Necron Unit Tactica: Nightbringer
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I'm not going to review the Nightbringer's statline and special rules. Just get out your Codex and read it if you need to know that. I will cover theimplicationsof his statline and special rules, though.
One thing is immediately obvious about Nightbringer: He's hard to kill. His toughness is so high that boltgun rounds simply can't wound him. Even a krak missile has only a 50% chance to cause a wound. On top of that, he has many wounds and an invulnerable save. It takes a lot of firepower to kill him. The Manifestation rule means that any models that want to get into close combat with him must pass a Leadership test. This is not a Morale check or Pinning test, so it does affect Fearless models.
Nightbringer also looks like an invincible close combat monster. With his incredibly high Strength, high WS, large number of attacks, and ability to ignore ALL saves, he can slaughter nearly any other character in the game without breaking a sweat. His Initiative is fairly average, but he's so tough that he can afford to concede the first strike to the opponent. Most things that are faster than him are too weak to hurt him; anything strong enough to hurt him is slower. To deal with hordes, he can use Etheric Tempest to blow low-Strength opponents out of combat, or Gaze of Death to simply suck the life force from their bodies. This means that he can't be held in combat by cheap sacrificial units. Even if the opponent does manage to reduce his Wounds to zero, his necrodermis will explode, in an effect similar to an exploding vehicle and even deadlier.(This can be a problem if there's any friendlies nearby).
In close combat, Gaze Of Death can be even more effective than his normal attacks. It produces one guaranteed hit per model underneath the template, and anything partly under the template is hit on a 4+. His normal attacks will generally produce around 3-4 hits only. If Nightbringer is in base to base with a multi-wound model (like an independent character or monstrous creature) then normal attacks are probably the best option. Gaze of Death can easily kill half (or more!) of the models around him with no armour save. Just be careful because it will not discriminate between friendly and enemy models.
While Nightbringer might be a real tough nut in close combat, against shooting it's a different story. Above All Others means that he can always be picked out for shooting, if range and LOS allow. He may be an Independent Character, but can't join units or claim immunity to shooting in 6" of friendlies. Basically, he has all the disadvantages of being an IC with none of the benefits. He's also very slow: he can never really force the opponent to fight him in close combat.
Using the Nightbringer in your armyThe Nightbringer costs a massive number of points, as much as 20 Warriors. He's not a Necron, and has no special abilities that assist Necrons directly, unlike most of the wargear on a Necron Lord. Phase Out will be a real issue if you don't take enough Necrons in your army. Therefore, almost all of the rest of your force should have the Necron special rule. Expensive non-Necron models like Pariahs or the Monolith should be avoided, unless the points limit for the game is very large. You should also keep the number of types of Necrons to a minimum: this tends to prevent cheap kills because no other necrons of the same type are available for WBB.
There's a reason that Scarabs are on the Nightbringer's base. They work well with him. They can pin down enemy units while the Nightbringer catches up with them. They can get into close combat with heavy weapon teams to stop them shooting, or get into close combat and so block LOS. Scarabs are pretty cheap too, which is a bonus considering how much Nightbringer costs.
Following up the Nightbringer's advance, we'll have plenty of Warriors. These are there to prevent Phase Out, and have plenty of short range firepower.
Destroyers and Heavy Destroyers will give us the long-range killing power to deal with tanks, transports, and other things that can outrange or outmanouvre Nightbringer.
An example of a 1500 point army might look like this:
2 Heavy Destroyers
I've left out any close combat models bar the Scarabs, as those are redundant or are not Necrons. Immortals have been ignored because they cost 33% more than Warriors, but have less range than Destroyers. I'm not saying this is a beat-em-all army, but it's a base you could adapt.
Tactical use of the NightbringerTactically, the biggest issue you'll face when using Nightbringer in your army is forcing the opponent to deal with him. The opponent will simply ignore him and go for the victory conditions or Phase Out if he possibly can.
In a victory points game, I would deploy Nightbringer in front of the rest of the army. We can't stop the enemy shooting at him, so let's put him right out in front. In this position, he blocks LOS and charges to models behind him, and forces Target Priority tests for any shooting at the Necrons. A lot of players disparage Target Priority tests, but making a roll against Ld 8 or 9 is not automatic, and over the course of the game it WILL divert some fire away from the Necrons.
