Okay, so far in my series of Autopsies, I’ve been talking about very solid, reliable units (and, in two of the cases, units that are compulsory in one way or another). Just to add a bit of flavour to proceedings, I’m going to briefly address some of the units that are more of a personal choice to add to an army, and choices which many players may disagree with. Let’s start with the Annihilation Barge.
This vehicle is a bit of an odd one, when it comes down to it. It slow (or at the very least, not Fast) and short to mid-ranged (24” on all its weapons), which is far from a user-friendly combination. It’s also Open Topped, which is another black mark against it. Open Topped is only a (potential) advantage for transports. On a gunboat, it serves no purpose other than to get it killed. Add in the fact that all its guns (which it needs to remain stationary in order to use all of, might I add), and the perfectly valid query may be raised: Why are you taking this thing?
Several reasons really. I’ll start with the least important (or most important, depending on the type of player you are). It looks really cool. When I first saw the Barge in the pre-release pictures, I didn’t think too much of it. Not bad, not great. But the more I saw of it, the more I liked it, and when it came to my self-imposed challenge of building a new model Necron army for under £100, this thing was top of the list to buy. Not only for the aesthetics, but also for the fact that it a plastic Overlord included in the kit as well. So that’s the first reason.
The second reason is durability. The Quantum Shielding lends this cheap little 90 point vehicle with a great deal of resilience from the off. Strength 6 torrent fire can’t affect it. Autocannons can’t penetrate it. Krak missiles only pen on a 6. And the living Metal rule allows you to disregard the shaken and stunned results reliably often. This makes the Annihilation Barge a useful piece of movable cover to chug forward at the head of the army, whilst still emanating the threat of all the S7 shooting it can bring to bear it you wander too close. I often use them in the way, to provide a cover save to my Canoptek Spyders (which can also repair weapons and immobilisations on the Barges in a nice bit of symbiosis) and I’m fairly confident that they will lengthen the survivability of the Stalker when I get it as well. I tend to keep them moving until they hit the 24” sweet spot and then set them down and let rip for the rest of the game (or until they die, whichever happens first). The points cost also helps in this regard, because no-one weeps over losing a 90 point vehicle.
Finally, I love the weaponry. If you’ve read my previous autopsy (the one on Immortals) then you’ll know that I really enjoy the Tesla mechanic. Because of this, I always go for the Tesla cannon rather than the Gauss for the vehicle, but again it’s a personal taste thing. There are certainly times when the AP3 given by the Gauss would’ve been handy though. Anyway, the Tesla Destructor (the big main gun of the thing) packs a good deal of firepower (4 S7 shots) with all the possibilities that silly Tesla rules bring (up to 12 hits!) making it good enough for vehicle suppression fire (although the AP- makes it of limited use as a dedicated vehicle killer) and it works well as a threat to foot troops with the weight of fire that it can fling out (nearly all of which will be wounding on 2s). It’s an odd thing, but until AP3, I really don’t care about AP values for infantry killing. I suppose it’s ingrained with this army and the Dark Eldar ones I run that sheer weight of fire is enough to kill MEQs without worrying about it. It leads to a more relaxed army formation for me. If, for example, you’re deploying plasma weapons to kill marines, then providing your target with a cover save is a real problem and cause for concern. If you’re just piling on the AP- shots though, I couldn’t care less about cover or obscured lines of sight.
Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, *slap face* back on point. Not only is the fun Tesla hitting mechanic in action with the Destructor, but there is also arcing to be taken into consideration. Now this effect is highly unlikely to happen during any one incident, and when it happens it may not have any effect (vehicles, mainly) but that just makes it that much more amusing to me when it kicks off. It makes you cast your eye for densely packed clusters of infantry or light vehicle to increase the chance of collateral damage flying about. Which is always fun. The final point about the Destructor is a point that I hadn’t realised for an embarrassingly long time. I had played four or so games with the Annihilation Barge and being underwhelmed by it. I’d got another one, because I thought they’d work better in small hunting packs, but they still didn’t quite bring enough to the field to justify their existence. Then, during game 5 at my local GW, someone (I think one of the staffers) pointed out that the gun was twin-linked. This made a large and noticeable improvement in both the improvement of my Barges and the amount I liked them. After realising that I had been playing them wrong for quite some time, they really started to click and I was able to run them with more confidence that my points weren’t being completely wasted. I still run two, quite often in a pack to provided cover and support to one another, and haven’t been disappointed with them since. That said, the downsides I listed earlier are all relevant and I can’t argue against people choosing not to use them for those reasons.
But, dammit, I enjoy my Annihilation Barges!
Even if they can’t be squadronned.