what's the biggest thing I can kill with these?" each turn and point the Destroyers at that target.
Squad SizesDestroyer squads range from three to five, and as they are Fast Attack you can have as many as three squads. I like to take two equal size squads of 3 or 4 each, with the remaining slot taken by the very useful Scarabs. Operate the Destroyer squadrons close together to take advantage of the We'll Be Back rule and to concentrate firepower.
Interaction With Other UnitsNo unit in any list can be considered by itself, and this is even more true for Necrons than other lists.
-Lord: With the Resurrection Orb, the Destroyers will be able to self repair even from Tau railgun hits. Otherwise, not a lot of interaction because the Destroyers should be able to outrun most models with power weapons and there are few strength 10 weapons out there.
-Tomb Spyder: Quite useful, because the Spyder extends WBB range. With the small squad sizes, opposing players often strive to kill all the Destroyers in a squad at once. If the Destroyers are close enough to a Spyder, they can join another Destroyer squad anywhere on the table if this happens.
-Monolith: The Monolith portal can make a long ranged unit even longer ranged. The Destroyers can be teleported 18" plus the width of the Monolith's base, plus a 12" move, and then fire at a target up to 36" away. That adds up to around 72". Take that, railguns! All that and extra We'll Be Back rolls to boot. Ouch.
-Scarabs: The usual Scarab role is disruption. Concentrate destroyer fire on one unit, then charge with the Scarabs. They won't be shooting back at the Destroyers and the depleted number of the enemy will take longer to kill off the Scarabs. Alternatively, if the Destroyers can take out the target unit completely (e.g. Imperial Guard or Tau Fire Warriors) but are vulnerable to return fire from supporting units, charge the supporting units with the Scarabs. You'll get an unanswered shot that way.
Destroyer shooting can often produce morale checks; the Scarabs can either try to crossfire retreating units, or charge and possibly overrun them.
-Heavy Destroyers: If Heavy and light Destroyers are taken in the same force, the two types of Destroyer can divide the work between them. The Heavy destroyers will attack tanks and models with 2+ or 3+ saves. The light Destroyers will fire at the tanks not attacked by the Heavy destroyers on any given turn, hoping to shake or stun them until the Heavies can turn their attention to them. (If you manage to score a Vehicle Destroyed result with glancing hits, even better. But you can generally rely on at least shaking the crew.)
When attacking transports, fire the Heavy Destroyers first, hoping to get a penetrating hit. Any penetrating hit will cause the passengers to disembark, allowing them to be attacked by the light Destroyers.
-Immortals: Immortals and Destroyers have a somewhat similar role, defined by the similarity of their weapons. Gauss blasters and cannons have the same AP. A Lord with Veil of Darkness and a squad of Immortals can perform a lot of the same jobs as a large squad of Destroyers.
-Flayed Ones: With Flayed Ones often operating "behind enemy lines" Destroyers are one of the few units with enough range to easily support them with shooting. If you shoot at a unit that the Flayed Ones are about to assault, there's a risk that the enemy will fall back (unless they're fearless, in which case just blast away). Instead, fire on any unit(s) that are in a position to support the assaulted unit.
-Pariahs: Pariahs are a counter assault unit. Enemy units in close range to the Pariahs are great targets for shooting, as they have a good chance of falling back if they're not completely Fearless.
-Wraiths: The same as Flayed Ones. Wraiths are extremely vulnerable to massed shooting, so isolating the Wraiths' target from support is critical.
-Warriors: These and the Destroyers back each other up. The Destroyers take on elite or very tough units that shrug off gauss flayer fire; The Warriors use their massive short range firepower on the hordes that could otherwise chase down and kill the Destroyers. Against truly massive hordes, the Destroyers will whittle down the enemy at long range, and the Warriors will mop up at close range.
VulnerabilitiesLike all Necron squads with small sizes, massed fire can destroy a whole squad at once, preventing WBB. They're pretty weak in close combat as well, and with their low Initiative can be easily run down in 4th Edition. Try to keep the enemy at a distance between 24 and 36 inches away. Alternatively, keep them close to the phalanx so that anything close enough to hurt them will get blasted by rapid-firing gauss flayers.
Other ConsiderationsBuying Destroyers individually can be expensive. Three Destroyers are available in the Necron Battleforce Boxed Set, which is a cheap way to start a Necron army. If you get it at a discount from an online retailer, you'll get an even deeper discount.
Necrons have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Fast Attack choices. Wraiths, Destroyers and Scarabs are all good choices and have their place. Ultimately, you need to decide whether you're going to use your fast attack for shooting (Destroyers), disruption and sacrifice (Scarabs) or high-speed ambushers (Wraiths).