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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Wraith-Barge Necrons Work

One thing that has really been running through my mind of late when it comes to working towards my own flavor of Necrons is...

Why are Wraith-Barge lists working so successfully? Honestly, on paper, they don't look that good! (Need evidence that they work? The UK Masters was just won by a Wraith-Barge list.)

What is a Wraith-Barge list? I've already posted one twice here even as I was trying to decide what I wanted to play, and I feel like, seeing as how many other people are using it, it's the "common" Necron list at this point. (Especially now that the whole Scarab fever seems to be done.)

A "Wraith-Barge":

Anrakyr/Overlord + Warscythe in Command Barge
Overlord + Warscythe + Command Barge

Royal Court #1:
(Optional other Teks, especially a Veiltek)
(Optional other Destructeks depending on list)

Royal Court#2:
(Optional other Teks, especially a Veiltek)
(Optional other Destructeks depending on list)


3-4 x 5 man Warrior or Immortal Squads
(Possible Night Scythe transports)

5-6 x Wraiths with some wound allocation
5-6 x Wraiths with some wound allocation
(Possible 5-6 x Wraiths OR 5-10 x Scarabs)

3 x Annihilation Barges
(Possible Spyders for a mini-scarab farm)

The core of the list combines Command Barge, Annihilation Barges, and Wraiths. These are married to some cheap troop choices which will either contribute supporting fire via attached Destructeks or Night Scythes.

Sometimes, you can build a mini-Scarab farm into the list to by dropping a Anni Barge or 2 for some Spyder Units to beef up a Scarab swarm. This is points dependent.

Why Does This Look Bad on Paper?

Yes, your eyes deceive you.

There are several reasons this list looks bad on paper. The first is a big weakness to melta weaponry.

It doubles out wraiths. It kills Barges. Barges all have 24 inch range which makes it very easy to get into melta range in 2 turns. So much so it would appear like a solid Mech Guard build should really just run this list over.

Yet, even in my play testing, the exact opposite happens. I've found that Mech Guard is actually the one getting run over. What's going on here?

It's Messing with You

This list functions exactly like this:

Step #1) Place Wraiths in a position to create a sizeable 18 inch threat bubble. Wraiths are sturdy and won't die very easily.

Step #2) Flank or position Anni Barges to get good side shots or fire support.

Step #3) Turbo Barges up to create a massive threat bubble.

Step #4) Use Solar Pulse to help ensure the enemy can't put to much fire on your Turn 1.

Step #5) Hang giant HIT ME sign on your Command Barges and Wraiths while placing your Troops in the most unassuming way possible.

Step #6) Hope your opponent reacts exactly like he would against a normal Marine army.

The overall goal is to distract your as much as possible with a credible Wraith and Command Barge threat while peppering away at you with sub-par fire support. From there, use Solar Pulse to try and mitigate return fire.

Also, reserve or give up first turn.

Lastly, specifically target the portions of the opponent's army which will be the biggest late game threat to your Troops, generally by destroying the enemy mobility or long range support.

In a nutshell...

Act exact like a Hammer list with solid Fire Support just without the expensive hammer.

The thing is, it's not a hammer list. Wraiths, although good for their points, aren't a very credible hammer. They will die in droves to concentrated fire or real hammer units.

But against Guard or more shooty oriented lists, they sure look like one. They rend. They are S6. They have a 3++. They are decently difficult to kill with shooting.

And Command Barges! How annoying these can be! Living metal combined with a rule to "heal" immobilized results. Further, it's 13 armor!

The Solution

The solution to this list is to do EXACTLY what the "on paper" tells you to do. This include not getting intimidated by the pseudo-hammer and red herrings running around.

Your melta really can take out those Wraiths. Command Barges really do die a horrible, horrible death after their sweep attack because they will now be in counter-range with Melta guns. You really can tie up and destroy Wraiths with dedicated assault units.

Close support is the key as well as a forward push.

My play testing thus far against Guard players has shown that the Guard player resorts to base instinct when faced with this list. He wants to go to corners, split his force up, or focus way to much on killing Wraiths.

Instead, the better approaches are to treat this exactly like you would fighting Space Wolves. Sacrifice a few Chimeras where you have to, counter with the heavy hand of a plethora of melta when they get close, and otherwise, remove their long range support as quickly as possible.


  1. What guard players have YOU been playing against? Scarabs are still far scarier, though there are a couple guys around here trying out wraithbarge lists ... just ... folks around here opposing them are me, Tony, etc., and when list-oriented head games don't work no a player ...

  2. haha made you say Wraithbarge!

    I don't disagree at all. I also think what's making the list seem viable is opposing players not properly countering the list. I think in the long run it will fall short, but as it stands, hard to argue with the results coming out of the UK thus far.

    Anyways, Scarabs are only scary because you are still playing that same-old, tired, Guard list! :)

  3. Scarabs murder GK pretty nicely too :) ... they are less scary and more functional / utilitarian.

    Results of tournaments are much more oriented around player skill and playstyles of the area, than they are around list build. Tough games between equivalent or close-equivalent players come down to dice and tactics, not list. It's why I always get a little frustrated at people taking much out of list-impact / list-metas / lists at all in terms of how they evaluate tournament results.

    I run a godawful Guard list, have for a couple of years, in terms of its score on the meta-scale ... but it lets me play largely how I want to, and so I'm always "in it" against even dramatically better "on-paper" lists against my peers.

  4. Scarabs murder GK that rely on Psycannon spam and don't bring along a handful of Incinerators ;)

    1. I disagree, T3 W3 units with instadeath from a S7 Psycannon is very scary, and because of that i find psycannons if aimed at scarabs will slaughter them.

  5. I completely agree with the idea that a lot of the necron lists look bad on paper, but play strangely well. I have a writhing worldscape list that should get stomped, but doesn't because it strangely works. Best yet, I managed to get video battle reports of it on my blog if you want to take a look sometime.


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