Keep the slower models - the Warriors for example - close enough to the Nightbringer that they can support each other. The Warriors will do a lot of the killing, and the Nightbringer can threaten to destroy anything that gets too close.
In objective based missions, while the Nightbringer is an independent character and cannot secure objectives, he can destroy nearly anything that can secure an objective. And remember... you need to hold the objective at theend of the game to win. If the Nightbringer simply picks an objective and makes a beeline for it from Turn 1 he'll probably arrive in enough time to kill anything that's already there. You won't hold the objective, but neither will the other guy. Even if the opponent does use enough resources to kill Nightbringer, that means you've succeeded in forcing the opponent to deal with him.
Deployment is critical with Nightbringer, because he's so slow. When deploying him, bear in mind that he completely ignores terrain when moving, so it's OK to put him behind impassible terrain (especially if it blocks LOS from enemy heavy weapons!). If the enemy is highly mobile, decide which objective(s) you're going for and send him there, or the centre in a VP game. He's an HQ choice, so he'll often be deployed later in the deployment cycle. Take advantage of this to either avoid heavy weapons, or threaten slow moving units.
How to kill NightbringerGenerally speaking, the only way to kill a creature with a really high Toughness and a lot of wounds is cause a lot of wounds on it, or use a weapon that causes Instant Death through a special rule. Pummelling Nightbringer with enough anti-tank weapon shots will do it, but there are some other weapons that have certain special rules that Nightbringer is vulnerable to.
-Sniper Rifles. These hit easily and wound on a 4+, as well as being relatively cheap in Space Marine armies. A full squad of scouts with sniper rifles can kill a C'Tan in two turns, on average. Shoot them or charge them with Scarabs.
-Rending Weapons. These are found in Space Marine, Chaos Space Marine, and Tyranid armies. Watch out for Assault Cannons in loyalist marine armies. Chaos armies will have mutants with daemonic talons and Daemonettes of Slaanesh. In Tyranid armies, watch out for Genestealers, Tyranid Warriors and Hive Tyrants with rending claws.
-Force Weapons. Carried by Space Marine Librarians, these really aren't a threat to a C'Tan because the character carrying it must wound the C'Tan in close combat to use it. Librarians have a strength too low to wound the C'Tan. If the Librarian has some other effect which increases his Strength, it may threaten the C'Tan, but these can usually be safely ignored. If the Librarian uses any psychic power, they may not use the Force Weapon to score an instant kill on the same turn - so psychic powers that increase the Librarian's strength won't help. Space Marine players often "forget" this last point, so be aware of it.
-Psychic Power: Gift Of Chaos. Technically, this can turn a C'Tan into a Chaos Spawn. However, the range is very short (two inches), and it only works on a 6. If you want to put your expensive Chaos Sorceror into my C'Tan's kill zone for a 1-in-6 chance of killing him, then you're welcome to do so. Just don't cry when Nightbringer devours his life force.
-Huge Monsters. Bloodthirsters, Tyranid Hive Tyrants with Tyrant Guard, and other C'Tan can all kill Nightbringer with a little luck. The best thing to do with these is shoot them (and remember Nightbringer himself has a decent shooting attack). Don't hesitate to commit Nightbringer to combat with these things if you have to, since they'll munch through everything else like popcorn. Just try to stack the odds in your favour by wounding the target a bit before getting into assault.
-Gauss Weapons. These will wound on 6's as normal. Cause enough wounds on him, he'll die. It takes many, many shots though.
-Phase Out. Kill enough Necrons, and it's good night Nightbringer. For this reason, non-Necron models like Monoliths should be avoided when taking Nightbringer in an army. Take lots of cheap Necrons instead.
Other Considerations-Other players' perceptions. A lot of players don't like special characters. Some armies, depending on what the opponent has taken, simply can't deal with the Nightbringer at all. They may call you a cheesy player. If they really complain a lot, just tell them you brought the cheese to go with their whine. For a game with regular opponents, it can be a lot of fun to each take a special character in your army.
-Cool Mini. Nightbringer has a large, impressive miniature... and 40K's a miniatures game. "I just like the model" is enough justification to take him, especially if he's well painted.