I’m going to start analysing the Necron units over the next few months and adding the posts to a Necron page in order to help new players out. There are a few good online communities with valuable insight but the organisation of that knowledge leaves a lot to be desired!
This won’t be an exhaustive comparison to other codexes or the metagame and I welcome anyone’s input, whether you feel I’m wrong, right or missing something important.
I’ll start with Crypteks. They are a HQ choice, taken with an Overlord. They can create their own unit or can be added to other specific units. From a design perspective they are one of my favourite aspects of the codex. They offer specialised weapons to other Necron units and are great for building a more flexible army.
A basic Cryptek isn’t all that inspiring, armed with a Staff of Light which provides solid short range marine killing capabilities. One of these guys is probably only ideal for a squad you’ll be transporting into rapid fire range to take out priority targets. Crypteks also only benefit from a 4+ save, meaning they need to be protected.
Upgraded Crypteks are far more interesting. Any Cryptek can be upgraded to a Harbinger, but the specific wargear they can upgrade to may only be taken once per retinue. So you can take five Harbingers of Despair, but only one may take a Nightmare Shroud or Veil of Darkness. This excludes their Harbinger specific weapon ugprades.
I’ve had to borrow some pics to illustrate the various Harbingers as I am still waiting for my order to arrive to convert mine! Sources indicated in image names.
Harbingers of Despair, Despairtek, HoDespair, Veiltek
These guys are quite a nasty choice with their AP1 template weapon. It works against leadership though, so against most targets you should be able to do good damage with smart placement within the squad.
The Veil of Darkness allows the Cryptek to leave the table and deepstrike back into play immediately but only if you aren’t in close combat. Certainly has its uses but deepstriking can be risky.
You’ll probably want a delivery method to get the most out of your template weapon. You drop a reasonably sized squad most probably with Gaus in rapid fire range and try to decimate a squad in a single go. Warriors or Immortals work, you just need to ensure you aren’t left to eat a charge if things go wrong.
Harbingers of Destruction, Destrotek, HoDestru, Pulsetek
Anyway, these guys also have Solar Pulse allowing a turn of night fighting or for night fighting to be removed for a turn. Tactically this can help/hinder you or your opponent, although some armies have natural defences.
Gaze of Flame gives defensive grenades… pretty rubbish really unless you are building a Court deathstar.
These Harbingers are an ideal choice for a scoring unit that will be sitting in the backfield. Without the ability to take heavy weapons normally, the Eldritch Lance provides reach and tank busting, not to mention an ideal weapon for sniping MCs and similar.
Harbingers of Eternity, HoE, Chronotek
One of the favoured choices for many Necron players the HoE can take a Chonometron allowing a single reroll each turn for his unit. Personally I’m not a fan, despite the cost not being totally prohibitive.
The Aeonstave is just bad, even a staff of light is sadly much better.
A Timesplinter cloak provides a 3++, not bad but for the price? Perhaps in a Court deathstar to absorb certain heavy weapon shots, but generally not an ideal choice.
Not really a Harbinger I personally recommend as a standalone, more ideal to fit into a unit with a Overlord or Lord to help them out with that important roll.
Harbingers of Transmogrification, Tremortek, Transmotek
The Harp of Dissonance is a medium strength Entropic Strike ranged weapon with infinite range, providing the ability to strip armour points or armour saves. Not bad, particularly against vehicles like Land Raiders, it would take a consolidated volley to have a huge effect and your regular Gaus does the job anyway. For the price it’s a dubious choice.
The Seismic Crucible lets you lower an opponent’s charge distance against the Cryptek’s unit by D3. Not that crazy now with 2D6 charge ranges.
Tremorstaves in combination with Writhing Worldscape makes all units moving through difficult terrain take dangerous terrain tests… a bit of a gimmick but fun and effective, if unreliable.
Harbingers of the Storm, HoS, Voltek
These are the ‘melta’ of the Necron army when you consider the Voltaic Staff. This is a haywire weapon how it should be. Not that rubbish that Dark Eldar got as an experiment! Expect two to three glances/pens from each Harbinger with a Voltaic Staff.
Ether Crystals provide a form of deepstrike defense, with such a short range however I wouldn’t be even considering this piece of gear. They also don’t stack well…
Lightning Field is similar to Ether Crystals but works when assaulted. Of possible use in a combat orientated squad.
You give up that low AP value in exchange for better range (at full effect) compared to a regular meltagun and I would argue better reliability thanks to a greater weight of fire. These are your tank hunters, add some extra Gaus and you should be destroying vehicles left, right and centre!