With the introduction of the Vendetta/Valkyrie in the first Imperial Guard codex as the first skimmer/flyer concept to the official 40k Codex books we have now had a few books appear on the shelf bringing some variants of the same concept to the table. Some are pure fighters or bombers and others as troop transports of different varieties.
With The Necron codex, I am still in the middle of the ground on the viability of these models. They are a wonderful concept but lack some elements that would allow them to survive on the field for very long based against their point value.
Below is a breakdown of each army and their flyers with their merits and flaws as well as my thoughts:
A look at the other kid’s toys:
Dark Eldar Void Raven: Able to take a variety of missile loads and bombs makes this guy a favorite along with the nice package of dark lances that are much stronger than their normal variants. While you are looking at an AV 11 vehicles, this guy can take some options to give it a 5+ Inv save and reduce weapons shooting at it by 6” adding to the survival factor. It is fast and can shoot much of its weapons on the move with no issues.
Dark Eldar Razorwing: The fighter variant of the Void Raven, less weapon options but no less deadly and has the same upgrades as its cousin fighter. Again it makes a viable choice among the Dark Eldar heavies. The main problem is competing with the cheaper priced Ravager that can be loaded up with a nasty load out turns Dark Eldar people away from the bomber and fighter variants in favor of paying less for something similar. Short of the large blast templates the Ravager can offer up something to keep up with the flyers.
Imperial Guard Vendetta: Three Twin Linked Lascannons. Yes please! You can toss in some heavy bolters to add insult to injury if you like. This gunship is able to transport 12 models and has excellent armor as high as 12 on the primary points short of the rear making for a tough flyer. Toss in the option to be able to scout as well adds to the bonus along with deep strike found on most other flyers. This allows it to scout forward to drop off models or flank the sides to threaten the enemy later in the game. It also comes with extra armor to change stun results to shaken.
Imperial Guard Valkyrie: Standard stock with a multi-laser and missiles with the upgrade options to add heavy bolters and missile pods. And who would not add missile pods? The missiles are non-blast ordnance which is a pain and limits the flyer from being effective and is more geared towards anti-troop with the multi-laser, heavy bolters and missile pods. Able to carry 12 troops also with scout and deep strike in its corner makes it very popular among IG choices which come from their Fast Attack category. The only major competition they have there is against the Hell Hounds and their variants.
Blood Angel Storm Raven: A 12/12/12 Space Marine gunship able to carry 12 infantry models and a Dreadnought in a sweet package. Often joked as the “flying Land Raider” and is to a point. It can be packaged up with anti-troop weapons like heavy bolters, assault cannons and hurricane bolters as well as missiles or given the favorite anti-armor options of multi-melta, plasma cannons, lascannons or even a Typhoon Missile Launcher system. Oh did I mention twin linked? Machine spirit? So, I can shoot at two targets at once or go FLAT OUT and still be able to shoot? No? Well, I just did. Toss in the ability to resist melta shots and is an enclosed assault vehicle is nothing to cry about. You can upgrade this guy to take some extras including extra armor to be able to move even if stunned! The price 200 points base! WHAT A DEAL!
Grey Knight Storm Raven: Same package as the Blood Angel one but has the large blast anti-psyker missiles on it to cause perils of the warp against those that have psychic powers. They also have the psychic power to ignore shaken and stun results for just about the same price.
Necron Doom Scythe: Has a price tag of 175 points. Much like the Dark Eldar fighters they can move at cruising and fire all weapons still. A nice thing to help stay alive. One major perk compared to the Storm Raven that can move at cruising and still fire two weapons and defensive weapons along with the Machine Spirit Power. Only the IG gets left in the dust having to stick to combat speed if they want to shoot all their toys. It comes with an 11/11/11 with no Quantum Shielding (which is on EVERY Necron vehicle short of the Monolith and that is AV 14 already!) makes it a bit fragile compared to its cousins from other books. Take care to keep in mind it does have the Living Metal rule, so it can ignore Shaken on a 2+ and Stun results on a 4+, still your subject to the fickle fates of the dice. It comes with a Twin Linked Telsa Destructor which is nice, 4 shots, STR 7, assault 4 with a chance to arc into other units inflicting damage. Still not as nice as twin linked dark lances, lascannons or other goodies on the other flyers and lacks any real AP compared to them. It also has stock with the “Death Ray”; the problem here is it is 12” range, with two points in a line it fires in. Pick one point, roll 3d6 (pray you roll high) and each model hit takes a STR 10, AP 1 strike to the unit/vehicle. Nice, if your opponent is dumb enough to cluster everything in a neat line and lets you get within range. Sure, kill one or two vehicles of decent value and it becomes worth its points. The problem is surviving long enough to get there.
Necron Night Scythe: Has a low cost of 100 points. This flyer is able to transport 15 in a unique way that is safe to those that are the passengers in the event the flyer explodes or is wrecked. They do not take any damage from explosions, risk being pinned a so forth unlike others. Sadly, you have to walk in from reserves from your table edge making it a double edge sword. Congrats you’re safe but you’re out of the fight also. If you have a Monolith then you can teleport them closer to get into the action. It has all the merits of its brother the Doom Scythe with Living Metal, the twin linked Telsa Destructor and the same armor. It can also carry jump troops and jetbikes reducing the ability to carry less, that being 5 Bikes or 7 Jump Troops.
Compared to the other Codex books, they got a little less love than their cousins from the other books. Not only that, the Necron Doom Scythe has to compete with other heavy choices to see the light of day. The Monolith is a beast and their most heavily armored vehicle. The Doomsday Ark is cheaper, has a nasty STR 9, AP 1 large blast if it remains still and a weaker version if it does. The even cheaper Annihilation Barge is a great light armor and anti-troop vehicle and the Spyders are cheap Monstrous Creatures.
The only limit to the Night Scythe is units you can take that have the option. Even so, it competes against a Ghost Arc which is a better choice for Necron Warriors, granted everyone else has to take a Night Scythe or walk to the battle otherwise. Rhinos, Chimeras, Razorbacks and even Raiders are cheaper as troop options for transport. The Raiders while fragile can take again the 5+ Inv save and reduce range of shots against them making them a harder target to kill and open topped as well.
I am still reserved on my full opinion of the Necron flyers at this time until I have a chance to try them out in some test games and see how they fair for others.
So far, the Night Scythe appears to be a good thing to hold in reserve, go flat out on the first turn, then drop the kids off and harass targets the rest of the game or act as a reserve transport to pick someone else up to grab a table quarter/objective at a later point in the game. Granted, it sucks if you do this as your back in your “pocket void” so, back to the table edge for you and reserves. Late in the game this can be VERY dangerous. Unlike other races that can take a loss to a vehicle, any survivors can still grab an objective. It would have been nice if they could have carried the Triarch Stalkers like how Ravens carry Dreadnoughts!
The Doom Scythe would have to be taken as a pair at least, if not three, to be viable in a game. Even so, once someone knows what they can do is going to blow them out of the sky early to avoid letting them get close. If you have first turn, sure move up 12”, fire away, you should be fine. If you go second, hold them in reserve and slip them in to crush an opponent that is not careful to place his stuff with care. Even so, after a few games people will get wise and be on the lookout for them. You would also have to gamble a bit that your death ray can kill enough in the first turn to earn the points invested in it before it gets shot apart by the enemy and I assure you, THEY WILL!